Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Katie's Virtual Baby Shower

Saturday evening I had a "virtual baby shower!"  My good friend Janaya in DC had been secretly planning this shower with the help of Lee and my mom.  When I found out about it a few weeks ago, I was so shocked!  I just figured that since I lived so far away, I was going to have to miss out on the whole shower thing.  I was pretty bummed about it, but what could I do.  So when I got the Evite for the shower, I think I cried for almost an hour.  And of course, Lee laughed at me! 

Everyone was asked to send their gift by a certain day so that it would all get here in time for the shower.  So packages had been coming in for over a week and it was so hard not to open them!  We stuck them in the garage so I wouldnt be tempted. 

The plan was to do a video conference through Skype while I opened my presents, but they werent exactly sure it was going to work.  Plus the time difference created a bit of a challenge.  But they got the video conference to work and those that were able signed in and were "there" with me as I opened all my gifts!

Janaya sent a box of decorations, so Lee got those put up and then we were off to the races.  Lee's mom Sherry, my sister Heather, Janaya, and Cheryl were all on the video call celebrating with me.  It was great to see familiar faces and to share in this exciting time with great friends and family. 

We have been so spoiled with gifts and are so thankful to everyone that contributed to this fun event!  I have the best friends in the world and I dont know if they will ever know how much all of this meant to me. 

Lee took some pictures to share with those that couldnt be there.  They arent too cute, but I will post them anyway!  I am too bloated for cute pictures at this point.
Screenshot Janaya took... you can tell cause she is the only one smiling!!

Again, thanks to everyone that sent something and a HUGE thank you to Janaya for organizing this.  Love you all!  Next time you hear from us, we will probably be posting about the birth of our little girl.  I saw the doctor yesterday and she said if I dont go into labor by Sunday, she is going to have me induced on Monday night!  So sometime in the next week, we will be PARENTS!  Luckily my parents are here to help because I dont have a clue what I am doing. 

Turners come to South Africa

My parents got here last Tuesday, May 31st!  We are so excited to have them here, but also get freaked out because we know they came because we are having a baby!  AHHHH!  You would think 9 months would prepare you, but it still shocks me when I realize it is coming so soon.

They have been very surprised by South Africa and it is not at all what they expected.  We had a braai at home the second night they were here, so they got to have some good South African food and really liked it.  

Ronnie and Dianne's first braai

Me at 38 weeks, 3 days (my face is starting to get bloated!

I took them to the Cullinan Diamond mine on Friday and it was actually really cool to take a tour and learn about how they mine for diamonds.  It is a HUGE operation.  We were surprised at how low the actual carats mined per day was, but it made us realize that is why diamonds are so expensive.  The process is pretty intense.  One of the rocks that they find diamonds in is filled with Garnet and Emerald, but they just throw it out into a waste pile because the lasers they have only detect diamonds, and it is not worth the money to actually sort for the garnet and emerald.  So there are mountains of waste that are probably filled with stones I wouldnt mind having!!  I asked if I could go rummage through it, but they said no!

Then we took them to Pilanesburg on Saturday and we got to see a good amount of animals.  But nothing compared to what they have been seeing the past few days.  We had them fly up to Kasane, Botswana on Sunday to go to Chobe National Park.  So they have been doing boat cruises, several game drives, and went to Victoria Falls yesterday.  They get back tonight so we are excited to hear all about their adventures. 

The Final Installment of the DBE

Day 7: Victoria Falls (written by Lee)
We really have been dragging our feet posting this trip.  We’re sorry about that but life has been getting in the way.  This post will finally finish out our trip.

Anyway.  We woke up and made breakfast and headed off to see the great Victoria Falls.  Katie has come to lovingly call this day the “Day from Hell” and soon you will know why.  The campsite we stayed in was great.  At night, you could hear the falls in the distance and could see the mist rising from them during the daylight.  We were ready to see them up close.
The sunrise through the mist seen from our campsite.

They are running a racket at the falls, first of all.  They know they can charge, pretty much what they want and after coming all that way we really had no choice but to pay.  We were there just after the rainy season, which means the water is very, very high and the volume of water coming over the falls is near its peak.  The falls were amazing though.  Its incredible to see all of that water and force manifesting itself so magnificently.  As we were walking in, there were tons of people trying to sell us ponchos.  It was so hot that day though; we wanted to get a little wet.  Be careful what you wish for.   There was not a cloud in the sky but it was as if we were walking through a monsoon.  We didn’t take many pictures of the falls, because we would have ruined the camera.  There was that much water!!  Our shoes were pretty much squishy for most of the remainder of the day.  

