OK, well not so recent then; in fact I have already had a few enquiries as to whether we have ‘disappeared’ since it has now been a year since I wrote something. As usual there are plenty of photos here
To continue from where I left off, we eventually got settled back in after being away in South Africa for so long. It took over a month for the swelling in Agilene’s eye to go down but at least she is back to normal now. My Dad got another car just like his old one (I’m still feeling guilty about that). We didn’t miss much while we were in South Africa, winter here turned out to be mild and boring with no snow to talk of.
Agilene was asked to do free lance work as an interpreter for the hospitals and courts so she is trying that out. She is dead scared she’s going to get someone sent to jail by mistake (or even worse the opposite). At least she is being forced to get to know her way around the city although I regularly get phone calls which start off with ‘I don’t know where I am…’ She also promptly got a parking ticket, I am being extra careful to not let her live this one down (she insists that there was no parking meter, downtown!) Regardless she describes this as her perfect job because she gets paid to talk to people. Somehow I could never see myself making this statement!
She has also been taking advanced English lessons to improve her writing. The strangest part is that most of her homework involves math which is not her strongest subject.
As if this is not enough she decided to home school the kids. Iago is doing well and is already way ahead in math and history but teaching Yuri takes up almost all of Agilene’s time and he is missing the social life at school so we will probably send him back next year. Keesha even insists on getting school work, although she is the one who makes the most excuses when it comes to doing her ‘homework’. Home-schooling has been very stressful for us both as it doesn’t leave much time for anything else. I also find that I get stressed really easily and this brings out the worst in me. I have had to confront all sorts of things about myself that I would rather not know about.
Late last year she had vertigo. She doesn’t have a doctor since the almost never gets sick, so when I tried to make an appointment for her all the doctors refused to see her at such short notice; it appears they don’t see sick people. We had to go to the nearest urgent care to get her seen instead.
She also went for surgery in November to get a lump removed from her check (it has been growing slowly for the last 4 years or so). However, once he started operating, the doctor discovered that he couldn’t reach the growth and he left her with a hole in her cheek instead. In the meantime the growth seems to be disappearing on its own. This is probably just as well as I don’t think I was going to be able to get her into a hospital again.
Yuri is still his ultra extroverted self. I have discovered (as has the pastor) that placing him near a microphone has predictable and often hilarious results. He just can’t help himself. He takes every opportunity to sing, whether at church or when we have friends over. He cannot even resist putting on a show for my voice mail [listen]. I mean what else can you do when you are being recorded? Since he seems to be such a natural we have started sending him for piano lessons.
Yuri’s soccer is improving, literally, by leaps and bounds. Agilene always says that when he starts running he jumps up like a gazelle first. His team won the soccer league for the second year in a row. This year he is going to try tennis instead.
Iago decided that he would like to try baseball this year. It’s still fun watching them play soccer; at this age the only way they know how to defend is by hugging the ball.
Although he comes across as being an introvert, he is trying hard to keep up with his brother by being the biggest clown he can be. He is small enough and cute enough to get away with it and people still laugh at him even though he hasn’t quite figured out what funny is yet. The other day Agilene made sweet potatoes for them and I caught Iago asking his ‘big brother’: ‘Yuri, what’s that? Do we like them?’
(Yuri is cracking under the pressure of being a role model and hates the fact that Iago and Keesha copy him all the time. It’s soo tough on him being the eldest)
Talking of cute, Keesha is still getting away with far more than she ought to! She is still the baby of the house and she makes the most of it, at the same time vehemently denying, ‘I’m not a baby, I’m a Keesha!’ She is very independent, she gets that from her mother.
Before Christmas she unwrapped and then rewrapped her present several times before putting it under the tree; that was obviously much more interesting than actually getting the present at the end. She has started carrying all her toys around everywhere. Sometimes that is not enough and she empties out her drawers (much to Agilene’s consternation) and stuffs it all into a bag which she then carries downstairs or into the yard. I guess this is so that she can keep up with her self-imposed regimen of changing 37 times a day.
When I took Agilene to the cheek doctor (OK, ENT for the medically inclined of you before I get reprimanded), Keesha, for once, only had a doll and a small handbag. But as soon as we sat down she pulled out a plate, a fork and a tin of (toy) beans ready for me (don’t laugh) to ‘play house’ and feed her baby. She had obviously put quite some thought into planning exactly what she should bring.
The boys are totally disgusted by her dolls which are all ‘nekked’!
She has lots of problems pronouncing words with a ‘w’ sound (although maybe like Iago she just does this for effect). She insists on saying ‘I was fwirst because I ran klik’.
Our cat, Tinkerbell, is a big ball of trouble; Agilene has threatened to kick her out several times since Keesha is often full of scratch marks from her toes to her nose (I have to say I am not sure whose fault this is really). Tinkerbell is very much like the jackal in the film, ‘the Gods must be Crazy 2’, who only goes after children who are less than two feet tall., but stops when the boy holds a piece of wood over his head. She seems to be targeting Keesha very deliberately. Our cat-sitter renamed her to ‘hells-bells’ while we were away in South Africa and, even though we have had her for over a year, she remains a half wild cat. She has to in and out every five minutes, and since it has been too cold to leave a window open she has spent more than one night outside.
As for me things haven’t changed much. Work has been very stressful recently and I have had a few disagreements with my bosses (I have more than one boss to make it interesting), which really hasn’t helped.
I had to go through the yearly ritual of getting my driver’s license once again, however this time I passed the eye test on my first try. I was so euphoric that I didn’t notice that they had, apparently by mistake, decided to place a nighttime driving restriction on my license. The next day I had to go back and sort out the problem and I was so nervous that they eventually had to give up trying to test my eyes on the machine and let me use a wall chart instead. The good part is that, now that I have a greencard, I don’t have to go through this every single year.
Agilene decided that her project this year was to build a waterfall for her fish-pond ; all the men already know how *her*project worked out. It may sound easy, but let me give you a little bit of advice: don’t try this at home.
I am still having great fun with my car. The only problem I have is the two boys competing over who gets to use the spare seat; Agilene has only had one chance to go for a drive with me.
We have had so many problems renting our house in South Africa as well as getting the tenants to pay that we decided to put it up for sale. We eventually found someone and they have 12 months to close the deal. Agilene and I are both rather sad about this as we really liked our house.
Not even counting the long trip to South Africa we have been doing an awful lot of trekking this year.
First we went to Virginia for the 4thof July and spent some time in Williamsburg and Jamestown seeing some of the historical villages where the first settlers landed as well as some of the battle sites. This was too much for the boys who were always so bored and just wanted to go back to the campsite and swim. The big exception was when they got to see all the cannons; despite all my attempts boys appear to love big guns. Virginia is really lush and green with forest everywhere.
After a couple of days we figured out that there were two ‘historical’ parks at most places. There were the real state parks at the actual sites but also a fake park with reconstructions and actors a couple of miles away. If you didn’t know this you would usually land up at the fake one which was much better advertised and obviously much more expensive, and you would never even know the difference.
Afterwards we took them down to North Carolina to play on the beach for a couple of days and to see the Wright Brother’s museum at Kitty Hawk before heading back via the Smokies and driving back through Tennessee (where we visited some friends of ours) and Kentucky.
My parents came to visit for 3 weeks in August, bringing my nephew, Peter, with them. Keesha took to him immediately and spurned us all, even Grandma and Grandpa, so that she could hold his hand. We first went to see the Grand Teton’s which were incredible with the high peaks and clear (and very cold) river streams and pools and then spent a week in Yellowstone (or Geyserland as Iago calls it) which was no less spectacular the second time around. The kids got to sit 15 feet away and watch the Beehive Geyser shoot up to 200 feet.
Just like last time we left Yellowstone through the Bear’s Tooth pass at the north-east corner. This is an incredible climb and a spectacular pass to go through.
It always seems that when we come back from these trips we return to some disaster. Usually it is just a stinking fish tank, this time however we returned, already late in the day, to find that our rabbit had died and the fridge had packed up. By the time I had buried the rabbit and we cleaned out the fridge I was ready for a shower. As I turned the handle it came off in my hand; it was a long day.
But we weren’t finished yet. We also drove down to visit Agilene’s sister, Vanda, in Oklahoma for Thanksgiving and some friends in Chicago for New Years Eve. I think I have had enough driving for a while, as it was I never made it till midnight and let the year pass on its own.
But wait there’s still more… Agilene is planning on visiting her family in Brazil with the kids. I, unfortunately, have to stay behind to make enough money to pay for the tickets so I can only join them for two weeks.
Even this is a saga. Brazil won’t let them in on their current South African and US passports since they are technically Brazilian citizens. This means getting Brazilian passports for all of them, and in Iago’s case it means getting his South African Birth Certificate notarized by the Brazilian Consulate in South Africa so that the Brazilian Consulate in the US will issue a passport. It has taken a week so far for FedEx to go and fetch the documents so that we can get them back. Agilene was so frustrated that she almost gave up on the idea of going to Brazil.
We had a really warm winter all the way up to the beginning of January this year. I even had the car roof down for a couple of days before Christmas; I could have been in sunny South Africa. But, just when I had given up, the temperatures plummeted to below zero (-18ºc) and we had a couple of inches of snow and icicles hanging off our roof that were 4 feet long and as thick as my arm. The snow was followed by freezing rain forming a layer of ice and then more snow and yet more ice, turning the yard into some sort of layered confectionary which was delightful to crunch through. It was a week before they got around to plowing our street.
Everyone here promptly forgot how to drive and it took forever to get to work. When I left work in the evening, my car was completely covered with a thick layer of ice. I couldn’t open the driver’s door to start the car to defrost it (I had to worm my way to the driver’s seat from the passenger side, no mean feet in this car) and I couldn’t even get the pop-up lights to open.
I took the kids ice-skating for the first time. The boys are too young to be afraid and take the rather unconventional Kamikaze approach to ice-skating. Agilene is at the exact opposite extreme and has many, way too ‘convenient’, excuses like having forgotten her socks at home. I did eventually get her out on the ice and she inched her way around the rink dutifully a couple of times.
We also just made it through Valentine’s Day. The American version of this holiday is still an enigma to me. When I was at school you would send a card or flowers to someone you actually liked, but here you have to send them to everyone in your class. The romance side seems to be lost to me.
Don’t forget that you’re always welcome to visit us; we’d love to see more of everyone. I’m sure that we could even be persuaded to take you one of our adventures or to make one up for you.
Marc, Agilene, Yuri, Iago, Keesha and the Green Turtle.
PS: If you are that way inclined my web site now has RSS feeds.