Posts Tagged ‘animals’

This Week’s Happenings–March 1-27

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

Well, another few weeks have flown by with no update from me.  I have a good reason though.  One, Ben was out of the country (in Ethiopia) for one of those weeks and then his parents have been here for the others.  We have a down day at the mission today with no traveling so I thought I would take advantage and do some blogging!  Here are some quick recaps of what we have been up to.

Ben traveled to Ethiopia for a week to do some visiting and information gathering of the Catholic mission they have there.  He also had an overnight layover in Dubai where he explored the city.  He came back very excited about his time and wants to take us there one day!  Anyone want to meet us?Mikayla and I stayed in Swaziland and had fun working on some Dr. Seuss stuff.  Check it out here (it isn’t an exhaustive list of what we did, just what I managed to take pictures of).

Ben got back home and we had a day to recoup before his parents arrived.

Ben’s parents arrived and we have spent the last 2.5 weeks showing them around this part of the world.  It has been a whirlwind.

We started the tour with some stops around Swaziland including Execution Rock (in Mlilwane Park) and a visit to the Mantenga Cultural Village.   We also visited Malolotja Park for some beautiful scenery and a pretty intensive hike for a lady who is 25 weeks pregnant!

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Then we packed our bags and headed toward South Africa.  Our first stop here was Blyde River Canyon.  We had a great day, despite the fact that we had some car trouble.

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I find this picture really hilarious!  Between Ben showing off his thigh and Rita’s face…classic Kickert pose!

The next two days were spent in Kruger National Park where we got to see all kinds of fun wildlife!  The highlights of the trip would have to be seeing six cheetahs that walked right up to our car and hung out for a bit (check out the video here) and an elephant knocking over a tree with his trunk (video can be viewed here)!  Both were pretty incredible.  Ben, Steve and myself took advantage of our overnight in the park (which by the way was amazing), and participated in a night drive.  I would highly recommend taking one if you ever find yourself with the opportunity! It was also our first trip where we were able to see all of the Big Five in one day!  (More pictures can be found here on my FB page).

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While in South Africa I was also able to get my hair cut.  (It was no Ali Townsend cut, but at least it is even, unlike my last African cut).  We also visited the Botanical Gardens in Nelspruit.

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We headed back to the mission long enough to sleep and repack for our beach trip to St. Lucia.  Mikayla absolutely loved the beach!  Unfortunately, I don’t think we took a single picture while we were there (the pictures below are from Steve’s camera that died shortly after arrival)!  She played so hard in the water and sand, and even wanted to continue playing after a minor run in with a jellyfish!  What a trooper.


We went to two different beaches, unfortunately we only managed to take pictures on the uglier of the two!



We picked up a pig for our pig roast/princess birthday (read the full party details here).  Since we were heading back from St. Lucia and had stopped at the grocery on the way, we were a little limited on space.  So, Mikayla got to ride on my lap and the pig in her car seat for the 45 minute drive home!  I don’t think Rita was too thrilled to be sitting next to a dead pig, but she was a trooper!

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Saturday and Sunday were spent prepping for the big party, and then celebrating on Sunday afternoon.  I think everyone had a good time. 

The next few days were down days at the mission, a couple quick stops in town and then the Kickerts start their journey back to the states bright and early tomorrow morning.

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Mikayla went on an adventure with her grandpa one morning while we were prepping for the party.  She saw all kinds of fun things!

It has been a jam packed couple of weeks.  I have enjoyed all the visitors, but I am ready to be back into a normal routine!  Easter is this weekend and I think the plan is just to take it easy at home and maybe have a special dinner!


What We’ve Been Up To

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

In case you hadn’t noticed it has been awhile since I have done a "This Week’s Happenings".  There are several reasons for this, but I won’t go into them for now.  What I will do though is give a quick rundown on what we have been up to for the last two months.

We celebrated the Feast of Mother Cabrini.

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Joe all decked out in traditional gear for the feast day with Mikayla.

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The kids marching in for the mass in celebration of Mother Cabrini.

Mikayla and I got to go see the Queen Mother.

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We also took some pictures of the whole Cabrini staff.

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I hosted lots of baking classes with some of the high school students.  We made anything from pancakes to cookies to cakes to pizza.  It was a lot of fun getting to know the kids better and sharing with them my love for baking.  I think they enjoyed eating everything the most!  They also enjoyed taking lots of pictures of themselves!

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Played with sidewalk chalk a lot and enjoyed eating fresh mangos from our yard.  She is becoming quite the little artist!

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We hosted Thanksgiving for 20+ of our staff members.  People were coming and going all afternoon and evening.  It was fun, but I will say I slept really well that evening!

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The Feast!

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We had each of our guest complete a leaf for our Thankful tree.  It was quite full when everyone left!

