Archive for the ‘Random’ Category

This Week’s Happenings 3/4-3/10

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

This week was an interesting one…it was our first week of three without Ben around.  He flew out on Monday for the US and won’t be back until the 24th.  We had an interesting time getting him on his flight and had to change some of our plans at the last minute!

The weather last week was supposed to get a little crazy.  There was a tropical cyclone (hurricane) that was off the coast of Mozambique and predictions were that the winds and rain were going to hit Swaziland on Sunday and Monday and hit us hard.  They were calling it the worst storm in 30 years!  With this prediction we felt confident that Ben’s original flight out of Matsapha here in Swaziland would be cancelled due to high winds and rain.  Since we didn’t want to risk him missing his first flight we decided to drive to Johannesburg (where his second flight would leave from) on Sunday and spend the night so he could catch his flight on Monday.

We packed up the truck early on Sunday and made the trek south (about a 6-7 hour drive).  We enlisted the help of Joe since Ben was sick and I wasn’t thrilled about driving in Jo-burg.  So thankful he tagged along!  When we got there on Sunday Ben, Mikayla and I hug out at the guesthouse while Joe went and did some shopping.  That evening we went to great restaurant for dinner.  It was a Mozambiquan, Portuguese, Brazilian combination restaurant.  And besides Mikayla acting like a rotten toddler, we had a great dinner.  On Monday, we left Ben at the guesthouse (they ran a shuttle to the airport) and hit up one of the many malls in Jo-burg to do a little shopping.  I wasn’t in the clothes shopping mood, but did manage to snag some tortilla chips, pretzels and blueberries.  Ah…the little things in life that make you so happy!  We made it back safe and sound to Swaziland about 8:00 that evening and all crashed quickly!  Turns out the storm turned at the last minute and we didn’t even get any rain!  Oh well, better safe than sorry I suppose.  Plus I got some tortilla chips out of the deal so all is well!

I feel like we have survived the first week pretty well without Ben.  Mikayla has been really good and besides getting up or calling for me 10 times each night all has been well!  We did have one incident this week when Mikayla pooped in the shower.  When I got onto her she said she only did it because Daisy told her too.  This does not bode well for peer pressure in the future if she is taking commands from a figurine!

We didn’t do much baking this week, but we did manage to try our hand at some homemade Poptart Minis.  They don’t really taste like Poptarts, but they were delicious.  Basically it is just a pie crust that you fill with jam (or in our case Nutella) and then bake until golden brown.  You can see the full recipe here.  Mikayla had fun rolling out the dough and forming her own Poptarts. 

Shape of me, ABCs 008

Shape of me, ABCs 010


We even had some fun this week playing in a box!

Shape of me, ABCs 012

First it was a hat…

Shape of me, ABCs 013

Then a car and eventually a bed!

Shape of me, ABCs 015

Ben has also been able to post several videos on his blog.  You can check out the link here if you are interested in seeing them. 

Posted in Random |

This Week’s Happenings 2/13-2/21

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

I am little behind on blogging this week, but better late than never…right?  We had a busy last week and it is shaping up to be a busy week this week. 

On Saturday of last week (2/11) we lost power during a pretty intense thunder storm.  Power did not return that evening, or the next day and not until late on Monday.  We actually ended up going for over 50 hours without electricity.  Needless to say we didn’t have much that survived the fridge or freezer so we had two big braais and ate meat for every meal (even breakfast).  Things could have been worse, but it is still never fun to go that long without power.

Ben spent most of last weekend and week writing abstracts, workshop proposals and scholarship applications for an AIDS conference in July.  Everything was due on the fifteenth and being out of power for so long made things a little crazy.  He was up until midnight most nights; needless to say he was exhausted by the end of the week and ready for a relaxing weekend (more on that later).

Last week we celebrated Valentine’s Day by making heart shaped sugar cookies for daddy and some of the staff.  We ran into some delays with our power outages, but we made do!  She loved rolling out the dough and using her heart cookie cutter.  She still needs practice on how to best utilize the dough so you don’t roll it out fifty times, but that will come!

