End Of Year Bits & Bobs

2009 was an interesting year which definitely finished on a high as we were blessed with a home of our own again after 10 years of living in transit. It was also fantastic to be able to unpack our freight, much of which was packed away 10 years ago. We enjoyed reminiscing over our junk and pictures and are delighted to have it all cluttering up our home.

The boys had a great year and have grown incredibly in every way imaginable. Having them both at the same school was a huge blessing and they both had good years there. Eli loves every second of school whilst Joel tolerates it. Having said that he had another year of struggling for the first half and flying for the second. As he goes in to Year 2 in Jan' we just hope and pray his new teacher will really click with him. Eli will be going to Reception which is a scary thought!

We had a great year with friends and through Grace (our church) have made some really amazing friends! We really look forward to seeing how God grows these friendships in the coming year. We've kept up some of our friendships in Chris Nissen too and Michael in particular has been a huge blessing to us. Please pray for massive blessings in his life for 2010 and beyond!

Church has been great. We love being part of Grace in Macassar! We're really looking forward to seeing what God will do in and through the church in 2010. Paula has high hopes for Home Based Care. On that note she's had an amazing year with the CNP team and has enjoyed watching them step up and take on more & more responsibility. Paula has also been meeting regularly with a small group of ladies in Macassar and she's hopeful of where that will lead.

Dean has really enjoyed getting to know some of the men folk in church and is hoping to expand this next year. He's also really enjoyed being able to serve church members in practical ways by painting roofs, changing door hinges, fixing locks etc. By blessing our church members in such small but practical ways they are empowered to stop worrying about minutiae and concentrate more on winning the community for Jesus. Dean really wants to grow this in 2010 and we're very excited about the possibilities for the coming year.

Joel's highlight was flying to England with Daddy to see Grandad and the rest of the family! He couldn't believe his luck when we told him he was going, especially as it meant he would miss ten days of school.

Eli's highlight probably was school, that and getting Rose!

This nowhere near covers the whole year but it's just about all we can remember off the top of our heads. So on that note wee hope you had a great year but if not then we hope and pray 2010 will be a better year.

See the full End Of Year Bits & Bobs photo album here.

Palace Result

Palace had a fantastic Boxing Day with a respectable 3-1 home win over Ipswich. The tractor boys took the lead on 19 minutes and were looking the better team until Jose Fonte put Palace on level terms on 38 minutes followed almost immediately by the Ipswich sending off which was a bit harsh. Palace were hardly convincing despite the extra man and things were looking a bit shaky in the last few minutes. However, in a refreshing turn of events it was Palace that went and scored in the 90th minute with Victor Moses getting his 5th in six games.


Click below for:
Match Report
Manager's Comments
Player Ratings

Next fixture: Mon 28th Dec away to Swansea

Christmas Day

We both come from very different backgrounds in which Christmas was perceived very differently. Whilst Paula's family always made it a big occasion and had a sense of the real meaning behind the festival, Dean grew up expecting little of it as he knew it wasn't really worth getting excited about. He certainly had no real understanding of the festival and when it came to presents he never expected much as he knew he wouldn't get much.

This really changed for Dean after becoming a Christian and joining Paula's family. So for the last 20+ years Christmas has been a special and meaningful time in which we like to keep Jesus' birthday central to the whole occasion.

The day started with a small stocking for each of the boys which they were busy opening at 4am! Eventually after much nagging we got up at 7am and allowed them one present each before church. We went to One Place which is a combined meeting of five local churches. To be honest we were disappointed and had it not been for Gary Welsh giving a very good 10 minute talk we would have come away very frustrated by it.

Thankfully things picked up when we got home as the boys opened the last few presents from family and were delighted with what they got. Although Eli remains far more interested in the puppy than his presents!

Since being out of the UK we've missed the big family Christmas dinners cooked so wonderfully by Paula's mum and then by Lisa so we like to make as much of the occasion for ourselves as possible. We've tended to have our Christmas dinner in the evening after the boys are in bed (and the temp' has dropped) but this year we let Joel join us for the first time and it was a really special meal for it! Our only sadness about the meal was that the sprouts had been frozen and definitely lost a lot of their taste, so much so that none of us could eat them!

