Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

A Doc McStuffins 5th Birthday

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

When I sat down to write Max’s one year update, I realized that I had failed to do an update on Mikayla’s 5th birthday party.  I had started writing it write after her birthday, and never finished.  So, here you go, a Doc McStuffins 5th birthday party recap!

Mikayla has always had a very vivid imagination and we very much love that about our child.  She loves all cartoons, but she especially loves those that the characters really use their imaginations.  Like Backyardigans, Doc McStuffins, Toy Story, etc.  When she suggested we have a Doc McStuffins party for her 5th birthday we decided that was a perfect idea!  It worked out perfectly too because she had been asking for a doctor’s kit for a long time and so we decided that would be a perfect gift for her.

Here is a quick rundown on the party.  First the decorations and food!

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The food spread.  Details below.

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An attempt at Doc’s doctor bag in the form of a cake.

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Party guests.

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Blowing out the candles.  She really struggled to get them blown out, almost had to climb on top of the table to do so!

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Pin the bandage (or rubber as they call it here) on Doc!

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Even Sr. Barbara got in on the fun!

And lastly a few of her gifts.

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The sisters got her silly string as part of her gift, she was not a fan!

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I think we nailed the gift!

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Getting right to work doctoring up her guests.

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We had one of our staff members make her a doctors coat as part of her birthday countdown.  She loved it!  And she even wanted to dress up as Doc for her party.

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Another party down!  Wonder what next year will bring…


Mikayla’s 5th Year of Life in Pictures

Sunday, May 4th, 2014

Here is a look back at all the fun and growth that took place in Mikayla’s life over her fifth year.  Enjoy!

April 2013

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May 2013

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June 2013


July 2013

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August 2013

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September 2013

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October 2013

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Sunset, Max 3 months 141

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November 2013

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December 2013

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January 2014

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SWZ to WI 155

February 2014







March 2014



April 2014

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She is still just as goofy as she was a year ago!  Love her!


Max at 9 months

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

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It is hard to believe that nine months have passed since Max’s birth.  He is becoming such a big boy with a big personality!  Here are a few nine month stats for him.

Weight – 18.739 pounds (8.5kgs)

Height – 68 cm

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Max is a busy, busy boy!  Always on the go and moving, even when he should be sleeping.  That is right folks, he is still a terrible sleeper!!  He taking roughly two naps a day, a short one in the morning (30-45 minutes) and a long one in the afternoon (1.5-2 hours).  But even that is hit or miss.  He is regularly waking up between 5:45 and 6:30 in the morning and we try to get him in bed between 7 and 8 at night.  Although, some nights he wants to play until midnight!  Once he is asleep he will sleep until around 9:30 or 10.  Most of the time I can get him back to sleep right away, but occasionally he will be wide awake for a couple of hours.  He is up and down all night long, with his longest stretch of sleep being 3 hours.  One day maybe he will sleep more.  At nap time he is starting to "put himself to sleep", meaning I rock him for a few minutes and then lay him in the crib.  At which point he will cry until he is asleep.  We can sometimes do this at night, although often we will have to rock or nurse him to sleep.  tutu daughter, joe leaving, max 9months 279

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Max is crawling all over the place and pulling up on everything.  He is regularly cruising along furniture while holding on.  And a new trick he learned this week was how to stand on his own without pulling up on anything.  He will start by sitting on the floor and then move into the downward dog position.  From there he will stand straight up.  He is so proud of himself when he does it too.  The kids at the hostel think this is so great and will clap and cheer for him each time.  Sometimes when we are clapping for him he will bounce up and down, almost like he is trying to dance.  He can hold this position for quite some time, but hasn’t figured out how to move his legs to walk without holding one to something or somebody.

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I have mentioned it before, but he is absolutely in love with his big sister.  Mikayla can get him to laugh and smile in a way that nobody else can.  He loves being in her presence.  And she loves being with him, most of the time!

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He is into everything.  We really have to watch him these days.  Some of his favorite things are tearing up paper (much to Mikayla’s dismay) and digging through the trash (kind of sounds like we are raising a puppy :-/ ). tutu daughter, joe leaving, max 9months 330

Max loves to play Peek-a-boo.  He has even started moving the blanket up and down to play with us.tutu daughter, joe leaving, max 9months 357

We are working on waving and clapping with him, but so far he just looks at us like we are a bunch of idiots (which might in fact be the case). 

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Max definitely knows his name and will turn towards the person saying it almost every time. 

