Posts Tagged ‘twins’


Saturday, December 29th, 2012

On Christmas Eve as we were celebrating as a family and enjoying a relaxing day, we got a call with some devastating news.  News that a parent or friend never wants to hear.  We got word that Simo, one of the twins we had kept last year after first arriving in Swaziland, had been killed when his house fell in on him.  A young life tragically taken before his time.  Nosipho, his sister, was in the house as well but escaped with only a few minor scrapes.  It hit me really hard and I found myself holding back the tears as I thought about him for the next few days, especially during the Christmas season. 

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In case you forgot Simo’s story, here is a quick recap.  Cabrini got word about two twins dying on their homestead from malnutrition about two years ago.  As an organization we immediately took action and had them taken to a local hospital for emergency nutritional care.  After they recovered sufficiently from severe malnutrition they came to live at our hostel.  After just a short time at the hostel it was time for the children to go home for a school holiday, but we were wary of sending these guys home so soon since they were still recovering. 

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Enter the Kickert family who had just arrived in Swaziland, we invited them to live with us for the school break and never looked back.  We enjoyed a month or so of nursing them back to health, watching them grow, and spending lots of time playing.  During that time Mikayla, Ben and I fell in love with these two African babies.  They were still very weak and well behind their developmental stages.  They were almost two and not crawling, walking or talking.  Simo in particular was well behind the growth curve even further behind his sister.  As time went on Nosipho began crawling, walking and even doing a little talking.  Simo on the other hand, was struggling to pull himself up and figure out the whole crawling thing.  They were both developing into their own little personalities and smiling and laughing more each day. 

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The first time I saw Simo walking I almost cried.  It was a beautiful sight, one that I didn’t think we would see for a long time, if ever.  He matured so much in the last year and really grew into a healthy young boy.  A young boy who if you saw him a year and a half ago you wouldn’t think he would live past the two year mark.  Instead he enjoyed a prosperous last year and for the last year enjoyed a full life as a healthy young boy. 

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So on this day we mourn for Simo, but we also rejoice for the second chance at life he got over the last two years.  We will forever remember Simo and his goofy grin, the way he would constantly stick his tongue out when looking at you and his strong desire to succeed just like his sister!

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Posted in Life |

This Week’s Happenings 12/27-1/8

Sunday, January 8th, 2012

We got home from our Christmas vacation on the 26th and then spent the 27th prepping and preparing for the arrival of the twins.  We were supposed to have Nosipho and Simo picked up and brought to us on the 28th, but it was the evening of the 29th when they got to our house.  We fed them a quick dinner and then all three kids took a bath in Mikayla’s tub.  The school break this time around is 7 weeks and the childcare staff had some concerns about the twins (who were now pretty healthy) returning home for that length of period.  So it was decided that after a few weeks they would be picked up and brought to us for the remainder of the break.  However, after their arrival and spending a couple of days with them it was decided that they were being well cared for at their homestead.  So, after a week and a few days we returned them home on Friday.  It was a little more chaotic with them this time around.  They are both walking and running and are much more active than they were in August when we kept them the first time.  I think Mikayla enjoyed the company and even asked last night when the twins would be back!

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Three kids in a tub…doesn’t get much more entertaining than that!

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Nosipho and her many faces

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Smiling Simo

Mikayla has enjoyed playing with all her new Christmas toys in the last few weeks.  Despite being far from family she seemed to get a lot of toys this year!  Her aunts and uncles really made sure she was well taken care of in the toy department!  Thanks everyone who sent us packages!  A special thanks to Pam Cate for some amazing peanut brittle!

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Mikayla and Nosipho enjoying a ride on her swing.

We got a call from our friends Peter, Callista and Aviva to spend New Years at their house.  We happily accepted and on New Years Eve packed up all the kids and headed to Mbabane (about 2 hours from our house).  We enjoyed a great evening of laughter, white bean chili and Settlers of Catan!  That’s right folks, we met a fellow Catan player in Swaziland – Keri.  She was a friend of Peter and Callista’s who joined us for New Year’s Eve.  A Swaziland tradition (at least in town) is that to ring in the New Year, at midnight fireworks are set off.  Since we were on top of a large hill we got a great view of all the fireworks being set off.  We stayed up entirely too late and the kids woke up entirely too early the next morning, but we all had a good time.  We were even able to have a couple of Skype conversations with friends who were ringing in the New Year in the states!

