Update 18. My oldest child turns 18. Shivers.

My blog. I’m taking it back to what it all started for. This blog is just our news, people. I have been round and round the merry-go-round as I thought the blog probably should have some revelation of life’s meaning in it, and I should post far more regularly. I did feel pressure (from myself) to do something else with it. To rock the world with my opinions about current events, politics, religion, marriage, or parenting. But geez, with just the parenting, who needs that extra pressure? And this is a brewing, fermenting process with me, it seems. Like strong tea or good wine. I just can’t write daily. (Side note- what do the people who blog daily DO with their children? Are their children fed, even? And usually, mind-blowingly, they have 5 or 6. Children. 5 or 6 children! Boom.) So, happily, I can happily say that this is me being happy with me happily blogging every couple of months or so, in the cumulative snippets of time available when I don’t cook dinner, or the spelling revision is neglected, or I just resign for an hour, and the process has to happen on its own. Which of course, it doesn’t, and I have extra cleanup/cooking/revision to do tomorrow, but what the heck. And in the two weeks leading up to when I actually do write, I am itching to put it all down, and out of my head. So after much consideration, I have come full circle- back to the update that it is intended to be: for family and friends, so those who live far and wide may know where we’re at, and hopefully relate, laugh a bit or respond.

Here's a pretty sunset picture to keep you going.
Here’s a pretty sunset picture to keep you going.

I am going to start off with the pièce de résistance. This is what precipitated chicken and mayo toasted sarmies for dinner so that I could begin writing before I keeled over with desperation. My passport is about to expire. I am a Zimbabwean living in South Africa with my SA husband and four SA children, and aside from my visa application drama (another paragraph), I now have to renew my Zimbabwean passport. Good news is we can do all paperwork, fingerprints, etc. here and send them to beloved, longsuffering sister-in-law back in Zim who deals with all things tedious and awful for all family members who have desserted her. Second good news (so much good news in a passport application?! Who would’ve known?) is that Heath is not working right now, he is on the path to greater learning. No, not visiting a Tibetan monk thingy, but trusting in faith to follow a completely different career path in project management in construction, and so he is studying informally and seeking out opportunities in that industry. When he’s not slogging with passport applications, that is. So I think ahead. Very proud of myself, actually. I put eye shadow on. What forethought!! Do you know how nasty those passport photos can be? Bland background, no smiles, no jewelry. Horrors! Basically nothing that will help you with a decent selfie. So eye shadow is the only saving grace here, to help with the draining effect of dreadful photos. I washed my hair the day before, so it should be behaving, and moisture is not in the weather forecast, so we’re all good. I go to the mall, and the dude tells me I have to tuck my hair behind my ears. My clean, non-frizzy hair now has to be rendered helpless. The result is horrifying. I ask him to take another one, and this time, I sort of tuck it behind a bit, but also bring it forward on my shoulders. Better. Ugh, still gross, but better. I ask the dude if the ear thing is okay, he says yes. We’re off, 45 minute drive into town with every document known to me, to the building where these things get done. It’s very informal, and all the people inside are Zimbabwean. Duh. So Heath pulls out the Shona, and everyone is thrilled at the murungu who speaks Shona, and his wife who pretends she knows what they’re saying. I even responded to a greeting with some words which I had learned at school in Grade 2. Forms stamped.

Now we need a black pen, which I always have in my bag, but due to homework books being signed and said pen being pen-napped by children, I HAVE NO PEN IN MY BAG. Heath goes outside and pays for a black pen from a dude outside the gate who makes his living off idiots like me. Okay, forms filled out, payment made. Now for the other dude who does the fingerprints, and sticks the photos on the forms. Ahhhh, these ones will not do. Sorry, what?!?!  We pretend he’s talking about the fingerprints…I can change the fingerprints. PLEASE just take the photos. No, it has to show your ears, he says. So does that mean you need new photos? Or can I just show you my ears now, you’ll see it’s the same person, and we’re all good?

