The times they are a changing

On the 10th of September we made a decision. A big decision. Not one that you make often, or in our case, one we have made together before. We are moving, and by moving I mean really moving, away from everything we have known and loved. January 2014 will see us leave the hustle and bustle that is Johannesburg to move into the quiet country town of White River in the Mpumalanga province.

But that’s not all, we will be moving onto the Uplands College school property into a staff house which is nestled in a valley overlooking a small dam. This is a first for you and me and will require some getting used to on our part but we are excited.

With all the important conversations had, key decisions made and a million and one thoughts now better aligned in our heads, I can finally put this all down. See, as much as I am excited I am also fearful. Scared of the change and the unknown.

For the first time I am going to be freelancing, giving me the opportunity to spend more time with you while you still want me around, letting me take a break from the rat race and providing a chance for me to explore new avenues.

We are also leaving our families that we love and share so much quality time with behind. I haven’t begun to contemplate the impact this will have on us, as it is just too big. Even writing this brings tears to my eyes. This wonderful network of people have had such massive role to play in helping to raise you. They have always been there to support us in so many ways and although they won’t be too far away in distance they will be in other ways.

The last, but certainly not least fear, is saying goodbye to our Connie. She has been your second Mom and a key member of our family for the last five years. She has seen us all at our best and worst, has guided us, helped us in so many ways but most of all has loved us, you most of all, just as much as we have loved her.

But the pros far out weigh the cons and the signs so far have all pointed to us having made the right decision. We have sold our house, Dad has got a promotion before he even started and I have some work lined up which will help to ease me in.

Most importantly though we are moving into the most beautiful area. A place where you will be able to go to a fantastic school, have your Mom and Dad close by and grow up surrounded by natural beauty in a secure environment.

Really what more could we ask for?

The great drain debacle

There is never a dull moment in our house and after a week of lots happening including travel to World Economic Forum, Bon Jovi concert, Gramps’ birthday, Mothers Day and Rayms spending two nights I was so looking forward to a quiet night at home but alas it was not to be!

Dad had not been out of the house for more than ten minutes when our showers started filling up with toilet water and fecal matter. Joy! Our normal plumber Paul was unavailable so off to Google it was to find a drain specialist. Thank goodness for the Drain Surgeon team who arrived within an hour of our SOS call.

Not only did they manage to fix the drain issues but John and his partner were so great in involving you. Letting you look inside their plumbing truck, showing you all the equipment and just generally taking all your ‘why’s?’ in their stride.

20130516-212030.jpg
The problem was that the main drain was blocked by roots from the tree on our driveway so they had to use the machine to clear the debris. You were so intrigued by what was happening and we had to stand and watch everything they were doing. The commentary around what was coming out of the blocked pipe was interesting with words disgusting and poo featuring prominently.

20130516-212131.jpg
You were also Mom’s helper running inside to turn the taps on and off, flushing loos and helping pack up tools when they were finished.

What an adventure! While Mom was finalising the invoice and getting the guys a well deserved cup of tea you made your way to your room. I found you in bed – dare I say it – completely pooped from all the excitement!

You were so precious. I told you I would be through to tell you a story once the plumber guys had finished their tea and I had let them out. You asked “Mom, why don’t they come sit by me in my room and talk?”

Precious boy.

A life unlived

I write this post with a heavy heart and as a departure from what up till now have been lighthearted stories about our journeys together, today’s is not.

On Saturday while away at Zebula, your Dad received a message from school to say that one of the matric boys had been in an armed robbery and was in hospital on life support. Given the level of crime we have come to live with on a daily basis we imagined the worst, fearing not only for the life of the boy but for the rest of his family.

Although we hear awful, heart breaking stories about senseless crimes all the time, we have, I think programmed ourselves to become immune in a way. I don’t believe that we would be able to continue our normal lives if we had to take in the pain and suffering of the inhumane acts that are committed.

For some reason, even though we weren’t close to the boy, his story touched us, and both Dad and I were awake in the early hours of the morning thinking of him and his family.

On Sunday evening we heard that in all likelihood his life support was to be turned off. There are two bullets lodged in his brain and there is no hope of recovery. We learnt too that his mother was killed in the robbery which took place at her offices. 

I cannot express in words how this tragedy affected us. 

