Hello 2014

I’m definitely not superstitious, but I’m starting to think that there is something to this “unlucky number thirteen” thing.

In a lot of respects 2013 was indeed a pretty unlucky year. There were many health challenges in my close family / friends. My dad was hospitalized in ICU for over a week with pneumonia and had to have a potentially dangerous hernia repaired and my mother in law broke both her arms at the same time.  Two of my close friends were diagnosed with breast cancer and had to have double mastectomies. Another friend had a cancerous tumour in her brain removed. Two friends lost their fathers, and another their brother. And not to forget the mother of all health scares: Gary’s cancerous kidney that now lives in a lab somewhere. Not only were there medical issues, but relationships ended too: two close friends went through unpleasant divorces / breakups, and Craig broke up with his girlfriend of five years.

A nasty year all round.

I realise that this is starting to sound like the blog post of doom and gloom… Let’s just say that by the time December rolled around, we all NEEDED a holiday, to put it mildly!

So enough of that already!

2013 wasn’t all misery and sadness, and despite the hiccups along the way, it was also a pretty good year:

Caris turned two!

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Caris_two

We went to Mauritius for a very brilliant ten days at Club med!

family

Mauritius

Alex turned five!

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Alex lost his first tooth! (and his second!)

alex_tooth

I turned 40… but I’m not sure that is a good thing!

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We built a house! (which is pretty damn amazing, and the whole process went surprisingly smoothly)

house

Stuart got his Civil Engineering degree! (Had to steal this photo from his FB page, as he is currently in New Orleans partying it up – been there since November and didn’t go to his actual graduation)

stugrad

Craig finished his articles, and is now officially a qualified attorney!

craig and alex

So here’s to an amazing 2014. May it be prosperous, happy, and above all HEALTHY for everyone. (And here’s hoping I will find more time to blog this year!)

The place with the interesting things!

Spending the December holidays in Joey’s this year, meant we had to find things to do to keep our offspring busy (and stop us from losing our sanity and patience dealing with long faces and whining!)

So one sunny morning, we headed to New Town to check out Sci-Bono. I have overheard many moms raving about how cool it is, and have been told umpteen stories about fun birthday parties that have been attended there.

We arrived early, and pretty much had the place to ourselves for a while. To start off, Alex and Caris both had a go at kicking soccer balls into nets, and shooting balls at metal cut-out soccer players. We then moved through the exhibition, stopping at things that caught our interest. Alex absolutely loved the construction site simulation, and spent quite a while placing play bricks on a conveyor belt while donning his hard hat.

Alex’s favourite thing was a table that illustrated (if I remember correctly) a black hole, and he watched the spinning ball being sucked down into its vortex over and over again.

We spent a good few hours perusing the exhibits, only cutting our visit short because Caris was starting to get super grumpy as the time stretched further and further past nap time. In fairness, the centre is aimed at kids a little older than my two, but both of them seemed to be having a ball.

Alex keeps asking me “When are we going back to that place with the interesting things?”

Well worth a visit! (and next time I will take a proper camera and not just a Blackberry!)

Scibono 1 Scibono 2 Scibono 3 Scibono 4 Scibono 5 Scibono 6 Scibono 7

Holiday adventures … and one very grumpy baby

While Gary was away on his golf-trip-extraordinaire, I decided to brave a trip down to Ballito with the kids and my mom in tow. We left Joburg on (a rather chilly) Saturday morning, just after eight, with the car packed to the brim, the DVD players in place, Cars 2 queued and ready, and a forecast for better weather ahead.

In theory, Caris should have had her morning nap along the way, so we were all set to make it past Harrismith with my sanity in-tact, and we could stop somewhere for lunch around 12. The thing about theories, is that they seldom apply in actual reality, and Caris decided NOT to sleep, and was pretty grumpy by 10 o’clock. She whinged and whined and cried for the better part of an hour, refusing to take her beloved dummy or a toy or watch teletubbies on the in-car-entertainment-system. (Might I just add that this was completely out of character behaviour for her…) I could feel my blood pressure rising, and a dull headache had seated itself nicely behind my right eye.  At one point, I pulled over on the side of the road, decelerating from 130 to zero in what felt like a millisecond, to put her dummy back in her mouth (which she had thrown onto the floor in frustration, out of reach, a few moments earlier) and shout at her give her a stern talking to. I think she got such a fright, that she was stunned into being quiet for the next half an hour until we stopped for lunch. The second part of the journey was a little better, as she had a short nap, but she woke up about an hour before we got there (damn those noisy rumble strips on the roads at the toll gates) and the crying resumed for the last 45 minutes of the journey. I have never felt so stressed and freaked out in my life. I could see the newspaper headline in my mind’s eye: “SCREAMING BABY CAUSES WOMAN TO CRASH INTO BARRIER ON N3. 4 DEAD.”