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Max is making lots of noises too.  He can string together the sounds mama and dada well.  He has also perfected the blowing of raspberries sound.  He really likes to show off this skill when he has food in his mouth!

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Still no teeth for my boy, but he loves to eat regardless and is great at "gumming" almost any food we give him.  A couple of weeks ago he ate all the chicken off of a chicken leg plus veggies!  I am afraid once he gets bigger he will eat us out of house and home.  He loves to feed himself and will often turn down purees.  Some of his favorite foods are fruits of any kinds, especially bananas, avocados and butternut squash.  He also loves Puffs, although our stash is dwindling.  He tried couscous and quinoa this week and really seemed to enjoy both.  Smoothies are also one of his favorite foods.  He can suck well through a straw.  Other things he has eaten and enjoyed are meats (we joke that he is a Swazi man because they love their meats), orange veggies (carrots, butternut, sweet potatoes), green beans, broccoli, bread, and cheddar cheese.  He is not a fan of yogurt though, you should see his face when we offer it to him, pure disgust!  He tried some black beans and chickpeas the other day and enjoyed those, although we try to limit his intake of legumes because he is already a very gassy boy!  tutu daughter, joe leaving, max 9months 078

He is 100% a momma’s boy and wants to be around me all the time.  If I leave the room he will crawl after me or cry until I return.  Although if I can distract him long enough to escape he doesn’t seem to notice, only when he can see me go.  He will still easily go to others, especially the staff and kids at the hostel.  tutu daughter, joe leaving, max 9months 097

At nine months Max has traveled to four different countries.  I was in college before I could say that!  He was even able to visit his home country, the United States, for the first time in January/February.  tutu daughter, joe leaving, max 9months 363

Our little Max loves to give out kisses, open mouth kisses that is.  He will lunge at your face with his mouth wide open and "suck/kiss" your cheek or chin.  It is very cute if I do say so myself.  tutu daughter, joe leaving, max 9months 372

He has such a funny disposition too, he is either hot or cold.  Meaning one minute he is as happy as can be laughing and playing and then the next he is screaming his head off!  Crazy how quickly he can switch from one to the other!

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In less than three months we will be planning this big boys first birthday party!!


My Pops

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014


I think this picture says it all.  Pops with a smile
on his face while hanging out with his family.

My pops, my dad’s dad was a great man!  He was always full of laughter and fun.  He was also quite the jokester.   The world lost a wonderful man when he passed away this morning.

A few years ago he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, a terrible disease, that took him away from us mentally before he was physically gone.  I have had time over the last few years to reflect on his life and what a wonderful man he truly was.

I wanted to share some of the great and funny things he would do with his grandkids to show them how much he cared.

When I was a kid my siblings and I would often head to his house for weeks at a time in the summer to hang out.  In the back of his house, both in North Carolina and Kentucky he had a small wooded section.  We would play back there and collect firewood for camp fires.  Many summer evenings were filled with sitting around the fire.  He also always had a garden.  I remember how he would go to the garden and pick green onions and munch on them while harvesting the rest of the veggies. 


I have been very fortunate to spend time with both sets of grandparents in my life as well as most of great grandparents.

When you would yawn and he was nearby, he would immediately stick his finger in your mouth!  A terrible trick, but so funny at the same time.

If he was sitting next to you during a meal he would ask if you had ever played motorboat.  Then he would proceed to stick his finger in your food, wiggle it around and say motorboat, motorboat, motorboat!

He would often grab your nose and ask, "Want that any longer?" If you answered yes, he would respond with, "how long?" and pull your nose.  If you answered no, he would respond with, "well then I will take it" and pull your nose.  It was a lose, lose situation for you and a win, win situation for him.

A classic riddle he would do was the two birds named Pete and Repeat.  It went like this:  There were two birds sitting on a fence, one named Pete and the other Repeat.  Pete flew away, so who was left.  We would immediately say repeat, at which point he would start from the beginning.  It was an endless cycle!

Pops was always finding money.  Everywhere we went he was looking on the ground and in machines (pay phones, quarter candy machines, vending machines, etc).  And it never failed, he always found something.

Pops taught me everything I know about people watching.  He could sit and watch folks for hours!

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Saying goodbye to Pops before our big move to Africa.

Playing school was another of his favorite games.  This is a hard one to describe in writing, but I will try.  He would have you fold your hands together and then complete various "school" tasks.  Such as, spelling, math and even music.  When it came time for music he would squeeze your hands hard and when you yelled he said it was singing!

My Pops always worked at the newspaper.  I remember many days making the trip to the office with him to see how things operated!

