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South Africa 2014

We have been back two weeks now from our amazing, blessed trip to South Africa! We were in South Africa for five weeks but away from home five and a half weeks due to travel time.

This is what our luggage looked like when all the planning and packing tables were competed! Two large suit cases and one small as check in luggage, two kiddie carry on suit cases, three car seats,
a nappy bag, a lap top bag and that is about it!

Mercy and Nate each pulled a suit case containing all of their clothing, activities, and a single toy.

We stayed first at Ballito where Dave played as a child in these same rock pools! Delightful for little ones.

We were delighted to be reunited with Gramps and Gran and had great times with them. They brought a seventh wedding anniversary cake up to Ballito to celebrate with us and also provided us with lots of other meals and baked goodies while we were in South Africa.

Next stop was Howick where we stayed beside a lovely man made dam where we enjoyed a bit of water sport!

We love the beaded wares on sale. We took lots of day trips with Gramps and Gran Gran.

 Next we went to Johannesburg then to Kruger park. We stayed in lots of different huts and saw many animals, including this rhino Mum and babe.

Another highlight of our trip was seeing old friends. This pic was taken at lunch in Joburg with friends and we also had many lovely social times in Kwa-Zulu Natal.

Another highlight was visiting ministries that care for orphans and growing in love for them. There is no place like one's own bed though! Nothing like getting home and seeing all our familiar things and places. We arrived home to catch the beauty of spring blossoms and bulbs.


iSonto #59

I'm sitting down for a rest in the midst of last preparations for our trip to South Africa, starting tomorrow. Above is one of Nate's happy snaps of his bed. Below are pictures of the cousins visit when the came to say goodbye before our trip.

More to be thankful for . . .

Fun dancing with mercy at ballet
Chicken dinner with children for family celebration
Watching wedding DVD and remembering happy day
Long dinner date with Dave for our anniversary
Water rushing through our taps
Freedom to worship
Money to give to persecuted Christians
Dolls house propped onto blocks for a pretend flood!
Time to pack wisely and consider
Mercy lady bird
Dave likes to cook
Soaking up sunset glory


iSonto #58

We have set aside one bedroom as the "learning room" again, which is also where Bill sleeps at night in his cot. We have put lots of children's pictures on the wall so Nate has declared it our very own art gallery. We have created hand print flamingo and ostrich, and airplane pictures after reading "Why Can't I Fly?" by Ken Brown.

We also experimented with making a painting with just pink, white and purple paint as one of the illustrations in our book had only these colours. This is Nate's effort to create a scene with flamingo and ostrich (the tall one). This is all part of our South African "Little Footprints" curriculum.

Bill loved snuggles with Dad.

He fed himself wheat bix.

Nate practiced taking photos and this was one result. Bill finds glasses, tiaras and bead necklaces fun.

Finally, it was fun to have our first child-written sign about the house! Nate is just starting to write letters more often although we are not doing structured writing practice yet.

More happy thoughts:
Daffodils in blue pottery vase on kitchen bench
Candle flickering in burgandy holder
Verbal correction guidelines that help keep me on track
Watching my 3 play at a park in the sun
Bill smiling and saying "hello goggy"
iPod pre-literacy games for Nate
Zulu dictionary for iPod!
Every bit of Zulu study seemed worth it when imbali was so excited and emotional about Dave closing our call in Zulu.
Strength to be hospitable this week as well
Joy of being able to serve
Beautiful view from our living room of freshly snow covered mountain and hills
A bath full of children
Able to sit comfortably at several places at our table, thanks to our new chairs
Able to quickly mix two quiche to bake for church lunch
Children threading African beads


iSonto #57

This week brings some happy memories of our special school holiday outing with cousins to Zoo Doo. Above the oldest and youngest Tassie cousins both have striped beanies.

Nate's favourites were the bunnies and the lambs.

It was also great fun to race around the paddocks with the wallabies.

Bill held his own, kicking animals that came near his feet!

All the children did a great job on the crazy bus ride with camels and ostrich sticking their heads through to eat the food in the cups. No one got too scared!

That is just a sample of the exciting day which also held lions, merkats (my favourite), monkeys, and emus. We have been reading about ostrich in the lead up to our South Africa trip so this was a good opportunity to talk about and observe the differences between them and the Australian emu. Hopefully the lessons will be remembered!

Plus some more things to be thankful for:

The 3 playing happily in the cubby in the rain
Reading a chapter of "Fit to Burst" while eating fresh hummus
Plump cushions with clean covers
Grandma and William walking hand in hand
Feeling calm
Giant howden cauliflower
Bill feeding himself porridge
Cousins to enjoy a holiday outing with
Children delighted with farm animals
Having guests again
Spare sewing machine needles
Patched trousers!
Mercy's response to being told we would have guests on Sunday: "great, I love them, what are their names?"
Mercy and Nate playing outside together happily for more than an hour


iSonto #56

This week we have a tea party for cars (and funny faces for the camera).

