Hi everyone!

It’s Jarrod’s Dad here. Since Jarrod has been slacking off, just a little, I thought I’d take the reins of the blog and write from my perspective. I must, when I asked Jay-Bee if I could write the blog, he said no problem! I feel very honoured, as this is my very first contribution (nudge-nudge wink-wink)! So here goes.

Since Jay-Bee’s last blog I’ve been on leave, and it’s been absolutely awesome spending the time with Lynn and Jarrod. I’m going to miss being around the two of them 24/7 once I have to go back to work.

In the lead up to Christmas the three of us did our ritualistic visit of the German shop in Cresta, called K&P Lohmiller. I love the shop, and generally blow a good deal of our budget on genuine Lebkuchen (which didn’t last until Christmas). Jarrod and Lynn also had a great time wondering around the store; it always has a magical feel about it because you can get things there that you ordinarily cannot get elsewhere. My prize purchase from them was a Weihnachtspyramiden which I have been coveting for years, but just felt too expense to splurge on. So this year I did! And I’m thrilled with it – makes me think back to my childhood days in Germany with my grandparents.

Jarrod also had a good time shopping there – bought himself a tiny little cat and some Schlumpf accessories. Afterward we went for lunch at an old favourite, Rosini, which is no longer Rosini, but some other name I cannot remember. Apparently it’s still under the same management. Pretty soon we left Cresta and headed back home. I must say at this point that Cresta has undergone quite a metamorphosis and is looking great. It is however a far’ish drive for us, so until next year to get our Lebkuchen – see you then.

Back home I immediately got the Weihnachtspyramid assembled and Lynn in her most awesome and magical way suddenly found Teelichter candles for it. And in no time it was spinning merrily around. I couldn’t wait for night to fall as they look really stunning in the dark. Once it was dark, Jarrod and I sat and stared at the nativity scene going round and round, and oohed and ahhed at the reflections the candles made on the ceiling.

For Christmas Eve, Jarrod spent the afternoon at Garth’s place to be with his cousins, Granny, aunt and uncle. The middle of the day saw a massive Highveld thunderstorm which has been the norm just about every day since. What’s Christmas in Jo’burg without thunderstorms?

At about 5:30 Lynn got the panicked call from Granny saying Jarrod needed to be collected as he wanted to come home. We’ve found that while Jarrod does like the odd adventure on his own (i.e. without any parents) after a couple of hours he needs us again. Fully understandable considering what he’s been through. Just before Lynn and I left to fetch him, we made sure all his presents were under the tree and then we hastily made ‘Santa footprints’ leading to our front door using flour. They looked really authentic. Oh, by the way, please don’t tell Jarrod it was us!

As Garth’s place Kim, Shannon, Ryan and Tamsin showered Jarrod in gifts which he opened excitedly. We’d agreed that we weren’t staying for dinner to do our own thing as family and headed off for our own dinner. At home, Jarrod was overjoyed with the footprints leading up to our front door, and immediately got down to the job of opening his gifts. I had to rush upstairs to get the camera so as to not miss anything!

Lynn and I spent the rest of the evening helping Jarrod open and assemble his gifts. His excitement with each gift was unprecedented! As always, Lynn had carefully listened to his (very extensive) wish list and managed to narrow it down to those items that were in the budget and would make him the happiest. She’s really good in that way and knows her little boy completely. To sum up the gifts, they included a lot of Ninja Turtle things (including a sewer playset that stands 40 inches high and took me the better part of Christmas Eve evening to build), Thomas the Tank engine sets (which remain a favourite and are probably embedded in his DNA owing to my love of model trains), and a great deal of Big Hero 6 figurines, which is the current holiday blockbuster movie.

In addition we’ve introduced him to Skylanders for his Nintendo 3DS. He really wanted Disney Infinity 2.0, which comes with a Baymax from Big Hero 6, but that would’ve meant buying either a new Wii, Xbox or PS3, as our consoles are not compatible with Infintiy 2.0. He still asks about it, but we’ve explained the cost implication, and we’re hoping he’s coming to terms with it. As we know tech is moving incredibly fast, and it generally means more outlay for the consumer as new experiences require new hardware.

We finally managed to convince Jarrod that he had to go to bed, but not before he brought a menagerie of new gifts with him to bed!

For Christmas Day we invited Michelle and her girls, Emma and Liya, to our place for lunch. We had a wonderful time, and as always Lynn outdid herself in the kitchen. The day started with Jarrod, Emma and Liya decorating the Christmas tree. We’d only partially decorated it for Christmas Eve, so that could do the rest. We ate and drank until we were almost too full to roll over to the Christmas tree for more present opening (this time with Emma and Liya’s gifts under the tree too). We’d kept back a couple of Jay-Bee’s gifts so that he could open gifts with the girls too. There was huge excitement and the girls loved their gifts.

