Top Ten + Four for Fourteen Months with Bear

Top of the week to ya! This Sunday was the Bear’s 14 Month Birthday, and I think that is just plain special! Since everyone seems to like to see pictures of him, and his grandparents most especially miss him, I thought I would arrange a special Top Ten plus Four for you this week, with 14 of our favourite photos of our special wee man.

Hope you enjoy!

1. This one is from the day he was born… His first good shot in good lighting. (The delivery room was kind of dark at 2 am.)

Baby Bear

2. This one is from when my Mom was visiting and helped him nap on his tummy so I could get some rest…

Napping Bear

3. Aunt Dodi gave him this adorable onesie and he just posed so well in it!

Posey Bear

4. One day, I got ready to take the Bear outside in the Scottish cold. I bundled him up and left the room for a moment, because I’d forgotten something. He started crying while I was away. I wondered why he seemed so upset, but then he got really quiet. This is what I returned to…

Sleepy Bear

5. This was taken the first time he saw a Christmas tree. If you look closely, you can see the lights of the tree in his eyes!

Bewildered Bear

6. This was at a snugly wuggly bafftime.

Clean and Cuddly Bear

7. This was also an outfit from Aunt Dodi…also taken in South Africa. How precious is this baby zebra?

Zebra Bear

8. This was in America when he found his feet for the first time. I had no idea how adorable babies playing with their feet could be. We took lots of pictures of him in this pose because he was just being so adorable. At first we got lots of naked shots, which were of course so cute and funny, but then we decided to slap a nappy on him so that he didn’t grow up to rue the day his parents bought a camera. I think that was a good decision.

Tootsie Bear

9. Here is the Bear, posing as a very very very young version of Rocky. Adwiannnn!

Rocky Bear

10. You may have already seen this one…still a personal favourite. The hair, the moobs, the drool…fabulous.

Soggy Bear

11. I call this one ‘the bairn upon the rock’ because this is on the Isle of Skye, in Scotland and ‘bairn’ is a Scots word for child. I don’t know why I love this one. I just do! (Mark was hiding behind the rock to make sure he didn’t fall off!)

Bear on the Rocks

12. Sorry, Mom…I just can’t let this one go. I mean look at his face! (And yours! Tehe!)

Poopy Bear

13. This was at the Bear’s First Birthday Party! He had some of his amazing jungle birthday cake and I think he rather liked it!

Crumbsy Bear

14. And here he is … looking almost grown up! Our 14 Month Old Bear!

Almost Growed Up Bear

So that’s the fantastic fourteen! Many thanks to the little bundle bringing us so much joy!  Happy Birthday Bear!

Top Ten Reasons to Stop Watching So Much TV

Not Worth That Much TimeTop of the week to you! Welcome to the new website! There’s still some work to be done to make it a bit more pretty and tidy, but I hope you will enjoy it as is in the meantime! Here’s a Fresh Top Ten for the Inaugural Post on the New Site. Hope you enjoy!

For the last year of our time in Scotland, Mark and I almost altogether avoided TV, except for downloading episodes of Lost, and buying a season or two of an old show at Cash Converters. To be honest, it was a really life-giving situation, although sometimes I still wanted to ‘veg out’ in front of the TV…I felt like things were just so much better when we weren’t watching so much TV.

I once calculated the amount of time I spent watching a particular show in my childhood – Saved by the Bell. I remember that it came on twice on two different stations, meaning I watched two hours of a show I’d already seen every episode of, pretty much every day after school. I watched that same show for ages and ages – I’m totally confident for at least four, possibly five years straight, two hours a day during the school year. I did the math to discover that I wasted at the very least sixty days of my life – and if you think about it, since you’re not actually awake all the time, it was really a waste of even more time in terms of waking hours. I am certain I wasted an excess of TWO MONTHS of my life…on just one TV show! I want those hours back, Screech!

The list of good things we could probably accomplish – spending time with our children, loving our family, exercising…etc., is probably a few miles long, but for starters, here’s a crack at my Top Ten Reasons to Stop Watching So Much TV.

