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The door in the wall

4 Oct


 “If thou followeth a wall far enough, there must be a door in it.”

A door in the wall.

Doors can be mystical, revealing a secret or keeping it safe. We have a new door, a door in our wall. I’m not talking about the book but of a literal door.

Recognise the door of the mathematician by the equation, of the French by the, hum, french writing,  and of the children by the half-erased markings.

Recognise the door of the mathematician by the equation, of the French by the, hum, french writing, and of the children by the half-erased markings.

Seven years of living in our house and we followed the wall far enough to put in a door leading from our bedroom to our bathroom. The irony is when we moved in, there was a door. Maybe the lock on the outside (!!!) felt so oppressing that we removed lock and door together.

It is nice to close it when I want privacy, even though it doesn’t stop my children in their footsteps. It is also another artefact on which my OCD husband can (hyper)focus on. “Did you close the door?”, “Why didn’t you close the door?” are his famous last words in the evening – but I love him so.

Our door is back, the true door of an applied-science-of-mathematical-statistician (Is that right honey?), a french chick and a few half-bred children!


18 Dec

Remember when I wrote that we didn’t have any traditions for Christmas? Well, it is not completely and utterly true. Like facebooking, blogging can also be deceitful! So even though I said that traditions become irrelevant in the light of Christmas being about Jesus, I happen to have a few traditions of my own.

I do. – Insert **shock and horror** face!

They are a bit different from the more common traditions that we hear about and they are mostly out of my control.

#1. My first tradition is my kids asking “so….. what is our christmas tree going to be this year?” with a vaguely interested tone of voice!

0I will be blunt and say that the traditional christmas tree just doesn’t do it for me. I don’t think they’re ugly but I don’t want them in my living room for one month. I’m not a fan of ‘fake’ anything (flowers, marble, gold…) and the ‘real’ ones look a bit miserable in the 32 degrees. But I looooove fairly lights. I think fairy lights should be up all year round. So every year, I need to find an alternative  that will allow me to enjoy a season of  their ambience setting.

This year, I saw a beautiful tree made of plank with writings on it and thought “Rats, if I were not so lazy I would totally make that!” and low and behold, my friend, without  knowing that I liked that idea, made it, painted it and gave it to me as a christmas present! So our tree – for 2012 – is made of white-painted planks with Mark 10:45 written on it (my very professional picture does not allow you to read the verse but it is painted in beautiful red handwriting “He came to give his life as a ransom for many”)

#2. My second tradition is a bi-annual December trip to the ER for Killian’s acrobatic prowesses.

WARNING: Do NOT try these experiences at home without the supervision of an adult.

5 years ago, he opened his forehead on the corner of a furniture trying to run away from me (that will teach him).

3 years ago, he decided to jump from the roof of our jungle gym onto the umbrella, hoping to bounce back into the pool. No, his plan did not work out and yes, he ended up with a hole in his skull.

Last year, he tried to jump off the rope in our garden, misjudging the backward momentum effect and ended up breaking his arm – 6 week in a cast with no swimming!

And a few days ago, he jumped in the pool grabbing the concrete side at the same time and landed on his chin. A 2 hour wait and 3 stitches later, he proudly wears another big plaster on his face.

It seems that we became very fond of tradition #2; so even though we planned on only making it a bi-annual trip, it seems that we’re speeding it up and did it again this year. Watch this space?!

At 30

At 7At 8

#3. My third tradition is having a very disappointed mum because the parcel she sent a month ago did not arrive in time for Christmas.

Disclaimer: All comments about the South African postal services might be an overreaction and an exaggeration as there are still a few days before that parcel shows up!!

My mum who can’t be with us for Christmas always sends a lovely parcel with exciting goodies for everyone. Every year, she prepares it well in advance but the south african postal services are not as efficient as the french ones. They might be friendlier but friendliness does not count as much as french mustard and mayonnaise!

And there you have it! You too can make up your own traditions! Happy Christmas!

Matt’s Sixth Unbirthday

27 Sep

Two Wednesdays past, it was my little one’s unbirthday, his 6 years, 2 months and a few days birthday. The reason I think it’s important to mention it, is because I haven’t written anything about his real birthday – apart from the celebrations he had in France with the whole french side of his family. However, for my own sake, I like to write a few things that struck me during the year about my children. I like to reflect on the year past and see how much they have changed, grown, improved and acquired (even if only a little bit).