Our biggest joy this year had to be the fact that Joel gets the meaning of Christmas and knows it's Jesus' birthday. Praise God!

Joel was thrilled with his Star Wars Lego! At one point Joel was heard saying; "If Jesus had a light saber he'd be Obi Wan Kenobi"

Joel joined us for Christmas dinner for the first time

Pulling a cracker. Joel loved the whole occasion


See the full photo album here

Happy Christmas!

Happy Christmas one and all!

We hope and pray that you have a really blessed time wherever you are and whoever you're with.

Lots of love

Dean, Paula, Joel & Eli
XXXX

Santa's just been so it's definitely bedtime. I wonder how many other dads around the world were up late faking Santa's visit? Why can't the kids leave a cold beer out for Santa rather than a glass of milk?

Christmas Eve Picnic

We decided to start our Christmas with what is becoming a bit of a traditional treat - a family picnic in Vergelegen forest under the camphor trees. Once again, we were treated to fantastic food and the boys really enjoyed hunting for their treasure using the maps provided! The weather was glorious - and we felt like we chilled for the first time this holiday.

Had to rush home though to (a) check that Rose hadn't chewed or cried the house down and (b) track Santa on his travels via the official NORAD Santa Tracker!!

Joel getting adventurous climbing the trees

Eli & Daddy return from a successful treasure hunt

Joel with his treasure

The cup cakes were a huge hit with Eli, he traded his calamari for Joel's cake!

Rose Comes To Stay

Today Rose joined our family. She's a Rhodesian Ridgeback, Border Collie mix although she's missing the ridge on her back. So far she seems very playful and affectionate.

After much discussion around names the semi-finalists were Mutley and Rose with Rose being triumphant. The boys are delighted with Rose although Eli is far more taken with her than Joel who is quite scared of dogs. This was part of why we wanted a dog so Joel would get over his fear, but we know it will take time.

The big question now is; Who's going to pick us the poo in the garden? My guess is Dad will get the job. Deep joy!

Eli and Rose seem to have really taken to each other

4 Today! - Pt 2

Eli had a great day celebrating his 4th birthday. He was delighted with his presents (he didn't seem to notice the absentees due to the late post) especially his chainsaw & safety goggles. The goggles were later put to good use as he was tearing around the garden on his bike looking very pleased with himself.

Daddy & Eli had a little chat over lunchtime about where Eli would like to go for his birthday tea, not where Joel had told Eli he would like to go, so Eli chose Col'Cacchio which also pleased Mum & Dad!

At one point during the day Eli was looking really sad so Mummy asked him what was wrong and with a forlorn look on his face he asked her: "Where's my birthday cake?" Shame! He had his cake back at his party but Mummy felt so bad that she got some chocolate cupcakes and put candles in them for him to blow out whilst we all sang to him. Thankfully this cheered him up no end.

Michael joined us for part of the day and it's always a pleasure to have our dear friend with us. Over the last week or so he's been a huge blessing to us helping moving boxes and furniture. Today he washed my bakkie just because he wanted to. What a legend! Please pray for Michael as he's really struggling with his wife, Joyce. She's not a Christian but is a very heavy drinker and this causes Michael a lot of problems and more than a little embarrassment in the community. Pray for grace as he manages Joyce's erratic behaviours and pray that she might have a life changing encounter with Jesus.

Joel loves his spaghetti


Eli enjoying some spaghetti with his parmesan


Now there's enough


The 'H' of Happy didn't last long


Exhausted at the end of a great day


See the full photo album here

Michael joined us for part of the day and very kindly washed my bakkie. What a star!

4 Today!

Happy 4th Birthday Eli!!!

We were woken at 5.45 to the sound of the boys discussing Eli's potential presents!!  This then deteriorated into an argument and Joel saying he would buy Eli "the boringest present EVER..."a book full of lots and lots of words".

Thankfully, Eli was spared and got what any self-respecting 4 year old boy wanted - a chainsaw!  He was thrilled and spent the next while cutting everything down in the house and garden.  He loved all his presents and cards and did actually love the 3 books that he was given by various folk!  Thank you to everyone for your cards and gifts.  We are now busy building Meccano boats and people - deep joy!

Comment of the day so far though goes to Eli... "Who's that card from Eli?"  "I dunno, it's a 'Jesus' card".  (explanation note: Eli's group at church has been learning about Jesus all term with the help of some cute little sheep each week!).  Sure enough the card had a shepherd and a cute little sheep on it AND it was from Crosslinks!!!!

Christmas Tree

One of the problems of moving house so close to Christmas is that the usual preparations get somewhat pushed aside. Actually that could be a blessing! Anyway, after much nagging from two small boys we managed to put the Christmas tree up much to their delight. This year Joel did most of the decorating as Eli lacked the finesse to put the baubles and bits on the tree so threw a strop and wandered off into the garden. Bless him.

Joel loves the tradition of decorating the tree and is beginning to understand the real meaning of Christmas. We had a bit of a chat about Santa and the real St. Nicholas and why he loved & served God.

Eli is really excited about his birthday tomorrow although Joel is probably even more excited about it! They've been planning where we should go for a family dinner and then came up with a plan to go out for a family breakfast. Stay tuned to find out where we end up and at what time of day we get there!

Eli loves our Zimbo Nativity scene


See our previous tree dressing efforts: 2008, 2007, 2006

This afternoon we had the privilege of joining Aunty Mona and her crew for the Firgrove kids Christmas Party. Each year she runs this party simply to bless the kids in the community. Wow what an afternoon. The turnout was fantastic and the kids had a brilliant time with the bouncy castle being the main attraction.

We were really impressed by the turnout of volunteers too which meant that Aunty Mona and Cindy (her daughter) had plenty of help. There was a also a fairly good turnout from Grace which was excellent. It's good to see church members getting involved in community events.

The tannies watching the kids on the castle. Aunty Mona is on the right

Father Christmas made a visit

Joel & Eli were taken with the newborn kittens


We used the same bouncy castle as last night for the church fun night so we put it up in the garden this morning for a bit. The boys had a wild time enjoying it all by themselves!

Family Fun Night

Last night we had a church Family Fun Night in Macassar and a fairly wild time was had by all. Sadly for us it was too late for our boys and Eli spent most of the evening asleep on Dean.

Despite this we had a fun evening and it was another great opportunity for getting to know more church folk in a relaxed setting. What was particularly good was the turnout of our youth group as they're a really good bunch. They were all very competitive so they really livened up the games, especially the coke drinking game which was a particular success!

We also hired a bouncy castle so the smaller kids had a great time playing on that. What is it about those things?

All in all a good fun evening!


We're not at all competitive!

Some of the youth really threw themselves into the games!

Mervin scratches his head as he's asked to referee between two boys

Why are bouncy castles such a hit?

As ever when moving to a new home junk accumulates which needs to be sorted and invariably something major breaks down. Here you can see some of the excess junk waiting to find a home in the garage. What surprised me about the size of the pile is the fact that we're not hoarders by any stretch of the imagination and are quite ruthless when it comes to getting rid of stuff. But still junk accumulates!

Paula tried to cook the boys tea last night only to find that the pan took about an hour to reach boiling point (about the same time it took for her to get to the same point!). Added to that the fact that the cooker was filthy, badly fitted and had some serious mis-wiring on the inside it was clearly time to get it replaced. I spent about an hour trying to rescue it but after tripping out the fuse box for the umpteenth time and uttering a few unedifying words it was time to go to the shops. Eventually I found a good oven & hob at a reasonable price. So £350 later, ouch! I was home with the necessaries. The shop offered to fit it for me for another £50 but I didn't want to wait a week. Thankfully all is well and the boys have enjoyed a hot noodle tea tonight.

Next week it looks like it's the geyser's turn as we seriously need to have decent showers.

The cooker mid-way through being installed


Paula making tea on the new hob

Moved!

Last night was our first night sleeping in our new house so finally after what feels like an eternity of shifting boxes and furniture all of 100 metres it's beginning to feel like home. As with moving to any property it's only once one is in that one discovers what is or isn't so great about the place. This morning I tried the shower only to discover it is truly pathetic! That's going to have to be rectified as a matter of urgency.

On the plus side, Telkom did indeed rock up as they said they would which was two days earlier than originally requested. After about 10 minutes of being perplexed the engineer asked where the phone line enters the house. I showed him where it used to be and then after a quick look in the attic he announced that there were no cables in the house. It turns out that when the thieves stripped the house of all its electrical cable before we moved in (thankfully the seller's insurance coughed up so we got a fully rewired house) they must have nicked the phone line too. After another few minutes he announced that he would simply replace the cabling and so within an hour we had a working phone and ADSL line. Fantastic! That really was a seamless service from Telkom and we're well impressed.

The boys were in paradise on their first night in the house as they now have all their toys in their bedroom as the lounge is simply too small to accommodate them all. Goodness knows what time they eventually got to sleep. Thankfully we were out at a mulled wine evening so it wasn't our problem. What we do know is that Joel was up at 5am playing with his Flying Dutchman. Hopefully the novelty will wear off in a few days.

Moving Day(s)

We're already exhausted and we're only half way through our move. There's a lot to be said for only moving 100m but it does bring its own challenges. Moving the 10ft trampoline was an interesting experience! Also moving a week before Christmas in 32° is not great.

Michael has been a legend and we couldn't have done half of what we have without him! He's coming again tomorrow morning when we'll move our beds and the last few bits. Then on Friday & Saturday we'll clean our old house before handing it back.

Please pray that our landlady will be reasonable. We've got on well until now but she's already expressed some frustration at the state of the house. We feel it's mostly reasonable wear & tear after 3½ years with 2 small boys running riot but she feels that the house was a 'show home' when we moved in. We've made some small improvements and kept the garden brilliantly.

Telkom say they are going to sort out our ADSL line tomorrow so we'll be incommunicado for 24 hours whilst that is sorted.

Weekend

Suddenly the decision to move just before Christmas seems a bit daft as jobs keep piling up and life seems to get messier by the minute. We're now living in chaos in two houses! Thankfully it will all be over on Friday this week as we will be fully moved in on Thursday which will give us a couple of days to get the old house cleaned up before handing it back to the landlady.

On the house front our gate has been fitted almost hassle free and after a little bit of discussion with the gate people they've agreed to return on Tuesday to install the intercom. We had garden services in on Thursday & Friday to chop stuff back and remove tree stumps etc. By the time they were finished we were gobsmacked by how big the garden is and the boys are loving exploring it. I'm also keen to get started on the worm farm and veggie plot so watch this space.

Now that the gate is in situ' we're able to start moving stuff over so we're gradually moving in. All our books and bookcases are in and we've unpacked most of our freight. That was a lot of fun as some of the boxes were packed ten years ago and have not been opened in the meantime. So many memories came flooding back! We're really looking forward to opening the photo box once we're settled in the new house.

I've spent the last couple of days prepping the walls in the lounge for painting. The house has a bit of a damp problem as the Northwest corner isn't sealed properly nor are the parapet walls at either end of the roof. We've got a builder coming to sort it out in January but he reckons the walls are now dry enough to treat and paint which is exactly what I'm working on. Tomorrow we'll choose the colour for the lounge, very exciting! Tonight I look about 80 years old as I'm covered in a coat of fine white powder from sanding the polyfilla. Thankfully a shower will rejuvenate me.

This morning we had an unexpected morning off church and decided to go to the Nature Reserve where we had a lot of fun. Eli particularly seems to love the place and he's become a bit of a daredevil as the photo above testifies! We really enjoy our trips to the reserve and today we topped it off with lunch at the Oak Cafe which is always a hit.