After the gift opening it was boys vs. girls to build gingerbread houses and decorate them. Lynn provided both teams with ginger bread walls and roofs as well as icing and decorations. It didn’t go well is all that I can say. Michelle persisted until the bitter end to get her house to stand. By then Jarrod and I were already eating the building materials, having given up on the building ages ago in favour of eating! All too soon the day was drawing to a close and they had to leave again. The rest of the afternoon was spent with the three of us chilling out around the house and Jarrod getting into his new games and gifts.

Boxing Day (Day of Goodwill as it’s known locally) was very quiet and we didn’t even leave the house. It was spent swimming and playing.

Big excitement filled the house the Saturday after Boxing Day as we’d planned to see Big Hero 6. We donned our 3D glasses, Jarrod proudly carried my iPhone with the Passbook electronic ticket ready to show at the cinema entrance. We got there in good time, but the multiplex was packed so we just managed to get our popcorn and take our seats as the theatre lights dimmed. The movie was amazing, and all three of us thoroughly enjoyed it. Directly after the movie, Jarrod made me take photos of all the posters of movies he wanted to see next, such as Paddington, Annie, Spongebob Sponge Out of Water, etc. He absolutely loves the movies. Back home in the afternoon I decided it was time to reformat and reinstall Windows 8 Pro on my laptop and give it a good ole clean-up. Lynn and Jarrod got busy with other things around the house and they basically lost me to the digital world of ‘rebuilding’ a laptop for the next couple of days.

Sunday was spent at home again, and as the skies opened up, we all just stayed indoors and chilled out. My laptop re-installation was going well, with MS Office 365 being downloaded and installed as well as my ‘whole life’ from Dropbox being recopied to my local drive.

With Monday’s weather being less wet we headed out to the Mushroom Farm Park where the three of us picnicked and Lynn and I took turns walking with Jarrod around the park while he rode his trike, Ninja Turtle trailer in tow (you must have a trailer you know)! Mischka came with too and was huffing and puffing with his tongue almost dragging on the ground he was so tired. He drank almost half a litre of water from water we’d brought with, and although we’d let him have the chocolate croissant we’d dropped he was too exhausted to even eat. Jarrod and I decided to feed the ducks down by the pond but discovered they weren’t partial to chocolate croissant either. We did discover an amazing nest made by a bird bringing two reeds together.

On Tuesday I immersed myself into a full day task of DIY which I’d been threatening to do for months now, if not a year! Lynn was kind enough to keep Jarrod fully occupied while I worked in the basement storeroom. Basically the storeroom, as storerooms tend to do, become one big mess and dumping ground. My first mission was to mount all the unused stuff on the ceiling (such as mountain bikes, golf clubs, prams, chandeliers, etc.) to make space on the floor and the shelves. My second mission was to repair all the shelving. Whilst the previous owner was kind enough to leave all the shelving behind, it was all ripped from the walls by the time we moved in. I’d done a rudimentary job of repairing it when we first moved in, but now it was time to do it properly. By evening the storeroom was shipshape and all the boxes stacked and labelled and out the way!

On New Year’s Eve we met Michelle and the girls at the Spur for lunch. We all had a wonderful time, and Jarrod, Emma and little Liya played so hard they were permanently red in their faces. After playing hard they all coloured in the templates the Spur provided and then they used my iPhone to bring the characters to life through a VR app. It is brilliant. For anyone who hasn’t done it yet you must – the kids will be amazed as their coloured in character takes on a life in the 3D world, complete with the ability to put hats and other things on the character from the ‘wardrobe’.

In the evening we chilled out at home, had a nice dinner and then the three of us got up to a bit of nonsense that we’ve all agreed we shan’t speak of again, and that’s all we can say on the subject!

New Year’s day was spent at Michelle’s place. Lynn made us her infamous or sometime notorious Harvey Wallbangers (which were renamed about 15 years ago to Bally Wallhangers). After a sumptuous lunch I set up Jarrod’s ‘At The Car Wash’ slip and slide. They all loved it. And between going through the car wash there was also lots of swimming involved. Soon the day started to end and it was time to head home. Lynn and I had a great task on our hands to keep Jarrod awake in the car, otherwise he would’ve snoozed for the trip and then been up until midnight. We succeeded through tickling him, singing, annoying him, and all sorts of tricks!

