Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween at school 2011

Halloween weekend! And you know what I realize... the weather is so nice!!

My friends in Connecticut are having snow, so we would be in the snow as well if we didn't move to South Africa, how extra nice this weather is. Sunny and 75F, just so much easier to dress up! No layers underneath your costume!!

First the celebration at school.

Juliet's class.

The girls only.

Being silly or scary...

The boys of JJ's class.

Jasmine's class.

The girls only.

And the boys of Jezz's class.

Some decorations the room moms put up.

Cathlynn and Jasmine.

JJ & Jezz, now with the different make-up they look so different! And everybody thought the girls were wearing wigs, but this is their real hair. Just being a bit creative as you could read in my posting of yesterday.

Great make-up with the Grim Reaper!

Svenja, Jasmine and Cathlynn.

Rose, Juliet, Elle and Kirsten.

Now on Saturday we have the trick 'r treating in our estate. Jasmine, Mi Young and Juliet are getting ready for the trick 'r treating at night. After this pic was taking they decided they didn't look scary enough, so I had to put some finishing touches on them.

Hair whiter and more make-up, now they are ready to scare the neighborhood :-)

Such a fun weekend!

We had a BBQ in the drive way, or more like a block party with a few families while the kids went out trick 'r treating. Here the kids don't walk, but they all drive around in golf carts... wish now I had taken a picture of that! But I forgot!

How was your Halloween weekend?

Friday, October 28, 2011

My daughter is a goth!

But luckily it's just for Halloween and the girls are dressed up at school today!

Juliet is a goth prom queen and Jasmine is a goth mummy!

They were so excited to get dressed this morning, we woke up at 5:30 am to get ready. 2 girls doing their hair and make-up just at sunrise I was dreading of the moods, but it went smooth and really well!!

Last night we curled the hair in little buns on top of their head to make the hair curly so it is easier to make it wild, since straight hair is hard to tease and keep it wild... so all the effort started already last night.


and after.

Actually weeks ago we ordered the costumes from the USA and my good friend Candice brought it back to us on her last trip. South Africa has not such a great variety and of course the girls want to have something special so I ordered these costumes online at Halloween Express. They had the whole outfit including the shoes, because that was a very important part of the whole outfit, look at these funky shoes and the fishnet stockings!! It completes the outfit!!

Waiting for the school bus at 6:45 am just now, so happy with their looks, excited to go to school!

Later I will go to school as well, to see the parade and have the Halloween party at school. More pictures to follow in my next posting.

Happy Halloween to you all!!
Enjoy the funny, scary, unique, sassy, hip, bright and funky outfits!!

Mireille xx

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Kruger & Blyde river canyon here we come!

My dad is here and the girls have a week off from school, so time again for a SAFARI!!

We are leaving today, and this will be an amazing trip, so looking forward to it!

The weather is gorgeous and the trip we have booked is super exciting!!

First we are going to Mpumalanga, which means "the place where the sun rises". We will be staying 3 days in Plumbago guest house. Mpumalanga lies in eastern South Africa, north of KwaZulu-Natal and bordering Swaziland and Mozambique. We will be visiting the Blyde river canyon. While it is difficult to compare canyons world-wide, Blyde River Canyon is one of the largest canyons on Earth, and it may be the largest 'green canyon' due to its lush subtropical foliage. It has some of the deepest precipitous cliffs of any canyon on the planet. It is the second largest canyon in Africa, after the Fish River Canyon, and is known as one of the great wonders of nature on the continent.

The best view in the whole of the Blyde River Canyon is of the "Three Rondavels", huge, round rocks, thought to be reminiscent of the houses or huts of the indigenous people, known as rondavels. This canyon is part of the Panorama route. This route starts at the town Graskop and includes God's Window, the Pinnacle and Bourke's Luck Potholes. All these beautiful things we will see when we will drive the Panorama Route.

After 3 days in this area, with visiting canyons, waterfalls, cute little towns full of the real Africana stuff, we are driving into Kruger National Park. Which is one of the largest game reserves in Africa and one of the largest national parks in the world. It covers 19,485 square kilometres (7,523 sq mi) and extends 360 kilometres (220 mi) from north to south and 65 kilometres (40 mi) from east to west.

All the Big Five (Elephant, Lion, Leopard, Buffalo and Rhino) game animals are found at Kruger National Park, which has more species of mammals than any other African Game Reserve (at 147 species). Also 517 species of birds are found at Kruger, 253 are residents, 117 non-breeding migrants, and 147 nomads.

At the Kruger we will stay at Rhino Post Safari Lodge where we will have our morning and evening game drives, also available at this lodge are Rhino Walking Safaris. We haven't done that yet, so you will go on foot and look for the Rhinos. Sounds great and we will see if we can do one. One these kind of safaris no kids are allowed. We will sleep in tented lodges, which I always like so much, because it gives you even a closer feel to nature and the animals!

To arrive at this lodge we have to drive about an hour through the Kruger park, and hopefully this will not happen to us!!

After 2 days we are going to Tzaneen and stay at the Fairview Hotel. From this place we are visiting the Magoebaskloof with its tea plantations and the Koedoes River Valley. Here we will also see the biggest Baobab Tree in the world. Also possible the oldest tree in the world, dating back 6000 years! And so far as I know the only tree with a bar inside – known as “The Tree Bar” or “The Baobab Bar”.

A wide range of tropical fruits are grown in the Tzaneen area, notably mangoes, bananas, oranges and avocados. Pine and Eucalyptus plantations are also a common sight in the area around the town, particularly toward Magoebaskloof and Haenertsburg. This area is much more sub-tropical than Johannesburg, so it will be nice to see some different vegetation.

All in all an interesting trip with loads to see and of course the highlight is the visit of the Kruger Park, where I am sure we will see the Big Five and tons of other animals.

This is my first trip that I booked through a travel agency here, normally I book and research everything myself but I found it so hard to this time to create a nice trip because I wanted to see so much and for the places in between it was so hard to find any good info on the web. So my friend Ingrid recommended me to go to African Surprise, a small travel agency run by Liesbeth Wijnkoop and she created this whole trip for me and even her prices were much much better than I could have ever booked it for. So I am happy that I did this. So for my friends who live here and want to have a trip booked locally or even anywhere contact Liesbeth at She will create a trip of a lifetime for you!!

We will keep you updated when we are back how everything went!!
Mireille xx

Saturday, October 15, 2011

a new kitten for Cathlynn

Juliet's best friend Cathlynn, who is also our neighbor and in the same class as Jasmine (they are all 3 friends of course, but at the moment JJ & Cathlynn are besties) has a new kitten.

So cute!!

So adorable!!

And... of course...

JJ wants one too!!

But unfortunately mommy is kind of allergic to dog & cat hair, makes me sneeze and I get itchy eyes... so she can play with Cathlynn's cat.

Which is fun as well!!

JJ still has her hamster, but of course after a month or so.. it is not as exciting anymore and the kitten is new, we will see for how long that excites them.

Enjoy your weekend!
Mireille xx

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

~ Bandana Day 2011 ~

Today is Bandana Day at school!

Every year the Sunflower Fund organizes this to bring more awareness for the South African Bone Marrow Registry to help save the lives of leukaemia sufferers in South Africa.

At school they make a small competition out of it, to encourage the children to all wear a bandana, specially bought for this occasion. By buying this bandana part of the proceedings go to the Sunflower Fund. The class with the most bandanas will get a small prize.

Jasmine and Juliet were excited to wear one today. Last year we also did this but then I did not realize that you HAVE to wear THIS bandana, and not just one you have at home. See here my post from last year.... The girls look so much younger with their missing front teeth. :-)

With buying a bandana for yourself, you'll buy hope and a new future for somebody else!
So go out and buy a bandana if you are living in South Africa!! For sale at any PnP or BP gas stations.

Have a wonderful day! I know we will because grandpa is coming today!! YEAH!!
Mireille xx

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Paying Lobola....

What is that??

I see you thinking??

Well, I was yesterday in a nail salon and the girl who was doing my hair was talking about that. She is living together with her boyfriend, but she thinks she is pregnant. So now she wants to get married, but he must FIRST pay the LOBOLA!

Lobola is a topic in South Africa that surfaces in everyone’s conversation across the colour and ethnic board. Lobola is the Xhosa word for dowry, paid for a bride as a sign of ubuhlobo (friendship) between the families and also serves as confirmation to the bride’s parents that the intended husband will be able to take care of his bride and subsequent family.
Lobola is still an essential part of African life, not only in Xhosa culture but also Zulu and other ethnic tribes of South Africa.

I thought in these modern times this is not done anymore, but YES, my nail artist who told me that her parents are dead and she is raised by her grandparents... now of course lives on her own, but they still want that LOBOLA!! But she wasn't sure if she wanted him as a husband, because he drinks too much. So she told me that after he paid the lobola she would leave him!!

How vicious!! I thought, but when I saw her smiling devious face, I was wondering, is he not coming after you and want his money back?? She told me that her grandparents in the rural area would have spent the money by the time he would come back to collect it. So NO, no returning of lobola, that is too bad for him!!

So you can see that the lobola is still a bit old fashioned but the rules are changing, because I am sure that in the olden days there would have been too much pride involved and if the girl would leave after the lobola is paid, some retribution would occur!

