Hazy Days

Archives for holidays

Day 1 in the Eastern Cape

Our much-anticipated holiday arrived early in the hours of Monday, 19th August.  We piled into the car at 3:45am and left Cape Town behind.

Here are 4 kids who had just woken up minutes before. 

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First stop was Mossel Bay. 

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We wanted to eat breakfast at this pavilion – the Santos Pavillion in Mossel Bay.  It was built in 1916, modelled off the pavilion in Brighton.  It and the one in Brighton are the only ones left in the world from the colonial period.  That’s pretty cool history.  But, unfortunately it was closed.  Sad smile  So we got a picture and had breakfast elsewhere.

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We ended up eating at a place that’s stationed in an old train coach. 

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And then, headed back to the real reason we were in Mossel Bay – to visit the Dias museum again.  We’ve read a few great books centred on the history of the Portuguese coming to the Cape and the encounters they had with the people of the land.  Coming to the museum was a treat of “oh! remember this part in the story!” and “look mom, there’s Ghamka, Man of Men!” … starting off of course with Dias himself here below:

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The Dias Museum complex has a little aquarium too.  We got to see some fascinating things, including this shell chandelier:

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And this octopus – Craig’s favourite photo of the holiday. 

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And then onto the museum – there had been a break-in the night before.  A porcelein bowl was stolen, but recovered right outside the museum in the bushes, and the suspect was arrested.  But what a mess! 

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We did get to walk around though, which is a great bonus since that was why we came after all!  Here Craig compares size reduction in technology. 

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Here’s a “look, mama, Ghamka!” moment…

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Sam marvelling at the caravel made entirely of icing sugar!

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And in the caravel itself – pretending to be Luis, the young stowaway in the story, Caravel to the Cape. 

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And the caravel itself!  Little history lesson: when Bartholomew Dias arrived at South Africa in 1588, he stopped off on land for fresh water in Algoa Bay area. He met indigenous people and exchanged gifts, according to the history.  In 1988, in celebration of 500 years since then, a caravel was built in exact replica and sailed to Mossel Bay along the same route.  For the kids, it was exciting to climb on board and realise how much they knew.  I was having a homeschool-mom-pity-party the other day when Craig called me up on it and told me that they’re clearly learning something because the museum attendant on the boat that day remarked at how much the kids knew.  She was really surprised!  

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There is a story that one of the first letters to make it back to Europe was placed in a boot under a milkwood tree.  Since these milkwoods are about 500 years old, it’s believed that it could well be one of these trees that acted as the postbox tree.  So, today there is a stone boot-post-box where you can post letters.  All post from this box is post marked with a unique post mark.  So, the kids sent themselves and their family members postcards in memory of their trip.  So far only one has arrived at our house – and that one got washed away in the Cape storms!  Grr!

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After our visit to Mossel Bay, we headed back onto the road – towards Uitenhage.  We did stop off here …

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And I did think very seriously about throwing myself off of a 216m bridge!  But I chickened out! Smile

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We eventually arrived at the Valley Bushveld Lodge around 5pm – in time for a quick before-supper walk and settle in.  We were greeted by loads of trophies in the main lounge dining room much to Kiera’s horror!  But, by the end of the week she was totally unfazed. Smile  But in this photo below (I’m holding the moon!) she’s still pretty shaken up!  Poor girl.

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The Madness of March

The month has a bit of a whirlwind. 

It’s been our second month back at school.  For the most part, that is going well, with a few hiccups along the way called “attitude” and “laziness” and “life” – I won’t divulge what percentage represents the mother-person vs the kiddie-people.  Ah-hem.

But, we’ve had some lovely moments – so let’s dwell on those.  Like lying outside in the shade of our tree, enjoying our read alouds while eating chocolate brownies.  Ah!

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Or going on an educational outing…  Since we’re doing anatomy for Science this year, I figured that the girls would benefit from seeing Body World.  Well, Kiera’s sensitivities got the better of her a few days before and she forfeited her spot in favour of her cousin, Holly.

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Katie and Holly had a ball and enjoyed their Kauai date with Craig and I afterwards.  More on all that over at this post: Body Worlds.

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We’ve enjoyed a family braai this March with the Hayes family.  Sam looked after baby Sarah beautifully – so sweet!

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I love how she is looking at him in this photo.  Too gorgeous for words.

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Craig resigned from his former company mid-Feb, which meant that he finished his last day mid-March.  It’s been a bittersweet period for him as he had a fantastic team at his previous company.  It was hard saying goodbye, despite the fact that he was looking forward to the challenges ahead. 

