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Monday, December 24, 2007

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Dear Dedicated Readers

I know we said we would post pictures but we are too busy, making sandcastles with Kai, walking with elephants, having afternoon naps, enjoying afternoon teas with relatives and sipping Champaign at night while staring at the stars over the Indian Ocean.

So….. When we get back to my parents house in Jo’burg on Friday…, We promise to post pictures.

Of course we are thinking of you all!!!!!

J,D, & K

Monday, December 10, 2007

Vacation Update – Deric and Jo Versions

Deric's Version

Now that I have finally gotten over my jet lag (3 days standard), we have now officially started our vacation! It has been wonderful so far so we thought we would let everyone know what’s been going on.

Our first three days were spent at Jo’s parents home visiting and reconnecting with Kai as a family. It has truly been amazing. I took straight to Kailey and we have really done well adjusting to hands on fatherhood after a 9 month break. I seem to be a little more adventurous with Kai than Jo is. For example, I let Kai crawl up the stairs for the first time (supervised closely of course) and then I took her out to the lower garden where she crawled and played all over inspecting everything! She had never been let loose there before and she loved it!

Over the weekend we went to Bakubung Game Park and had a nice 3 day family safari. We did so much and yet not too much. It was perfect. We went on three game drives and saw several different animals to include zebra, giraffe, hippo, rhino, lion, all kinds of buck, baboon, and wildebeast. Kailey slept through most of it as we timed our drives around her naps so she would not get too bored.

However, Kailey did get to see some zebras up close outside of our bungalow window and monkeys up close when they came into the outside dinning area to steal people’s food!! She wasn’t scared a bit thought they were pretty funny.

I also sent Joanne to the spa for a 90-minute massage and relaxation therapy. She really needed it as she has been going 100 miles a minute raising a baby, finishing her degree and working on her masters! It was the least I could do. During that time Kai and I spent our first Daddy and Daughter time together. We explored the whole lodge, played in the park and then went to our room for a bottle and nap. We did this all without a cry or a worry that Mom wasn’t around. Very cool. Jo was pleasantly surprised.

Another learning point for me through all this was how much physical (and mental) work raising a baby actually is! Seriously, I’m exhausted!! I brought my PTs to work out, but I don’t need them. Chasing Kai around the lodge, picking her up, putting her down, then again and again and again, rembering when she ate, napped, cried (so I don’t do that again), laughed (so I do to that some more)….. Man I’m smoked!!

Africa is so funny – On the drive to Bakubung the navigation system in our car took us over a mountain range on a dirt road, I was freaking out….. how could our nav system guide us on a dirt road over a mountain top as a main route for 30 minutes? Jo was like – ‘what’s wrong with that?’ Oh we were in a Volvo S80 Sedan– not a truck!

When we were at the at Bakubung a troop of monkeys came to the restaurant and played in the trees and tried to steal peoples food – I was thinking this was the coolest thing I’d seen in a while and Jo was just like ‘what’s wrong with that?’

Then, on the way home the navigation system again cautioned us “Monkeys Ahead” in this area. I thought it was odd to get a “Monkey Ahead Warning” and Jo was just like ‘what’s wrong with that?’

Africa man…. It’s always an adventure!!! And soon more to come.

Jo’s Version

Well since Deric has summed up the time so far I thought I would give you some nitty gritty on the reintegration process.
When Deric was on tour he had to have all the answers to his questions in black and white (meaning with strong yes or no). I however, at the moment live in shades of grey.

Q: When is Kailey going to wake up? – A: Sometime!……
Q: Will Kailey eat all her food? A: Maybe!….
Q: Which road should I take? A: I think it’s this one. I’m not sure!

All these answers cause him to get a twitch in his neck! So he is working on that.

We are staying in a great deal more, and run around so much with Kai all day we are asleep by 8:30 – a big change from four years ago when we met and were out till 3 or 4 am and figuring out when breakfast closed so we could get there 10 minutes prior. Now we’re figuring out when breakfast OPENS and waiting outside cause we’ve been up for an hour!!!!!