Little did I know that this was just the start of a few NIGHTMARE days, as she was transformed from her usual chilled, happy-go-lucky, smiley self,  into a whiney, clingy, cries-every-time-I-put-her down, non-napping disaster. To say that Caris has been an easy baby from the word go, would be an under statement. She has been an incredibly easy baby. She eats well, sleeps well, and is generally of a happy disposition. I am that  mother who, somewhat smugly, says things like “my baby is the easiest baby on the planet”. So this little episode caught me completely off guard. I still do not know what was actually wrong with her, but I can say that the delightful (NOT) screeches and screams every time she did not want to be put down, went through my head like a jack-hammer. (Actually, a jack-hammer is probably a lot more pleasant.) I think my biceps have expanded by a few centimetres from constantly lifting her little 10KG body up. At one point, I even took her to the local GP, to see if she maybe had an ear infection or something nasty brewing that was making her so unhappy. There was nothing medically wrong, so I left the doctor’s rooms a few hundred Rand poorer, with my (still VERY) grumpy baby glued to my hip. Perhaps it was a combination of missing her daddy, her nanny, being out of her usual routine, and the very nasty molar that surfaced when we got back home; or perhaps it is the inevitable transition from a contented baby to a more demanding toddler. But thankfully she is mostly back to her usual self. (Although she does seem to be getting A LOT more vocal and frustrated if she doesn’t get her own way, and stomps her little feet and kicks her legs if you take something away from her. *SIGH* It seems that I may in fact have a TODDLER on my hands again… and just when Alex seems to be growing out of that crap nonsense. )

In between the clinginess and unsolicited crying, we did at least manage to go to the beach when the weather was nice, played on the jungle gyms in the afternoons, visited the Flag animal farm, and took a trip to the aquarium. Obviously. (Our usual holiday routine.) In typical Holiday Weather fashion, our last day was spent in a shopping centre due to heavy, unrelenting rain. We saw Madagascar 3, which was brilliant. Alex loved it, and Caris slept though it (!) so all was good with the world on our last day!

(… And despite the rather frustrating few days, Little Miss is just a bundle of cuteness at the moment. She is becoming more interactive and vocal by the day, and will point and gesticulate furiously at something she wants, particularly FOOD! She loves her new “Y-bike”, and was thrilled to have Alex push her around the house (VERY fast I may add!) She loves playing with cars and says “Brrrrrrrrr” as she crawls along pushing it as fast as her fingers will allow. The cutest, is when said car disappears under the table, bed or couch, and she gets down on her hands and knees, with her bum in the air, to have a look under the furniture to see where it went! I just love her to bits!)

Bon Voyage…

A golf trip that has been on the drawing board for almost two years, is finally a reality!

On Thursday night, Gary, his two brothers and a few friends leave for Scotland to indulge in a 10 day golfing adventure. No wives, no kids, no work or household duties.  Just eight guys, their golf clubs, a dedicated driver and a stash of Essentiale (for the non-golfing activities). They will be playing at the following courses: Carnoustie Championship, St Andrews Jubilee Course, St Andrews Old Course, Kingsbarns Course, Royal Troon Old Course and Turnberry Ailsa Course. In between the hectic golf schedule, they will be sleeping late, sight-seeing, eating at nice restaurants and no-doubt drinking lots of beer and scotch whisky!

Gary has been overseas more than twenty times in the eleven years that I have known him, so I am used to him travelling. But it is never without a lump in my throat as I wave goodbye through the departure gates.  I always spend the hours that he is out of contact with a knot in my stomach, waiting with bated breath for the sms from him to say that he has landed safely on the other side. I am sure that tomorrow will be no different. (To offer myself suitable distraction from the fact that he will be away for ten days, I am taking the kids to Ballito for a week. Provided the N3 has been re-opened by Saturday, given the heavy snowfall of late!)

Travel safely my love, and come home quickly, ‘cos I am missing you already! xx

Lazy Summer Days

We just got back from a short 5 day break at the coast. March, in my opinion, is one of the best times to go to KZN. The weather is still warm enough to swim and go to the beach, and the evenings are still warm enough to sit outside, but cool enough to sleep comfortably without the aircon blasting.

We had such amazing weather, sunshine all day, and little wind, barring one afternoon of rain, and one windy day. Alex had an absolute ball. He spent most of each day either on the beach, in the swimming pool, or playing (i.e. jumping around like a lunatic) in the jacuzzi. His swimming has improved hugely, and he can now swim 3 to 4 lengths of the big pool in the complex by himself, with water wings of course. (we are not quite ready to ditch those yet!) He has always hated getting his face wet, or putting his head under the water, but seems to be over that now. He had a little accident riding his “lightning mcqueen fast” little red motor-bike on the patio / balcony, by panelling head first into the balustrade. He split his head open, and there was lots of blood, as head wounds are wont to do, but luckily the bleeding stopped easily and he didn’t need any stitches. And it’s under his hair, which he has a lot of, so the scar won’t matter. An ice lolly (his new favourite thing) helped cool the bump on his head down, and cooled him down too.  (I spent most of my time in the flat, waiting for Caris to wake up from her naps, but that is par for the course being a mom… but on the plus side, Alex had some great bonding time with Daddy. But we did at least get to go to the beach) Don’t you love the ponytail?

We bought the flat in Ballito when Alex was a year old, so this place will always be filled with memories for us, of Alex (and Caris) growing up. The first time we saw the place with the estate agent, was a few day’s after Alex’s first birthday, and he was toddling along the side of the couches on the patio, his head not yet tall enough to look over the top.

As much as we love the flat, it can get a little noisy over the festive season and other holiday periods, which is when we are typically there, so when we were there in December / January just past, we looked at a piece of land, with the intention of building a stand alone house.  Our offer was accepted, and the transfer should be going through in the next few days. We met with our prospective architect and builder while we were there this week, and are excited to start building our dream holiday home in a few months time. Although the prospect is also somewhat scary …. building a house 600 odd kilometers away, and Gary and I are both control freaks … it is going to be an adventure of note! (and no doubt, a test of patience)

So this was probably the last holiday we will spend there, as the flat is now for sale. Both Gary and I felt as if we were packing up for the last time, as we made the flat look it’s best before we came home on Wednesday. We left with feelings of sadness and excitement at the same time. But by Easter next year (hopefully) we will have a brand-spanking-new house to look forward to, where we can continue building memories!