Shortly after the start of Jessica’s Grade R year, her teacher Diane Matthews raised some concerns regarding Jess’ progress at school. Chantelle and I gave it a term and a bit to see if things would approve, but as it turned out, the concerns remained and in the end we decided to take Jessica for an occupational therapy evaluation on recommendation from Diane.
There we got in touch with Nicola van Zyl, a young occupational therapist who then took Jessica through a lengthy (but fun) evaluation, the report of which we’ve now just sat down and discussed with Nicola.
As suspected, quite a couple of weak points were identified (i.e. in terms of being on the level considered normal for other five year old children), things that include the likes of weak postural and core muscles, bilateral integration issues, and motor planning difficulties.
Of greater concern (in terms of school progression) though is the many visual perception difficulties that Jessica also seems to have (she scored quite low in the fields of visual discrimination, memory, form-constancy, sequential memory, figure-ground and closure), which will need to be rectified sooner than later if she wants to keep up with her friends at school.
So, starting Thursday, Jessica will now be doing an occupational therapy session twice a week. (Sigh, my budget just can’t get a break this year. Goodbye Biokineticist, hello Occupational Therapist!)
Luckily though, Jess seems to like Nicola (not to mention all the cool swings and equipment in the class), so I don’t think she’ll mind all these fun new outings after school!
Related Link: Et Al Therapy and Learning Centre
Last week I put my newly unlocked ability to drive to the test, by taking Jessica through to Somerset West for her weekly Little Cooks Club cooking session (normally this is some special bonding time for Chantelle and Jess, but seeing as she was super busy with orders before our weekend away in Jacobsbaai, I took a stab at it instead!).
Started in 2006 by chef Christine Phillips, Little Cooks Club is all about teaching families about healthy food choices and providing them with an appreciation of good food through a range of relevant cooking programmes for Little Cooks and aspiring Junior Chefs, as well as helpful Adult Courses for school leavers and domestic helpers.
Chef Kim Meierhans recently opened the Helderberg franchise, basing it in Somerset West and in the process getting Chantelle quite excited because I’m pretty sure that she is just as keen to do it as what Jessica is!
At age 5, Jess falls into the Little Cooks programme, which means hands on preparation of simple but delicious meals that can then be replicated back home with the help of mom and dad.
In the class, the kids get to taste and use their hands preparing the dish of the day, with the tricky bits like putting it in the oven being handled by the teacher. Naturally, the whole process is loads of fun for the kids, with the added bonus of the food prepared being actually quite delicious – the other day Jessica and Chantelle returned with Banoffee Pie pudding of all things!
This time around it was couscous salad with baked vegetables.
Which came out pretty nice – thus leaving us with one pretty chuffed Jess!
Yesterday was Jessica’s first day of going to the big school. True, it is only Grade R so it’s not like it’s uniform time just yet, but class is now at Gordon’s Bay Primary School (conveniently down the road from us), meaning that it counts! ;)
With me continuing to be out of action thanks to my knee, I missed out on taking Jessica to her first day at primary school, but nevertheless, she was super excited enough to pose for photos to show off her new bag, water bottle and lunch box while we waited for Mommy to finish getting ready.
English Grade R teacher Diane Matthews appears to be a bit of a legend when it comes to teaching the kids, and Jessica was over the moon with her first day in the Fishy Class, followed by the unrestricted play time that came with the afternoon’s aftercare spell.
Although all her friends from Vergeet-My-Nie are unfortunately in the Afrikaans classes, she does get to play with them at aftercare, and besides, I’m pretty sure that with her bubbly little personality, making new school friends is going to be a snap!
Seriously, where is the time flying? :)
I forgot to mention that a fair couple of weeks ago, Jessica was in for a right treat when Monty prepared a bed of soil for her and tasked her with planting her very own green bean garden patch.
Of course, the actual planting was quite stressful for oupa Monty as he continuously reminded Jessica not to push the seeds down too deep, not to cover them with so much soil, not to press on them so much, not to give them so much water, etc.
Nevertheless, each and every little bean was planted, patted and watered, and two weeks later I brought the girls back so that Jessica could inspect her gardening project.
