Monthly Archives: October 2011

Museum and Home Ec – Cape Town

Author: Keegan

Hi remember me?   I know you do – you’ve been waiting for me right?  RIGHT?!?!?!?   My TA (teacher’s assistant -TA is what you will hear for the rest of the blog. A.K.A Dad/Steve) and I have taken a few field trips together while in Cape Town.  Sometimes I finish my schoolwork before someone else (not mentioning any names).  One trip was a science field trip.  We went to the Planetarium to get additional Science smarts, I already have a science class on-line and we all love to watch MythBusters so this is additional work.  We strolled into the entrance and bought the tickets for the Museum that was connected to the Planetarium and then my TA asked if these included the Planetarium and they said…the Planetarium was closed.  So we ended up taking just a history field trip instead.  We saw some really cool prehistoric animals and saw that a lot of animals that you may draw or think in your head are probably real.  Also did you know that if we humans had wings we could fly?  After our little history class we went out for lunch and went to this restaurant called The Sea Palace.  We wanted sushi – it’s my favorite these days.  When we got inside we were surprised at how it looked — really fancy but no one was really there so we didn’t have to worry about having to fit in.  We both had sushi I had a California roll and my dad had a Rainbow Nation roll.  We shared them and they were both pretty good.  While we were eating a group of 7 people came in 6 were tourists the other was the guide.  They had this cool spinning table so when they asked for something they would just have to spin it.  While on the trip I really want to go to a sushi bar that has a conveyor belt that has sushi on it going in a circle and you just grab off what you want and eat it.  My TA and I are planning to go back to the Planetarium next week.

That's me in front of the whale exhibit.

I told my dad to act afraid and this is what he gave me.

Moving on then.

Another one of my field trips with the TA was a Home Economics class (some may call it Home Ec).  We made gnocchi and calamari.  The gnocchi my sister helped with and my dad and I made the calamari.  A little something he learned at cooking school and passed along to me.  We cleaned the calamari took off the head, took out the guts and took their eyes out too. They are slimy little buggers. The gnocchi didn’t turn out THAT well…but Kendal and my dad know what went wrong so they are going to try again before we leave Cape Town.  But the calamari was pretty good.  We had to take the trash out that night because the trash was smelling REALLY BAD it is beyond belief how bad the trash would have smelled if we left it overnight. It is indescribable!

The calamari was fun to clean but I'm sure we won't be doing that every week.

Here's the plate of the finished calamari.

My final report is a full family trip to a local farm.  It was a bit overcast but a fun day with a cool playground at the restaurant.  One thing in Cape Town there are tons of cool restaurants with awesome play grounds. There was a rooster that was attacking my dad it was really funny to see him try not to hurt it but try to get it away from him.  He asked the waiter if he bites and the waiter said yes.

That's Kendal about to swing on the tree rope.

Day trips to farms and vineyards are awesome!

Felix the rooster was really nice at first and then he turned into "Mr. Crazy Rooster"!

The scenery is always beautiful, it's like a fairytale.

All in all we are having a pretty great time in Cape Town South Africa.


Posted by on October 31, 2011 in South Africa


Cheetahs at Spier in the Stellenbosch Winelands

Author: Kendal

Hello, long time no blog 🙂 .

Last week we went to this place called Spier.  Originally the plan was to eat BIG for lunch at a really cool restaurant at Spier called Moyo (it’s buffet style) and has an African music show, but . . . we decided it was best if we just went to see the animals rather than pig out.  The cool thing about Spier is that it is not only a vineyard, but it has Moyo, another restaurant called Eight, cheetah’s, horseback riding, segway tours, a hotel (we ate in their bar), and it has a bird-of-prey rehabilitation center. Driving up we immediately saw the cheetah’s, they were big and beautiful let me tell you, they are something else 🙂 . We had wanted to come and see them but learned when we called that cubs would be coming in October so we waited to visit so we could see the cubs.  It was awesome to see them.   Dad and I even got to pet one! We only pet the older cheetah because the rest of my family didn’t want to go in with the babies, and me being the baby that I am didn’t want to go in by myself. The cubs had just arrived that Monday (they were pretty big for cubs) and they weren’t used to visitors petting them so we had to stick with our new family motto “you can never be too safe” (I made that up last week).  Then we jumped right next door to be with the birds.  We got right in to a show that was going on, they gave us each a special glove and we got to hold the birds on our arms, they were quite scary because they were so close that if they wanted to they could have poked our eyes out!  We also learned that they don’t use their beaks to kill prey but they use their talons (feet), they have the death grip and once they hold their prey they never let go unless they are eating it. They have a lot of different owls there that we were able to hold and pet.  They are extremely soft.  Two of the owls have been together since they were babies.  One a spotted Eagle Owl and one a Barn Owl.  We learned that they imprinted on each other and the Eagle Owl thinks he’s a Barn Owl and the Barn Owl thinks he’s an Eagle Owl – pretty cool.  We got to hold “Wally” the Walbergs Eagle later, and when we were petting her she thought we were picking off her ticks for her so she nibbled our fingers to take off our “ticks” as well, she was returning the favor :). It was so cool we even kissed her but sadly Mom didn’t get to take the picture fast enough.

