Spring Break 2014- Cairo Edition

When we finished in Dubai we headed to Egypt.  We started our trip in Cairo.  We had very limited time in Cairo, just enough time to see the pyramids, sphinx and the Cairo Museum.  That was ok with us!  We arrived to Egypt, bought our visas at the booth and then collected our baggage, while we met our tour manager for this portion of our trip.  Every city we were in during our stay in Egypt we had a tour manager and a driver and a tour guide.  In Cairo, during our tour, we also had a security guy.  We headed to our hotel for the night and were pleased the traffic wasn’t awful that first night, Cairo traffic is supposed to be terrible.  We arrived at the Mena House, which is where everyone who is anyone has stayed.  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stayed there.  At one point Churchill and Roosevelt and General Chiang Kai-Shek stayed there for the Big Three conference during WWII.  In the late 70′s the Mena House is where pre-Camp David talks between President Sadat, President Carter and Prime Minister Began started.  Pretty cool history.  Besides which check out the view from our room:

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So cool!  Not cool was the start of realizing that internet was only available in the lobby… which was common for our time in Egypt, oh, how Dubai spoiled us!

The next morning we woke up early and headed out to the pyramids.  There are 9 in the area, the largest one for Pharaoh Khufu, the next larger ones for his son and grandson, and then smaller ones for the wives and mothers.  We didn’t go inside any pyramids here, they told us that it wouldn’t be interesting, especially as we were going to Valley of the Kings the next day and the art was better preserved in that location.  So we just explored outside for a while.  Having a tour guide means a lot more family pictures than usual!

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After exploring here for a little while and climbing up a ways, we headed out to where we could view all the pyramids together.  We also took a carriage ride out to where the driver took the pictures of us holding the pyramids, and Jeff in the scarf… fabulous!

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We headed to see the Sphinx next.  Super cool!

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After this stop over we were off to a “certified store” which was so reminiscent of China it made Jeff and I laugh.  Our trip to Beijing was littered with stops to the Jade factory, Silk factory, etc, with sales pitches afterwards to convince you to buy.  It was very similar in Egypt.  We at various times visited a Bazaar, Papyrus Store and Alabaster factory…  Poor Egypt is losing so much money from lack of tourists that every person who we saw brought up what a great deal we were getting… and really it was pretty dang empty everywhere we went, especially Cairo.  Luxor seemed to have a little better attendance, and Petra was, in comparison, overwhelmed by visitors.

After stopping at the certified bazaar, we had a traditional Egyptian lunch.  Kabob style meat, pita like bread, rice with cinnamon and golden raisins.  It was delicious and the girls ate up every last bit of meat on their plates, always nice!

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Our last scheduled stop for the day was the Cairo National Museum.  Inside there was a King Tut exhibit and mummies, artifacts and more.  The main thing that was missing was the mummy of King Tut, which is actually located in his original tomb in Valley of the Kings.  No pictures allowed inside, it felt kind of like a museum storage area, the name cards were tiny, and there was so much stuff just piled up around the rooms that you couldn’t possibly have seen everything, even without 3 small children hanging onto you.  Another interesting thing about the Museum.  We couldn’t be dropped off outside the gate, we had to walk down a street for a ways before getting inside the museum grounds.  As we were walking to the gate we passed so many tanks (all armed and manned, there must have been at least 50 of them) and armored vans.  The vans were covered in bullet proof materials and barbed wire… there were many “riot” looking items hanging out as well, it was a reminder that Cairo is just not super safe right now… though really, we never felt it out near Giza… Cairo made me a little nervous, there are just so MANY people!

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We ended the night in the hotel lobby and the girls enjoyed their favorite drink from the trip, Hibiscus juice.

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Sophie even snuck a sip from Violet’s cup!  Cairo was AMAZING, but we barely had time to let it all sink in when we were off to Luxor… coming soon to a blog near you!