The reason I am writing about this is because I held you close, breathed you in and thanked God for every precious moment I have with you praying a silent prayer that we would never have to face anything like it in our lives. You asked why I was crying and I explained that one of Daddy’s ‘boys’ had died telling you that he had been sick not wanting to expose you to the real truth.

This morning it was confirmed that they were awaiting his next of kin’s return from overseas to make a decision.

The senseless killing of this boy at the start of his journey into life shook me to the core. Here he was poised to become the man his family and school career had moulded him into and in a split second that was destroyed. No chance to become the father, doctor, community man, role model he was meant to be.

I hope that by the time you get to read this, the crime situation in this beautiful country of ours has improved and that we no longer have to live behind high walls fearful of the criminals who rob us of our freedom and our children’s futures.

I would like to call them animals but only humans are capable of inflicting senseless pain and suffering.

Our December getaway

So it’s already the 22nd of January and this is my first post of the year, yes it is a little late but truth be told it has been a conscious decision, a break from all technology, a self-induced time out if you like and I have to admit it was so worth it. Old school is cool!

We enjoyed our holiday so much as we had quality family time together. The curse of not having cellphone or Internet connectivity where we stayed turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

But enough of that. Let me fill you in on what we got up to.

Princes Grant

Oliver the dinosaur hatching from his egg
Oliver the dinosaur hatching from his egg

After the whirlwind of school closing, your big 4th birthday bash, the last minute dash to close off on everything at work, we left in the early hours of the morning on 15 December and headed down to Princes Grant on the Natal north coast. Here we spent almost two glorious weeks with Gagga, Grandad, Uncle Ryan, Aunty Jen, Aunty Kris, Uncle Quintin, Nathan and Gemma. Luckily the house we hired had six bedrooms and enough space for all of us to have our own space.

It was an absolutely spectacular setting with a deck that gave us a view of the lagoon, beach and golf course. There was a pool and jacuzzi which was a massive hit. But I think the two golf carts that came with the house were what caused the most excitement. We were so spoilt with fabulous weather and so lucky to have a Grandad who gave us this wonderful gift.

Asking Father Christmas nicely for a race car track
Asking Father Christmas nicely for a race car track

Highlights of our time there included: quality time with family, dam building on the beach, nature walks, loads of fun rides on the green golf cart, bum sliding down the dunes, hours of canasta and backgammon, golf for Dad and some for Grandad, visit from Cara, Kyla and Gabriella, bike rides, early mornings with Gagga, swims in the sea, chasing and catching crabs, time with the Kaufies and the Snow clan, stories about Stan and Herman the bucks, a visit from Father Christmas on a yellow fire engine plus a ride on the fire engine singing songs through the loud speaker, driving the ‘car’ at the clubhouse jungle gym and so much more. 

Over and above all of that, is that you reached another milestone monkey – you started diving and swimming. It was amazing to watch your confidence build and your abilities grow daily. We were so proud of you.

 

Dive in action
Dive in action

Salt Rock

From the luxury of Prince’s Grant we moved on to ‘squat’ with the Kaufies at Zane and Debra’s house in Dunkirk Estate. Here the three of us slept in the kid’s room with you on a cot mattress on the floor and Dad and I each in a single bunk bed. We had a wonderful time with our special friends and their Gogo and Popsy who are so dear to us. We spent three nights with them with visits to Sage where you loved playing in the mini sheriff’s office and houses, trips to Grannies tidal pool, a walk down memory lane by visiting Salt Rock Hotel and lots of laughs.

Casa da Goodwin in Kamberg

Wading in the beautiful clear waters of the Little Mooi River
Wading in the beautiful clear waters of the Little Mooi River

The last day of 2012 saw us on the road again heading towards our final destination, Uncle Dave and Aunty Tish’s farm in the Kamberg where we went to ring in the new year with them, Uncle Lloyd, Aunty Carrie, Uncle Brian and Emma-Kay. I would love to say we partied the night away and saw the new year in but sadly not; some managed to stay up till just after midnight but we weren’t amongst them.

IMG_1424From the heat and humidity of the coast we welcomed the cooler, wet weather that is so common to the area. After two days of rain though we were happy to take the break and spend time at the beautiful Kamberg national park.