Joel was delighted to see a tortoise on the boardwalk around the pond

School finished today for the summer holidays and were our boys delighted! Joel has just finished Year 1 and will go into P8 in January whilst Eli has just finished Pre-Nursery and will go straight into Reception next year as the school re-jigs all the early years primary classes to fit with the International Baccalaureate system.

We marvel at how well the boys have done and how they've blossomed through the year. Joel's reading is really good and he adores books which is great.

Eli just had a year of playing but in the midst of it actually learnt quite a lot. He often amazes us with just how much he knows and can do.

To celebrate the end of year and how well Joel & Eli have done this year we took them out for their tea to Primi's. Joel devoured a huge plate of spaghetti whilst Eli did serious damage to his pizza.
Joel sucking down his spaghetti

That's not really a Mojito, honest!

Nativity

This year we were really pleased that the boys' school decided to put on a proper Nativity after avoiding it for a couple of years. Sadly they felt the need to send permission slips out to ensure that no-one was forced to take part that might not want to. We don't recall them doing that for Diwali.

Joel was really pleased to be a king with Calvin & Jason whilst Eli was one of Santa's little helpers (not sure where that fits with the Nativity) and showed no sense of being intimidated by the stage or audience. If anything, he played up to the crowd!

The production was great and really well done and as to be expected the evening was not without a few priceless comedy moments. The best being the miraculous birth of a white Jesus to a black Mary, truly a miracle!


Joel was proud to be a king


Click here for full album

Palace Result

Palace thumped Reading 4-2 with a fine display on Tuesday night which just about compensates for the thumping we got at home to Doncaster Rovers on Saturday!

Palace went into the break at half-time 3-1 up and after a brief onslaught by Reading in the second half it was all Palace. Butterfield conceded a questionable penalty on 79 minutes but Moses sealed all three points with a beautiful goal in the 88th.

Click below for:
Match Report
Manager's Comments
Player Ratings

On a different note, I was relieved to read this headline on the Croydon Guardian: Noades says no to Palace return Phew! I really cannot abide that man!

Next fixture: Sat' 12 Dec' away to Sheffield Utd

Turner Prize

I saw on the BBC News website that the Turner Prize winner has been announced. This year the prize was won by painter Richard Wright. Wright was presented with the £25,000 prize by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy at Tate Britain in London, with judges praising his "profound originality".

I looked at his winning entry and immediately fancied a curry. Then I realised why. Anyone who went into a curry house in the 1970's through to the late 1980's probably remembers the various flock wallpapers that adorned most Indian restaurants. So then I typed: "1970's wallpaper" into Google and had my suspicions confirmed. There is absolutely nothing original or profound for that matter, about this piece of so called 'art'. A quick trawl around some wallpaper websites such as: www.flockedwallpaper.co.uk or www.wallpaperfromthe70s.com suggest I'm not wrong.

If only I'd known that copying a piece of wallpaper and enlarging it a couple of hundred times could have earnt me 25grand! I'm in the wrong job!

Freight Arrived!

Hallelujah! Our freight was delivered this afternoon. Apparently it cleared customs very easily which is a great answer to prayer. We weren't expecting problems but you never know with customs.

The delivery guy was really helpful and thankfully Michael was already with me at the house so he too got stuck in with the unloading. Even the boys had a go at carrying some of the lighter boxes.

We'll gradually unpack over the coming weeks but we've already discovered one casualty. I was keen to show Michael my Shirt Aid picture but unfortunately the glass had broken in the frame. Thankfully no damage done though so it should be easy to get the glass replaced.

Joel & Eli getting stuck in


The freight in the garage of our new house. The boys deliberately put on their grumpy faces for the photo then laughed like drains afterwards!


It turns out that our freight was on the MSC Laura not the MSC Sophie as we were told which would explain why the Sophie is still in the Mediterranean but our freight is in our garage!