During school time Mikayla wrote a really cool story in her journal.  See if you can figure out what it was about!  She has also been doing some great artwork in her journal.

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We let Mikayla decorate our Christmas tree.  She was really into Christmas this year and enjoyed every aspect of it.  She is actually still celebrating.  Today (December 30) she wrote a letter to Santa!

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We did lots of fun family activities as part of our Christmas countdown.  Including making salt dough ornaments, gingerbread cookies, and crafts!

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Making salt dough ornaments.

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Gingerbread cookies!

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I baked over 500 cookies and popped popcorn for 150 as part of the hostel Christmas party.

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We turned an old nightstand into a doll house for Mikayla’s Christmas gift.  I am pretty sure she loves it!

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We packed up the car (including our tree this year) and headed to Nelspruit, South Africa for a week long vacation and the Christmas holiday.  We ate a lot and relaxed even more!

We made cinnamon rolls…can’t have Christmas without them!

We took our traditional Christmas jammies pictures with cocoa!

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We headed to Kruger Park with the Sister Barbara and Sister Diane for a little game drive.  We saw a lot including elephants, zebras, giraffe, leopard, hyenas, monkeys, a really cool chameleon and lots of others.  It was rainy and muddy, but we still had fun.  Mikayla even got to use her adventure pack her grandparents got her for Christmas!

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We Skyped and chatted with a lot of family and friends.

We went to the doctor and found out I was pregnant!  Baby Kickert #2 is due July 4th!

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We rang in the new year with our friends Peter and Callista and their daughter Aviva.  I hope to get back to doing our weekly updates soon.


This Week’s Happenings 10/22-10/28

Monday, October 29th, 2012

Not much new to report this week, but we did do a couple of noteworthy things!  On Friday night we had a Family (and friend) pizza and movie night.  We made homemade pizza and breadsticks and then set up a sheet and projector outside by the fire for us to watch movies on.  Mikayla chose Finding Nemo for her movie and Ben chose Top Gun for his.  Both are great movies!  We enjoyed the cool air and warm fire while watching them and munching on our pizza.

On Saturday we had to head into town to pick up Sister Barbara from the airport so we made a day of it.  We headed in for breakfast at one of our favorite stops in Manzini, Baker’s Corner, for donuts and quiche!  Then we popped into Mliliwane Game Park for an hour or so.  We saw lots of new animals and some of the regular ones too.  Mikayla really got into spotting the animals, so we created a game out of it to see who could spot the next animal first!

Last night, or rather this morning we woke up to Skype with our friends at the annual Halloween Party.  I think this is the 8th year that is has been going on!  It was so fun to see all their costumes and faces, even if we were super tired!

Yesterday we had a relaxing day at home, making pancakes and bacon and then burgers and sweet potato fries for dinner!  It was a great family day at home.

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A female Kudu

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Crested guinea fowl

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Another friend we are having a hard time identifying, but Ben came through and figured it out (Ground Hornbill).

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Beautiful roan antelope

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I am not sure why, but this guy had PVC piping on his horns!

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This Week’s Happenings 7/23-8/4

Sunday, August 5th, 2012

The last few weeks have been filled with visitors, sickness and Olympics…fun, fun!

Last week Joe had two of his best friends come in for a two week visit.  We enjoyed getting to know them, teaching them to play Settlers and sitting around talking and eating yummy food too!  They brought Mikayla a "princess dress up dress" that she has been loving all week.  And Ben found some old glasses in his office this past week so she has been in dress up heaven!

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She really wanted to take a bath in the sink last week and because she has grown so much we had to deem it as her last sink bath!  She was so uncomfortable that she didn’t spend much time in there.

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We stayed up late last Friday to watch the Opening Ceremonies with Katie.  It was an interesting opening ceremonies, and if I am speaking honestly not one of my favorites!  About halfway through my stomach decided it wanted to be sick and I spent the rest of the ceremonies in bed!  Ben swears I didn’t miss much though, plus we video taped it so we can show the kids at the hostel since there were three Swazi’s competing! 

Speaking of Olympics, I think we need some Olympic therapy in the Kickert household.  Our Satellite offers four stations (five if you count the Portuguese station) that run 24 hour Olympic coverage.  We miss out on all the stories that the stations in the states offer, but we get to see a whole lot more events.  We have been loving watching them,  even Mikayla is getting in on the fun!  The trampoline event (or boing-a-hopping) has been her favorite so far. 

Katie has been to Swaziland three times now and has never been to do the "touristy" things, so last weekend we took her out on the town and showed her how the tourist visit Swaziland.  We all had a great time (despite me being sick).  Here are some shots from the day.

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Roan antelope in Mliliwane.