So then I asked how much is the price of a lobola?? Of course it all depends how wealthy a family is. But traditionally the Xhosa people were pastorialists and their wealth was determined by the number of cows they owned. In times gone by, young African grooms had to offer ten head of cattle for the bride’s hand.
Nowadays, the prospective groom has to provide the monetary equivalent of at least ten cows when lobola is negotiated with the bride’s family. (I have no clue what the price of a cow is?)

It is tradition that the bride’s family is not to be too hasty in their hospitality towards the groom’s family. At first glance the bride’s family does not appear particularly eager to part with their precious daughter! And thus before the groom’s family are permitted to enter the bride’s family homestead, a little negotiation to at least get past the gate is usually led by the ceremonious presentation of a golden egg – usually a bottle of something well matured and malty. They are then gingerly shown into the home, where they are met by the bride’s father and uncles.
Once inside the bride’s home, the anxious negotiators introduced themselves and produced an umvulamlomo. Directly translated from Xhosa, this is a mouth opener meant to get the negotiations under way. Although this bottle was not drunk immediately, it was welcomed by the bride’s family and thus African dowry negotiations kicked-off (led by the uncles only).

Lengthy lobola negotiations constitute a respectful, yet comically animated game of cat and mouse (or in Africa we would say a game of catch between a mighty lion and a graceful gazelle). The bride’s family is thus able to determine the sincerity of the groom’s marriage proposal.
Following the charade at the entrance gate to the bride’s family home, the next sequence unfolded. The groom’s family declared that their son had been blinded by a beauty from the visited household.
“What beauty? There are no beauties here!”, the bride’s family responded, with feigned shock and confusion.
The groom’s family then offered a third golden egg, this being another valued bottled of fine spirits.
“Ah, yes we do indeed have a beauty in our house. But she is much too young to be married and we’re not sure we want to lose our daughter so soon.”, lamented the bride’s family.
“Who will take care of us in our old age?”, they asked, very concerned.
Yet another golden egg emerged from the groom’s negotiators. With the resolve of the bride’s uncles now softened, the door to persuasion was opened for the formal negotiations of the dowry settlement.

A married Zulu woman vs a Maiden Zulu girl, dress code is totally different!

Traditionally, the bride’s family have a minimum dowry in mind. The groom’s family is required to negotiate a price within their reach, or one that they think is suitable. If a deadlock is reached (usually if the offered dowry price is too low), the groom’s delegation is promptly reprimanded by the bride’s family for insulting the bride’s father, and the groom’s negotiators are asked to leave, only to return if they are truly serious.
The groom’s family literally pick themselves up and depart the bride’s family home to re-strategise and establish a different approach to the lobola negotiations. These back and forth negotiations can quite easily take a couple of hours or an entire day for families to reach an agreeable dowry. Only once an amicable and befitting price has been achieved, can the groom’s delegation relax, drink the ceremonial umqoboti (traditional African beer) and eat traditional umgqusho (samp, served with beans and sheep). This denotes the bonding of the friendship between the two families.

source here.

Lobola is like a Dowry in the Indian and Pakistan culture, in the West it is not done. But then again I heard some comments of African men saying: "What about the diamond ring you pay for your bride? Isn't that the same?" I can see where they are coming from... So what do you think?? Is paying a diamond ring not another form of Lobola or Dowry??

Tell me how do you feel about this??
Mireille xx

Monday, October 10, 2011

a new Martha in the house??

Jasmine and Juliet are both showing some interest in cooking and baking. So the other weekend JJ asked me to bake something, but she wanted to do it alone. At least as much as possible! OK with me!!

Brownies was the choice.

So here she goes; getting the ingredients together, mixing, pouring and licking... how fun is that last part!!

Cathlynn her friend came by and wanted to help as well, so both are decorating the brownie cake.

JJ has a go as well...

And see here the result! Normally brownies are made in a square tin, but today we wanted to decorate it with the hearts of powder sugar, so we made it round... tastes the same!!

YUM YUM! Like a good brownie, crunchy on the sides, but nice and gooey in the centre!!

Perfect brownie JJ!! Let's try something a bit more challenging the next time :-)

Are your kids into baking or cooking??

Enjoy your Marvellous Monday!!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Eye in eye with a roaring lion....

... and being licked by a blue tongue of an Giraffe, that is what we experienced recently.

We have some friends staying with us from Abu Dhabi and we went to the Lion Park last week. It is only 20 minutes from our home and you can come really close... and I mean REALLY close to the animals. So close that you come cheek to cheek with a giraffe... so close that you can touch its BLUE tongue. So close that you can feel the course hair of a Lion baby cub, so close that you can touch the feathers of an ostrich. Which is all SO FUN but also a bit scary!! Look at the faces of the kids and you see it all!

They are a bit scared but also fascinated by it all.... like kids feel the way towards Santa Claus... a bit scary, but want to go closer and sit on his lap...

The Lion Park is home to more than 85 Lions including rare White Lions, and many other carnivores such as Cheetah, Wild dog, Hyenas and a variety of Antelope indigenous to Africa. The White Lions that live here were used in the movie the White Lion. Home is a journey., if you haven't seen this one, go and rent it at your local store or buy it on DVD it is such a great movie for children and adults!! I had taped it, so the kids could see it after our visit to the Lion Park. And we just recognized our new made friends Letsatsi and Nkulu :-)
White Lion was nominated and won at the SAFTA Awards for Best Cinematography /DOP in a feature film. Best Music Composition in a feature film and Best Sound Design in a feature film.

A fun day we had, living our lives here in South Africa brings the kids so much closer to animals that they can't really experience anywhere else. Not like this, free in the wild. I mean here they are not free free, but also not in a cage, they roam around in this huge park and we can touch them, feed them, hug them even if you dare... but none of us dared!!

First we are off to pet the lion cubs, the kids were all so excited to see and touch them. We only petted them but you could hold them or sometimes even play with them, but today was a bit busy so we only had 5 minutes...

Then off to the Giraffe, he is so sweet but big. And when his face comes this close to my camera I am afraid that he will knock it out of my hands with his giant tongue!!

Look how huge his face is compared to Nick!

The kids love love to feed him, but Jezz got touched by his tongue I think by looking at her face... LOL

See how he curls his lips to eat as much as possible....

Then Lavul is going first to feed the Ostriches...

look at the faces of the kids... too funny!!

Nick went next, but JJ wants to try as well...

Here she goes.... Jezz is cupping her hand as well... in support! :-)

Ouch... he bit my finger!! But he has NO teeth!! So it is not too bad...

Look at Vicky.. she has the food in her hands... wants to try, but it too scared!! The excitement of the kids was just fabulous to see!!

While the kids are feeding the ostriches I come face to face and take this picture, the ostrich doesn't even mind me being that close, he is not interested in ME. He wants the FOOD!! He just had to turn his face and he could touch or pick my camera... but he didn't... pfew, I must say I was a bit nervous!! These animals can be vicious!!

Off to the Giraffe again, I want them close so I can take a picture, but look at them, all a bit wary....

But this gentle giant doesn't do anything, he just wants your food and lick your face if he gets the chance... LOL

Vicky gives him a pat on the neck, he is so sweet!

Nick gives him some pellets and JJ is getting away from his swaying neck...

Jezz stays a bit in the back row.. which is unusual! Normally she is the one who wants to touch and play with the animals, but today she was a bit careful. She loves the little creepers more I guess... These are too big for her!
Look at that huge tongue!

Lavul and Vicky are now more at ease to come closer to take a good picture. So much fun to be that close!!

The park is huge so now we are going to drive around to see all the other animals and the Lion, Wild Dog and Cheetah enclosure, but first we have a glimpse on the adult lions. Taking a nap all cosy together....

There are all kind of antelopes here in the park, this one is a male Blesbok.

Young Impala males.

Then we drive into the Lion enclosure. So the lions are wandering around freely here and you can drive with your car as close as you feel comfortable. Then you open your window and take pictures. Today they were lazy and just laying around, but I have been here before where the lionesses were attacking cars and ripping of the mirror of a car in front of us. The girls remembered this vividly and were so happy that today it was a lazy day....

The daddy...

The mommy....

and the baby.... so cute!!

And here a family together.

Our friend Letsatsi the White Lion, he is a giant!

And so beautiful!! But when he roars, you can feel it in the pit of your stomach!

In another enclosure we drive through we see wild dogs, these are very rare these days. African Wild Dogs are very social animals that live in packs of 5-20 individuals. These dogs are similar in size and shape to medium-large domestic dogs, but they are only distantly related to other canids.

And 2 cheetahs taking a nap and sometimes looking up at us, but not really bothered by our car that is driving by...

The cheetah is the one with the black crying mark in the face, I always mix them up with the leopard. Easy to remember now... C of Cheetah, C of crying mark, now I should not forget anymore :-)

Quite some celebs come to visit the Lion Park, its so much fun. See this link here, recently Shakira and Nathalie Portman were here. But also Clint Eastwood, Chris Daughtry and John Legend to name a few.

Shakira was here last year during the World Cup Soccer and she visited the Lion Park. She sang the official song of the FIFA World Cup 2010.

What a great time to live in AFRICA!!
Mireille xx


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