Friday, September 16, 2011

Six Weeks in the USA

It is 1:30 AM and my kids have been up since 11:30 PM AGAIN!  I am cranky and wishing they would get their acts together and figure out we have changed time zones.  I will use this time to complain about my latest travels.  Our vacation was great, just the getting to and from had issues.  Thank you to all of the people in the world who are kind and patient to those who are travelling with small children. I hope that I can remember what it is like and be helpful to others when my monsters are a bit older.

We were all really looking forward to our vacation in the States.  The boys and I had made a countdown chain more than a month in advance.  It seemed to take forever for it to be time to go and then suddenly the day had arrived!

Since we didn't leave until the afternoon, I kept busy doing all the laundry, vacuuming, and doing whatever else needed to be done so that when we returned our home would be clean.  Obviously there would be dust and stuff, but it would be orderly upon our return.

The airport in Namibia is incredibly small.  If it weren't for the required security measures it would remind me more of a bus depot or small train station from some made for TV movie.  The size has its pros and cons.  Not a lot of services available, but you certainly aren't going to get lost or have trouble getting where you need to be. 

Last year we had trouble at check in because we were going from Namibia to South Africa to Atlanta to Seattle to Spokane.  For some bizarre reason they can only put 3 locations on baggage tags, so our bags could only be checked through to Seattle.  This year we were going from Namibia to Frankfurt to Chicago to Spokane.  Yay!  Our bags could be checked all the way to our final destination from the start.  The check in agent did not know the airport code for Chicago.  Seriously?  Are we the first people to be going to Chicago?  Isn't it in the computer or a book or something?  The woman was totally clueless as how to check our bags.  We told her the code for Chicago and also Spokane.  I still found it very, very strange.  Still, bags checked and boarding passes to Frankfurt were in hand.  Of course Air Namibia doesn't work with any other airline so we would have to get the rest of our boarding passes later.

We had our exit papers all filled out ahead of time.  At the immigration counter we handed over our passports and completed papers.  The woman wanted to go through them one at a time rather than look at us as a family.  Okay, but should she really start with the children?  A two year old should not be separated from his parents, should he?  I had visions of him running past the counter once he was cleared and going heaven only knows where.  Security was pretty much of a non issue except for the big old car seat we had for Ryan.  Ugh.  No one ever knows how to get that thing to fit through the x-ray machine the first time.

Normal waiting to board.  No pre-board or anything for people with young children, so we wait.  We gate check our stroller, leaving us with four carry-ons (two of which were backpacks) and the car seat.  We walk out to our plane and up the stairs, dragging the bags and kids with us.  Back through the plane with all of our stuff we settle in.

Ryan is ticked that he has a car seat and Justin doesn't.  We aren't too thrilled with it either.  Justin didn't need a car seat for the plane when he was two, but Ryan is a bit more active.  Who wants to  be forcing a child to keep his belt buckled for a ten hour flight?  For an overnight flight it made sense anyway since Ryan sleeps well in his car seat.  Once situated, the flight attendants actually have little bags of goodies for the kids.  That made their days.  Not a lot of airlines do that anymore, so a real bonus.  We wait and wait and then it is FINALLY time to take off.

The little safety spiel is done and Justin is still reviewing the safety card from his seatback pocket.  A flight attendant comes up to us and tells us that the airline does not allow car seats to be used on the plane.  What?  Is that the most bizarre thing you ever heard or what?  We have to get Ryan out and buckled up.  I wanted to smack the woman in the head with the car seat and tell her what I thought of her, but arguing with a flight attendant is not the best way to start out a trip.  I would probably be arrested and never get to go on my trip.  The woman was a complete idiot, but what could I do?  We got the seat out and, along with the other passengers, got to listen to Ryan cry about having his seat taken away.  He did NOT sleep through the flight as we had anticipated.

I know airline food is not looked upon as great to begin with, but somehow the Namibian touch made me really want to gag.  Thank goodness that I packed plenty of snacks. :)  The entertainment was the movie "Like Water For Elephants" shown on a screen up at the front of the cabin and a couple of pull down monitors.  Reminded me of traveling long ago except the headsets were marginally better and didn't cost five bucks.  I kind of wanted to see the movie, but with kids that wasn't an option.

