Happy new year everyone. I hope your Christmas, rest time, vacation time, family time and celebration were all seasoned well with love, togetherness and a knowledge that Christ is in all.
I decided after the last entry that I would be more diligent in recording my thoughts as life went along, as it would make the next entry so much easier. So I would record stuff on my phone as I always had it with me. Well it lasted about a week. Grr. And it’s not like I have a memory anymore. That went out with the breastmilk of ancient times. X4! So most of the time before an entry is spent squeezing memories out of my family members, or checking all the photos on our phones to see where we’ve been, so that I have interesting stuff to write about other than my vacuum cleaning adventures. Speaking of which, we’ll start there. A gecko was in the vacuum cleaner when I opened the bag thing to clean it. He was alive, poor thing, and discovered when I was sifting through the indescribable, unidentifiable matter that is in a vacuum cleaner responsible for cleaning the home of 5 enormous men and one long-haired mother. Thank the Lord I had on my rubber gloves (yes, I wear gloves, looong story) and I was doing the usual scope through the dust for invaluable lego pieces which due to laziness, I prefer to suck up than pick up. Anyway, poor gecko limped out, coughed and went on his way in our garden. Housekeeping in Africa update done.
School broke up on the 10th December, but Joshua was writing exams leading up to that, and did not have to attend school if he did not have an exam. He turned 17 on the 6th December, and so it was cool that he could do movies with 4 friends. There were no classes as the Matrics were writing their finals, and everything was very sombre, serious and boring. So he stayed at home and was dragged around as my muscle for grocery shopping, hanging out washing and errands. It was wonderful. However, it’s a family joke that Joshua “rants.” I am usually a good listener, but I have also invaluably learnt the art of catching the beginning and the end so I get the gist of it, and can respond accordingly. And he talks SO FAST when he rants. Faster than normal, which is not normal for anyone normal. He has some very strong opinions. But he is also incredibly knowledgeable. He’s like our Family Tour Guide to All Things Unknown. Heath and I were watching a documentary about the construction of the One World Tower Skycraper which has replaced the Twin Towers. It was built to (an apparently significant) 1,776 feet. I thought it had to be the number of people killed in 9/11, but that wasn’t it. We had to watch until 10:30pm (yawn) to discover the significance of the number. Heath knew Joshua would have known and so the following day we asked him. It took him one err, hold on…before revealing that was the date of US Independence. Shrieks of wonder and amazement from his parents. We are so thick and yet we have a clever child! Joy. “A wise son makes a glad father.” Proverbs 10:1
However, what to do with this clever child brings me more to surrender than ever before. We are seeking counsel about Joshua pursuing law in the future, and have learned that South African law, due to it BEING South African (duh), cannot be easily adapted in many other countries, so would limit any future prospects of travel and work, etc. As Josh is quite business minded, accountancy could be a consideration…… and so my mind goes in a thousand different directions as I think about all the facets that make up his character- how good he is with younger kids (teacher? coach?), how he loves to read and write (author?) and draw (design?), how he is so good with people (public speaker? life coach?), how he knows every detail of arb history and Tolkien sagas (a history something…is there a job for that? A Hobbit consultant?), how he does want to buy Heath a Lamborghini (diamonds? oil? just kidding). You know what I mean. The mother knows best, right? Not really. The mother just knows how to fret and worry about every last detail of their child’s future. God knows best and for the mother to give up the fret and worry and to trust God takes an immense release and surrender. I’m not loving it, being out of control. But oh, how I need it. So I trust, lean on, rely on and am confident in the Lord and do good (I listen to my son rant, and I hear every detail and savour every moment); so shall you dwell in the land and feed surely on His faithfulness. I delight myself also in the Lord, and He gives me the desires and secret petitions of my heart. I commit my way (and my son’s) to the Lord, rolling each care of my load on Him; I trust in Him and He will bring it to pass. Phew. Psalm 37:3-5. Later in verse 7 it says, Be still and rest in the Lord; wait for Him and patiently lean yourself upon Him. I don’t know what’s up with all the ‘wait’ and ‘patiently’ stuff. Eish, clearly God knows me! Anyway, Joshua’s report was great, considering all the adapting and adjusting that has had to take place, and he passed everything, including the horrifying Maths. The relatable post below is one that Josh shared with me and proved to be so true, especially on one stinker of a day where his Maths paper had been nearly impossible. It was a real test of character for him. He said, after the usual motherly comfort and consolation, My best is just not good enough. Sob. It was a rough day for sure.
