Thursday, 12 December 2013

Fruit and Flowers

On the 21st November Andel and I celebrated four years of (mostly) wedded bliss. In the short time that we have been married, one thing we have realised is that we can save a lot of money by not purchasing wedding anniversary gifts, and so instead of buying each other lavish presents, we go the traditional route, and try to do/give something small and fun. So far, it's been as follows:

1 - Paper
For this anniversary I made Andel a photobook of our wedding pictures - a definite labour of love as this was before the days of downloadable-photobook-software, and I had to do each painstaking page from scratch! Still, it's a treasured possession - one displayed proudly on our coffee table.

2 - Cotton
So with this anniversary we had just found out that I was pregnant with Zac, and to say that I was feeling tired is an understatement! In addition to this, I had just finished the first half of my studies, and I needed a pamper. So in celebration of all things cotton, Andel and I spent a night of luxury at Asara Wine Estate, where we were upgraded to the President Suite, and dined like royalty - well, Andel did. I was feeling a little ill!

3 - Leather
This year we did buy gifts. It may have had something to do with the fact that with a small baby in the house, we weren't getting out much. Also, I desperately needed a new purse, and (if any of you have seen how low Andel's trousers sometimes hang, you will agree) Andel needed a belt. In fairness, I guess the nice thing about a 'real' gift sometimes is that you have it long after the other experiences have passed, and so occasionally I do steal a look at Andel's belt and remember our 3rd anniversary!

4 - Fruit and Flowers
Neither Andel not I were going to settle for a bouquet and fruit basket, so we added a modern twist to this traditional gift, and decided to treat ourselves to some pampering with fruit and flower infused oils. We went to a Moonlight Spa at Mangwanani at Zevenwacht (a special we received the morning of our anniversary!), and were each treated to a full body hot-stone massage, a foot and leg massage, and the most heavenly Indian head massage (I feel my eyes drifting close as I think about it), along with snacks, dinner and decadent dessert! And of course, none of it would have been possible without a reliable and responsible babysitter (thanks Dom!).

Sipping champagne on the coach ride to Zevenwacht

The beautiful site of Mangwanani, overlooking the city

Nothing better than the comfort of gowns and slippers!

Growing up, I wasn't sure that I would ever get married. But I'm pretty sure that it's one of the best decisions I've made. I'm not very good at being a good wife (or even a good person at times), but, by the grace of God, I have a husband that I'm mad about (more than at!), and we have a lot to be happy about and thankful for...

So next year is number 5, and the traditional gift is wood. Wood. I know. I'll be thinking about that one for a while. So if anyone has any ideas...

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Zac's Latest Summer Firsts

Over the last couple of weeks there have been a number of 'new' firsts for Zac. I don't know why, but I guess I took for granted that there would be more of these novel experiences after the usual baby ones!

Summer is well and truly here in Cape Town, and Zac is loving being outdoors!

Happiness is... playing IN the sprinkler

At last Zac gets to go to swimming lessons

What was meant to be a leisurely walk on the beach...

...that became a fully clothed swim, dried off with a blanky towel

And so, the next day, we did a real beach day

And part of summer fun - and school holidays - is to be allowed special treats...

... like getting the baking spoon to lick off

... extra time watching our favourite songs with Daddy

... and getting to sleep a little later in the morning

Last summer Zac had only just learnt to crawl, so it was pretty easy to keep him confined to the spaces that kept him clean, and me most at ease. This summer is going to be a different story, I can tell! While I'd prefer (for myself) to be cool, clean and indoors, to see Zac as happy as he is right now, is worth all the sun, sea and sand!

Mamma Mia!

Last Wednesday, smack bang in the middle of the hustle and bustle that comes along with the end of the year, my Mom, Ashleigh and Jorja, Dom, Kim, Ilana and I had a girls night out.

Now when you consider that four of the seven girls who went out each have a one-year old at home, I guess the fact that we went anyway is an achievement in itself!

Ashleigh very kindly hooked us up with tickets to The Galileo open air theatre in Kistenbosch Gardens where we watched (or rather, sang) Mamma Mia, under the stars.

All bundled up to keep warm in the wind

Before the movie started

Jorja's pic she took while waiting for Kim and Ilana

The Galileo fills up...

Sadly this little lady couldn't keep her eyes open any longer

A good night out, now ready to go to bed!

What a fun night out - definitely one to be repeated!

