Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! to all our readers, supporters, friends and family.

We're two hours ahead of Blighty so will be fast asleep by the time Big Ben chimes, so don't call us ;-)

Hopefully 2009 will be a great year in which you all draw closer to our awesome Lord. We certainly pray that for ourselves.

I've not been posting Palace Results this season for a few reasons, but mainly because I've been too busy. So, to make amends here's Neil Warnock's review of Palace in 2008.

Best Match - The 5-0 defeat of Burnley at Selhurst Park. That was special because we had to get the win to get in the play-offs and it turned into a special afternoon and night time. We worked so hard to get there from the start we had.

Worst Match - The 2-1 defeat to Bristol City in the first leg of play-offs at Selhurst. I thought we should have won the game if we played like we could. The heat and the kick off time were against us and to equalise but lose concentration and concede straight after made it very difficult for us in the second leg.

Biggest success - There are two things. The experienced players have been superb with the youngsters, giving them advice and guidance, while the young lads have surprised themselves. I have given them the chance and they have grabbed it. It has been very pleasing to see them develop as they have.

Biggest regret? - The chairman would have loved it if the Arabs had come and backed Palace rather than Manchester City.

Favourite Ground? - Personally, the Emirates when I went to watch Arsenal play. That was a best ground I have been to.

Worst Ground? - Blackpool is still being renovated so it was like a builder’s yard.

Best buy or loan? - Scott Sinclair last season and Craig Beattie this season. Beattie turned the season for us this time and Sinclair did a similar thing last year.

Hopes for 2009? - I think all we can ask for is that the lads give their all and do their best. We have got to try and get as many points on board and finish as high up in the table as we can and not worry so much about the clubs with the parachute payments and the big wage bills.

Article by Graham Moody for the Croydon Advertiser.

Landscape Gardening

The boys are enjoying having some time to play with their toys and Eli particularly is in paradise with his gardening set. He got a wheelbarrow, gloves and a gardening toolkit with a trowel and mini fork and he has now set about a touch of landscaping as he redesigns bits of the garden.

Joel is still 'in heaven' aboard his Black Pearl pirate ship. It really is quite an amazing thing and we have to stop ourselves from having a bit of a play too! Paula took him to the mall today to buy his first proper school shoes -black lace up jobs! It took exactly 3 minutes in the shop and all Joel could say was, "Yeah, they're OK - can we buy a packet of sweets now?". Thank goodness - we remember being a bit psychologically scarred from those gruesome days of buying Clarks school shoes!!! Nevertheless, we now have the more difficult job of (a) keeping them on his feet all morning - that will be a miracle and (b) teaching him to tie and untie his laces before 22 Jan! Not to be outdone by Joel, Eli needs new trainers AND sandals, so that's a job for another day and a second mortgage!

The weather has turned a bit grim since yesterday afternoon (shame for those on holiday here at present) so Paula had to change her plan to take the boys swimming at a friends house. Instead she took the boys to the municipal pool in Strand and they had a ball. It looks like we might be spending a bit more time there in the future as it has a proper children's pool as well as the adult one, so the boys can enjoy swimming whilst being able to touch the ground. The swimming lessons for both boys have definitely paid off.

Eli dressed himself to go riding in the rain

Christmas Day Fun

We had a great day yesterday and the boys had lots of fun opening their presents. It started with a stocking at the end of their beds followed by their main presents after church. We went to Christ Church in Somerset West for their Christmas service and we really enjoyed it. It was quite nice to have a bit of tradition on the day.

Despite the seemingly huge number of presents we managed to slow things down a bit and told the boys a bit more about Jesus and what Christmas is really about. Joel seems to get it although he was really desperate to get on with opening presents.

Once again we had our Christmas dinner in the evening after the boys had gone to bed, but sadly we had to give up on eating it outside as it really was quite chilly in the wind. Never mind, the turkey was great and we had a lovely meal - despite not having any Brussels sprouts which amounts to a mini crisis in our house!

The depth on concentration needed to inflate the whoopee cushion is immense


Eli inside a gift bag.


The sheer delight on his face is priceless


Joel is proud of his pirate Buff (bandana)



Cracker pulling


Eli at home drilling a box


Joel was really taken with his new books, this one is called 'Plundering Pirates'


On Chrsitmas Eve we had a lot of fun tracking Santa on the Norad website

Happy Christmas!


Wishing you all a very happy Christmas and a very blessed New Year!

Christmas Eve

Like any other children our boys are REALLY excited about Christmas and can't wait for tomorrow to come. Joel has put a glass of milk and a cookie out for Santa (Dad suggested he might prefer a beer but Mummy reckons he'll be too busy for that) and they've both gone to bed clutching their stockings. Sweet!

We're really looking forward to tomorrow as we're off to the local CESA church for a traditional Christmas morning service. We love all the traditions of Christmas but we're really passionate about the true story behind the season. We've been telling the boys about Jesus being born and what that means for us. Joel seems to understand but Eli is too young.

Today we had a family treat at Vergelegen where we had a picnic in the camphor forest. It was fantastic and the boys really enjoyed the treasure hunt.

A happy Joel


Enjoying the picnic


The intrepid explorers in pursuit of the hidden treasure


Dad got involved in the treasure hunt

1000 Posts

Whilst preparing another post for the blog I happened to notice that we've hit the unexpected milestone of 1000 posts (this post is the 1001st). Wow!

We started this blog to keep family and friends up to date with our family life so that they could see how Joel and later Eli were growing up. Now we have regular readers in many different countries, many of whom we've only met in cyberspace. Blogging is a great way to meet people and brilliant for keeping in touch.

Here's to the next 1000 posts!

