Piano toddler x2 and giving grandparents a workout….

Some of the older followers may remember the little 9 month old loving the piano. Well, at nearly 2 years old he still loves the piano, but now he sits on his own and he can give a toddler version of piano performance. The perfect background to toddlerism, starting of with soft one note twinkle, slowly building up and then all hell breaks loose as we end with thunder and lightning.

DSC_0347 DSC_0348 DSC_0345 DSC_0344 DSC_0351He then decided to continue this thunderous end and charge poor grandma and grandpa, who seemed to enjoy his music so much.

DSC_0368If you charge grandma, she typically wants a kiss….”what’s wrong with women!?”

DSC_0364Now Grandpa is much more fun, he lifts and put me down so that I can do it again…and again.

DSC_0361 DSC_0363Grandpa had to go sit down and Boeta kept coming…

DSC_0365 DSC_0370Mom decided it is time to give Boeta’s grandparents a break and Boeta got his dinner while daddy lit a fire for our dinner.

DSC_0360This calmed the little man down and he decided to give the family another softer version, more a lullaby version of his piano skills. It was near bed-time after all. This time we started with thunder and lightning and ended with soft tones that had him fully immersed in the music, leaving a slightly stunned family.

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Forgotten memories within a chair

**One of our first stories, which is special to us.** We are back tomorrow.

In the last little period I have been thinking about a specific chair we currently use for our son and what it represents. As I thought about it I realized it represents history, family, love, joy, sadness, creativeness, learning and even in a way, tragedy. The chair I am talking about is this one.

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Admiring his chair

An unassuming baby feeding chair. In modern times many would say, leave it alone, danger, it does not conform to modern standards. Something for the attic or corner in the house. We say, get your bum in son and be part of its story.

The Tragedy

In the late 1800’s a horrible fatal accident took place, where a young mother was thrown from a horse and cart with a 3 month old baby boy. The mother died but the baby fell in a bush and was saved. The father gave this boy 3 names, of which 3rd was one of the mother’s. This boy was my father’s granddad. My father inherited his names. So, before the chair became part of our history, it nearly had another.

Family

My dad, born in 1934, was the first, I know of, who used the chair, as it is said granddad bought it while grandma was pregnant.

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My dad with his sister and yes “the chair“.

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Granddad, father and sister before they moved.

The chair was used to raise 3 children, it moved with the family from a remote country district to the city, near 800km, due to lack of work. Here the 3rd child was born, and it was stored for later.

About 20 years later my sister was born and out came ‘our chair‘ again to do service in silence to another group of 3 babies, of which I was the youngest.

We spent wonderful times in the chair, similar, I guess, to my father and his siblings. How do I know, mom told me.

In 2013, our son was born and as the first boy with our family name, I inherited the chair and soon after I received it, his bum was in the spot where so many people already sat and had fun, tantrums, food orgies, and whatever else.

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Boeta’s first sitting.

Still too young at the time, it was just for a picture pose, and my intention was always to use the second part of the chair’s magic at about the age we are now (12 months).

DSC_0045 DSC_0031 DSC_0036Yes, it has a party trick, it can be used as a desk for play and eat in later stages, so when we learn and play we use it and he loves walking and pushing it around.

Why the story?

In relation to this chair, an unassuming chair, if I put my hand on its base, I touch 80 years of history, if I put my ear against it I can imagine countless dinners, hysterical laughter, tapping of toys against it, burps and the many other things that go with putting a baby in such a chair. This is not just an ordinary chair, it is a vital part of our family.

With us another chair was introduced for feeding. The question is if it will stand the 80 year test, being modern, time will tell.

DSC_0074Finally, I would like to say that with chairs same as people, we need to look at them carefully, they might be old, have scratches or bruises, from time spent in service, but they can play such vital roles in our lives as one kind of support or another. They hold stories full of riches and color.

What stories would these chairs have by now?

Taken round 1930’s, maybe earlier.

Ouma en Pa

My dad with his mom on another chair.

With this post I would like to congratulate “our chair” on a job well done in raising the children so far and wish “it” the best for the future, may it be a long one! It holds forgotten memories of lives past and present, a reminder of each of our childhoods.

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Dad and sons on celebrating another child in the family!