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Spring Break 2014- Dubai Edition

Our days leading up to our vacation were just stressful and busy.  I will give you a short recap- Hattie still didn’t have her visa.  It had been in with immigration for 4 months, and we were hoping that it would come through so we could leave and come back to Angola.  But we had decided after cancelling our last vacation to Victoria Falls, that we were GOING on this vacation, regardless.  Hattie could leave using her second passport and then we would just come back to the states and make a new plan.  The night before we left Jeff got out all our passports and we noticed that Hattie’s emergency 1 year passport wasn’t a 1 year passport and had expired the week before.  Now she didn’t even have a passport… what?!?!?!  The next morning we tried to retrieve her passport from immigration… didn’t happen, so I called the consulate and had to make an emergency appointment to get a new emergency second passport.  Then it rained… which means it takes at least 2 times as long to drive anywhere.  So we went to pick Jeff up, went to the consulate, got the passport in record time (this one is actually valid for 1 whole year) and then anxiously waited in the car for 2.5+ hours to get to the airport… we arrived 10 minutes before they closed the ticket booth.  We were tired, stressed and on edge, but we were on our way for our trip!

First stop was Dubai.  We were going to stay at the Atlantis in Dubai for a couple of days before heading to Egypt.  The flight got in at 4:30 am local time, which was 1:30 am Angola time.  We were tired, but checked into the hotel, and all took a serious nap.  This is how the girls looked when we arrived in the hotel (ps LOVE the Chihuly sculpture in the lobby).

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And some views from our hotel room early in the morning.

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After our nap we went to explore the hotel.  Just downstairs from our room was a big aquarium wall.  Then we visited the actual aquarium.  Some super cool fish in that place!

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A friend of Violet’s from preschool was on our flight and then staying at the Atlantis as well.  We ran into them on our walk to check out the water park and they told us they were doing the dolphin swim the next day and we should join them… so we signed up for that, the girls were super excited!  We ended the night with some delicious burgers and Cold Stone ice cream… we were in heaven!

After breakfast the next morning we headed to Dolphin Bay for our swim.  Jeff stayed outside with Hattie (as they wanted to charge her full price) and took pictures.  It was so much fun!  The girls threw hoops to the dolphin (named Lisa) and I got to dance with her.  Then we all got to kiss her, hug her and pet her several times.  It was a lot of fun, the girls loved it!  Violet was hesitant at first, and then she really got into it.  She was jumping around, swimming in place and basically giddy with excitement every time the dolphin was nearby.

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That afternoon we decided to hang out at the water park.  It was fun.  There was a lazy river with rapids and Hattie even could go with us.  She was fine with it, but it kept waking her up from her nap!  The water park was really nice and we had a lot of fun.  Jeff went down what appeared to be a drop of death… the slide in the middle of the pyramid behind us.  We also went down a tube ride where you ended by floating down a tube surrounded by sharks and manta rays (they were outside the tube… you were inside it).  The water park was nice, well maintained and pretty fabulous (so different than the park in Sun City). We had a great time.

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We had a great stay at the Atlantis, Jeff is already trying to figure out when we go back!  We also got to put our feet in the ocean there… that means the girls are standing in the Persian Gulf (AKA the Arabic Sea).  Pretty cool!

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On the taxi drive to the airport we took a short detour to see the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world (as seen on Mission Impossible 4).  That thing was immense, I had to almost lay on my belly to get the whole building, and my family was standing on a wall.

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Dubai was a great pit stop on the way to Egypt, but we were out of the technological world and headed to the ancient land (where wi-fi was only available in the lobby of our hotel!).  Next up: Cairo!

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Swim Gala 2014

Readers (aka Grandparents) of this blog my remember that every year LIS holds a Swim Gala for all the parents to see how the kids swimming has improved over the last year.  It is only for Year 1 (Kindergarten) students and older, so Violet didn’t participate, but Sophie was able to swim again.  Starting in Year 2 they don’t use the floaties during their swims unless they can’t stay afloat.  It is a long length pool and poor Sophie doesn’t have the best endurance, but she finished both her races and had a great attitude… so proud of her!  Some pictures of her during her races- freestyle and then backstroke.