  • 10. Advertising works! Companies spend millions and billions of dollars on advertising every year because it actually works! The less TV you watch, the less commercials you will see that will make you feel like there’s one more thing you can’t live without. (If you do what we do – buy old seasons of shows, or download episodes, you can avoid commercials altogether and still enjoy the show in your own timing).
  • 9. It will probably improve your health – if nothing else than just for the simple fact that you might go to bed earlier and get more sleep! Early to bed, early to rise, might remove those dark circles from under your eyes!
  • 8. You might dramatically decrease your selfishness, and your flair for the dramatic. I mean, what good role models are you watching on TV. Life imitates art. Do you seriously want to model yourself after the Desperate Housewives?
  • 7. It’s very likely to improve your self esteem and self image if you stop letting the TV tell you what you should look like, and what you need to buy to have less frizzy hair, whiter teeth and a six-pack.
  • 6. Be more productive with good stuff! You can spend time with people you care about, doing something useful. You can organise your sock drawer…you can play with your kids…the options are unlimited!
  • 5. Read a book! There’s a lot to be said for curling up with a classic. You’ll probably learn something, and you probably won’t feel like you need to be a better consumer at the end.
  • 4. You could cancel your TV subscription altogether, and save money for a holiday – or just save the money. This is a recession, right?
  • 3. You can get outside more. Yeah baby! Start living and stop watching other people live for you!
  • 2. Spend some of your former TV time reading a good blog or two!  I have a couple of recommendations… 😉
  • 1. If you’re a Christian, you can spend the time you would’ve lost watching TV with an awesome and Almighty God. You won’t feel the need to go shopping afterwards…you’ll be reminded of all the things you have to be thankful for…and you will find joy you will never find while hanging out with the crew from Grey’s Anatomy.  Yay!

So, that’s your TV-Stopping Top Ten! I hope you enjoyed it, you’ll leave some feedback, and you’ll get out there and do something that makes you feel alive today. But if it’s anything dangerous, don’t hold me responsible or the consequences. xC

Can you speak South African? This lekker Top Ten might help, hey?

Top of the Week to ya! Since lots of folks seemed interested in my last post about South Africa, I decided to write another SA post…perhaps for those of you planning to be here for the World Cup next year! This amazing country is a melting pot of cultures, languages and of course, some delightful idiomatic expressions…which are my favourite things to learn, in any language. If you’ll be here for a visit anytime soon, here is my guess at the top ten most important words for you to learn, which might not be native to your version of English. Now mind you, I am not a South African, but married one, so I must give the disclaimer of saying these are second-hand understandings, with some first-hand opinions added in.

If you want to speak South African, this is a good place to start:

10. Robot – you might picture a metal box of arms and legs that can dance or run the Hoover for you (a la Rosie on the Jetsons), but in South Africa, a robot is a traffic light.

9. Gatvol – Pronounced HUT-vul, when you’ve “had it up to here” or are past the point of being incredibly frustrated, you are “gatvol.” Eish, by the end of that rugby match, I was gatvol with the Cheetahs. Maybe next season, hey?

8. Bro or bru – An abbreviated term for brother which rhymes with “row” or “chew.” Hey bru, it was a lekker party last night.

7. Eish – This term sounds like ‘ace’ with an ‘h’ on the end. It means ‘wow.’ It’s sometimes used in sticky situations: Eish, bru, I’m sorry. I didn’t even know it was your birthday.

6. Eina – Ouch! Or when something is sore. This is a long ‘a’ sound, followed by a ‘nah’. Might be used instead of a southern ‘dern’ when one stumps one’s toe.

5. Jislaaik – This one is pronounced “Yis-like” and means “gee” or “wow.” It’s a useful exclamation for when something is surprising. Jislaaik, those are tight jeans. She must’ve jumped into them from the top of the cupboard.

4. Boerewors – This tasty treat is literally translated from Afrikaans, farmer’s sausage, ‘Boere’ meaning farmers, and ‘wors,’ sausage. It’s pronounced (at my best attempt) “boo-re-vors” with a bit of a trill on the first r. It should be comprised of mostly minced beef, and is sometimes mixed with a bit of pork or lamb. No braai is complete without it! (See Number One).