Today is Sister Diane’s birthday so on Friday night we cooked a big meal in her honor.  I made focaccia bread, salad, corn on the cob and chocolate muffins.  Ben contributed some grilled shrimp and beer can chicken.  And Joe made some roasted red peppers (who knew they were that easy to make?), pickled onions, and a delicious punch drink (he is quite the cocktail master).  We stuffed ourselves silly and enjoyed each other’s company after a busy and hectic week.

We then spent this past weekend at our friends Peter, Callista and Aviva’s house.  They treated us to the usual relaxing atmosphere and fellowship and even took us along to some friends houses.  We went to a braai on Saturday afternoon to celebrate a birthday and then that evening we went to Eric and Nicole’s house for some amazing Thai food where we once again stuffed ourselves silly.  Eric made some Tom Yum soup that was out of this world along with several other thai dishes!  We enjoyed the relaxing time and were sad to see the weekend pass by so quickly.

On Sunday we met up with some of the other Cabrini staff members in Matsapha for a four day strategic planning session.  Ben will be in meetings until Thursday evening and Mikayla and I are enjoying some AC!  We went to a small game park today (Mililwane) and hope to do some swimming (although the pools don’t look too promising).  We do have decent Internet here if anyone wants to try to Skype with us.  Just let us know.  Here are a few pictures from the game park.

Letter H and Mililwane 060

Letter H and Mililwane 064

Letter H and Mililwane 068

Letter H and Mililwane 078

Letter H and Mililwane 082

Letter H and Mililwane 085

Letter H and Mililwane 098

Letter H and Mililwane 107

I love this picture for some reason.  These three guys were just all nuzzled up next to each other. 

Letter H and Mililwane 108

On Friday we leave for St. Lucia, South Africa to celebrate my birthday.  Side note – this is not the St. Lucia most people in the states know of, so look it up if you are confused.  This area is known for their hippo, crocodile and bird populations.  They have some beach areas, although I am not sure they are like the traditional beach you think of.  If nothing else we are going to enjoy some family time before Ben leaves the next week for three weeks in the States.  If nothing else, we can sleep in and play a little Settler’s of Catan!

Letter H and Mililwane 039

Mikayla enjoying her painting activity sent by Susan at Cabrini College.  Thanks Susan – she completed the whole box in one sitting!

Posted in Random |

Feast of Mother Cabrini

Friday, November 18th, 2011

As promised here is a quick snapshot of the Feast of Mother Cabrini that was held last Saturday.  Ben is working on putting together a video montage from video clips we took and putting it on the Cabrini website.  As soon as he does I will be sure to let you know so you can check that out as well.  Like I mentioned last week, everyone had a great time!

Feast of Mother Cabrini 002

Some of the staff working hard before mass to get lunch ready.  I was so proud of the staff and all that they sacrificed to make this event grand.  Behind the ladies is the hostel’s kitchen.  The big pots are built into a fire pit that they use each day when cooking for the kids.

Feast of Mother Cabrini 018

Entrance of children – all the children walked into the service following a statue of Mother Cabrini.

Feast of Mother Cabrini 047

The bishop entering the service.  After the service was over Mikayla definitely went up to him and asked him what his name was!

Feast of Mother Cabrini 052

Feast of Mother Cabrini 057

Everything was a celebration.  Even the way the Word of God entered before scripture reading.  This group of girls (and a few others not pictured) danced their way down the aisle while singing to present.

Feast of Mother Cabrini 090

Some of the staff dressed in traditional clothing for the event.

Feast of Mother Cabrini 095

The men cooking the meat up – now this was a real brai!

Feast of Mother Cabrini 110

Sharon, the director of the hostel, wrote a beautiful poem about Cabrini that the kids recited.

Feast of Mother Cabrini 117

These girls are some of Mikayla’s favorites from the hostel.  They sang and did some traditional dancing throughout the performances. 

Feast of Mother Cabrini 130

The Cabrini choir – beautiful voices.

Feast of Mother Cabrini 148

The guy second from the left is Themba.  He is a driver for Cabrini and this is his band performing as the closing event.  They sang and danced and really worked up the crowd.  They were amazing.