The kids were really sad!  They shed a few tears and didn’t want Craig to move.  Funny how these things affect kids too.  They have each enjoyed a birthday treat with dad at his office on the day of their birthday.  And they’ve enjoyed visiting on other occasions.  So, as a goodbye, we decided to bake up a storm of cookies to take as a goodbye.

We tripled our normal basic cookie recipe and then turned them into chocolate chip, peanut butter and double chocolate choc-chip cookies. Mmm!

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Kiera made a sweet goodbye sign with pictures of our family a-la-stick-men-style.  She was going for the “my family” stick figure images that most cars in Cape Town sport on their back windows.  That would account for the two light sabres in the image – being her and Sam’s latest fad.  No surprises – mommy Taryn has a computer in her hand!

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These cookies were delicious.  I am NOT supposed to have sugar (health issues) but in small amounts I seem to be ok.  Small amounts?  Well, let’s just say that it was a good thing that these were leaving our home and staying at their destination because I can’t do self-control with these lurking in my kitchen!

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When we got there, Craig let the kids see the gun safe.  His company is a security company – hence the gun safe.  I took photos from a safe distance, because, really, even looking at guns in real life makes my hands go all tingly and my brow break out in a cold sweat.  Terrified?  Totally.  Craig assured me that they were not loaded and he checked before he let them hold them, but that did nothing to calm my beating heart. 

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Back to safer territory – the last remaining basket of cookies in the main open area and Katie saying goodbye.

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And the others saying chasing after dad with night sticks… a la Light Sabre Style.

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And one last time in the conference room pretending to be the “boss”.  For some reason, my kids equate being the boss with saying “You’re fired!” on a regular basis.  Seriously.  I have no idea where they get this stuff from! 

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I have no pictures of Craig’s new offices and job Smile  We did get to visit, though, much to the kids’ (and my) delight.  Every time Craig has started a new job (this would be the fourth company group in 16 years, so he’s no job-hopper!) the first while has been a bit weird for me.  Suddenly, we’re in an industry I don’t know a thing about.  I’ve no idea about his colleagues and employees, or even what his office looks like.  It’s all a big black hole that he disappears into for a day and comes home late at night, tired, yet energised by the new challenges he gets to enjoy.  Seeing his premises, meeting some of his staff and getting a feel for his workplace is a big deal for me.  And as it turns out, the kids too.  So, we were glad when we could make a quick visit when Craig’s first full week came to an end.  Now we have a place in our minds when we think of daddy’s workplace. 

Interestingly, it reminded me of the second company group he worked for – only much much bigger.  The challenges that lie ahead of Craig may well be very difficult, but deeply rewarding too.  It’s exactly the sort of thing that he has proved to be more than capable of handling, thanks to the Lord’s grace and gifting. 

Back home: Craig started reading Narnia to the kids again in the last month or so.   He read the whole series to the girls some years ago, and now he’s starting again – reading to everyone.  They love it!  And I love it – this is one of my most heart-warming images of my family – daddy reading, kids listening – enraptured.  A small, but blessed moment.

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As you can see from these different-night pics, I’m not too good at clearing away our school stuff after a long day!

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Sam finished his third reader in the I Can Read It! series by Sonlight.  Joy and excitement is all his!  It means that he can now move onto the “big boy” books like Cat in the Hat, Little Bear, Put me in the Zoo and other books that he’s been dying to read.

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So sweet!

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This month, I managed to find a bunch of South African books for kids.  These are just a few of them (with one or two others in there too).  I have not read half of them myself, but I plan to eventually!

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We’ve enjoyed another Cape Explorers outing in the pouring rain!  But it was still super successful.

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Blind fragrance trail in the rain!

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We had a mid-March breakaway thanks to Craig’s between-jobs holiday.  Off to Onrus we went and had a beautiful 4 1/2 days enjoying the sun, sea, surf, sand and special family time.

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But, we also had to do a little bit of school, since I wanted to be sure that kept up the continuity.

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Sunsets in Onrus – ah!

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And sunset braais…  double ah!

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Here’s Mr Sambo reading Green Eggs and Ham.  He insisted on reading it from cover to cover, totally ignoring the scheduled page allocations.  I’m loving his joy of reading.  Too sweet!

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We enjoyed our first real “hike” for the year with the VB family.  All the way to the Silvermine waterfall.  It’s not really all the way – as in, it’s not that far, but it’s far enough!