3. Howzit? This lovely and useful term is simply “How’s it going?” but nicely abbreviated. You can imagine it like a South African Joey from Friends saying, “Howzit, Rachel?”

2. Lekker – You can’t visit South Africa and not hear this term a few times. If something is lekker, it’s nice or good, depending on the context. (Lekker is pronounced kind of like ‘lacquer’ as in the stuff you might coat wood with.) Eish, it was a lekker party until she showed up in her tight jeans. Then we were gatvol and left.

1. Braai — rhyming with “try,” this is perhaps the most important word in the South African English Language. It’s both a noun and a verb. You might call it a barbecue, or “grilling out.” The pastime of the braai is an incredible art — many South Africans are choosy about what type of wood they use, others might use charcoal or briquettes or (less often I suppose) a gas braai. The timing of putting on the meat, the heat and size of the fire, and the amount of wind you might be dealing with are all factors to consider which can make or break the perfect braai. And from my experience so far, a true South African will always say the braai they’re enjoying could’ve been just a little better if they’d just …

I highly suggest coming to South Africa for the World Cup next year, or just for a visit any time! So howzit, bru? Come enjoy some bakgat boerewors at a lekker braai or two! You’ll pass through a few robots, and be here just now, hey? Eish, the trip might be eina, but you’ll be gatvol if you don’t.

Here are a few extra tips for good measure:

  • Avie is slang for afternoon, pronounced “AH-vee”
  • Bakgat - this is an Afrikaans word used fairly often by English speakers. Pronounced “BAHK-hut” with a nice thick ‘hhh’ on the hut. Bakgat means ‘fantastic.’
  • Lots of folks, especially from Johannesburg (also known as Jozi or Joburg), will end their sentences with “hey?” Warning: this can rub off on you VERY quickly. (I picked up this habit when I lived in Scotland and had a roommate from Southern Africa!)
  • Ja – pronounced “Yah” is a common way of saying yes, and people will often start or finish sentences with it.
  • Alternatively, people more often begin their sentences with “No…” in answer to a question, even if “no” isn’t actually the answer to the question, and even if the question is not a yes or no question. So keep listening until you get the whole answer!
  • If you’re teasing the person in the centre by not giving them the ball, you’re playing “piggy” (not monkey) in the middle.

Here’s another great site where you can learn to “speak South African” in preparation for your visit!


Top Ten Ways to Have a Happy Birthday

I just enjoyed another birthday yesterday! Mark treated me incredibly well and it was a DELIGHTFUL day, even so far away from the places I’ve been calling home. Thank you, Markus, I love you and I’m so thankful for you! And thank you Richard, Heather, Wendy & Niel for helping me celebrate! It’s great to be in SA!

I still have some time left in my 20s, which I am happy about, but I had a moment to take some inventory and think a bit about my life toward the end of the day, and I have a few thoughts to share. These might ward off the birthday blues for the next anniversary of your arrival in the world, or be an encouragement for you today, even if it’s just your un-birthday.

10. This one’s obvious. Eat whatever you want, guilt free. This should NOT be a habit, and you should not go overboard so that you’ll feel yucky the next day. If you do this once a week, then nevermind. 🙂 But don’t drink too much. You’ll probably make silly decisions, and wake up the next day feeling awful and old, and then you’ll be sorry it was ever your birthday!

9. Count your blessings. Seriously. Think about your life and what you have to be thankful for. Do you have a job? Are you healthy? Is your family healthy? We take so much for granted, taking a moment to take stock and be thankful for your life might make the idea of ‘aging’ a little easier.

8. Take inventory of the past year. Are there some things you think you might like to do differently in the year ahead? Get excited about learning from the mistakes you’ve made. I am so thankful the mischief of my youth, which did NOT bring me JOY, is behind me.

7. Smile at your achievements. Have you been hitting the gym faithfully? Did you get a promotion at work? Did you treat someone nicely even when they weren’t so nice to you? Take a moment to say well done for the good stuff you accomplished this year.

6. Even if you have to organise it yourself, get together with friends and/or family for your birthday. It is good to enjoy your life and to ask others to celebrate it with you.