We get to Frankfurt and are among the very last off of the plane because we have to wait for the flight attendant to get our car seat for us.  We walk down the stairs and our stroller is not there.  It is, we are told, on the baggage carousel.  Maybe I am missing something here, but why would I gate check something if I wanted it on the baggage carousel?  We get on the bus to get to the terminal.  I am sure that the other passengers hate us.  I can't really blame them.  They wait on us to get our kid out of the car seat.  Our kid screams on the plane because he doesn't have his car seat.  Now we are the last people off of the plane and the bus is waiting for us while we try to locate our stroller.  I kind of hate us too, but I don't think it is our fault.

Inside the airport we have to get clear across the airport to another terminal, go through security again, and get boarding passes for our other two flights.  We have enough time to do this. What we do NOT have enough time to do is go to baggage claim and wait for our stroller, go through customs, find the United counter to get our boarding passes (rather than getting them at the gate if we don't exit to baggage claim), go through ticket control, passport control, and security.  We opt to abandon the stroller.

Once on United, things went better.  We were allowed to use the car seat.  Imagine that.  In seat personal entertainment systems keep the kids happy.  Somehow even though I called in to request our kids have children's meals we only ended up with one.  It worked out okay.  They shared that and a regular meal.  They enjoyed controlling what they wanted to watch.  Ryan watched the same segment of "Rio" over and over.  His system finally crashed as we were landing in Chicago.  I guess it can only show a segment a thousand times before it goes berserk.  Another flight of about ten hours, but this one was not as bad.

Short time in Chicago and on to Spokane.  33 or so hours of travel, but we made it there alive.  Only the Air Namibia flight sucked.  I mean, not like it is enjoyable to travel that long with kids, but Air Namibia was the only bad part.  The kids behaved well, considering.  They were cranky at times, but that is a long trip.

Guess what?  Our stroller showed up in Spokane a couple of days after we arrived.  There was a big piece of paper with a note on it asking for someone in America to call us. :)

While in the US we flew from Spokane to Portland, Oregon and Burbank, California.  Those flights were uneventful.  Yay!

We dreaded returning.  After much deliberation, we decided not to take the car seat on the planes.  We knew it would be helpful for the trip from San Francisco to Frankfurt, but didn't want to have to haul it through the airport at Frankfurt for five hours and not know if we would be able to use it on Air Namibia or not. 

Things went smoothly from Spokane to San Fransisco and on to Frankfurt.  Once in Frankfurt we were anxious to get our boarding passes for our last flight to Namibia.  Air Namibia is not a major airline and our gate was not posted nor was the counter opened.  We spent quite a bit of time wandering around the airport.  We eventually found a check-in kiosk and were able to print our passes.  Rob was confused when he was required to scan our passports face down for the machine to read them when the machine specifically said (and had a picture to match) to have them face up to scan.  He asked me if he was just too tired.  Nope.  The instructions were incorrect.  Yay Air Namibia.

We spent more than two hours at McDonald's and its playland.  Thank you, McDonald's!  The boys got out a lot of energy before the flight.  Without the car seat to deal with, getting onto our flight and situated was not so bad.  I knew it was going to be a loooooong flight with "Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2" our source of entertainment.  Probably just as well that it wasn't something that the boys would want to watch because they couldn't see the screen.  The boys did pretty well.  I wish they had slept more.

I had very low expectations for Air Namibia and they didn't disappoint.  They claim to be the spirit of Namibia or some such thing.  I think the country should sue the airlines for slander unless the spirit of the country is supposed to be inconsistency, incompetence, and indifference.

When we landed, of course our gate checked stroller wasn't at the gate, but we didn't care.  We had to get our bags anyway.  We were pleased that the diplomatic line was open so we didn't have to wait in the long line to get through immigration.  There were only a few people in front of us.  When it was our turn, we had our forms filled out.  The line next to us for SADC (South African Development Community countries) was able to process 23 people in the time it took the woman to process our family of four.  Our forms were completed.  We had the diplomatic passports with appropriate visas.  The information was virtually the same.  Why, why, why would it take so long to get four people through?  I think Air Namibia and immigration must get their employees from the same employment pool.

