Hi from rainy, chilly South Africa! I know we aren't having the cold and snow that our friends in the Midwest and Washington are experiencing, but after so many days of temps around 100, the mid 60's seem very wintery to us. The sun has been hidden all day, so the lack of sunshiny rays and the slow drizzle of the past several hours make it seem even cooler out than it is. I'm enjoying the change from the ordinary and just enjoyed a nice cup of hot chocolate while sitting out under the lapa (covered patio area). We sent Tyson and Jori outside to play, Darin is reading a book and I thought I'd take some time to catch you all up on what we've been doing around here.
This past Saturday was probably one of the busier days we've had in the past few months. We enjoyed some down time in the morning, but then we packed up the whole family so Darin and his hard working buddy, Tyson, could finish up some work at the apartment complex they'd been at earlier in the week. It was interesting to see a totally different part of the city and it was fun to see what had kept the guys busy all day on Wednesday. Tyson and Jori ran up and down the stairs while Darin changed 3 light bulbs. It might not seem like a huge task, but with my fear of heights, there is no way I could have done the job! I'm proud of Darin and his willingness to get his hands dirty for the good of our family. After the light bulbs were all in, we packed up and headed to the second house we had house sat at for a birthday party. Jori's friend from church, Haley, was celebrating her 5th birthday with a swimming party. Haley's brother Caden is Tyson's age, so it was fun for Tyson to be able to swim and have a friend to play with as well. We all enjoyed some yummy snacks, cake and ice cream as well as the time visiting with friends. We had to leave the party in a rush because we were already late for our next event of the day, a braai with our cell group, and we still had to stop and pick up the meat we were going to grill. We hadn't met with our cell group in over a month, so it was nice to be back together again with a large portion of the group.
Sunday we headed back to Pretoria for church. The kids did a prayer walk outside during the service and I heard both Tyson and Jori's voices a few times. I guess my kids are a bit loud, or maybe it's the American accent that stands out. We had a pretty quiet afternoon and then went on a game drive after dinner. We had heard that a giraffe had died in childbirth on one of the farms close to us, so we wanted to try to find the body, but we are not very good at tracking dead things. We did see a lot of living animals though, including a large herd of kudu, waterbok, zebra, a huge herd of impala, some wildebeest and a tortoise that was walking on the path we were driving on.
For the kids and me, Monday started out with home schooling. I've been working hard to be better prepared for each day before it starts and so far it has made a big difference. I find that I am more patient and less stressed when I have a plan for each kid and have a basic idea of what I want to cover with them over the course of the week. While we were in Pretoria, Darin and I had a lot of talks about a variety of things and one of the things that we decided was that I would take over more of the home school duties and Darin would use the time that I was teaching to get more involved with Mama Cathrine, running errands, or doing other "busy work". That way I don't feel like he's just sitting around living the high life while I'm stuck with two kids who'd rather be outside playing! So Monday, while the kids are I were doing school, Darin headed out to Mama Cathrine to see how things were out there. He also stopped by to see Amos who had sent us a text message the night before to let us know that his sister had passed away. Darin was gone for most of the day, but not having him around definitely helps me to stay more on task with the kids, I think because I have to stand on my own two feet instead of turning things over to Darin when the going gets tough.
Tuesday was a lot like Monday, but Darin was home so he helped Tyson do a science experiment with magnets. After lunch we all headed across the road for a while. Darin and I snuggled some babies and Tyson and Jori played with their friend Fetsi. Then they kind of fell apart when we told them they couldn't swim and that was the end of our time across the road! Instead we came home, put them both in their rooms for a time out (My little sweet angel Jori almost bent my finger backwards as I was talking to one of the girls across the road. Never underestimate the strength of a 5 year old, especially if you have frail old lady hands like me!!) and then Darin and I watched an episode of 24. Did I already mention that Darin's family went in together to buy us the DVD's of the shows 24 and House. We haven't watched either of those series, so it has been a fun little treat for us at night, although I must say that watching 24 makes me very stressed out and it also makes me think that women on suspenseful TV shows are very, very stupid. After the kids had sufficient time to cool down and Darin and I had regrouped, we headed outside to play. We tossed a football around and played catch with a baseball. Darin had to head across the road to make a Skype call, but the kids and I stayed outside to enjoy the sun. Tyson climbed a tree, higher than he's ever gone before, while Jori practiced her soccer skills. I helped them both hook up their ropes (thanks again Grandma Willie and Auntie Bernice!) to make swings.
Now it's Wednesday afternoon. This morning I taught the kids about coins and their values. I think I talked a bit too much by the glazed look on Jori's face. : ) Our whole family watched an episode of the Kratt Brothers "Be the Creature" series, which was our Christmas present to the kids. As Tyson and Jori get older and more independent, it's easy to let them just go off and play on their own or watch movies on their own, but we've been trying to make a point of doing more things together as a family. We were supposed to have cell group tonight, but we got a call about an hour ago that only our family and one other person could make it, so that's been canceled. The kids are outside digging in a pile of wet sand. Darin is still reading and I'm listening to a bright yellow weaver bird peck at an upstairs window as I type up this post about our daily lives. We are so thankful for all the wonderful moments that God allows us to have as we are in this time of waiting. Sometimes our whole future seems so up in the air and out of our control, probably because it is so up in the air and out of our control, but we really want to make a point to treasure our time here and embrace today without worrying about tomorrow. What a privilege it is to be able to embrace each today in such a beautiful country!