If you haven’t noticed I love to take tree pics with my kiddos, this is yet another thing I get from my Pops (in combination with my Grandma of course)! 

My pops was a wonderful man and these are just a few of the many things he did to make his children and grandchildren smile!

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Pops with his great granddaughter, Mikayla. 
He loved all his grandkids and great grandkids.

Posted in Life |

2013 Year in Review

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

We had a big year in 2013 and 2014 is looking to be just as busy and promising!  Here is a quick recap of what our year looked like.


We spent a lot of our January hanging as a family of three, growing a baby and playing with some awesome Christmas toys.  Mikayla played princess soccer quite a bit this month.LOW 6 and 7 and spider 012


February marked our first official visitors with a visit from Ben’s cousin Jana and her friend Olivia.  We had a blast showing them around our neck of the woods and prepping for our March visitors (Ben’s parents).  I also celebrated the big 30!

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Ben took a trip to Ethiopia for work and Mikayla and I hung back at St. Philips.  We had fun learning about Dr. Seuss and prepping some more for Ben’s parents.  We spent a couple of weeks hosting his parents and showing them around Swaziland and South Africa.  We also had a pig roast in honor of Sr. Diane’s birthday (70), my birthday (30) and Mikayla’s birthday (4).  We even threw in a princess theme for Mikayla!

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In April we dyed Easter eggs with some friends and went on a hunt around the yard with the eggs.  We also celebrated a very special girls fourth birthday.  Since we had her party when Ben’s parents were here we just had a mini celebration at the house.  She was very excited about her big present which was her first bike!

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In May we worked on making the final preparations for Baby Kickert.  Mikayla also got creative in the kitchen and made a very special birthday cake for her daddy who turned 31 this year.

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June was pretty quiet and I was pretty large!  We laid low this month and did a lot of creative play at the house.  You can see Mikayla hanging out in the laundry baskets pretending to be a animals in a cage!  That girl has some serious imagination!!  We spent this month anticipating and guessing when Baby Kickert would make his grand debut.

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This was probably the biggest month for us as a family as we welcomed Maxwell Simo Kickert into the world on July 4!  Mikayla was so excited to be a big sister.

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We didn’t do much of anything in August except snuggle with our kiddos and try to get some sleep here and there between feeding and wake cycles!  It went by so fast and so slow all at the same time.

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We took Max on his first hike up Execution Rock this month.  He slept most of the time so not sure how impressed he was.  Mikayla continue to amaze us with her ability to hike to the top and bottom all by herself.  She is getting so big!!  Speaking of Mikayla, she also started her second year of preschool at home this month.  It took us awhile to get back in the school routine once Max was born.  Mikayla, Max and I took advantage of a holiday with Katie, Bravo and his boys and took a walk to the river for a picnic one day.  Everyone had a blast.

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Mikayla practiced her photography skills this month by shooting some pictures of her brother and taking a special walk with daddy to take pictures in the bush.  We also busted out the pool because we had some hot spells.  Max was not so impressed with the pool!  And of course there were lots of snuggle sessions with Max!

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We hosted another Thanksgiving meal with some of the Cabrini staff members.  This year we had maintenance and transportation staff over for the big holiday.  The picture below was the highlight of my day.  Fodo, a maintenance staff member, took Max and was really engaging with him. This is unusual for a Swazi man to take interest in a young child.  Typically, the father won’t really look at the baby until they are around six months old.  So this was huge!!

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We took a family vacation, with Katie in tow, to Nelspruit for a week.  We spent the week eating lots of food, shopping and enjoying some time away from work.  And of course, we had a great Christmas.  We spent this year at our house, which was a bit unusual for us!  Typically we are away or traveling during Christmas day.  We also had another pig roast on Christmas Eve which was a lot of fun. 

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There you have it folks, a quick look back at our year!  Like I said earlier, it was a busy one! 

Posted in Life |

Christmas Pic

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

Here are some of my favorite pictures from our Christmas at home, including our annual family photo shoot (we were very tired so we didn’t take as many pictures  as we usually do)!

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Posted in Life, Parenting |

December Update

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

December went by in a blur, partly because I think we stayed so busy! 

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Ben won the daddy of the year award when he played in the rain with Mikayla this month. She had so much fun getting messy with her daddy.

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I spent the first week or two prepping for camp and helping out with it while Ben finished up last minute reports and end of the year work stuff.  Max even made his debut as baby Jesus during the camp play.  He was not so thrilled about this and cried through the whole thing!  After the staff Christmas party we hit the road for a week of fun and relaxation in Nelspruit.