End of term was a hectic time, with concerts, sports days, exams and lots of end of year functions. One weekend, there were five parties….and we were just the taxi to all of them, struggling to stay awake until the 10:30pm pick up times. It’s more tiring when your children have social lives than when you do. My greatest challenge is buying gifts for said parties…usually all girls. Funny that. So trying to find a feminine gift, without any hearts on it (you DON’T want to be sending any of those vibes) is a real pain.
Aiden’s class had a traditional “Entrepreneurs Day” where they have to come up with an idea to make a product to sell to other students, teachers and parents on one day, and hopefully make a profit! Aiden loves freshly squeezed orange juice which we do often at home, as well as smoothies, so he decided that would be a great idea. Then while he was going through Pinterest (credit to my beautiful sister-in-law Gretchen, who lives in Pinland and asked me what the heck I was doing!), he saw pebbles painted like monsters- really colourful and cute, and we had an endless free supply at the beach! It was a Sunday evening when he saw this, and I checked the tide times…it was low tide right then, and then the next week Aiden would be back at school, and it would be difficult to get to the beach and…..so…..amazing Dad that he is….Heath took Aiden and Josh on a pebble finding adventure at 7pm!
The following day, I bought all the supplies, and then the project began…and for 3 weeks we dreamt, painted, designed pebbles! I loved helping Aiden, and he worked really hard. He made a profit of R1300, the highest of all the students. That was even after covering costs of all supplies and paying the cheap labour (Joshua) who helped with painting, and also to lug tables and boxes and rocks on the day!
Well, the pebbles may have paved the way (ugh terrible pun, sorry) to something that may earn a little cash! I mean, who doesn’t need a paperweight, a serviette weight, a tablecloth weight, a birthday present for that person who has everything…. a World’s Greatest Mom/Dad/Friend/Bro/Sis/Teacher (any memories there, Mom?!) and corporate gifts, and wedding name-place markers, and herb garden labels, and garden/home decor and and and AND. I can’t stop thinking about pebbles. Teachers got pebbles saying you are awesome, world’s best teacher, and faith hope love (she was a grumpy teacher, she needed the reminder.) Family got Christmas presents to decorate their homes and bedrooms.
Yup, I think I may be the she who sells sea
shells rocks by the seashore. Yippee. Err…when shall I be painting these pebbles? In all my spare time of course. The house shall not be vacuumed and the dishes may go unwashed…but the pebbles shall be painted. The geckos of the world are happy to hear this.
So the end of the term finally came and the boys all passed everything. Aiden and Ethan even passed Afrikaans. Baie wonderlik! I am doing my best to maintain schoolwork and brain functionality whilst the boys are on holiday (for 6 weeks!) and so they have to do Daily Bible reading and affirmations, typing skills, reading, times tables and watching Afrikaans TV (usually a soapie with subtitles) before any English TV or other ‘screen’ time. Oh, and they have to get out of their pyjamas and brush their teeth. Just the basics you know. Somehow eating breakfast doesn’t have to go on the checklist.
The toilet humour with a house full of boys continues on a daily basis. Usually Ethan is the victim of the humour, as he is the most atomic of them all, and insists on doing his business with the bathroom door open, usually whilst singing. One particular day, we had just come home from somewhere, and all the boys were just finishing an ice cream. Ethan had a caramel/chocolate flavoured one, and decided to finish it whilst on the loo. As one does. Aiden unknowingly walked into the bathroom (I did say the door was left open) and freaked out, then called Joshua frantically. Josh! JOSH!! You’ve got to come smell this! A pause, then Joshua: Ugh, SIIICK………….. ohh, SWEEEET!! The mix of the caramel chocolate smell with Ethan’s you-know-what smell was almost too much for them to fathom!
