Monday, March 20, 2017

Hanging out with the Elephants!

I love African elephants!
I loved being able to visit an elephant sanctuary while we were there and learn so much about these magnificent animals. I learned so much about their behavior and social structure. This sanctuary was housing only two elephants because it's a smaller sanctuary. Casper was about 31 years old, and Kitzu was 15, a "naughty teenager" as our guide said haha. It was so interesting to learn that young elephants, particularly the males, need older males in their life to guide them and keep them in line, or they will act out in ways like destroying trees or structures. So while Casper was more chill, we had to be more careful with Kitzu since he was more inclined to just want to play. 

First we got to interact with them, and then we got to ride them for a little bit. We pet them, fed them, took a walk with them, and they gave us a "kiss." I don't have pictures of that but it looked like they had us in a choke hold since it was on our neck. Such a strange feeling! Riding bareback on the elephant was so fun. And any longer, I would have had some serious saddle sore ha. 
 Before we left, I got to give Casper one last hug. I didn't want to say good bye. I love these majestic creatures. I never got tired of seeing them on safari, and we saw lots!
And here's the video of me feeding Kitzu

Love them so much!

Friday, March 17, 2017

The Panorama Route, South Africa

Before our afternoon safari at Kruger, we spent the morning doing "the panorama tour" and it didn't disappoint. Absolutely gorgeous scenery!  The three stops we made along the tour were The Three Rondavels/Blyde River Canyon, Lisbon Falls, and God's Window. 
^^Overlooking the Three Rondavels. Can you see me??^^
It is called the Three Rondavels because the three formations I am looking at resemble rondavels aka the traditional African hut. 
It's just so pretty! A short walk from that is this beautiful view from the Blyde River Canyon.
Next up: Lisbon Falls. I loved this spot too. Such a beautiful waterfall overlooking the valley. I thought it was funny that our South African guide kind of made it sound like it wasn't that good of a waterfall, which made me expect like a trickle or something. But is was beautiful. 
 God's Window was our last stop, and the name was definitely bigger than the view. It was pretty: in the distance you can see Kruger, but after the first two stops, it wasn't as cool ha.
At all these places were little souvenir/"curio" markets, and the people running them were just so nice. They bargained a little, but I just felt bad trying. I bought a mask for Victor simply because the girl was so nice asking me to come look at her store. Hope you like the mask, Victor ;)

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Lesedi Cultural Village

Just outside of Johannesburg is the Lesedi Cultural Village. We went there our first morning after getting some rest. It made for a great introduction to the main tribes of Africa. It was like the South African version of the Polynesian Cultural Center in Hawaii. The center was a music, dancing, and village lifestyle tour through the main tribes of South Africa.

 All the guys that worked here were so charismatic and loved taking pictures with everyone ha.
 Some of the ladies that made so many beautiful beaded pieces.

This was the welcome song we were greeted with as we got off the bus. I just love their singing and harmonies. It's so beautiful!

We then started our journey to the northern part of the country towards Kruger National Park, but first we drove through Pretoria which was my dad's first area. This is the Union Building--like their national Capitol. This is where Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as president, and if you look in the center of the photo, you can see the massive statue of him. This definitely was the prettiest part of the city. The rest of it is kind of run down now unfortunately. My dad said it used to be very clean and beautiful. But this was during apartheid, so that's not really ideal either.
It took about 5 hours to get up to the Kruger area. We got to our beautiful hotel and got ready to have our first half day safari!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Back from Africa!

I just got back from spending an amazing week in South Africa with my dad. It was an opportunity I couldn't pass up and I feel so incredibly lucky to have amazing people in my life that made it possible: Victor, of course, and my sister Camille who flew out for her spring break to help with the boys. It was the cherry on top of a fantastic trip to come home to my happy boys who had been taken care of so well while I was gone.

South Africa is an amazing country. Incredibly beautiful with beautiful people. I'm glad while I was there I was able to learn so much about its history and delicate social structure: three main cultures (British, Afrikaans, and all the Black tribes) trying to live together but individually very proud of their heritage. It's a very young democracy, and you can see the progress but also the problems. For example I've never seen a wider contrast of wealth and poverty. I saw incredibly nice neighborhoods--huge houses even for the U.S., and then shanty towns a mile later.

My dad served there over 30 years ago, and his love for the people hasn't faltered. It was great to be able to see some of it through his eyes. And it was fun to see him being so eager to talk to so many people and connect with them. We went on this trip because a travel agency in Utah asked him to be the group leader, and a few people in the group asked me if I liked traveling with my dad, and I realized how fortunate I am to have a dad I enjoy traveling with! We had a great time, and it was nice spending time with him.

So glad I got to go (I wasn't saying that right when we arrived after 36 hours of travel. I have never had a problem with such long flights until now--it rocked me! Got some swelling and felt like an old lady ha) and I can't wait to share more!!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

J's Sayings

J is talking more and more and I love it when toddlers start saying the cutest/random/darndest things. I don't want to forget them, so I jot them down on my phone and I want to put them all down here for your reading pleasure.

J loves playing the piano. When I ask him to play me a song he usually always plays the lowest notes and when I ask him what the song is called he always says it's called "Dark Outside." He also plays a song at the highest notes of the piano and calls that song "Sun Out." Love the deep emotional imagery to the notes of the piano ;) ha.

Whenever we finish reading a book he says "Amen" instead of "the end."

A few weeks ago I asked J after church "Did you learn about Jesus today?" He responded "No. Trucks." Meaning he played with trucks at nursery. That boy.

We still are trying to teach him Spanish but it's hard sometimes because he for sure understands us in English, but not in Spanish. When Victor starts to say a lot in Spanish, J starts going "blah blah blah blah" imitating it back. He also was looking at our Yosemite pictures and was calling all the waterfalls "Agua falls." Bilingual kid problems ha.

And lastly, we always sing "I am a Child of God" before bed, and now J requests it and calls it the "Night Night Song." Cutest thing ever.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Crepery in Utah

I wanted to share this little place that my sister took us to after we visited Hardware Ranch, because it reminded me so much of all the cute eclectic cafes in Okinawa. One of my favorite things in life is cute little places like this. So many times when I think of somewhere we have lived or visited, part of those happy memories usually involves finding somewhere adorable that we ate at ha. Food and cute decor leave a lasting impression on me!

The Crepery serves crepes, obviously, but also salads and drinks. This location is in Logan (thus the Utah State flag ruining the decor haha) but there is also a location in St. George. Looking forward to going there, since it's more likely I will be in St. George sooner than Logan again. 
^^they sure loved these chairs^^
^^origami cranes!^^
^^taken right before he fell off the chair and onto the cement floor yikes.^^

I didn't take pictures of the food, but it was really yummy! And there is a really great antique store next door. If by chance you ever journey to Logan, go check it out. Do you have any little places that you just love?? 

Friday, January 6, 2017

Fun in the Snow

Not quite as catchy as saying "fun in the sun" ha. But we still had a good time. After spending all the time getting allllll the snow gear ready for everyone, then putting alllll that snow gear on tiny bodies which is a major pain. And then you go through all that, and a boot or mitten comes off several times and you have to put them on again which is really tricky on tiny toddler hands. ANYWAY. Can you tell I prefer prepping for beach outings?? 

We spent one afternoon sledding at one of the golf courses I sledded at as a kid, and as expected, J LOVED it! I really wanted to take him to the sledding places where you go up on a tube lift and go down super long hills, but sadly, it's for ages three and older. So we just endured having to hike up the hills with little kids over and over again. Good workout?
^^that face of J! and Laila! Pure joy^^
^^Dom on the other hand wasn't as impressed with the snow. He never cried in all the times we were outside. But he just sat there with this straight face haha^^
^^He loves grandpa^^
^^He did venture to try and eat the snow^^
^^love this pic of Laila!^^

The next day, we headed up to Cottonwood Canyon and did some snowshoeing! It was so so beautiful up there. Snowshoeing didn't last long with the kids, but I don't regret taking them out and enjoying the mountains. 
On New Years Eve, we ventured up to Hardware Ranch, an elk reserve where wild elk come every winter. They take you out on a horse drawn "sleigh" aka a wagon with wheels ha. It was cold but the boys still loved it.
^^creeper Melanie ha!^^
^^cousins!! Harrison is missing because he hates the cold even more than Dominic ha^^
He never wants to leave the snow.