Suspension Bridge

Every now and then in life, we get to a point were we need to cross a suspension bridge to get or stay on the correct path. Each individual handles these challenges in their own way, but within a marriage it is also important and fortunate to have support, we believe, to help you overcome those challenges, sometimes by just being there or just an ear to listen, a compassionate sounding board. Sometimes one needs an opinion and in giving such an opinion we believe in honesty above all else, not being insensitive or rude, but honest, something that puts value in a comment.

The sharing of joy, whether physical, emotional, psychic, or intellectual, forms a bridge between the sharers which can be the basis for understanding much of what is not shared between them, and lessens the threat of their difference.
– Adure Lord –

DSC_0029This is something we do with each other but also in our raising of our son. We constantly rely on each other’s strengths in everything related to our son and how we go about being his parents. This is the background of our next series of photos and it hopefully illustrates the point in a physical sense.

On our recent trip, we took a walk in the forest. On this path you get to a point where you have to cross a suspension bridge. Daddy was walking in front, looking for birdies to photograph and crossed the bridge, all the time focused on what is below and in the openings. Looking back he saw mom came to a sudden stop and he remembered that this is not one of mom’s favorite things in life. Adding to the situation was a little boy on the arm. She did not stop to turn around, she just wanted daddy to get off, so that she could do it as quick as possible. Daddy said to her to stay calm, there is nothing to worry, it is very safe and enjoy the experience. Easier said than done, when you have genuine fear for this situation.

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She did it and got big applause from daddy, even showing a little grin toward the end. Proud of mom. We walked further and had more fun, taking in the calmness of the forest. On our way back, just before we got to the bridge, daddy decided that Boeta’s first walk on a suspension bridge should be more joyous and he should definitely enjoy this experience for future recurrences. He gave mom the camera and took Boeta.

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First, one must enjoy it, so we had a bit of a laugh beforehand. Daddy then took the little man on the suspension bridge and walked over to the other side, turned around and put him down.

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We walked hand in hand on the bridge and he soon realized that this was fun. So daddy let go and victory – Boeta’s first walk on the suspension bridge!

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After a short walk on the bridge, daddy picked him up again and we stood there, enjoying the forest below, together. Seeing what we could see without apprehension. We influence how our children react to things around them more than you can ever hope to realize, of that we are sure. Look again at the photos of Boeta with mom, grabbing on, tension in both, and now look at this last shot.

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Even mom tried to enjoy the walk back a little more, though inherent fear will always stay. We joined as parents and used the simple strengths of one to overcome the suspension bridge to the benefit of all 3 of us. This is our way of doing things and in such situations as a family we sometimes rely on the strengths of one, to navigate us safely over such bridges, even Boeta does his bit with his innocent love of life itself.

Also part of Just Jot it January

http://lindaghill.com/2015/01/01/just-jot-it-january-pingback-post-and-rules/

Just jot it January 2015

The magnificent shining star of O.R.O.!

The magnificent shining star of O.R.O. – 2014!

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EVERYONE!

Boeta, yes, the little rascal running around in the house. He is the glue of this blog and all the previous highlights, be it wildlife, birds or environment, had been experienced with him at our side, as it should be.

AJ working hard and started pulling faces too!

Boeta working hard and started pulling faces too!

So a quick look at our year in relation to Boeta, and his development. You joined us when boeta was not 1 yet, in May/June. At this stage he was crawling, started late in February 2014. Training for crawling was a hard job and we started to see more and more of the joking fun-loving boy at this early stage.

AJ preparing to crawl, one hand open in position.

Boeta preparing to crawl, one hand open in position.

                                                                                                                                                                              This photo was taken around early February when he showed his eagerness to want to crawl, starting to get the little brain sorted to do this main step to mobility.

Still a nice plump little boy, breastfed by his loving mom and healthy, inquisitive and starting to take solid food.

Moving forward to March, 9-10 months, and he was at full speed. All the family gathered for his Grandfather’s 80th birthday and Boeta saw them for the first time, that is, the extended family.

AJ  tearing down the hallway, 10 months

Boeta tearing down the hallway, 10 months

A favorite book with sliding windows

A favorite book with sliding windows

His rapid development from here astounded us at times. He has always had a big love for books, which we keep encouraging by adding more on a regular basis, we have books everywhere in the house.

Eating a rice cake!

Eating a rice cake!

