Summer holiday that so wasn’t a holiday!

So the summer holidays are over.  They’ve been good but they have also been a roller coaster ride… we’ve been away – camping for the first time with children and then in South Africa visiting family who hasn’t been well, Jenna-May has started school and my husband has taken voluntary redundancy resulting in me returning to work full-time whilst he job hunts.

Seriously, sometimes I wonder what else could be thrown at us but hey at least it keeps the ride of life interesting! I look forward to getting through the next season and looking back to see how God has provided, set things in place and worked His will in this time.

So how has your summer been? Eventful? Missing it yet?

 

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Stop stealing him.

 

There are so many nasty diseases and illnesses out there, being a nurse I’ve come across quite a few. But when it affects you and your family it’s always different.

We’ve been having a pretty tough time in our family lately.

A few weeks ago my uncle died from cancer, he hadn’t been well for a while and lived to a good old age but losing someone is never easy.  He was such a lovely, kind and generous man who always had a smile and laugh for those around him.  He loved his life and family and will be greatly missed.

Add to that my dad hasn’t been well. He recently needed to have surgery to remove more malignant melanoma’s; which is no fun for a nearly 82 year old. He also has Alzheimer’s which makes everything more difficult. On top of that it was his brother who died which made everything a lot to deal with.

His memory is really deteriorating and he is unable to focus for long periods of time.  It makes me really sad that he doesn’t know that my children are mine and he has no memory of Tamsin. He doesn’t always remember where I live and when we last saw each other.

One of the saddest things is him losing himself.  He’s not the man I remember.  Old age has stolen some of his vibrancy and personality. It replaced it with paranoia and confusion.

I’m finding it incredibly difficult at the moment to be far away and not be able to help or just visit.  Even calling feels difficult as we can’t have a real conversation and I come away feeling worse than before.  But it’s not just about me feeling better for the calls it’s about him feeling better after the call! Sometimes I don’t see that in my selfishness.

Sometimes I just want to shout at God to stop stealing my dad away from me, I don’t want to see him like this. He is such an independent and stubborn man and losing that is hard on him. It’s hard on us too seeing his frustration.

I have the most incredible sister-in-law who looks after him and loves him and cares for him. She might not be blood but she’s as good as, even better than most of us! We’re so lucky to have her in our family.

Saying all that our family has been so blessed this year!  With things that we needed, money and camping trips. And recently a trip to South Africa to spend some precious time with my dad before things get to the point  where he is unable to remember who we are. To introduce our youngest treasure to the oldest man in our lives. To build memories for the kids of their grandpa when he able to get out and about and play with them. To catch up with other family members and build on those relationships set to last a life time.

It times like this where I need to focus on the good things and blessings in life, sometimes I feel overwhelmed by it all and everything that is going on and how much stuff needs to be done to prepare for the trip which is only 24 hours after arriving back from our camping holiday.  But through it all God is good, He has blessed us with family and friends who have blessed us to spend time with loved ones when it matters most.  He has also cleared the way with work who have told me to “do what I need to do and we’ll figure it out”.

I love my family and love that we get to see more of them now when the time is just right, now we just need to get through a 12 hour flight with 3 loud monsters!

Jubilee – to celebrate or not?

Jubilee fever is really gripping the UK at the moment. I’ve been a little indifferent to it.  I mean I like the whole royal thing and think they do a superb job under such extreme pressure but I was not brought up to celebrate them. As a South African we learn about them at school and saw them occasionally on TV but I really did not get how big they are here.

We have 4 jubilee events – 2 belonging to the kids. And it’s posed a bit of a conundrum for me.  I have lived here for 6 years now, all 3 of my children were born here but I don’t feel British. The South African in me would still choose the sunshiny weather over the cold, choose a great big steak over a piece of salmon and boerewors over porkers! BUT… and here is the conundrum… my children are British. It’s all they have ever known.

When getting Jenna dressed for her school party on Friday in her red, white and blue outfit I had a moment of “what the heck am I doing”, “should I be encouraging this”, “what does this mean”??????

I don’t know but sorting through a packet of clothes we were given recently I came across an England shirt. I jokingly suggested Carter wear it to our Explore Church Jubilee party, his surprising response was “why not”.  I’ve been thinking about it ever since. 