I have to let go and allow Deric to take over. I also have to slow down a lot and learn to relax. I go about 1000 miles an hour all the time, he cant even keep up when I walk. I guess I have gone from being single mom to a mom with a caring dad by her side.

Deric is great though – I was very impressed with him today at lunch when he ate a burger, held Kailey and gave her a bottle all at the same time, he is a natural!

So as you see we are all good – thank you for your kind words and thoughts.

On Wednesday we are off to Jeffrey’s Bay and will be there for 10 days of family fun and a little surfing for Deric on the side. We will update from there.

We will follow this blog up tomorrow with a slide show of some recent photos. But right now we both need to go to bed because we are too tired to carry on. It’s 9:00 pm!! Way past our bedtime!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Holbrooks Together Again

Hi Everyone!

Well I am happy to say I have a husband!!!! He arrived Tuesday not Monday. Due to weather conditions in the USA he was delayed and missed his flight to SA. He had to fly to Doha, Qatar and then down to SA. When he arrived his bags did not! When Deric’s sister came to SA her bags also did not arrive and we thought we had been struck by the same curse. But thank goodness Deric’s bags arrived two days later….. phew!

Deric met Kailey at the airport and her reaction to him I will never forget. It was like ‘oh here you are where have you been?’ They are so sweet together and you would never know they have been separated so long…. She does remember!

We are now at Bakubung – a game park about 2 hours from Johannesburg. We arrived yesterday and have been relaxing and working routines out! Today we did two safari drives during Kailey’s naps, I had a hot stone massage and then we went to Sun City (it’s a mixture of Disneyland and Las Vegas) We have now decided to stay one extra evening and will only go home on Monday. Tomorrow we have a full day of hanging out at the pool, another safari and hopefully we will be going to the Palace at Sun City.

Other than that … we are just connecting as a family and trying to relax.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I took a moment to reflect on thanksgiving and my very short history with this holiday…

For me Thanksgiving began in 2002 – before then it was a holiday that was sometime in the year and I did not understand why Americans even had it.

I left SA in the beginning of 2002 and was invited to have my very first Thanksgiving in Rochester NY. This was my very first trip to the USA and the first time I saw real snow (lots of it). I could not believe how much food there was!

In 2003 Deric and I had met and we were dating – He was living in Germany and I was in London still. He flew out to spend Thanksgiving with me. I was still working and on the Thursday Deric flew in and caught a cab to my flat in Marylebone. Unforeseen to me I was called to an event that I had running and was not able to get home till 11pm that evening……. I felt so bad, but Deric just hung out with my flatmates and chilled. All the restaurants were closed so we landed up having Thanksgiving dinner at a Doner shop. Deric says that was his best Thanksgiving.

In 2004 – Deric was in Iraq and my friends Sarah and Zack (Americans) were having a Thanksgiving dinner – they made this funny food called ‘Chilli’ I had no idea what it was suppose to be, was it soup? was it spaghetti sauce? They called me the token American and it was a great evening. (by the way I am now a chilli addict)

In 2005 – was almost a month till our wedding and I was flying to SA the day after. Deric and I spent the day alone and I made a small chicken for Thanksgiving dinner.

Last year 2006 – we drove to Virginia to be with Dawnele and Lexy (Deric’s sister and our niece) and had a great weekend there, I was pregnant at the time and as far as I can remember was sleeping at every chance I got.

Now this year I am in SA, and Deric is in Florida with his parents. Although I am looking forward to his coming here, I am starting to get very frustrated. I have been waiting for almost 9 months and he is still not here…. School was supposed to be finished last week and now drags on for another week!!!!! Nothing is ending! I am not going to count down anymore days I will just keep busy and get as much done as possible before he arrives.

So there you have it ….. Kaileys first Thanksgiving too and today when we go to the shops to do some Christmas shopping I will let her have a cookie!!!!

I hope you all have a wonderful day and safe travels!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Finally I am back!!!! Phew, now I can breath. I should have been finished by now, but I have one more exam to do since I was double booked with one I will write next week. It does stink a little but at least now I have a whole extra week to prepare for it. It is also not a massive one - those are all done.