This was also a sad week as we lost a very important member of the Cabrini crew.  One of the sisters’ dogs (Boy) got into a fight with a 7′ black mamba (a poisonous snake) and lost the battle.  Boy managed to kill the snake, but in the process the snake bit him and killed him.  We were all very sad to hear the news.  I think Socks (the other dog) was the saddest of them all.  He spent the next day moping around our front porch and didn’t chase a single bird (his favorite pastime).  He seems to be slowly getting back to his normal self and I even caught him chasing some chickens the other day.  On Friday some of the staff members killed another mamba in our front yard and he started to go help and changed his mind when he saw what it was.  So he isn’t back to himself completely, but he is slowly getting there. 

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One of the few pictures of boy we took!  He was a good dog and reminded us a lot of Shiloh.

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The mamba that killed Boy.

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Mikayla enjoying a mango the Swazi way.  By Swazi way I mean eating it skin and all!

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Posted in Life |

This Week’s Happenings 9/12-9/18

Saturday, September 17th, 2011

We started Mikayla’s Toddler School this week.  If you missed that post you should check it out for more details!  This week Mikayla learned a lot about the Letter M! 

The kids returned to the hostel this week, which means the twins also returned (although they left our care last Saturday).  The transition was really smooth.  Mikayla is doing well being the only child again (she was only in time out one or two times the whole week, compared to the numerous times daily when the twins were here).  We miss the twins, but have fallen easily back into our old routines.  Meal time is much less stressful now, only trying to feed one kid and not three.  The twins are having a bit of a harder time with adjustment, Nosipho especially.  She is grumpy as ever and is much clingier than she ever was with us.  Their sister (probably five years old) lives at the hostel as well and Nosipho has really taken to her.  The other day she didn’t want to have anything to do with anyone else besides her.  Neither are walking yet, but Nosipho did take a few independent steps.  Simo is scooting along on the floor and trying really hard to pull himself up on furniture and the like. 

Speaking of the hostel Mikayla has magically transformed her behavior while at the hostel.  Before the break she was really clingy and whiney when we were there.  This week she has marched right in and started playing immediately.  Of course it helps that all the kids are offering her sweets (candy) and biscuits (cookies)!!  On Saturday she played by herself with me out of sight for a good hour.  She has even buddied up with the twins older sister.  And she partook in dance lessons from one of the girls the other day.  She is becoming quite the Swazi and definitely has more rhythm than both her parents!

On Wednesday we spent an entire day in the capital city, Mbabane to get our fingerprints taken.  We are still working through the process of getting our work permits taken care of and this is just part of it.  Mikayla thought it was fun though and she even took her baby’s fingerprints in the car on the way home. 

After our day in Mbabane we went on a mini safari to see some animals.  We saw mostly deer like animals (impala, kudu, etc), some warthogs and most excitedly of all some zebra.  Mikayla had fun scouting out the animals and only complained of the rain once and got right over it.  We drove around for awhile and then walked around the main lodge area in the rain for a bit. It was fun to introduce Mikayla to some real African wild life and not just cows and goats!

We didn’t have to make a lot of home purchases when we arrived because our house was furnished; but we have picked up a few minor things along the way like some Tupperware and of course my mixer!  However, this week we got one of our biggest home purchase yet (including home purchases back in the states).  We had a custom table and chairs built by a local carpenter.  It is really beautiful.  The chairs need some cushions, but besides that it is amazing.  We have never bought new furniture before, so this was exciting for us.  For the table and six chairs we paid E1660, roughly  $230!  Amazing!  Too bad you can’t get custom made furniture like that everywhere!

When we arrived in Swaziland the sisters told us that we could have the satellite that was on another volunteers house and use it at ours, we just had to move it and get it hooked up.  We finally broke down this weekend, and by we I mean Ben and a maintenance guy named Esau, and hooked it up.  I came home for a parents meeting and entertainment at the hostel to find the Food Network!  Ah the simple pleasures in life!

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Macaroni necklace.  Mikayla was actually really good at threading the noodles onto her ribbon.  Any good suggestions for activities dealing with fine motor??

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Counting caterpillar – she was putting the correct number of macaroni noodles on each number of the caterpillar.  He goes to 10, but we stopped at five this week.

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What better way to celebrate the Letter M than to make muffins!  I hope to incorporate cooking activities in with each letter.

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Our new table and chairs!

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New chairs, aren’t they pretty?

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Zebra, aren’t they beautiful??