25-DSC_0305One of the tough sides at times, especially for mom, having to leave her son for work, was being a single parent, we had to handle this as best we can, and we think we achieved it via Skype and constant communication. Mom was away for a total of 19 weeks this year.

botaThis also afforded the little man to get to know things like notepads, which amazed us as it seems to just be a natural thing for the little man, but having said that, we carefully manage his usage of it and believe to focus on his books, nature and play as the most important things we can do for him now.

He started walking around a week before he was 1-year-old. We count ourselves very lucky that through all his “first” achievements, mom has been there and witnessed it. So we could applaud our man together as he developed.

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Proud parents shared his 1st Birthday with you on the 4th of June. It is still something of a wonder and amazing thing to say we are parents after being married for 17 years, now nearly 19 years. We decided to bake his first cake ourselves, and although it was no designer piece, we were very proud of it. He loved bunnies at this stage.

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With movement and walking, came learning new skills, first was to collect the ball and throw it or push his red sports car around the house. Daddy also secured the deck, to allow him to play on it, which extended to run and play space from the whole of the living room to outside as he wished.

Blowing the candle!

Blowing the candle!

One must have some fun on your birthday!

One must have some fun on your birthday!

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By July we had a fully active toddler on our hands.

06-DSC_0088 (2) 08-DSC_0224 06-DSC_0214 2-DSC_0029 Boeta kick5-DSC_00682-DSC_0004 (2)Then there is mom. Daddy being the primary caregiver, his participation is sort of given, but as parents we do put a lot of emphasis on mom when she is home, making sure she never feels out of the loop and always knows she is the one and only mom in our lives.

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Nothing like the love and touch of a mother. NOTHING.

DSC_0261e DSC_0165 DSC_0169Boeta also got to experience nature with us, from our trip to the Addo national park, playing at the beach, and even his first flight to visit his Grandparents in September.

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Doing some research in daddy’s birding book.7-DSC_0350 9-DSC_0065 6-DSC_0044 5-DSC_0038 1-DSC_0005 09-DSC_0033 02-DSC_0009 02-20140801_110238 14-DSC_0558 02-DSC_0443 11-DSC_01741-IMG00943-20140902-0925 03-DSC_0445 08-IMG-20140929-WA051 04-IMG-20140929-WA043Is there anything one can say to top a year of so many firsts. It was an excellent year for the 3 of us. We had achieved much as a family, but the main achiever was our little Boeta. He has been a trooper in sickness (last 2 weeks around Christmas), he has been the light of our lives all year-long, always laughing, running, jumping and yes we do have a tantrum here and there as he tries to communicate displeasure at something, but for the main, our star, we could not have asked for a more wonderful gift and we are so very proud of him. Looking forward to 2015!

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7-DSC_0386As adults we can just wish everyone the best for 2015! May it be your best year ever, may you take something from a toddler like ours and see everything you encounter as a brand new experience to learn from and enjoy. Above all else, may 2015 be full of love, laughter and so many precious moments that it will be difficult to choose the best. Thanks for following us throughout most of 2014, and hoping you stay with us in 2015! For those of you who took the time to comment on posts, sending hugs and love our way, mostly towards the little star, thank you with all of our hearts.

CHEERS 2014!

Sharing untainted pure magnificent JOY

Sharing untainted pure magnificent joy is tough to do. We are woefully unqualified to try and do it, but with a series of photos from Boeta, hopefully you will get the message we are trying to convey.

As parents and adults we get so involved in our day-to-day activities and we have learned all kinds of ways to show pleasure and joy, but we wonder if in all this genuine deeply felt joy has not been sold out? Do we even recognize it anymore? The world is full of negatives every day and similarly many articles you read about parenting are geared toward tantrums, what not to do, milestones, achievements, disasters, diseases and so on.

As parents we do all we can to give our children the best we can, we have to handle sleepless nights, screaming, crying, sickness, food and lots of clean-ups in combination with working, marriage and day-to-day life. Do we recognize those moments of joy in our family and keep it dear to our hearts, the fuel we need. Getting off track here, told you this is a tough assignment, pure joy. What is it? It is a feeling of great happiness as per definition. It is not: The emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires – DELIGHT

It is not gaiety or bliss on its own, but maybe it is a combination of it all. A warm fuzzy feeling that somehow takes hold of you, deep within, shared with those who are in its presence, never bought, but beware the cheap knockoffs that are found everywhere.

Grappling to get this conveyed, in the last post on Liebster Award in the questions, we said on the question, where would you want to live, “anywhere is fine as long as we are together” and we said on perfect day, “being together, laughing and enjoying life”, we did not lie, because we believe it with all our hearts and being a family is such a wonderful joy.

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Still not there, let’s give Boeta the floor, he cannot speak “much”, he is only 17 months old but he can do better in explaining our point. There is something in these photos, more than just being photos of our son, we hope you can see and we hope you can experience in this month as Christmas nears. The love, happiness and joy all wrapped up and shared with abundance with his parents and hopefully a few of you, looking at it.

It all started with a bunny and the bunny hopped…

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“The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”

Christopher McCandles

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“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.”

Buddha

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“Love is a force more formidable than any other. It is invisible – it cannot be seen or measured, yet it is powerful enough to transform you in a moment, and offer you more joy than any material possession could.”

Barbara de Angeles

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“Joy, rather than happiness, is the goal of life, for joy is the emotion which accompanies our fulfilling our natures as human beings. It is based on the experience of one’s identity as a being of worth and dignity.”

Rollo May

Mom home = pure happiness

Mom home = pure happiness

Most of you know by now that Mom was away for 3 weeks and arrived back last night. The boys got ready early and got to the airport on time, but as luck would have it, the flight was delayed, still we said rather safe than on time. The plane arrived.

We waited in the reception area and mom came walking through with the airport trolley, loaded with 2 suitcases, computer bag and backpack. When she saw us, immediate tears and speed as she wanted to get to us (Boeta) as quickly as possible. After nearly running over a person who sidestepped the anxious mom, she came speeding to us and in the more or less proximity just let go of the speeding trolley, running and grabbing Boeta. These trolleys have their own brakes once released and it braked but the momentum was such that all the luggage except one came flying of the trolley all over the floor. Mom and Dad did not care at that stage, but Boeta was a little concerned.

Mom got flowers from the boys to show her we missed her and we are happy that she is back.

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Fast forward to Saturday morning.

Boeta awoke to a whole family again and was promptly scooped up and put into bed with mom for an additional hour of sleeping bliss in her arms. Daddy got a cake and candles and we belatedly wished her a happy birthday. Then daddy prepared a second spoil with croissants and omelette in bed for all 3 of us. It was obvious that Boeta enjoyed all of this “being treated” and must have thought it an early Christmas.

We got going and he was in full flight by now. Daddy says he has never seen him fall so much, since when he started walking. Why? Well, he was performing for mom. Running past but watching her, showing her things he can do now, dancing, laughing. Mom brought many presents from the USA, but we decided to hold back most for Christmas and only give him 3 “items”. The first item is “Buzz” the Georgia Tech mascot.

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The second was in direct relation to his new joy of playing with little cars.

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In the last picture he checked if the car has an on/off button. One never knows. After playing with his new stash of little cars, we had to also do the laundry which meant going out the back door and into an area where he is rarely allowed at the moment, due to daddy doing some work there. He was this morning and went straight for the bin of bush soil and compost, which daddy uses to enrich the sandy soil in the garden. He started throwing the soil and it led to uncontrollable laughter.

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This lead to a dirty boy, from head to toe. So for one of the first occasions, he will be having an early bath as well.

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After his bath or cleaning session, the third a soft toy, one of those mom could not leave behind. An elephant, eagerly accepted and joyously played with.

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The rest of the morning involved mom having to take tests in identification of objects…

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Mom, being a mom, loved the picture of the baby…

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Boeta being a boy and growing, naturally was more interested in the bread picture…

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Boeta also showed mom his new special, just for him, chair…

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Then there had to be some music played and again lots of acting for mom…

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Most of all, playing and running, hugs and kisses, lots and lots of it.

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Finally, daddy will repeat with what he started…

MOM HOME = PURE HAPPINESS

 DSC_0167 DSC_0165Mom is our most special flower in a bunch of flowers.

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To MOM…

To my wife and our mom

momA few years ago, today, an angel was born with a heart of gold. The translated announcement in the newspaper read: “To Mother and Father, a beautiful daughter is born, all is well, we thank our Heavenly Father and the doctors and nurses of the Hospital”.

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Over the years her parents nurtured her and loved her as she grew and blossomed into a beautiful young woman who brought joy to everyone she met, who enriched people’s lives with her pure, true heart and inspiring love, never relinquishing that which she held dear to her heart, but standing strong to protect it with determinate fire in her belly. They may not be with us in life anymore, but their love is still represented by these flowers**.

