thoughtsfromthepanda

I do my best thinking while driving. I drive a Fiat Panda.

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.

With love

Your mum

Xx

 

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!

Matthew painting on new year’s day 2016

 

Liam on new year’s day 2016 – hobbit feet!

 

Hard men and their hard hats!

 

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.

We miss you every day

In February, Liam and his dad did a great 3D project to create a representation of a frog skeleton. We were all very impressed.

Frog skeleton project

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.

Toadlet and froglet – look closely

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.

Vigorously mixing his masterpiece

 

All the judges asked for this recipe!

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:

Liam and his mom invented a new country

 

Matthew painted this 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!

Yee-hah!

 

Happiness! (and a missing tooth)

 

Taking a breather

 

Here’s a quick shot of Frank and his boys in May, back before he started growing his hair…

At the Ocean Basket

…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.

Free blonde highlights because that’s the way the world works – not!

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.

Talk to the hand (No, mom, not MORE photos!)

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.

 

The medals were well-deserved

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…

January 2016

 

With Matthew

 

With Liam

 

The tooth came out when he was happy

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!

Mr Grumpy

 

Mr Surprised

 

Mr Seriously Fed Up (that must have been a bad morning)

 

Mr Confused

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!

Matthew always looks so young when he sleeps (here aged almost 9)

 

Liam in my coat reminds me that he was almost as tall as I am, and here he’s only 11

 

When the children are happy, the world is egg-zactly right!

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.)

Proper skull candy – his father’s child!

 

The Spur on any given Saturday afternoon is a busy place!

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.

 

Beware the famous Gallic warrior

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.

Bouncing the blues away

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…

My happy place

…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!

 

The landscape stayed as a work in progress for many months

 

Here’s the final version, but it looks better in real life

Between September and the end of the year, I revisited my Heart Art to gold effect (see what I did there?)

Navy and gold heart

… I played with some candles for a bit of fun with perspective (perhaps I was motivated by an Eskom black-out at the time?)

Three candles

 

… 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.

Ballet dancer stiletto

 

Gladiator stiletto (a lethal weapon in its own right)

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.

 

Spot the cat

 

Mom’s happy Christmas…

 

…Children who read!

 

Liam and his 3D doodler

 

Matthew and his Lego

 

Posing in the Amazon section at the zoo

 

Tiny blue frog

 

Liam getting to know a fish

 

Matthew also with fishes (not to be outdone, or anything)

 

Dad, Liam and mopane worms (the rest declined)

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

Single Post Navigation

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: