Wednesday, 30 July 2014

The Waiting Game

Patience is not my strong point. I'm the kind of person who when I want or need something done, expect it done now - or at the very least, sooner rather than later (now is better though). So you can imagine my frustration by the fact that we have been house-hunting for over three years, and are still no closer to a forever home.

When we first started searching the property pages, it was because it was the done thing. We were approaching out first wedding anniversary, and had been asked to move out of the flat we were renting because it had been sold to someone who wanted to live in. We thought instead of renting again we would try to buy. It was one of those things I was supposed to have ticked off my list by the age of 28. We didn't find anything right then, and seeing as though we had to move somewhere, we rented a new place. Our current place.

The following year we started looking again. We had just found out I was pregnant with Zac, and we wanted to give our child roots (as though roots can only be established by a bond - the mortgage type). I wanted a nursery to decorate without having to consider what the landlord would think or whether or not it could be undone later, and a garden we could invest in, plant herbs in, and set play things up in.

By the time Zac was due we were no closer to finding a new home. By that point I was secretly grateful. The thought of having to move house at 30-anything weeks' pregnant was not appealing, and I thought we'd get something soon enough. Well, it took a little longer than that. Despite our best efforts to save on the stair gate by buying a house (I know, it makes no sense), by Zac's first birthday he was expertly navigating the stairs, up and down without a single incident. Still in our current place.

Fast forward to the present and we are still looking for that forever home with the nursery (ok, now it's a big boy room - but it's the same principle), the garden, and some extra things (like room for Andel's cycling paraphernalia currently sharing a room with Zac).

We've sent countless house enquiries, and honestly have probably viewed close to 100 houses. I didn't keep count. I genuinely didn't think it would take this long. Truthfully, I'm tired of this: of looking, and offering, and waiting, and starting all over again. Sometimes I really feel like we're never going to move out (up?) into a place that we can call ours. It's hard to remain positive.

But I have to remember that I have a Father who knows my name and my needs. Each time we think we've lost out on the perfect house for us - be it because of price, other offers, or dodgy agents - a couple houses later God shows us something better. And when I'm thinking clearly, I know that I have already experienced first hand that you don't need a bond to grow roots, or a house to build a home.

When I next complain about the latest house-related disappointment, please feel free to remind me of that...

Saturday, 26 July 2014

The Case for the Working Mother

Earlier in the month, I found myself at home with Zac for a mammoth 11-day stint (ordinarily this would not be the case, but Bonny Babies was closed the week after we were away, and I happened to be at home before starting a new job). I was just.about.coping.

To give you some perspective, let me explain something: I'm a working mom - the full time kind. I'm pretty much the polar opposite of the domestic goddess type mom. I returned to work the day we celebrated Zac's 13 week existence. I could blame it on the unpaid leave, or the start of the new academic term, but the truth is - even if there were none of that - I would have gone back to work eventually - probably sooner rather than later (you can read more about it here).

Phew, that felt good to say out loud! You see, as if general motherhood pressure wasn't enough, there's a special, additional kind reserved for the working varietal. For some reason, it's assumed that, were all things considered equal, every mother would want to be home with her children. And for some of us that's just not the case.

Please don't get me wrong (and I'm sure I speak for all the working mothers here): it's not that we don't like being with our children. On the contrary: we love them as much as the stay-at-home mothers do. Some of us (and here I speak for myself) are just better mothers when we are sane. And sometimes sanity comes at the expense of being employed. So here are my three favourite not-so-serious arguments for me as a working mother:

1. The Contribution to Industry
Not only are working mothers a vital part of the industries in which they work, let's be honest, without them, there would also be no childcare industry, which, based on the school fees I'm paying, is a booming one! I'm very fortunate to have my mom run a day care so I have the added peace of mind that while Zac is learning about himself and his surroundings, he's in the best possible care available. The best.

2. The Contribution to Society
They won't say so to your face (because no one wants to cheese off a new mother) but the world is grateful for opportunities to engage in some adult only environments where you don't have to worry about uncovered plugs, stinky nappy changes, and suitable places to breastfeed. Really, I think mothers are too. As much as I love the label of being 'Zac's mom', it is nice for someone to notice me in the room too. And let's be honest: more often than not, this is where we educate the rest of the world on child related things (like plug covers, nappy changes, and suitable places to breastfeed).

3. The Contribution to Procreation
I'm beginning to really believe that were all mothers at home with their kids every day, especially those of us who are not naturally wired to work that way, the future of the human race would be at risk. Some of us really need that break so that we can be fully present and energetic when we have that sweet reunion with our little ones. Ask any working mom when they dream of having more children - it's while they're at work, oblivious to the havoc their children are causing at daycare!