The usual weather update follows. It is summer here, and it is beautiful. The mountains, vineyards, sea, clouds and long days still completely stun us. We still haven’t gotten used to the sun going down at 8pm, and it finally getting dark at about 9pm. Our poor brains are completely befuddled and we crawl into bed at midnight and awake with the bright light and high temperatures at 6am. Moan. The vineyards are in full greenery (such a change from the weird little brown stumps that they were when we arrived in April), and now with clusters of tiny grapes everywhere. We have had some appalling beach days, and some wonderful ones. One particular beach day, I used some sunblock which we had brought with us from Zim- the only one we had, packed for such a time as this where I hadn’t yet stocked up on fresh beach requirements. It was a gel one, and quite sticky, probably due to the likelihood that the expiration date was 3 years prior. Anyway, lathered it on and off we went, my hair down and swinging against lovely juvly sticky skin. Add to the mix salt air and Blouberg (spelt wrong, in my opinion- BLOWberg much more accurate) wind, and you get hair that stays in a pony tail all by itself, without an elastic. Never has my hair had such a mind of its own. If I flicked my head to the side, my hair would stay there. So the gel sunblock was thrown out, and I am learning to tie my hair up for beach days. Our best beach day was on New Years Day, Aiden’s 14th Birthday.
He loves the beach, so we drove 65kms to Boulder Beach, and it was just a fantastic day. Except that we nearly left R20,000 poorer, when Heath’s wedding ring couldn’t be found. He had placed it on the chair in order to put sunblock on me (non-gel) earlier, and I had then folded up the chair when packing up. It had obviously dropped….somewhere….into the sand. My train of thought was going from God of the universe- help us find this ring, to getting a metal detector the following day, to desperately realising that we weren’t going to find it, to methodically just sifting through all the sand with my hands, knowing it had to be somewhere. After about 10 mins of sifting, Heath gathered us all around, we prayed for God to help us and the sifting began again, fighting off the faith-killing fact that I’d just done this, and it wasn’t here….and 2 minutes later, Joshua finds it in some scrubby grass just a foot away from where I was. I cried. It was 3 days away from our anniversary and we loved that ring, and what it symbolised. And my husband’s a damn sexy man. He needs that big-ass ring to ward off everyone else.
Heath’s parents arrived in Cape Town early December and his sister Gretchen, her husband Tarik, Rubi (4) and Zak (2) arrived just before Christmas, and it was awesome to spend time with them all. We had Christmas day lunch with everyone together in Noordhoek, where Tarik and Gretchen were staying. It was lousy weather, but the most hilarious game of Charades was the perfect distraction. You try and act out Batman Returns.
Returns…that’s another story. Poor Luke was acting, and the correct guess (after about half an hour of torture) was Gretchen’s finest moment to date, and my laugh out loud memory every time.
Heath has been on leave from the 18th December and he goes back to work on the 8th January, so that’s been amazing. We have mostly chilled at home, as having too much fun can actually be exhausting y’know, and we really need to be refreshed for the new year. The end of a year is a clarifying thing. We look back on a momentous move, a life changing decision, and we look ahead to prospects, opportunities and more decisions. In one of the keeps-me-sane, offloading, deep conversations that I am so blessed to be able to have with Heath, I said to him that I felt like I had lost the joy that I first had when we came to Cape Town. (The time when we were staying in a holiday home on the coast, eating out a lot, buying all our creature comforts…yeah, that time. Arggghh, I am SUCH a fickle human!) Anyway, back to the joy thing. It was a time of little cares, a great new adventure, excitement and thrill and heady trusting in God. I would drive out of the mall and insert my parking ticket into the machine which responds with a digital “have a grand day” and I would yell back, laughing out loud, “Yes! YOU have a grand day!!” and then sing along to all the songs on the radio on the way home. Then the ‘cares of life’ seem to set in, and I get bogged down in details of day to day living, what our oldest son will do with his life, should I hang the washing out today or will it rain, what the heck is up with the consistently faulty car, and why can’t I find real farm butter? What is that? Why is that? Luke 21:34 says Take heed and be on your guard, lest your hearts be overburdened and weighed down with the headache of self-indulgence, and worldly worries and cares pertaining to the business of this life… So I’m taking heed. I’m taking heed of an incredible opportunity that we’ve got to make things work for the Stewart family in Cape Town. I’m taking heed of our health and wellness, of the pee-in-your-pants times of laughter that we have at home together, of coffee dates with Heath and of the quiet times of knowing God loves us. Take heed, and may this be a wonderful 2015 for you all.
Lots of love to you all,
Some more pictures: