B is for Busy… Part 2: Reflections on 2016
As I mentioned in my last blog entry: I’ve been away.
I’ve Been a Bad Blogger (Because I’ve Been very Busy)
A long time ago, I started this blog initially to record family events, so there would be a record of some of life’s significant moments, especially considering how fast children grow up. And I got busy… and we’ve had radio silence for way too long! So here is part 2 of my catch-up, dedicated to my family, especially my beloved children, Liam and Matthew.
In comes 2016
As 2016 rolled in, the children, aged 10-coming-11, and 8-and-a-few-months, prepared to enter grades 5 and 3 respectively. We had a quiet new year’s eve and first of January, and went to Maropeng and the Sterkfontein Caves on the second. Maropeng was a good trip but a long day!
In late February 2016 we put up the plaque for my dad, in the Garden of Remembrance at St Charles Catholic Church. We still miss him every day; nobody more than my mom.
The Garden of Remembrance is opposite De La Salle Holy Cross College (DLSHCC) High School, where sometimes you can hear the bagpipes band members practising. I like to think that my dad hears them at those times too. A true Scotsman with a great accent, he always loved the bagpipes.
In February, Liam and his dad did a great 3D project to create a representation of a frog skeleton. We were all very impressed.
And then the rain came pouring down one night, and the real baby frogs arrived at our back door, having been washed out of a nearby pond (we think). To ensure that they didn’t fry in the sun over the next few days, a rescue operation was required. I wrote about this before, in another blog entry at the time.
The baby frogs – and one baby toad – were really cute. We rescued almost 20 tiny amphibians, in total, and put them into a section of the garden where there was moisture, plants and shade – from which, in the fullness of time, they have ungratefully hopped away on their further travels. But it was fun having froglets while it lasted. From time to time we still come across the big toad that lives at the top of the garden, in a hole in the stairs.
In March 2016, Matthew as a Grade 3 pupil took part in the school’s chef competition, and we worked out a really awesome seafood salad. He almost got into the finalists’ section but was marked down because his workstation wasn’t very tidy (some chefs are a little flamboyant when they work), and he also ran out of time to finish the end touches on his presentation.
So he looks a bit sad in the photo, but what he doesn’t realise is that all the judges quietly sidled up to his mother, one by one, and asked her for the recipe… which I think is a perfectly fine accolade.
March of 2016 was a craft-y month all round – as well as the chef’s competition, Liam invented a new country with mom’s help, and Matthew created pretty artwork for his teacher:
At the end of April 2016, Liam celebrated turning 11 by going to Avalanche in Fourways, where some adults learn to ski but a lot more children go bum-boarding. This option is always a birthday hit!
Here’s a quick shot of Frank and his boys in May, back before he started growing his hair…
…and me in June. Look carefully and the grey is starting to arrive in my own hair. At the time I thought it was free blonde highlights, silly me.
Late May brought good sports weather. Liam is a brilliant goalie, both in football and hockey, and here he is in grade 5 – playing with the big boys – during a short break from the morning’s seven-a-side tournament.
Later that day, he saved a goal that made my heart stop, mainly because there was only about a centimetre of air between his teeth and the other child’s boot. Luckily the teeth were fine (later to be encased in braces).
In the end, their team were runners-up, but only on goal difference, so naturally it was a little bitter-sweet for our competitive young man and his team-mates. But that’s life.
In June 2016 our darling Vincent went to kitty heaven (at the age of 18), where I hope that he very quickly found Nenya, who had died a year before, in 2015 (at the age of 19). I wrote about our two beloved cats in another entry previously, but here are some photos of Vincent to remember him here as well: our little one-eared ‘thuglet’ with the gigantic personality, who was a confirmed cheese and chocolate thief any time he was able. Dearest little cat…
For this next section of my blog entry, I would like to introduce the Egg Files. As 2016 ticked on, it became apparent in the middle of the year that I was wrestling with a very difficult work situation. So at odd moments I drew faces on eggs before boiling them, to introduce some moments of silliness and cheer myself up in the mornings. It was quite therapeutic at the time; I can recommend it. Anyone can draw a little face on an egg – trust me!
However, even while I was drawing faces on my eggs in late July 2016, I was still able to count my two greatest blessings, in the form of my children. Here is Matthew, sleeping, and Liam wearing my winter coat. With them in my life, I could fortunately still draw some happy egg faces!
When Matthew turned 9 at the end of August 2016, his parents gladdened his heart with his first pair of proper headphones and, at his request, a party for a select few friends at the Spur. (He’d also had a Spur party the previous year, 2015, when he turned 8. I guess Matthew likes the Spur.)
In September 2016, Matthew won the prize for the Grade 3 book day when he dressed up as his favourite character, Asterix. Here is Asterix in all his majestic warrior glory! Be afraid. Be very afraid. Dynamite comes in small packages, as does Asterix himself.
In October 2016, Liam discovered Bounce trampoline park, and a new obsession was born. The harder you fall, the higher you bounce, they say, and it’s not a bad way to look at life’s knocks.
Towards the end of 2016 I started painting again, after having been creatively idle for a period. I began with recycled boxes, which was a thing for a while…
…and then I started on an English landscape for Mike and Jane. I got off to a great start and then the enormity of what I was trying to do with this painting stalled all bravery – as well as inspiration – for many months, so that in the end, I completed it only a year later!
Between September and the end of the year, I revisited my Heart Art to gold effect (see what I did there?)
… I played with some candles for a bit of fun with perspective (perhaps I was motivated by an Eskom black-out at the time?)
… and then I created something new – the Working Girls Stiletto pieces. These were inspired by a friend at work who loves her high heels. So I worked on Gladiator Stiletto and Ballet Dancer Stiletto. I think I might need to pursue this one further again; they are fun and interesting to do, and quite pretty I think.
And so the end of the year and the next festive season rolled around once more. Christmas 2016 was very happy. We were Joburg-based and it was a peaceful holiday season in a quieter-than-usual city. I always think Johannesburg in late December is a good place to be.
Matthew (9) was still under the firm impression that Santa is real (we still hadn’t broken the news to him); Sisha the cat claimed her usual place under the Christmas tree; the boys and mom went to the zoo after Christmas to see the Amazon section for our first time, and we all (including dad) went to eat at Moyo so that dad could introduce Liam to mopane worms.
As 2016 ended and 2017 arrived, Matthew was 9 and Liam was 11, and they were about to enter grades four and six respectively.
To be continued into 2017…/more in my next blog entry