For example, Matt’s noise level. I can’t really say that he has toned it down. I don’t know if he feels that he has to speak over the noise to be noticed and heard, or if he has just been granted this low hoarse loud voice but he is noisy. Mind you, he’s mostly noisy when he plays playstation. One would think that parents tend to send their kids to play video games to have peace and tranquillity. Not so in my house. I worked hard at having a positive attitude towards playstation and the like (yes husband, I do acknowledge that there are some positive attributes to these mindless educative games) but it looks as though the moment the remote hits his hands, there’s an automatic switch to jumping up and down while shouting really loud at the screen too. Has he improved at his problem solving skills? Apparently so. (Is my skepticism too obvious?). Has his eye-hand coordination developed? **Confused silence**. Is he equipped to live in a technology-minded society? Absolutely! Has he learnt to control his enthusiasm with remote in hand? No he hasn’t!

Joke aside, Matty Matt has a solving problem kind of brain. I love to see the way he thinks and solves the confusing elements of his little world. Matt is never caught without a good reason for what he is doing. I often tend to think that there is no real thought-through reason for what he does (or does not do) but I am wrong more often than not.

He does not wear shoes is because the socks’ hems irritate his pinky toe.

He does not enjoy his oats in the morning because it makes him hot inside (mind you, he has no choice) but he’s not being picky about his food. His most used expression has to be “I’m boiling!”. Summer in Fréjus was tough on him!!

He does not remove his watch to take his shower is because he then forgets to put it back on and he then can’t read the time when he needs to.

When he’s a grown-up, he does not want to be married. Shyly, he confessed that he does not want to kiss the girl (sweet!)

He wants to be a builder when he is a grown-up because one day if his house burns down, he will be able to build it again.

One day to explain where his throat was sore, he described “At the back there, where the punching ball is!” .

I realised more and more this year how independent Matty is. I experienced his independance just a few nights ago when he wasn’t feeling very well. At bedtime, he told me that if he felt bad during the night, could I please give him the medication (aka Stopayne). Around 4am, I was gently woken up by a little boy tugging at my sleeve, soflty asking me to give him some medication. When asked if I should carry him back to his bed, he kindly replied that it wouldn’t be necessary and he walked himself back to his bed, down our long dark passage…

Because I was different when I was little, I like that he is not easily influenced by his peers. Matt won’t do something because everyone else is doing it. I think he’s very much like his dad in this regard. When I look at him and his friend Jethro, it makes me smile to see how well they get along for as long as they’ve been wearing nappies! They are both strong stubborn little boys but somehow their friendship works. They are both not particularly sporty so most of their time is spent talking, like 2 old grandpas, often arguing about what their respective mums have been telling them about life, God and dinosaurs.

And talking, Matty can do. He never stops. When he doesn’t talk, he sings. And when he doesn’t sing, he plays the piano.

Ah the piano story… When he started to take piano lessons this year, he worked at it for a few lessons and then started to act silly with the piano teacher, pretending that he was tired, or couldn’t hold his hands properly. I later realised that he found it boring as he had to repeat the same things over and over again. In Matty’s fashion, he taught himself to play the pieces that Léa, his sister, was playing. A bit more difficult. Repetitive tasks for Matty were not going to challenge him. Hmmm, do I sense some ADD there? But he took that challenge by the horns and played the more tricky pieces.

This year also has been a year where Winnie the Pooh and many of his family and friends have visited us – often. A visit for each lost tooth. It’s been 5 visits, to the despair of brother Killian who seems to be stuck at 3 (despite the 21 months difference). Matt is now left with that big love gap in the front. Isn’t it the cutest time? “I am sixth”, he says proudly with the most beautiful lisp. His “s” are still sounding like “sh” and, while I know that I will probably worry about it at some point, for the present, I am thoroughly enjoying his “How many shweeties can I have?”

Matt is definitely a thinker – as much as a 6 year old can think. Bedtimes are precious for all those thoughts that have been racing in his mind. Do you know why thumbs are important? he rhetorically  asked. Because without them, you can’t grab thing. Indeed. You know, he said another night, Mamie didn’t call you “Ingrid” (English accent), she called you “Ingrid” (French accent). Indeed again.

And that’s all the anecdotes I can remember for now… I wish I could remember much more. But at least I have pictures too 🙂

The last of his kind

7 Sep

It is done. Matty lost his first tooth. It does feel like the little bit left of my baby is slowly falling away, one tooth at a time.

I had no warning, no time to get ready for it. Killian lost his first tooth months after being 6. Mattéas is only 5 and a few months…

Big hole!!

His cute little teeth, with extra special gaps in between, don’t look very sturdy anyway. So when he came up to me, eating his apple and saying “ma dent is baie sore” (meaning my tooth is very sore; ma dent me fait mal), I wasn’t too surprised to see his tooth dangling front and back and sideways at the slightest touch of his tongue. Moments later, coming back from his shower, proudly wet and naked, holding his tooth in his fingers, he shouted “I lost ma dent!!!” (meaning I lost my tooth).

