Family time

I am taking you back to the Karoo and our holiday. Some of you may remember that I was taking you on a walk around the sheep farm, ending with the medusa succulents. When I got back at the stone cottage, Boeta was awake and it was family time. We took the yellow ball grandma gave Boeta, the week before and started playing. From this point I will add a note or two, but the photos will talk for them self….

The cottage-5 The cottage-2 The cottage-3 The cottage-4 The cottage-7 The cottage-8 The cottage-6

So much fun to kick the ball past daddy…

The cottage-9 The cottage-10 The cottage-11 The cottage-12 The cottage-13Every now and then we worked on the ball catching skills. Boeta was precisely 2 years old and since this point we have progressed to catch and pass, but it all starts somewhere…

The cottage-15 The cottage-16 The cottage-17 The cottage-18 The cottage-21 The cottage-22

Got one…

Then mom got an invite to play along…

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Daddy snapped up the camera for a few shots… Boeta was really in his element by now, especially now that mom joined in the fun…FULL BLOWN FAMILY TIME!

The cottage-23 The cottage-24 The cottage-25 The cottage-26 The cottage-30 The cottage-31

I took a final shot of him watching a bird on the chimney as the sun was setting, before joining them for some more play.

The cottage The cottage-29

About 20 minutes later we had to stop and get a fire going. We had a fun day with lots of exploring and walking great distances, it was time to feed the tummies and build strength for the next day.

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Boeta looked for the tractor and while mom took a break, dad lit the fire and the adults had a nice red wine to finish a perfect day as a family.

The cottage-37 The cottage-35 The cottage-34

Round about the time the meat was done, Boeta was also running out of steam.

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He slept soundly that night, as he does for most nights. We hope and believe that he does so in the knowledge that he is loved and in his dreams he is still laughing and having quality family time with mom and dad.

Being Dad.

Over the past weeks the reality of life has become a vivid and unrelenting truth. We usually try to ignore certain facts, trusting that tomorrow, when we wake up, everything will be the same with regards to our family. We have had to confront the truth that one day, you wake and you cannot call or talk to a loved one, twice already.

Being a fairly new dad, I have been thinking about this and what mine meant to me. As time marches on, one tends to reflect more on past times, I think this is just natural.

12-DSC_0118One of my earliest memories was going to church with my dad. I was always fascinated with his hands and while the church was going on, I would play with his hands. This was before I went to school. It is apt to remember this, because religion has always been a core part of his life, to this day.

My dad always made time for his children, after he came home from work, he had tea with mom, and then we went to the beach to play or swim. I loved sport and played rugby, so we spent time catching a high ball or learning how to pass properly. Many times we just played various beach games.

We never had excess growing up, but we never needed anything as well. He used his bonus (13th check) every year to pay for our holiday as a family. This was important to them as parents and we were lucky to have spent many years together having fun as a family of 5.

I think one of the biggest influences he had on me, was love for nature. We share a love for the Karoo, animals, birding and the beauty of nature in general. As I got older, we spend many hours walking around on farms, in nature parks or just sitting quietly, taking it in. He has always been an avid bonsai collector and I will always remember him snipping away, lovingly caring for his trees.

01-DSC_008902-DSC_0090 04-DSC_0093 05-DSC_0094 06-DSC_0095 07-DSC_0096 08-DSC_0097 03-DSC_0092He believed in us, unconditionally, he was always there when we needed him. He instilled in us the core values we needed to become functional productive people, but he showed us what it meant to be a parent and in my case a father and much-loved dad and granddad.

When I think about who I am as a person today, I do make my own choices and I do things a little different in terms of those choices, but the core, the base, from which I make those life decisions come from them, a reference guide if you will. We were incredibly lucky to have such a strong base as children and we are still learning today, they still provide an example of love to us.

I hope that I can have the same influence on my son, giving him those self-same core values. He has the advantage of still getting to experience some of his granddad’s loves, and we can just hope that it will rub off at this early age, even if he does not remember it.

09-DSC_0104 10-DSC_0114 11-DSC_0115To this day, my dad is still my hero, he is the man I am still striving to be, he is and was my mentor, the person I turned to, when I wanted to talk to someone. My parents were my cheerleaders when I played sport, my shoulder to cry on, the constant light, always there in the background.

I find it tough to put what my dad means to me in words, it seems there is not really words to describe what he means, and maybe this is just, because he is so much more than this to me, he is my dad. I am proud to be a father and just hope I can do him justice in being a dad to my son. It is most important to me.



