2011...... the year that was

I thought I would chronicle the stand-out events of 2011, not the hum-drum (and trust me, there was plenty of that!), but those things that defined the year for me.

At the very beginning of January we decided to start Geocaching, it was one of the best decisions we have ever made as a family.  We have had SO much fun geocaching this year! 

Grant took me away for the week-end of my birthday and our anniversary.  It was the very first time in 22 years of marriage that we had ever been away on our own (can't believe it myself, but it's true!)  We had such a special time and have decided to make it an annual event.

Our family also spent a week-end in Umdloti in January

and made our first visit to the Moses Mabhida stadium in Durban. 

Paula and I began a "Travelling Bear" project.  We found some wonderful, willing participants, scattered all over the world, bought a little bear whom we named Thulani,

started a blog for him (Thulani the Travelling Bear) and on the 22nd of January Thulani set off on his travels.


In mid-February my precious Jackie-dog got really sick with a mystery illness, which gradually paralysed her, starting with one back leg, progressing to the point where she could not use ANY of her limbs.  It was a terrible, terrible time and only then did I realise how very deeply attached I am to this little member of our family, who goes with me everywhere.  Her illness turned out to be meningitis and she has thankfully almost fully recovered from it (she has never got her jump back and I somehow doubt she ever will)

Thanks to Rox's willingness to babysit my then-recovering little dog, we were able to take Paula and her friend Michelle and spend a much-needed night at the Hilton in Durban, where we enjoyed a Sharks rugby game:


We spent 5 days at Sun City at the end of March with the Clarks.  We had such a wonderful time.  Over the years we have spent a lot of time at Sun City with the Clarks and it's sad to know that those holidays have come to an end with the end of our timeshare's term.

Something we did at Sun City this time that we have never done before is visit the elephants at a nearby elephant sanctury.  It was a magical experience!


On our way back from Sun City we attended Uncle Ian’s 80th  birthday party.  I was so glad we could be there and share this special day with him.

We were lucky enough to go and see Neil Diamond at Moses Mabhida stadium in Durban. on the 5th of April.  What a wonderful evening!

Paula attended a hockey tournament at Treverton College near Mooiriver over the Easter week-end, where she met and fell (literally! Long story) in love with Calvin!

And a few days later Rox and Jon got engaged!


After all the excitement of April, May was a fairly quiet month, however we did welcome a new member to our extended family in the form of Allie (a.k.a my "co-worker" because she spends most of her time bugging me when I should be working in my office)


My Paula-girl turned 16!!  The event was rather over-shadowed by the fact that we were shortly to be leaving for Europe.

We spent 4 amazing weeks in Europe in June/July.  I continued my love affairs with both London and Paris and began a whole new love affair with Spain.  What a fantastic time we had - I documented the holiday in a blog, which I return to again and again to re-live the experience.


In July we visited Ireland for the first time.  It was so amazing to see the place that has such strong roots for both Grant and the girls.  Unforgettable memories.

I also got to see my BFF Lisa in July!

Before heading home we had a stopover in Dubai, which was fantastic

Not surprisingly, August was a fairly quiet month for our family!  We spent time catching up after our month away, giving our poor neglected pets lots of love and attention and getting back into the grind of daily life.  We did however make time to re-connect with our friends (I recall a very fun evening with the Reeds and some caramel vodka and Turkish Tigers!) and our family and to enjoy watching lots of rugby on TV


September was all about the Rugby World Cup!  We watched LOTS of rugby on TV with the Clarks, which is always fun :-)

We also spent a week-end in Empangeni with the Reeds and Grant and Paula did a cycle with Glynton and Calvin

On 11 September Grant, Paula and I went to Durban Day - it was a lovely day out.

October was a rather frantic month with exams looming for Rox and Paula and wedding preparations in full swing.

Notably, it was also the month that Grant fell off his mountain bike and gave us quite a scare!

The girls both took part in the Rollers and Pins skit at the Rotary/Roundtable Melodrama 2011 and thoroughly enjoyed the experience


November was all about exams and The Wedding - what a hectic month!

Paula, Helen and Waldi organised a lovely Kitchen Tea for Rox and a really fun Hen's Night

ahem, if we could overlook the fact that Rox is wearing penises on her head that would be good, okay!

 And then there was The Wedding!  What a wonderful, wonderful day it was.  Perfect in every way.  As soon as the photos are available I will put some up here.

And just like that the year was over!