Proud. Wet. Naked. And toothless.

Bramble Elfglow was Léa’s special fairy – she has now retired. The spirited swashbuckler tells Killian all about his adventures when he fetches his teeth. Matt hoped for Winnie the Pooh to come and deliver a message. But Winnie is far too busy finding Eyeore’s tail to come and collect a tooth. So Bernard the bear, who is a friend of Winnie the Pooh and lives in the same forest as him, came to take the tooth.

As I re-read my letter, I giggle at two things:

One, at my lack of inspiration at 10 in the evening. My kids have the habit of losing their teeth on a wednesday at 5 o’clock when we have Bible Study until late. Inevitably, it sends me into frantic panic to find the paper, print the picture and search my brain for something meaningful to write (such as ‘don’t fight with your brother!’).

Bernard the bear writes a letter.

Two, at the incredible things that children believe. That a baby bear would come to their bedroom, stick a letter and a photo of himself in their slipper and that noone would hear a thing? But no worries, we put the alarm on in case thieves want to open a window!

However the delight on their face the next morning is priceless for any mum. His best part of the letter is the fact that the paper is dirty because Bernard’s paws are full of honey! (Coincidentally, it is the same aged paper that was used by last year’s pirates that left a letter into one of Killian’s books!!).

So Matty is the last one of his kind. Grown-up teeth are leading the way into big-boy-hood. One tooth at a time.

Teaching opportunities – when to grab them, when not to…

12 Aug

Let's talk about circumcision!



It is 5 o’clock. Shower time for the kids.

The conversation goes like this.



Killian: Why does Jesse’s penis stay open like that (demonstration) and mine doesn’t?

Ahaaaaah. Teaching moment. I see circumcision explained. Sign of the old covenant. Sign of the new covenant. Baptism. Promises of the Lord. I see a great moment where we all gather on my bed and the kids listen to my words, nodding in agreement and wonder.

Instead, I get crazy Killian time (a bit like Pumpkin Patch time), laughing his head off and shouting “aaahaaahh, so Jesse is an Israelite!”. Matt is trying to have his penis to stay like that of an Israelite while jumping on my bed and Léa is catching Killian’s jokes, building on them. I catch myself keeping on explaining why we baptise today when I suddenly realize “why am I shouting as I’m talking about the wonderful promises of Jesus!!!!!”. So I kept quiet.

This is what I learnt from this experience.

Tip #1 – Don’t try to have a serious conversation with naked children at 5 o’clock.

Tip #2 – If you’re going to talk about penises, theirs should be covered.

Tip #3 – If you have to shout to cover the background noise, their attention level is not what it should be.

Take it or leave it! Happy teaching!


Saturday Morning Fever

29 Jul

Have you ever been to Pick’N Pay on a saturday morning?

Up until today, I thought I was spared having to do my weekly shopping with the other half a million people!

I’m a mum at home – most days – which means that I enjoy the priviledge of doing my shopping during the week, in the calm aisles of the shop, with most of the products in stock and the bread freshly out of the bakery. But today – Saturday – I had to go.

So I prepared myself psychologically to brave the crowd of tired and impatient parents-not-wanting-to-be-there (Myself being one of them) accompanied by their reluctant toddlers and teenagers. I arrived there at 12, lunch time, half starving. Never a good thing as I am more enclined to buy canned fish, smelly cheese and other food that do not enter my house under normal circumstances!

But what I found there – besides the other half of Cape Town population – was a degustation ( a careful, appreciative tasting of various foods). In every aisle, at every corner stood beautifully dressed agents, not only marketing, but also offering a bite of their products. From starter, to main meal, dessert and juice, I had a three course meal. Fair enough, the portions are typically haute-cuisine (read minuscule!).

But I’m a sucker for free stuff. Phillip likes to tease me about it, but it is true. If I am entitled to something free – even if it implies some inconveniences – I have to have it. Braving my self-consciousness, I tried food that I don’t even remember the name. I was even tempted to inconspicuously go back for seconds but my conscience was knocking hard. So I didn’t.

I went home with a half-full tummy and gladness in my heart for scoring so many freebies 🙂

Matty’s busy schedule

16 May

*** Famille en France, c’est tout spécialement pour votre régal!***

In the past few weeks, we had a schedule filled with “Matt and his singing”.

The first video is Matt’s little concert from school for Mother’s Day. I apologise for the silly laugh in the background. It is mine. Matt looks very funny, like a dismembered puppet. He was unvoluntarily hilarious 🙂

Matt est celui avec les longues manches vertes sous le tee-shirt jaune.

This video is Matt’s Sunday School (leur programme de l’église), also for Mother’s Day. Less funny but still cute. His face when the little boy next to him spoke in the mic is priceless. You can almost hear him think  “Yes that voice was yours, scary huh!”



24 Apr

The last week end before my mum and Claude left, we went away to Citrusdal.

Here is a slide show of the week end.

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The week end was mostly uneventful and was just a calm and relaxing time. Just what we all needed in the midst of a crazy term. We were fortunate to see no snakes, no spiders, no kind of big insects, not even one of those mutants enormous crickets that you find only in the countries situated below the equator… As I said uneventful! We went for one or two walks, a short visit to town, a trial at the canoe and a few bold jumps in the freezing river. The jacuzzy on the veranda was definitely a feature. It’s like taking a bath with a starry sky, deep darkness and unbelievable quietness.

The town is called Citrusdal and so unavoidably we crossed an orchard of lemon and oranges. This video clip shows a short entertainment of the week end: the cluts, the forbidding mother and the preaching husband 🙂

Speaking in tongues

29 Jan

When I was little, I would ask for “Olives 2” instead of  “2 olives”.

I would also say “a tacalogue” instead of  “a catalogue”.

We, as parents, had to learn that when Killian refers to “humans”, he means “adults”. When he refers to “India joke”, he means “Indiana Jones”.

Fortunately, the Lord knows that when Killian asks to be forgiven for “the silly stuff he did”, he means “his sins”.

He also knows that when Killian says thank you for sending “his boetie” to save us (brother in afrikaans), he means “his son”.

I hope the Lord has a sense of humour because it’s quite difficult to keep a straight face during prayer!

Through their eyes…

10 Nov

A pirate life, lost in thought

A few weeks ago my little boy turned 6! According to popular belief, the first six years of someone’s life are all-defining. What he has been taught, what he has learnt, the pattern of behaviours that have been shown to him are now for the large part anchored into him. It’s a scary thought, sometimes depressing, sometimes encouraging, and often challenging… if I were to believe it fully.

I thought that instead of writing a heart-wrenching post about how I love my craziest, loudest, most stubborn, challenging and yet most sensitive boy, I would mention the things that stick in the mind of those who are close to him, mainly his siblings. They are the ones that have to put up with his tantrums, his screams and his out-of-the-ordinary demonstration of hate and love – all in one day.

Killian likes the word ‘captain’. If you are anyone remotely in charge of something, you are the ‘captain’. His teacher is the captain of his class. Derek is the captain of the scouts’ hall (because he closes the gate in the evening). When I bought a new lock for Phillip’s gym locker, Killian immediately understood that it was because Phillip was the captain of the gym. When explained that no, he actually wasn’t, he thought for a split second and realised his mistake: Phillip was only the captain of the lockers…

Killian likes gun. We don’t have toy guns (except for water guns) but it really doesn’t matter. Everything becomes a gun, from an L-shaped sandwich, to an L-shaped lego, without forgetting sticks, pens, forks… you name it!

Killian doesn’t like to be on stage. When asked why – is he shy, is he scared, doesn’t he like the attention??? – no, it’s because he gets splinters in his feet from the wood…

Killian is a finicky eater: he likes tomato sauce but won’t touch tomato. He will refuse chocolate, sweets and cookies but will lick his lips at the thought of broccolis.

Killian loves pirates. He is a pirate, in fact he is Captain Jack Sparrow. He made it easy for me by asking a pirate party for the second year in a row. I’m not convinced he won’t asked for a third one!!

Killian refers to “adults” as “humans”. Maybe he doesn’t see himself as a human just yet, that would explain the monkey-type behaviour!

Killian recently explained to me that when someone annoys him, the best thing he does is that he becomes friend with that person. How I wish he would put his theory into practice when it comes to his brother!!

Killian’s friend Jesse moved to Australia a few months ago. Because of the time gap they never see each other on Skype. The other day, they did. Jesse was so excited that he acted a bit crazily. At dinner time, Killian told his dad that Jesse was a bit cuckoo. (Ironic, isn’t it, Kerry, seeing where it’s coming from?)

Killian makes us scream and laugh out loud daily. But as a general consensus, we think he is pretty cool to have around. He is the defender of the weak (his mum and his sister being his favourite protégées) and the lover of justice – especially when justice has failed him. At the thought of Killian, I can but only let a smile escape.

We might have shaped who Killian is for the first 6 years of his life, but the Lord knew him even before he was born. He is the one that shapes him, moulds him, change him for his purpose. He is the real captain! We are only instruments in His hands.

That thought is reassuring. Happy birthday my very special little Captain pirate. Aaaarghh!!

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