No.

New photos needed. There’s a guy outside who can help you. It’s the pen dude. Ka-ching, I’m making his day. Before we get to him, I dig in my bag to find a pretty clip to tie my hair back and avert this whole ear issue. No pretty clip. No hairband, no paper clip, no elastic band, no scissors. Last resort, I’m almost pleading with Heath not to do it, but he does. He asks the gate security dude, the one with the pointless clipboard who signs everyone in, if he has an elastic band. He thinks for a few seconds, goes off, and comes back with an elastic band which has the circumference of a small dinner plate, and the thickness of an umbilical cord. If diseases could be transmitted through inanimate objects, this was the mother lode. I can’t even say what colour it was originally. I hold it on my hand. I sigh. There is nothing more to say. Heath is in border mode. This must be common to most men, I think. Border mode is that change of being where any semblance of a sense of humour disappears. It’s when you’re approaching country borders renowned for bribery and corruption, and you, as the wife, navigator and co-pilot, are asked for the 23rd time, Do you have the passports? Yes. Get the kids shoes on! Yes, kids are shoe-ed. Where’s the trailer keys? Still here.

You dare not lag behind (the walking speed is a brisk jog), do NOT get thirsty, and most of all, DO NOT need to pee. We’ve been through a couple of these military-like experiences in our previous travels between South Africa and Zimbabwe, and Heath has seen the lighter side of it all, when I’ve gently raised it when we’re sitting on the beaches on the other side of the border, and are feeling a tad more relaxed. ‘Border mode’ is now a family catchphrase to ‘just. chill.’

I have to rabbit-trail here: a very vivid childhood memory of my own, approaching the same border post with my parents and two older brothers. Sedan car, boot laden with our luggage. I think I was about 14. Dean, my oldest brother is 6 years older than myself and we’d just had a very rare family holiday together, as he had been living in South Africa and we hadn’t seen him for a while. I remember the holiday had been good, valuable for the relationships. We were approaching the border- you can feel the temperature and the tension rising. Then Dean remembers his passport. He’s a big boy, he’s supposed to be responsible to keep his passport out, ready for the military march-through. He speaks up, pupils dilating, pulse racing. Dad, I don’t have my passport, I’ve packed it. Silence. Dad barks back, his knuckles white on the steering wheel, Where is it? Dean gulps, It’s in my bag, Dad. A long, heavy, sweaty pause. Dad: What the hell is it doing in Baghdad? And laughs. We begin to breathe again, and laugh along. The entire boot is unpacked to retrieve the passport from BagDad. Back to my present border-mode issue:

We look across the road at the makeshift photo booth. Well, okay…no. No booth. Just a broken bar stool, I kid you not, in the middle of the dust. Two men- one photographer and one assistant. The wind is blowing, and there is just no way the hair can stay down for a photograph…you won’t see my face, let alone my ears, so I pull my hair back into a ponytail with the most appalling elastic band ever known to humankind. There (obviously) is no mirror, well, except for Heath and of course by this stage if I looked like something from a zoo, (and I did) he would still say I looked fine. I sit on the stool, and the assistant has to hold a large whiteboard behind my head to provide the white background. In his other hand he holds an umbrella, sort of to the side of me. Still don’t know what that was for, because it didn’t sort out the “shadow” that seemed to plague me on take 1, 2, 3 or 4. I don’t think they ever had to deal with such a paleface before. On take 3, the photographer then discovered that my ponytail would blow and become visible behind my head (not good for passport) so he would lean forward, fiddle with my hair and then try again. Disconcerting at the least. If I had scissors….I would’ve. Then he decides that my shoulders are not showing up enough, due to a wide neckline on my shirt, so he instructs me to pull up the neckline of  my shirt right up to my neck. Before he can lean forward and re-dress me, I adjust it dramatically, my heart sinking lower. After take 5, we move under some stairs in the building behind us. Mary Poppins loses the umbrella and focuses on the whiteboard, but by this time his hand is clearly a little tired, and it nearly falls on my head twice, but by now I am concentrating on keeping my eyes open. I look Chinese, because the wind together with the glare of the open, bright sky together are causing my saving-grace, photogenic blue eyes to shut. When I force them open for take 6 (still a shadow) and take 7 (wayward ponytail) they stream and stream, and so my nose begins to run as well. Take 8 is examined closely on the camera, and they say, yes, this will do. I want to cry. The photo is as close to a Chinese Gollum as you can imagine. It will take a few minutes for them to print it in the Golf. A VW Golf, their work station, where their printer is rigged up in the boot. There is a thick red cable running from the printer, through the car, and out the front window to under the bonnet. Assuming it’s running off the battery, I feel like I’m in one of those episodes of “What Happens Next”  or “I Shouldn’t Be Alive.” Anyway, in 5 minutes, Chinese Gollum gets her picture posted in her passport forms, and I have to remember that when I travel in the future, I shall have to cry a lot beforehand, or drink copiously, or travel with my head out of a car window for 100kms in order to look like my photo. Sigh. After such a long-winded story, I did not think it would be right for you to have to imagine this picture all on your own. Here is the photo. Deep breath everybody.

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The boys say I look like I’m about to attack someone. As a passport photo, given my current visa status, this is probably fitting. Don’t mess with me.

 

So new Zim passport is sorted. Just the SA Visa in the pipeline. Having filed our case through the High Court here, our court date finally happened on the 4th November. Heath attended, and it was a full day of lots of law terminology; our advocate (not Jesus, the other one, whom we pay) spoke for most of the day, and all in all, everyone is still confident about a successful outcome. There is one of two scenarios, however- the judge can send this case to the Constitutional court for review (as that is our case- the law sending me back to country of origin and separating me from beloved spouse and adorable children is unconstitutional…) or they can say, give her a visa and make the constitutional point a non-issue. Our lawyer hopes for the former, because that fight has bigger scope and bigger influence for other people. Anyway, we wait and see…the verdict may be out before this blog is finished, which means you’ll have to read until the end now, just to find out. Ha ha.

I will continue in the mundane covering of events in the Stewart family in the last few months; please bear in mind that it is over a few months; otherwise you will feel like we are always at the beach, or posing in front of sunset skies. We tend not to take photographs of our boring family evenings where we all pile on the couch and watch TV together, or take selfies as we sort out the socks.

All camping and no sleep makes Luke a tired boy!
All camping and no sleep makes Luke a tired boy!

Luke went on his Grade 6 camp in Sept, which he loved. I hate Grade 6. It has been hard every time I’ve been through it. I have memories of being in the Principal’s office every 3 weeks or so to discuss the horrifying things that I hear about what goes on in a Grade 6 class, and the challenges that my current child faces there. Grade 6 is full of taller girls whose self control has not yet matched their hormone growth or their way with words, and it’s hectic! It’s been no different here than in our little Christian school in Zim (except perhaps the language is a little more colourful), and thankfully Luke had a fantastic teacher this year who understood him really well, and helped him a great deal. We are looking forward to Grade 7 next year, that’s for sure! Errr, except that Ethan moves to Grade 5 next year, and that’s where it all begins again. Eeeeeeeekk!

Cross country medal
Cross country medal

 

Luke also excelled in athletics, despite very strong competition in his school of 1500 kids. He won a medal in cross-country for finishing 8th, and qualified in the 100m sprint semi-finals later on in the year.

