Category Archives: My crazy life

February Happenings

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.

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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!

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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.

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Dullstroom SA 2015

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

January Fun Times

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.

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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!

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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.

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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).

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I tried some new recipes, this one was especially delicious!

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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!

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What a busy month we had!

Happy New Years 2015!

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!

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Holidays in MB

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!

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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!

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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!

Christmas 2014!

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!

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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.

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Christmas Eve 2014!

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!

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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!

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Victoria Falls- Botswana

We took a day trip to Botswana, we were right near the border, and could do a day trip to Chobe National Park.  We decided to do a river tour in the morning and then a jeep game drive in the afternoon.  We were slightly disappointed we did either.  There were very few animals to see, a lot of birds, some hippos (from a distance) and in the last 5 minutes some elephants out on the road.  We also got 3 giraffes, but only saw them through the trees.  The good part was that we checked Botswana off our list, the bad part was it was nothing compared to any game drive we have been on in our African time.  Here are a few pictures to prove we were in Botswana!

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The next day was our last day in the area.  We did the last hike on our side of the Falls, which was more of a leisurely stroll around the Falls, than a hike!

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With that our time in Zambia was over.  We had a day and a half in Johannesburg to finish our Christmas shopping and then it was back to Angola for Christmas and New Years!

Victoria Falls- Zambia, Devil’s Pool

One morning we got up nice and early and headed over to The Royal Livingstone for our fancy adventure to Livingstone Island and a trip to Devil’s Pool.  So many websites said you needed to visit Devil’s Pool, but it really isn’t the easiest thing to plan.  The water level has to be lower, in fact, the guide told us that in a couple more weeks Devil’s Pool would be too dangerous, the currents too strong, guests wouldn’t be allowed out there.  In a couple months the Island itself would be closed, and mostly covered by water.  This also was probably the last week that they would have let the girls go out to Devil’s Pool.  We started our trip by taking a boat ride out to the Island.  We left from the dock we had watched the sunset from a couple days earlier, and road out towards the edge of the Falls.

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Then, they took us to different photo spots and let us look over the edge of the Falls from a couple different locations.

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Then it was time for the main event.  We all got ready to swim out.  I had told Jeff that I would just wait with the girls, but the guide said he would help Jeff swim Vi and Soph out to the spot.  Basically the girls got piggy back rides out to the rock where we waited to go into the Pool.  Another of the workers there offered to watch Hattie so that I could also experience the pool, as there wasn’t a very good way to take turns, the whole group went out at one time and waited until everyone finished to return back.  So the 4 of us ventured out.  The first picture shows where we were headed to, we ended up on that small group of rocks right near the puff of mist on the right side.  We sat on the rock right near the Pool and received instructions.  First you sat down on the edge, put your feet in, and then pushed off with your hands in front of you.  When you felt the rock at the edge of the Falls you pulled up to sit on top of the rock.  I was all ready to let the other people go first so we could see how it worked, when he motioned for me to go first.  I was terrified, and then sitting there waiting for the girls and Jeff to come over I got to look down into the abyss for quite some time!  It was the coolest and most terrifying thing I think I have done.  The guide sat next to us the whole time and his friends video taped and photographed the whole thing, all the while walking along the edge of the Falls, and holding the camera out over the edge to get the good shots… holy crap, I swore he was going to slip and just disappear… but no one got hurt and we all had a good time, the girls thought it was super cool that they got to participate, and we were glad they were able to.  After our turn I headed back to shore to take Hattie, who had decided she was done being good.  It really was so much fun, and such an experience!

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After our adventure we decided to hike the lower Falls area, a hike called Boiling Pot.  Down was not that hard, but we didn’t have a hiking backpack for Hattie and Jeff carried her up the steep trail… we were tired after that whole ordeal, but the big girls did a great job keeping up and carefully holding the rail on the slippery trail/stairs.  The bridge in the last picture is the bridge separating Zambia and Zimbabwe, and as we were hiking down we saw someone bungee jump off the side.  I maintained my stance that none of my family was going to participate in such an activity!

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On the way back to the hotel after the hike I had to take some pictures of Hattie excitedly pointing at the zebras, she just squealed with delight every time they were nearby.

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Another fun exciting day in Africa!

Victoria Falls- Zimbabwe

One of the days of our visit we headed across the bridge to Zimbabwe.  We wanted to see the Falls from the other side and to visit a new country.  The views were totally different, and there was a good long walk around them, the girls did a great job hiking and keeping up during this trip, we were so proud of them.  We ran into more baboons, and there were a lot of places we kept trying to get a panoramic with the girls, but there were a lot of trees and shade, our phones hated that low light!

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We visited a craft market, got a few new items, some of the last that we wanted to buy in Africa, a new stone carving of our new larger family and a nativity from Zimbabwe, as well as some masks for my Dad’s collection.  Then we ended our day in Zimbabwe with a stop at the Victoria Falls Hotel for lunch.  It had a great view of the bridge and was a delicious lunch, for much cheaper than we expected for the nicest hotel in the town.  The baboons were running wild on the grounds, and one almost took the girls out, but I didn’t have my camera ready, bummer.  You can also see a variety of crocodile options on the menu… we stuck with traditional chicken caesar salad!

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Many of the days we explored in the morning and then spent the afternoon in the pool.  The zebras loved the grass around the pool and would regularly eat right behind our chairs… we had to take a couple zebra selfies!  We also sat at the pool bar with fancy drinks often, as that is where the internet worked the best.  So the girls enjoyed their fancy Shirley Temples and lemonades regularly!

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