Feast of Mother Cabrini 190

Feast of Mother Cabrini 161

Meet Novuselelo – this is the twins older sister.

Feast of Mother Cabrini 165

Here are some of the guests watching the group sing and dance.  Most of the kids are kids from the hostel.  The even also took place in the boys dormitory.  In the back you can see mosquito nets hanging from the ceiling.  For events like this they push all the beds back against the back wall leaving a large open area.

Feast of Mother Cabrini 216

This is a terrible picture, but please ignore that.  This is Sr. Diane dancing with the Statue of Mother Cabrini!

Posted in Random |

This Week’s Happenings 11/7-11/13

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

We had a couple of visitors over for dinners this week.  The first was Joey, our friend working with Peace Corps.  He came over on Sunday for some chicken and dumplings, green beans and an apple braid (you can read about it here).  It was nice to catch up because we hadn’t seen him in a couple of weeks.  Then on Wednesday we had a family from one of the organizations Cabrini works closely with (PACT) over for dinner.  The family is getting ready to move to Tanzania, so this was a good bye dinner.  Todd (the husband) is actually the person who hooked us up with Cabrini.  When we first came to Swaziland over a year ago, we met with him to check out PACT.  While there, he mentioned we should go and see the sisters – thinking that we would be a good fit.  We did, and the rest is history!  He has a lovely family and it was great to just sit back and relax for the evening.  The sisters provided the food and we made chocolate cake for dessert. 

We have been finding a lot of these little geckos in our house this week.  I am not sure if it is the warmer weather that is attracting them or the fact that we had opened one of our windows that doesn’t have a screen!  I don’t mind them too much.  But the minute they end up in my bed is a different story.  Mikayla loves to look at them and try to catch them, this week she succeeded (with a little help from daddy).

Random 014

People aren’t kidding when they say they make creatures big in Africa.  Check out this guy, a huge beetle looking creature.

Letter F 009

Letter F 010

Just a little perspective on how big he actually was.  HUGE!!

On Saturday we celebrated Mother Cabrini with a Feast of Mother Cabrini.  This is an annual event, but this year we were celebrating the 40th year of Cabrini in Swaziland.  We had a special mass, complete with singing, dancing and readings from the kids, and a huge feast and party afterwards.  Complete with dancing sisters!!  I plan to do a large post on that this week, so I will save the juicy details until later.  But I will mention that we have a dancing fool for a daughter!  I don’t think she stopped moving once the music started!  Not sure where that comes from.

Feast of Mother Cabrini 145 Dancing with her friend Bayanza.

And just because I can, check out this beautiful girl!  I found her laying on the couch like this – can we say Senior pose?  Also look at her beautiful curls!

Letter F 005

Letter F 007

Posted in Random |

Can You Name That Bird?

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

So after an extensive week of bird watching (thanks to our letter B study), we have been able to identify several African birds.  I thought it would be fun to host a little contest and giveaway to see how well you could identify these birds.  The rules are simple – Name/identify the following birds correctly the quickest and you are the winner.  Leave bird identifications in the comments section below or you can send me an email (  If you are the first to correctly name/identify each of the birds you will receive a special Swaziland token in the mail (not sure what yet, but I promise it to be good)!

Bird #1:

Letter B and more birds 020

Bird #2:

Letter B and more birds 028

Bird #3:

Letter B and more birds 034

Bird #4:

Birds and chalkboard 009

Bird #5:

Letter D, birds and scones 009

Bird #6 (Hint – this bird has really bright orange legs):

Balloons and birds 005

Bird #7:

Balloons and birds 007

Bird #8:

Ani-muls 011

Bird #9 (please take note of the long tail on these two):

Letter D, birds and scones 007

Bird #10:

Letter D, birds and scones 012

Good luck!

Posted in Random |

This Week’s Happenings 8/29-9/4

Saturday, September 3rd, 2011

This week Simo went to see a physical therapist about his leg.  He was diagnosed with developmental milestone delays due to malnutrition (which we already knew).  He will see a therapist twice a week starting mid-September.  Hopefully that will help him catch up to his sister in movement. 

