Girls just wanna have fun...

February 26, 2008

Girls just wanna have fun....

Here are some pictures of Gracie's party


The theme was ballet


Gracie assists Finny into his tiara and tutu during the chocolate game


Creating beauteous things. Look how happy Finny is to be there.


Anticipating CAKE


Food is so funny


Make a wish!


All dressed up


Having nails painted as shoes ballet shoes for the ballerina finger puppets they made



Pin the tutu on the ballerina





How cute are they? Gracie had so much fun, her clothing turned backwards!


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What a good Mom you are to make such a fun party for your adorable daughter. It looks like they had a blast. I love these ideas. I might have to take some for Cora's b-day this year. She and Adelle are our resident ballerinas.

What a perfect little girl party! I love the photo at the beginning (may have even been the first one) with you standing at the table, looks like a Pottery Barn photo. I also love your tie- up curtains!! I have been looking everywhere for some wide enough for my windows. Please share where you found yours!

Thanks Amz! I got it at Target I believe, on Clearance. :)

On that note...

is it wrong that these make me laugh?


Maybe a bit bitterly?


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Hmmm, I was gonna comment on your oh so cryptic "can't win for losing" post.

Where'd it go?

You're so good at leaving me hangin' with some of your posts.

I think these are great. It is nice to get a good chuckle over the things that just aren't supposed to be funny.

In memory of Gordon B. Hinckley


This is a long overdue and very inadequate tribute to a man who made a great difference to the world and to me personally. Gordon B. Hinckley, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, died on the 27th of January this year.

I loved his dry sense of humor and quick wit. I admired his insatiable thirst for knowledge, he was constantly learning, curious and knew a lot about a lot. At 97 he was sharper and more articulate then I can ever hope to be. I am astounded by his energy and his sense of duty. Knowing how much travel takes out of a person, as well as how much this man traveled leaves me marveling at his stamina and at his unselfishness (as he admitted that he did not particularly enjoy travel). I am inspired by his unfailing optimism, although he was completely cognizant of reality, he was ever positive,cheerful and hopeful. Learning and optimism were two of his recurring themes.

I feel a personal connection to him as I came of age so to speak, in the years of his Presidency. His lovely granddaughter Holly spent a couple of months living with my family in South Africa. She looks so much like him, that when she came to see my mom at my home a few years ago and I walked into the living room not knowing she was there, I literally did a double take, a young, female Pres.Hinckley in my living room! When she spoke of him as "grandpa" I was touched. It was shortly after his wife, Marjorie had passed away and Holly spoke about how hard this was for her grandfather. Although he had a perfect knowledge that he would see her again and be with her forever, that wait, no matter how short was a terribly painful experience for him. Their romance was a beautiful thing.

He frequently rubbed shoulders with Presidents and Kings and celebrities, but remained completely down to earth and humble. He was no respecter of persons and when I would watch him speak, I always felt as though he was speaking directly to me.

President Hinckley was always so very alive, although he had in the last few years begun to joke that he was "still here" at each General Conference, I don't know if any of us quite believed that it would ever be his last. I will feel particularly bereft I think, when he is not there at the next one.

I am participating in this challenge as a tribute to him. A couple of years ago he challenged everyone to read the Book of Mormon before the end of that year. I participated in that challenge as did so many others, and it was a great experience so when I was notified of this one I was excited at the opportunity. Of course, I could have taken on this challenge myself but by doing it in tribute to him, I am reading a little more carefully and appreciating the gift of this book, and the gift of a living Prophet that much more.

Here's a little graph of my progress. I am currently 0 pages behind!! This morning I was like 40 pages behind. As you can it has been a spiritual day and I currently have a big headache.

Party, party party!

Last night was our New Beginnings Evening. It was quite the event, it turned out quite lovely I think.I'll show you pictures sometime because the cultural hall turned out to be somewhat glorious, and any time you can make a cultural hall glorious you should take a picture. It is good that it is over because on Saturday is Gracie's Ballerina Birthday Party, and on Saturday night there is a dance at church which we are lucky enough to be hosting, so there is once more, decorating to be done.
On Sunday I will be all festivitied out I think, or at least a certified party planner.
Which reminds me, my friend Cindi gave me a card which says :

Tips from Helen, the almost-licensed party planner:
"When seating guests, it's best not to place all the shallow people together. A simple shallow-deep-shallow-moody-shallow-deep pattern works best.....we, of course, being perfect mixers, can sit anywhere."

Current affairs

So now that we have The Trip out of the way, I can catch you up on the last two weeks at home!
Hmm......well....hmmmm....there was stuff I wanted to post every day during the travelogue but of course it has been forgotten and now I got nothing. Nah, I always have something.

Oh! My luggage did eventually find me in its entirety and it was mostly intact! My running shoes did indeed arrive in the first installment (thank everything good), so I was able to go for a run before I descended into a paralyzing depression.
Adding to my good cheer is the fact that I also finally got this after threatening to for the last 4 years:


It works, I feel good. I have similar levels of energy and motivation as I do in the summer which has never been in the case for me in Winter before. I recommend this highly to anyone who believes they may be suffering from SAD

The other recent purchase that is bringing me joy is this


It's hard to say what I love most about this. The fact that I do not have to deal with the revolting mop and bucket, the fact that it is so easy to carry from room to room, the fact that it really works, or the fact that I don't have to use any cleaning products whatsoever yet I know the floor is sterile without leaving a bunch of icky residue on the floors, or the fact that the floor dries almost instantly. I have spent many happy hours minutes using it today and it works wonderfully on my neverending white kitchen floor, hard wood floor and Pergo. (It is safe to use on hardwood). It is also super light. They do not give me a kickback for this promo. I just do it for the greater good as I am a giver.

And have you noticed that when your floors are clean the rest of your house looks so much better? Clean floors are contagious. I wanted to redecorate my bedroom to make it brighter, but I used the money for this instead. That's how much I wanted it. I have coveted it since the fateful night I saw it on an infomercial and now I feel complete.

We had a good weekend. Aaron and I went to a Luau in the freezing gym at churrch on Friday night which against all odds turned out to be good fun. I was not injured as I feared I would be from doing the limbo which was a bonus. On Saturday night my fun friends kidnapped me for a birthday dinner out. It was a surprise, (it really was for a change, Aaron is improving in the guile department), and so much fun. I have good friends. Thanks Julie, Cindi and Amy. It's a shame 2 out of the 3 are planning to ditch me sometime in the not so distant future. My friends have a tendency to move away. I wonder what that's all about...

And The not have the faintest idea how to use it yet but here are some shots it has taken over the last couple of weeks...

The Boy Eating Monster Attacks


Gracie practising for her 7th birthday.


Valentines dinner table.


My squinty boys on Valentine's morning


This boy loves to laugh


Downward sloping eyed boy.


Look Gabe has eyes!


So does Benj!


Reading Gracie's birthday card from my family. They found this most entertaining as each person drew a self portrait.


My sweet girl


Finny looks like Aaron. I've always tried to figure out who he looks like. It's Aaron.

It was greating catching up on all your pictures from your trip and the recent week. I like the idea of the light. I am seriously starting to wonder if I am affected a little bit by SAD. I dread each day that I get up and the sun isn't out. I was wondering if you could give me a call on the phone. I need some running advice. HELP Please!!

Are the Richardsons really moving?

Okay what type of mopping device is that? There are so many types out there. I like the idea of it not leaving residue and no rinsing? Please do tell!

Amz just click on the link I provided ;)
It is a Shark steamer or something like that. The link should take you to it at Target :)

Parting is such sweet sorrow...the final day..(epic of all epics)

I thought it was fitting to go back to Fish Hoek beach for a run with my dad on the last morning in SA. The day was simply perfect. When I run on the treadmill in cold Ohio, I sometimes listen to the Broadway soundtrack to the Lion King and imagine I am running...well, on Fish Hoek beach. As we were running into the sun on the most perfect morning, along the catwalk which goes along side the ocean until it is quiet and deep, and there are no waves and you feel as if you are far out to sea, Circle of Life came on (which is much more African then the Elton John version) and it was just so wonderfully surreal not to have to be imagining it anymore. Alas, I am back to imagining but having had the real idyllic deal, so recently makes it easier. It more then lived up and exceeded my fantasies. Morning mist just burning off..



No pictures of us on the catwalk sadly but mom took these as we ran towards her using our best Chariot's of Fire form.



We spent a good deal of time on my trip trying to teach my dad how to smile properly


By George he got it!!


I'm not quite sure why I am sitting here attempting unsuccessfully to look buff. I think it was to offset the fact that I was about to offset my run and healthy breakfast with chips and ice cream. My mom will kill me for this photo as it is post exercise pre-grooming. However I think she looks lovely and she does not read the blog anyway. For shame! Mostly I am sacrificing vanity for you to admire that spectacular view behind us. The sea is so blue and calm that it looks like a lake. Doesn't that just look like a happy place to live? Did I mention we used to live there???


A last picture of our lovely house. It even has a wine cellar. (Which in Mormon translates to food storage room). me again why we moved?


My old Primary school, much the same as I remember it. The slogan cracks me up for some reason.