Friday after New Year’s Day Jarrod and I went to see Paddington at the movies. It was an hour and a half long but Jarrod sat through the entire movie and followed the story perfectly. It contained ‘real people’ i.e. it wasn’t animated. Occasionally he’d ask a few questions or comment on things in the movie. The movie is set in London, and as scenes of the regular London sights appeared he’d go ‘oooohhhhh, I want to go there’. Throughout the movie Jarrod and I snuggled, which felt really special (we’ve always chosen the lovenest seats for Jarrod which is two seats side-by-side but without an armrest in-between).

Two very memorable comments from Jarrod during the movie were “Why is the man’s name Mr Brown, if Paddington is actually brown?” I had no answer. Then, and even louder than the first comment happened when Mrs Bird distracted the security guard at Millicent’s house with alcohol; Mrs Bird started a drinking game with the guard and needless to say both got very tipsy. Jarrod pipes up, seeing the bottle of alcohol, “Ooooo, iced tea!” To which I reply, “No Jarrod, that’s alcohol.”

Jarrod’s response, not quietly, was “I had some alcohol from Mommy once. I actually liked it. Do you think we could have six drops of alcohol every day?” Needless to say a number of parents around us sniggered!

After the movie, back home, I started in earnest with a bunch of DIY projects that had been piling up for months. First on the agenda was to paint our dining room table. It is an old oak table that belonged to my folks for about 40 years. When they passed on and it was time to clear out the house, the offers we got on the table were an insult (in the region of R200!). So Lynn and I decided to keep it and restore it. We both finally agreed on a colour and technique (that only took about four years) for the table. So Friday morning Jarrod and I started painting the table in original white Annie Sloan chalk paint. This is not to be confused with chalk board paint, in other words, our dining room table won’t be a chalk board afterward!

By the end of the day the entire table had been done in two coats. Jarrod was a huge help, and in between letting layers dry we did a few DIY jobs. He’s at the age now that we work well together, although he does get bored and asks if he can ‘take a rest’ during the tasks.

Saturday morning we headed off to Builder’s Warehouse early to get a few more DIY things. While I ordered and had some glass cut to size Jarrod took Lynn ‘on a tour of the hardware store’ explaining to here all the things to be bought there, and what they can be used for. Many descriptions and names were very imaginative and Lynn said she had quite a chuckle. Back home we got back to restoring the table – this time by applying soft wax. Again Jay-Bee was super helpful, and in the afternoon we replaced a glass pane (but then it started hailing so we waited a while), replaced some hinges on cupboard doors (Jarrod’s garbage truck brought me wooden building blocks that I used to suspend the doors while I attached the hinges), and a few other things. We had a great deal of fun.

Today, my last day of leave before going back to work, was spent lazing around the house. It was another extremely hot day, and pretty soon, mid-afternoon, Jarrod and Lynn were fast asleep in the family room.

Well, that’s it for my ‘first’ blog posting. I trust you enjoyed it. I’ll chat to Jay-Bee to start writing again – watch this space.

Happy New Year everyone one!

Daddy Norwin (as Jarrod calls me from time to time)

Photo 1 Our very first Weihnachtspyramide

Photo 2 Opening an early Christmas present

Photo 3 Playdoh time

Photo 4 Jarrod and Mischka on the trampoline after swimming

Photo 5 Jarrod heading out the window in his PJ’s to jump on the trampoline

Photo 6 Materials for a gingerbread house

Photo 7 Kim and Jarrod hugging

Photo 8 Santa’s footprints

Photo 9 Me storming down the stairs to photograph Jarrod on Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve photos at home:

Christmas Day

Photo 10 I found Jarrod in the family room, having put his Christmas hat on and playing Nintendo

Photo 11 The girls decorating the Christmas tree

Photo 12 Michelle holding Emma up to put the star on the tree

Photo 13 Trying their hand with the candy machine

Photo 14 Liya tries

Photo 15 Its Hiro!

Photo 16 Having fun

Photo 17 Gingerbread house making

Photo 18 Many hands

Photo 19 I started cheating with sticks, to no avail

Photo 20 This building is condemned

Photo 21 Eating is easier than building

Photo 22 Kilroy was here!

Photo 23 Fire duck extinguishing a ‘fire’

Photo 24 Jarrod going for a ride

Photo 25 Jarrod built unit 3 dog house for the dog

Photo 26 Off to Mushroom Farm Park

Photo 27 Chocolate croissant binoculars – everyone should have a pair

Photo 28 Interesting nest we found

Photo 29 Ducks

Photo 30 Playing at the Spur

Photo 31 Ice-cream smiles

New Year’s Day

Photo 32 Jarrod and I painting

Photo 33 Working it

Photo 34 Hard to reach places

Photo 35 Being like Rhino the hamster – stuffed cheeks full of berries

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