Monday, 14 October 2013

Just call us Nanny 911

So this past weekend, my brother in law celebrated his birthday, and as a treat to both him and my sister, Andel and I offered to take their kids (4 year old Jorja and 18 month old Ethan) overnight so that they could celebrate together, and get a well-deserved break.

I must admit, leading up to it, we were a little nervous. Especially Andel. He was pretty confident that Jorja would be fine (in fact, that she'd love the idea of spending the night with us), but he was not convinced about Ethan (apparently, as a mother, I don't really get the panic that sets into a man's heart when he's looking after a child that's only looking for their momma). I just didn't really give that much thought (perhaps I was just hoping for the best!).

So come Friday, after savouring the last few minutes of silence at the office, I went to fetch the boys from daycare. Ethan was just waking from a nap, so it was touch and go for a moment there, but soon enough he and Zac were in the car, singing along to African Tree House, and eating dry cocoa-pops (courtesy of Yaya).

We got home and the boys played. Quietly. Without fighting. And Ethan was not looking for his Mom. Andel and I were a little skeptical! Then Jorja joined us  after an outing with her Ma, and we were certain it would get a little crazy. Well, sure enough, the volume increased (exponentially), but other than that, they were still all fine.

Come 21h00, all the kids had eaten, we'd watched Ice Age, and Jorja and Zac were in bed fast asleep. Ethan joined them a little while later, and at 22h00, Andel and I were sipping warm drinks, and watching The Heat.

Ok, so they did wake up during the night. But only once. And because the one woke the others, they were all awake at the same time (which is way better than them all waking up at different times). And within an hour (after I was on the couch with all 3 of them), they were all fast asleep in their respective beds. And that's where they stayed until 07h30!

When all else fails, huddle them all together

When PJ and Ash got back on Saturday, just before lunch, they could hardly believe it: the boys were napping in the room, and Jorja was quietly watching an episode of Recess with Andel. Go Team!

Uncle Andel's girl

Thank God for small mercies!

While I'm in no rush to become a permanent mother of 3, it's was certainly a fun-filled adventure, that I'm pleased to say went very well. And what an accomplishment - and confidence booster - that is, as we are doing this again when PJ and Ash celebrate their wedding anniversary in December!

 PJ and Ashleigh's sweet, angel kids

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Mothering Boys...

... apparently, is not at all like mothering girls.

Having watched a number of sisters grow up, and having had a (free) hand in raising Jorja, I can think back fondly on all the things we got to do with her when she was a baby. It mostly included dancing and singing, or playing with teddies (and other soft things) - you know, the gentle stuff. As a result I never really thought about playing 'hazards' until Zac (and I purposely say Zac, and not Ethan, because before Zac, Ethan was the sweetest thing!).

Well, I have recently had a good dose of reality! Over the long Heritage weekend at the end of last month Andel, Zac and I went to spend a few days at my in-laws - and I got a real taste of mothering boy(s) when Zac had two accidents:

First, a matter of hours after we arrived, while playing in an empty pond in the garden, Zac took a dive into the side, cutting his eye open on a corner of some exposed brickwork, and alerting the entire neighbourhood to his loud voice and strong will.

Mommy's blue-eyed boy

Well, after a short cuddle, a long feed, and an application of steri-strip, Zac was nearly good as new.
Until the next day, when while sweeping the kitchen, he tripped over the broom, and scraped open a number of fingers on his left hand - causing yet another loud episode in a rather small and quiet town!

What a weekend! Having been warned of the possibilities of things to come, I must admit, there is the temptation to lock Zac up in a fully padded room, and make him read for the next few years - but I know that wouldn't help much. Besides, all this nerve-wrecking adventure is the fun that comes with having boys!

Monday, 16 September 2013

My Big Full Birthday Weekend

On Friday 6th September, amid no fan-fare whatsoever, I turned 30! Here's a photo update of the celebrations that started on Friday morning, and lasted the entire weekend long!

It started with Zac and Andel covering me in birthday kisses (and jokes). I then went to work where I was treated to lunch and some cake, before receiving a delivery of roses from the Grahams in Ireland. In the evening, a few friends and family joined us for a grown-up dinner while aunty Heidi (bless her!) babysat Zac.

My bouquet from Ireland, delivered to work

Candice and I, back together after 5 years

Eitan and I always see each other on our birthdays, regardless

Can you spot the 30 year old? Me neither

Even Mom let her hair down a bit

Red Velvet Cake from Sugary Sensations for dessert

On Saturday, despite having a really late night, Ash and I took the kids to our monthly Mammas and Munchkins play date. I was really looking forward to the edible art programme they had planned - but that was before Zac announced his arrival by smacking another child in the face (much to my embarrassment!). Of course, after a good scolding, he fell asleep, and missed the entire thing! Thankfully, Jorja and Ethan more than made up for him, and had a wonderful time.

