Posts Tagged ‘weeks happenings’

This Week’s Happenings May 1-12

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

For the last couple of weeks I have been part of the planning committee for our term break camps.  Each school break the kids that stay at the hostel return home to be with their families.  Periodically during these breaks we will bring those that are 15 years and older back to the hostel for a fun filled camp.  The camps consist of sports, guest speakers, life skills training and much more!  Last week was our camp for this school break and it kept me super busy!  Mikayla and I would leave the house each morning and not return until supper or later!!  I was the "behind the scenes girl".  I did not have a super specific role, but floated around and helped to fill in the gaps where needed.  I was on my feet a lot and running around, which made me super tired!  Not sure how I taught kindergarten right up until Mikayla was born!!

Part of the camp was a mural project.  We took the theme "Live Your Best Life" and had each group (there were four) complete one of the words in the theme on a large board.  The kids spent the first day brainstorming, then Ben took their ideas and created the designs.  I then projected them onto the board and traced them. The kids took over after this painting and filling in with additional thoughts and ideas.  I think they turned out pretty good for their first big art project.  Thanks to all my time at Kaleidoscope I was able to help get this project completed!!

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Another highlight from the camp week was the Cabrini staff vs. Camp kids soccer match.  It was quite entertaining and actually a really well matched game (with the exception of a couple of out of shape gentlemen)!  Here are a couple of shots from the game. Oh and the kids won (1-0) in overtime!!

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Staff in blue, kids in green.  Anyone notice something out of place in this picture?

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We spent the weekend recuperating from camp and relaxing!  I had a fabulous Mother’s Day where Ben and Mikayla let e watch movies and relax on the couch all day.  They served me food and wouldn’t let me lift a finger!  Just what this momma needed!  Love my family.

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Posted in Life, Work |

This Week’s Happenings–April Update

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

Besides Easter and a very special fourth birthday (stay tuned for a separate post on this one), April was a pretty routine month for us.  Ben worked, Mikayla and I had school and hung out at the hostel and we enjoyed time as a family!  After our month of visitors in March, we enjoyed some quiet down time as a family. 

I was also able to take a mini trip to Mozambique with Joe and Scooter for a weekend, while Ben stayed home with Mikayla.  It was a nice weekend.  We hit up the craft and fabric shops, some of my favorite places to go!!  I got lots of fun fabrics, purses and other small items to add to my collection.  We also visited a fish market and had a delicious lunch of crab, prawns, calamari and some sort of fish.  It was nice to get away for the weekend, but I was glad to get back home with my family when it was over. 

Below are some pictures from our month.

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Mikayla dyed Easter eggs this year.  All the eggs are brown, so it was a little tricky.  She enjoyed every minute of it and asked frequently afterwards when we were going to to dye more.

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Dansile, a child staying short term at the hostel, even got in on the action with the help of Scooter.  Scooter was with Cabrini as a volunteer for a few months and really latched on to taking care of Dansile.  We were even able to have a slumber party with Dansile one night when the kids at the hostel were gone and Scooter had prior commitments. 

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Hunting for eggs.  She was so cute and excited each time she found one!

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Mikayla and Ben had a "tea party date" one day. They both dressed up and had tea in her room while I showered and relaxed!  Please take note of Ben’s tie, this is how everyone here wears them…about a foot too short!

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For school one day Mikayla got to experience shaving cream.  She loved exploring it, writing letters and drawing pictures!  She has even enjoyed playing with it in the shower since then!

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This is a picture we forgot to post while the Steve and Rita were here for a visit.

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This picture is for Meghan, Ben’s cousin.  She made the necklace for Mikayla as a birthday gift.  Mikayla was being too silly to get a good picture, but says thanks for the beautiful necklace.

May is already shaping up to be a busy month for us, but more on that later!


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!


This Week’s Happenings (February)

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

I know it is more than a week, but I realized last night that I hadn’t done an update for the last month.  We have been busy with work and visitors for the last month.  Here are a couple of highlights.

