Thursday, December 31, 2009

December 2009

The month of December has been really good to us. On December 4th we left on a plane for South Africa. This was very exciting for Rowan as he loves planes! Richard and I were happy that we would be able to spend some time with our friends and family again. We also had some big events to look forward to. There was an early family Christmas get together, a memorial service for my Mom as well as Rowan's aunt
Jennifer and his now uncle Walter's wedding.

As we arrived in Johannesburg on the 5th, we were greeted at the airport by a throng of people that were very happy to see us. Few things match the feeling of being greeted with love and joy by those you love and appreciate most in life. The meet and greet at the airport was very short but oh so much appreciated by us. As we left
the airport and headed towards Benoni where Richard's parents live we were welcomed by one of those beautiful highveld thunderstorms and a rainbow visible in the night sky. It was quite special.

Rowan's Gran prepared one of our favourite South African dishes called Boboti. It was delicious and we were happy to be home and amongst family again. Needless to say we were very tired that night and went to bed quite early.

The following day was set aside for a lovely Christmas get together with my side of the family. It was also Rowan's Oupa's 60th birthday so we really had something to celebrate. Again the food was out of this world! Rowan and Richard spent a lot of time swimming in the pool. It was very nice to catch up with all the members of this rather large part of our family.

The memorial service for my Mom was very touching and sincere. We gathered together with my sister, her fiance, three of my mom's sisters, two of my cousins and my grandmother. It was really meaningful for us to all finally be able to stand together in remembrance of my mother and the life that she shared with all of us. Her ashes were placed in the wall of remembrance at the Methodist Church in Alberton.

The next couple of days were spent visiting with friends and family. We were busy every single day but were sure to make time for plenty of sunshine and swimming. I look back fondly on the mornings and afternoons spent in Granny's garden blowing bubbles, chasing cats, twirling around and around and swooping through the air like

Before we knew it, the week was over and we were heading off to the Drakensberg mountain range in KwaZulu Natal. We were very excited to be visiting the place that Richard and his family always visited on their vacations many years ago. Richard and I have also had a couple of opportunities to stay there so I guess it is safe to say that The Caverns Berg Resort feels like home to us. This time my sister,
Yolande and her fiance Alex joined us. Even though it rained for the two days that we were staying there we still had a great time. Rowan also enjoyed spending some quality time with his aunt and seemed to be completely smitten with Alex.

The next stop on our journey was the destination for the wedding. We drove for an hour and a half through the mountains winding through the valleys, crossing rivers and passing many traditional zulu settlements and other rural villages. There were cattle everywhere! What a wonderful treat to see such happy cows simply wandering around the grassland at the foothills of the magnificent mountain range. The air
was fresh, the sky blue and the sun as hot as could be. Rowan slept most of the way and when we arrived at Didima Lodge he was ready to have some fun. And boy did he have fun!

Right outside our chalet was a rock garden of sort. Rowan spotted his first gecko and that was the beginning of a weekend long search for
geckos. He turned over every rock he could find and climbed on and in between every boulder he came across. We attempted a hike or two but Rowan thought walking up a hill along a very boring path cutting through the grass in the hot sun was a silly idea. So we walked back down and the two boys went for a swim while I helped out with the wedding preparations.

The wedding rehearsal was held in the late afternoon. This was Rowan's test to see if he would in fact be happy to carry the rings down the aisle. He didn't like the idea too much and we decided that he would walk with Richard down the aisle from where the would go directly to their seats while one of the groom's men held the rings. This way Rowan could still be a part of the ceremony and show off his super
funky and slightly over the top outfit.

Rowan also made two new friends. Steph and Abi were the prettiest two flower (bubble) girls he has ever seen. Abi quite liked Rowan too and the two of them played together quite a few times.

The wedding was great. I think it could quite possibly have been one of the happiest weddings I have ever attended. Jennifer was bursting with joy and looked beautiful in her purple wedding dress. I don't think I have ever seen Walter as elated either. The children claimed the dance floor even before the dancing started and kept us and
themselves entertained for hours. The food was good and the atmosphere perfect. Wait until you see the beautiful landscape that surrounded this wonderful event. We had a lovely couple of days in the Drakensberg and we didn't want to leave.

Back in Johannesburg we said our last goodbyes to friends and family and prepared to get back on a plane. And just like that our two week South African vacation was over.

A fluffy, white blanket of snow welcomed us back home and soon we were filled with Christmas spirit. We decorated our tree, pulled out those dancing and singing snowmen and even bought a couple with lights to decorate our back yard. The stockings were stuffed and gifts wrapped while listening to some special holiday music. We cooked a great big meal and spent our Christmas morning together as a family. In the afternoon we joined our very good friends for some desert and gift
exchange. It was a very happy and blessed Christmas indeed.

The week between Christmas and this new year's eve was rather cold, wet and snowy so we ended up spending a lot of time indoors. Rowan played with all his new toys and musical instruments, he learnt to draw circles, made some progress with his potty training and learnt to identify the colours of objects. It was a productive week indeed. As for me... I spent some of my time reflecting on the past year - the
triumphs, the tragedies and those very special ordinary days that came to be 2009. I look back and I am humbled by life and it's complexities. I am thankful for all the people that have in some way or another shared their lives with us and I am glad that we were able to share some bits and pieces of our lives with all of you through
this blog.

May you all have a wonderful and blessed 2010 filled with love, joy and peace. With love from Richard, Elaine and Rowan.
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  1. Oh darn I've missed you. Welcome back. Thank you for sharing all of your trip! I loved the pics and stories. And I think I recognized a couple of pairs of shorts...I'm happy you were able to use them!
    Hope to see you soon...Lynn

  2. Oh, I loved the pics of South Africa... again I am questioning, why in the world do I live in Ohio?????????
    Those wedding outfits are very spiffy... cant wait to see what you and Richard (and bride and groom) were wearing... :-)
    I hope potty training goes well... Welcome back to the blog (and Ohio), I missed you, and happy new year, Love ANke

  3. Hi there Ladies,

    It is so nice to be back - especially when I have been missed. Thanks for that. I can't wait to see you all again. We definitely need to make a plan to get together again. Lynn, those shorts were great. Thank you very much. They were light and thin and thus perfect for the scorching weather we had. Anke, I know what you mean about the beauty of SA. Isn't funny just how cold Ohio seems in the photos when seen next to the nice sunny summer photos of South Africa? As for Rowan's wedding outfit... I loved it! It was a little tacky but oh so much fun!