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Decorating sugar cookies at camp.  Both students and staff had a blast with this!!

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Simo and Simo hanging out at the Christmas party

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Max as baby Jesus

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Jabu and Max

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Max hanging out with Bravo

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Max hanging around while we decorated the Christmas tree.

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Max "placing an ornament on the tree".

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Hanging with Katie and Max at the Christmas party.

We spent a few days just the four of us hanging out in Nelspruit eating junk food, shopping and not cooking!  We actually went to the grocery our first day and spent over $100 bucks on junk food and candy.  Totally spoiling ourselves.  Then Katie joined us and we continued the trend.  We ate at some really fancy and yummy restaurants like Orange and Saffron.  You can read an article about both of them here.  We were also able to start and finish all of our Christmas shopping (nothing like a little last minute shopping)!  And of course we took a couple trips to Kruger National Park to "see the animals".  I am hoping to post some of those pictures soon.  Mikayla and Ben even hit up a water park that is in Nelspruit one afternoon while Katie and I shopped.  She had so much fun and that was all she could talk about that evening.  Ben said she was really brave and went down the big slides all by herself.  That kid never ceases to amaze me! 

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Sibling bath time fun!

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Don’t you wish you were this flexible?

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Max wasn’t sure what to think about the rhinos at Kruger.

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Family photo time!

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Max’s first dip in the pool.  He was not a big fan, but to be fair the water was freezing!

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Mikayla loves jumping in the pool!

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On the 22nd we headed back to our house to start prepping for our Christmas festivities.  I spent the 23rd making the annual batch of cinnamon rolls and even made a gluten free batch for Katie.  I also cleaned the house because over the next few days we would have a houseful!  Ben had some friends come in that evening, Chris and Kara, and they stayed through the 26th.  There were also a few other random visitors hanging around the mission that joined us over the next few days.

On the 24th we had a pig roast to celebrate Christmas Eve.  It was a hot day, not sure I will ever get used to it being hot over Christmas.  We had a lovely time and invited pretty much anyone who was still around the mission for the Christmas season.  I think we had between 15-20 folks over for lunch/dinner that day.  Plus I think of all the pig roasts we have had, this was the best cooked pig.  It was so tasty!!

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The next morning was Christmas, so of course Mikayla woke up extra early ready to start the fun.  We had our annual family photo shoot and then opened up packages.  Mikayla was so much fun this year.  She was so excited and appreciative of each and every gift.  She would exclaim things like, "this is brilliant" or "marvelous" each time she opened something new.  We spent the rest of the morning playing with gifts and then hosted a big breakfast for Joe, Katie, Chris and Kara.  It was a fun and relaxing day.  We also managed to play a little Settler’s of Catan that evening. 

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Mikayla talking to Lylah on her brand new Doc McStuffins cell phone.  She thinks she is big time now!!

And that pretty much wraps up our December and our 2013!  January and February will be busy months of traveling (we head to the US in just two weeks)! 


November Update

Sunday, December 1st, 2013

I am not sure where November went, but it flew past!  One day it was October and it seems like the next November was finishing up.  It won’t be long now before our big trip in January.  December is already shaping up to be a busy month with the hostel’s Christmas camp/party, mini holiday getaway with friends, Christmas and New Years!!

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I love this "selfie" of me and my girl!

Since we missed out on Halloween in October we trick or treated in November.  You can read all about the kids costumes and evening here.  It was a fun night and I loved watching Mikayla share her candy with all her friends.

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Hanging out with some friends, watching a movie on the porch.

Speaking of holidays, we celebrated Thanksgiving with some of our staff members again.  You can read about our first year here.  This year we invited the maintenance and transport departments to the feast.  And once again, a feast was had!  There was so much food.  Of course it all quickly disappeared and everyone got to take home a hearty take away pack!

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The feast!

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Feast continuted.

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Dessert spread

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Some guests

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Katie hanging with Mikayla

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Staff member from maintenance department holding Simo.  One of the highlights from the day.  Traditionally Swazi men have little to do with young children, so this was huge that he wanted to play and hold Simo.


Post Thanksgiving snuggle session on the porch while watching a storm roll in.

And since we are on the topic of food, Mikayla had a first in the food department this month.  One morning she wanted scrambled eggs for breakfast, but she wanted to make them all on her own.  She did everything but turn on the stove and scoop the eggs on her plate.  She was so proud, and I think she did an awesome job!  She really is growing up way too fast.

