We spent our first Christmas in Angola, and it was great! We, of course, missed everyone at home, but it was so relaxed and so easy going.
We had a lot of fun opening presents. Hattie had a good time opening presents, but really just wanted to eat the gummy bears from everyones stockings and play with which ever iPad she could get her hands on! You can see Sophie’s pineapple love continued in her swimsuit, and her ornament. It really was such a good morning!
We had our selves some oven pancakes for brunch and I started getting food ready for dinner while the girls played with new toys. We were headed to our neighbor’s home for dinner, an epic party of the Gonzales’, Carrolls and McKissicks! Lisset had set up a photo booth, and it was the only bunch of pictures that we took all night. The food was delicious, we had taco night and it was fabulous, green chili verde chicken, chipotle beef, tamales, delicious guac, pumpkin pie, apple caramel empanadas, fancy Christmas punch and awesome, awesome company! We played the dice game, and chatted for a long time, the kids watch Maleficent and played together nicely. It was a great way to celebrate with our Angolan family.
We returned from Victoria Falls on the 21st, and immediately started getting ready for Christmas. We invited the Elders in our district over for dinner for Christmas Eve and President and Sister Merrill. We had ribs, funeral potatoes, razzleberry pie and rolls. It was pretty dang delicious and we had a great time. While we were in South Africa we picked up some African ties for all the Elders for Christmas, it is always nice to open presents, but unfortunately for missionaries, ties are the winning gift!
3 of the Elders are from Idaho/Utah and then one of the Elders is from Mozambique. All of them so nice and sweet and polite, and will eat until the day is well over! We had a good time, and I love cooking for the American Elders, they always are so happy to have American food!
After we read the Christmas story, opened ties and visited, our guests left and we had the girls open their Christmas Eve gifts. We got to FaceTime with Grandma and OGO while we opened presents. They were, of course, thrilled about their PJs. Sophie is so in love with the pineapples on her shorts and they were so happy with their comfy PJs and SO excited for Christmas!
This was our first Christmas to stay in Angola, so we decided we should put up the tree and decorate the house! I had seen a super cute Pinterest house with bright stripy stockings and bright decorations. As we didn’t have our normal decorations I decided this was the year to try it out, and see if it was something I liked. Problem was, there was no sourcing for the cute stripy stockings, and the only ones I could find online were clown socks! They didn’t have a heel, but after much ado regarding ordering (they said they would ship to my mule in time, but ended up not even being processed, so I called another place and the lady was at a clown convention and just asked around until she found the colors I wanted and sent them that day) I finally had the stockings I wanted! We made many of our ornaments and then luckily found some neon green and pink baubles at Kero. Lastly, I used old egg carton pieces and created the wreath that hung over our stockings (no fireplaces in Africa!).
We managed to get our Christmas cards addressed, stuffed and mailed before we left for our trip… not too shabby!
For Family Home Evening one night we decorated cookies. I didn’t want to make a bunch of small gingerbread men, so we made giant gingerbread heads to decorate (and they actually weren’t gingerbread, they were chocolate sugar cookies, and delicious!).
We tried to do as many festive things as we could to make the hot weather feel more like the Holiday season. I love that as long as we are together we have a good time!
Catherine and I were in charge of Thanksgiving again this year, and once again I probably stressed myself out more than necessary! But it was a great party, lots and lots of good food, lots of beautiful tables and a lot of fun. This year I had enough time to delegate the kids areas out to others, and it saved me a lot of hassle. Kate took it a step further and didn’t even have tables set up, she taped fabric on the ground and the kids had a picnic, it was perfect! We also had a lot of activities set up and made sure the teenagers knew what they were supposed to do to help (and at the end of the day the got gift cards for their helpful service). We hosted a table with our group of friends, and it was fun to visit, and enjoy their company, as always. We do enjoy our friends quite a lot. We have so much to be thankful for this year (and every year), and it is always nice to take a small break in the business of regular life and remember all that we have been blessed with and the good in our lives.
Hattie has been getting in all kinds of mischief the last little bit, she is such a sneaky little thing, quiet and stealthy! Thank goodness she is just so adorable! She loves playing with the broom, she has an obsession with shoes (she insists on putting them on right away in the morning, and changes them a couple times a day) and she loves pens… which has hurt the many white surfaces in our home… stupid white couches.
Sophie got to go on a field trip to a national art museum (I didn’t know one existed…) and her teacher posted some pictures on the blog, which I love, because she doesn’t tell me much about what she saw or did.
International Day 2014 happened at LIS, always fun, always hot, always SO much good food. There were more booths than usual this year, and that meant more food, and, man, some of those countries went all out. There were dumplings from China, full on meals from Columbia, Israel and South Africa, taquitos, burritos and more from Mexico, beef brisket sandwiches from the USA booth, crepes from Russia, maple cookies from Canada and so much more, that I can’t remember. We always have a good time eating our way through the countries! The girls had a fun time, and dressed in their country colors, and I had to get a shot of Violet and Henry together. Also, a couple shots of the Mexico and China booths!
Our friend Philip celebrated his birthday in early November, and the boys decided to go fishing on the boat to celebrate. They caught a few fish (Jeff caught 2!) and had a good time, so they say!
The next day we had a pool day. The pool opened up again while we were in Mauritius, but man, it had been closed for such a long time, we tried to take advantage of it while it was open! We had a BBQ at the pool, and John had cleaned and marinated the fish for fish tacos. DELICIOUS! Jeff caught the fish, but wouldn’t even try it, lucky for the rest of us, we ate every last bit. Sophie would have eaten a whole fish if she had been given the chance.
The kids loved the pool, and played for hours with their friends. We are just so spoiled here with all our friends at easy access, such little planning to have play dates and fun afternoons with everyone in one place.
We celebrated Halloween the Saturday before the actual holiday, here in MB. The girls were so excited, and all their costumes were ready. Bummer, though, Violet started puking the night before. We knew it was probably the 24 hour bug Jeff had had a couple days prior, and hoped she would feel well enough to make it to the carnival, parade and trick or treating, but unfortunately, not. I tried to get pictures of everyone anyway as they all looked so cute. You can see I had varying results!
Hattie did NOT want to wear that tank on her back, or the mask on her head… and I was so happy with how it all turned out! That picture of Violet is the best smile she gave all night… and Sophie looks very happy, but was just hours away from getting sick herself. I went to the event to take pictures for the photo booth and see my friend, Amanda, perform her aerial routine (super cool). When I returned home Violet was dead asleep in her Zarina costume.
Jeff and I emailed some friends on Monday, and our awesome community her in Angola banded together and allowed my girls to come trick or treating 2 days after the actual event here in MB. So, Monday night, for FHE we went out for a night of fun trick or treating to our friends’ homes. It was pretty fun, and the girls got WAY more candy than they would have otherwise, as everyone was cleaning out their bowls and getting rid of everything. It didn’t help that Hattie figured out the whole trick or treating concept. The door would open and she would walk right into the home beelining for candy. Spoiled little girl, everyone would say, “We can’t say no to that cute face, take as much as you want.” And she did! You can see, though, that she doesn’t look like she is dressed up at all… should have made her cat ears or something as a backup… but I had such high hopes. Also fun, Violet had received glowing wings for her birthday so she got to glow around the neighborhood all evening.
We love our neighbors here in Angola, and how generous and nice they were to allow our girls the opportunity to celebrate Halloween. They had such a great time and man, we felt so grateful to our Angolan family.
Sophie participated in Athletics Day on October 8. As always, it was hot and crazy, but it is good to see her compete and have fun with her friends. The fall Athletic day seems to be more about skills, where the spring one seems to be more similar to a field day in the US. Either way, Sophie participated in the hurdles, high jump, long jump, ball tosses, sit-up ball toss and then the mile run. I was worried about her during this one, she isn’t super fast or into the run, she had already complained about it several times. But, though she wasn’t one of the first ones done, she was no where near the last either. I felt really good about that, she ran the whole time and didn’t stop to walk like some of her friends. Some pictures from the day. It is always fun that the preschoolers get to watch for a little bit, and Violet sits there and cheers for her sister.
We celebrated Violet’s birthday the Saturday before she turned 5, it was a concerted effort between 3 of us MB moms, all of whom had kids in the same class group having birthdays within weeks of each other. Violet, like every other 5 year old picked her theme to be Frozen! We decorated with items that we had, snowflakes and delicious “Frozen” themed food.
We started by giving each child either an Elsa crown or Sven antlers, and then after the majority of the kids had arrived we started with our “Do you want to build a snowman” activity… in which they built their own snowmen, with playdoh, carrot noses, goggly eyes, buttons and sticks (that the gardener watched me cut with little kid scissors, he must have thought I was crazy nuts). They loved this, and some kids spent forever on their snow masterpieces.
We had a couple different games, that worked with varying success… there were so many kids that it was hard to have turns, and they just aren’t quite old enough to be patient. But we had pin the carrot on Olaf, Take down Marshmallow the snow monster and tried to play who has the Ice cube (with a plastic diamond) but really, the kids were happy just running around like crazy people and dancing to Frozen songs!
We had cake and the kids devoured every single marshmallow that I had imported from the states… gone in instants! So bummed that group picture is dark… but one day I will lighten it up and it will be fine!
After everyone left we opened presents (as is the norm here). Violet was thrilled with all her goodies, and there were some pretty awesome things in that ginormous stack of goodness.
Happy Birthday dear Violet Ann! We sure love having you around!