Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Happy Day!!

I can't believe I just turned 38, but wow...I did and here I am - 2 years before the big 40. Holy Crap!
It was a very nice day; dinner with hubby and cake with the kids after.  After our busy weekend and Marine Ball, some of the girls took me out for a nice dinner too. 
 
It was a great birthday and a fun week!
 
 
 
The kids and Daddy made the cake!!
 
 
AND... Happy Thanksgiving too!

 
Hope everyone had a great day! We enjoyed an early Thanksgiving with some new friends and then headed to Chase's school play/concert at 5 pm.  It was two hours with kids from the age 2 1/2 to 5. Go ahead, picture it. Ha  Anyway, Chase did great- waved at us numerous times (so cute!!) and did awesome! Not his usual shy self in crowds. We were so proud!!
 
They would not let us take in a video camera or camera in the auditorium (serious pre-school stuff), but I did buy a dvd (of course) of the whole thing we can share later. 
 
 
As you can tell Chase is thrilled about the concert and ready to go. Ha Ha
 



Yes, we were the only Americans at the pre-school concert (on Thanksgiving Day).
It was worth it.  Right honey?? :)

Marine Ball 2012

Just had an amazing night this past weekend at our 6th Marine Ball! It was absolutely beautiful and we had a blast!
 
I actually had my dress made here in Zimbabwe, custom made the design and even picked out the materials. Pretty Neat!! A few of my friends also had custom made dresses with other people, guess we all had the same idea. (still waiting on the picture of all of us in our African dressess).
 It was a FUN Night!!!
 
 
 
They had stuffed African animals all over the place- it was nuts!!! Although this pictures was blurry (it was smoke from the tiki torches), it kind of looked cool.
 


Tom with the boys; Jeremy and Brain
 
With our good friends, The Jens. :)
 


and our friends, The Knowles



Heather and the hold out cam...


 


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Still Waiting...

These are the words I have seen every day, 100's of times a day - for about three weeks now. Its GMAIL.  I don't know what it in the world is going on, but I just can not SEND out any email messages. I can receive your messages, but just can not send any back. STILL WAITING (to send), STILL LOADING, OOPS, ERROR.  EVERY DAY! I was giving Zimbabwe a few days to catch up, get back to normal, try to fix itself, but it just never did.  I finally decided yesterday to just open a new email account, so I tried yahoo. Well, I am pretty sure it is connected to google (aren't all things?), and guess what...did the same thing.  Wouldn't send a message. So, I said screw it, I will open another email account, not connected to google, and I tried hotmail.  I did it, I opened a hotmail account, I sent an email faster than I could say - still waiting, and finally I had a deep sigh a relief. This was of course until my Internet did not work ALL day yesterday!! Ergh!
 
I could of course communicate through facebook or like now, this blog- but not all people use facebook (surprisingly)- ha, The blog- well, as you may or may not know about the blog; each one is thought out, carefully designed with just the right amount of pictures, covering every area and remember I still have- oh at least 6 blogs waiting to be sent as we speak. It is still of course, waiting on the right pictures, waiting for them to be picked and downsized properly and then trying to upload to the site (to anywhere really) and getting yet another ERROR message with the box "x", UPLOAD FAILED. Anyway, my point is that I didn't really want to resort ONLY to this just to communicate with my family and friends. 
 
Its almost 2013!!!

As you can see by far THE most frustrating thing about living in the third world is....lack of technology. However, if you could see the amount of people with iphones here (at the cost of around $800 - $1000 each) - you would go crazy. So really, are they really lacking in technology here? And dont even get me started on my supposedly new iphone I bought at the apple store in the US this summer. Its locked, its frozen, it wont restore and go figure, no one hear can figure out how to fix it.
Again, Fun times.
 
But wait, not finished. So I can still get on Gmail just fine- see messages and sometimes, just sometimes, after closing, re-opening, and closing again...I can finally get one sent message. Its crazy!  So, yesterday I get online to finally catch up on things on my new hotmail account. But guess what? For some strange FREAKING reason, hotmail will not even open.  Nope, cant even go to www.hotmail.com. Yes, at this point- Im crying.  I mean, it had only been one day, I thought I was progressing. Unfortunately, the answer was no. And then, 30 minutes later...that little yellow triangle appeared in my bottom right window- you know, the one with the ! in it.  oh, the joys. This lasted the whole day.
 
So, as you may or may not of noticed, I have not ONLY been out of touch due to this MINOR flaw in the day to day technologies of living in Zim, but I have also been dealing with a month of sick kids and planning our family trip to Europe for Christmas.  What are you talking about... a family Christmas trip to Europe? I know...life is horrible for us, right? ha Go ahead, Poor Rhodes Family. Ha And just when you were starting to feel bad for me, right?
 
So while TRYING to plan this R&R Christmas trip what we all must remember is that it is still the State Department and trying to get tickets issued promptly is not their strong suit.  We cant do anything without their approval. So we waited for that and waited some more. And as you can imagine- trying to plan a trip to Europe, over the busiest time of year, with no plane tickets, means I can not confirm any hotels- which equals... super super frustrating.
 
During this time, I was experiencing "Still Waiting" from Gmail, I was experiencing UNAVAILABLE from almost ANY ski resort in Austria possible. I mean I am looking over the week of Christmas. Either that, or just simply no reply.  Or better yet, I would get a reply from someone about a resort...but could NOT REPLY back. I worked on this for at least a month FIRST, as with no ski resort, meant a whole new schedule and with no ski resort date, meant we couldn't plan the rest or our trip. OK, I get it- life could be worse, right? I heard you the last time. I am planning a Christmas trip to Europe with my family and we are going skiing. I HEAR YOU! It is certainly NOTHING to complain it...but remember, I am venting about my Internet frustrations, not our amazing vacation we have planned. Ha! :)
 
So, at the end of the day- I am beyond thankful things are finally falling into place for the trip.  We finally got our plane tickets...YESTERDAY, a month before we are supposed to leave, we have a ski week in Austria booked and planned and I still need to book our hotels for the beginning of our trip in Germany (we are doing the fun German Christmas Markets- so excited!) and the end of our trip in Prague.  Again, I know things could be worse.  I still have no working email, but I have this blog and once life gets back to normal, the kids get over their sicknesses, which finally seems to be on the mend (missing about 15 days of school combined), I will then finally get to tell you about all of that, the fun stuff we have been up to, including our fun trip to the Eastern Highlands in Zimbabwe. This is where Chase was covered head to toe in a freak rash while hiking in the forest (while we were staying at a resort in the middle of nowhere with no doctors, etc.).  Oh yes, Fun Times!!! We all ended up OK of course, Chase is doing just fine. :) We have Marine Ball this weekend as well as three going away parties for friends, Thanksgiving and Chase's first school play.  And yes, we are excited about Christmas and oh yeah ...
 
We are still anxiously WAITING to hear about our next post!
 
Love you all!
 
 
 
A fun family pic from our trip to the Eastern Highlands. :)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Happy Halloween!!

 
 
Although they do not celebrate Halloween here in Zim, I certainly made any effort possible to make sure the kids knew it was Halloween. I decorated the house as best I could with the decorations I have kept over the years. I even had my gardner help me make a big spider web with bamboo and string to hang on the front porch. Pretty neat! 

I also asked Chase's preschool of about 100 kids if they could do something for Halloween too...and they did! The head mistress asked all the kids to dress up! I made 100 little bags of popcorn, dressed up like a witch and handed candy and popcorn out to the kids at school for fun. 
 
 
 
I also brought Pumpkin Piper! Im not sure if you remember, but I did this a few years ago for Hannah's preschool in Kenya.  That was a lot more involved, but I am happy that I could do something to add a little fun for the holiday for Chase. 

 

 
 

 

At Hannah's school I decided to make cupcakes for the 1st grade class - about 60 kids.  Since they were not celebrating Halloween, I just dropped them off...but hopefully they know what it is for. Ha Hannah on the other hand was in a full Halloween ensemble and had on her Hello Kitty Halloween outfit. Too Cute!  As you can see, none of the other kids did much. They were even supposed to wear orange (im assuming for Halloween), but it looks like not many participated. Hope they enjoyed the special cupcake at the end of class.
 

We did not have any pumpkins, but I did however do my best to use some local things I found and make them into pumpkins. I think it worked pretty well for a wire framed basket that should be used as a lamp shade. Ha
 
This weekend we celebrated again with the Embassy community and other friends for a large party put on by the Embassy. Was loads of fun! 
 
Adult Halloween party ended with Karaoke. :)
 
 


 
 

 
 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Eastern Highlands, Zimbabwe

A few of my pictures uploaded today - Hooray! (HA)
 
Our Trip to Eastern Highlands - November 2012
 
Mutarazi Falls
 
We spent the first half of our trip of Eastern Highlands, driving in the rain on a horrible road without being able to see 5 feet in front of us. We got a self catering cabin in the middle of nowhere and I mistakenly did not break enough food or warm clothes for this part of the trip. But, all in all- it was a unique trip, at times- absolutely beautiful and quite adventurous for us all. 
 
(Eastern Highlands is that little green smudge on the eastern wall of Zimbabwe and Mozambique, under Nyanga National Park.)

 Is this fog incredible or what? Looks like a spooky haunted forest and believe me, around dusk- it was!
 
 






On our way to see the tallest waterfall in Zimbabwe
(even taller than Victoria Falls!)
This was not a BIG National Park, there was no one around, no borders, just edges that dropped off to the falls- so much, that we did not even let the kids get close enough to even see it.
Was it worth the hike? Absolutely.
 
 
Hiking to the falls - kids did AWESOME!!
 
 
A picture below of where we were hiking and how FAR up we were - crazy!
Mutarazi Falls
 
(this was from the drive leaving Mutarazi and heading to Aberfoyle)

 

 
We spent two days at Mutarazi Falls and then headed to our next stop- Aberfoyle Lodge.
 
On our way to Aberfoyle...
 
This is where we stopped for gas- oh yes, this was THE gas station.
 
 
The drive...was...amazing!! It was by far the most beautiful part of Zimbabwe I have seen and definitely my favorite. Tea farm after tea farm- just breathtaking!
 

 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Aberfoyle Lodge
 
The lodge we stayed at dated back to the 70's with some seriously priceless d├ęcor.  Have I mentioned no ceiling fans and no air- SO HOT!  The view and the drive there however...
worth a MILLION!!! (about an hour and a half from Mutarazi)

Tea Farm on the property
 
 
 
Walking down to the waterfall...and swimming in the waterfall. :) SO fun!
 


Look at these kids!! So cute! :) This is when they were being nice to each other. Ha!