After that, it was time to head home and make a confirmation cake I'd promised to Annie. I keep telling myself not to leave it so late - but I never seem to learn! Having said that though, I do think I'm improving with each cake I try.

After a night out, Zac couldn't stay awake

Ethan - while he was sitting still!

Jorja making her edible art

Annie's confirmation cake I made the day before

On Sunday, after Annie's confirmation (and the family lunch and tea that followed), Andel and I went to Madame Zingara's. What an experience! Please check out the reviews that are available on the net on this. Unfortunately we couldn't take any pics inside there - still, the acts, the food, the whole experience was amazing, and totally worth it! It was the most fantastic end to a really great birthday weekend!

Andel plays dress up at Madame Zingara's
My awesome 2-minute face paint

Zac Goes to Hospital

So way back at the beginning of August, during a very stressful teaching prac time, Zac got a cold. That developed a cough. And a raging fever.Until finally he had full blown pneumonia.

Looking back, I can't say that there were any clear signs that it would get that bad. Sniffles and coughs are pretty common at this time of year, and considering that Zac's been pre-teething for a while, even the fever, once it broke 36 hours later, didn't worry me that much.

I've often been told about this mother's intuition thing, and for a long time - pretty much since Zac was born - I was not totally convinced that I had it! Turns out I was wrong, because 7 days after the start of Zac's cold, I just couldn't shake the feeling that something was wrong. The health professional and scientist in me started taking measurements and vital signs (not that I really knew what to do with them right then), trying to work out what needed fixing.

That continued the entire night. I took breathing rates, heart rates and temperatures repeatedly (still not knowing what exactly I was looking for), but thank God I did, because when we took Zac to the hospital the next day, I was able to give his paediatrician a run down that not only impressed him, but also helped him make the decision to admit Zac.

So, Zac's check-up turned into a 4 day stay at Constantiaberg Medi-Clinic, and a round-the-clock test of faith and physical endurance for me! Despite 2 days in high care, Zac made a speedy recovery and a few new friends, and after 3 days' out-patient treatment was (nearly) good as new!

In relatively high spirits despite the oxygen tubes

A peaceful night's sleep

Home care: Wynberg Boy in training!

So much better! (if naughtiness is anything to go by!)

Thank you to everyone to their love, support and prayers. You have no idea what a difference they made!

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

The Final Countdown

As I write this post, I have a small bubble of excitement in the base of my belly. Like a secret that's hard to keep, or a cup about to overflow, I'm bursting with anticipation: in two short days I will have completed all the requirements to qualify as a teacher.

I don't think it's the profession so much (sorry teachers), but more the culmination of this journey, that has me all giddy. Two years ago, when I started this, I could never have imagined all the wonderful ways in which my life would change while I took the steps to follow what I believe is my calling.

Who can forget having to complete assignments on planes and trains while on holiday in the UK, battling first trimester fatigue while sitting through my first round of exams, or walking into the exam venue 38 weeks pregnant for my finals. And how surprised I have been watching Andel and Zac survive the last few weeks of dark, early morning car pools, and packing lunches and bags every night.

My student experience has not been without its challenges. Many times I was on the verge of throwing in the towel - but how grateful I am for the people (you know who you are) who have encouraged, supported and carried me when the going got tough.

I get the distinct feeling that I'm about to enter a new chapter. I don't know what is to come, but I believe that the God who created me for His purpose has a plan for me that's better than anything I could imagine. And that's something to get excited about!

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Hanging in There (just about!)

Being at a boys school must be rubbing off on me. Despite having unlimited Internet access, and a fair amount of free time, I have simply not been able to multitask the demands of student life, family responsibilities, and consistent blogging. Sigh.

It's been a rough few weeks. After having one car broken into in April (in which the entire door was taken off the car), a month or so later the battery in our other car died unexpectedly one morning (outside Yaya's house, on the way to work), and then this month Andel was caught in the middle of a pile up resulting in a lot of damage, and us having to share a car.

I'm also just a little tired and a little overworked. My body certainly seems to be protesting my constant activity, and begging me to rest. In fact, it seems that, in spite of my hard-fought resistance, this is battle I'm beginning to lose - starting with a fire-hot scratch in my throat that leaves me voiceless in the morning, and refuses to be soothed.

