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….

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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…

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

Second flight…


It took many naps for my first ever flight, and not so many for my second. I was surprised at how soon it came. I think I achieved many of my goals with my visit to my grandparents. I made sure granddad got some exercise, I need to keep him fit for more visits.

5-IMG-20140929-WA058I made sure grandma got many kisses and sure enough, I got many nice treats, which mom and dad allowed to my surprise.

I also learned all about lights, and were they are. Daddy taught me the letter “A”, which he said is a good letter to learn first, because it is first in the alphabet and nice to practice when one brushes teeth or someone needs to get something out of one’s mouth that does not belong. I did check on grandpa’s mouth a few times, making sure he did not put something in his mouth.

2-IMG-20140929-WA019 We drove back on the road with lots of cars, and daddy gave our car back to the same person mommy talked to, when we arrived. After that we gave our suitcases to another nice lady. Mom and dad said we had to wait for our flying car to arrive, so I decided this will be a good time to give daddy some exercise.

3-IMG-20140929-WA025 4-IMG-20140929-WA026This place was so big, I ran and ran, but could not get to the other end. I wish I had a ball to play with or one of my cars. Next time I must remember to keep one for such an occasion. Our flying car came, and unbelievably, daddy forgot my stroller at the stairs again. He is getting old, I think.

We sat down and when the initially slow-moving flying car revved its engine again, mom gave me a bottle, I sucked on it, but this time did not finish it with take-off as mom called it, I kept sucking while my ears crackled…very funny. I showed mom my empty bottle and the next moment there was a bing-bing sound. Mom said, “did you sleep well?”, I do not remember, but the next moment we drove slowly again.

I missed my grandparents already and wondered how long it will be before I see them, but when we got home, I was so glad to see my toys and I made sure each and every one got some time to play with 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!

Need for play space…

1-DSC_0442Daddy has been hard at work outside, trying to prepare a level area for our little man to play. Our problem is that we may be living close to the ocean, but we also never thought about children when we bought the house, and who could have known that we would have such issues.

The difference in height between top and bottom of our plot is 8 meters. This means everything is at a steep angle.7-DSC_0451 6-DSC_0449Daddy said that this needs to change, as the deck is the only area that is level and as we move to summer, we need to get some more level space for the little man to play. 4-DSC_0445

At the moment he walks like an old man up and comes down like a sprinter, or rolls down. He has now nearly finished preparing a 70 square meter area and once the grass is placed, hopefully next week, we will be ready for some more fun outside.

We can look at adding some frames and swings, maybe a little bench for mom and dad. We cannot wait for this “new development“.

2-DSC_0443Daddy had to move some of the garden, which is still being established, lower down as well, but that is not an issue. One thing about living near the ocean, it is all sand, easy to garden, hard to get things growing.

3-DSC_04445-DSC_0447On the home front, Boeta has added 3 new words, including grandma. He has had some interesting foods this week as well, including fresh raw peas, turkey, fresh blueberries, polenta slices, fresh guava slices, to name a few. He has also increased his weight to 12.3 kg.

We can also make it known that we are all flying down to Cape Town, Boeta’s first, as mommy need to go for work, so we decided to make a long weekend of it and visit Boeta’s grandparents. We decided to let them know, because at 80+, the surprise may be “not so good”, so they can prepare. They are excited about this development.

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.

The good and not so good – first 12 months


01-20130811_090534The good

We had problems getting him to sleep a few hours continuously at night, so we tried adding some food (rice 1st food porridge) to the mix from just over 4 months and tea (Rooibos tea). It actually helped and as time went on we added vegetables (one type for at least 3-4 days).

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Boeta 4.5 months

He had no issues with any so the mixing started of various vegetables and a few months later we added chicken and beef. His milk was still the mainstay. With time the food became more complex and we had little issues with his appetite.

The bad

The bad part about eating came later when we started introducing more grainy food, not the smooth stuff. Every now and then a gag reflex would happen, and it could get really messy if he had already a good dinner behind him. I felt sorry for him, shame, but tried to teach him by coughing at such times, which he to his amusement replicated, and we slowly got this sorted. By 11 months the issue was sorted, with a rare happening a while back, and he now chews better as well. Still not a great experience for all concerned.

Creating space for a growing boy.

We started the week (Saturday) with frustration and tiredness. This started to reduce by Monday and on Tuesday, things picked up again and we looked forward to Friday, when mom comes home. The week has been the opposite to the weather, sunny and warm from Saturday to Wednesday, cloudy, raining and winter cold again to Friday, a week of lost and found, losing bottles, finding them, losing my mind and finding it again. It has also been a week of creating space for my growing son.

5-DSC_0261I used our nanny panels to block off some areas, but his play space doubled. It means we do not have enough blocks and some tile space is now open, but it must happen at some stage and after a month of walking, he seems to protect himself better, still a keen eye will be necessary.

7-DSC_0272The blue bin is used to add and remove toys for the day, also to teach him to put them away. He also loves playing with the earth ball. It is used to kick (dribble), throw and I try to show where mom is, when she is away.

6-DSC_0267Then the 80 + year chair gets to be pushed around again by another baby. He loves this, squeaking, as the old chair works its magic again.

8-DSC_0277 3-DSC_0252Above, his favorite bottle, loaded with milk and tea, usually! So glad we did not lose it. He also loves sitting on his haunches, while inspecting and doing things.

2-DSC_0242What a week we had, we got new space to play in, learned all kinds of new lessons. For now, we are focused on MOM, she is coming home tonight. A mother’s touch is definitely needed now and then, even for an active little boy and his dad.


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!