 

 

 

One of our weekend ‘get-me-out-of-the-house-before-I-go-mad’ mid-term excursions was to see the annual spring flowers- a passion of mine. One thing that we still have not come to terms with- or sanity with- is the volumes of people here. Cape Town is so huge, and when there is one little national park renowned for awe-inspiring natural fields of brightly coloured flowers, then you’ll be fighting with bajillions of people to see them.  Picture1

This is a picture of the line of cars queuing to get in (we drove past queue, doubled back, and entered from other side. Zimbabweans are just genius at making a plan), and after deciding not to put our family car through the trauma of the dodgy dirt roads right at the end, we spent a beautiful day at the beach, which was hermit crab heaven, and the lagoon we found had shallow water wayyyy out. It was crazy hot, though, and we had forgotten to pack our umbrella. As we had arrived, however, our beach-neighbours had lost their gazebo to the wind- it went somersaulting down the beach, past us (narrowly), and ended up with a buckled frame. They unfastened the canvas and wrote off the frame, parking it by the dustbin, and when they left, we ingeniously fashioned it into a shade cover, sort of. We were more proud of ourselves for making  a plan than we were disgusted by the fact that we were recycling trash like hobos. It saved the day, I tell you.

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Shady Zimbabweans
Shady Zimbabweans
In the lagoon. Water was freezing, so it took great courage to get out that far. When they came back in, they said they couldn't feel their.... well, their legs, of course.
In the lagoon. Water was freezing, so it took great courage to get out that far. When they came back in, they said they couldn’t feel their…. well, their legs, of course.
Creepy big hermit crabs
Creepy big hermit crabs
Cute little hermit crabs
Cute little hermit crabs

 

 

The short 10 day break from school began on the 2nd October. It has been a flurry of exams, and end of term is always exhausting, even more so because your mind knows the break is only 10 days, and your Zimbabwean clock is still used to 3 weeks, and how will you cope; sob? Joshua organised a group of friends to join him at Jump Around, a trampoline park near town, straight after school. Heath picked up the 4 louts, then sat in the coffee shop at the venue to kill an hour until they were done. He sent me a video of Josh doing a beautiful double somersault into the foam pit. I was so proud…taking after his diving mother! Aiden and I send sms’s back teasing that it was amazing that he didn’t worry about his ever-perfect hair getting squished. Then radio silence. Nothing. The next pictures that come through are of Joshua with a swollen face. He managed to land with his left knee tucked up into his nose, and his right knee tucked up into his eye socket. Mmm, that’ll make your eyes water more than a camera and Mary Poppins on a windy day. So I google everything and send sms snippets of ice, don’t lie down, where are the medical people there?? don’t take anti-inflammatories, etc. All advice says not a lot can be done until swelling goes down. Poor child, he missed out on all the fun and sat in the car with Heath. THEN, because there was no mother present, the child decided to blow his nose. Well, clearly there was a crack in the pipeline somewhere, because his eye completely swelled shut after that. Ugh. Long story short, we did x-rays that evening which didn’t show up anything (apparently x-rays are limited in this regard… lovely, expensive CT scan is the way to go); the following day a good and valued friend, who conveniently (thank you God) happens to be an orthopaedic surgeon, said he had given it lots of thought overnight, and we should definitely get it checked out to make sure the orbital bones around the eye were okay, and that sinuses won’t be affected in the long-term. So off to CT scan, then to Tygerberg, a government hospital, where we will meet with a reconstructive surgeon referred to us by Doc friend. Hospitals in Africa, baby, always scary. Corridors of people from every walk of life, paint peeling off the walls, and chairs you’re too chicken to sit on because of the fluid stains on them. Eeeyew. Children all around you, heartbreaking- you never know their stories, and you wish you could help them all. We were there a few hours, our surgeon’s letter fast-tracked us in, and they said that despite a tiny fracture in the sinus bone above the eye, and on the nose bridge, there was nothing more they would recommend. So Joshua hasn’t blown his nose or done any more double somersaults in the last few months, and all is well.

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Post double-somersault. Oweee momeeee
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Post blowing nose. Dear heaven!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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End of term treats

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During this October break, we decided to make the Whale Festival at Hermanus this year. It’s about a 2 hour drive- whale watching from the coast, the whole vibe. I was so excited!