Three, way cool, boys…

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Mr Sam managed to lose this T-shirt on the path home.  Argh.

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Three happy girls, glad to be re-united after a two week holiday apart.

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And some wildlife – we got treated with a few paddatjies at the bottom of the waterfall.

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Too sweet…

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Sam and I tried to find his shirt after he lost it.  All we found was this dung beetle doing his thing.

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March was also the month when I buckled down to some serious yard work.  Well, to be honest, I did nothing other than direct our really handy twice-monthly gardener to load up the car.  It’s one of those times I’m really grateful for the car’s size and handle stowaway seating that folds into the floor.  We managed to fill this …

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… with this.  That would be ALL the visible branches and debris hanging out the car…

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Yes, and the other stuff near the open door…

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… AND all 14 black bags full of recycling.  IMG_8217

While I was handling the great-big-haul-the-junk-to-the-dump project, the kids were engaging in a little after-formal-schooling-unschooling.  I came home to find Sam reading on the couch while listening to stories-on-CD and Katie giving Micah an art lesson.  Too sweet!

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March meant that Lunch Bunch was at my house.  We’ve started a little responsibility chart – this way the kids will get to take responsibility for the cleaning up of certain areas of the house.  A great idea!  Thanks Aunty Kate!

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I did crafts twice this term.  Being the “Xhosa teacher” (whaha!) I don’t get a heavy craft load too.  But, I do get to have some fun when I do do it.  I let the kids make whatever creature they wanted to make out of some junk, including yoghurt containers, pipe-cleaners and various other bits and bobs.  What a jol they had!

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Carys did much sticky-tape mastering during this session. So sweet!

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One weekend, we headed to the beach for a long walk.  Well, walk turned into a bit of a cartwheel contest!  Craig impressed us with his ability to still spin a handspring at the ripe old age of 38!

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But, he kept it at the minimum, especially after I started snapping shots from my phone!

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It was a beautiful day.  Love it.  This, by the way, is Muizenberg beach – the same beach where the characters of my book begin their journey, and the same beach that features conceptually on the front cover of my book. 

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Our nature club headed out Paarl way to Babylonstoren – a beautiful farm with a garden second to none.  The owners created a garden along the lines of the original company gardens.  Despite the fact that we got stuck in hectic traffic and a 45 minute journey ended up taking us 2 HOURS, we still enjoyed it.  I was proud of my kids for maintaining a positive attitude – not exactly a common occurrence when it comes my kids and their tolerance levels.

Four monkeys in a tree basket!

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Hanging gardens of Babylon(storen)?

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So restful…

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These cacti reminded me of piglet from Winnie the Pooh…  Can you see it?

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These ones were the Valentine’s avenue of the gardens – see all the heart shapes?

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Sam and Micah enjoyed taking their shoes off and walking through the canals.  Well, the canals got deeper and deeper until … THIS.  What a ball!

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March is also when my book went to print!  To think that just three months ago I was not sure whether to pursue traditional publishing or try my hand at self-publishing.  God in His gracious kindness answered my desperate prayer of guidance with the gift of Naledi publishers.  And now I have a 1 May release date for Seekers of the Lost Boy.  It’s been an exciting month indeed!

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But, even with all the fun of the month, the unexpected holiday, the time with family, nothing compares with the joy of celebrating Jesus.  This year, Easter falls on the last weekend of March.  And this year we got to celebrate in our own home in Cape Town for the first time since 2008. 

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And we invited Craig’s folks and the Tubbies who joined in our Passover meal fun of Friday night.

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There was great hilarity and fun and games, but also great significance as we celebrated a tradition that not only spotlight’s God’s grace and power in saving His people from Egypt, but also how He saves the world through Jesus – the very event that is foreshadowed in the Passover itself.

The kids had an absolute ball.  Their excitement was oozing out of every pore!  Can you see?

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They also got the added bonus of a midnight egg hunt with UV torches and glow-in-the-dark eggs!

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Saturday night, we enjoyed our resurrection cookie ritual:

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And Sunday morning we enjoyed the rest of it along with all the other celebrations that come with Resurrection Sunday:

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All in all, it’s been a month of much to be thankful for.  And what a way to end it – with a day commemorating the event that is the best gift of all: Jesus.  Thank you, Lord!

Resurrection Sunday 2013

Driving to church today, I remarked to Craig that we have such a sense of joyous hope.  You know that feeling of anticipation about something you’re certain is going to happen?  Most of humankind experience that to one degree or another, often numerous times in their lives: looking forward to the first day of school or looking forward to a wedding day or new baby or new car or home or whatever. That sense of joy and anticipation is butterflies in the tummy, it’s chest-rising waves of tearful emotion, it’s choking elation.  Today, I realised, that the anticipation of Jesus’ return is the ultimate joyful anticipation. 

Because: it’s the only event that we can look forward to that lasts beyond this world.  Everything else fades.  School passes.  Marriages end, with death in the best of circumstances.  Babies grow, cars break, homes stand empty.  But, Jesus is forever.  Jesus’ promises are forever.  And the hope we have in Him, that all-consuming joyous certain hope is forever.

It makes me want to sing from the mountain tops:

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine -
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

And it’s why I made it my Facebook status update this morning along with the rest of the words and the music here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLy8ksqGf9w

For I am His and He is mine – Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

It was that song we listened to this morning as we read the last Scripture in our selection before we “opened” the tomb from our Resurrection Cookies last night.

Micah, was not impressed.  He wanted to eat breakfast and so sat in protest on the other side of the counter, while the others came to break the seal of the tomb.

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You can see their names now – they insisted I write their names on their tape!  Funny kids.

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Once Micah realised that he couldn’t eat breakfast until the oven was free in order to bake buns for breakfast, he came down and played his part with a better attitude!

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Ah!  These guys came out beautifully.  Cracked, like the rocks of the earthquake that struck the land when Jesus died.  Hollow inside, like the empty tomb of Jesus.  And full of bits of almond nuts  -  definitely the best type of nut to include in this recipe.  Tasty and yet not overpowering. 

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We enjoyed chocolate hot cross buns for breakfast.  Unfortunately, they weren’t as nice as they looked.  Which is really sad, because they looked amazing.  They were a bit bitter – milk chocolate would’ve gone down better with my lot!

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Although, Katie really did enjoy them!

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After a beautiful service at St James, we headed to the Hayes Snr’s home – Craig’s folks.  They have the best garden for hiding things.  We started with a hunt of the Resurrection Eggs that we’ve been using for the past few years.  The idea is to open one per day for 12 days before Easter.  Each egg contains a small symbol that tells a little of the Easter story.  For example, the first egg has a little plastic donkey inside – we get to talk about the day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and what this meant.  The other symbols are things like a small cup, a piece of linen, a small rock, a small strip of leather as a whip, a small crown of thorns, a nail and more.  The last egg is empty – representing the empty tomb of the Risen Lord.  This year, like last year, we decided to hide all the eggs and let the kids hunt for them.  What fun! 

I gave Kiera the opportunity to help hide them, since she is 10 now.  She agreed and did a great job of hiding the eggs.

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And then the rest of the Hayes kids came to hunt for them.  Little Phoebe was delighted with the hunt. Seeing her cute face was such a treat.

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Once they’d gathered all 12 eggs, we talked about what the symbols in each egg meant.  They scored a little sweet for every egg they popped into the tray, once we’d finished talking about the symbol

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While we were discussing the meaning of the eggs, Craig hid the chocolate versions in the garden, while Granny came bearing Easter gifts.  Every year she gives the kids a gift of an item of clothing and a chocolate.  Well, the kids were thrilled with their gifts (for the most part!)

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Finally, after a yummy lunch a-la Bev, it was time to hunt for some eggs…

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The kids did really well, but they needed some guidance.  Like this little series of Micah.  Cam pointed him towards the general direction.  Can you see the egg?  It’s that little blueish thing sitting in the leaves to the right of Micah, just below his head level.  Well, don’t worry if you can’t see it, because he couldn’t either!

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With much pointing, he eventually got it…

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Thanks Uncle Cam for pointing it out to me!

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Uncle Cam was totally in his element, pointing out all the goodies to the kiddies. 

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Actually, everyone was in their element.

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And there were quite a few adult-people scrambling about in the bushes ‘helping’ the kids too! Smile 

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Finally, dessert was in order for the parents.  Yum yum.  Craig and Cam are tucking into Bev’s famous mango pudding.  They had only eaten lunch as an obligatory intro to the main course – the mango pudding!

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While Katie helped entertain our littlest cousin – Sarah.

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Cam showed Micah how to put his Kinderegg toy together.  So sweet watching and listening to these two figure out the engineering required to make it all work.

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Later that afternoon, the girls got stuck into some Easter crafting. 