I was so relieved today, I went and got a magazine to read and shopping with Kailey. I feel like I have lived in a cave for the past few weeks. I am doing a cooking course with Claudia on Saturday, we are cooking something (I don’t even know).

Tonight I am taking myself off to a movie – just me, myself and a box of popcorn I wont have to share with anyone else. I have not gone to a movie in over a year and have not even seen one on TV for months. I am very excited! It’s pretty sad actually that that would excite me to this degree, a few years ago I thought a movie was a boring evening.

We have our first birthday party on Saturday (after the cooking course). There are twins in playgroup and they are turning 1. The mom of the twins and I were in high school together – you wont believe how everyone here knows everyone.

As for Kai – we are now cutting teeth 11 and 12!!!!! Yip you read right! I want it to stop for just a little and give her a break (and me). These molars are giving her a hard time. Deric will get here and be like ‘teething is a piece of cake!’ Although she has not had the hardest time it still hurts and upsets her. Deric’s mom said the he had All his teeth by age 1….. This child is a mini Deric. Our son will be just like me!
She went for her 9-month shots today and is weighing in at 21 lbs. He said she is officially the size of a one year old.

Deric gets here in 18 days!!! I am next to myself with excitement. It is going to be so great to see him with Kailey – and of course she will just adore him as much as I do.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Our Great Cape Town Trip

Kailey and I went to Cape Town last Friday to see Janine. It was exactly what I needed, just a get away from school, exams and my everyday routine. We had so much fun and Kailey squealed most of the time with excitement.

We went to the Aquarium – it was great! Some people turned to me and said they are having more fun watching Kailey than the fish. She could not believe her eyes.










After that we milled around the Waterfront, went for lunch and each had a reflexology treatment!






Then we met up with my Moms oldest friend Aunty Joan, since she moved to Cape Town she has not seen Kai, so it was a perfect opportunity. She knew me since I was Kailey’s age (and younger)




On Sunday we went to Camps Bay beach and Kai saw the sea for the very first time. She just sat in the massive sand pit for a while kicking her legs, later she started examining the sand and when she started eating it I whipped her up and showed her the waves.











I was worried about how she would handle the routine change – but she did much better than I ever expected, even slept till 6:30!

On other news you will all be happy to know Deric is back in the USA!!!!!!!!!
He is coming here in 30 day as of today – I can’t tell you how excited I am. I went to playgroup today and everyone has agreed that even the school closes end of November for Christmas holidays, they will add in one more class so Deric can see how Kai enjoys it. They are even organizing some other dads to come so Deric wont be the only one!

My exams start next Wednesday so I am working away at that – I then write 3 more exams after that one and finish FOR GOOD on the 14th November – perfect timing to make myself fabulous for when Deric gets here.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

FOR EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT KNOW WHAT KAILEY IS EATING IN THE SLIDE SHOW BELOW!!!!!

Biltong is a kind of dried meat that originated in South Africa. Many kinds of flesh can be used to make it, ranging from beef through game meats to fillets of ostrich from commercial farms. It is typically made from raw fillets of meat cut into strips following the grain of the muscle, or flat pieces sliced across the grain. It is similar to beef jerky in that they are both spiced, dried meats but differs significantly in typical ingredients, taste and production process.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biltong

Kai and I are off to Cape Town tomorrow to see one of my oldest friends Janine (We were in High school together) I will let you know how it was and hopefully post some pictures.

I think I am a little crazy to be going so soon before exams (exams start in two weeks) and yes I am having a small panic, but I trust I will kick into gear when we come back relaxed and refreshed. (I secretly packed my notes to read at any chance I get)

Kai just cut her 9th tooth and the 10th is very close. This time she is having a hard time and waking almost every half and hour crying. Tonight she wouldn’t even eat her dinner (and that child can eat).

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Not only is spring in the air, but the feeling that Deric is coming home is too!
Everything feels like its almost here. I hand my thesis and three other assignments in on Monday, then I only have one more to hand in by the end of next week… my exams start November 7th and I will be DONE by November 14th. About two weeks later Deric is here and our holiday begins.