We have had heaps of fun with cousins in the holidays. Yesterday it was lovely to have them occupied for an hour making booklets about "God's Good News".

Cousin Jeriah helped Elnathan a lot.

Here are the thanksgiving points I popped into my ipod blog draft this week:

Bill's huge smile as we sing Ho Ho
Bill trying to say Jesus
Nate's glowing eyes when I tell him I am looking forward to seeing his creation
Fun bible sticker and activity sheets
Reading Acts to mercy and Nate
Cousin Esther happy sleepover
Nate and Bill exchanging smiles and horrays
Perfect pink down jacket
Strong enough to get out paints for children
Nate gaining new painting skills
Nate asking: "mummy do I smell like a daffodil?"
Mercy learning to recognize the written word God in a bible story
Nate loving his vehicle coloring book
Mercy drawing with much more detail including people, and explaining her pictures
Dave encouraging children to praise God
Cousins liked the craft I provided
Mercy and Nate delighted eyes when I was excited about them being good when out with dad.
Mercy telling me I look lovely in my passport photo!!


iSonto #55

 It is good to be well enough to blog this week. Above you can see Bill getting up to mischief with the little chair again.

We got a play pen for the first time at our third toddler! This new pen with a gate means the older children can also build without interruption. In fact, Nate thinks of it as his play pen. One funny moment was when he said "Help. Bill is trying to get into my playpen!" Believe me, I am grateful when my active five year old wants to shut himself up in there for a while :).

Nate's fabric picture.

Dave and the children made a cake. The excuse was that in July six years ago God provided for us in many ways: this house, Dave's job, and Dave's working visa, as well as a trip booked to South Africa.  It is always good to talk about God's goodness . . . and who needs an excuse to bake cakes and ice them blue anyway!!
Mercy and I made a paper pizza in response to the story "Pete's Pizza". Mercy added arms and a legs for her talking pizza :). This was good for her cutting skills.

The round African houses Dave made with the children as one of the activities in our new South African curriculum we are starting before we go over next month. This curriculum is a wonderful opportunity to take the children on an adventure there before we even set foot on the ground :).

Here is two weeks worth of my thanks list:
Mercy rejoicing in her pink shoes with bows
Lying on my bed in the sunlight in a quiet house!
Dave taking the children to the beach for a walk.
A new denim dress bought on sale for Mercy, just what I imagined getting for her before she was born.
Early morning reading in the car at the beach.
Christ-centered marriage book "What Did You Expect" by Paul David Tripp
Heating in the car!
New coat and jacket on order.
Receiving teaching on contentment from Revive Our Hearts podcasts.
Midyear sales.
Heart to pray for my extended family.
Mercy bright eyed reciting John 15:14
Joy buying clothes for orphans
Laughing at my passport photo in which I look (and was) very sick!
Able to pay for expensive passport.
White sky and bare brown branches above red mohair blanket
Able to cough without sharp, pounding sinus pain in ears and head
Friends offering help and prayer
Dave's carer leave
Able to laugh, cough and sit up without severe pain.
Bill spinning and dancing to music in room time.


iSonto #54

Mercy "taking Bill for a walk".  Mercy feels very blessed that we have a baby, even such a big one who is becoming more little boy than baby. Last week Nate said "We birthed Bill ages ago"!

Mercy and Nate have been earning dress ups when they accumulate seven clean and dry days (yes, they still need toilet training). Here they are as king and queen.

We have a great book called "The Big Book of Bible Story Art Activities". For this one we made playdough and used it to create gardens with pasta shapes. It occupied the little ones for about an hour. You can see below that Bill is a climber. At sixteen months he pushes a seat up to the bar stools and climbs onto them. I like to describe his increasing skills as "bracing" . . . for me, that is!

Nate has decided he needs a "desk". He likes to look at photos on the computer. Behind you can see the pink case we picked up for Mercy at a garage sale for our trip. We also got Nate one and they are old enough to begin anticipating our trip and running around with their cases pretending to go on an airplane.

Here are some more things to be thankful for I jotted down over the past two weeks:

Nate saying he would come home and make me vegetable soup to cheer me up!
Nate being polite at grandmas birthday party.
Bill learning to love books and sitting with me for 25 minutes listening while I read to him!
Bill loves being outdoors.
Mercy loudly singing to a praise CD, and dancing.
Nate matching letter blocks. I tried this about two years ago, and every few months since then, with no interest until now so it is lovely to have it happening now!
Nate telling me he wants to live with me forever because he loves me so much! (This is sweet because I trust he will feel differently when he grows up . . . not about the love, but about his living situation).
Dancing with Mercy to the praise CD.
Dave bringing me home flowers.
Nate building sand castles.
Nate creating lots of stencil pictures with colorix crayons.
Mercy creating a train family.
Happy children eating garden carrots and "camping".
Scent of jasmine
Mild winter day
A little girl walking up to me at kinder gym holding mercy's hand saying "I have a new friend", both looking starry eyed!
Renewed appreciation for breathing through my nose after having a cold.


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