Mom(to Keegan): When you kiss her do it nice and slow so I can take a picture, you kissed her way to fast, nice and slow…

Keegan: Mom I already kissed her like 3 times!

Cheetah cub Chillin' in the sun

These are the cute cubs that just arrived, pretty big cubs don't you think! And they were running around like crazy.

This 6-year-old cheetah was really relaxing when we pet him but later we saw him staring at the cubs that were in a different area. When the trainer tried to grab his leash the cheetah growled and snapped at him, it was really scary. The trainer backed away and said that the only thing this cheetah wants to do right now is kill those cubs. He wasn't used to them being around yet.

Good thing we had the gloves.

She kept staring at me but I got used to her really fast, she was so gentle.

This bird really liked Keegan!

We also did a hike called a The Moon Rise, where you climb up a mountain as the sun is setting and then climb down when the moon is out. While you are on the top you have the picnic dinner that we packed. We, being the Nervous Nellies that we are, went up early, ate and then went right back down when it was still light out. Reason being is that it was a very treacherous walk up, especially towards the top, at one point we were on all fours going up huge rocks, very scary.  We would be coming down with a couple of torches (flashlights) but no light from the moon because it was cloudy.  The view was breathtaking :)!  We only took a few pictures though because it was extremely cloudy, and you couldn’t really see the moon rise or the sunset with all of the clouds.  I hope that the few that we did get show the great view of all the vineyards around us.  Hopefully next time we’ll get a less cloudy night.

Here's my family on the way up the mountain for a picnic.

As you can see it was a lot of hard work getting to the top.

That's my mom and a nice view of the gorgeous valley.

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Posted by on October 28, 2011 in South Africa


Cape Town – Old Biscuit Mill

Author: Amy

Being on the road our “honey do” list is not very long so we are able to go for coffee and visit all the fun places in town.  It’s exciting to venture out and stumble upon places, we have found some very cute cafes to have coffee.  It’s quite a fun treat.  We all have been watching a work crew erect a new ferris wheel at the waterfront for the past month it’s called the Wheel of Excellence.  We had to go on it, we really enjoyed the ride, and it’s a great view of the waterfront.

Wheel of Excellence

A great day for a ride!

The view of the waterfront from the top.

Without any soccer games or chores we like to find a fun market to visit on the weekends.  It serves multiple purposes.  Steve can find some ingredients for his cooking adventures, we get to see the locals in action and we find delicious foods to fill our bellies.  Our favorite find so far has been the Old Biscuit Mill.  It’s a cute old Mill that on Saturdays fills with stalls of locals selling their local goods.  The middle of the rooms are set with long tables (old doors connected end-to-end) with candles lit on them.  It’s a very shabby chic scene that is just so fun to be a part of and makes you want to come back every Saturday (we have gone more than once).  We make it fun by giving the kids money before we leave that they can spend on whatever they like.  Keegan is always saving for “something”.  The funniest thing is watching him eat waffles with no syrup (it cost about $.25 US for syrup) because he was too cheap!  If you know Keegan and his love of breakfast and syrup you too would love to see this.  The ironic thing is later he will pull out his money and say, “Mom, you want me to buy you a drink?”  My little man!

Keegan's famous waffle stand

This was a different Saturday morning where Keegan decided to splurge and spent a little extra!

Inside the Old Biscuit Mill

Crispy pizza flambé - oh so yummy!


Posted by on October 23, 2011 in South Africa


The Heart of Cape Town

Author: Steve

WARNING, this is probably going to be a boring blog for most readers but…I love this stuff!!

This is one of the places I’ve wanted to visit since we arrived here.  I had planned on going myself but then I thought, ‘what a great educational experience for the kids’.  So when I talked to the family about it they were sooooo excited (heavy sarcasm).  I told them they could leave at any time if they saw blood or felt queasy.

After we got to the Groote Schuur Hospital and found the Heart of Cape Town Museum we were introduced to our energetic guide Trace.  She was extremely knowledgeable and made the 2-hour event a great experience for all of us.  Her energy and method of teaching kept us all engaged.

Back in 1967 Dr. Christiaan Barnard performed the first ever human heart transplant surgery right here in Cape Town.  He was an amazing surgeon known to have incredible hands.  In 1956 he received a two-year scholarship for postgraduate training in cardiothoracic surgery at the University of Minnesota to gain his PhD.  However, the University told him it would take him 6 years to get his PhD, Dr. Barnard said, “No, I would like to do it in 2 years”.  They told him that that would be impossible.  He asked them what the requirements were for this degree and said, “let’s see how it goes”.  Well, he not only received his PhD in 2 years but he also gained an additional MS degree (Master of Science in Surgery) at the same time.

The Americans were hot in pursuit of leading this charge, putting in years of research and trying to be the first to successfully accomplish a human heart transplant.  Dr. Barnard left the United States basically telling them that he would be performing this surgery first.  I think they probably pacified him and not knowing much about South Africa thought ‘sure you will, you in your third world country on the tip of Africa’.  In fact they gave him heart and lung machines as gifts to help in his research.  If you remember back during that time Apartheid was still in place and there were trade embargos against South Africa from many countries including the United States.  So it wasn’t easy for South Africa to get such equipment.  I think the American surgeons who gave those gifts may have regretted that donation because on December 3, 1967 Dr. Barnard was the first to successfully accomplish a human heart transplant.

Dr. Barnard had returned to the Americans’ laboratory in 1966 to further discuss their progress, and again informed them that he would be performing this procedure very soon (yeah, right).  After Dr. Barnard’s first case in 1967 the Americans (who now believed the first case was stolen from them and questioned Dr. Barnard’s research of 48 dogs, since they each had approximately 250 dog heart transplants under their belts) started to immediately perform procedures with unfortunately rapid failure.  In fact human heart transplants went crazy around the world, 102 procedures were performed in 20 different countries during the year of 1968 – with the majority being failures.  There was a surgeon in Texas who performed this procedure in 35 minutes flat, that year he performed 17 cases none of which survived.  He subsequently closed his program the following year.  The American government came in and put a hold on these procedures until “things were figured out”.  It wasn’t until 1983 that the Americans got back into this arena (highly due to the drug Ciclosporin which helps to reduce the activity of the immune system and therefore reduces the risk of organ rejection).  Ironically, 1983 was the same year Dr. Barnard retired after a very successful career.

Dr. Barnard was the rock-star of surgery: young, charismatic, very photogenic and always mingling with the most famous people in the world.  He always spoke his mind and was said to be difficult to work with and fairly arrogant.  He was married and divorced 3 times; his last wife was more than 40 years younger than him.  Dr. Barnard died alone in 2001 of a severe asthma attack – he never wore a bracelet identifying that he had asthma and when the hotel attendees saw him (not knowing he was undergoing an asthma attack) they began to give him CPR.

The 2-hour tour goes in to detail from the beginning of the planning stages, the team involved, the donors’ life, the patients, etc.  It was very interesting. We were lucky because there were only 7 in our group. Surprisingly one of the other people on our tour was a radiologist at the hospital during this time and she knew all the key players.

“Life is the joy of living; it is the celebration of being alive.  I realized what medicine was all about: Medicine must bring back the joy into the life of the patient.  Medicine must give the patient something to celebrate.  When medicine cannot do this anymore, then the goal of medicine must be to allow the patient to die a death as quickly and painlessly as possible”

-Professor Christiaan Barnard

Waiting for the tour to start - the recipient of the heart was 53 year old Louis Washkansky

The donor: 25 year old Denise Darvall had just left a bakery where she picked up a cake for a visit to some friends. Denise and her mother (her mother died instantly) were struck by a vehicle before they got back into their car.

Amy, Kendal and Keegan looking from the gallery as each step of the procedure was discussed.

The theaters (that’s what they call operating rooms) we toured were the same rooms used for that procedure and the equipment was all the same as well.

Here's Keegan with Dr. Barnard - you'll also notice his American degrees on the wall behind Keegan's shoulder

"Just stand there and smile"! Denise's brother donated many of her belongings for the museum. That doll was hers from childhood. It had ink draining from her eyes that looked like tears. The museum sent it to get cleaned-up. The doll maker took off the head and removed the old eyes, cleaned the head out and put it back together. She laid the doll on a back table and looked for new marbles for eyes and within seconds she turned around and the doll was sitting up with ink running down like tears from empty eye sockets. Said to be a true story - this room was creeping Kendal out.

Notice the clock behind me, that is the exact time when they realized, "It's going to work"! This place was awesome!


Posted by on October 17, 2011 in South Africa


Sandboarding – Cape Town

Author: Amy

There are places that we see in life that really are beyond any expectation.  When we come upon some natural wonder I just can’t seem to get enough and am so overcome with joy.  Who can have negative energy when seeing one of God’s many natural wonders?  It reinforces my faith in God and his true intention to create beauty in this world.  This week we tried a sport I had never even heard of before arriving in South Africa.  It’s very possible it is done in the US without us knowing about it.  Sandboarding on sand dunes.  We met our teacher, Upi, at the Atlantic Sand Dunes.  The beauty of this place is indescribable.  We had the most perfect day.  The bluest, cloud free sky on a cool sunny day against the whitest rolling sand dunes.  We left our car in the parking lot and Upi drove us over some dunes in his jeep.  We all did a united “WOW” as we entered the huge white dunes.  It was as though we landed on another planet.  It kept getting better as you walked on the dunes the sand was cool and soft and so welcoming.  That experience will be with all of us forever.

Sandboarding is similar to snowboarding except you are barefoot strapped into footings that hold your feet to the board.  You need to wax your board every few runs to keep it slick.  We all had success in the sport – I was lucky to have had a helmet as I did make a few beautiful wipeouts.  Laying on the ground after was just so beautiful it’s hard to complain that you’re hurt.  Recovery is a bit longer at my age (I hate that part!).

Upi brought along a sled as well which was great fun to sit and go down the hills.  It’s a bit like snow sledding as you need to climb back up the hill. It was a full workout of a day. The longer the run the higher the climb.  Throughout the day Keegan kept saying “I love this day”!

Kendal climbing the hill

Keegan waxing his board.

She's got it!!

Boarding "dudes"

Sledding in the sand - big fun!

Steady . . . I like it!

Beauty of the dunes and table mountain

Sand dunes everywhere!!


Posted by on October 9, 2011 in South Africa


Toboggan Ride & Aquarium – Cape Town

Author: Keegan

Well hello again I am back and ready to entertain you…or will I… only you shall know. We are still in Cape Town and I am still doing swim training five days a week for PE, which is tons of fun.  My coach for swim is really nice; he helps me stay strong and fit.  I am also going to take a Hip Hop Dance class soon. I went and saw one of the classes, it was really cool, I am really looking forward to taking Hip Hop. One of the cool things about living in a new city is exploring the fun activities for kids. There is this cool Tobogganing place we went to and it’s like the Luge at the Olympics but not on ice.  We went really fast but probably not as fast as Olympic Toboggan people. My mom and my sister were scared at first so the first couple times they went slow so sometimes people behind them got stuck behind them.

A funny story about my mom from that day was:

Mom: So how fast are you allowed to go and has anyone ever got hurt or seriously injured.

Release Guy at top of the hill: There is no limit on how fast you can go and no one has every gotten hurt since I worked here?

Mom: How long have you worked here?

Release Guy at the top of the hill: 5 days!

Then he just lets her go as he kind of laughs as he watches her go down the hill yelling.  That was a really fun day for all of us I think we all enjoyed it.

That's me and Kendal getting ready to fly down. If you're wondering, that safety message is in Afrikaans below the english version.

That was a great day!

We also bought an unlimited family pass to the Two Oceans Aquarium.  It’s really close and we can walk there anytime.  We’ve learned when they feed the animals.  So far we have seen the penguin, sharks, stingrays and turtles get fed.  I’m learning about all the different fish and thinking of getting an aquarium when I get home.

There is a huge, cool looking eel right when you walk into the Two Oceans Aquarium.

In the center of the Clown tank is a hole you can climb under just like you're in the tank with them.

That's Yvonne, she's really nice and teaches us a lot of stuff about different living things in the ocean.

I like watching the sharks get fed.

We spent one day on Table Mountain.  There is a huge gondola you can take up and down.  It spins around slowly as it moves you up the cableway.   It’s a cool, very fast ride up and down.  While on the top we saw an animal I never saw before.  It’s called a Dassie (Rock Hyrax), it’s a cute little bunny looking fuzzy rodent.  Amazingly its closest living relative is the Elephant.  South Africa is trying to make Table Mountain one of the 7 new wonders of the world.  I think that we will never have a better memory of any other place in the world (we will still have other great memories though).

This is the view the Dassies have on top of Table Mountain where they live.

Here's a Dassie close-up.

Here we are having breakfast at a Farmers Market

Lucky we didn't run into any baboons on this outing, I heard some of them are as big as me!

Thanks for checking out the blog.



Posted by on October 4, 2011 in South Africa