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When you reached your mid-twenties and before we met, you wrote this as motivation for yourself in daily life. Your handwriting and I kept it after I found it.

Motiveringsbrief

I was drawn to you like a moth to a flame, in fact your beautiful eyes were that flame, I could not stop looking at them, at you. You were my soul mate, you were the person I would gladly give my heart to, the one soul I wanted to wake up next to every morning, just to see what you would say or do, to hear your voice, see you smile, hear your laughter, your humour and yes sometimes your anger.

Today, my love, it is your birthday! I found a birthday card of yours when you turned one, which translated reads: ” Today, you are one, may God give you many a year, Bless you with joy and with every small step, lead you safely and keep you save, though His angels to a life full and with much joy.” This holds true, even today.

I want to wish you the world and shower you with the love of all the stars above. You deserve nothing less. I want to thank you for the way you held my heart all these 18 years, how you protected it and how you nurtured our love and kept our flame burning through thick and thin for your love is always caring, a precious gift, always there in a hug, caress and your touch, be it our son or his dad.

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I want to thank you for our son, for the way you protected him, even before he was born and for the mother you are. I want to thank you for giving him the same strengths and determinations, which he already shows, and giving the world another little bit of you through him to live on long after we are not there. I see so much of you in him and even though you are 100’s of kilometres away from us, in a sense part of you is sitting right next to me. Another beautiful angel, born with a heart of gold.

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So Happy Birthday my love and mom. With this we send you all the love and kisses we can muster and wish you a wonderful day. We cannot wait to see you again and wish you just joy, love and success for the year to come.

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Geseënde Verjaarsdag Mamma!

Ons is Lief vir jou.

The Boys

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** The flowers have special meaning. The carnations come from mom’s parents, her mom passed away nearly 17 years ago now, and still, every year, we get lovely red carnations for her birthday, a reminder of their love for their daughter. It is therefore no surprise that daddy used this as the theme for this post.

*** The pictures are supposed to focus on the love as demonstrated by her parents and as we go to the “now” we go full colour. The semi-colour photo with Boeta is meant to show the change of guard, sort of, as he takes the flower from then to now, because he also represents 50% of mom and thereby her parents.

Following is some fun pictures while we attempted to put this together, not easy with time delay and daddy having to run and catch the little man for a pose in 20 seconds.

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Prints of a little man

Boeta got a great present on his 1st birthday, a few months back. It was a clay-based frame, to make a mould of his one hand and foot, something to remember, something special for mom and dad when they think back to the early years.

3-DSC_0079 (2)Those little prints has now become special already, but for many reasons, some of the reasons can already be picked up in this picture a few months back. First, let us show the frames. Mom carefully worked the clay into the frame and smoothing it, while still workable.

4-DSC_0440We then lifted the little one year-old and carefully made prints, the foot was easy, but at this age the hands are not that easy. We got a hand, eventually.

5-DSC_0444It turned out fairly good and has hardened totally. It will have pride of place amongst our family photos. 2-DSC_0066

Since then those little hands got much more active and so did the rest of the little man, climbing, crawling, searching, kicking, running, building and much more. We found 2 poems to describe some of the feelings.

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handprints on wall.

“Sometimes you get discouraged
Because I am so small,
And always leave my fingerprints
On furniture and walls.
But everyday I’m growing,
I’ll be grown up someday,
And all these tiny handprints
Will simply fade away.
So here’s a final handprint
Just so you can recall,
Exactly how my fingers looked
When I was very small.”

– author unknown –

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Footprints at 6 months

So small and so sweet
Tiny toes all in a row
Catch them quick
before they grow
A keepsake we’ve created now
so when you’re big
you’ll see how
Once upon a time
they were…
your precious feet
so small and so sweet

– author unknown –

 

It is only 5 months later. A lot has changed in that time, from a boy who was just walking to this.1-DSC_0001

Yes, that is our coffee table!

Our nerves are being tested no end at the moment as the little man explores everything in sight and uses any method available to get what he wants to play with or explore.

09-DSC_0071We love our baby’s little prints in sort of 3D and will always cherish it.

 

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.

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Mom, Dad and our boy – our little family

As we came to the last stop, where we could allow our son to walk and experience the thick spekboom forests, it was, especially now, looking back, such a great 3 days.8-DSC_0363 7-DSC_0350 I see my wife, the person I have loved deeply for almost half of my life, who has achieved so much, given so much to me and everyone she has met, coaxing our 13 month son through the forest. Showing him all the wonders, his little mind filled with questions, what is this, that and everything else.