The Stanleys

The McOmbers

Denims Busters

Soaking wet

After seeing the falls we spent some time in the parking lot to eat, but really we were out there to dry off before we got back in the cars.  Once sufficiently dry, we drove to the Victoria Falls Hotel.  My goodness!  That hotel is nice.  I mean I’m sure it was just normally nice, but when you are in Zimbabwe you don’t get the chance to see much luxury around.  You can see the strong British influence at the hotel.  From the art and d├ęcor, to the people sitting out having “High Tea”.  It was a bit surreal.  The view from that hotel though, geez.  Lets just say we spent plenty of time just looking at the view.
You can see the mist from the falls on the left.  People bungee jump off the bridge at the right

The reason we were at the hotel is because, one of the other families had arranged for us to go on a bike tour.  The bike ride was to take us around the town and finally to watch the sunset over the falls from the Zambia side.  We thought this was a great idea because everyone has told us that the view is better from Zambia.  Well, Katie is very pregnant and has no business on a bike.  I was concerned but was reassured that the ride was very leisurely and even the little girl in the group would have no problem.  Even with all of the reassurance, I was still a bit concerned about Katie.  Katie said she wanted to do it though and I just made sure that she knew that we could turn around anytime.

The trip was a complete fiasco from before it even began.  First of all we started maybe 2 hours late.  Bikes were broken; tires were flat and overall nothing was set up for a group of our size.  Pretty much the “tour company” if that’s what we are going to call them, did not do anything to prepare for us, even though we made reservations weeks before.  When we finally started the ride, I could tell Katie was uncomfortable on the bike.  Then the guide tells us that the first “bit” will be slightly uphill, and then we will go downhill for the rest of the way.  You should have seen Katie’s face when she heard about the hill.  This wasn’t going to be good.  Within the first 10 minutes of the 3-hour ride, Katie was miserable.  Her face was beet red and she was huffing and puffing.  I kept telling her we could go back but she figured she would just tough it out for the first part then the rest of the way would be a downhill piece of cake.  Well the first bit, turned out to be the first half of the ride.  It was bad.  I felt so bad for her but she tried her best to be a trooper.  We had to get off the bikes and walk them for some parts.  We held up the rest of the group on the already late excursion. We stopped at a market to walk around, so that gave her some time to at least catch her breath. 

These kids followed Peach around the entire market

We finally reached the high point and could start going downhill.  Thank goodness!  I couldnt take any more stress of going up hill any longer.  If I had only known that it was about to only get worse, I would have quit while we were ahead.  We started going downhill for a good while and then we came to a pretty steep hill.  We were all picking up speed and then all of the sudden WHACK!  One of the girls, also named Katie had just flipped over her handlebars and had crashed in the road.  Katie and I were behind her and I stopped to check on her but Katie, afraid of there being another uphill kept going downhill to keep from having to pedal.  Needless to say Katie was spent at this point.  The younger Katie seemed okay and I caught up with pregnant Katie down the road.  When everyone finally met up again you could tell that younger Katie was shaken up.  We started to cross the road and younger Katie started going into shock!  She had sprained her elbow and it obviously was more serious than we had first thought.  Paul, her dad went back to camp with her and we continued on.   

We saw some elephants on the next little stretched and stopped at a huge Baobab tree.  We were told that Dr. Livingstone and others met under this tree to trade.  There were many carvings on the tree from the 19th century.  It was pretty cool. 

 A little further down the road the tour company had arranged a pit stop for us.  They had snacks and drinks ready for us.  At this point we got to see the sunset.  The problem is, we were supposed to watch the sunset from across the bridge in Zambia.  Because of the late start and the several delays we obviously weren’t going to make that.  We did get to the bridge, but by that point it was already pitch dark.  The road was full of potholes and I was scared Katie was going to fall.  She was miserable and was ready for this to be over.  We crossed the bridge and then immediately turned around to head back.  We had been on a down hill course, but when we turned around to go back to the hotel, we were now having to go up hill.  Katie struggled to pump the pedals so I told her she could get off and walk.  She let out a tortured scream and I insisted that she get off the bike and walk.  She stopped and as I got of my bike and turned around to help her I saw her lying on her back.  Katie had pushed herself so far that when she tried to get off the bike and put her leg down, her leg gave out and she collapsed on the ground.  I was scared to death for her and the baby.  She said she was okay and I helped her up.  Tears of frustration were shed.  Because it is pitch black outside and we are riding bikes on a pothole-riddled road the company hired a car to ride behind us with its lights on to give us light.  We threw our bikes in the back of the car and road back to the hotel.

It was not the best decision to go on that bike ride, but that’s not the end of the day from hell.  During the bike ride, my jaw started to hurt.  After we stopped for snacks and drinks the pain got really intense.  At one point, it was so intense I thought I might pass out while on the bike.  It got a bit better but got worse at dinner.  It then would gradually get better, until the next day.

Day 8: Victoria Falls

We spent all morning at the pool swimming and relaxing.  Then we had High Tea at the Victoria Falls Hotel.  The view from the hotel is absolutely beautiful and the tea was fun too.  It was funny to see how seriously some people take it.  All dressed up and talking about hoity toity topics, thinking they were pretty special to be there. 

The day before, we had some shirts made for our trip and we got them back today!  It has our entire journey on the map, the flags of the countries we visited as well as the border stamps from each of the countries.  We decided we would all wear them the next day on our trip to Harare. 

