I had to go back to Zim for 3 days in August 2014 to renew my visitors visa, as well as get police clearance from there to apply for my spousal visa here. If you’re wondering why I’m writing about 2014, I’m updating the blog with the updates I wrote (but not published on blog) when we immigrated, and totally confusing all who read. Sorry.
The visa application certainly wouldn’t have gone through by time my visitors visa expired, so….we booked my flight and booked my room for 3 days at Hotel Adam (Heath’s sister). It was like I was pregnant. In the days leading up to the birth..errr….trip, I was making extra meals, packing 12 lunch boxes in advance, buying fruit for daaaayyyys, doing odd bits of laundry to make sure everyone had their favourite whatever clean when they needed it. OCD Extraordinaire.
On my arrival in Zim, the situation that greeted me was 200 people all collecting their bags from one hole in the ground that spewed out the bags onto a stationary carousel. So not even a carousel. Just a stationary. Absolute mayhem. One airport official would stroke the bags as they came up out the hole, another official would watch the passengers stack them somewhere. It was bit numbing really, to see it. I did feel selfish that my home was now elsewhere. Yet my family is my focus right now, and we are doing all we can to make it count for them.
It was very strange travelling alone. Almost boring. I won’t lie, I enjoyed the break– I had time to do some research, I read 2 books, had heaps of time chatting to Gretch which was so great, I remembered to eat at every mealtime (any mother will know that is a near-impossible feat when running a household– in fact, Heath now knows that!) and I could sit on the loo for hours. If I wanted to, except then the leg circulation gets cut off, not good. I even had an afternoon nap one day. Gasp!
Heath was amazing– he coped absolutely brilliantly– he conquered the mounds of homework, had dinner ready by 6pm every night, had everyone ready to go to school by 6:40am (when we usually only leave by 7:10) AND he surprised me by getting the last of the essential furniture that we needed– a desk and chairs for Joshua and Aiden, and bedside tables for our room. So that was such a nice welcome home! Especially when I knew the process of getting them sorted entailed dealing with Lebanese factory owners who expected you to pay first, collect the furniture PIECES from the warehouse, drive round to assembly point and sit for 2 hours (not the promised 1/2 hr) whilst they assembled everything. Hence I had abandoned this process with a sense-of-humour-failure a few weeks before, so as to avoid Lebanese blood on my hands.
Heath even helped Ethan with his Afrikaans reading homework. When Ethie got to school the next day and the teacher was checking up on him, she was surprised to hear that he had read the whole book. His innocent response was, “My dad had come to South Africa before, you know!” Sweetheart. Wish that was all it took to learn the language! AND it turns out Term 3 is Project Term here in SA. Hoorrraaaah. The projects seems to focus more on the oral report, and secondary to that is the visuals that go with it. So we conquered Luke’s castle project (very grateful that the book “Knights and Castles” was one I decided to pack) and he spoke on Life in a Medieval Castle. He’s pretty confident to speak publicly, so he said it went really well. No, we did not build a castle due to time constraints, but I had considered it. The stress that thought caused is as great as building the actual thing, I think, and I eventually discussed with Luke that a poster with lovely pictures would be the way forward, and he agreed, phew!
Then Ethan, who is learning fruit and veg in Afrikaans, gets a project to build a ruimtemannetjie (ruimte=space; mannetjie=little man) out of fruit and veg, and give the oral report of what he’s made up of…his eyes, ears, nose, hair, body etc. Then to say what his spaceship was made of, what planet he came from, and what special powers he had. Geez. Time to visit the Afrikaans neighbour. The school gave us a guideline, but I needed some pronunciation power! Turns out, I can ggcchhh along with the best of them, and if ever your ears should be made of grapes, I could tell you so. We practiced lots, and Ethan was awesome. Our dude’s ruimteskip (spaceship) was a pampoen (pumpkin) and he came from the planet Pampoenkraal. This was a hilarious inside family joke, as we would drive past an actual place called Pampoenkraal often, and Heath would joke that if the boys were disobedient, he would take them to Pampoenkraal, just because it sounded so bizarre! Then our spaceman’s special powers was that he could make people healthy when they were sick. (Fruit and veg, man…get it?)
Well, we…I mean, Ethan… got 100%. The other spacemen had lousy powers like shooting lava balls from their tummies, or flying. Duh. And ours was the most colourful. And Ethan was obviously the cutest child.