I shouldn't have been so cranky, because our bags were not out when we got through.  Half an hour after the flight had landed the crews bags got through.  Our bags started showing up fifty minutes after we had landed.  Remember, it isn't a big airport.  Their are two baggage carousels and you can stand in the middle of the two and watch both.  I'm wondering if they made some poor soul hand carry our luggage from the plane rather than transport it on the baggage cars.  Our bags (including stroller) all made it. :)

If you aren't declaring any goods they randomly screen bags.  The woman who was choosing who to screen choose the next two people in line, but her idiotic co-worker misunderstood and starting having everyone go through.  There wasn't room for people to wait as the bags went through the x-ray.  I continued on through with the kids and the carry-ons (I decided not to have those screened and no one seemed to care) while Rob stayed with the luggage.  Our bags were filled with goodies like 15 pounds of salsa, 9 pounds of peanut butter, and other things we wanted to have with us here.   They had him go to have the bags examined.  Rob takes the bags over to the woman at the goods to declare side and she asks Rob what she is supposed to be examining.  Uh, how is he supposed to know?  If you were hiding something would you really tell her anyway?  

Our shuttle driver was waiting for us.  We made it home safely.  The house was clean. :)  I guess I shouldn't complain, but I am.  Now comes of the question of what I will do next time if I have the option.  Will I choose the horrible Air Namibia or will I opt to go through crime ridden Johannesburg, additional security screening and pat down, and deal with four flights rather than three?  I don't know.  I do know that I am glad Ryan will be done with the car seat and stroller.  I am also glad that I won't need to carry bulky diapers with me.  That's something.

Now I realize that I should be happy that I am not the housewife who got hauled off the plane and searched and interviewed.  If I were in her place I would be really really upset.  I don't know the whole story though, and am guessing that she probably got pulled because of the people she was sitting with.  People who saw the men by the restroom probably got nervous and I would suspect the flight attendants got multiple comments by other passengers.  Justified?  Perhaps not, but I think that probably things played out as they needed to be played out.  I understand being upset, but I think that people were probably doing their job based upon the information they were given.

With the exception of Seattle, I have always been treated respectfully going through security.  Employees have been kind to my children (currently 4 and 2, but we have travelled with them younger too) and been polite and patient carrying out their duties.  Yes, they have patted down Ryan's rear end.  I know that upsets some people and they say that babies aren't security threats.  I think that a poopy diaper would be a great place to try to sneak things through.  Do you really think the employees enjoy having to search kids and the elderly or infirm?  Seattle, on more than one occasion, has ticked me off.  The people there were, in my opinion, very rude and disrespectful to me and others in the line.  I think a lot of the security measures are strange.  I think there has got to be a better way.  In the meantime, if employees are just doing their jobs,I try to be patient with them.  I can save my frustration for the idiots of Air Namibia.  I guess we all have our own little issues, don't we. :)

Oh, and in case you haven't guessed, I hate Air Namibia. 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Happy (Early) 4th of July

Even though it isn't the Fourth of July yet, we attended the annual Embassy family party to celebrate.  (Not to be confused with the official party which I seriously doubt will include a bouncy castle!)  Since we are in the Southern Hemisphere, it is winter here right now.  It was an absolutely gorgeous day!  I had the boys in long sleeves, but they would have been okay in t-shirts.  Oh well, saved me from having to put sunscreen on their arms.
That's my boy, going up the slide!
Justin and Rob were partners in the three legged race.  I competed with Ryan tied to my leg.  He thought it was the funniest thing ever.

Doesn't Justin look comfy?

After the three legged race, Justin decided a game of tug-of-war was in order.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Rob and I went to visit Penduka, a small community not too far outside of town.  From what little we had read and heard, we were under the impression that it was a tourist type destination.  We knew that it was an organization that helps disadvantaged women by teaching them how to make craft products that can be sold.  I envisioned a large gift shop with smaller areas where you could watch the women working on the projects.  There is indeed a small gift shop and you can see the women at work, but Penduka is not there for the tourists, it is there for the women.  It is a no frills operation focused on helping women in need become more self sufficient.
A map painted on the wall of one of the buildings shows the layout of the community, which includes some bungalows for housing some of the women.