On the Kailey front – she started to crawl last Friday. I was at playgroup and was just saying to the group ‘I am not going to rush her, she must do it all in her own time’ just then she got up and crawled to a ball she had her eye on! She is not rushing around using this newfound independence. I don’t think she quite knows how far she can go. I am glad however that I have implemented the word NO in her vocab, and it’s proving quite handy now.

I decided that at 8 months Kai must now start sleeping on her own. She can only fall a sleep in arms and although my most favourite thing to do is to put her to sleep, I felt my plans of weaning her when she is 16 might be a little far fetched. So I started controlled crying. It was not half as bad as I thought it would be she cried 30 min last Monday, Tuesday she just went to sleep after I put her down, Wednesday she cried 30 min and that was the last of it! Done no issues. My little girl is growing up!

Also some good news is Kailey got her SA passport – so basically the US passport took 14 days and this one took 6 months – not bad going.

I had someone say to me that I must have so much time since I am a stay at home mom, he basically insinuated that I am lazy and do nothing with my days! He is a bit of a prat, but I started thinking. A lot of people feel this way, and they feel that it’s a cop out in life if you stay at home to raise your children. BUT if I went back to work and hired a nanny to take care of Kai, would anyone call the nanny lazy?
This is the best job I have ever had, and I would not change it for the world!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

A braai, jelly and ice!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I could not control my excitement, so naturally I had to blog.
Tomorrow Kai gets her very first certificate. She has successfully completed the first part of her swimming lessons (the ones that teach babies how to cope if they fall in to water). They are having a special day tomorrow with all the little swimmers up to age 6!

In SA News Today……

1) A pack of baboons have moved into a town and are ransacking the homes, cars and shops for food. People have been advised to close up all doors and windows and stay inside till they move on.

2) A man was arrested for drunk and driving today – his name was….. Hakuna Matata (for those out there who don’t know this … its time to hire out the Lion King movie)

I am having trouble attaching pictures on the blog, so Deric is dutifully attaching slideshows… now you know what happened the last time he got no comments!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Monday, September 17, 2007

In SA News today

Yip it happened – South Africa beat England in the Rugby World Cup Qualifier game and in the Cricket World Cup Qualifier game! Go Bokka!

In other news it was reported that four Lions have escaped from a game park and are loose in the town of Neilspruit. Authorities suggest that if you encounter the Lions not to show fear and not to run!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Only in Africa

I thought everyone would get a kick out of these pictures. One is of a …….. I have no idea what to call it other than a road side restaurant?. This picture was taken out side of where my dad works, and there are many of these………. ‘restaurants’ They build a fire and put a pot of pap (like oatmeal or grits) on it. The ‘guests’ bring their tin cups and plates and that’s lunch!



I also had to put in a picture of what the robots/traffic lights are like here in SA. Most robots have several beggars around them, but this one only has one. I just don’t like getting my camera out in those situations. What you don’t see on the picture is the family on the side of the road. They all take shifts to beg with the various babies’ that are there. Kills me!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Playgroup, Sinks, Ducks, Biltong and Camels?

Kai and I have been going to play group and swimming classes once a week! Its fun and she loves it. I find the swimming so hard as sometimes for a second you have to let your baby go!!!!!!AAAAHHHHHHHhhhhh. The class is to prepare babies in case they ever fall in water. They teach them to roll over (not sit up as instinct would have it) lift their chins, close their mouths and get to the side. I did not believe it was possible but some of the older kids in her class can do it completely without mom.






We have been enjoying the great weather too, going to the bird park with Aunty Claudia, we went to the country on the weekend and Kai got to see and feed some ducks at a lake. (a lake to us a pond to people in the US.... we don’t have much water here and our lakes are no where near to what Americans would call big)





It was so hot the other day I put Kailey in the sink. She loves water, hot or cold she is not bothered. I did go out and buy here a play pool for the summer - she can’t stay in the sink the whole time.




And just because Kai is half South African and half American I thought it was time she got a taste of the foods here .... She had her first Biltong (similar to jerky) and loved it. She uses it for teething since we are on tooth number 9! She loves SA food and the only cereal she eats is Krimel Pap, and of course her day is not complete without her daily Rooiboss tea!



She is still just too divine and I look at her everyday and can’t imagine what I must have done right to have a person like this in my life. She has started clapping and has just added baba to her very small vocab!

As for me - I have been working on my thesis lately. I am 90% done and about 90% on all my assignments. That 10% just takes so long to do! I start exams in November and will be DONE by the 30th November ready for Deric to arrive a few days after that. I miss him terribly, but Deric is doing well and will be home before we know it (Yay). He is going back to Fayetteville for 5 weeks and will be relaxing, getting the house baby proofed and seeing his family. I also will be sending him his ‘Honey Do’ list just in case he gets bored!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Friday, August 17, 2007

Beauty, Frustration, Sadness and Joy


Rich vs Poor



I was speaking to my friend Rachel the other day and she convinced me to write about what its like in South Africa, brace yourself some of it you wont believe…

I think there are four main faces to SA. Beauty, Frustration, Sadness and Joy

Beauty: Even though its winter, there is a sight that you only see in Africa. Red sands, dry hard grass, and trees that all look like they turn upside down roots up in winter. There is a haze of smoke over the horizon, again only seen in winter. This is from the fires in the townships and the veld (bush) fires that are renowned for this time of year. We have not had rain for months now so everything is dry and brittle.

Frustration: Here time is known as African time for a reason. Everything happens when it happens. There are 3 phrases used daily in the context of ‘I will do it…….’ …now – meaning you will do it this instant. …….now now – meaning you will do it in the next 15 or so minutes. Lastly…… just now – meaning soonish (if ever).

My frustration has been never ending. Since I have arrived I have had issues with things getting done.

The passport I applied for four months ago, was going to take 6 weeks is still not ready. I tried to call for weeks now, but the complaints/help department keeps putting the phone down on me. I then tried a whole lot of other numbers that I found and they all tell me to phone the complaints/help line.
I had a lucky day on Monday and I spoke to six people who told me I couldn’t get a passport – with no reason of course. Eventually I spoke to angel sent from heaven who helped me. She found my application form still in the out box – it had never been processed. So now I wait six weeks… again.

Two weeks ago we had petrol distributor strikes. Petrol stations ran completely out of petrol and everyone only had what was in their tanks. We were told it could last up to two weeks, but thank goodness it only lasted 5 days.

Then my University teachers all went on strike for three weeks, since I am part of the arts campus and artists never strike, so my classes were only cancelled for one week. But this Tuesday I went in and after being there for 5 minutes we were all evacuated. We were told any cars caught on campus would be ‘beaten on’. Needless to say everyone left!

We have had post office strikes, metal workers union strikes, hospital strike.
Everyone here has a union even the SA Army has a union and they are known to strike too!

I will just leave you with this last experience. I went to the post office to post a box to Deric. On the address section at the end I wrote USA – the post office clerk, weighed it and then asked me if the USA was in England!

Sadness: The poverty here is desperate. On one side of the city there are shantytowns, made up of tin shacks and roofs kept on with tires. No toilets, no running water. Children running around playing in the dirt.
On the other there is beautiful homes, with large walls around them. On Wednesday mornings men walk the streets and go through the neighbourhoods dustbins, looking for food and recyclable goods that they can sell for recycling. So on Wednesday I make breakfast for the man who has claimed our dustbin. I can’t see him eating what we have discarded – I make him enough for breakfast and lunch. At least he is eating well for two meals of the week!
Its here you truly understand the saying ‘eat all your food on your plate, there are children starving in Africa!’ If you are not grateful here for what you have you will never be. The phrase HAVING NOTHING has a real meaning here for me. I think this will affect the way I raise my children.

Joy: The joy can be summed up with the positivity everyone has. Both back and white have such hope and so many dreams. Everyone is so excited to be South African. They understand the quirks of the country and love it with everything they have. Its got a wonderful vibe of western ways combined with African traditions. People all speak more than one language at a time in one sentence. Even the SA TV has 3-4 languages on one show.

Sport seems to bring people together. All the teams are given African names. The Rugby team our bokka (bucks) are called Ama book boko. The soccer team is Ama Bafana Bafana, the swimming team is Ama Glug Glug, and the paraplegic team is called the Ama Kroko Kroko. Its all fun and I guess that’s the best part of SA, the country really laugh at themselves and have a great time doing it.