Saying Good-bye to Ralph, Shell and Josh as they left for Australia had to be the low point of the entire year for me.  Ralph and I have been friends since we were 13 years old, he is way more than just another friend to me...  Our families have bonds that go beyond friendship, beyond family even.  They're the people we chose to be our family.  I never want to have to relive the day we said good-bye ever again.  And there I go with the snot and trane again, so best I just leave it at that.

So, quite an emotional month!  We're learning to live with the gap that Rox has left in our home, but loving the times we get to spend with her and Jon.  Learning to live without Ralph, Shell and Josh being just down the drag in Durban, but knowing that our friendship will always be a part of who we are. 

And before we knew it, it was Christmas time.  We hosted our traditional Christmas Eve dinner at home for the family (including Roxy and Jon) and then had Christmas Day lunch at Stephward Estate in Uvongo, as we did last year.  It's become a tradition to get together with the Clarks on Christmas night and we did that again this year which was a lovely way to end the day.

All in all it's been a good year for the Richardson's, quite a big year, challenging in many respects, but overall a positive year in our family I think.

Looking forward to seeing what 2012 has in store!

The Wedding!

My Roxy-girl is now Mrs Wilkins!

The wedding went SO well.  It was really everything Roxy dreamed of.  We could honestly not have wished for a more perfect day.

The weather was ideal, the venue was charming, Roxy looked breath-takingly beautiful, the groom was handsome and smiling, the bridesmaids looked lovely, the flower-girls and page-boy were edibly cute and took their duties so adorably seriously I wanted to kiss them, the food was delicious, the music was sublime and the company was fantastic..... what more could we have asked for?

Rox and Jon chose to be married at Shalwyn, which was SUCH a good choice.  It felt so right.  Very Roxy and Jon.

The families all gathered there on Friday afternoon, staying in the self-catering cottages on the property which were very comfortable (all the bedrooms were en-suite which made my little heart happy.... I have a thing about sharing bathrooms.)  Rox and her bridesmaids spent a very relaxed  evening with us and then went off to the honey-moon suite, where they stayed until it was time for the wedding on Saturday morning.  This arrangement worked out so well, as they were out of the buzz on Saturday and were able to relax and enjoy the morning.

I got up very early on Saturday morning (well I had no choice, I got an sms from Rox at 04:45: Morning, morning, it's my wedding day!) and at about 07:30 I headed over to the honey-moon suite where our wonderful hair-stylist Tracey was already hard at work (she'd been there since 6am!) dispensing her own particular brand of humour and wisdom and styling the girls' hair too.  I swear Tracey kept us all sane on Saturday!  The make-up lady was also busy making the girls more beautiful than they already are, she was lovely - calm, quiet and unobtrusive.  We really had a good morning, busy, at times quite hectic, occasionally a bit tearful but always lots of fun.

It wasn't long before Sam arrived to take photos and what felt like moments later it was time to head off to the chapel.  Rox was adamant she was going to be on time and we would have been, had the guests not taken a moment or two longer to enter the chapel than expected.  Thanks to modern technology we were alerted to this fact and we parked on the side of the road for 5 minutes! Which was quite a good thing because at this point Paula realised she had forgotten to put deodorant on and could quickly scratch for her deo in the boot and resolve that little issue.... :-)

Watching Grant walk Rox down the aisle was a moment that will live with me forever.  She looked beautiful.  Grant was fighting back tears the entire time which was really touching and had me reaching for my tissue too.

The service was lovely.  Simple, reverent and heart-felt.  Very fitting.

After the service we had starters and drinks on the lawn and the deck, with lots of group and family photos happening too.  Then it was time to head into the beautifully decorated venue and have speeches, lunch, drinks and chat.  All very relaxed.

Rox and Jon sensibly decided to break with tradition on a number of fronts, one being the main table.  They sat at the main table with the bridesmaids and groomsmen and their partners.  The parents sat at tables with their friends which was a big relief to me! I think everyone had a lot more fun this way.  Rox also decided to give a speech at her wedding, she felt like she had things to say and so she said them.  Go Rox!

Everything was just so happy and relaxed and Rox and Jono literally beamed the whole way through.

I have to give a shout out to our music man Chris Jensen - he was AMAZING.  So many people came and asked me about him.  He is a one-man-band of sorts, playing mainly the sax.  Really classy!