  1. I turned 30!
  2. We had our first Swaziland visitors.  Ben’s cousin, Jana, and her friend, Liv, came to visit.  During their visit we did a lot of the "touristy" things.  Like visiting Kruger Game park for the day, hiking/driving around Blyde River Canyon, hiking Execution Rock in Swaziland and hitting up all the "handicraft shops" in Swaziland.  We had a busy two weekends with them, but it was great to host our first visitors.  Mikayla really enjoyed the visited and ate up all the attention they gave her. execution Rock 167
  3.  I got bit by something in between my toes and ended up limping around for about a week.  I am much better now, but had to sit out some of our activities with Jana and Liv.
  4. On Valentine’s Day not only did we eat at McDonalds for dinner, but we also found out that we would be having a baby boy in July.  We all thought it was a girl, so it was a little of a shock.  Mikayla was disappointed at first because she thought it was a girl and had a name all picked out (Chrysanthemum), but has since embraced the idea of having a baby brother.  We are now in full debate as to what the name should be.  Ben and I just can’t seem to agree! Ultrasound, Jana and Liv visit 091
  5. Our house got struck by lightening and messed up our TV and satellite.  Not a huge deal, but something noteworthy.  In the meantime, Ben has set up the projector to project on our wall so we can watch movies from the computer. 
  6. Speaking of movies, Mikayla finally saved up enough money to buy Brave.  She had been saving for several months (earning coins by doing chores, eating at the table, etc.).  We had a Brave debut with Joe and some other volunteers while we ate burgers one afternoon.  She was so cute and excited about the whole thing.  She has now decided she wants to earn coins to buy Toy Story 2.  Wonder how long it will take her to earn it this time?
  7. I have been exchanging pregnancy notes with my dear friend Catherine who found out she was expecting too!  When I was pregnant with Mikayla she found out at the end of my pregnancy that she was pregnant (although I didn’t find out until after Mikayla was born).  It is fun to share pregnancies with close friends both times around! 

We have a busy March ahead and I don’t expect to blog much in the next bit.  Ben leaves for Ethiopia for a week on Saturday and then when he gets back (the following Saturday) we have a day before we go pick up his parents for their visit.  They will be here until the end of March, so we once again have a lot of traveling scheduled and down time at home.  Should be another fun, busy month!


This Week’s Happenings 1/14-1/27

Monday, January 28th, 2013

I am hoping to get back into a regular routine of blogging each week, but I am not making any promises!  Over the last two weeks a few exciting things have happened around here.

Last week some new volunteers arrived.  Natalie, from California, will be with Cabrini until March and Scooter, from Illinois and a former Peace Corp Volunteer in Mozambique, will be here until April.  They will both be helping out with childcare, specifically with the education portion of things.  It is nice to have some girls I can relate to around the mission again!  We are also hoping to take full advantage of Scooter’s knowledge of Mozambique while she is here  (she was there for three years) and head that direction at least once.  It is only about 2-3 hours away, but visas to into the country are a little pricey (around $80 USD a person), so we shall see if it happens or not.

Also in the last week Joe arrived back to the mission.  Mikayla was particularly excited to see him and tried to give him a recap of the last month in one day.  I think it was a little overwhelming for him!  We are glad to have him back.

A lot has happened in the childcare department in the last week.  First, all the kids returned to the hostel from school break and started back into a new school year, including three new Grade one students.  We also had our parents/guardians meeting complete with some beautiful singing from the choir and dancing from some girls.  (We have a parents/guardians meeting each time the kids return from a school break.)  Lastly, we accepted a new "baby" to the hostel on Friday.  Her name is Dansile (pronounced Don-see-lay) and she is almost three years old.  She is a beautiful child, but very sick.  I got the privilege of holding her through our 1.5 hour long "Blessing Service" to welcome the students back on Friday evening.  It reminded me of when Simo and Nosipho first arrived at the hostel and made me sad all over again about the untimely death of Simo.

Over the course of the last two weeks I have had a lot of meetings about the education department and trying to get everything rolling on the right foot first thing this year!  It has been a little stressful trying to squeeze in meetings, Mikayla and family time, but we have figured it out!  Ben was great this week because there were a couple of times when it just didn’t make since for me to take a three year old to a meeting or she was still napping so I didn’t want to wake her up and he kept Mikayla.  They had some great daddy/daughter time!  I was even able to take an entire day to head in with some of our high school graduates to go shopping for a trip they were getting to take to the USA.  I am so grateful for a husband who is willing to work from home or take some time off to spend time with Mikayla so I can also do some work!

For Christmas we got Mikayla a soccer ball and so we have been enjoying playing that with her (as well as all her other gifts) over the last few weeks.  Here she is dressed up in her princess gear and rain boots trying to kick the soccer ball!  Too funny.

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And here are a few more pictures from our last few weeks:

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Touchdown!  Since we have AC in our room, on really hot days we have been letting Mikayla crash on our couch.  Clearly she was dreaming about football here!

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Enjoying some cherries!  She loves them!

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Enjoying a butterfly caught on an adventure with daddy!

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And a really creepy spider found on our fence!  Front side…

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…and backside!  Like I said, creepy!  You can also get a feel for how big he is by the size of the regular chain link fence!

Until next week!

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Posted in Life |

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 11/5-11/11

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

**Just realized that I wrote this post weeks ago and never posted it!  Better late than never I suppose!**

How is it already the middle of November?  These past few months have flown by!  Not much happened this week, Mikayla and I hung out a lot while Ben was gone for several different meetings in town.  This week should slow down for him some.

An interesting fact about Swaziland is that the school systems operate much differently than in the states.  Here there are three main testing years, Grade 7, Form 3 (like sophomore or junior year) and Form 5 (like Senior year in states).  Everyone in the whole country (in these grades at least) have set tests that last for a couple of weeks sometime in November (school year is over in December).  When the students finish their testing they are free to leave school, in other words there are no classes for them for the rest of the term.  The Form 3’s finished their testing last week, so they have had a lot of free time on their hands.  I offered to do a baking class with them twice a week and am so glad I did.  We have had so much fun.  So far we have made banana bread and no bake cookies. 

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On Thursday, we got word that the Queen Mother was going to be in the area to look at her cattle.  There is a big royal farm just down the road from us, that she visits once a year.  It is always a big production, the kids perform, she gives a speech and then there is a feast afterwards.  I decided it might be fun for Mikayla to see the Queen Mother so we set out on a rainy day to see her.  It was about a thirty minute walk, and Mikayla walked the whole way!  I was really impressed because she is usually asking to be held.  We got there a little after 12 (she was due to arrive around 11:30 or so).  It was 2:30 before the Queen Mother and her entourage showed up.  Love "Swazi time" (insert sarcastic tone here).  Then another hour before she made her grand appearance.  By that time my napless girl was running on fumes and being quite the stinker.  I did not think we were going to make it through the whole thing.  She did though…never ceases to amaze me.  Afterwards we grabbed some food and then made the 1/2 hour trek back home.  Again, Mikayla opted to walk the whole time playing and chatting it up with her friends along the way.  By the way, friends in Mikayla’s book are anyone who says hello to her!

On Friday Mikayla wanted to paint so I got out some pegs that I wanted to turn into peg letter people and we spent a good hour or so painting.  She has loved playing with her people all weekend! 

At one point during the week Mikayla looked at me and said, "Mommy your my best friend".  Sometimes she can be so sweet!

On Sunday Mikayla was up at 5am ready for a play date with Joe!  He promised her earlier in the week that he would play with her on Sunday and she has been looking forward to it since.  I am not sure Joe would have appreciated us waking him up at 5am to play though!

Coming up this week is the Feast of Mother Cabrini.  If you want to see last years celebrating you can check out some posts here and here.  It should be a good feast, one of our staff members got ducks and impala donated for it.  Looking forward to trying some duck. 

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This Week’s Happenings 10/29-11/4

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

We had a beautiful week here in Swaziland this week. The weather was gorgeous (much different than the sweltering November we experienced last year) and Ben even had some meetings cancelled in town so he was home (working regular schedule) all week.  Next week is a different story, but this week was nice!

We started our "Thankful Tree" this week.  I drew a large tree on some chart paper and posted on the wall with fall colored leaves.  Each day in November we will work together as a family to say what we are thankful for and put on our tree.  Basically Mikayla gives us an idea and we fine tune it!  So far she is thankful for food (especially the people who make corn), art supplies, toys and maps!