(Andel is very concerned about this: not only does it coincide with my teaching practice - which, according to my supervising educational facility, does not afford me the privilege of sick leave - more importantly, in my my other job (the role of mother) I don't quality for this benefit at all. As he reminded me last night, I "haven't been sick once since Zac was born; please don't start now".)

Fortunately teaching here at Wynberg Boys High School is very pleasant. It's so cleverly run, and productive. I'm really enjoying my time here. Except for this one small thing. There is a fellow student teacher who talks quite a bit. She insists on chatting to me every opportunity she gets (which is at least four or five times a day). She talks and talks and talks. About everything. Continuously.
I'm sure, being a young student she's just very enthusiastic. Still, at the end of the school day even my ears are exhausted!

Thankfully, through all of this, while I  may have lost my mind some, I have not yet lost my sense of humour, and I am hanging in there. Just about!

Friday, 5 July 2013

Knysna Cycle Tour Weekend - Photo Update

It's Friday morning, and as I'm painstakingly loading these pics (one at a time, because that's the only way they'll load) I'm thinking back to last week, and our extended weekend along the Garden Route for the Knysna Cycle Tour.

On Friday morning, way before the sun came up, 8 adults, 4 children, 4 bicycles, 2 cars and a trailer set off from Newmans Avenue along the N2 towards Victoria Bay. Annie and Natasha had decided not to come - Annie to fulfill some dancing commitments and 'avoid family drama', and Natasha in favour of a weekend away with her friend. In their place, we got Brendan, (originally) my friend, (now also) Andel's cycling partner, and a fast-becoming fully fledged member of the extended Hendricks family.

Getting packed
All bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, at 05h00 in the morning!
The newbie gets to do the work
So how long is this trip supposed to take?
Breakfast at Wimpy in Heidelberg
"Hey Pinky, are you thinking what I'm thinking? ..."

We arrived at Carmel in Victoria Bay just before noon. Once we'd checked in and unpacked, we all snuggled into the green bus, and head to Knysna to allow the Andel, Brendan, Pops and Ash to register for their race - and to stock up on supplies for the weekend.

Our home for the weekend
When the boys aren't close Jorj still gets a carry

I'll wait here in the car with my Yaya, thanks
Ethan has the same idea - wake me when we're moved in
More than enough room for this brood

The exquisite view over Victoria Bay

On Saturday, after a late and lazy breakfast, we took a drive into George before returning to enjoy the facilities at Carmel. We spent the afternoon on the tennis court and in the park, enjoying the warm winter sun and beautiful surroundings.

Jorja and I making breakfast for the famiglia
Matthew practicing rolling over, while waiting for breakfast
Tennis doubles: PJ and Brendan vs. Papu and Andel
Aunty Dom teaching Ethan how to see-saw
Yaya and Matthew enjoying some sun

Jorja and Ethan baking tea-time treats in the sand
Don't mind me - I'm just going to enjoy my bottle so long
Where's he? There he is!
That tennis must have been really exhausting!

Sunday morning for the cyclists started with a healthy breakfast and some possibly not-so-healthy concoctions. By 07h00 they were on the road to Knysna. The rest of us were left with a child each (all 4 years old or younger), house in disarray, and nursery rhyme dvd on repeat. I think we spent most of the morning trying to protect Matthew from some rather rough hugs and kisses from Ethan and Zac! We later drove down to Knysna and were able to catch Pops and Ash on the road just before they finished. In celebration of a really good race for everyone, we threw a braai feast!
(Even the most ardent red-meat fan experienced the effects of a slight hangover the next day!)

Ash eating the breakfast of champions

Of course Zac had to wake up to say goodbye
As did Ethan...
... and Matthew...
... and Jorja!
Ready to ride
Taking the kids on a stroll to pass some time
Like father like son!
Babysitter in training

Meanwhile, back at the ranch: Where'd everyone go?
When all else fails - resort to interactive edutainment *blush*
Ash and Papu on the home-straight
 So proud of their Mommy; even happier to see her!
Is this where Daddy was all morning?!
 Our champion cyclists - team JABA
(and boy do they!)
Preparing the post-race feast
Rob and Dom cycle?! Imagine!

On Monday, after a tractor ride and some breakfast, we packed up and started on the journey home.

Two mommies and three nervous kiddies board the tractor
Feeding the ducks and geese
Picnic takeaways for lunch on the road

It was rather sad to be leaving so soon, where there was still so much to do and see, but we had a good time, and I'm sure we'll be back there next year!

PJ wondering if we have to bring Bren back :)