Thankfully, the beans had all sprouted and were standing quite proud and tall – exactly what a little blonde princess might have been expecting!
Emily on the other hand couldn’t be bothered with the whole bean planting exercise. She was more than happy to continue being swung in Monty’s fun makeshift milk crate swing!
So with beans now mastered, I wonder what gardening project is up next from Oupa and Ouma Montgomery? ;)
A couple of weeks ago Chantelle and I surprised Jessica by taking her to Game and letting her choose a new bicycle.
She had outgrown her first bicycle and to be honest, being a second hand buy, it was a bit tired by now – in fact, one of the pedals had even come off the other day! (Not to mention the hard plastic wheels that were now completely devoid of all grip!)
So with the old one out it made sense to get her something a bit bigger and better – which is exactly why I was more than happy to part with my R1,100 and return home with a beautiful purple and white, 16 inch Raleigh kids’ bicycle – accompanied with a bright pink cycle helmet to finish off the ensemble.
Well, when I say returned home with, I do of course mean I arrived home with a big cardboard box, which stayed on the dining room table for a day or two before I finally gathered enough strength to open the box, spill out is contents, and attempt to assemble a bicycle.
(Surprisingly, this took me longer than expected – I had some trouble lining up the brakes).
Of course, we immediately needed to take it out for a test drive, and pleasingly a beaming, unable-to-contain-her-excitement, Jessica was more than happy to oblige.
In fact, all the friends around the complex quickly got wind of what we were up to thanks to us tearing about the complex at high speed (seriously, all of a sudden Jessica is rather quick on her two wheels), and soon everyone was in on the fun!
So yeah, I’d definitely say that this was a successful purchase for the Lotter clan! Now I guess the next step is for her to become confident enough that we can start thinking about ditching those side wheels of hers…
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As a baby, Jessica chipped her two front teeth pretty badly by crashing teeth first into the tile floor at Monty and Cheryl’s place whilst being chased around on all fours by her daddy (i.e. me). Then earlier last year the dentist spotted a cavity, and in November last year we finally got Jessica to the dentist to have the hole plugged and her front teeth fixed (mainly because of the damage it was causing her bottom lip when biting down – sadly, she’s inherited my overbite it would seem).
The procedure was a success (expensive though, so, so expensive), and for the last four months Jessica has been running around with perfect teeth and a healthy bottom lip.
Until Friday that was.
Picking her up from school at the end of the work day, Chantelle arrived to the bad news that following a successful nap time, Jessica stood up too quickly, lost her balance and fell face first to the ground, chipping out both her front teeth in the process.
Needless to say, both Chantelle and I want to cry.
(We’ll have to make a plan though. I don’t necessarily want to have them fixed so shortly before she starts losing her milk teeth, but at the same time I can’t have her damaging her bottom lip again. Sigh, guess it is time for Mr Credit Card to once again make an appearance…)
I’m not making a very big deal out of this, or at least wasn’t at the time, but in truth it really is a big deal. You see, today I lost Jess. I did not know where my daughter was and it was scary as heck. At the time I was calm and collected, but looking back at it now, it was scary as hell.
And it could have ended much worse.
The stupid part is that all of it was down to a very basic parenting mistake quite frankly – I should, and do, know better. Parenting 101. But mistakes do happen and today a very big one was made.
With Chantelle working, I was left on kid duty for the day, and still needing things for my upcoming trip to Japan, I bundled Emily and Jessica into the car and headed off to Somerset Mall. With Emily in her pram, and Jessica holding my hand, we entered Pick ‘n Pay and made our way through a very busy store (payday weekend) down to the furthest corner which houses the clothing section.
Together Jessica and I browsed through the t-shirts and loaded up the pram with a few new ones which she helped me pull out. Then I stopped to have a quick look at the shorts because the only pair of shorts that I currently possess has a great big hole in the crotch area and I’m having huge difficulties in sourcing shorts big enough to fit my large posterior and tree trunk legs. One pair in particular looked quite promising.
Meanwhile, bored, Jessica had taken to climbing up and down the staff ladder and was happily busy entertaining herself in the clothing area.