Friday, August 10, 2007

Kailey's New Playgroup!


Last week I was in our local shopping center when I bumped into a friend who had a baby as old as Kailey. Her baby went towards Kai with open arms to hug and touch her, but Kai looked at her like she was made of cheese, and then to me as if to say ‘What the hell is that!’ I realized then that she has not spent much time with other kids.



So today we went off to a playgroup! I am not sure who had more fun, her or me. I got to speak to other moms (something I don’t get to do much here) and Kai got to play with other kids and learn about texture (today’s lesson)

Next Wednesday we start swimming lessons for 6-9 month olds. Apparently it’s a good idea to teach your child at this age water safety before they start crawling. Our class is for 12 weeks, for 30 min and yes I have to get into the pool with her. I now have to get a costume and my mind right for that moment…..


























Sunday, August 5, 2007

Jo and Kai July Photos

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Kailey's Number Game

0. The number of times Kai has rolled over
1. Number of teeth currently coming through
2. Number of capitals she has been to. (Washington DC/USA & Pretoria/RSA)
3. Naps a day
4. Time of the day Daddy calls
5. Bottles a day
6. The number of teeth Kai has at the moment (3 on the top – 3 on the bottom)
7. The number of butt pats to get Kai off to sleep
7.5 Kg.Weight she is at the moment (16.5lbs)
8. Number of piano lessons she has had with Nampa
9. Nappies a day
10. How many months she will be when she sees Daddy
11. How many months she will be when she flies home
12. Number of hours she sleeps a night.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Kailey's July Adventures!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Tribute to Cecilia O’Niel

Tribute to Cecilia O’Niel – The most wonderful Grandmother!
November 1906- June 2007

Can you imagine living 100 years? What she must have seen? World War 1 and 2. Motorcars, moving pictures, movies, colour photographs, air travel, television and so much more. How many presidents did she see being sworn in?

She was born in Chorley England one of 9 siblings. She met my Grandfather at age 6. They were married for 59 ½ years but knew each other for 82 years before he died. They had 2 children, 6 grandchildren, and 7 great grandchildren.

My only wish before coming home was for her to meet my Kailey, and she did – it was such special visits we made and so wonderful for me to see them together. Her only wish was to get her letter from the Queen (something Queen Elizabeth does to all citizens who turn 100) She was so excited when she received it.

In 1935 her and Granddad moved to South Africa since work was scarce in England and South Africa offered a new world of gold mines and better opportunities.

She was part of a generation we don’t know anymore. A strong and selfless generation. Where hardships from the wars, depressions, and ever-changing world made them know what was important in life.

She saved everything! Even the sheets on her bed were cut in half and sewn together on the outside. I remember her saving bath water in buckets to flush the toilet during the drought times. She knew how to conserve. She was so good in fact that she was happy to help you with your sherry or brandy if you did not want it! (Nothing went to waste)

She respected so many people and always gained the respect of everyone around her. She never complained, even if she had reason to. I always remember her saying ‘no one wants to hear my complaints’.

As for being a Grandmother – she let us do all the things we weren’t allowed to do at home. We could have ice cream after breakfast (I really remember that one very well) She walked faster than anyone I had ever met – and that was at 90! She was a wonderful role model and was very aware that a lady was always a lady. Her whole life she wore stockings and a skirt, and of course never went anywhere without a handbag. (Even just walking around the old age home) She always remained a lady and left every situation with such class and style.

I will always remain in awe of this wonderful woman who was a asset to her community, a necessity to her family and the worlds greatest Grandmother……

Rest in Peace Gran, I hope your dancing!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

First Snow In 26 Years!




First snow in 26 years!!!!! Such a big event on Wednesday – everyone was gob smacked. It never snows in Johannesburg and it did this week. I even remember the snow in 1981, we played in it all day and then packed the snow in Tupperware and put it in the freezer for the next day. Who would ever think that Kailey’s first snow would be in Africa!
Needless to say it did not last very long – but it was still fun!