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The preschool playground borders the pool and so during recess Violet got to see Sophie swim one of her events.  They were all so cute lined up next to the fence cheering for their big siblings!

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Odds and Ends

There have been a few other things happening around good ole MB B05!

I have tried a few new recipes, the most ambitious of all of them was making my own pot stickers… it involved making my own wrappers, grinding my own meat and figuring it all out (I should have decided to make them when my mom would have been awake as a consult… poor planning).

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The girls are playing with toys a lot more since I started an organizing system (which fails me often… but I just redid it, and so far, so good)… but they don’t love their baby sister hanging out, they think she will eat everything (and she does).  I like that she sneaks up from behind!

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Sophie always wants to do crafts, and I love that Violet is wanting to do them too.  I didn’t get a picture, but today, when I was ironing some quilt blocks Violet pulled out her toy iron and ironed her own quilt.  Uber cute! This weekend we were doing some hand sewing.

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The girls love on their sister, I have to often tell them not to walk around with her.  Danger!  But they love her so much (usually) and they just forget she is not a doll.

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Lastly, I was laying on the couch after hurting my foot, I was loving my view out the window.  Sure all the houses are basically identical, and it is boiling hot outside, but our little community is pretty nice (the lizards LOVE my house, we must face the right way, we always have 5-8 lizards sunning on our wall).

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Hattie Grace is 7 months!

I am a little late posting this, but for a third child, 6 days late shouldn’t be that bad… right?!?!

Hattie Grace is becoming quite the character and trouble maker!  She is crawling all around, she is cruising on the furniture, albeit unsafely, and is getting into everything.  She pulls on the phone cord (cause we have one of those now), eats any bit of paper she can find.  She also likes to pull things off the table, off the entertainment center and will make a beeline for any device (but especially loves an iPad).

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She is eating baby food regularly and eats other solids- cheerios, bread, crackers and the like.  She doesn’t like being by herself.  Even if she can see me across the room it is cause enough to cry and start crawling.  She gets impeded by the tile, she doesn’t love crawling on it, and so you know she is desperate when she crawls over it to get to you.

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She is a smiley baby, still, and I love her goofy grin, I think it is just adorable and so silly!  She loves peek-a-boo and thinks that her sisters are dang funny!  She doesn’t giggle a lot, but when she does it cracks me up.  She loves her belly being tickled and it is so cute to see her grinning her big smile as you play.

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Sadly, she doesn’t love being held by just anyone right now.  She loves the family and Alzira, our empregada, but besides that, most of time she doesn’t allow anyone else to hold her.  She is very picky about who holds her, but will give a big grin to most everyone.  She thinks others are funny, just don’t touch!

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Baby girl is getting big.  27 inches and 18 pounds… but still not as roll-polly as her big sisters.  Now that she is moving I am unsure that she will ever be the same.  But she is so super cute, and really just a joy to have.  She must be teething, but I still have yet to see the fruits of all the drool, snotty noses and cranky moments of not wanting to eat.  I keep thinking I feel those front 2 teeth, but they are just not showing up.

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We love this baby girl!

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Student Led Conferences 2014

Every year LIS has a day for Student Led Conferences. It is a day for the student to show the parents around the school, show us what they have been working on in class, what they have been learning and to show us their own version of school. This year I got to see both girls’ classrooms… which meant we were at the school for a little over 2 hours- the girls had a lot to show me, and a lot to say!

We started in Sophie’s classroom.  We got Violet settled with a game on the iPad and then Sophie got down to business!  Sophie showed me her portfolio, read me her favorite book (Batman, who knew!) and then showed me some of her daily math problems.  She also played a math game with me and showed me around the art room, music room and her Portuguese classroom.

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We headed over to Violet’s classroom after looking at the pool and she started us at the play-doh table.  We played with the instruments, blocks and some of the classroom games.

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Hattie and I were having a good time as well!

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Always a fun time at LIS… I love that my girls like their school so much.