One of the small buildings was for bead making.  Glass bottles are collected throughout the city and then broken and molded into beads for jewelry.  The women who make these beads are all deaf.

View out to some of the bungalows.

Outside of the main building.  This building houses the gift shop as well as the sewing area, the pottery area, and the batik printing area.

I was very impressed with their TB program.  They provide treatment to people with TB.  The people are monitored to ensure that they take their medication.  Before they take it, they are given some food.  Being fed is a motivator to come and it helps reduce some of the side effects of taking the medication on an empty stomach.  During treatment, patients are taught how to make simple bead crafts.  They are paid for each piece they complete.  The catch is, no payment until they have finished their treatment.  I thought that was brilliant!  Who wants to give up all of that free money? 

With so many charity scams and mishandling of donations, it was nice to be able to see something in action.  It was also nice to be able to buy some crafts that were actually made in Namibia.  So often the things you find here are brought in from other countries and the prices are marked up.

Here is Ryan wearing the apron that I bought him at Penduka.  I loved the colors and the animals on it.

Justin looks pretty cute in his apron too.  They had some with gorgeous embroidery, but I knew I would never allowed those to be used as aprons!  Now my boys have aprons to wear when they "help" cook and when I want to help protect their clothes when they are eating.
Here is the Penduka website:

Here is a shot of the area around Penduka.  I took it through the van window on our way home.

Here is a picture of one of many barber shops set up along the way.  Why you would need so many places to cut hair is beyond me.  I suppose it is a way to try to make some money without much in the way of start up costs.  Unemployment is incredibly high here.

More random homes/businesses/storage sheds

Back in town we stopped at this little shop.  Someone had told Rob they have the best fries in Windhoek.  Well, the fries were good, but not great.  They must not like crispy fries here because they just don't make them that way.  At least they are potatoes and probably contain trans fat.  How can that be bad?  Our vote for best fries in Namibia is definitely out at Okapuka game lodge.  Kind of far to drive for fries though. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Game Drive Afternoon Trip

We FINALLY made it to the Okapuka Game Lodge.  It is only about 40 km away from Windhoek, so it is one of those things that we could do any afternoon.  Of course that means it is something we hadn't gotten around to because it is so close and doesn't require a lot of advanced planning.  Fortunately, we went with a couple who is only here for a couple of months.  That means they have a tighter timeline.  That was the motivation we needed to go. 
Warthogs were everywhere!  I took this shot while sitting at our table.  We snacked on some fries while we waited for it to be time to leave for our drive.  Rob and I agree that the fries were the best that we have had in Namibia.  Very reasonably priced too.

We saw two crocodiles while we were out on the game drive.  While we were snapping pictures of one, a warthog came trotting down the path.  It saw the croc, returned back into the brush, and made a wide detour to get around.  Not that I really had any desire to see a creature mauled by a crocodile, but it would have been interesting to see how fast that croc could move.  He looks so harmless just resting there.  I've seen enough nature shows to know better though!

We saw probably about 20 giraffes in all.  We didn't get close to a lot of them though.  I was amazed at how well they can blend in to the the landscape.  They are obviously tall and I would have thought that would make them stick out.  Their coloring matches up with the dry bushes and trees though.  I find giraffes one of the most interesting animals to watch.  They are graceful and just different.  Very neat to view them here as opposed to a zoo.  I get better pics in a zoo, but it just isn't the same.

The tour guide feeds the rhinos, so we saw plenty of them.  I liked this picture because you can tell how close they got to us.  It would have been easy to reach out and touch them.  Our guide assured us they were vegetarians, but that doesn't mean anyone wanted to run around and play with them.  These guys are BIG.  We saw a couple of them have a disagreement and I sure wouldn't want that horn coming my way!

These are springbok.  We saw tons of them as well as kudu, oryx, sable antelope, blue wildebeest, hartebeest, eland, and the like.  Our guide had the facts about which were the fastest, which could leap the highest, which were the largest, etc. etc.  They eat a lot of these animals here.  I have tried some when we went to Etosha.  Not horribly impressed, but I am not big on game meat.  We saw one oryx with only one horn and it was facing the wrong way.  Our guide told us it was from incest.  "Incestuous antelope" became my favorite phrase of the day.  The little oryx looked a bit like a unicorn reject.