The twins’ Gogo (grandmother) came to visit this week.  They seemed to know who she was immediately and sat and played with her for almost an hour.  It was good to see them interacting with family members because we don’t want to lose that connection. 

Tea parties, baths and Gogos 084

Mikayla hosted a tea party at our house on Sunday afternoon.  Sister Diane and Katie (a volunteer) both came and partook in some tea (but really coffee because we didn’t have any tea) and biscuits (cookies).  The kids enjoyed themselves and I think the adults did too.

Tea parties, baths and Gogos 016

Tea parties, baths and Gogos 020

Tea parties, baths and Gogos 040

Tea parties, baths and Gogos 047

We also built a fort this week.  Nosipho and Mikayla liked to just crawl in and out of the fort more than they did sitting in it.  Simo enjoyed his time in the fort looking at books.  Mikayla even requested to sleep in the fort!  She didn’t in the end, but has been asking for her fort back ever since. 

Tea parties, baths and Gogos 078

Mikayla and I went on our first homestead visit this week.  She rode in true Swazi fashion in the back of a buckie (pickup) on another worker’s lap.  I sat up front in the cab with both twins.  She seemed to really enjoy herself and was only moderately upset about not riding in her car seat.  I would never have thought to go somewhere in America without her car seat, but here people look at you funny when you bring a car seat.  The family we went to visit wasn’t actually there on the first try but we tried again the next day.

I made breadsticks the other night.  They turned out great and were super easy.  They were no Olive Garden breadsticks, but they tasted pretty good with our spaghetti.  We must have liked them pretty good because out of twelve we only ended up with 1.5 as leftovers!!

Posted in Random |


Monday, August 8th, 2011

We are having twins!  Not really, but kind of, let me explain.  This week we were approached by the sisters to see if we would be willing to house a set of twins who just came to the hostile during winter break.  They are 20 months old, severely malnourished and at the developmental level of an 8-10 month old.  They aren’t crawling or walking, hardly make any noises and I have only seen them make one facial expression…a blank stare.  Every once in awhile one of them might start to break a smile.  From August 12-September 13 the schools take a winter break which means the kids at the hostile return to their homesteads (we run a different child care model than most.  We are not an orphanage so the kids still maintain ties with their families and homesteads).  The twins we will be taking in just arrived at the hostile three weeks ago and we want to continue progress that has been made while they have been in our care.  This will be a huge transition for everyone in our family, but we are all on board.  Mikayla is even excited about the babies coming to stay with us for awhile!  We will see how that goes once they arrive.  I am not sure of all the details yet, but I do know that this is happening!  I am looking forward to working with them one-on-one (or maybe two-on-one or three-on-one depending on how you look at it) and seeing them grow and develop in the few short weeks they will be living with us! 

Posted in Random |

New Favorite

Monday, August 16th, 2010

I don’t watch a lot of TV.  I would actually rather goof around on the computer or watch TV on DVD with Ben.  However, as of late I have started enjoying a show on TLC called Cake Boss.  If you have never watched or heard of it, you should watch some of the clips here.  Seriously, the cakes they create are amazing!  They almost look fake they are so good.  He comes up with some crazy ideas, but they work!  For example, for his wife’s birthday they made a life-size cake of her.  It was incredible!  Check it out, that’s all!  Mikayla thinks you should too!

August2010 039

Posted in Life, Random |

Snow Day

Friday, January 29th, 2010

So we got a snow day today.  I was pumped when I heard the news.  A day off from school, an extra entire day with my baby, and snow to play in.  Then I looked outside and saw this:

2010-January-100th day

Nothing like a snow day in Kentucky!!  Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining.  The snow is supposed to hit later, I just found this to be humerous!  Enjoy your "snow day"!