Left for Hermanus: Saturday morning, 10am. Car started peeing water from somewhere: 10:30am (that leaves us on side of highway in the Strand.) Find a place that’s open, that can help: 11:00am. Their closing time: 12:00. Time we actually got car diagnosed: 2:00pm. Their reward in heaven: untold. The owner of the company, Heavyweight fitment centre, was amazing- such a kind person, even though he looks like a thug (he’s a heavyweight boxer, hence the name!) When the mechanic recommended we do not continue to drive the Chrysler, he put us all into his bakkie and drove us back to Durbanville. We could either boycott the whole weekend and be sad, or squeeze into the VW Polo and try this again. We tried again. VW does not stand for Very Wide, and I arrived with a numb bum from having Ethan on my lap, but we made it without killing each other. We had booked in at a bed and breakfast, which turned out to be fine- boys all slept in one room, and the place had a pool table and table tennis, and we could still watch the World Cup Rugby in the lounge, so everyone was happy. It was a great weekend, so nice to explore somewhere different. I have a problem with nature, in that it makes me cry. We saw quite a few whale bods and tails, and large pods of dolphins, and I cried over all of them. I think it’s just the wonder of it all, and knowing the One who made it all, and that He still sees us and hears us, even though the whales probably give Him a lot less grief.

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No pictures of whale tails…my people are much more interesting.

We did get the Chrysler fixed, and then we did get the Chrysler sold, traded in for a Toyota (unbreakable) Verso, 7-seater. We have tried to piece together fragments of insight from this heart-wrenching experience of a car that we bought when we arrived in SA, then spent a small fortune in repairs on it…we had set our hearts on having a great family car like a Chrysler Voyager, but in the end the heartache and misery caused by our narrow mindedness has cost us. Better to always err on the side of sensibility and frugality than… well, than a Chrysler Voyager.

We celebrated the new prefect with dinner out!
We celebrated the new prefect with dinner out!

As the last term begins, Joshua is selected as a prefect at Fairmont for 2016. As he has only been at the school for one year, and the prefect body consists of 32 students selected from 250, this is a great achievement. The prefect-ship has exposed him to so much- he has helped host exchange students from Denmark and participates in various duties and teams, and is enjoying every minute of it. He has met heaps of new people, and marvels at the fact that they have so much in common, despite different childhoods.

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On the Tabletop!

 

We celebrated Joshua turning 18 on the 6th December, and hosted a party for 20 teenagers at our home. Heath’s mom, Annia catered with amazing food, a hired jukebox took care of the music, and it was a great evening, with great kids. We are so grateful for the community that we are in that contributes to raising our children, and keeping them on the straight and narrow!

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So the last term was a hectic one here, as it’s the dreaded exam term. Social life shuts down, gadget time shuts down, even happiness and well-being shuts down, and everyone is miserable, sighing and heavy. I definitely do not buy into the whole thing, and am having to adjust to the exam lifestyle, as much as I hate it. What happens if your cat dies on the day of the exam?? Your whole life is judged on a dodgy day, which is not fair. At least here, exams only contribute 25% towards final mark, with the whole year’s work making up the rest. I still don’t get why it’s such a stress at exam time, though. I decided to calmly put structures into place to get all the revision done, I googled proof for the teenagers that listening to music at the same time as studying defeats the absorption process (I know that I can’t hear both children if they talk to me at the same time… same logic!) and I settled both Luke and Ethan down at the dining room table with me to begin work. I convince Ethan that he can kill Afrikaans if he just translates the words he knows, then pieces the rest together. We do a few together, and it’s hard going. Then we get to the word ‘ons’ meaning ‘we’- a word we use ALL THE TIME. And he forgets what it means. I almost cry. I take a deep breath and turn to Luke, who is doodling on the notepad instead of working on word sums, and I leave the table. I was just overwhelmed! This was so much harder than I thought! Then Heath decides on the best plan for everyone’s survival- to bring our date night forward to a date brunch (starting right now), and so we left the children, all of them, studying on their own, for most of the day whilst we sought sanity in the winelands. And found it. In Franschhoek this time. It is sometimes so necessary to go and breathe fresh air, to refocus on what your goal is as parents, what’s important and what’s  not, and to drink some wine to drown your worries. No, wait, we didn’t do that- we looked at wineLANDS, yes, that’s it.

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Breeeeeeaaaathing

These times with Heath are my saving… he listens to every download (and overload, overkill, aftermath, breakdown) that I have, and doesn’t provide solutions until I ask for them. (This is a very hard skill to learn; he’s verrry good at it.) Parenting presents challenges and terrors IMG_5053that no text book can ever really cover. Like Ethan, who seems to have the most discipline issues (duh- fourth born boy… we always joke that he was raised by the wolves); who one day
comes home from school with a lonnggg story about how another boy’s lunch box got kicked around. After clever parental questioning, it is discovered that he is the kicker. Groan.
Discipline and a sorry note.

Oh, and Ethan also “likes” Bella at school. Note to all mothers: always tidy your children’s rooms / cupboards from time to time. You will find secret notes, drawings and letters that open up a world of revelation to what the heck is going on with them. In Ethan’s  bottom drawer, I found a card from Bella, saying I Love You. The child is TEN YEARS OLD, I remind you, and one day we bump into Bella in the school corridor. As he’s introducing me to Bella (admittedly) the cutest little thing I’ve ever seen, my child- my innocent, car-loving, sketch-a-doodle-a-day, rough-and-tumble kid, is BLUSHING. What the hell is he blushing for? How does he even know what a non-mom girl is, for goodness’ sake? Ugh. So we’ve wearily trudged the girl/boy like/love/date territory- for the fourth time- albeit a lot earlier than the others were, and explained purity, and holiness, and how to treat a lady, and how to focus on the right things at school (not Bella) and it’s exhausting.

We lost Ethan in a mall briefly. Turning around to find him, we see him in the shop window. Crazy kid.
We lost Ethan in a mall briefly. Turning around to find him, we see him in the shop window. Crazy kid.
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Bella’s note.

 

 

But not quite like the terror of Luke who has had his ‘sex-talk’ at school… and with Luke having no filter, the questions are coming thick and fast. It turns out there were definite gaps in the information given at school. One very memorable conversation during laundry folding began with Luke asking me what a condom was for. I swallow, try not to bolt for the door, and explain that when a husband and wife do not want to fall pregnant, they use it during sex so that the egg is not fertilised in the woman, etc. I pause; I can see those wheels turning, man, and I’m holding tight…. Then he looks at me and says, So does that mean that you and Dad had sex to make us….? Then he stops abruptly, his blue eyes growing wider, and I realise I don’t need to answer, as he begins to blush, and cringe, as he realises that we as his parents have partaken (more than once!) in an act which he currently finds appalling. I laugh out loud, and we hug it out, and carry on with the laundry.

This is my survival kit after grocery shopping on a hard day. A peppermint crisp dessert (oh, come on! It's tiiiiny) just for me. If comfort food works for me, hey what can I say? Extra crunches tomorrow.
This is my survival kit after grocery shopping on a hard day. A peppermint crisp dessert (oh, come on! It’s tiiiiny) just for me. If comfort food works for me, hey what can I say? Extra ab crunches tomorrow.