1-DSC_0340 3-DSC_0343 5-DSC_0346 4-DSC_0345What a wonderful experience to be the dad in this group of three. This little blessing that joined us after so many years, making everything around him shine, becoming vivid, sharply, no crisply in focus as if it is touched by the beautiful dawn of another day, that freshness that is so nearly touchable before the sun fully brightens the day. We are three, mom, dad and son, but we are also ONE family.

We will be back, soon as we can, to this place where the elephants play in the water, the jackals and nightjars provide the background music of the night, this place where the dung beetle has right of way!

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The Core of US…part 2 (Love)

My history with Struis Bay begin around 1994, when I went with a group of friends. I fell in love with Struis, the moment we arrived. I visited it a few more times, and on one occasion even invented “car trouble” to stay another day.

In 1995, I met a beautiful blue-eyed girl in my office, which I liked but did not think of any further as she was in a relationship with a friend of a work colleague. Later that year we met again at a function, and I gave her a lift to her vehicle, chit chatting all the way. When I got home, I told a friend, I met my wife in a tongue-in-cheek manner. I, again, did not pursue the matter due to the aforementioned condition.

This was a great time of getting to know self for me. I was coming from a 6 year relationship, and at that stage, I was in another on off relationship myself. This was to be an important time, for a boy was becoming a man learning and thinking about respect, love, honor, religion and many other life lessons through reflection and discussion with amongst people, my dad. I learned all about who I was and accepted myself and was comfortable with myself, recognizing where I could improve as well.

February 1996, I was not in any relationships, nor was she, so I asked her to an evening out. We had a great time, dancing and although she had a few suitors, I eventually got the nod, which also nearly did not happen, as I wrote her a letter, stating my intentions, which got lost behind a table (fell off) and she only got it 4 days later by pure luck.

I was in love and so was she. We loved talking and we spent hours doing that, nearly talked ourselves out of the relationship also, but by October that year we took the important decision to go on holiday together and it was at that point we both realized we wanted to get married. A few months earlier her mom was diagnosed with cancer, again, which was to play a big role in our eventual marriage date.

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Pondering the future on the garden route lookout.

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One of the big trees in the natural forests of Garden route

My first job was to ask fer her parents blessing and I made a date with them on a Friday morning. They lived in Struis Bay at the time, so I left at 6 am, and drove the 2 hours, stopping at a petrol station to freshen up, nervously fumbling with my hair brush. On arrival her mom had breakfast ready, which immediately made me feel a little more comfortable, and I asked for their blessing. She made me promise to look after their only child and I told them that I know she was their most precious gift and so is also mine and still is to this day.

In the second week of November we were back in Struis Bay, and we took a walk to the beach, specific part, called “Skulpiesbaai”, translated means “Bay of shells”. I had the ring in my pocket, constantly checking, because if it got lost there, it would be gone for sure. At a point, I dropped to my knees and asked her to be my wife. She accepted and I was as happy as a clam, excitedly walking back to “break” the news, only then did they cry (mom and daughter) and to be honest I felt cheated that she did not cry when I asked…just a joke, she obviously knew about it all long before then.

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Skulpiesbaai

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Skulpiesbaai

We planned out marriage for the end of 1997, but as time passed, her mom got sicker and we took the decision to move the ceremony to 12 April 1997. This ended up to be a great decision as my wife had both her parents present, as did I, on our important day. Next to the day Boeta was born, the best day of our lives.

8-Troue97troukoek2 4-TroueHeleenMa97 5-TroueHeleenPakerk97 6-TroueHeleenRiaanOffisiëlefotos597After our 2 week honeymoon, we ended again in Struis Bay for our last stop, visiting “our” parents as a married couple for the first time.

Struisbaai (2) Struisbaai3So as you can see Struis Bay is like the “flame of a candle”, we keep getting drawn back to it and the “warmth” of its never-ending flickering light. The lighthouse at the point is not only a warning for ships passing the point of Africa, it is a beacon, a grounding point, to which we refer and come back to, every so often, the rock on which we built so much.

In part 3 (pain), we will continue the story.

Previous post: post 1 (Life)

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.

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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.

Destroyer

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.

Space

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.

Over-protection

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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Amen

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.

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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.

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Having fun – can anything be better?

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

Love
DAD