Then it was off to Green Market Square. Just one of the amazing will blow your mind. It is probably a really good thing that I had to shop under major time constraints.


We got back home with about 40 minutes before we absolutely HAD to leave for the airport (even with my dad driving). I was not at ALLLL packed and had a ridiculously large amount of stuff including multiple bottles of chutney and cartons of custard,to fit into a ridiculously small couple of suitcases. I informed poor Thalia that I would be inheriting her bag as it was much larger. (By the way Mayzie, your bag has a big hole in it now. I may have thrown it away.) My parents did a magnificent job of packing my stuff. Despite their traveling ways, almost everything arrived unscathed.

Alas I did not get one last shower in the outdoor shower as I had intended, so I left for the airport, unshowered and un-changed. (I had at least showered post run but not post Green Market Sweaty Square). This induced quiet horror in my heart. Which was almost equal to the horror of driving with my dad when you have 30 minutes to get somewhere 50 minutes away. I took these pictures in the car to distract me from when he was overtaking 5 cars on a mountain pass-on a blind corner. He really is a very good driver. Scary, yet competent.



Cape Town airport. This is where I said goodbye to my bags for the next week. My mom laughs that after they were tagged and sent on their way, I told her very philosophically, " will be a miracle if I ever see those again". As nice as it was that the check-in bag tagger man was willing to send them alll the way to Detroit despite my many plane changes, I did not have high hopes of that feat being pulled off by the aviation industry. I'm increasingly unsure that they Aim to Please.

Goodbye Cape Town, goodbye Mom and Dad and Seth and Thalia and Luke.......Bwwwaaaaaaahhhhhhhh. I was just getting into a good sobbing rhythm when it was discovered after I had stripped down for security, that I had no boarding pass and had to go out of security and back to get one. This stopped everyone's wailing and gave us something to focus on. This is the one good thing about the airport chaos, it can serve as a good distraction.

I love how my dad is instructing how to take the picture here. Note the crazed deer in the headlight eyes.


Goodbye beautiful mountains..don't one of you want to come with me to Ohio? There is plenty of space for you and you would be such a novelty!



My last South African sunset for a while...







Ok so I got to Johannesburg airport where Shona and Marc who were already there, were going to meet me, get my luggage and move to international departures. They encountered some electricity or lack thereof, problems with getting to the airport on time, and since I had bid farewell to my luggage in Cape Town, I decided to make my way to International departures alone. Well it was quite late at night, and Johannesburg is not known for being a safe city so it was with mild alarm that I found myself in a big, outdoor, deserted and dark car park with several bags filled with rocks (really!) and a wall map in hand. Apparently there were some renovations and so it entailed going outside to get to the international area. However, one was supposed to go with the aide of security. Particularly if one is a woman loaded down with valuables at 10pm. I invoked all heretofore earned fitness and much prayer as I sprinted (in flip flops) all the way (I would say it was a good 1/2 kilometer). This resulted in a hole in my toe. When I finally got to the building. I found it huge and eerily deserted. There was also no sign of where one would go. Just elevators and escalators and construction. It was not so much cozy.

Finally I accosted a woman as she got out of an elevator and asked her where I should go. She looked very sceptical and informed me I must be very lost. She did try to be helpful by pointing vaguely in 3 or 4 general directions. Finally a security guard spotted me as me and my bag of rocks went up the escalator next to the one I had just gone down on, and he and another security guard escorted me to the place where I was to go. I arrived maybe 2 minutes before Shona and Marc did. Shona was horrified by my solo adventure as she and Marc were supposed to have avoided just such a scenario (since they are a lot more familiar with the airport then I.)

It was a good thing she was there though as I was lucky enough to encounter the surliest check in guy with a broken tag machine thing. Eventually he stood up, and just walked off, taking the machine with him but not before he told me that I would probably never see my bags again. Until Shona produced the little papers that made him grudgingly admit, that maybe some day I would. Eventually I was all checked in and ready to go. After an unsuccessful foraging for food and Marc expertly re-packing my rock filled bags, I was off. Note to self-plllllease travel lighter next time. The laptop is just not worth it. I ended up with some awesome shoulders by the time I got home though.

Goodbye Shona and Marc. Bwwwwwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh!!!!


After I finally finally FINALLY got going. (They had one woman processing 3 international flights at midnight-something about air travel makes one feel like cattle, actually many things do.) I was concerned I would miss my connecting flight but what are you going to do. The flight to Paris was uneventful, except I sat next to a girl from Poland who spent a good portion of the time telling me why she would NEVER fly Air France again. I was rather smug as I'd had a good experience that far and had greatly enjoyed the large wedge of camembert cheese at every meal...little was I to know that I would soon encounter a little man named Anad who would tell me after 6 days of my luggage being missing that he did not care that it was gone and that just because I wanted it back did not mean that I was going to get it back. Now I too encourage you to steer clear of Air France, gentle reader, unless you have no objections to sitting on a runway un-fed for 5 hours and having your seat put back into upright position when you are sleeping so someone can offer you "cafe...with alcohol.." (Polish girls' Air France experience) or people like Anad who actually slammed the phone down on me but not before he screamed at me and refused to spell his name for me. Or Michelle who told me that I could just forget about getting my bag any time soon. (My Air France experience) However should Air France offer me the best deal to SA again, you can be sure that I will be taking it and focusing on the camembert cheese perk.

Once in Paris I ran a few kilometers to my terminal in high heeled pointy boots...Note to time wear running shoes. You think I am kidding about the few kilometers. Again, totally deserted airport and every time I would turn a corner thinking I would finally be at the terminal another acre or so of polished whiteness lay ahead of me, with not a soul in sight. It was like a mirage in the desert. I am thinking there must have been a tram everyone else was taking. I am at this juncture still holding my map and my computer and my bag with the rocks in it. By the time I finally get to the long and winding line to security I am so tired and flustered that I keep losing things that I have just had in my hand. Only I could do something like this. It was sort of out of body. I would be standing holding my passport and suddenly, it's gone..frantic digging in line as everyone else shuffles forward and I will find it nestled between rocks in my bag. Weird. Repeat with Alien card, Boarding Pass..etc. It was most nerve wracking to say the least.

Once on the Paris to Detroit flight I could relax. There was lots of this..


Lovely bright sunlight, no wonder one side of my face is more tanned then the other. Aha!


I spent a good amount of time pondering over whether this was cracked clouds with sky shining through or cracked ice with water shining through. I'm thinking clouds...right? (Don't hate me because I am stupid, Aaron could not figure it out either).

You may have noticed my fascination with clouds. It is just amazing to me at how much they resemble earth formations like mountain ranges, wide snowy fields and huge banks of snow.

Ive looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
Its cloud illusions I recall
I really dont know clouds at all




The cloud gazing was one of the most amazingly peaceful incredible experiences of my life. It felt surreal(I know I use that word a lot but it is the only accurate one to describe the feeling of floating amidst such a variety of gorgeous clouds with the sun shining on me. Felt very much like I imagine heaven may feel. Or maybe just a beach in heaven because I don't picture myself chilling on a cloud for the rest of eternity, lovely as it was there for a few hours. There were movies to be watched but I mostly watched the clouds, they were just too cool not to.

I am so glad I am no longer afraid of flying. Thank you Nancy. xo

SO when I landed in Detroit (Detroit, doesn't that just sound so unappealing? I am sorry Detroit but we both know it is true), and went through the whole cattle drive of standing in the line to be let into the country by the oh so friendly "Face of America"...not, and milling around the many baggage carousels for a while, I was not too surprised at all to see my name on a little board saying to contact an Air France agent. I was not that surprised with the Air France agent gave me a toothbrush and casually informed me that my luggage was still in Paris and I would see it the next day. Well, no problem, now I can just get to my family sooner. Right? No. Wrong. So very wrong. First! I must file a missing luggage report.

Luckily for me my fortunate counter-person karma was in full force and I encountered a woman who shall we say, found her job to be a challenge. After standing for literally 20 minutes as she pecked at her computer looking perplexed, I ended up telling her that I had small children waiting for me and I had been traveling for 30 hours and eventually coming around the counter to assist her in figuring out how to use said computer. We bonded.

Eventually, after they told the computer to send my luggage to China by way of Russia, they let me go. Had I moved a yard to my right I would have seen my family who had been standing just a few yards away the whole time, getting none too antsy about the 90 minute wait. Po Poppets

What a wonderful sight though!




This one got heavier in my absence.


How sweet is this?


It was soooo nice to give them all a hug again. They were all smiley and some were even a little bit shy. So sweet.



Let's. Get. Out. Of. Here.


My aforementioned car-ride basket. Aaron you know you rock.


Home again, home again...

Gracie, recipient of the only gift I could give (apart from the wall map), having kept it in my hand luggage was very happy. It was so lovely to be with these wonderful people again.


And thus concludes this exhaustive/exhausting report of My Trip To Africa. I hope you enjoyed it, or at least parts of it, but even if you did not, I enjoyed the re-living of it and glad this is all down now for posterity, because let's face it, these photos will never find their way to a scrap book.

We now resume our regular programming.