And teenagers. Teenagers are terrifying on a daily basis, but luckily the joy of having these creatures in your home balances out the terror. Joshua is learning to drive, Aiden is growing chest hair and a moustache, Joshua shaves his legs (twice) as he doesn’t IMG_5244like the ‘fur’, all of us are learning to communicate with each other better (resulting in some fierce conversations sometimes), Joshua needs glasses and Aiden needs stronger ones, both their computers’ hard drives crash, and have to be replaced, Joshua has to do well in exams this year, as these are the results put on early University applications, Aiden’s school forgets that he is exempt from Afrikaans for 3 years, and his report says he cannot progress to Grade 9 (grrr, hellooooo?); and so we work through each situation with fear, trembling and prayer! I remember thinking to myself, on a good day (Josh and Aiden had both come home with great results for tests), that hey, this is a good day… I wonder what’s going to hIMG_5032appen next? Terrible to think that, right? But I did. I think I’ve come to terms with the seasonality of everything. We’re at a stage where everything can be discussed with everyone at the dinner table… from girls to condoms to exams; how this Christmas won’t be an extravagant one as we have enormous amounts of money tied up in a Visa court case; how we will not be buying a PS4 as a family, because their brains will really turn to fudge; and how despite hearing conflict or disagreements between family members, the relationships only grow and get stronger because we love each other. Yet I know that in a few months time, everything will change, as Joshua gets his driver’s license and becomes much more independent. He just better remember to turn off his desk light, or he doesn’t get the car. He he.

So yes, it’s good, and essential, to breathe, and get off the battlefield just for a moment to recharge, reload and refresh. And then one day we see these guys…a mama and papa Egyptian goose with their babies. Walking IN the road, and everyone takes care around them, and they quack and quack and quack all the way home. Geese definitely quack more than they honk. So if God can take care of these babies who can’t even jump up a pavement yet, surely he’s got an eye on us, yes?

IMG_5249bHeath is a rugby fan. I  have undoubtedly strengthened my marriage by learning the rules and loving the game. We shout at the ref together, stand up off the couch during tries, and plan our weekend around the big games. But, there’s not only normal rugby, there’s Sevens Rugby (i.e. 7 a-side for all you uneducated ignoramuses) which is much funner to watch, and requires less rule-book studying during a game. AND the games are only 14 minutes long. (Was it invented by a woman, I wonder?) SO….the Sevens circuit travels to major cities where all the teams play, and they started in Dubai, and then came to Cape Town in December. Much excitement! We delayed getting tickets, as we thought our American friends might be here by then, and we would drag them with us, so by the time dates were confirmed for later, tickets for rubgy had sold out. So every Dubai Sevens game that came on the TV saw my dejected husband sighing away to himself that he had missed out. I mean, really whining, people. We all tiptoe around the lounge, saying sorry, and shame, etc, because he really was a very sad little bunny. ANYWAY… the punchline here is we WON tickets through a radio competition! We had been driving in the car, going back and forth to toy stores as the boys has been on a mission to buy remote control cars (and this requires several exchanges of chinese junk cars, new batteries, etc.) and Heath heard it announced that if you wrote a war-cry for the SA “Blitzbokke” rugby team, you could win tickets to see the final. We’re in TOYS R US; I’m about to poke out my eyes with a light saber, because I’m so bored, and I’m so tired of trying to understand whether this car’s frequency will mess with that car’s frequency; so when Heath asks if I can write a war-cry, I happily oblige. I love writing ditties, although it has to have the words Excellence, Simply and Delivered in the war-cry, as these are DHL (the sponsor)’s catchphrase words.  I pull out my grocery list and scribble on top of a train-set box. It’s pretty lame, I thought, but Joshua and Heath nearly peed their pants with excitement, so we sms it in, and wait to see if we ‘qualify.’ We’re back in the car, Luke and I go into another store for batteries, and as we’re coming out, a madman comes screaming into the mall, shouting, We’re in! We’re in! Hurry! His stance is like a rugby player, actually, knees bent and wide apart, and he’s gesticulating wildly. I realise it’s Heath, and so we run to the car. He got an sms to say that we were one of two finalists, and we had to sing the war-cry on air. Hold up. No-one said anything about singing, or music, or notes, or tune. I freak out, and refuse. Then I read through the war-cry and it doesn’t really need a tune. It even sounds great if you do with a gruff, Afrikaans accented voice. Hilarious. By the time we get to go on air, we’ve decided the boys will do a backing “we’re-at-the-rugby-and-we-love-our-boys-and-we’re-grazing-biltong-and-drinking-beer” sound, which essentially is “Whoo.” Loud and deep. They don’t exactly sing ballads at rugby, so we’re fine. We’re on the phone, in the car still, in our garage at home. We figured acoustics would be better if we just stayed in the car. There is one guy before us. His war-cry is terrible. “Here we go, Blitzbokke, here we go! Excellence is the way we play. Simply the be-est every day. Something something ending in ay…” (we couldn’t hear- the boys were in hysterics by this point) “… Bok-aahhh! Bok-aaahhh!”