5. Do something unselfish today — some act of kindness that stretches you a little. It is more blessed to give than to receive, and your soul will reap the benefits of it.

4. Count your blessings again! This time think about the past year: Did someone close to you get married or have a baby this year? Did you have the opportunity to travel somewhere new? Did you get to watch a sporting event or two where the team you were hoping to win did? Find some reasons to smile at the year you’ve just lived, and rejoice in the good.

3. Do something that will help you relax for a while. Sit at a coffee shop and watch the world go by, even if you can only do so for half an hour. Slather on some SPF and take in some rays. Find somewhere comfy to take a nap!  Find a way to press the pause button.

2. Laugh at the days ahead. If you remember that people are still giving birth in their 50s, graduating from college in their 80s and climbing mountains in their 90s, it’s is easier for you to recognise that you can still have plenty of life ahead of you, no matter what year you were born.

1. Be GLAD you’ve been blessed with another year! If you’re perceptive, you may be able to see that your life is getting better with time. If it is not getting better with time, perhaps you need to make some adjustments!

My Lesson From this Birthday: When I was 25 or so, Mark asked me to marry him in the bushveld on a game reserve in South Africa. Less than six months later, we were married. It was a great year. I remember thinking, “how is life going to get better than this? I think I’ve just enjoyed what I’ll look back at as the best year of my life.” And that made me a little sad. But the truth is, the next year was really great, and this past year was absolutely my best yet. I honestly believe that in God, as you learn to walk with Him and in His ways, He can increase your joy, no matter your circumstances. That means that whether you are being abased, or living in abundance, you can learn to enjoy the peace and thankfulness that comes from having a Centre other than yourself. Happy Birthday to you! I hope it is truly good.


Top Ten Scottish and British Delicacies I am REALLY going to miss…

baconrollFour years ago today, my brother and I took the train up from London and I arrived in Bonnie Scotland for what has become a great extended stay. What an awesome time it’s been…I have been blessed beyond belief. Today, movers are in our flat packing up our worldly goods. If you haven’t heard the news already…here it is: We’re leaving Scotland for South Africa next week (with a month in North Carolina in between).

In honour of the adventure behind me, and the adventure to come, here’s the Top Ten Scottish (and a few British) delicacies I am seriously going to miss when this place is in my rear view mirror.

10. Haggis has to be mentioned. It’s last on the list because I’m not going to miss it severely. It’s an enjoyable, occasional option to have with neeps and tatties every once in a while. Sorry haggis, but you’re in last place.

9. Digestive Biscuits. Although I dearly enjoy these, chocolatey, biscuity (cookie) goodness with a cuppa, it is probably very good for me to say bye bye to them.

8. Fruit Muesli from Tesco. They must put crack in this stuff. It is seriously addictive and I eat it every morning!

7. “Hello, Loon Wah, may-a help?” So, apologies, thanks to globalization this Scottish delicacy is actually Chinese, but the Singapore Style Chow Mein at Loon Wah on London Road (across from Meadowbank) is off the chain. I really hope it’s on the menu in heaven. I’m really going to miss it.

6. Shortbread! Especially Millionaire/Caramel Shortbread. Praise the Lord for the sense of taste.

5. Brown Sauce, also know as HP Sauce. This stuff is awesome. Enough said.

4. Banoffee Pudding or Banoffee Pie, especially Banoffee a la Mr. Paul Broon!

3. Cream Tea. (Tea with scones, jam and clotted cream). This should be served to pregnant women on a platter once a week.

2. Steak and Guiness Pie at the Golf Tavern by Leith Links or Steak and Ale pie at the Clachaig in Glencoe. Why do things that are so bad for you taste so good?

1. The Bacon Roll with Brown Sauce. I had two of these while I was in labour with Asher. They are the most delightful things ever. To my friends outside the UK: think Bacon on a Bun with sauce a little more vinegary than BBQ Sauce. I really hope these bad boys are on the menu in SA.

Dear Scotland,

You have been sweet to me these past four years. Thank you very sincerely from the bottom of my tummy.