You and Dad had a ball hiking up the hills around the farm, picking blackberries, exploring the pine forest, keeping the beagles Chelsea and Bentley in line, looking for baboons, and having special boy time.

The farm is a wonderland for you with the dam, kiwi plantations, stream, Uncle Brian’s attic room, muddy patches, bridges – everything a little boy could wish for! You made me laugh so much with your constant questions of ‘why?’ to Uncle Dave who wasn’t prepared for your inquisitive mind but I think loved the interaction.

We have had such special times at the farm as a couple and as a family and this time again was no exception. How lucky we are to have family on both sides that we love spending time with, have common interests, challenge our thinking and keep us grounded.

Finally our holiday drew to a close and we headed home after three weeks away feeling more connected, much more relaxed and even more blessed than when we left.

The year you were 3

As we countdown to your fourth birthday on 9 December I wanted to capture some of what you have achieved in just a short twelve months! What a year it has been for us, you have literally grown up right before our eyes. Gone is the baby boy we had and in his place is a mini-kid or big boy as you like to call yourself.

Oliver ready to ride Frank in Dullstroom
Getting ready to ride Frank in Dullstroom

This year has seen so many changes for you which in turn has meant lots of changes for us. Over the last eleven plus months you have:

  •  Dropped your afternoon sleep which means you are up and at them from anytime between 05h00 and 06h00 till around 19h00 keeping Dad and I busy on weekends!
  • Got rid of nappies for good. Hip hip hooray! There were some touch and go moments with your forays into the garden. All that remains is your unique style when doing a number 2, you can only go completely naked.
  • Started dressing yourself. You are still mastering the art and you get frustrated but you are slowly but surely getting there.
  • Gotten so much more comfortable in your body. You started doing Soccer Starz and Funball as ‘extra murals’ and your confidence in your physical abilities has come on in leaps and bounds. You have become the proud owner of a driver, hockey stick and tennis racket and although you draw right-handed you continue to play all your sport as a ‘lefty’. Quirky trait. You also love your ‘monkey tree’ in our garden which you spend hours playing in and use as your refuge.
  • Started ‘swimming’ and by this I mean being able to keep yourself above water without any aid. You were doing great by end of March season, have lapsed a little but are slowly but surely making a comeback. This is all thanks to your Gagga and Aunty Kristy who give you swimming lessons.
  • Grown more inquisitive and knowledgeable by the day. A well used word in your ever growing vocabulary is ‘why’ which I have to admit to not being able to answer every time. You literally leave us agape at what you take in and remember. You are a veritable sponge for information.
  • Begun making real friends. Rosco and Zak are your best friends and your cohorts when it comes to getting up to mischief at school, talking about poo-poo and generally just being boys.
  • Become attached to boy toys. A few of your favourite things right now are Lego, all your construction goodies, your fire engine and your cars.
  • Mastered the Ipad. You absolutely love the interactive books and games and are a complete junkie which has lead to one or two disputes between you and I!

This was a year of so many first experiences for you too. Zip lining, hot air ballooning, a trip to Dullstroom with Aunty Vicki and Uncle Gavin where you learnt to fish and went for horserides on Frank, funfair rides at Gold Reef City, ring bearer at Aunty Kris’ wedding, ten pin bowling, exploring at Sci-Bono, taking in the view from Carlton Centre, riding on the Gautrain, hiking in the Kamberg. And so much more…

Oliver giving ziplining a thumbs up - all sharp sharp
Zipline at Sparkling Waters – brave boy!

So, we now formally wave goodbye to the toddler years remembering just how much fun (and hard work) they have been and look forward to what the next year will hold with a four year old in the house. There are so many firsts that are still to come for you which we cant wait to share together!

The ants go marching on and on

This week was your first official big concert at Bryanston Pre-primary School and we were super nervous as you are not a ‘perform on demand’ kinda guy. So imagine our surprise when for weeks ahead of the big day you were our little song bird singing night and day, in the bath, in the car, everywhere you could. It was adorable and a new experience for us, as to date your singing has been something you have done on your own and been quite shy about.

The transformation was incredible and the number of new songs so brilliant to hear – hats off to Teacher Leigh for her patience and perseverance in getting you all prepped. I really don’t know how she does it.

The build up to the concert was not without its hiccups though. Although you were performing songs at home, feedback on the ground was that you spent most of your time at practices at school lying under the bench picking your nose.  So, we encouraged you to share as many of the 17, yes 17 songs, you were going to sing at your concert with us at home. I even managed to get you on video singing your new favourite ‘Fire Flies’.

Absolutely adorable and now one of the songs you and I sing together often along with some oldies like ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’, ‘Insy Winsy Spider’, ‘I love you’ and newbies ‘Bees in the Hive’, ‘Four Butterflies’, ‘Bears in the woods’, ‘Shoo Fly’ to mention a few.

The day dawned and you had not one but two concerts to perform in one day in the show ‘Bugs at the Picnic’! The dress rehearsal in the morning which was open to all the family and you were so lucky as, as usual. you had a solid support team. Gagga, Grandad, Granny Lyn, Grandpa and Aunty Kristy were all there to cheer you on. Of course, you rose to the occaision and put on a great performance. The reports I received were that other than for the few songs when you literally had your foot in your mouth you sang along to everything.

That evening was the main show, the big moment that Dad and I had been waiting for. We packed up our picnic basket and along with Connie headed for school, our expectations solidly in check.

How you surprised us though, you were absolutely perfect my angel face. You sat relatively still in the front row, sang every song and performed your army ant scene to the song ‘The ants go marching one by one hoorah’ to the T. We were amazed and it showed us just how much you take in when you appear not to be listening or participating. Something that we will both remember going forward!

Your fellow red army ants were your closest friends at school Rosco, Zak, Tristan and Kieran. The other bugs from your class were Red Bees – Bohlokoa, Bohlale, Mifi, Abisola, Riley and Butterflies – Jessica, Elle, Nyeleti, Gisele.

After the show we had a picnic at the school with all the other Moms and Dads while you all got to run around and left off some much deserved steam after all your hard work and preparation.

Well done my darling boy, Dad and I are both so very proud of you. You continue to amaze us with just what you can do and make us a little sad as you looked just to grown up! On the plus side though, you may just have inherited one or two of our performance genes after all!

Why I love you

Dear Oliver

I know that it seems that I say no to you a lot. Trust me its not easy, in fact I sometimes feel like all I ever say is no and as much as you hate it, I hate it just as much. I want, and wish, that our time together could abe idyllic like those family movies where the kids are always happy, polite, sleeping, eating, playing what their folks want to play – honestly who are they kidding? Those are the real fairy tale movies that sucker would be parents in with their perfect family moments. But I digress.

Yes we do have some stolen precious moments that are not scripted or happen at special occasions like Christmas or birthdays (don’t get me started). It is these moments that keep me sane, appreciative of what I have and hopelessly, totally in love with you!

on the top of the koppie in the Midlands
Mom and Oliver on the ‘koppie’ in the Midlands

As you grow a little older and wiser you are learning more and more about emotions, how to express yourself and let’s be honest just how to twist those who love you around your gorgeous little finger! You are an individual who does things at your pace and on your terms which I both respect and pull my hair out at. But you are also a loving, tender, caring and empathetic little boy.

A few of the things you do that make me love you more and more each day:

  • how you wake up talking and just don’t stop for the rest of the day
  • “but I am SO sorry Mom I will never do it again” said with such passion and sincerity usual after you have done the same thing for the umpteenth time like throwing stones, not listening, hiding when I call you
  • stroking my cheek then cupping my face and saying “I love you Mom” gets me every time
  • your ever growing imagination which has me in stitches especially when you try to explain every day things around us like cracks in the road which you describe as the earth cracking up with magma gloop about to come out because of the volcano
  • snuggling your little bum tight into me when we spoon as if trying to get into my skin
  • coming up to Dad and I and saying “time for a family hug”
  • your absolute thirst for knowledge on how things work, how they’re are made and just why they do what they do
  • your slight obsession with all things building related. The fact that you can name and tell the difference between excavators, forklifts, steamrollers, diggers etc astounds me and has had resulted in me knowing more about construction than I ever thought I would
  • your love for music, singing and dancing which is something you and I share. My only concern is that your dance moves look a lot like Grandad’s which are a little dodgy

Most of all I just love who you are right now and who you are growing up to be. My amazing little man who keeps me on my toes, completely entertained, grounded and most of all being the most important thing I have ever been in my life, your Mom.

Love you up to the moon and back again monkey xxx