Categories
Events and Life

The Horror We Men Face

Oh, I’m very familiar with this horror:

Categories
Events and Life Mindsets Travel and places

A tribute to Israelis

I came across this wonderful tribute to Israelis titled “An Ode to the People of Israel” featuring Chloé Valdary in the JerusalemU YouTube channel and had to share it.

Lines that stood out for me include these:

When they ask you why you are still here?

Tell them it’s where you belong.

I also love this tweet she published some time ago:

https://twitter.com/cvaldary/status/707796377825316864

Categories
Photography

Candlesticks

I like the shadows on the wall behind these candlesticks. This was very much a “spur of the moment” photo.

There are so many opportunities to capture little moments in our homes. We are so familiar with our spaces that it’s easy to stop seeing these moments when they happen. This time I managed not to ignore what is otherwise a very common sight in our home, these candlesticks.

Categories
Events and Life

Reminiscing on our 10th wedding anniversary

Today is our 10th wedding anniversary. Wow, 10 years. A lot has happened in the decade since Gina and I stood under that chuppah. Here are a few things that stand out for me. I’ll probably come up with more after this is published so I don’t make any promises that this post captures all the highlights.

When it all began

I met Gina in November 2003. I think it was around the 17th but that remains a little controversial. Our first date was a blind date facilitated by our mothers who met through a widows’ group (Gina’s dad passed away in 2001, mine in 2003). I had recently broken up with a girlfriend and my father had passed away from pancreatic cancer a few months earlier. I decided to spend some time on my own for a while.

My mother called me and told me about this woman she met (Lindy, my then-future mother in law) who, as it turned out, had a single daughter who her mother was pretty keen to introduce to someone. I wasn’t really interested but told my mother than if this girl is/was a Sagittarius, Leo or Ares, I’d meet her. If not, I wasn’t interested.

This may sound very weird or hippy but I’d had a few bad experiences dating people in other signs so this seemed like a reasonable compromise to me. My mother thought I was a bit difficult (she may have said I was “full of sh*t”) but she said she’d find out.

My mother called me back soon after and told me that this girl is/was a Leo. I’d basically committed myself so I agreed and took down her phone number. I called her, introduced myself and we arranged to meet at JB’s Corner in Melrose Arch a few days later. At the time I had a beard and when I told Gina this she apparently thought her mother had set her up with some religious guy (oy!).

I wasn’t sure what to expect so I staked out the restaurant from a public square across from it until she arrived. This was more to brace myself in case she wasn’t quite what I was expecting (whatever that was).

When I saw her she didn’t disappoint at all.

We started talking and didn’t stop until after we were asked to leave the restaurant when they closed. The highlight of that evening was our discussion about how Star Trek: Nemesis really disappointed both of us. A fellow Star Trek (and Star Wars) fan? I was hooked.

We had a second date a few days later (when she opened her door she was even more beautiful than I remembered from our first date). That was our beginning.

Then she said “yes!”

We dated for about a year and a half before we finally got engaged. I think about relationships in terms of an ocean metaphor. If your relationship’s depths are calm and life affirming, you’re off to a great start. You’ll need those quiet depths when the surface becomes stormy to keep you grounded and help you through difficult times.

I wrote about how I proposed a day or two afterwards:

We’re engaged!

I really enjoyed our wedding (if you want to really dive into the day, here are the photos).

Rabbi Rose married us at the Waverly Shul. I’m glad we did it there.

My bride was absolutely stunning. I think she actually took my breath away when I first saw her in her wedding dress just before the marriage ceremony. I know grooms often say something like this but she really was (and still is) beautiful.

Our wedding reception was at the HOD Hall in Orchards, Johannesburg.

We started our new life together with our honeymoon in the Drakensberg. We stayed at the Drakensberg Sun which is one of my favourite hotels/resorts in South Africa. It was a terrific break although I took my laptop in case I had to work (not the best decision but I had started my own business about 6 months before).

Starting a business is tough and I remember when I decided to leave Werksmans and go on my own how Gina supported me. She supported me for the 9 years I had my own businesses, through all the tough times that affected our family. I didn’t always appreciate how much she supported me when the easier thing to say could have been “Stop this and go find a job”.

The early years

I remember at least one conversation with Gina, some time around our wedding, in which she informed me that she expected to be in the labour ward a year after our wedding. I was a little taken aback but my wife can be pretty convincing. As it turns out we fell pregnant (by “we” I mean I made a contribution, she did all the real work) in early 2007. It was possibly during our first wedding anniversary weekend back at the Drakensberg Sun.

Aside from going off chicken entirely for most of her pregnancy, it all went fairly well. At least from my perspective.

Aaron arrived a few weeks early and, within the space of a couple days, my great love affair expanded to two people.

Our first year with Aaron was probably fairly typical for new parents: a lot of panic, having no idea what to do when he cried or had colic and also beginning to appreciate having this incredible little person in our lives.