I love all the birds' nests hanging from the trees. Namibia has a lot of interesting birds, but they are fast, small, and hard to get pictures of unless you have patience and a good camera.  We also saw baboons, but they were fast and uncooperative with getting their pictures taken.  Baboons cause a lot of mischief here. 
Nice fire going at Joe's Beerhouse.  We had an early dinner so it wasn't cold yet.  When the sun goes down, winter can be chilly here, especially if there is a  wind.  Joe's is  a tourist "must" for eating out in Namibia.  I opted for a beef steak rather than some of the more exotic game choices that are available.  Our poor waitress seemed a bit confused by Americans who didn't want sauce dumped all over their meat.  The garlic butter on it was perfect!  Why would we want to mess with that?  They really love their sauces here.  Unfortunately, I don't find them very appetizing.
A friend told me that the boys wouldn't do well on the drive.  I know a lot of places don't allow small children because it is hard to get them to follow directions precisely if wildlife get out of control.  I think our boys would have been fine as long as they weren't sitting on the edge.  I would have felt that they were safe, but I sure wouldn't have enjoyed myself.  They would have been bored.  Justin is so clueless at spotting things too, I wonder if he would see a rhino unless it touched him!  They got bored just looking at a few pictures.  The comment Justin made was along the lines of you saw a rhino, cool, let's go play now.

So Mom, Dad, Meredith, or other potential visitors.  I will take you to Okapuka if you visit us.  It is close, the game drive itself is short (only 90 minutes) and inexpensive.  You get to see a little of the wild without it being inconvenient. :)

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Rant, Rave, and Well Deserved Praise

I love to shop at Kohls for clothes for baby and toddler items as well as some other basic odds and ends.  When our Chinese rice cooker died, Kohls had the best price on the replacement (okay, I only compared with Amazon, Macys, and two or three other sites), especially since I could get it at 30% as a Kohls charge card holder AND get $10 back for every $50 I spent.  I am a regular Kohls customer for things like that. 

This week my two kitchen wooden spoons arrived in a box big enough for a bed pillow, but they had it dropped shipped from their supplier so can't blame them for that, and my other items did not arrive.  Box came with packing slip and some baby items that were not at all what I ordered.  Not even close.  Sigh.  So I want to return the things that aren't mine and get the things that I ordered and paid for.

Living overseas presents challenges, and returns are one of them.  With the time difference and the often crappy connection I have for phone calls, e-mail customer service would seem the way to go.  I explained the situation.  Questions were asked of me.  I responded, but of course the same person didn't get that e-mail.  Trying to go over things (guess they don't read the whole thread or the notes that they take) is like a game of telephone and the message doesn't get through. 

I gave up and called as I had done on a previous occassion.  Nicest customer service on the phone.  Very polite, very helpful, and the problem was dealt with.  Not only was it corrected, but it was corrected to my advantage as a courtesy for my inconvenience.  Nice.  They have kept me as a customer.  I hope that as they look over my order history they can see that I am a reasonable person.  I know that there are people that try to scam companies over things like toddler boy socks and bath tub ABC letters, but I am not one of those people.

Specific kudos go to the supervisor who just knew that 20189 is State Dept zip code and that they could not schedule a UPS pickup so I could return items.  The wonderful woman who spoke with me on the phone honored the prices of my original purchase OR the current sale price, whichever was to my advantage.  Now, how much money is Kohls out?  In my mind, they aren't out any. They have kept a customer.  For me, it wasn't about the money either, but about customer service.  Thank you, phone customer service.  Now to get your e-mail representatives with a more efficient, helpful way of doing things.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Rice Cookers and Fighting Eland (Two Different Subjects)

Such exciting happenings in the Weber household. Our rice cooker died, or was at least very sick. It would sometimes shock you when you touched it. Hmmm, not a good sign. Our outlets all have individual on/off switches so I could just turn off the power before touching it, but really it seemed like a sign to get a new rice cooker. We bought it in China for something like $10 to $12 US and it had a good run. During our move from China to Japan it got dented, but it kept on working. Now, after just over five years of faithful service, it was ready to get a new one. The replacement ended up costing $70. We have only used it once so far, but it seems to be of a better quality. Time will tell how it holds up. Now I just need to remember that it is 110 volts and not 220 so I don't plug it in directly and blow it up. (Left: old cooker, Right: new cooker)

