Friday, 21 November 2014

The Big Five & The Eatery

Looking back, nothing about this past year has been coincidental. In Biblical numerics (I hope I haven't gotten that wrong like astronomy and astrology!) the number five represents grace, and as I reflect on five years of marriage, the last 12 months have been all about grace. You just need to take a look at the blog posts and you'll see.

21 November 2009 - we look so young!

As is customary each November, Andel and I try to celebrate our anniversary traditionally. In the past it's been relatively easy (as explained in last year's post), but this year - wood - was not! What can you do/get with that?! And just when we thought of the perfect thing (a rocking chair - so cool!) - we saw the price!

So we had to improvise. A lot. Still, given our current circumstances, just to have the chance to hang out together without children, bicycles and other distractions was pretty amazing!

It's actually our anniversary today, but considering that Andel is already on his way to Swellendam to participate in the Coronation Double Century team race tomorrow morning, we did a little pre-anniversary celebrating last night.

In light of the 'wood' theme we considered a few places including Asoka Bar (with a huge tree growing in the middle of the place) and Trees Restaurant, but in the end, after stumbling across the place just yesterday afternoon, we decided to venture outside of the places we knew, and try out The Eatery. We were not disappointed!

The Eatery - 70 Constantia Road, Wynberg
Photo courtesy of The Eatery

The Eatery opened just last Saturday. It's a quaint, simple little restaurant with minimalistic design and these homely wooden (see the wood?) tables. The make all their food on a wood (see it again?) fired grill, and pride themselves on producing fresh, wholesome and dare I say healthy food. I'm not absolutely certain, but from what I can tell by the food, it seems they are linked to Eat Out The Box (probably my favourite take out place), which is right next door. They are (currently? permanently? I'm not sure) unlicensed so they don't sell any liquor, but they encourage you to bring your own, and don't charge any corkage fees or anything like that.

So we decided to share the Piggy Popper starter. We were warned that it was hot - and boy, was it - but it was also absolutely mouth watering: JalapeƱo peppers stuffed with mozzarella cheese, wrapped in streaky bacon, served with a sweet cranberry dipping sauce.

Mouthwateringly hot and heavenly!

We then quickly got into the mains. Andel had the sirloin in a wet rub of extra virgin olive oil, fresh rosemary, fresh thyme, Dijon mustard, salt and freshly cracked black pepper. He went traditional and took a side of chips with it. I decided to try the vegetarian special for the day: black mushroom grilled on a wood fire served on cauliflower mash with grilled seasonal veggies and a chimichurri sauce. Divine!

Andel's portion more than it looks - bad angle, sorry!
Photo courtesy of The Eatery

As we had opted for an early dinner, we decided not to do dessert at The Eatery (not that the options weren't very tempting), and instead take a drive around the peninsula. We got to see the last little bits of sunset as we passed by Hout Bay, and were welcomed into Town by the bright city lights. Still quite full-bellied from our dinner, we opted to get milkshakes at Fire and Ice Hotel instead of dessert.

Ferrero Roche for me, and Lindt Chocolate for Andel

So in the end, I guess you could say we got some of the wood we wanted. More importantly though, we got to celebrate the last five years. Ours is a marriage that is far from perfect (that's a given when you have two very imperfect people in it). We've not had an issue-free, smooth ride all along. But we've had a lot of grace, and God's protected and provided for us, and for that we are most grateful.

Andel, you are such a blessing to me: an amazing husband and doting father. I love that you know me - my strengths and my faults - and still love me. You are my hero, my companion, my helpmate and my friend. May God bless us with many more years together. Ti amero per sempre.

The Eatery is currently having a promotion where for November, if you quote "Eat Out The Box" when booking, you get 20% off your bill. Check out Go try it - you won't be sorry!

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Half Way Here (second time around)

I distinctly remember writing this post with Peanut (Zac) so I guess it's only fair that I do the same with Button.

I can't believe that Button and I are nearly at the end of our 20th week together. That's half way already! They say everything happens faster than the time before, so I guess it does makes some sense that I feel this has caught me by surprise a little.

So much has happened since we first found out about our little miracle in August. Admittedly a lot of that time I've spent trying to limit my excitement, and wait out all the worry phases (it's dumb, I know, but I just couldn't help it) so you can imagine how I breathed a huge sigh of relief when I first saw and heard our baby on screen.

