The basic content of these updates is what goes on in my house, a journal of the events in our lives, and finding the lesson in the craziness.
Water restrictions are being enforced in Cape Town due to really bad rains, and the water supplies are in critical condition. Unlike Zim, not everyone has boreholes here. Hardly anyone, actually. I mean, we live by the sea, for heaven’s sake. Can’t possibly run dry, right?
Anyway, I’m not going into politics or my view on why scientists have taken so long to figure out desalination when Bear Grylls has been doing it on deserted islands for ages. Then again, Bear also drinks his own urine. Which leads me to the repercussions within the house. Within the bathrooms. Since their little lizards could reach the toilet bowl, we have been training the boys to FLUSH the darn toilet. Pee or poo…flush. To be honest, this training has not always been successful, which was showcased dramatically earlier this year (before the strict water restrictions) at a friend’s house. They’re all girls- mom and 2 teenage daughters. We were having a lovely braai, kids were playing play-station games, music, atmosphere, company, lovely. Then one of the girls, obviously no longer able to contain herself after her observations, came to Heath and I and said, “Can I just ask…how does it work in your house? Do the boys just leave their wee in the toilet until you flush it, or…? Because there’s like, four wees in there.” Of course we all burst out laughing, I apologised profusely, berated the completely distracted younger boys, and flushed the loo one more time to be sure. How embarrassing. Fast forward to present day, where boys are being re-trained to NOT FLUSH for water conservation purposes. And boy, they’ve caught on fast.
To add to the mayhem, it seems that boys sync. In a previous post, I wrote about my amazement at girls being ‘synced’ but I now firmly believe that my boys’ bowel movements are synced. Probably also by divine consideration, because we can all just clear out of the house for half an hour or go to the shops while the air clears and our eyes stop watering. If that was prolonged over the course of a day, no-one would survive, and no-one could visit. Sometimes, if we’re driving home after being out together as a family, as we approach the home stretch, the boys call out dibs on who gets to dump first. Some background, dear reader- our home in Zim had four toilets. Our home here in Cape Town has two. Probably the biggest adjustment of our immigration. Since everyone assumes someone still has to use the toilet after them, they don’t flush (Earth warriors we are, saving water like no other). Need I say more? The blocked toilet is usually signalled by a panicky, “Mom? Mom! The water…it’s going to… MOM! Ohh, it’s okay…it’s stopped. UGH…MOM! You gotta come see this!” I have a good supply of nuclear-strength gloves, and with a decent offcut of hosepipe, I have saved us thousands in plumber’s fees. But hold onto your toilet seats, that’s not all. More revelations surfaced just two nights ago, when one child was using the toilet right before dinner (he was out of sync on this one), and another child went in to wash his hands. Toilet child, not realising that he was within earshot of the parents in the kitchen, laughs and says to basin child, “Are you going to pee in the basin again?” I don’t even know how to end this one, suffice to say we decided to laugh rather than cry, and followed up with a basin scrubbing tutorial, the offender duly outfitted in the nuclear-strength gloves.
Homeschooling is going well. With each day that passes, I become more and more surprised at my contentment with our decision, and excited at the prospects. There are little nuggets that appear over the days, which I have tried to record:
To begin each day, we have a Bible study devotional time together. One Monday morning; please note: MONDAY; we were discussing the Scripture about Jesus being the way, the truth and the life, and Luke asks, “So does Jesus judge us when we die, like, when we get to heaven, he either welcomes us in, or sends us to hell….I don’t understand how God can bear to do that….” I take a deep breath, and….I yell down the passage for Joshua to come and give a doctrinal lesson, whilst I go to the kitchen to make another cup of coffee, because clearly that’s what needed here. Joshua is home for the weekends and then gets Mondays off for his assignments for his B. Ed degree, which today shall clearly be covering Biblical doctrine. Praise the Lord. Seriously, though, the conversations and discussions that are sparked are pretty special. They also didn’t realise that “by His stripes we are healed” in Isaiah 53 meant the beatings that He took- all along they’ve been trying to figure out where a zebra fitted in to the picture.
Another time whilst hanging out at youth, a friend standing next to Luke begins to criticize another person who just walked by. Luke interrupts and says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth…” and then stops in complete shock at himself. The friend says, “Geez Luke, what the heck was that?” Laughing, Luke says, “It’s just the scripture we’ve been drilling at home,” and he explained to me later that it was completely spontaneous. So funny, and wonderful.
Ethan is 12 this year. This is the age to begin sex education. They do it at school at this age, and I agree that it’s a good time to start before all the misinformation sets in. Although with 3 older brothers, most things will be explained in all their glory. Ahem. So I decided informal was best, and so we are reading through a book together in the car whilst we wait for Luke at his archery lessons.
Before I carry on, please note that when proofreading my own blog, I got this message.
It’s a great book from a Christian perspective and I’ve started the one that is a level below the recommended one for his age, just to cover all the bases. Just as well. It turns out he thought anus and penis were the same thing. I suppose they sound the same. Glad we cleared that up. At this point, I’m glad there is a display of naivety on the subject. He is mostly grossed out by everything, it’s funny. One chapter covered the terminology, another the actual porthole through which babies enter the world. Mouth open, eyes wiiiide. It’s called a what…. howwwwwwww??? Then this:
caused a great bout of giggling. I check on him, making sure he understands everything. Yup, he says, it’s just funny. I decide to deviate a little (NEVER do that) to explain that as he enters adolescence, he may sometimes experience his own penis getting firm and hard. Well, the outcry! Horror, and EEYEEEWWWing, and I don’t want THAT. I go back to the book. And that’s how it is. We giggle, freak out, and move on to the next chapter. I’m thinking Joshua can take the next couple of lessons on a Monday.
I have begun to crochet again. Well, ‘again’ meaning since I was 14 when I crocheted a blue and yellow blanket for my dog, and then there was one fabric rug in 2003, and…well, that’s it. One day we were in a mall, watching people go by. There was a family who clearly had a crochet culprit in their midst. Firstly, the 2 girls and 1 boy were all wearing brightly coloured crocheted ponchos. The mama was wearing a crocheted scarf of similar jovial colours…and then came the granny, who I suspect was the culprit, and she was wearing a crocheted cardigan in exactly the same colours. Maybe that Spring Romance wool was on special somewhere? Colours, patterns, cosiness…they looked like a walking Pinterest board. We chuckled about it, because I had just started at that time, and sure enough, now all the boys have beanies or scarves or rugs, and when the weather is cold enough, I myself look like that granny who was the author of it all. It’s very relaxing, it gets me off the compulsive scrolling of my phone, and it keeps them beanied up for the winter. Now I have to find some summer patterns. A crocheted bathing suit for the sea would work well methinks, as it would let all the sand pass out. Some other challenges involved there, however. Anyway, for now, I shall endeavour to photograph our “Pinterest board” family for a laugh. Chaos.
Joshua is still loving teaching at Sun Valley Primary, and has made some valuable friendships that side of the world. I have written much about the wonder and angst of a teenager leaving home, but now I am currently enjoying the new dynamic that our relationship has taken on. It’s adults now, talking about life and the cost of toilet paper over dinner prep in the kitchen, and relishing the 3 days we still get to spend together as a family each week.
Aiden has taken the reins of the being the oldest son in the home with absolute competence. He is completely dependable and responsible. To watch him mature is nothing but a joy. His nickname around here is “techy boy,” as he’s our go-to for all things gadgety.
Health-wise, he has struggled this past winter with consistent sinus infections and sore throats, and it has been very frustrating. All the boys, including the Big One, Heath, have been really sick at some stage. It got so extreme, I made bone broth from scratch and then made soup over the next 2 weeks from the broth. Everyone got better. (*Loud tooting from trumpet*). In Aiden’s case, we even visited an ENT (ear, nose & throat) specialist when he developed tinnitus, where he could “hear” his heartbeat and his footsteps in his head. Yeah, it could be the start of a love song, but it isn’t. The ENT wasn’t a very compassionate man, and it wasn’t a pleasant experience, and even after threading various tubes and things through Aiden’s pipes, all he did was refer us to an audiologist upstairs, because not only do they share offices, they clearly have shares in the same luxury cruise liner on which they vacation after charging normal civilians R940 for a 7 minute ordeal. I confess. I did not take Aiden to the audiologist. Well, I did, but they had messed up the appointment dates, and that all I needed as a sign for me to not follow this through. I read up about tinnitus in my anti-ENT, natural health encyclopedia, bought bottles of extra-special Vitamin B’s and various other alternative-medicine things (all of which did NOT add up to R940) and no heartbeats and footsteps have been heard since. And I have decided in this case, ENT stands for Egocentric Nasty Turd.
Luke has entered 3 archery competitions, bettering his personal best with each one. He is constantly improving and really enjoying it. He has also begun vocal lessons to develop his musical bent for guitar and singing. It’s great to have this crazy creature back again, after a hard season of textbook adolescent moodiness. He is happy, ridiculously funny, mischievous and creative. He and Ethan have begun to sell olive oil as an entrepreneurial endeavour (and to earn money to pay off the enormous window that Aiden and Luke broke in a wrestling match. It takes a lot to shock me these days, y’know). Luke has no fear, and cold calls on all the neighbours. They sold 12 bottles this way in 2 days, and now that he is beginning to see the profit, his eyes have that twinkle. (Homeschooling: Maths, computer spreadsheet skills, label design, marketing and advertising: check√, check√, check√, check√!)