On Wednesday, Ben headed back to Johannesburg to pick up the staff who were in the US for the AIDS 2012 conference.  Unfortunate for him, was that on Tuesday he came down with a terrible head cold!  He is just starting to get over it today.  Needless to say, this has not been a good health month for the Kickerts!  Hopefully we are all well by the time we travel in a few weeks.

Yesterday we welcomed two candidates for sisterhood to the mission for two months.  On Friday a couple of sisters from Ethiopia will be joining them.  Joe’s mom will be here for a visit starting on Sunday. So it is a busy time filled with visitors in the upcoming months!

And just because she is so beautiful and was having an exceptionally good hair day…

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This Week’s Happenings 6/24-7/1

Sunday, July 1st, 2012

Our week wasn’t too eventful, but we were able to finalize some of the details for our upcoming trip to the states.  Here is a rough overview of what what we will be up to while we are around. Please keep in mind that things are flexible.  The only thing set in stone now is our flight schedules.

  • August 18: Everyone departs Johannesburg in the evening.
  • August 19-22: We arrive in Newark that evening and will spend some time in NYC.  Ben will be working, and Mikayla and I are there for pleasure.  We are hoping to catch up with my brother and sister-in-law while we are there since they will have just moved to Boston. 
  • August 23-26: Everyone travels to Chicago for a Cabrini fundraiser.  We will be staying with Ben’s family that live in the southern suburbs of Chicago.
  • August 27-31: Ben flies back to NYC and then heads to Philly.  He will spend the front end in NYC for meetings and the back end (at least 29-31) will be at Cabrini college in Philadelphia.  Mikayla and I will fly out to Nashville on the same day and arrive at 8:30am.
  • September 1-24: Ben returns to Kentucky for a few small fundraisers and time with friends and family.  Tim and Chelsea are due to have a baby during this time and we are looking forward to snuggling with Baby Reid during part of this time as well as spending time with other family and friends. 
  • September 5-6: Ben will travel to St. Louis by car for a fundraiser there.
  • September 16-24(?): This last week is being left open for Ben for meetings that will develop in NYC/Philly/DC (or elsewhere).  Mikayla and I will still be hanging out with folks in Kentucky.  Mikayla and I will fly straight to Newark on Sept 24 to return home.  Ben will meet us there from wherever he ends up at the end of the trip.
  • September 26: Arrive back in Jo-burg in the morning.

So there you have it folks!  Let us know if there is something specific you had in mind while we are around.

As for the rest of the week…

We spent the week without the sisters because they were in Ethiopia visiting with other sisters.  There is another section of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart there; the sisters went there this month and then next month they will come here to Swaziland. We picked the sisters up at the airport on Saturday and said goodbye once again as they traveled to South Africa for a few days.  Mikayla was so excited to see them though and ran right up and gave them both big hugs!  It was really precious. 

Since we had to be in town to pick the sisters up from the airport on Saturday we decided to take full advantage of the situation and spend some time on a hike we have been wanting to do since we arrived in Swaziland.  You can read all about it here on Ben’s blog.  We basically hiked up to the top of Execution Rock and drove around Mlilwane to see some wildlife.  Here are a few of the pictures we took.

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Our view coming into the park.  Please note the two hippos just hanging out on the island!

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Close up on hippos.  The lighting is terrible, but you get the picture.

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At the beginning of our hike.  See that big rock on the left…that is where we went.

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Cheesing with daddy…

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And mommy!

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Our little hiker.  She insisted on walking most of the way.  We only carried her when the rocks were steep and plentiful!

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The wildlife around the rest camp is used to humans and so they are really friendly.  Here is Mikayla hanging out with a Nyala.

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Huge crocodile!  We were able to get pretty close to this guy! 

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And of course we saw lots of zebra!

Here are some bird shots from our visit.

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This is one of my favorite bird shots we have taken thus far!

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We also spent a lot of time at the hostel this week.  I am helping out with the afterschool enrichment program we run for the children.  It is a program that focuses on English, reading and math skills.  Basically I am just offering support and suggestions for ways they can make the program more engaging and meaningful for the kids.  Mikayla has even started taking part in the groups and joining the youngest group that is focusing on sounds and basic math.  She is becoming more independent at the hostel and runs off with the kids to play immediately.  Where a month ago she would have hung onto my leg at all times and made sure I was in her line of vision at all times.  She still has though moments, but more and more she gains her independence.  It has been really fun to watch her progression.  The hostel staff even commented on it the other day!

Ben did some cooking this week.  He made a really delicious meal with Impala steaks one night.  And then another night he made a grilled shrimp dinner that was super tasty.  He used Julia Child’s birthday shrimp recipe and it was delicious!  On Sunday morning I made Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with a cream cheese frosting.  Mmm!  Who ever said you couldn’t eat well in Swaziland!

Mikayla enjoyed spending time playing with her baby dolls and princess dolls this week.  That is pretty much the only toys she wanted to play with!  We were also able to take some three year portraits one evening.  It was a very impromptu thing so her hair is a hot mess and the outfit isn’t what I had intended them to be taken in.  But she is still cute!  There is an album on Facebook with a lot of the pictures, but some of the best ones can be found here.

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This Week’s Happenings 10/24-10/30

Sunday, October 30th, 2011

Ben went into town on Monday for a big Global Fund meeting and got a great lead on a car.  He stopped by the mechanic who Cabrini uses for a lot of their vehicles and he had two for sale.  We are working with the mechanic to get a few issues taken care of and then possibly purchasing it.  It is Suzuki SVU (similar to a Rav 4 but with full 4 wheel drive).  We should find something out this coming week.

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On Friday Ben went to Nelspruit, South Africa to drop off the sisters vehicle at the airport.  In the meantime he was able to check out one of the malls.  He said that if you didn’t know any better you would think you were in the US.  It will make a great little getaway town if we need a feel for the US.  He was also able to find some Gold Mountain sauce which we use in our Asian cooking.  We have developed quite the spice/condiment rack since arriving!  For the most part we have been able to find everything we needed/wanted.

This week seems to be the week of creatures!  It rained most of the evening and night on Friday and Saturday brought forth a whole new world of creatures!  It started with a (very brief) walk that Mikayla and I took after her nap.  While walking bugs of all sorts were crawling over our feet and flying around us.  Needless to say we turned around quickly and headed home!  Then Saturday evening while Mikayla was taking a shower our house was swarmed by flying termites.  By far the craziest thing we have seen yet!  Thousands of these flying termites were flying around the house and 20-30 found their way inside the house.  Sunday morning we woke up to find a porch full of their wings (which ironically look like helicopter seeds from the states).  A lot gross and a little cool I guess!

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Flying termites – Ben posted a video on Facebook if you want to really see how crazy they were!

We also found these guys in our front yard.

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Not sure what this guy is…any guesses?

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Giant African Land Snail – Steve we thought you would like these!

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And we finally got a picture of one of my favorite birds this week.  Needless to say it was a week filled with new creatures!

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Of course the big rain on Friday meant we were without electricity for 14 hours or so!  We have gotten pretty used to going without electricity, but 14 hours was a pretty long time.  We were lucky in that everything in the fridge an freezer made it through the power outage okay.

One of the most exciting things to happen this week was we discovered that we now have 3G at home. I am not sure what all the means, but it does mean we have faster Internet which means we can do things like call people from our computers and occasionally video chat.  It is still really expensive and the faster the Internet it is, the more you spend to be online.  We were able to make a few phone calls to friends this past week.  We haven’t done so previously because it is so expensive to call from our cell phones (around $1 for thirty seconds to a minute).  It was nice to be able to call folks without having to wait for them to call us!

On Saturday evening our friends John David and Brittany continued our tradition of having our annual Halloween Party.  We were sad to miss/host this year, but glad the tradition continued!  Because we now have 3G we decided it would be fun to wake up during the party to "see" everyone.  So we woke up at 3am and after a couple of failed attempts we were able to video chat with our friends.  It was so great to "see" everyone and take part in the festivities a little.  Our costumes were a little lame (on account of us waking up in the middle of the night), but we dressed up as a couple of sleepy heads!  Mikayla even woke up to see her friends, although I am not sure how much she remembers!

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We went for a brief walk one evening and it turned dark so Mikayla had to wear her "torch".


Animals in the First Three Months

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

We have seen lots of wild life and livestock since arriving in Swaziland.  On a daily basis we see cows, donkeys, dogs, goats and a variety of birds.  On rare occasions we see some more unique animals.  We have visited two of the game reserves since arriving and have seen a variety of African animals.  Here are some of the animal we have seen so far.

Lots of deer like creatures:

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Blue Wildebeest

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Impala Female

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Impala Male

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Common Reedbuck


A couple more birds (I am leaving the names off for my father-in-law.  He asked for some more birds to identify!):

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This is the nest of the bird above – how unique?  They fly through the little hole in the bottom. 

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Some unique finds:

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Southern Tree Agama

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Rock Monitor – Mikayla is not the unique find!


Animals you think of when you think of Africa:

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Warthog – terrible picture, but man those suckers are fast!

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And of course giraffes!  We have lots of these pictures, but here are just a few!

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Seriously, how could someone not think these are beautiful!

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I love this picture because it reminds me of our little family.  Daddy and Mommy giraffe on the left and Mikayla giraffe on the right.  Silly? Yes, but still fun!

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