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Hattie Grace is SIX months old!!!!

I can’t even believe that we are half way through this little peanuts first year!  At preschool today a friend asked how old she was and when she heard she said the same thing that has been going through my mind, “Time has really flown… I can’t believe it!”  So true!  Little girl is getting to be so much fun, and kinda crazy.  She is sitting up so well, and rocking back and forth on all fours.  She can pull up to stand and creeps along the back of the couch.  She stands up in her stroller constantly, and really is getting dangerous!  She can scoot around to what she wants, and what she wants is usually the iPad.  That little girl has a radar for an open iPad and will not give up her quest for touching it!  She is eating solid foods better, though she still doesn’t love it.  We really need a high chair (ours broke and our next one won’t arrive for a few weeks), right now she eats in the stroller.  Today she happened to go from laying down on her belly to sitting upright in a matter of seconds.  She is going to be moving so soon.  She loves to be standing up and be held.

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Baby girl is a goofball and just so silly, she loves playing peek-a-boo and giggling at her sisters.  When people say hi to her she breaks into the biggest smiles.  It is so sweet!

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Baby girl rarely falls asleep without being held, but every so often she is just so tired she falls asleep anywhere she is!  I love coming home from a workout and seeing her asleep with the empregada.  Alzira is pretty awesome with Hattie, and Hattie likes her a whole lot.  I finally just asked Alzira if I could get a picture of Hattie sleeping on her back, she was so embarrassed (she was dressed in her work clothes) but let me do it anyway!  I love that little African baby girl!

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Her sisters just keep loving on her, though sometimes that means they carry her somewhere and scare the heck out of me.  But it is cute how they help with her.  They are just all so cute.

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Stats for the record books:  Weight: 16.5 pounds  Height: 27 inches tall.

We love this little girl so much!

 

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Holiday Weekend

A couple of weeks ago we had a Monday and Tuesday off of school.  It was the long weekend we were planning on heading to Victoria Falls.  Instead we made the best of a crappy situation and headed to Mussulo.  An island with a bunch of beaches, our company has a beach on the island and it is really nice.  You take a boat there, there is someone who starts the BBQ for you and it is all over a nice relaxing trip that is nice and close to home (as opposed to the 2 hour trip to the other beach).  Monday when we went was a school holiday but not a work holiday, so it was pretty empty.  Our group of friends and 2 other couples… perfect and easy!  We played in the sand, sat in the water, ate food, enjoyed good company and had a great time.

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We had decided to go back to the beach with a couple other friends the next day.  We knew because of the holiday it would be busier, what we didn’t expect was the broken boats, and the serious other problems with logistics in getting to the island.  After waiting a long time and not seeing a ride in sight we decided to go home and BBQ by the pool and play at home.  The girls were disappointed, luckily we had been to the beach the day before, and ended up having a great time, and we didn’t have to deal with crowds, no one was at the pool!

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It turned out to be a fun weekend, even with our plans falling through!

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January Fun Times!

Look, I am almost all caught up!  I would have been much more behind, but alas, I am here, in Angola, not in Victoria Falls, and so, (seeing the bright side) I can catch up on the blog.

This month was fun.  We headed home halfway through the month.  I had worried about Violet going back to school, because she had just been getting in a good rhythm before we left (and by good I mean, she still didn’t participate in PE, Atelier or Swimming, but had stopped crying every day at drop off).  Her teacher, Ms. Georgina, also had been worried.  But I was so happy to hear that she was doing even better!  I was told she was more engaged in the classroom, making more friends, and exploring more of her environment (ah, the IB language).  She still doesn’t participate in PE, but we got her to put her swimsuit on 1 whole time this month and she actually did a project in Atelier this week.  My friend Esmaree told me yesterday that her son Henry, who is in Vi’s class, came home from school and said, “Mom, Violet did a project in art today, that’s so great!”  Everyone knows what a big deal this is!