Day 9: To Harare, Zimbabwe

Lee woke up and his tooth was hurting him pretty bad.  He took some medicine and we headed out on our long journey to Harare.  After we got going, the Stanleys decided that there was a dirt road that we could take that would shorten our 10 hour trip.  But the gas station we needed to fill up at had no power, so we had to use the fuel from our jerry cans! We decided to be adventurous and took the road less traveled.  While it did not make our trip shorter, probably actually made it longer, it was a sight to see.  We were in the middle of Africa!  Dirt roads that were super bumpy and nothing for miles and miles and then all of the sudden little villages would pop up.  They were clusters of round houses with thatched roofs  (called rondavals) out in the middle of nowhere.  I always wonder where they get their clothes and supplies.
Manually filling up the car. I have the wipes ready so they can "wash" their hands.

2+ hours on a road like this



It was so bumpy that I was worried about gravity and the bumps making the baby want to come out!  So I got in the back to lay down and prop my feet up.  Lee was very quiet the entire drive.  When I asked him if he was okay, he said very abruptly, “NO!”  He was in a lot of pain from his tooth.  He even told me not to talk to him.  He was breaking out into sweats and couldn’t concentrate on the road because of the pain.  He even thought of asking me to drive because he hurt so bad.  And I cant drive a stick shift!

We finally made it to Harare that night and Paul gave him some Vicodin so he could sleep.  He also called the US Embassy in Harare to see if he could come in the next morning to get some antibiotics for Lee.  So we were glad to have him there with us. 

In Harare we stayed with some of the Stanleys family and it was so nice to be in a house again and have a real bed!  They were so welcoming and we had a great time getting to know their entire family. 

Day 10: Harare

Lee had a decent night due to the drugs, but he was still pretty miserable when he got up.  Paul had gone to get his antibiotics, but was worried that it was only Saturday, and we weren’t leaving until Monday and had a very long drive to get back to Pretoria.  So Paul got the name of a dentist in Harare and suggested that Lee go have it taken care of.  Well, I don’t know how many of you know, but Lee has a debilitating fear of the dentist.  He knows in his mind that it is not going to hurt, but his body just takes over and almost goes into a type of shock.  So he REALLY didn’t want to go to the dentist in ZIMBABWE!  The US Embassy in Harare even sends their employees to South Africa for dental work.  So he was not excited about this.  But he knew he wasn’t going to make it. 

So Paul and I took him to the dentist.  It was at the guys house, but he actually had a really great set up.  It felt like I was in any US dentists office.  Lee was already tense and starting to sweat.  Then he found out that the dentist was Serbian and that almost put him over the edge.  He was going to have an emergency root canal by a Serbian dentist in Zimbabwe!!  Not many people can say they have had that experience. 

Being the nice wife that I am, I sat right next to him the entire time while the dentist worked and tried to reassure him that all was going to be okay.  Unfortunately, my loving ways didn’t help.  The entire dentist chair was soaking wet from sweat and his legs were drenched, like he had just gotten out of a pool.  And anytime the dentist would go toward his mouth, Lee’s legs would tense up and fly into the air.  It was really hard for Paul and I not to laugh! 

But he made it through.  The dentist did the beginning of a root canal and then Lee will have the rest finished when he gets back to Pretoria.  Lee was sore for the rest of the day, but he later admitted that he was glad he had it done because he felt much better.

That afternoon we went to the Lion and Cheetah park.  Seems kind of weird to go there when we had just seen lions in the wild.  But you get to be really up close and personal with the lions as you drive around.  When we saw the cheetahs, I decided that they are super creepy and I would not want to run into one of those in the wild.  They make the strangest noises and do this crazy jerking, almost punch-like move when they are feeling threatened.  

A male was chasing the females looking for some action, so this one ran and hid in the tree

There were 2 lion cubs that were about 6 months old in a cage that you could go in and play with.  Lee wouldn’t let me go in. L  I guess he thought it was dangerous for the baby.  But one of the guys with us went in and it as cute to see how they play.  

Daniel, in the lions den!

Day 11: Harare

Went to church and spent the rest of the day hanging out with the families we were visiting. 

Day 12: Back to Pretoria

By this point, I was ready to be home.  We had been gone for a long time and I was not looking forward to the long drive ahead of us.  We stopped at the Great Zimbabwe Ruins and walked around and even went in to see the witch doctor for fun!  She told me that I was pregnant… SHOCKER!!  And that I was having a boy… WRONG.  And that we would have 5 kids… NO WAY!  But it was a fun experience and gave us all something to laugh about. 

The Witch Doctor

Baobab tree we could have all fit inside

The rest of the day was spent in the car and at the border crossing.  We almost got trampled at the border because there is no rhyme or reason to how they do things.  We finally got through, but it was a nightmare and something I don’t ever want to to do again.  Next time, I will fly!

Poor Lee and all the other drivers were exhausted and they all had to go to work the next day.  It ended up being an 18 hour trip and we didn’t get home until almost 2am! 

It was one of the best experiences we have ever had and we are so glad we went.  Sorry the post took so long.