I asked for access to the fitting cubicle and pulled Emily, pram and all inside. I looked to my side and saw Jessica still happily playing on the ladder. I told her that Emily and I were going inside, and when she is finished she must come here to me. I closed the door and started changing pants.
All of a sudden I hear Jess’ voice crying “Daddy, daddy, where are you?!?”, and recognizing that the voice was travelling away from the area at a very fast pace, I basically flung open the door, pulled up my pants, grabbed Emily’s pram and started searching. Soon I had a number of ladies that were in the area helping me with my search (it is a very large store), and whilst they combed down the aisles, I headed straight down the line of tills, loudly bellowing “Jessica!” down each and every aisle that I passed.
As I reached the entrance of the store, one of the ladies who was helping me look down the aisles, caught my eye gestured that she had spotted Jess, and I won’t lie, my heart skipped a beat when I turned at the entrance to spot a quivering, sobbing Jessica sitting at the manager’s desk in the front of the store.
I swooped in and picked up my frantic little girl, giving her the biggest bear hug that you can imagine.
Twenty seconds later, with a packet of Nik Naks now in her possession, and no more tears in sight, we were walking back towards the clothing section, hand firmly in hand.
(For the record, this time Emily, Emily’s pram, Jessica, and I all squeezed into the cubicle together. The shorts didn’t fit.)
A lesson learned indeed.
It has been a really, really long time since I dropped a personal post down in these pages. I don’t really have any usable excuse – two little girls keeps you pretty busy, and after a long day of desk-bound keyboard bashing work, followed by play time, supper time, and finally bed time, means that come the few hours before bed, I’d much rather do something else than spend even more time behind the keyboard. Still, it has been a long time and well, there’s loads of updates to deliver I guess.
On Jessica, she’s absolutely flourishing at Vergeet-My-Nie playschool, turning into a real little girl who loves to play with her Barbies, has a fixation with all things My Little Pony, is fascinated by Teen Titans Go!, and is thoroughly enjoying her weekly ballet lesson. Make no mistake, she can get grumpy and tends to cry a lot if things don’t go her way, but that normalcy aside, she really is a little darling.
The bike riding isn’t really coming along, but that’s partly our fault – we don’t really practice very often with her. She still plays with the girls in the complex though, and I’ll often come home to find a small gaggle of girls having overrun the place!
Sadly, she has a cavity in her one tooth (confirmed by the dentist) which will have to be fixed sooner than later, but man, dentistry is expensive! Also, she’s inherited my overbite, meaning braces will most certainly be staring her down come her teenage future. Sigh.
Emily is just plain adorable! She smiles at anything and everything, and now that she has finally outgrown her bad reflux, she’s much, much easier for me to love even more (it grated me that every time I used to pick her up, she’d throw up on me. Sigh, the pleasures of being a daddy I suppose). Anyway, she now spends her days at Baby Steps creche (where Jess went), and it’s nice to see how well she is progressing in comparison to Jess at her age – Emily can sit independently (with pillows packer around her for just in case!), has been holding her own bottle during feeds for ages now, is eating solids like sweet potato and butternut, and has two nice and sharp, protruding teeth in her bottom jaw. (Funny, because she seems to take great pleasure in taking a nip at Chantelle’s nipple every now and then during breastfeeding!)
Oh, and you should see how she flaps her arms and legs and squeals in delight whenever she spots Chantelle for the first time in a little while! Too adorable for words! :)
(On the breastfeeding note, I’m not sure how much longer I’m going to be able to live with that incessant groaning noise that Chantelle’s breast pump makes during her daily milk expression sessions! Still, it is a lot cheaper than formula, so I guess I can’t complain that much…)
Chantelle is keeping pretty busy, she successfully completed her wedding cake course presented by Angie Boyd of Vanilla House fame, and aside from being the primary caregiver of Emily and Jess outside of work hours, she is still keeping her little baking venture in the form of Chantelle’s Cupcakery alive and well.
Also, she’s joined an informal walking club here in Gordon’s Bay, and now quite happily does a handful of 7+ km walks every week!