Before swimming lessons, we stopped off at the petting zoo. We saw two elands (or is the plural eland just like the singular?) butting heads and pushing each other around. These guys are taller than I am and were being quite aggressive. I wanted to take video or at least get a picture, but my camera was in my purse and I didn't want to let go of Ryan's hand. The animals roam free and we weren't too far away. Ryan was trying to be a peacemaker and I feared that getting out my camera might just be the distraction that allowed him to enter the fight himself. I got a shot of one of the eland a bit later when we were further away. Doesn't he look calm and friendly in the picture?

See how exciting our lives are?  Maybe you have had a rice cooker die lately, but how often do eland fight right in front of you?  Hopefully after our day trip on Saturday I will have something a bit more exciting to post. :)  Just wanted to put something up since I said I would post more often.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

I Just Want to Plug In the Humidifiers!

It is winter now.  The long summer rainy season is over and humidity levels have dropped drastically.  Time to plug in the humidifiers in the bedrooms.  I put it off longer than I should have because I knew it would not be a simple task.  We have three humidifiers.  One came with the house and it has a skinny European style plug.  One that we brought with us is from the States (okay, probably made in China, but a US brand) and has a US plug and needs a transformer to convert the voltage.  The one we purchased here has a round European plug.  Now, to get them plugged in and operational...  Pictured are some of the many styles of adapters we have.  Here in Namibia they have the most ridiculous plugs, just like in South Africa and who knows where else.  The prongs are huge and make me think that these are training plugs, kind of like they make the fat crayons for toddlers.  I figure out a configuration that works, but wouldn't you know it, when one of the adapters is plugged in, it turns off the power to the outlet.  All of the outlets have on/off switches, and to push the adapter in far enough to make contact forces the outlet off.  It took probably about 40 minutes to get three humidifiers plugged in.  The outlets alone are a reason not to live here.  I hope that the next place we lives has something more sensible that can use a universal adapter.  I feel like I have enough adapters that I could open my own Radio Shack.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Back to Blogging?

Okay, there have been a lot of reasons that I haven't been blogging.  One of them is actually pretty stupid.  There were two obnoxious widgit graphics that appeared over my text and I didn't know how to get rid of them.  I know that I could look online to find out or just experiment with settings, but our internet can be SO slow sometimes (remember dial up speed?) and with the boys constantly distracting me it was just not something that I was doing.  Today (I hope) I did it!  Yay!  Now that that isn't there to bother me, perhaps I will get back to more regular blogging.  At least I have been doing monthly updates of what I have been doing with the boys on my blog

I want to write a bit about our trip to Etosha last month, but for now I will write about my tripS to the store to buy food.  This morning I went to the fruit and vegetable market to buy produce and milk.  That was all that I needed.  I got the produce.  I can generally accept that our produce is trucked in from South Africa and does not always look the way I expect produce to look.  I can also usually deal when an item or two is out of stock.  Today there was no milk to buy.  Correction, there was no milk that had an expiration date any later than today.   There was some with yesterday's date and some with today's date.  That doesn't really help me for the rest of the week.

This afternoon I decide to head out to the market to buy milk.  My husband wants some ramen for work as well.  Simple enough.  Still, since I am making the trip I might as well buy for the week.  They had tortillas in stock (yay!) which I have not seen for three weeks.  We are out, so I bought five packages of eight tortillas to put in our freezer.  That starts us out at $15 US.  I continue, happy that they do have milk AND ramen AND even the kind of yogurt my kids like.  The dates on the products are all good.  Of course since I am buying so much I figure I should get flour since I am low, chips, etc. etc.  Once we get over the magic number of $15 US we need to get a tax receipt so we can be reimbursed for the 15% tax on things here.  (Your state tax isn't sounding so bad now, is it?)  I load up the cart and decide I should check how much money I brought.  I wasn't going to get much and now I have quite a bit.  I have about $100 US so I plan accordingly.  I end up buying about $70 worth of stuff.  The boys have been playing with food in the cart, trying to climb out, making loud noises, grabbing for things on the shelves, etc. etc.  I am so frazzled as I check out that I forget to get my tax receipt.  Grrrr... I could wait in the looooooooong line at customer service, but I really don't want to be with my screaming demons a moment longer.  There goes $10 US down the drain.  I know, not a huge sum, but it still makes me mad.  There was no good reason not to get that "free" money. 