2008 turned out to be a tough year with the Great Recession but we made it through with a few emotional bumps along the way. I think I learned a lot about how to deal with challenging times towards the end of the year and realised (a little more) what an incredible my wife is in tough times that doubtless stressed her out too.

Me and Gina at a Jewish Entrepreneurs event in 2009

2009 was an expansion year. Mostly for me, I seem to have ballooned a little. Gina, on the other hand, was as beautiful as ever.

One of the highlights of 2010 was a weekend getaway to the Westcliff which Gina won for us. It was quite an experience usually not for mortals like us.

Of course, 2010 was also the year our family grew again. We found out that we were pregnant again and we dubbed our baby “theSQL” (it is both geeky and a little funny).

Our little girl, Faith, was born in December that year (just a few days after my birthday). She brought a new dynamic to our family and joined her proud brother as my new great love.

Our life seemed to start moving really quickly after Faith arrived. I was trying to build a business and we had two growing kids, each with their own personalities. Just as figuring out how to be a good father to our children, being a decent husband to Gina has been an ongoing process. If anything I have learned how I let my own issues get in the way of a better relationship with my family.

In 2013 I was diagnosed with diabetes and Gina practically changed our kitchen over to diabetic friendly foods almost overnight. My diagnosis was a shock to me but she helped me adapt and probably did more to shift me onto a healthier diet than I even realised.

She helped me bring my blood glucose levels down to normal levels within a few months and I managed to remain pretty well controlled until late last year when something in my body changed and my levels rose again. We’re going back to some basics with my diet and, once again, she is making changes behind the scenes to improve our diet to help me regain control over my diabetes.

Finally home in Israel where we belong

2015 was a challenging year. It was our first year in our new home in Israel and the changes weren’t always easy to process. It was also a year that really emphasised for me just how important my family is to me. My wife and our kids are basically what my life is all about. Practically everything else is in support of our new life here.

Being a husband takes a lot of work. For me, most of that work was on myself because I have a tendency to let my inner Crazy really get in the way of better communication with my wife. Communication really is so important. I see the difference when I get it right. Those are the times when we are back in sync like we were right in the beginning (and many times since then) when we agreed about that Star Trek movie.

This time 10 years ago we were at the Protea Hotel on Corlett Drive trying to stay awake long enough to eat an early supper. We didn’t get through the meal and passed out soon afterwards on our hotel room. The next morning we woke early and drove to the mountains to start our honeymoon and our new life together.

Every morning is an opportunity for me to be a better father and a better husband. I haven’t always made it easy for my family but if there is something worth working for every day, every moment, it is that. I hope we have many more periods of 10 years together. Each of the moments that make up those years are opportunities to spend with my wife and our children and that is what matters most to me.

Happy anniversary, angel. Much, with tons and stuff.

אני אוהב אותך, ממש!

Categories
Events and Life Music Travel and places

My emigration coping mechanism – 80s music

I had an interesting realization recently when a friend asked on Facebook if anyone else was suddenly really into 80s music lately? It caught my attention because I have been listening to a lot of 80s rock and pop since we arrived in Israel (thanks to my Rdio subscription and my iPad which has become my new radio).

Our apartment looks like we are camping in it. It was largely unfurnished when we arrived (except for the kitchen and beds we bought and had delivered before we arrived). A messing shipment process has resulted in our stuff only likely to arrive at the end of this month (quick advice: if you have the means to ship your stuff to your new home overseas in a container reserved just for you, it may be worth the extra cost).

So we don’t have most of our appliances or furniture we shipped yet and our home feels pretty incomplete. My friend’s Facebook question got me thinking about my sudden craving for 80s music and it occurred to me that it could be a sort of familiar comfort, a coping mechanism, that helps our home feel more like, well, our home in the absence of more familiar stuff that is (presumably) sailing up the east coast of Africa.

Categories
Education Entertainment Tutorials Useful stuff

Lunchtime project: a primitive cardboard projector

Our son is home sick so we came up with the idea of making a cardboard projector during lunch today. We used an old Jungle Oats cereal box, a toilet roll core and cling wrap for a basic lens.

We secured the cling wrap using an elastic band (hair elastic in our case) and we stuck a small piece of paper in the shape of a tree on the lens.

It is really primitive and we worked out that the LED on an iPhone projects a very clear silhouette through the projector.

Our son is working on a rocket shape to project on his cupboard door which has glow in the dark shapes and he is going to create a sort of shadow movie for his sister.

Categories
Miscellany

In this home

Love this poster!

Categories
Books Miscellany

This book is why I much prefer ebooks

I took this book with me to the 2008 iCommons iSummit in Sapporo, Japan. This book is one of the reasons I am such a huge fan of ebooks.

This book runs to about 1 000 pages and it is heavy. I wouldn’t want to have a home without paper books, they add substance to a home. Our kids also prefer paper books to digital, interestingly enough, but when it comes to my reading, I’ll take an ebook over a paper book any day.