Brussels Sprouts

We can't find Brussels sprouts anywhere this Christmas so will do the unthinkable and have a Christmas dinner sans sprouts.

In the absence of enjoying real sprouts we'll have to settle for this amusing story in the news: Farting gorillas force Brussels sprouts off zoo's Christmas menu.

Water Babies

Eli recently went on a 2 week crash course in swimming and as in all things he took to it with natural aplomb and excelled. Enid the swimming teacher said she'd only previously seen one other 2 year old with such a natural aptitude for swimming.

As we don't have a pool at our house we are enjoying taking people up on their offers of using their pools!! I think we went swimming 6 times last week! This is really helping Joel's confidence to develop in the water and his swimming is really coming on well. He has now learnt what fun it is to jump in the water and it's difficult to get him out of the pool! Eli needs no encouragement - he scares us all to death! He goes under, jumps too high and too far and just comes up laughing! We really are enjoying the lazy, hot days in the pool!

This boy knows no fear!


Joel refuses to be left behind. His swimming is getting really good


Zelda had fun encouraging the boys


Joel is enjoying his swimming


Cute


Zoe & Joel jumping together, Eli was supposed to join in too


This time he does as all three jump at same time


The spit roast getting underway (click here for more about this)


Church Events

Christmas and New Year are always busy times in church life and things are no different at Grace Community Church. If anything, this time of year seems far busier than back in Blighty, but that may be due in part to the fact that the 'festive' period falls in the Summer holidays.

Daniël organised a Thank You spit roast for those who have been helpful in building church life throughout 2008. So on Saturday evening quite a crowd gathered in his garden to enjoy good fellowship, a fantastic lamb spit roast and lots of laughs!

We've been really impressed with the spirit of the folk of Grace Community Church and are thrilled to be a part of a church which is hungry for God. Probably what impresses us the most is the integrity we see in the lives of the guys as they seek to follow and serve God. We've been particularly impressed with Gerrit (above) and his wife Sharon. In the photo above Gerrit is carving the lamb despite the fact that he doesn't like it and won't eat it. In fact, he spent most of the evening serving in this way which is so typical of him. It's a real joy to worship amongst people like this!

Chillin' and chatting before the meal


Mervin & Yolanda


Daniël & Zelda


As the evening wore on the fun livened up


On Sunday the kids put on a nativity which was really good fun, partly because they hadn't rehearsed a great deal but mainly because everyone really entered into the spirit of it. We're certainly beginning to see a new take on old traditions and it is really refreshing.

Sadly, Joel had already decided he wasn't going to participate and Eli took his cue from Joel and also refused. We'll work on them for next year.

Eli almost stole the show when he fell off his skateboard as he was leaning against the stage (see photo below). Dad should have rushed to his aid being the closest to him but Dad couldn't stop laughing. Shame on Dad!

Eli just before the skateboard slipped out from under him. Classic!


The nativity


A new take on Father Christmas


Daniël


Father Christmas made an appearance

Birthday Boy

Eli celebrated his third birthday today and managed it in style! we've had a lot of fun and lots of people have made a real fuss of him which is great. Having a birthday so close to Christmas isn't great for a number of reasons but despite that he's had a lot of fun today. Eli was delighted with his presents but the skateboard from Jo seems to be the biggest hit. Joel is really smitten by the pirate set from Grandad and needs to be reminded that it's Eli's!

For lunch we headed into Cape Town but gave up after sitting in a traffic jam for quite a while and instead headed off to our favourite restaurant. Normally we'd go sans enfant but it was great to introduce the boys to the restaurant and vice versa.

They look really chuffed with the pirate set


Eli's first bike, now he can keep up with Joel


Smart boy!


Before...


...and after


Joel tucking into his favourite meal

Longest Day

There's a lot of stuff on the news websites we like to look at about the winter solstice and it being the shortest day today.

We'd just like to say that we're enjoying our summer solstice and as such our longest day. The weather is gorgeous, the sun is shining and the day is long.

Oh happy days!

Oh yes, it's also Eli's 3rd birthday!

Caption Competition

It's Friday afternoon and you really should be finishing off that crucial bit of work to meet the deadline, but somehow you strayed onto the web and ended up here.

So, whilst you're here why not get involved? Enter our Caption Competition and see if you can make us laugh.

Give it your best shot, see what you can come up with and leave your entry in the comments bit below.

No prizes, just a bit of fun.

Inappropriate comments will be deleted.
Over on his blog, Terry Virgo posed the following question about this picture:

"If you were around in 1919 (just before prohibition started) and came upon the following poster………


I mean seriously, would you quit drinking?"


I think I would probably start drinking!

Friends On The Beach

Yesterday we went to the beach where the boys had a fantastic time jumping in the waves and giggling themselves silly as they got knocked down by them.

Our main reason for going to the beach was to spend some time with our old friends Pete & Ash. It was such a privilege to spend the day with with them whilst they are down from Jo'burg on holiday. We know Pete & Ash from our time in Zim when Pete led River Of Life Church in Mount Pleasant. These days they live in Jo'burg where Pete leads GodFirst Church where amazing things are happening - check out their website.

Time is precious for Pete & Ash and obviously they want to make sure they have as much time together as a family so we felt very privileged to be able to spend so much time with them on the beach.

One of the highlights was the Idols roadshow which was close to where we were. Little Sam stole the show as Jack's dancer whilst he sang karaoke. As a result, the parents were called up on stage to demonstrate where the 'talent' came from. Pete was then on top form with his rendition of "Born in the RSA"!!

The Smyth family

Jack & Sam


Ice cream always goes down well


Swapsies


Charging around in the sea


Joel was well impressed with the police patrol