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On Wednesday we passed out some candy to our neighbors and they graciously allowed us to let Mikayla trick or treat at their houses.  Since we only have a few Americans here that understand the concept, we trick or treated at both front and back doors.  Mikayla was so excited and had so much fun!  Ben even got in on the action too.

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Pretty (albeit cheesy) princess grin.

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Twirling in her dress from Uncle Tim and Aunt Chelsea!

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Mikayla and daddy ready to go.  Please notice his massive bag!  I think he was a little ambitious.

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Stephanie (a long term volunteer) passed out candy from both office doors.

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Sister Barbara even got in on the action!

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Joe, knowing Mikayla’s love for cooking, gave her spices in addition to the candy.  She LOVED this!

Joe’s birthday was a couple of weeks ago, but we were waiting until the sisters got back in town to really celebrate.  He requested a dessert themed party, so on Friday and Saturday I spent the day making desserts!  We ended up with quite the spread and all were on a sugar rush when it was through!  We had donuts, churros, cookie dough brownies, frozen cheesecake, fudgy oat bars, and rainbow cupcakes with icing!  We ended the sugared evening with a showing of A Bug’s Life on our "screen" outside!

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Joe with his birthday candle and spread.  The picture of the desserts is not great, but trust me there was a lot!

Today we have had another lazy Sunday filled with a walk to the river to skip some rocks, tomato basil soup (thanks Joe) and then plans to grill out tonight!  Last weekend we introduced Mikayla to "Family Reading Time".  Basically this is where we all take our respective books and spend some time reading (or in Mikayla’s case looking at pictures).  Last weekend she spend almost 45 minutes "reading" and then asked for it again later in the week.  This morning she asked if she could paint during Family Reading Time.  She spent a good hour painting this morning!  She is doing so good at painting and staying in the lines and is so proud of herself when she does so. 

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Posted in Life |

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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Posted in Life |

This Week’s Happenings 1-/15-10/21

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

I am a bit late in posting this because we were away this weekend (which is when I usually write my blog posts).  We decided to hit the road for a weekend away in Nelspruit with our friend Joe.  We didn’t do anything spectacular, but scouted out some Christmas gifts, ate some yummy food (that I did not have to prepare or wash the dishes from), and purchased some tortilla chips and salsa!  It was great to get away and we were even able to sneak in a few baths for Mikayla (and myself)!

As far as the past week goes, we had a pretty slow week.  Ben stayed busy with work and Mikayla and I fell into a pretty good routine.  While the sisters are away they asked us to feed one of the healthcare patients they feed each day, Nkosingphile.  He is one of our clients that requires higher need than most and the sisters have taken on this task.  So we began each morning with cooking some sausage, buttered bread, fruit and a side or two (beans, rice, potatoes).  While I cooked, Mikayla enjoyed putting together his "goodie bag".  He takes home some bread, fruit, sweets (candy) and biscuits (cookies) each day.  After he was taken care of we would begin school, then play for a bit before lunch.  After lunch she would take her nap while I worked on house stuff, preschool planning and any other Cabrini type work that needed taken care of.  When she wakes up we head to the hostel for play time with the kids and after school enrichment program.  Then it is time for dinner, shower and bed!  I am loving being back into somewhat of a routine.  Of course, not each day is so set in stone, but at least it gives us something to guide our days!

We received a special mailer this week from some folks that used to attend Broadway UMC with us.  Their daughter’s class is sending out Traveling Charlie’s (similar to Flat Stanley if you are familiar with him) all around the world and she decided to send him to us.  Traveling Charlie is a paper cutout that she decorated and we keep him for a week or two.  While we have him we snap some pictures around our area.  We mail our pictures and letter or postcard back to the school before mailing Traveling Charlie off to someone else.  Each child in the classroom does the same thing.  The goal is to have letters and pictures from all over the country and world.  It is actually a really fun idea and one that I am excited to participate in.  Mikayla is excited too.  We have already snapped some pictures and I hope to blog about our whole experience when we are through!

Not much else to report, it was a pretty quiet week around here!

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Mikayla dressed herself for school last week.  I always love the outfits she comes up with!

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