Things came to a close at about 4ish when we said a fun farewell to Rox and Jon, who then went off  to have photos done - just them and the photographers.  We got a final chance to say our family good-byes about an hour or so later.  Rox had intended changing before they set off on honey-moon, but loved her dress so much (it was absolutely gorgeous!) that she drove all the way to Durban in it and a pair of gumboots!!

We had our own little after-party on Saturday evening.  Nice relaxed time with family and friends.  A perfect way to end a perfect day!

Big thanks to Ralph and Shell for providing me with these photos.... they are the only ones I will have until the professional photos arrive, so they're VERY precious!

A list of suppliers:

Venue: Shalwyn
Catering: Hamblins
Music: Chris Jensen
Dress: Carita Bridal
Photos: Samantha Maber Photography
Hair: Tracey Eady from Rollers and Pins, Shelly Beach
Make-up: Professional Make-up Studio

I miss you Mom

It's been three years since my mom died.  It feels so long ago.  I've travelled quite a road since then!

After she died I wondered if I would ever be able to remember her fondly again.  At the time all I felt was..... nothing.  I think the months, even years, before her death had sucked every identifiable feeling right out of me.  I felt completely devoid of any emotion, except perhaps relief.  Your mother dies and you feel relief, how horribly sad is that? 

It scares me now, when I look back and realise what an emotional train-wreck I was at the time.  I don't think I even realised how low I had sunk.  In hind-sight, that's probably the reason my blog died at around about that time.  I had too much stuff to work through and it was too personal and too scary to expose to the world at large.

For so long if I ever thought about my mom at all, the picture I'd have of her in my mind would be that stick-like figure that caused me so much grief; I just couldn't see past that.  But it's true what they say, time heals all wounds and, although it's been a painfully slow process, I am at the point now where every now and again a random happy memory will cause me to stop and smile. 

I had just such a thought the other day that made me chuckle to myself and I'd like to share it with you today, because today, on the anniversary of her death, this is the mom I'd like to remember: the funny, nutty, quirky, irreverent mom, who made me laugh.

Having lived next door to each other for a number of years, my parents had just moved to the coast, about 3 hours drive away from us.  My mom was a very social person (I certainly didn't inherit that particular gene!) and for the first time in living memory I think she was lonely and, although she would never admit it, I think she was missing me!

A few years before this, Roxy was in a ballet production of Peter Pan and she danced in a scene to this song.  You're going to need to listen to the lyrics, or you're not going to understand what follows.

On the day in question, my phone rang and when I answered, these are the words my mom sang to me, to the tune of "When You're Alone":

When you're all alone...
Even in your home....
It is shit....
just to sit....
All on your own.....

It still cracks me up!

That was her unique and unexpected way of letting me know she missed me!  And I truly never thought I'd see the day I'd say this, but I miss her too.

A week to go....

Less than a week from today my Roxy-girl will be a married woman. How crazy is that thought?!

I have such mixed feelings.....

On the one hand I am so happy that she is happy, I'm so glad she has found a really decent guy, who clearly loves her to pieces, I am so excited for her and so proud of the lovely young woman she has become;

On the other hand I can't help but feel that I am losing my baby girl. I know, I know....she isn't a baby anymore.  But, as crazy as it may seem, in my mind I can still picture her so clearly as a shy, vulnerable little girl, that in some weird way, to me she will always be that little girl, all dressed in pink, dancing in the ballet concert to this song:

I wish I had realised then how quickly she would grow up, how very short a time she would be living at home, maybe then I would have cherished each moment a little more, hugged her more often, read her more stories, spent more time just being with her and loving her.

But time marches on, and she isn't that little girl anymore and much as I want to cling to her, it's time to let go......

And I'm ready to let go, well most of the time anyway! I'm ready to watch Rox develop into the wonderful woman and wife that I know she'll be. 

So instead of dwelling on the letting go part, I'm choosing to focus on the excitement, the pride, the fun, the positive energy...and when it all gets a bit much, I'll come and sit quietly by myself and play that song and think about the little girl who's grown up into the amazingly beautiful bride that will walk down the aisle, past her mommy who loves her so much xx

Our bride-to-be had a Kitchen Tea

Who knew that the final few weeks before a wedding could fly by in the blink of an eye?!  Seems like yesterday that the wedding was months away and now it is literally around the corner.

On Saturday Roxy's fantabulous bridesmaids arranged a kitchen tea for her.  These girls have been amazing!  All I had to do was pay the bill and pitch up.  Bliss :-)

The tea was hosted at a local restaurant with a burlesque theme. It was really beautiful. 

A fun time was had by all!