Sophie is doing well, her best buddy Toby has moved, and her friend Isadora has been on vacation the whole time we have been back, but she is doing well.  She started her first after-school activity (you aren’t allowed to participate until you are a year 2).  She got into Simple Arts and Crafts and has thus far made a key chain and some sand art.  She has a new friend in the class, a year 4 girl named Ellen.  She is really loving her baby sister and I love that she tries to help in her own way.  But she does continue her stubborn streak, sometimes it is only, “Why am I always the one who has to help…” but most of the time she is super helpful with both her sisters.

We headed to the pool a couple times.  The times we tried last year Hattie wasn’t loving the water.  But she truly enjoyed the pool these last couple times.  She was splashing and kicking.  Cutie pie girl!

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We had a charity Casino Night, hosted by TICA (the International Community in Angola).  Included in your entry fee was 60$ of chips and 2 spins on the roulette wheel (which was only available for a chance to win prizes… no real roulette…) and appetizers and drinks.  We went with a whole host of friends, it seemed more Monte Belo people were there than Imbondeiro folks (which is where the event was held).  We had a good time.  The dress code was 1920′s Jazz, but as I didn’t have that, and most people were dressing cocktail dress I used the opportunity to wear my new dress and shoes!  Jeff wore his new suit, sans tie, and I think we made a pretty snazzy looking couple!  Jeff and a friend parked out at one BlackJack table (I was there for a while… but eventually gave Jeff my chips and visited) and just tried to beat each other with absurd bets.  They also inherited some chips from people not playing.  At the end of the night they were making $1000 bets… which would never happen with real money, but as you were just playing for fun and title of most chips, they were desperate to get a giant pile of chips.  Jeff won the most chips at the end of the night, with some add ons from John, he had over $4000 at the end of the night.  Our big prize?  A bottle of champagne and a pair of flutes… our friends all enjoyed the champagne later that night… we kept the glasses!

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Hattie has been a busy girl learning how to sit all by herself!  She is so proud of her newfound skill and shows off whenever she gets a chance!

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She is pretty dang cute- and good thing we love her as she was the reason (sort of) that we didn’t make our trip to Victoria Falls.  We were supposed to leave Friday for the long weekend, but HG’s visa never was returned and is still being processed.  So, though we could have gotten to Victoria Falls we were unsure as to when we would have been able to reenter the country (or when HG could reenter).  If we could have guaranteed that it would have been soon the girls and I would have had a fun time waiting in South Africa.  But as there are people on the list who have been waiting since a month before Hattie, we couldn’t wait a whole month in a different place hanging out in limbo.  Hopefully we will get to reschedule the trip and the visa will work itself out in the next couple weeks.  But, you just never know!

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Hattie Grace turned 5 Months!

The day before we came home from the states HG had her 5 month birthday!  Little girl is not so little anymore!

She had a busy 5th month- California for DisneyLand, SeaWorld, Coronado, her first Christmas.  Then a trip to Utah where she went sledding for the first time, and enjoyed the cold!  Hattie can roll both ways well and is no longer safe alone on any surface… she would find a way to fall off.  Hattie’s hair is getting longer, though that part in the back is still super long and dark- Jeff wants to cut it all off, and I refuse to let him!  I can’t cut her hair yet, no matter how crazy it remains.

Little girl is such a happy thing.  She is smiley and really only cries for good reason.  If she is overly tired, poopy or hungry there are tears, but other than that, she is happy and smiling.  Oh my goodness her sisters LOVE her.  Sometimes I catch Sophie just holding HG on her lap, reading her books or kissing her.  Violet just wants to touch her all the time.  She continues to be content with being held, anyone at all… she loves being up and seeing the world.

We started trying solid foods, and of course she acted like her sisters… she just wasn’t too interested.  One day she will figure out how much she loves food (it is inevitable and bound to happen).

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Hattie was so good on the plane going and coming to Angola.  She napped, played and only fussed a little.  Thank goodness for a baby that, so far, travels well.  She is going to have to get used to it, there are a lot of plans!

We sure love this little girl!

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