Last Wednesday Hattie and I suffered through some serious heat to watch Sophie in her annual swim gala, which is the swim meet near end of year for the kids to show off what they have been learning. This year Jeff got to come and watch one of Sophie’s races with us, but there were over 55 races total, so he couldn’t stay for the backstroke events. We are just glad he got to come at all! Sophie did great this year, her strokes are getting better, and she has shown a lot of improvement from last year (where she kept running into the ropes), she did really well on all her events, we are so proud of her! (Last picture is of Sophie and her friend Mafalda)
A couple weeks ago we had SLC for both girls, and they were thrilled that Dad could come along as well. As usual, we ran out of time to do everything the girls wanted to show us, but we got to see a whole lot.
We started in Sophie’s classroom. She showed us her portfolio, some mental math, a few math games, read us a book, and read to us from her writer’s journal. We didn’t have time to see the other classrooms, but at least we got to do everything in her main class. I also took the chance to catch a picture of Sophie with Ms. Cassandra!
After Sophie’s classroom we headed to the PYP for Violet’s turn. She had created a schedule with about 30 times on it, so we tried to do as many as we could. She was disappointed that we couldn’t do everything on her list, but we tried to hit her favorites. She read us a book, we played the Spotty Dog game, we played with Legos, animals, shapes, blocks, magnifying glasses, toured the Atellier and saw the sandbox, water tables and drew self portraits. It was a loaded hour to be sure! And another teacher picture, this time, Violet with her teacher Ms. Memory.
It is always so fun to see the girls proudly show us around their school and tell us all about what they have been learning.
February was pretty easy going, outside of our trip. We had a lot of playdates with friends, and a lot of BBQ’s at the park (just standard for our group!). Hattie is so cute right now, she has certain friends that she just LOVES, unfortunately both of her favorites are moving very soon, and I don’t want to think about it. Hattie loves seeing baby Louie, she thinks he is really funny, aside from stealing his pinkie (as seen in the January post) she just loves having him around. She gets all his toys for him, gives him his pinkie, and makes sure he is ok. It is pretty fabulous, she will stand at the window looking for Catherine to push Lou’s stroller up the walkway, and excitedly run to the door to greet him!
Hattie’s other BFF is Joey… oh my goodness, those little girls play so well together and Hattie worships big girl Joey! One night at the park they got 2 of the soccer balls and sat on them… then they would wave their arms around saying “whoa, whoa” giggling merrily the whole time, and then look at each other and fall off the balls! Giggle, fall, giggle, repeat- it cracked me up! They also both love their baby dolls strollers. It is so cute, we are going to miss Joey a LOT next year.
Actually Hattie loves her babies a lot of the time, she plays with them quite regularly, it is pretty cute. She also has learned how to undress herself, we are working on how to put clothes back on!
The girls did a Valentine’s themed sewing project (pieced hearts, first quilt project!) and learned to thread the machine. I continued working on my newest quilt also. I also had quite a few pants to hem, repair or shorten… so much fun, but I am getting pretty good at a blind hem on my machine.
We had a long weekend in February and decided we wanted to leave town (or country as the case may be). Our friends the Carrolls were headed to a small town outside of JoBurg called Dullstroom and after chatting with some of our South African friends we decided we would head there as well. It was about a 2.5 hour drive from Joburg. So when we arrived in JoBurg we headed to dinner with some other MB friends who were going to Kenya in a couple days. The plane to SA was filled with friends. There were 4 families from our compound (all of whom had children our kids ages) on the plane, we felt like it was a party!
The next morning we picked up our rental car and I had the luck of driving us around SA on the wrong side of the road… slightly scary, freeways were good, but man, those local streets got me sometimes, it takes a lot of thought to turn right into the far lane of the street. But we survived and the car was totally in fine shape when it was returned, I consider that a success! We headed down to Dullstroom and were happy to find a cute little street with a lot of restaurant choices and our rental house was so cute and spacious (downside, no rentals in the area had internet, we used all the restaurant connections we could find!). The views were gorgeous and it was such a nice change from our norm.
We did realize we were in Africa, still, when the next morning there was no water in the house… and the first night we heard a bat flying around the main room (it disappeared in the morning, so there was that). We headed to the dam to hike around the next day. It was supposed to be an easy trail hike around the dam… about 1/4 of the way around we lost the trail, and hiked through what the girls called “savannah and grasslands.” Then we ran into another trail which took us to a bridge, which was partially in tact. Then we ran into the last part of the trail as we got closer to the mooing cows (AKA cheetah cows) and realized there was a lot of water on the trail. So we told the girls to step on the boards, until all of a sudden the boards sunk right into the muck. Our shoes were wet, dirty and we were laughing so hard about the “trail” we had thought would be an easy trek. After that we took the second trail straight to the top of the mountain, the views were gorgeous, and the girls did a really great job hiking with little to no complaint.
We ate breakfast at Harrie’s pancake house 2 times! The first time, just us, the second time with the Carrolls, and it was tasty both times.
We also spent Valentine’s in Dullstroom, which meant it was hard to find a place to eat dinner, we eventually sat at a bar, got the girls food first, and then took ours home to eat in peace! But I did remember to pack all the Valentine’s clothes for the girls… sometimes I plan ahead!
It was a great little get away, we ended with some shopping in JoBurg before coming back to reality. The girls went to school Wednesday (after the break) and Thursday. Thursday morning I got a call to come pick up Violet, they were closing down the PYP because the power had gone out and there was no water. Then they cancelled all of school Friday due to the generator problems… the excitement of Angola!
Oh, My! I am, again, so behind in the blog… and we leave for a long vacation to the states in a couple weeks, the goal, to be caught up before we leave and I have 12 million posts to post regarding that bunch of fun. So here we go with a photo dump of January fun things! It involves a lot of pool time, friends and some sewing… here we go…
Violet lost her first tooth ever this month! She was beyond thrilled, and I was a little sad at how grown up she is getting (I swear she was just a baby).
The girls started weekly sewing lessons. They were so excited! We started learning all the parts of the machines, and how to sew with no needle, then a needle without thread, and FINALLY with all the pieces working on paper and fabric. They were thrilled by their first lesson, and were even more happy when we finally got to sew pillowcases! They did a great job.
Even I got some sewing in this month. I finished quilting and binding my African Fabric quilt, and then started on a new project. I am so glad Hattie entertains herself better now, it means I get a little time to complete some of my own projects, and that makes me happy!
One afternoon my friend Catherine called and said, “Go outside and look at the sun, hurry.” So, of course we ran outside to see this super cool sight, which, apparently is called a Sun Halo, made by water crystals around the sun. It was gorgeous and we had a lot of fun trying to take different pictures of it for a long while! My maid must think I am insane.
We attended a super fun birthday party with an R2D2 cake that was insane! While we are putting pictures of that up, here are some other pool pictures. The kids waiting for Cobus to throw them in the deep end, the girls hanging out, having fun, and Hattie loving anyone who will let her float in the deep end. The pool is such a great social gathering for our group of friends (just a couple weeks ago we were there for over 7 hours… we might be crazy).
I tried some new recipes, this one was especially delicious!
We had fun at home, and Hattie decided her bike helmet was a necessity around MB. Hattie also loved playing with baby Lou and stealing his pinkie… her favorite game for a couple months!
What a busy month we had!
We celebrated with all the MB folks who were remaining (or who had returned) to Angola. Carlos and Lisset were great and hosted again. We had oh, so much great food and good company. The kids ran around outside like crazy folks and we enjoyed ourselves something fierce! It was a great way to bring in the new year, and Jeff and I made it all the way until midnight… that hasn’t happened in years!
It is pretty quiet in Monte Belo over school vacations, not as many kids running around and few people walking the streets… but we took advantage of the quiet to use the pool and FaceTime with all our family. It was gorgeous weather, and the girls were in the pool every opportunity they got!
My favorite thing ever was FaceTiming with Bubba. We had given him a police car that you can pedal around, but no one had been able to assemble it when we chatted. He just sat, looking sad and forlorn, in the car, without wheels or a roof. It was hilarious, I had to grab a screen shot!
It was nice having some quiet downtime together as a family, but the girls were thrilled when friends started arriving in time for our New Year’s celebrations!
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!