So we get home and the boys are walking so slowly while I am carrying heavy bags.  They are fighting to get in the house and I open the door without turning off the alarm first.  I have to push past the kids who are hanging on my legs and trying to be the first ones in the house and get over to the control panel to turn it off before the alarm company starts calling.  Then Ryan is upset and needs comforting.  Justin decides to help put away the food because he knows I am not pleased with them.  He puts some in special "tricky" places for me.  Lovely.  I think I have found everything.  I wish I hadn't been busy with Ryan so long.

Good thing I got more than milk and ramen because I am NOT looking forward to my next trip to the store!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Swakopmund Vacation

 This weekend we finally got out of Windhoek for the coast. We made the four hour drive to Swakopmund, Namibia, the second largest city in Namibia (not saying much) and the closest city to Brad and Angelina's place in the country. We had a nice time, but I think it it overrated. Don't think that it would be nearly as popular if there were more to do here.

We got to Swakopmund at lunch time on Friday. Everyone always talks about the cute little cafes and restaurants. They are supposed to be kid friendly (which I have decided means you can let your children run around like brats without regard to their safety or any consideration of other people), but come on, my kids are four and two. We decided to just hit KFC and even waiting for that was hard for the kids. They were EVERYWHERE! At least they enjoyed the food. We made our way to where we were staying, a 3 bedroom place in the north end of town. It worked out perfectly for us. We had plenty of space and had a kitchen, meaning we didn't have to eat all our meals out. :) We rested a bit and then walked over to the beach for a bit. Yes, we had to get sandy and wet so we had to go back home and change. We made a quick stop at the Snake House. For about $4 each, we were able to see snakes in three roms that all together were smaller than our kitchen. The boys enjoyed the snakes, and loved watching the chameleon get fed. They also loved climbing on the jawbone of a whale. Easily entertained. We walked around the downtown area for a bit and then headed to the grocery store to pick up a few items.

Saturday was cool and rainy, but we headed for the main beach area and playground. Next to the playground, a bouncy castle park was set up. For a fee, the kids could bounce around to their hearts' content, and oh how they loved it. We spent HOURS there. Justin's favorite was the inflatable water slide. Ryan tried it once, but when he climbed to the top he was freaked out by the water and perhaps the pitch of the slide. I think it was just as well because otherwise he would have been wanting to climb up it all day. Instead he kept climbing up a rope cargo net, using his arms and not his legs. He got really tired, but what great upper body strength!

For lunch we found a charming cafe (meaning overpriced mediocore food) and then headed over to the Kristall Galerie. This is a pretty small museum that could be seen in about 10 minutes. It has a cave replica which frightened the boys the first time through. Ryan was wrapping his legs around mine, afraid to move. After the first time through, we couldn't keep up with the boys. They thought it was great. They also have an area where you can "find" polished rocks. Ryan mostly wanted to throw them in the water.

Back to the bouncy castle area for a couple more hours.  Justin kept gong back to the water slide over and over, while Ryan and I wandered over to the ocean.  Justin and Rob eventually joined us, and we enjoyed having the waves get our feet and legs wet.  When the boys started to shiver, it was time to head home.

Sunday was a lazy day.  We had gotten WAY too much sun on Saturday and all ended up with burns. :(  We headed out to a pizza place for lunch and had an African take on Italian food.  Home for a quick nap and then we were back at the beach.  This time we had hats and protective clothing as well as PLENTY of sunscreen.  Justin liked playing in the sand and Ryan liked playing in the water.

Each evening after the boys were in bed, Rob and I watched a DVD.  While taking small children on a trip means it is a trip and not a vacation, it was still nice.  It was good to be at the beach and to have a few days without laundry and other routine chores.