Posted in Random |

A Year In Review

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

I am stealing this idea from my friend Dave.  I loved his post so much and thought it gave a good account for the year 2009.  What better way to ring in the new year than with a list of fun memories and pictures from the past.  Without further ado:

January – 100th day of school…Call me crazy, but I think this is one of my favorite days of school, right behind KY Derby week and Dr. Seuss week!  The kids all dress up like they are 100 and we do activities all day that revolve around the number 100.  It is crazy fun.

Christmas - New Year 098 Christmas - New Year 100

February – My birthday, what else!!  I also did a fun art project for the nursery with an old student, T-, who is kind of like an adopted son for us.

Week 32 and birthday flowers 011random 009 

March – 10 years of bliss (combined dating and married) with my wonderful husband!  He surprised me with 10 gerbera daisies (my favorite), throughout the day and even a surprise lunch.  He also put together a photo album, with a picture for each year we have been together.  There was also a sweet visit from Catherine mixed in there.  We had fun just hanging out, driving around forever trying to find a place to get a pedicure, and then painting pottery.  It was a great last hurrah before Mikayla was born!


April – The birth of my dear sweet Mikayla…enough said!

Mikayla 053Mikayla 011_MG_0289_ed

May – Ben graduated from seminary…Hallelujah!  Three years of no social life, lonely nights on the couch (me) and endless hours of studying (him) were officially over.  I don’t know who was more excited, me or him?

grad june 008

June – Lots of mini road trips and first meetings for Mikayla.  We traveled to Somerset where she met her great grandparents and adopted grandma (Cindy Kerr).  Then on to Mayfield, Kentucky to meet Mignon, another great grandmother.  Finally, a trip to Kentucky Lake to meet the extended Kickert clan (great Aunts and Uncles and second cousins).  It was an exhausting month, but a lot of fun!  She also met T- and his brother, M- (see February for more information on these two)!

grad june 045grad june 044 grad june 043  June 2008 0142009-07-04 Kickert and Simmons visit 027 2009-07-04 Kickert and Simmons visit 035 2009-07-04 Kickert and Simmons visit 049

July – I finished up my “internship” at the Kelly Autism Program which meant I finished my Rank I (no more school for me)…Can I get another Hallelujah? Sorry no pictures of this for the month, but here is one of Mikayla!  This is her classic pouty face!


August – Adventures in Baking and back to school.  I spent a lot of time in August cooking. Homemade pizza, salsa, okra stew, stuffed jalapenos, and a first attempt at sushi just to name a few.  It was hard to leave Mikayla at the beginning of August and head back to school but we managed.  Ben did such a good job of taking care of her, even if he did try to cook her!

2009-08 August 0012009-08-23 August 047 2009-08-23 August 015 

September – September was a slow month for me.  I worked and when I wasn’t working I was spending time with my family.  I guess you could say the most exciting thing about the month was developing my love for BabyLegs.  Hey, I told you it was a slow month!

2009-10-13 legwarmers 002

October – Smokey Mountain fun with the Altmaiers and celebrating my five year wedding anniversary with Ben.  I have said it before, and I will say it again, these are some of the best friends a girl could ask for.  We have known them for so long and it never fails, with each visit, we just pick right up where we left off.  There is no awkwardness at all.  We could go weeks without communicating and then jump right back in when we do.  They are our go to couple when having a marital dispute and more like family than friends!  Seriously, it doesn’t get much better!  This is perhaps one of my favorite months of the past year.  Fall + Great Friends + Five years of wedded bliss = A great month!



November – Another slow month, not much to report besides Thanksgiving.  We had a great time visiting with both sides of the family and ate until we could eat no more.

 2009-12-05 Thanksgiving, tree, bacon 004

December – My favorite thing about December was starting new traditions with my little family.  We decorated the tree, opened stockings, drank hot cocoa, took pictures, ate some Chinese, and enjoyed some wine.  It was a great way to end the year.  Oh and those yummy cinnamon rolls!

2009-12-05 Thanksgiving, tree, bacon 0182009-12-25 Christmas 126 2009-12-25 Christmas 137 2009-12-25 Christmas 166 2009-12-25 Christmas 032

I hope that 2010 brings as much fun, excitement and joy as 2009 did!  Happy New Years everyone.