Ethan has been working hard at his hiphop, training in a crew with 5 others for local competitions. That translates to 5 classes a week, people. That’s a lot of crocheting in the car. Beanie, anyone? He’s the only boy. Story of our lives, this outnumbering! Anyway, just today he came home from rehearsal absolutely happy. It seems they’re getting to finally know each other better, and their guards and criticisms have dropped, and they are enjoying working together. Choosing the outfits was extremely nerve-wracking, being the only boy, but they didn’t choose tiaras or tutus, so we’re in the clear. More on the crew in future posts!
Finally, we have had to deal with another big financial loss this month of our remaining investment from the sale of our home in Zim before we immigrated. I choose to write about this because I think it is vital to record the milestones of learning and grace that took place in the whole process.
When we were living in Zim, barely living, really, we realised that we had a great home, which we had been able to buy only because of the biggest milestone in our faith in God. In brief, we had saved cash amounting to one third of the value of the house we wanted to buy; and not knowing how, we persuaded the reluctant owners to sell…and the exchange rate moved literally overnight for us to realise the exact amount of what was needed. We paid cash for a beautiful home, and that was our asset, it was an ‘altar’ to God’s goodness and provision, and it was the motivation for us to move to South Africa, because we could liquidate the asset in order to gain a quality of life, and opportunities that we so lacked. We got wise counsel, and made good decisions about investment, splitting it 3 ways. One branch paid for tickets and setup when we got here, with returns allowing us time to find a job and settle; the 2nd branch, despite all the low risks involved and protective barriers in place on the investment, failed; and the third failed this month, after we had re-invested for a year hoping that the shares would recover from an already failed position last year. It’s been a year where Heath and I believed that things like shares and investments were completely within God’s reach to change. Heath began to fast one day every week in order to hear God’s voice more clearly (fasting helps to silence the flesh, and makes the spirit more sensitive; and not eating also allows time for committed prayer), and we prayed for success of the investment.
And when the investment failed, it’s not that our prayers failed, or that God didn’t hear us. How can we possibly know or understand what God has planned? And why should we, as mere men, wring our hands and say, How could He do this? He’s God, and He can buy again, right? And this time, it will be an altar for our kids to see. It’s not about what God does, it’s about who He is. I may not understand why He allows it, but I do know He loves me. Believe me, this is not natural to me to be spouting such lofty things, but I have to keep my head above the waters of doubt here, and keep my spirit stronger than my weak heart!
On the day that the investment was being assessed, I began a section of curriculum with the boys on Stewardship. What clarity it brought to me, in that nothing belongs to us anyway, we are merely stewards! It was so gently brought home to my shaky heart. On the same day, Heath had a men’s meeting that he goes to weekly, and the nugget of that discussion was, Jesus is enough. I know it sounds like a Sunday school teaching, but when the Holy Spirit brings these words to a needy heart, well…a word in due season, how good it is! Proverbs 15:23. And one more thing happened on the same day. We had upgraded the boys’ phone contracts the week before, and the stock of handsets finally came in. Aiden previously had an iPhone 4S which took 30 seconds to transition to anything, and battery life was at 3 hours per day. Luke had an android phone which kept losing all his contact numbers periodically, and the screen was hanging in there with sticky tape. We had bought Ethan a cheap starter phone but it took videos that made everyone look blue, à la Avatar, so we returned it, and he will get Aiden’s iPhone. Luke got a Huawei P8 Lite, and Aiden got a Huawei 10. They’re beautiful phones, and we were all poring over them in the evening, and it struck me that in the midst of the crisis, God was still blessing.
It is almost impossible to write down all the detail of what has taken place in our hearts during this time. Maybe the best way to explain it is that when the 2nd branch failed, we cried on and off for about 2 months. This time, I cried once in impatience because I feel like life is passing us by and we are not able to do all we hoped before we die! (Okay, okay, I’ll admit I’m really sad I probably won’t get to take my kids-who-are-no-longer-kids to Disneyland. Call me fickle, my heart can’t let this one go.) I didn’t cry because I thought God wouldn’t come through. Hopefully that means I’m growing up! (Disneyland not included.) But maybe we’ve come to realise what it means to be truly connected to the Source, the infinite, unconditional Source of everything we need for life and godliness. I think of that Psalm that compares God’s might to the waves of the sea, and I know those waves just keep on coming!
So we’re in a good place. Not financially, ha ha, especially after that ENT guy, but in such a good place of faith, just waiting for God to do it again. He provided for this family in a country without an economy, He can surely do it again for this family that needs a house with 4 toilets.
May the lessons learned in the quiet or the chaos lead you closer to Him.
Lots of love,
Songs that have been a great encouragement to us through this… may they encourage you: