Thursday, November 27, 2014

Six Months With Grace

Six months with our sweet, sweet gal.  It's hard to believe.  Miss Grace continues to be incredibly laid back and happy every single day.  As her Nana likes to say, "Make it a good day.  Grace always does."

As seems to be a trend, I got her monthly Miss Kitty photos in the first snaps.  Grace is quick to flash a smile:
Six-month stats:
Length: 26 inches (50-75%)
Weight: 16 lb, 3 oz (50%)
Head: 41.5 cm (25%)

New Skills:
*Sitting Up: Grace is a lot more sturdy with her unassisted sitting.
 *Sitting in the bath tub like a big girl.  Palmer is delighted to have a bath companion.
*First word: "Dada".  (I'm fine with that.  Everyone knows the letter D is easier to say than the letter M and I am really her favorite parent.)

*Eating solids.  Grace is experimenting with basic fruits and vegetables and grains.  She also enjoys handling a cracker or tortilla while the rest of us eat with her at the dinner table.  
Everyone in this family is completely smitten with our baby girl.  She is a happy, easy baby and brings joy to each and every day.
Happy half year, Grace.  (Palmer was really upset you didn't get half a cake for this milestone.  See you in 6 months for the sweets...)


Monday, November 24, 2014

Africa, Part 2

From Cape Town, Rick and I went with a few other friends about 4 hours into the country to go on an overnight safari.
The game lodge was such a nice place with private chalets and amazing food.  We all wished we had time to stay there more than one night.
We went on an evening game drive and a morning game drive.
Rick's lifetime highlight happened recently when one person saw a friend's facebook photo of us in the safari vehicle and asked if our guide in the back was really allowed to drink a beer.  Rick was honored to be confused for the guide.
Because the game lodge was on a private reserve, there weren't as many animals as we might have seen at a national park.  However, it was very interesting to hear our guide talk about the different ecosystems and personalities among the animals.

Our guide using the GPS tracker to try to find the cheetah hiding in the bush.

Rick's dream come drive an open-aired Land Rover.  Unfortunately, South Africans drive on the opposite side of the road, so Rick is only a passenger...
 The cowboy.
After our safari, we drove back towards Cape Town and spent the last part of the vacation in the gorgeous wine country.
At each place during the week, we said, "It's too bad we are coming here now because the next place can't top this."

However, each place was gorgeous and different from the last.  We enjoyed the beautiful wine country and town of Franschhoek.

Our humble little cottage at the amazing La Petite Dauphine, the site of Adrienne's wedding:
The groom, Matt, organized a wonderful wine tour on the day before the wedding:
And finally, the wedding.  The entire event was stunning.  The outdoor ceremony was beautifully set under a very old tree right outside our cottage.
The evening was a nice blend of South African and Southern United States wedding traditions.
One cultural difference: The South Africans throw "confetti" to the couple right after the ceremony and before the reception.  It's probably more fitting than our American tradition of throwing rice (or whatever) after the reception when people have had a few drinks and are tired...
 My groom.
The reception was supposed to be set up outside, but strangely, South Africa experienced a bit of a cold snap.  Nevertheless, the indoor setup was stunning and perfect.  Another cultural difference: the groomsmen give very long and entertaining speeches throughout the evening and the "second groomsman" is the MC for the night, which provides extra fun for the party.
The amazing bride:
And I will leave you as I think all blog posts should end...with a rooster at the bar.  
This poor rooster tried to sleep on the piano late in the night when the dancing and festivities were in high gear.  The owner of the place said the rooster was only pretending to try to be asleep and actually loves it when there is a late night party.

Adrienne and Matt, thanks for hosting one heck of a wedding and the scene for one heck of a vacation.  Congrats to the happy couple.


Friday, November 21, 2014

Africa, Part 1

Rick and I just returned from South Africa where we attended my dear friend Adrienne's wedding.  While I will try not to bore you with our vacation photos, my mother is insisting that I upload photos ASAP.  So, hear it goes...

I've been to Southern Africa before (Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana).  However, this was my first time to South Africa and the two African trips couldn't have been more different.  The parts of South Africa where we visited were extremely Westernized and every stop was luxurious and incredibly beautiful.

First stop: Camps Bay, an exclusive beach-front community in Cape Town.  Camps Bay is filled with gorgeous waterfront homes, hotels, and restaurants.  The iconic flat-topped Table Mountain overlooks the community and the mysterious unfurling of the cloud "table cloth" happens regularly.
We took a ferry over to Robben Island, the island that housed the maximum-security prison where Nelson Mandela and other high-profile political prisoners stayed.  
 The lime quarry, where Mandela and other prisoners worked.
 Mandela's cell:
The visit was unique because former political prisoners give the tour of the prison.  It was fascinating to hear our guide talk about being housed in a room with 60 other men who shared a tiny bathroom. I just can't believe the guide still lives on the island now that he is a free man.  I also wish I hadn't of been jetlagged because I kinda dozed at one point even though the tour was really fascinating.
A gorgeous view of the Robben Island coast with Table Mountain in the background:
Another major highlight of the week was the drive down to Cape Point/Cape of Good Hope, the southwestern-most tip of Africa.
I remember Matt Lauer visiting the Cape in his 2007 Where in the World is Matt Lauer tour, and really wanted to cross this off of my bucket list.  I figured the hour drive from Cape Town would really just be barren land in the middle of a national park.

I was wrong.  I had no idea the entire drive would be so stunning, similar to a driving version of Italy's Cinque Terre where you hop from scenic town to scenic town amidst gorgeous cliff views of the rocky coastline.
One of the stops was in the town of Simon's Town where a huge colony of penguins has settled on Boulders Beach.
These little guys are so awkward on the land (as you can see below), but it was a sight to see how agile and quick they were in the water.
A little bargaining at one stop.  Family members, I worked hard for your Christmas presents.  (And Rick worked hard for Palmer's new sling shot.  Awesome.)
Further down the cape, we finally reached Cape Point, the point where the Indian Ocean meets the Atlantic Ocean.  It's incredible to imagine that boats have to hit this point and make sure they go up the correct east or west side of Africa.  It would be a shame to get off course and have to turn around...
And for now, I will leave you with one last video of the sounds of Africa.
To be continued...