After a few naps, I was back in my hanging chair in grandma’s kitchen. This time she had a big surprise for me. You see, my grandparents could not be at my first ever birthday and I guess they really wanted to be there for the cake, at least!

After my midday nap, grandma said that she had a surprise for me, just because they missed my birthday, I could choose one of these…

01-DSC_0028I was shocked, so many cakes to choose from and mommy was sitting right there. She never allows me more than a bite of any sweet stuff. A whole cake and I could choose it myself! I decided on the green one.02-DSC_0029But second guessed myself immediately, when mommy took the others away and left only the green one.

03-DSC_0030I still could not believe this. Mommy said it is because we are at grandma’s house and they can spoil their grandchildren a little, they earned that right. I thought, we need to visit more! Looking at the huge cake, I had to ask daddy too; “Can I eat it all?”

04-DSC_0031 He said yes! I grabbed one of the halves, before anyone changed their minds and “stuffed” my face. I guess I was too hasty, because I could not get anything in. Mommy and Grandma started laughing, and when I took my hand away, the cake was still stuck to my hand. I showed mom.

05-DSC_0032 06-DSC_0033 08-DSC_0048 09-DSC_0050The green stuff stuck to my hand, and painted my face and hands. It did taste very nice, so I just continued licking, sucking and stuffing, before they stopped me.

13-DSC_0057 12-DSC_0056 11-DSC_0055 10-DSC_0051Mommy said that she would help me with the rest and she gave me the “cake” part, I learned that I tried to eat the icing first.

14-DSC_0061I think I will do that again in the future, because the icing is very nice. Daddy said that this is why we always have dinner before pudding. Mommy said I was properly caked and I said: “Thanks grandma, dad, take me out of this chair, I want to run!

Peanuts, Fish and Teeth this week.

Another week has raced by and we are looking toward Saturday, when mom will be back again.

This week had a few important milestones for us. On Wednesday, I had some fish, and decided it is time to see if Boeta has any reaction. It was a Tuna bake, not the correct starter fish, but I took my finger and put some sauce/fish around the mouth, to see if there was any immediate reaction, swelling, redness or anything else. Nothing, so I proceeded to give him a test taste or three. All went well and I feel a little less stressed over fish, now we will prepare some Sole over the weekend or next week and formally add fish to his diet.

Secondly the issue of peanuts. This was another thing we needed to move past. Today, we had an appointment at the pediatrician, our first without mom, so we made sure our hair was cut, we had our best clothes on, and I prayed for the diaper to stay clean until we finished our visit, which I am happy to say did.


Selfy – ready to go!

Before we went up to the doctor, I gave Boeta a tester peanut butter, again around the mouth, little on hand and a tester on the tongue.  I figured that being in front of the hospital, on my way to the pediatrician, I had all the assistance needed should anything go wrong. Nothing happened, all seems well, agreed by the doctor too. Another tick!

As for the appointment, we went through that with a breeze, doctor checked everything, we talked about where he is in development, eating, talking and all the rest. He noticed a little redness in the throat, which did not surprise me, as we had a visitor yesterday with the flu. The winter weather is no help either, near 30 degrees C on some days, then freezing cold the next with gale force winds. Getting 3 new teeth also ain’t no support.

All-in-all, he was very happy and said that we are doing great, no adjustments anywhere, baby is strong, healthy and on track. His weight is now 12 kilograms, and he is 80 centimeters tall. As we talked, Boeta suddenly started giving me kisses and then he turned to the doctor and waved! We had a little laugh and got the idea…time to leave!


He got 5 new interesting balls to play with as reward for being a wonderful patient.


He may only be 13 months, but he ain’t no baby anymore! How quick they grow.

The Core of US…part 1 (Life)

10-2010_07140095On the tip of South Africa is a place called L’ Agulhas, and next to it Struis Bay. L ‘Agulhas point is where the warm currents of Indian and the cold currents of the Atlantic ocean meet. It is also the place we call home in our hearts for many reasons.09-2010_07140072          08-2010_07140071

It is a place that represents love, life, laughter, bliss, intense pain, heartache, loss and all the other human emotions not mentioned. Our story begin approximately 40 years ago, for one of us, in any case, and got richer as time past.


Long before I knew my husband, I went to Struis Bay for the holidays every December and January. My dad hooked up the old caravan on to the 1965 Mercedes, and we started the 3 hour drive to our annual spot. The Merc was an old fin-tail model and I was highly embarrassed that my dad drove such an old car.

I though it was the ugliest car in the world and to this day I have not developed an appreciation for cars of that era.

02-Struisbaaikamp90The trip took us over the Helderberg pass from Cape Town, through the fruit orchards, apples mostly, of the Grabouw region, to a town called Caledon, in the Overberg (Wheat growing region). From here you turn off the main route and drive down to the coast.

07-Heleen&PaWe spend our Christmas and New Year in Struis Bay’s caravan park. I remember the dances on Fridays and Saturdays, the little natural Harbour and the smell of fish being offloaded (Yellowtail in that part the year) and buying it fresh from the boat.

04-Struisbaaikamp9011 05-Struisbaaikamp9016Lazing my days on the beach, the longest in the Southern Hemisphere of 14 kilometers, and how peaceful was the early morning or late afternoon walks on the beach, and yes a few holiday flings too.

03-Struisbaaikamp903My dad always booked our “spot” for the next year, the day when we left. It was always the exact same stand and many of our “neighbors” did the same, resulting in the same people coming back year after year. We always arrived when the caravan park was close to full and left when it was empty. It was always strange to get used to the hustle and bustle and once you get used to it, there was a sense of loss when everyone departed in the first week of the year. We always stayed until the middle of January. I only later (in my teenage years) came to appreciate the wonderful feeling of having the beach to yourself, doing my own thing and being able to be content with my own company.

In 1993, after my dad’01-HeleenPaenMapre97s retirement, and some family discussion, my parents decided to permanently move to Struis Bay and bought a plot and built a small 2 bedroom home on it. They moved to Struis Bay in 1995.

In part 2, Love, we tell the continuing story of our deep relationship with Struis Bay.

13 months today!

Another month has rapidly raced past us, and unbelievably so, our little rascal is 13 months old, born about 25 minutes ago, from typing the post (6 am, June, 4).

My first thought is for my wife, who is in Mozambique at the moment, but coming home, later tonight. The picture of this post is a Lithops plant endemic to South Africa and it has 2 bodies representing me and Boeta, giving her a flower. You are what make us a family, mom, we miss you and love you.DSC_0342Walking

It has been a month of walking, and it created much excitement for all three of us. Such a great achievement. Boeta has the idea that he can now outrun us and loves playing games where he dodges us, laughing all the way. Walking means falling too, and we have had our share of this, but the lesson of get up and try again is also prevalent in our house. He has a bump on the forehead, nearly gone, to show this. Yesterday he got the first opportunity to walk in and out over what is an uneven sliding door frame to the deck. Usually I take his hand for that bit, but he felt so proud, he did it again and again, just to show that he could.


Another big shift this month was the destroyer becoming less destructive and showing first signs of a builder. He mostly wants to stick things into each other, like the cups, balls or rings, but have given the blocks a go as well. His frustration, I think, is the fact that he cannot control the placement well enough, and after a try or two, he eventually throws the block in frustration.


As he got more mobile I increased his space to the point where he now has the bottom part of the house and the living room, leaving the kitchen and part where the steps go down. We are using “nanny panels”, which is interlocking frame for a playpen to close off those 2 parts, mainly because I am still working on the kitchen and for the steps as I said. I saw some bad reactions to people using “playpens”, until I realized that this was small squares or camping cots, and not what I meant. Once I have installed the gate of the steps, the kitchen will be the only truly supervised area of access. He gets used to items within the areas he plays and therefore shows much less interest in them.


We are first-time parents, we will only have 1 child and we waited 17 years. Those 3 statements will inevitably lead to over-protection, and who can blame us! We will have to learn to let go more with time, but we will never be the type of parents to just sit back and let things happen. Being a boy, he will give us enough to worry about as he explores and rampages. What is important, is that we do realize we have to balance, especially now that he is running around.

Our son is charging ahead and we are proud of him. We thoroughly enjoy being parents and try to continuously evaluate where we are and what we do, in order to support and guide our son. We do make mistakes and we accept it.

Conference call with mom.

This is a little story that was so funny at the time, I thought I should share it.

Mom, arriving from work, told me that she had a conference call later that day. She played a little with our son and fed him, still breastfeeding at the time, she worked half days.

When the time came, she linked for the call and Boeta took station on her lap.

04-IMG00547-20130923-1334I took the pictures with my mobile, but the point is the interest on his face when he heard the voices and intently listening…a big day, your first conference call.

Within 5 minutes this happened…

05-IMG00548-20130923-1352We just broke down in laughter and well the conference call, lucky they could not hear us, took a back stage.

07-IMG00550-20130923-135208-IMG00551-20130923-1353So much for business things. I told my wife if we have any trouble with him sleeping again, she should please organize another conference call. Magic ingredient to get a baby to sleep.

There is a bottle in the story.

What a difference 36 hours make.

On Monday I totally focused on my recovery, sleeping whenever he slept, and spending time on fairly low impact activities, to give the back a chance to recover a little as well. I also went to bed fairly early, not worrying about anything and had a goodish night.

This morning, I awoke a new person, felt 10 times better. Played and read some stories to Boeta, then got all the normal stuff sorted and by 8 am he was asleep again. My plan was to try to finish the closing off of the deck, repairing the gate and adding netting on sides to assure him not falling through and hurting himself.

We went to the shop, when he woke, something he enjoys and found amongst other things fresh hot bread that just came out of oven. I am not going to let slip such a chance, and it was still warm when we got home. I helped myself, nothing like this I figure, but gave him a piece as well and he enjoyed it so much, came back for more, hmm-ing as he ate it.

I got going again on the gate, watching him playing inside through the glass, or was he watching me? In any case got it done and when finished, I let him have the space for a test run.

1-DSC_0173 2-DSC_0213 3-DSC_0218 4-DSC_0224 5-DSC_0227 I think it is fairly obvious that it was a hit.

After his afternoon nap, we played some more, then took a walk down to the beach, had dinner and fun bath. In the process of playing, something caught my eye, his bottle, the favorite one I thought we lost on the walk, Sunday. I have no memory of that bottle in the stroller at home, or playpen, never mind how it ended up under the couch! None!

I was more than a little happy at the find. Showed it to him, he also got excited and we hugged! He is now sleeping! What a difference 36 hours make, from mental loss to feeling calm and at peace with myself, finding the bottle just enhanced it, cherry on the cake!

First Letter to my son

Dear son,

I have this overwhelming urge to share things with you, but as you are still only 12 months old, putting it down on paper seems a better option.


My son – 15 minutes after birth.

Son, I am writing this while I am watching you on the baby monitor, sound asleep! Daddy cannot believe it is 12 months already since I first held you in my arms and nearly 2 years since the possibility of you came into being.

When I first saw you, when we went to the doctor, you were the size of a peanut, and I called you that for the nearly 8 months. You filled our hearts with warmth and love long before you took your first breath, times when you kicked or pushed my hand, when you still lay snuggled and warm in mommy’s tummy. Even then I dreamed of the things we will do together, first bike, playing with the ball, fishing, hiking and so much more.


Midnight run – burping!

You must have been excited to meet us too, because you came a little earlier than expected, 3 weeks to be exact, but all fears that you were overeager vanished when you took your first breath and cried. This next part you will understand later in life, but that first cry was the most wonderful sound we ever heard and when we saw you, even though we did not know you, we knew, we will do anything to keep you safe and loved you deeply.


Rocking with dad before bed.

Now that you have come to know us a little better, you should know that we are not perfect, and we make many mistakes, but we will always try to do our best and make decisions in your best interest. I know these decisions may sometimes seem “not agreeable” in the moment, but hopefully in future, looking back they will make sense. As parents we question ourselves regularly and re-evaluate constantly in an effort to make correct decisions and affirm our actions, and that is what parents do.


Playing dress-up!

When you were christened, I wrote this prayer for you (Translated from Afrikaans):

Dear God,
What a privilege it is to be a parent, we praise You for this gift You bestowed on us. Give us as parents the wisdom that in our task as parents we never will forget You and we ask for Your guiding Hand in the years to come.

Help us to be a good example to our son and to raise him so. Help us to make the right decisions in good and bad times and thank you for this little miracle, which just shows how much You love us as Your children.


Just love this picture of my son!

To our son we pray as parents, never to let your light dim, always look to God in your life and He will light up the road ahead. Know Him in all that you do and He will strengthen you. Son, keep your eyes open, look around, keep the good close, discard the bad, keep a clear mind, be responsible. Do this so that you can always be proud of yourself, even if things do not go your way, remember God has a reason for everything.

You are our son and grandson, know that we love you dearly and even if you are far away on winding roads, you will always be just a daydream away for us. We are proud of you!


As your parents, we are so proud of you, first smile, crawl and now walking! You have achieved to so much in your first year already. You know the one thing at the moment that makes me warm from head to toe and want to hold you close for as long as I can, is when you come walking (penguin style) towards me with that big smile and outstretched hands. I really hope that as our relationship develops and you get older, you will always come to me like this, even though it most probably will be less physical and more of a more mental outreach.


Snuggling with mom.

For now, my son, you love playing hide and-seek, chasing after the ball, toy inspecting, diving into your pool with a hundred balls and finding hidden stuff there, dancing while watching music on TV or dancing with us, snuggling with us in bed, reading (paging) your books, most especially you love mom’s reading them to you and you absolutely love it when mom comes home with hugs and kisses. You ,most probably, will never remember these precious moments, I will never forget them.

After 1 year, I can unequivocally say, I love being a dad, but more importantly, I love being your dad.


Having fun – can anything be better?

I cannot wait to share and see what the next year will bring!


Boys will be boys

Boeta is working hard on his new-found skill of walking, something that started about a week before his first birthday. I picked up a few things in the process. Firstly the new height puts a little more strain on mom and dad to make sure we do not leave harmful things he can now grab. Secondly get a little less sturdy by evening and as tiredness kicks in, the little man tends to trip a little more.

Boeta striding along!

Boeta striding along!


Thirdly we added some bigger toys for him to push around or he even tries to pull and maneuver them into other spaces. This list will expand, I am sure as time ticks along.




On his birthday I gave him a 5-1 toys, starting at rocker, ending in something he can ride by using his legs. It was a F1 car! At around stage 2/3 the rocker is removed and he can ride it while someone pushes or even push it himself. Yesterday was a perfect day, so the boys took the car for a spin in daddy power mode.

DSC_0437 DSC_0416It is a little difficult to see, but the little man immediately took to this and had a “racer face” and everything. The car has music, tooter and starting switch, so we charged around tooting and so on, with neighbors also having a laugh at the one year-old racer. In the next shot, take a good look at his face, while I revved up to charge away.

DSC_0401 We had lots of fun and yes I guess “boys will be boys”, never mind their age. As a final little note, he had his first “public” walk today as well, in the pharmacy, no less, and took a few steps, saw a bunch of books on a kids table, made a line for them to the delight of our long-time pharmacist. On telling my wife of this endeavor her reply was: “Glad he did not go for the Zoloft!

Cutting his hair.

Being a dad, writing this might seem funny, but maybe men just hide feelings better. Boeta has, is and will always be an exciting addition to our family as a whole. He is a late comer to the family, we were married for 17 years and his nephews and nieces are all in middle to late 20’s.

He is our only child and most probably will remain so as time marches on with everyone. From the day we got pregnant it was one experience after another, a roller coaster of emotions, from profound happiness, uncertainty, tiredness, guilt, pride and many more. Every new achievement was exciting and made us as parents proud beyond believe.

Crying was the one emotion I rarely show, but I joked a few times that after witnessing the miracle of his birth, actually maybe even before that, his first movements in mommy, I got emotional at christenings of people I do not even know and beware the action hero dies in a movie (joke), but that is about how it is. Children has such an impact on a parent, much deeper than the superficial stuff.

The main reason for this post is the fact that Boeta is approaching his first birthday. Mom took off work for 3 days, and we are busy preparing his cake, making bunnies for the eventual decorations. We also decided to cut his hair just before his birthday and that process started last night.

Boeta starting to walk!

Boeta starting to walk and before hair cut!

It was an experience for him (not great), but it ended up as an unexpected experience for us as well. As he finished, I looked back at those little cuttings with a deep sense of loss, feeling like we killed a part of our son. Very confusing feeling initially and after some thought over the last hours I realized that I was in mourning over the end of his first year.

It was such an amazing time, for the first, nearly 4 months, we were lucky enough to be together 24/7, as a new family. As we bonded with our child and he with us, we also had to learn to operate as a family, tougher than you think after 17 years. Through all the late nights, short nerves, and the rest, we had such an incredible time with our son and celebrated every achievement. I will miss picking him up, cuddling, sitting with him in the rocking chair, on my shoulder, walks in stroller, doing baby workouts, and many more baby fun things.

After first cut.

After first cut.

Now that I have come to grips with my emotions, yesterday, I feel better as well, and today I hope I took enough pictures and video, to enjoy those moments over and over again. I am also looking forward to the next year, talking, running and playing with my son and yes on cue he started walking the past week, our baby is becoming a toddler!