Oh my word, we’re in with a freaking chance, here!! Heath will do the war-cry in a loud gruff voice with a slight Afrikaans accent, and it turns out when you’re nervous, the loud becomes, like, really loud. So when Heath started doing it, I nearly cracked up, because I’m sure Cape Town collectively jumped in fright.

“BLITZBOKKE `running on the pitch; Leaving the opponents in the ditch (Whoo!!)

EXCELLENCE in passing like you’ve never seen, For sure my blood runs gold and green (Whoo!!)

Conversions DELIVERED through the posts, Simply to victory our boys will coast! (Whoo Whoo!!)

The DJ’s were all laughing- at the volume first, then the enthusiasm, I think. They said they loved our ‘gees’- our spirit. So we won 8 tickets (a good friend Ty and his son Thomas joined us for part of the day), and a DHL hamper, and we watched from 8am until 8pm at the Cape Town Stadium, including the final, which SA won.  It was a fantastic day, the boys lasted really well, despite the long day.

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Aidy Babes
Aidy Babes

Aiden turns 15 on the 1st January, and his friends organised him an early surprise birthday party in early December, before everyone went away for the holidays. They just chilled together, swam, played cards, and it was awesome. We managed to pull off the surprise by boring him to death all day, then saying his friend down the road was also bored, so he could go around and swim or watch a movie. So as he arrives, the door opens, and he says, Hello, my bored friend. And 8 others yell back, Surprise!! So that was cool.

 

We are looking forward to Christmas- all of Heath’s family will be here, which will be awesome. It’s very special to intermittently see the nieces and nephews in person and not on skype, otherwise they go from 2 to 12, and you don’t even know how that happened. Tarik and Gretchen’s Rubi is now 5, and Zak 3, and we’ll be having Christmas lunch with them at the house where they’re staying in Cape Town. Arriving on 6th January, sadly without the niece Morgan or nephew Sean, is Brendan, who is popping in (usual tornado-like style) for 2 days after a visit to Zim. So excited to have him. And in between, from the 29th Dec to 7th Jan, the Edwards family from Iowa (our very good friends who were in Zim with us for 2 years) will be here with their 3 kids! Yee hah! Where they will all sleep, and what they will all eat off is still a mystery, but then there’s nothing like a good mystery to keep the excitement, right?!

So it’s the 23rd as I finally finish this. There is no news from the esteemed judge of our case, so my theme song has been, All I Want For Christmas Is My Visa, Dude. And I remain an alien until the New Year. Sigh.

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From our family to yours, we wish you the very best of Christmases, surrounded by what is important and truly valuable. May God’s love be real more so at this time, as you think on what the real meaning of the season- and life- is. Grace, peace and joy to you! Until 2016….

Lea.

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Ethan photobombing. Sigh. It’s hard to get a good pic these days.

 

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2 thoughts on “Update 18. My oldest child turns 18. Shivers.

  1. Hey. . . . . You Stews, oh my word what an awesome, blog, a great tribute to your trials and tribulations, as a “wonderful mom, wife and God fearing human being Lea, just awesome!! Wishing you “ALL” a blessed and “fan-tab- u-lous” Christmas. Love the Gauteng dudes, The Tribe of Heynes’s.

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    1. Thanks for sharing your blog Lea, you have a real gift. I have so enjoyed reading it. Have a blessed new year filled with God’s awesome Grace and hope. Love Judy

      Like

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