Our first glimpse of Button around 9 weeks

Since then, it's all been pretty plain sailing. I first felt movement around week 16, but it was so faint and irregular that by week 18 I was sure that I'd just imagined those first flutterings. But now, as with Zac, I'm feeling plenty movement, strangely enough, in a similar pattern to what I did with Zac (another night-owl, it seems). It's amazing how that movement (and a belly growing at an alarming rate) can make everything seem so much more... real.

In terms of any planning, we literally have not done a single thing - except start preparing Zac for the new addition. I often get asked how Zac's coping with everything, and to be honest, I don't know; I'm not sure how much he really understands. We've told him he's going to be a big brother next year - but who knows what that translates to, to a two-year-old. I do know though that he knows Button is in my belly (although perhaps he's confused by my bellybutton), and that he lovingly hugs and kisses my bump when asked to. I don't think we could ask for more than that right now. We're all in this learning curve together: us trying to balance speaking about the new baby with giving Zac loads of undivided attention, and he beginning to deal with the new limitations, like not being carried or held on my lap as much.

A preview of the belly

So next on the agenda, next week, we have the big 21 week scan and a final check up before we head off to the UK for a month. It was at this scan last time that we found out Zac's gender, so - who knows - perhaps the next baby blog-post will involve a big reveal... You'll have to wait and see!

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Props to the Imperfect Parent

I know it's completely uncool to give yourself a proverbial pat on the back, especially on a platform as public as a family blog. Still, after a week of some pretty thought-provoking experiences both professionally and personally, I thought it would be appropriate to send this shout-out to Andel, myself and every other parent who fits this bill.

Dear Imperfect Parent

I just want to thank and commend you on the good job you're doing as a parent to your kid/s.

I spend a lot of time with kids who have everything. They live in these mansions with their hearts every desire met in it. They have access to the latest, coolest clothes, accessories and electronics. They holiday all over the world for no good reason. Hell, most of these kids personally have more money than we do. But the one thing that some of them lack, severely, is respect and compassion.

You may not be able to give your kids all the things they - and you - would like to have. You, like us, may not yet have our own home. Overseas - or any - holidays may be few and far between. I know this one we're going on may be the last for a long while - and who knows how much of it Zac will even remember when he's older. Your kids may continue to get hand-me-down clothing, shoes and toys. But they have a lot of love, and they're getting discipline and sound values. And at the end of the day, they're going to be more functional units of society than most of the other kids I mentioned.

We are far from perfect, both as people and as parents, and still, by the grace of God, our kids are well adjusted little people we can be proud of, and who understand that there are consequences to decisions - that don't define us, but that help to shape us.

I think you're doing an amazing job, and I just wanted to let you know. Well done!
(Andel, I love you, and I'm so glad we're going another round together)

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Hair Cuts And Other Things That Give Me Buyer's Remorse

To be fair, as my sister pointed out to me recently, most things give us buyer's remorse, so perhaps a list like this is a little redundant. Still, I think it's rather interesting to investigate the strange phenomenon that is, "Buyer's Remorse".

According to Wikipedia (not ordinarily my go-to source, but I quite like this explanation):
Buyer's remorse is the sense of regret after having made a purchase (or in my case, even a decision). It is frequently associated with the purchase of an expensive item such as a car or house. It may stem from fear of making the wrong choice, guilt over extravagance, or a suspicion of having been overly influenced by the seller.

 So what are my current top 3 buyer's remorse items? In no particular order:

Hair Cuts
I can think back to possibly every hair cut I've had my whole life, and nearly all of them would count. As I've mentioned before, I have a long history of love-hate relationships with hair stylists, and a lot of the time (too much of the time) the style I end up leaving the salon with is not quite the picture I had in mind when I walked in. I sometimes wonder if I made a bad choice - in hair style and stylist (and if in hair style, why didn't someone say something?). I always wonder if perhaps I didn't explain myself properly. I know hair grows back. I also know that there have been times I've needed the cut. Still, I can't shake that nagging feeling of regret.
Kind of what my hair was meant to look like...

What my hair really looks like...

Down Scaling
So technically this is anti-buyer's remorse, but it's kind of the same principle - to me, anyway. There have been a couple of 'events' in my life that I decided to celebrate in a pretty low-key manner (the biggest of these being: our wedding and a couple big birthdays). Similarly, when faced with choices (like holidays and baby things) we've often chosen more basic, sometimes cheaper options. And while I've never been unhappy with the result, per se, I have sometimes wished that we'd been braver, gone bigger and made more of a hoo-ha about it. I guess the up side of this 'anti-buyer's remorse' is that some of these things we can do over - perhaps not a wedding reception (we decided on a cocktail party), but certainly a few other things (and at least we didn't really waste any money!).

Kind of what our wedding was meant to look like...

What our wedding really looked like...

My Tattoo
Now before I hear a collective chorus of "I told you so", let me clarify: I do not regret getting my tattoo! I simply wish I had stuck to the original design. I got my tattoo last year, after years of knowing exactly what I wanted. Which is probably why, today, I still can't fathom why it doesn't look a thing like that exact design. I mean, I know what happened on the day, I just don't know how I got caught up in the artist's excitement and basically let her give me a tattoo that she wanted to give me, as opposed to what had asked her to give me. I think the hardest part about this one is that it can't be fixed - it won't grow back like hair; I won't get a do-over (by the way, if it were possible to just remove this one and have it redone - at no/minimal cost, I think I would have done it) - and as much as I love the sentiment behind my tattoo, I'll always wish I felt more pleased with it in the end.

Kind of what my tattoo was meant to look like...

What my tattoo really looks like...

I reckon there's a lesson or two for me in all of this though. Considering the consequences of ones choices would be an obvious one. Even more than that though, I am learning that life is not perfect, and neither are we. To think that we have arrived, or that we can navigate our lives flawlessly is simply prideful. We do and will continue to mess up and make poor decisions - and sometimes they'll haunt us (some longer than others) - but God's grace covers the extraordinary and the everyday. And it can certainly cover all of me!

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Lessons I'm Learning From My Husband

Despite the limited amount of time Andel has spent at home these last few months (we can thank this cycling schedule for that), over the last few weeks the quality of our time at home together has been really good, and in the thick of everything I am learning some pretty interesting things, like these three, for a start:

The Attraction Factor of a Good Daddy
I've always been drawn to those images of hands-on dads playing with a good handful of (his) beautiful children, but seriously, nothing comes close to the explosion of love in my heart when I see (or hear) Andel with Zac. Just recently I was preparing work lunches while Andel was bathing Zac, and I had the pleasure of listening in on their unique interaction. They laughed and splashed, and had a full-on proper conversation. And when I reached the bedroom soon after and found Zac lying across Andel's lap having his hair dried and ears cleaned, it made me warm and fuzzy all over. There is nothing more attractive than the selfless love a daddy has for his child, in action. Yay for me choosing to have another kid with this baby daddy!

This one melts me every time - and she's not even ours!

My beautiful boys

It's Never Too Late To Start Something New
The way Andel's been cycling you'd be forgiven for thinking he's been doing this his whole life. The truth is: he only started cycling in 2012. On impulse (and in cahoots with a friend) he bought a mountain bike, got a free entry into the Argus Cycle Tour, and started training. And he's never looked back, really. Less than three years later, he has exchanged his mountain for a roadie, and is preparing for a 202km race that is no joke. Not only is he loving it, he's doing (and looking) great! It reminds me that all the things I've put off thinking I'm too late (or too old) to do, I can probably still give a good go, if I just put my mind to it and do it.

Winter training with Bernil

One third of the 2014 DC team

Live Like Money Isn't An Option
This is not something I'm naturally wired to do. I'm frugal in my budgeting, often to the point of worry, and I'm a planner, so nothing goes unaccounted for. I used to think this was a responsible way to live, but now I sometimes wonder if this is any way to live. Andel is teaching me to balance this. I want to say he spends with reckless abandon, but that's not entirely true. He simply spends on what he enjoys, and then enjoys what he spends. While this is still a very new experience for me, and we still don't spend what we don't have, I am starting to really enjoy what we have and what we choose to spend our money on - like our pending trip to the UK.

Ireland 2011

London 2011

Who said you can't teach this old dog new tricks?