Tuesday, 27 December 2011

...The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year...

Today is an additional public holiday, given by the government (last week) to 'compensate' for a public holiday we lost earlier in the year. While I initially thought it was a bit of a silly thing to do (I mean, do they not realise how chaotic this is for staffing?), I'm rather glad I managed to get an extra day to recover from the Christmas weekend. Heaven knows, I need it!

When it comes to Christmas traditions, Andel and I have tried to break the mould a bit. Every Christmas eve is spent with the larger Klaasen family. While we don't have a formal dinner (although this is going to change from next year), we hang out until midnight (usually watch apologetically as the grandkids are woken from their slumber), and exchange gifts as soon as the clock strikes twelve.

Christmas stockings for the whole family - homemade by Robyn

Lexi eagerly awaiting her gifts

Ricki distributing the pressies

Even the adults got in on the action

Just about ready for bed

The next morning, we have a leisurely breakfast before we leave to head back to Cape Town. There we join our church in hosting a lunch for abandoned and abused women and kids. The best part about this that we all share lunch together. For me, it's the best of both worlds: kind of like eating out, but still being at home. And we love that we get to avoid a family tug-of-war by having our own little family lunch.

Christmas evening is spent with the Hendricks bunch. It always starts with Secret Santa, a gift exchange programme that I'm happy to say is working very well for all of us. All the adults draw names in October already, and for Christmas day, only have to get gifts for that one adult, and the kids. The anticipation on Christmas afternoon is almost palpable - especially PJ's (he's the most particular when it comes to gifts, and is always paranoid that he's not going to get what he wants). This year it worked out like this:

PJ bought Dom an ipod

Dom bought Yaya a spa voucher (5 hours worth!)

Yaya bought Papu a tool box

Papu gave Robyn the cash for a Springbok jersey
(the announcement of Peanut threw a spanner in the sizing works)

Robyn bought (an ecstatic) PJ a vegetable knife (that's been on his list since 2008!)

Andel bought Ash a pair of white gold earrings

Ash bought Andel an All Black jersey

And Kim (who was not officially part of Secret Santa this year) got a blender from Santa himself

The younger ones also enjoyed an array of gifts, the highlight being Jorja's keyboard - which her mother spent the day playing!

The rest of the evening was a food, fun and family fest. We had Gran Jean, Gramps George, the Ebrahims and the Hannuman family over for dinner, and a house-full of festivities that went on well into the night. Some survived longer than others...

Andel's contribution to dessert: carrot cake made by his mom, and decorated by his wife
(it seems we were too busy making, eating and surviving dinner to take any more pics)

A day's photography is hard, tiring work!

Christmas really is such a special time. As I reflect on Christmases past and dream of Christmases to come, I'm so grateful for the blessing of friends and family. And amidst all the loving and giving, how can we not marvel at the greatest gift of love ever known: that God could love this fallen world so much, that He sent His son Jesus to save it. How amazing!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Congratulations and Celebrations

What a crazy few weeks we have had! We have well and truly entered the Silly Season. Even the weather in Cape Town has begun to catch up. Following a few days of torrential downpour (where even the most optimistic was beginning to wonder if we'd have a white - or wet - Christmas), we are finally enjoying the most wonderful sunshine!

Since we last blogged, we have had a few things to celebrate, like...

...Meeting Peanut Klaasen
On Tuesday 29th November, Andel and I got to meet Peanut (the belly name Andel has given our baby). We got a clear view of our sleeping child who only after much prodding reluctantly woke up to give Daddy a wave. And yes, it seems there is only one! What a miracle a growing baby is! We are now 13 weeks pregnant, and while our baby is only the size of my little finger, my belly seems to be preparing much more room - I officially can't close the top button on any of my trousers!

13 Week Preggie Belly

...Making the Grade
Amid much anxiety and impatience, I finally received my exam results. Considering that I only received assignment feedback last month, I was not sure how long this process would take, and I was pleasantly surprised to have all my marks back before the official date! I was even more pleasantly surprised to discover that I had achieved distinctions for all the modules. To be honest, I was elated! To say that this year of studying and working has been easy or even manageable would be a lie. So many times I have wanted to throw in the towel. But God is so faithful: He placed so many really helpful people in my path, and turned my lack of discipline, minimal preparation and last minute cramming (while in my first month of pregnancy) into an amazing result. I'm so amped right now, I can't wait to get stuck into those last 3 modules!

No Porridge Brain Here!

...Making the Cut
Each year Virgin Active hosts a rather prestigious (and exclusive) awards evening/theme party for star performers in the company. It's by invitation only, and involves being flown to Johannesburg for a night of fun, fame and fine dining. To qualify to be invited, you must be nominated for a national award by winning the regional award - or you have to be voted in by your colleagues as a club superstar. This year Andel and I were both invited. In the 5 years this awards evening has been running, Andel has attended every year (strangely enough, it's only every second year that I get to tag along!). While I was voted in by my colleagues, Andel was nominated. Twice. He was the only person in the company who qualified for 2 national nominations by winning 2 regional categories. While he (rather controversially) didn't win either categories, he was still the star of the show - for me, anyway! :)

Star Awards 2011: Flashback Stars of 60s, 70s & 80s

Let the good times continue...