On the baking business front, sadly it must be said that Chantelle’s Cupcakery is struggling somewhat in terms of finances. As it turns out, trading at the markets just isn’t so financially viable when it comes to cakes and cupcakes, and in addition to losing that business, the big contract with Sacred Ground deli was ended, picked up again, and then finally ended for good from their side, meaning a big income blow there as well.
Also, believe it or not, there is a lot of baking competition here in Gordon’s Bay, and it would seem that the local market just isn’t the right fit for what Chantelle does. Nevertheless, we do have some plans up our sleeves, and of course, a change of market may go a long way in turning things around financially. All that said and done, the good news is that Chantelle is already starting to see some traction on the wedding cake front – which is of course exciting news for the business.
As for me, on the work front I’m still battling as a DevOp/Team Manager on the Touchwork front, a task made harder by the recent loss of my senior development resource to takealot.com – honestly, I’ve been on this front for a while now, and I have to say, I’m beginning to tire of it.
Boring work stuff aside though, this year thus far has been pretty good in terms of family getaways (a good thing, because I enjoy getting away from the house) – and is about to get EVEN better for me with the “two brothers travel to Japan” adventure looming up just around the corner! (More of which I’ll detail in a separate post, promise.)
As I said at the start of this post though, two little girls tends to keep one pretty busy, meaning still no extramural activities for me (bad), and unfortunately this blasted dark all the time Winter mornings and evenings has meant a complete stall of exercise (even worse). Sigh.
I have interestingly enough being gaming a fair bit again, interesting because I had kind of gone off gaming, but obviously it’s a hobby good enough to fill that little hole left by the rather diminished social life I lead at the moment. On a different interests’ front, sadly, outside of the more mature DC animated movies which I still pick up and watch without fail, my love for animated fare hasn’t returned – meaning that I guess have to now accept the inevitable fact that I have matured to a point where I can no longer watch kiddies television and gain enjoyment from it. Sad. (That said, I am currently enjoying watching Teen Titans Go! with Jessica. It makes me chuckle. Don’t judge.)
Asset news? Well one positive is that our 2010 Hyundai Getz is almost completely paid off, in just less than two years before the original signed repayment term ends. This is of course great news in terms of interest saved and even better because of the incoming boost to our monthly finances once that monthly car repayment debit is no more. (Important because as mentioned earlier, Chantelle’s business that is not performing well for a while now).
On the moving back to Bellville front – sadly our house still hasn’t been sold, and it has to be said, we’re not seeing much foot traffic in the form of potential buyers at the moment. It could be that winter has chased everyone away, but the reality is that the property just isn’t proving popular with buyers, much to the bewilderment of Len our property agent in charge of selling the house. Hopefully spring/summer will heat things up again, but Chantelle and I have pretty much resigned ourselves to the fact that we’ll be in Gordon’s Bay for much of this year after all, so much so that I even went and put back up all the baking/braai room shelving that I had taken down in order to sell the house! (A project that takes the better part of a day I’ll have you know.)
Anyway, so that’s pretty much all the updates I think that needed to be given, meaning the only thing still to do is play catch up on all the photo galleries I avoided posting over the last couple of months!
(Eventually. This post took ages to churn out I’ll have you know!)
So now we have a ballerina in the family. On the insistence of Mom (a passionate ballerina in her youth), and with their help, Jessica is now excitedly twirling around the house on her tippy toes, arms outstretched in the air, overjoyed by the fact that from now on out, every Tuesday morning (the ballet extra mural class gets offered during the ‘school’ day), she gets to don her ballerina outfit and hit the floor in her very own dance shoes!
In other words, I’m expecting a barrage of extra cuteness when I get home after work from here on out.
A useful tip if you live in the Helderberg area and your kid wants to do ballet – for the same price as what you would pay for mass produced ballet shoes that Mr Price Sport stocks, rather head over to Teplov, a Somerset West-based business started by former dancers which has been producing ballet shoes since 1979! They measure your child’s foot and if they don’t have the required size in stock, they go ahead and make it for you – at no additional cost!
P.S. It was literally impossible to get Jessica to stand still so that I could take a photo of her in her ballet outfit. There two were the only usable photos out of the lot!