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This Week’s Happenings 9/4-9/11

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

Recently Mikayla has really been enjoying watching some Disney movies (it is pretty much Disney or Signing Time if she wants to watch something).  Some of her favorites include Little Mermaid, Lady and the Tramp, and Cinderella.   The other day she was digging around in the silverware drawer and pulled out a fork.  When I asked her what she was doing she responded by saying that she was brushing her hair like the Little Mermaid.  Love that kid!

Speaking of Mikayla, she is doing so well with the potty training thing.  At Christmas she decided to potty train herself; however, she was only day time potty trained.  That meant she still wore a diaper at nap and night time.  Within the past week she has stayed dry and worn underwear during each of her naps and stayed dry in her diaper 1 or 2 nights.  I think we are on the way to getting rid of diapers!  Of course now that I mention this she will probably have a wet diaper every time!

Last week Sister Barbara approached me with a job offer.  It is working part time with the education aspect of the childcare program – the education coordinator.  At first I will be helping out with the after school tutoring program and the bridge school, but eventually I will be doing more.  The bridge school is basically a school that bridges the gap for students who began school later in life and need to basically play catch up.  It will be very part time since I still want to save time during the day to have Toddler school for Mikayla, which we hope to start on Monday. 

This was our last week with the twins.  We took them up to the clinic to be weighed on Friday and found out that Simo weighed 9kg and Nosipho weighed 8.9 kg.  This is up from the 6kg they weighed less than two months ago.  We must be feeding them pretty good!!  They will spend the weekend at their homestead and then be picked up on Monday when the rest of the hostel kids return. 

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During our mini photo shoot the kids decided to have a screaming fest!  Here are their screaming faces.

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Since Friday was our last official day with the twins we had a "Pancake Picnic" for breakfast. 

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For Mrs. Dacia – Mikayla admiring herself in your headband saying how pretty she looked!


Then and Now–Twin Edition

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

Then – August 13, 2011

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Now – September 9, 2011

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Posted in Life, Parenting |

For Jana

Monday, September 5th, 2011

This is a post specifically for Ben’s cousin Jana to see specifics of Simo’s development in crawling and walking.  Let us know what you think Jana!

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Simo attempting to pull up.  It is almost like he can’t get his right leg to move in the right direction, like it is stuck or something.  Is this normal developmentally or is there something we can work on to strengthen this?

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Scooting along the floor, again struggling with his legs doing the right thing.  The right one stays tucked again and he can’t seem to get it in the correct positioning for crawling.


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In the standing position after I have helped him up.  Notice how his right leg turns out.  If we try to walk holding both his hands (with us behind him), both his feet do this.  But when just standing there it is only his right leg. 

Jana – let us know what you think and if you want feel free to pass on to your friends who deal specifically with Pediatrics.  Thanks for the help and suggestions!

Posted in Parenting |

This Week’s Happenings 8/22-8/28

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

The kids are all getting along well for the most part.  The other day I walked in to see the three of them playing on Mikayla’s bed (which at the moment happens to be a mattress on the floor in our room) with her baby dolls and special pig from her friend Lylah (which she refers to as present).  It was so precious.  They do have their occasional squabbles as any "siblings" would.  Nosipho is quick to grab things from her brother and then crawl off leaving him quite devastated.  Mikayla has done her far share of "picking" at the twins as well. 

Speaking of Mikayla, she has gotten very good at taking messages to people around our house.  Occasionally I will need to tell Ben something or borrow something from the sisters and so I will either tell Mikayla or write a note and send her to the office or house to relay the message.  She will march right along (usually in her rain boots because they are her shoes of choice) and walk up to the door and say "I’m here"!  Eventually she makes it back to the house very proud of herself.  Little Miss Independent!

We have become a family addicted to popcorn.  We have it several times a week!  Ben is perfecting his popcorn varieties.  He has made traditional popcorn, a spicy buttery mix, a kettle corn and a spicy kettle corn so far.  He even joked the other night about making a Popcorn book with recipes for all kinds of different homemade popcorns.  I told him to go for it!  Of course, there is no exact measurements when he is making it so it might be hard to complete.

Ben was gone for three days this week and we all survived!  He worked long days working on a grant and I hung out with the kids back at home.  Another volunteer, Katie, was around on Tuesday and Thursday so she helped out when she could.  Wednesday I was on my own for the whole day and besides one little incident we all did great.  The twins did not nap good on Wednesday and when I walked in to finally get them out of the bed I saw why.  Somehow Simo’s diaper had come off (I am thinking Nosipho had something to do with it since it was laying right next to her) and he had pooped.  He managed to get poop all over him, the blankets and the crib.  Miraculously Nosipho we clean as a whistle.  Needless to say we took baths early and due to the lack of naps we had an early bedtime.  We started letting them cry it out about a week ago and it is working awesome.  Now they only cry for a minute or two and then are sound asleep.  I hope this trend continues for them at the hostel because I know that is one thing they struggled with there.

When Ben got home he had two surprises for us, one for me and one for Mikayla.  Mikayla received her first Swaziland mail, which was actually our first mail at all.  She got a special collage picture from her dear friend Lylah back home (thanks again guys).  She looks at it often and had even started showing Lylah around the house/yard.  We were outside the other day and she grabbed Lylah’s hand and started to walk her around and show her the mango trees, telling her all about them.  So sweet!  Just for reference the mail only took about two weeks to arrive.  I am not sure on packages though.  My special surprise was an electric mixer!  Woo hoo.  I think I jumped and squealed when I saw it in Ben’s bag.  Who knew one could get so excited for a mixer.  But I will tell you that it will make my baking much easier and my arm won’t be as tired from stirring!  It is no Kitchen Aid, but it will work perfectly!

Twin update – Nosipho is well on her way to walking.  She will now stand for minutes at a time without holding onto anything.  She hasn’t braved that first step yet, but is very close.  Simo is still struggling to get his body to maneuver in the right direction.  When you try to put him in the crawling position his legs won’t cooperate, almost like there is something wrong.  He has an appointment on Tuesday to see a physical therapist in town.  Hopefully nothing is wrong and the PT can at least give us some exercises to do to strengthen his leg muscles.  They are chatting up a storm and are making clear sounds like "da" and "ma".  They aren’t saying any real words yet, but do love to scream and bang pots from Mikayla’s kitchen.  It can get really loud in our house sometimes with the banging and screaming bouncing off the concrete walls and tile floors!

I made a delicious made from scratch chocolate cake and icing this week.  I am thinking that I am going to start gaining weight with all the goodies I am making!  I plan on trying some sort of bread this week.  Any suggestions?  I also made some chicken and dumplings that turned out pretty good.  I had to use Mikayla’s play rolling pin from Ikea to roll out the dough which was interesting!  Guess I need to locate a rolling pin, huh?

On Sunday I flooded the house, literally!  I was trying to multi-task and wash clothes while mopping the floor.  The way the washing machine is set up is that it drains into the basin sitting next to it.  I completely forget this when I filled the basin up with water and cleaner to mop the floor.  While mopping the kitchen I heard a large splashing sound and immediately ran into the laundry room to fin water quickly spilling out of the basin.  We had water everywhere and it took us a bit of time to get straightened out.  The kids then proceeded to break two bowls while playing.  Needless to say, Sunday was a bit of a destructive day for the Kickert household. 

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Nosipho likes to crawl right up to you when you get the camera out.

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Playing with babies on Mikayla’s bed.

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This Week’s Happenings 8/14-8/21

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

The twins went to the hospital on Wednesday for a check up so they were gone most of the day.  Mikayla and I took full advantage of it just being the two of us.  We cleaned, watched a movie and had some fun Mommy/daughter time.  She only complained about the twins not being here first thing in the morning!  We ended up having company over for dinner on Wednesday night (Ben was actually in town trying to take care of some things) and the kids all went to bed late.  That meant they all woke up early on Thursday and for some reason didn’t take good naps.  Needless to say with all the crankiness everyone had early bedtimes!

I made some really delicious banana bread courtesy of a recipe from my good friend Jennifer.  It was delicious and enjoyed by many in the office and hostel. The recipe is below.  That was really the only thing I baked this week because we ran out of butter and it isn’t like there is a grocery store on every corner here!!

The twins are making a lot of progress this week.  Nosipho is crawling efficiently and moving all over the place. She has gone from crawling while dragging one foot behind to crawling the right way.  She is also pulling up on stuff and cruising along the furniture like a mad woman!  She is smiling, laughing and jabbering constantly.  Simo is also becoming very good at mimicking you.  We even caught her the other day soothing her brother when he was upset by patting him on the back like we do.  She has also picked up a few signs along the way.  She now knows eat, more and milk.  Simo is making progress in his own little way.  He is now pushing up (with a little help) while holding on to your hands into a standing position.  This is something that a week ago (and even a few days ago) he refused to do and would hold his legs up so you couldn’t make him stand.  He is laughing and smiling and jabbering along as well.  He will occasionally sign for eat and more.  He is clapping and is still perfectly content to just sit still!  And of course they are both eating like champs.  They eat twice as much food as Mikayla (and poop three or four times as much)!  It is amazing the progress they have made in a week, I can’t wait to see where they are at the end of the month. 

We are getting into a pretty good groove of being a family of five.  Bath time is still a little tricky because everyone wants to be in the bathroom at the same time and if you saw Ben’s video, it really isn’t that big of a space.  We have started letting the twins "cry it out" at night and that is going well.  It takes a little bit longer for them to settle down than it does for Mikayla, but they are getting much better at putting themselves to sleep. 

I also found out that Ben will be in Manzini (the town about 1.5 hours away) for three days next week for a meeting.  I will get a real taste of what it is like to be a mommy of three toddlers then!

I almost forgot, one of the volunteers here talked me into going for a run with her last weekend

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Cookie time!  Or as the Swazi’s would say Biscuit time!

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Beautiful Nosipho

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My baby girl and I

Banana Bread Recipe

Prep time: 5 minutes

  • Cook time: 1 hour
  • 3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup sugar (can easily reduce to 3/4 cup)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

No need for a mixer for this recipe. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, egg, and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last, mix. Pour mixture into a buttered 4×8 inch loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour. Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve.

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Posted in Cooking, Parenting |

Mango Tree Pictures

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

Tree pictures are an Adkins family tradition.  I wanted to carry that tradition with us to Africa and the mango trees are just perfect!  Here are all three kids in the mango trees.

First up Mikayla who refuses to look directly at the camera when taking pictures these days.

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[NOTE: The last two pictures are linked to larger versions that can be downloaded and saved/printed.]

Next Nosipho.

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And last, but not least Simo.

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Posted in Parenting |

This Week’s Happenings 8/8-8/13

Saturday, August 13th, 2011

8/8 – I went to my first meeting with Mikayla this week.  It was for the “aunties” on staff in child care.  It was nice to meet them each and start really learning names.  Mikayla did wonderfully.  She immediately jumped right in and played with the handful of kids who were not at school today.  She grabbed their hands and walked over to the slide to play.  She only came over and interrupted the meeting a couple of times and even that was to tell me something really quick and then ran back over to her friends.  She is starting to get the hang of telling them what she wants and doesn’t want.  She even marched into the kitchen at the hostile today to ask for a piece of bread like the other kids had. 

8/12 – The twins moved in today (Friday).  I actually managed to get all three kids to sleep at the same time!  Ben took an extra long lunch so he was around to help me out.  Wouldn’t it be amazing if this trend continued??  The boys name is Simo (See-mo) and the girls is Nosipho (No-see-po).  They are precious but so quiet and super still.  Maybe Mikayla’s activeness will rub off a little and they will start moving and talking during their stay. 

They slept really well their first night and it only took about 20 or 30 minutes to get them both drifted off.  We didn’t rock or anything just laid them in their crib and rubbed Nosipho’s belly for a few minutes.  Simo fell right to sleep.  They look much better than they did this time last week.  They are eating really well and gaining personality.  Nosipho is now responding to her name and both babies are waving goodbye.  Simo even muttered and utterance that sounded like goodbye when people were leaving the house last night.  They are semi-feeding themselves independently.  Nosipho is crawling, she drags one leg behind her and crawls up on the other.  She will walk if you hold her hands, but her legs are still not very strong.  Simo hates standing up and will cry if you try to make him.

The electricity went out a few nights ago for a couple of hours so we got to cook and eat dinner by candlelight.  Mikayla has been asking to eat with the candles since then.  I am not sure she understands that losing electricity isn’t a good thing!

The plan is for me to drive into town on my own on Saturday to check email while Ben hangs out with the kids.  I am nervous about doing it on my own, but also excited about getting away from home for a few hours.  Ben heads into town at least once a week for work and I haven’t been away for over two weeks! (Update – made it into town okay!)

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Just munching on some sugar cane we found on the side of the road!

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I put Mikayla’s hair in pigtail braids the other day.  This isn’t a very good picture, but isn’t she just too cute!

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Simo on the left and Nosipho on the right!