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Every year, I try to do an Easter craft to the theme of the Wordless Book.  The idea is to incorporate the colours red, white, green, yellow and black.  Each colour represents a part of the gospel story.  This year, I used a great idea on Shirley Erwee’s site  that suggested using the tried-and-tested crayon and ink art idea for an Easter scene.  Joining that up with the Wordless Book colours, resulted in this:

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Pictures of the Cross of Jesus in white with the colours of the Wordless Book telling the story of the gospel.  I love the vibrancy!  What fun the kids had.

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Granny was game and did some beautiful pictures…

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I tried my hand at a couple too…

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And here is one of Phoebe’s – love it!

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And Katie’s…

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The boys did the same project for Lunch Bunch last week (I was testing it out on them!) so they opted to keep building Lego castles with Dad.  Craig had a ball playing with all his old Lego from when he was Sam’s age.  Fun fun fun!

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We brought the Resurrection Cookies for the family to share.  Yummy, Gaa?

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Yummy indeed!

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We headed home today around 4pm and did the whole bath, bed routine about an hour and a half early.  The kids are bushed!  As I write, it’s just on 7pm and the kids have all been in bed for an hour already.  I could get used to this!

What I hope never to get used to, however, is that awesome sense of joy I referred to at the beginning of this post.  What an amazing gift it is to know Jesus and to be called His own.  Worthy is the Lamb indeed!

Onrus midterm holiday…

It was a perfect recipe. 

My folks’ holiday rental was for once not rented out and they offered us time out one weekend.  It happened that the weekend they offered was perfect.  You see, Craig has just realised that he’d be finishing up with his old company on the Friday, but would only start up with the new company the following Thursday.

It’s been ages since we’ve stayed down in Onrus and we couldn’t wait!  It’s a balm for the soul.  The children love it there.  There are awesome rock pools to explore directly opposite our front gate.  A lovely big front lawn to play on and a beach just a short walk down the road.

On our first morning there, this is what I woke to…

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… four children playing in the lounge.  I could literally feel the stress of the term seep out of my body as I curled up on the couch and observed my offspring in one of my favourite places on earth: Skye Cottage.

We made the most of our time down at Skye – heading down to Onrus beach down the road for a play in the lagoon…

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And a play in the sand…

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Loving the semi-deserted beach that the locals get to enjoy (come holiday season it picks up, especially in Sept and in the summer).

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Yum, yum!  Sandy Chocolate Chip Cookies for that extra crunch!

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We had many a meal on the front porch overlooking the veranda.  Here is a Crazy Hayes lunchtime meal…

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Ah, that’s better!

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Our view…  Ah!

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My surfergirl looking appropriately windswept and sun-drenched!

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Braais on the front lawn.  I took WAY too many sunset pics.  The sunsets this time around were quite mild – we’ve had some really fiery-red ones in the past.

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Marshmallows!  Yum yum!

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Ahhh!

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On this day, the grass was due for a cut…

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On this day, the grass had been cut – and the tree reshaped to improve the view.  Love it!

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We had a resident golden orb spider parking out on his web at the back of the property.  The kids and Craig were fascinated.  My hubby spent a good chunk of a morning hunting down flies and other insects to feed to the spider. 

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The children got lots of spider action – watching that guy dart, capture, wrap and package his prey was pretty cool.

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Not all learning opportunities were as natural and exciting as the spider.  We may be in Onrus, but we were still on our school schedule, although I did lighten the load quite a bit.  The kids still plugged in a couple of hours of seatwork, read alouds and ‘formal’ schooling activities, fitting it in around the rest of the fun we had.

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And fun we had – here’s another yummy braai. (See – far too many sunset pics!)

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But I love it!

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And this one – my little big girl and her daddy having a moment…

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Ah!!  Love it!

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And then … some crazy shots!  We enjoyed Voelklip beach one day (ahh!  lovely beach!)  Kiera and I had fun trying out my ProHDR feature on my phone.  It’s for taking awesome still shots (it shoots the same scene at two different stops, then merges the images using the best elements of each).  Of course, if there are moving objects, you get some interesting photos…  Like this one:

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And this one! 

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Of course, a holiday out Hermanus way is not complete for us without a dip in the Hemel en Aarde pool. 

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Wednesday morning came way too soon and before we knew it, it was home again home again to Cape Town, just in time for the kids and I to make it to our homeschool co-op outing at the Alphen trail while Craig enjoyed a quiet house all to himself!

It’s back to normal now for us – although, with 5 days of a new job under his belt, Craig’s looking at a new normal. 

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Hazy Days