“Why not”.  Why not support the country you live in and is your home. Why not let them celebrate THEIR heritage.  We love to celebrate ours. But I’m starting to realise ours might not be theirs, and that needs to be OK.  Yes they’re part Saffa and they’ll never be allowed to forget that with us around. But their life is here, for now. All they know is British. And it’s been good to them, and to us so why not allow them to celebrate it. 

So tomorrow we’ll all be wearing the right colours and celebrating a wonderful old lady who has served her country for a lifetime. Jenna will continue to sleep with her new teddy Queen Lizzy (given by her playgroup), talk about marrying a prince and educating us about all things British (Union Jacks and Prince Phillip – who’s married to the Queen mommy didn’t you know!).

How you deal with having children as an “expat” and them naturalising to that culture?

Monday Munchies – rusks!

I’ve been a little slack on the routine lately but this last week I’ve been experimenting with a rusk recipe I’ve wanted to try for ages but not had the right ingredients for!  Thanks to left over buttermilk from making some red velvet cupcakes over new years we were eventually all prepared!!

In South Africa we seem to eat a lot of these but they just aren’t as popular in the UK! Maybe this will start a resolution!

This is the recipe halved … I found the full one just made too much for my mixing bowl capacity and cake/loaf tins!

1kg self raising flour

25o ml buttermil

250g marg or butter

1 1/4 up sugar

2t backing powder

3 eggs

Pinch of salt

Beat sugar and eggs well. Melt butter in the buttermilk. Mix into the sugar and egg mix.

Sift dry ingredients togerther.  Pour in liquid and mix well with hands until all flour incorporated. Feel free to add any of your own additions now I’ve done raisins and nuts so the kids can have them as snacks instead of snack bars. You can also add aniseed, poppy seeds, sunflower seeds and other dried fruit!

Mould into balls and put into bread pans (I used cake and loaf tins instead), brush with milk and bake until cooked through – about 30 min, extend it if needed!

Allow to cool a little before breaking or cutting up and drying in a cool oven – over night without a fan or a few hours at 100 degrees with a fan!

Enjoy dipped in tea or coffee or give to the kids as a yummy snack – they really do love them! Baby loves teething with them!

 

Tuesday truth… family

Sometimes, just sometimes mind you, I look around and realise just how incredibly lucky we are!

Saturday was one of those days… a stressful day don’t get me wrong but one of those special and rare days!

We have had such a manic few weeks. What with me starting back at work, joining the PTA and just general life with 3 littley’s running around! Add a Dodo (granny aka my mom) to the mix who arrived over from SA last Thursday, together with a granny Trish who arrived in the UK from SA on Friday and life just got a little fuller!

One advantage of broken and then reformed families is the additional people you get who love your kids!!! Our babies are lucky enough to have 3 granny’s and 3 grampa’s!

On Saturday we had ALL 3 GRANNY’S in the house! The kids were in heaven! 3 people to over ride the parents – wahoo!!! Me well I was in the kitchen prepping food for the houseful! and sending out tea’s and coffee’s!

The truth this Tuesday is that even out of those season in life where things are not going as we want or breaking down and ending God can turn them around and use them as blessings! That even when our families were falling apart and we thought we were losing people who loved us, God still wanted to use those times! To teach us and support us, and bless us with more people in our lives and even bigger families to love us! No I’m not saying that breaking up families is a good thing, just that even in those times God is bigger and better and more gracious and kind and loving.

Sometimes even when these very blessings are peeing us off and driving me mental… how lucky am I to have them to do that! Take a moment to count your annoying blessings… bet you could find a few!

 

 

I’m getting a special visitor… quick tidy the house!

I have a visitor coming to stay tomorrow.  She’s someone super special to me and our family and definitely someone we don’t get to see often enough with her living in South Africa and us in the UK!

She is someone I can just be me with. She knows me, she’s always know me… and most of the time she even understands me!

Having someone to stay in your house for 3 weeks when there are already 5 of you in a 3 bedroom house is NOT the easiest thing to do… especially when occasionally a few of those current occupiers still wake up at night and scream the house down!!

But for visitors like this… it’s no hassel! None at all. We’d sleep on the floor just to have more of them.

We’ve got nothing planned besides just being and spending time together.  The kids are so excited and can’t wait to see her! Jenna wants to go fetch her from the airport and is even willing to give up school to do it!

Me I’m just looking forward to an extra pair of hands, of a good excuse to drink lots some wine, some sewing tips and just catching up with MY mom!

There is nothing quite like mom and for my kids there is nothing quite like their granny’s!!