Afrikaans, structurally, is very easy to learn. The kids won’t struggle at all, except for Aiden, who says his teacher really doesn’t enjoy teaching, and doesn’t translate a single thing she says into English, so he’s very lost. Everything in our house is labelled in Afrikaans from the sout (salt) and peper (pepper, but pronounced peeya-per) to the badkamer (bathroom). In our house the ‘bad’ actually applies to the bad-kamer.
Joshua went on his first Youth camp over this weekend in Simonstown. That Friday morning at school, Joshua’s prayer group were told in the morning that the speaker for the devotions who was supposed to come had cancelled, so they had no-one to lead it. Much to the prayer group’s horror, Joshua
volunteers to do it. “It’s in front of the whole school, Josh! Are you sure?” Joshua’s sure. Anyway, he gets up in front of 1500 students and teachers and tells them a story from when he was younger, about how he had a Motorola RazR phone given to him by his aunt and uncle and he loooved that phone. But…the beloved phone got stolen, and eventually was replaced by a nasty Nokia. The life lesson here was that the Motorola had distracted Joshua from his relationship with God, he had valued it more, and yet it was adding nothing to him of value in the sense of his life. (This is my very brief ‘nutshell’ version of it). Joshua said he got some really cool feedback from strangers in the school, that it was one of the best devotions they’d ever had. The fact that Josh even had this opportunity is unbelievable, and the way he dealt with it makes us so proud. We missed him so much whilst he was on camp. He had a really good weekend, real encounters with God, and life-changing ministry took place in his life.
Over the weekend, we went to the Cape Town Conference Centre for the Days of the Dinosaur exhibition– it was okay…a little lame now that our boys are older, though! Then we explored a few eating places in the poky streets in town– they look so dingy, you fear for your life– but there are some real gems. One called Royale Eatery.
They do milkshakes, among other things. About 20 flavours available– Luke and Ethan ordered smartie, Aiden ordered lunch bar/espresso. Sick bag, please. Since it was treat day, we ordered the 600ml milkshakes. And they come double thick. Enough words. See.
We then drove down to Camps bay– we hadn’t been before, and it was such a beautiful day. A summer’s day. 27, with warm winds. The weather here is the most schizophrenic thing I have ever met. One day I took this photo on my phone– the iPhone prediction, and then the actual weather. You can just never be sure!
Partly cloudy? Yeah right. Partly the clouds are in the sky, and partly they’re on the ground.
Like this 27 degree Saturday….precedes another cold front expected next week where temps don’t go above 15, but the winds sure do. Our neighbour said hold on (literally) for October to January, where the south-easterly blows straight in our front door. Delightful, can’t wait.
The beach wasn’t too busy, and we explored the rock pools for a few hours, which was amazing– my absolute favourite thing in the world. The urchins and anemones were amazing– the boys were like kids in a candy store and fed mussels to the anemones until they were all closed up.
Look what I found! Nearly killed myself reaching them, but these urchins made my day!!
The first starfish we found….
and the last starfish we found!
It was a great break from the school-food-laundry-vacuum routine of the days. We are still looking for a maid for 2 days a week. Family members welcome to apply, not great pay, but excellent company and starfish-finding outings come with the deal.
I have a head cold at the moment so feel like death warmed up. Trying not to breathe on anyone. Settling the boys into school is hard work, and my afternoons are pretty homeworked out– luckily they don’t get much, but anything times 4 is lots. They are coping with the work, although there are lots of new concepts to learn. Ethan and Luke particularly. Aiden seems to find it easy enough to learn the new stuff, and his teacher is really approachable, so that helps. Ethan’s number concepts are weird– he can add stuff vertically (which is exactly what I do…which is why grocery shopping sometimes takes me 4 hours, whilst I draw the lines in the air and use my finger to point to the imaginary numbers….) but the concepts here are very different– much more mental math, so he does a half hour of extra math each day with his teacher, and that’s actually going really well. He’s doing better than expected, I think. Lukey is definitely doing his best. His teacher is a bit of a grump, for sure (put me in a classroom with 30 kids and watch me morph…) so we’re doing lots of catchup and learning concepts with him too. He’s a strong, sweet boy and sometimes gets a bit teary about everything he has to cope with, but then he gets an invitation to a play date, and the world’s alright again!
Lots of things in the pipeline with Heath. I am notorious for spilling the contents before their time, so bear with me please. This week sees lots of meetings with interesting people and networking and stuff. We are excited about the future prospects here– watch this space.
May God the Lord be the strength of YOUR hearts, wherever you are, and your portion forever.
Lots of love to you all.