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Max had a first this month too…his first overnight!  Oh dear, it was a bit of a mess.  I will leave it at there were four kids, all 4 and under (two under the age of 1) and not a one of them wanted to sleep that night!  The babies took turns crying throughout the night.  If one wasn’t going the other was!  And the two older kiddos also had a little trouble sleeping and had some bad dreams.  Needless to say we were all exhausted the next day, but still had a lot of fun playing!  We took part of our trip into town to go to a local play place called Neverland.  Mikayla and Max actually had the whole place to themselves so they played and played and loved every minute of it.  You can actually drop the kids there and come back to get them, so I left Mikayla to play and Max and I went to the grocery store.  It was much easier to shop without having to keep up with Mikayla!  All in all it was a great couple of days away from the mission, and despite the lack of sleep, everyone had a great time!



Unfortunately, November was not kind to the Kickert’s tummies.  We all three came down with some sort of stomach bug at the end of the month.  Ben had it the worst, but Mikayla was not her usual peppy self for a couple of days after.  Luckily, we were feeling mostly better in time for our annual Thanksgiving feast.

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Max was not quite sure what to make of all the picture taking while he was sitting on his own.

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Sibling Love

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She wanted to wear the towels like mommy does after her shower one night.


Max in a Tree

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

The Adkins side of my family has a tradition with taking pictures in trees (You may have caught on to this from past posts).  Max is still a little young to be sitting in a tree on his own, but we tried our luck last night and came up with a couple of decent shots. 

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Look mom, I’m flying!

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And a little scared!

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What, you don’t hang out in a tree everyday?


Halloween 2013

Monday, November 11th, 2013

I realize that we are a little late on this, but my philosophy is better late than never!  Since we live in Swaziland, and the Swazi’s don’t celebrate Halloween we did not have a problem with pushing our Halloween date back a couple of weeks.  On Halloween, Ben was in town at a meeting and both sisters were in the US.  There are only a limited number of people we can ask to Trick or Treat with, and with the three of them being gone it took away about half of those options!  So, we just went trick or treating last night. 

Last year Mikayla was a princess and all year long she had talked about wanting to be Santa Clause for Halloween.  At the beginning of October we asked her what she wanted to be again just to clarify and she suddenly switched to princess!  I didn’t want to push the Santa thing because frankly I wasn’t very excited about making that costume.  I also wasn’t very excited about her being a princess again so I subtly suggested that she be a wild thing from the book Where the Wild Things Are and that Max be Max King of the Wild Things.  She immediately agreed and we got to work on brainstorming costume ideas.

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Max was easy.  He just needed a white outfit, a crown and a tail.  Done!  I also referenced this picture of Bella (read here to see the importance of Bella in our naming of Max) for inspiration.


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Mikayla was a little bit trickier.  She looked through the book and chose which wild thing she wanted to be.  From there we started brainstorming ideas on how to make it happen.  Of course we "brainstormed" up until the week of our trick or treating  and did most of the costume work on Saturday and Sunday (we went trick or treating on Sunday)!  Ha!  Nothing like last minute preparations.  To make her costume I cut out felt in the shape of fish scales and then roughly sewed them onto a pair of leggings.  We attached a piece of fabric that looked like animal fur to the butt to look like a tail.  Next we chose one of her striped dresses so she could be a mommy wild thing! 

The hardest part was the head, but thanks to team work between Ben and I we were able to make it happen.  We had a broken fan laying around the house so we took it apart and used one side of it for the face.  We used paper mache to outline the face, leaving a large mouth opening for Mikayla to see through.  Ben also attached some string so the face would sit nicely on her head.  On Sunday morning I painted the face brown and attached eyes and nose made from felt.  Ben made some horns from cardboard and those got glued on next.  The final touch was adding yarn all around the edges for his hair.  I think we did a pretty good job and she was very excited about it.  The only unfortunate thing was that we spent all this time putting together her costume for 15 minutes of fun!  Oh well, I think she really appreciated it and her mask is now hanging in her room!

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She doesn’t look thrilled here, but trust me she was so giddy and excited.  She just didn’t want to stop to take pictures, she wanted the candy!  She did make sure to roar her terrible roar and show her terrible claws at each and every door.

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Here she is showing off her tail.  She wanted to make sure everyone knew that she had one.

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Showing off her candy stash.  This is one of the only pictures we got of her by herself.  She was really not excited about pictures!

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Max wanted a turn with the mask.  I think it was a little big for him though…

Posted in Life, Parenting |