Seriously though: the key is balance. I never said being a working mom is easy, and unfortunately right now with increasing costs and all, many of us don't have the option not to work, but whatever your situation - you don't have to feel bad about it! Somehow the moment you see those two lines on the pee-stick, there is this miraculous, amazing increased capacity to love and care and provide for your children, and if you can do that, I reckon you're doing a fantastic job!

Friday, 25 July 2014

Catch Up

Things have been a little busy these past two weeks, and I've not had very much time to blog. I should have known when I posted so many posts in the week before, that there would be a bit of a drought thereafter. Anyway, I'm back up and running, and will fill you in the the latest happenings.

So July has come and gone in a whirlwind of activity and general busyness! As you all know, I finished up at eta College at the end of June, and was very fortunate to be able to start my new job with two weeks' holiday! During that time we braved the cold in Knysna to enjoy the Oyster Festival and, in particular, support Papu, Andel, Brendan and Bernil in the cycle race.

The week that followed was pretty daunting. I was a stay at home mom to a very energetic, adventure-seeking two year old. It was a wonderful time of bonding for Zac and me. I don't think I realised how much about what he can do I didn't really know, and it was awesome to find out first hand. The mornings spent lazing in bed, and our afternoons out were a real treat. I know that were I not forced to actually relax, I would not have. Of course though, I got absolutely nothing done. Thankfully there is a season for everything, and when Zac went back to daycare, my productivity returned.

Sunshine and snuggles

I spent most of last week preparing for my move to the International School of Cape Town where I now work as the Head of Sport and teach PE. I met all the staff and renewed my First Aid qualification - all before the term even started. Since the students arrived on Monday it's been full steam ahead, and although I have tons to catch up on and figure out (admin and inventory are not my friends right now), I've had a good week.

The very picturesque ISCT

Very sadly, last week I lost a good school friend of mine. It was sudden, unexpected and unexplained, and I really struggled to accept and deal with it. His memorial this week was beautiful though: simple, honest and full of love, and graciously, God has given me (and the other friends and family) some peace. I am so acutely aware of how distanced we have become as human beings - we'd rather text/mail than speak face to face; send virtual hugs instead of making human contact. This friend leaves behind loved ones, including a young son (younger than Zac). It just reminds me to be grateful for, and make the most of, who and what I have right now.

Carl, I'll forever remember you just like this

Thankfully today is Friday. After a week of 06h15 wake up calls (forgive me, this is new. I was so spoilt at my previous job where I only woke an hour later), 07h30 meetings, and three nights where Zac woke between 03h30 and 04h40 exclaiming "Mama, I no more shleep" (we were not impressed), I am really looking forward to a weekend of R&R (punctuated by laundry and other motherly things, I'm sure). And hopefully next week, I have myself more together, and can blog more consistently. Hopefully.

ps. And, to my surprise just now when I went to get my weekly dose of blog reading, look what I found...
Have a good weekend all!

Sunday, 13 July 2014

It's Just a Game - or is it?

Despite Bafana Bafana not qualifying for this year's Soccer World Cup, South Africa has still enjoyed a good dose of World Cup Fever. In fact, most individuals I know are in some type of World Cup competition hosted by their work places and/or set up online.

In my immediate circle we have two scenarios: Competition A is an 'adopt-a-nation' approach where at the start of the competition people randomly draw one of the 32 participating countries, and pray they stay in the competition long enough to earn one of the top three prizes. In competition B everyone's neutral, but each match has to be predicted with points awarded for the correct winner, correct points margin, and correct score, and at the end of the competition, the person on the top of the leader board wins the pot.

Competition A has been going well, without major input - I mean, your team either wins or they don't, you don't really have anything to do with it, you know. Competition B is something altogether different though, and lately, our entire family has got in on competition B, and boy has it brought a few things to light. For instance: democracy is not necessarily the most scientific way to decide a prediction; sometimes the least likely score is the right one; and, even the least ardent soccer fan can throw a hell of a tantrum when their team loses (or worse - you used the wrong prediction, thanks to that democracy rule).

However the most horrific is my latest self discovery: It appears I am seriously competitive. I mean over the top competitive, in the worst way - the silent, plotting, statistical way. And if this weren't a bad enough conclusion, I also have some very big control and people pleasing issues. For real!

I can understand how people get addicted to this: fuelling man's inexplicable to need to be in control, to determine his own destiny, and feel like he's made it. I have found myself mulling over soccer statistics and checking out betting sites, all in an attempt to outwit the other players in the pool to get 'us' to the top of the leader board. And when it hasn't gone right (like forgetting three fixtures along the way, making a miscalculation in the points, or allowing empathy or democracy to determine a prediction), I've taken it like a personal train smash! I can genuinely recognise some disappointment (in myself, and on the behalf of others), frustration, anxiety and perfectionism. And all for a game?!

Fortunately, when the final whistle blows tonight, it will all be over, and no one (in my circle) would have won or lost anything significant. I bet by next month no one will even remember all this. But as this can be a parallel to life, let's just say I'm happy to have seen these 'character warnings' in this fantasy setting - I have a few years to iron them out before the next one *wink wink*!

For the record: my money's on Germany tonight!

Friday, 11 July 2014

Home with Mom - Green Point Park

If it weren't for the fact that I've seen pictures and aftermath of the damage done by the storm that passed through Cape Town last weekend, I would believe it. The weather this week has been perfect: lots of sunshine, no wind, and reasonable temperatures - and seeing as though there is another cold front forecast for this weekend, Dom and I decided to take the boys to Green Point Urban Park today.

The beautiful Cape Town winter weather - my favourite!

Zac, aunty Dom and Matthew

We know the way to the park

The way these two were shrieking you'd swear
they'd never been on a swing before!

Here they'd forgotten they can actually WALK across!

Peak-a-boo, I see you

Playing hide-and-seek
Happy boy xx
It was so funny watching them trying to navigate
these ropes with their little feet!

Zac's favourite part: the slide down

Daredevil Matt - the only way he comes down!

Given these boys are 18 and 24 months old, realistically an outing can only last two or three hours before someone needs a nappy change, meal/bottle or a nap! So after a good time in the park we stopped off to get some groceries and some lunch, and then head off home - just in time for that nap!

Blogging 101

Hip hip hooray! This post marks the 101st blog entry at Catching Up with the Klaasens - and my, how these entries have changed. It's been amazing for me to note that, this year so far, I have put up more posts than I did in my best blogging year to date (2011 - and you can thank our trip to the UK for that). Either I have a lot more to say, or we're just getting better at documenting it! Whatever the reason, I thought we'd start a little centenary tradition, and start every new 100 posts with a bit of a catch up on all the things this blog is supposed to be about!

I'm learning to be happier. It's not that I wasn't happy before, I think I've just always been so busy trying to be happier/better/richer, that I've not always enjoyed where I was at the time. I'm pleased to say that I'm getting better at this. Soli Deo Gloria!

Based on the posts, you'd be forgiven for thinking that I cannot hold down a job. The truth is simply that, as life has changed, so my work has changed. I started the blog as I started my freelance work as a Personal Trainer and consultant. A year later, I was working full time in the gym industry as a product trainer and franchise consultant. Then, just after I found out I was pregnant with Zac I left for a lecturer post at a private fitness college, and I'm a week away from starting my new position as Head of Sport with a local school. Andel is still in the health and wellness industry as a General Manager. He definitely has a higher long-suffering tolerance level than I do!

The soundtrack to our lives right now is anything by AJ Jenkins or African Treehouse - yes, you guessed it: kiddies' songs! Zac does love other music too though: most notably Pentatonix, P!nk, Pitbull and John Legend. I kid you not! On a personal note: I have been threatening to record an album for longer than this blog has been around. We've spoken to the people involved a couple times. Most recently (well, last year) we started planning, like for real, but I have yet to do more than the one demo I did earlier this year. To be honest, as much as I would like to this this as a personal bucket list item, I'm not sure that's a good enough reason to warrant the expense, work, follow up etc. I'll think about it some more!

I'm no Barefoot Contessa, but I have managed to up my game in the kitchen. Truthfully, that probably has everything to do with having two hungry mouths to feed, and absolutely nothing to do with the blog, but it helps that somebody's watching. I've been on my own version of Paleo eating for a few years (less harsh than Noakes' - some would call me undisciplined), and Andel started this year with amazing results (him yes, me not so much).

Apart from our trip to the UK and our little getaway cruise, we haven't really been on any other big travel adventures. I guess as this stage of our lives though, what with us being parents and all, every day is an adventure, right? Seriously, we try to appreciate the little things, and have spent increasingly more time enjoying all the little treasures Cape Town and South Africa has to offer.

Our family has grown since we started the blog. We now have little Zac James added to the mix. Much to Andel's disappointment, we still have no fur-babies (I think I was hoping we'd have more human babies by now). Our home has also changed once. We moved out of our little flat in Plumstead in November 2010, and have been in our cosy family duplex in Kenilworth for nearly four years.

The whole purpose of this blog is to create and record memories, and it's been such a great platform so far. Some of my favourites include: our travel diary, birthdays and weddings, family celebrations and getaways, and our time with family and friends. Of course things haven't always been all fun and games: we've had to say goodbye to loved ones, have been in places I'd rather not be (like hospital), and have had our fair share of life lessons learnt along the way - but these memories are also special: they remind me of God's grace and provision and sovereignty, and that's something I want others to be able to bear witness to.

The majority of our play at the moment is sport - and it's Andel who's doing the bulk of it. If he's not playing rugby, he's cycling - and that takes us pretty much through the entire year. He's even got Zac into it, so I'm making peace with the fact that I'll probably be a WAG/Soccer Mom for the rest of my life!

At the moment we are trusting God for our forever home, more children (Andel and I are still debating just how many) and a family holiday to the UK at the end of the year. Our trip to the Grahams in Ireland is long overdue, and we have a little man to introduce to my family in England.

We have laughed plenty. These days we're mostly laughing with each other, at each other: from lame jokes to children's rhymes and bizarre situations (some too embarrassing to even post on here) it seems wherever there is family, there is laughter!

And everything else...

Talk about taking a walk down memory lane! I sincerely hope it doesn't take another three+ years for me to post the next hundred entries - this has been quite a mission to remember everything!

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Home with Mom - Kalk Bay Harbour

Following the move from my old job to the new one, I was blessed to have two weeks' leave before the start of the new term. Over this same time Bonny Babies decided to close for a week, giving the staff some much needed rest. So as a result, Zac and I have a week at home together.

After reaching my fill of Finding Nemo and Budgie the Little Helicopter before 10h00 I knew Zac and I would need more than a walk to the park around the block to keep us occupied today. Fortunately Papu and Yaya came to the rescue. We decided to take advantage of the sunny winter weather, pick up Gramps George, and take a drive along the coast to Kalk Bay.

There's something so beautifully quirky about Kalk Bay. I love walking through there on summer's mornings when the sun is still making its way into the sky, and people are only starting to wake up. Much to my surprise, even though it's holiday time at the moment, it was relatively quiet today, so it was the perfect spot to stop for some fish and chips - and what better place to stop than the legendary Kalky's.

Biscuit Treats in the Bus

Some beautiful art work on display at the Harbour

Watching the seals with great-gramps George

A family of seals

Exploring with Yaya

So, let me just ask: is it possible that I have lived in Cape Town nearly all my life, and never been to Kalky's? I'm hoping that perhaps it's just been a while, and I can't remember...

Papu enjoying the fish and chips

Zac and Matthew were fascinated and entertained by the little boats, industrious fisherman, and playful seals, and gave us a run for our money, threatening to go for a swim! They had such a good afternoon I was sure they'd been keen for a nap as soon as we got home. Well, it didn't happen quite as soon as I'd hoped, but eventually Zac had his nap - with Mommy right along with him! Now that's a holiday day!

Noooo, I no wanna shleep

Ok, maybe just for a little while

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Knysna Cycle Tour Photo Update - it's nice, ne!

Excuse the daddy joke title - if you read the post, you'll see it's been quite a busy weekend, and my brain (if I still have one) is probably frozen solid.

This past weekend marked the start of the Knysna Oyster Festival and all the sporting events that come along with it. It also meant that we'd be taking our annual trip to the little south coast town for the Momentum Weekend Argus Rotary Knysna Cycle Tour.

Early on Friday morning, we rocked up at Papu and Yaya's house to set off on our trip. We were a good couple people short on last year's party what with the duPs in America, and the Hendricks girls having other commitments in Cape Town, so we all climbed into the green bus and set off: Papu, Andel, Brendan, Adair, Zac and me.

05h00 bike set up for 06h00 departure

Some of us were still very much asleep...

... others were wide awake

Sleeping on the way

Him too

Zac opted to read rather

Group Play music courtesy of Samsung

Safely at Lake Brenton in warm weather!

Unpacking and settling in

We spent most of Friday and Saturday in and around Knysna enjoying some of the non-cycling festivities as well, including indulging in some yummy oysters.

The breakfast table

Zac ready to take the plunge into Andel's plate

Look who we met at the Expo - Gabbi!

Sunday was race day: Andel and Brendan started their 100km race of death at 08h00, Papu started his 50km race at 08h30, and Zac started his 500m race at 10h00. While this kept Adair and me very busy, it did mean we were able to see everyone off, and see them back in.

Ready to hit the road

Brendan getting ready

Zac getting ready

Offloading all the bicycles

Bernil getting ready

Adair doing some cheerleading

Papu ready to roll

Zac carbo-loading before his race

Some of the activities for the kids

Riding to the start line

The long wait before the whistle

At the finish waiting for the big boys

Monday was recovery day - and Adair's birthday - so we had a leisurely morning before hitting the road for the long drive home.

While a weekend away is always a welcome break from our normal routine, I must say that adding a toddler to the mix of an already very full weekend, without very many non-cycling hands, is something I need to recover from when I get home again!

(I will continue adding pics to this post as I am able to)