Category Archives: My Life

Craig’s Thumb versus the Super Glue

alcolin super glueAnnoyingly, the insole of my Pitbull sandals, which are only a few months old, are pulling loose from the base of the shoe – both of them at the same time believe it or not! (Strong evidence to indicate either poor manufacturing or design for that matter).

Anyway, not a problem, as obviously I am well aware that super glue solves pretty much all problems (it’s an upgrade from Prestik, which I relied on heavily as a teenager). So on Saturday morning, with Chantelle out on her wedding cake course and Jessica and Emily under my supervision, I whipped out the old half empty tube of Alcolin super glue from my toolbox, grabbed the sandals and started judiciously applying super glue to the contact points where I was going to be putting the insoles back into place.

Sadly this half empty tube of super glue needed a fair bit of squeezing to get glue out, meaning of course it was a little on the messy side – and one particular spurt had some glue trailing down the rubber heel of the shoe.

Noting that patch would need cleaning a little later on and that I should avoid touching it at all cost, I happily continued on my glue spreading mission, and once completed, then proceeded to press the insole in, pushing firmly downwards while placing my thumb securely in the… wet patch of glue on the heel of the shoe.

Instant bonding.

The rubber of the shoe and the flesh of my thumb instantly became one. Much tugging and pulling yielding in little more than the threat of the skin being pulled wholesale off my finger, lead to increased panic, which of course meant instant squinting at the little tube to see what it offered in terms of advice for this very situation.

Acetone seemed a helpful hint, and so I and my shoe (firmly stuck to my thumb) went off to single-handedly rummage through my toolbox, finding a nice full bottle (lucky!) of acetone.

Generous amounts of acetone and lots of warm soapy water did eventually allow my finger, and chunks of rubber, to part ways with my shoe – without actually costing me any skin, which needless to say I was pretty grateful for.

Lesson of the day. Super glue and I should not be friends.

(And on a side note, at least my shoes insoles are now both sitting firm.)

Medical Aid Gap Cover: Pretty Useful After All

stratum benefits logoA couple of years ago, just after Chantelle and I had gotten married and were in the process of amalgamating all of our accounts, etc, Chantelle on the advice from her family had us sign up with Stratum Benefits through a broker.

Now essentially, Stratum provides medical aid gap cover, but because it sounds nicer and more important when they say it:

Dear medical aid member, it is important to understand that should you be admitted to hospital for any reason, there might be a difference between what the medical provider charges and what is actually paid by your medical aid. You will personally be liable for these shortfalls that could amount to THOUSANDS OF RANDS, as illustrated below.

Our products are designed to protect medical scheme members from the shortfalls which they may encounter when incurring medical expenses. The reality is that the portion of medical bills not covered by medical schemes have increased significantly in recent years. Inadequate cover could spell financial ruin for a family in the event of a long period of hospitalisation or other medical crisis. [...]

Yes, it is a little sensationalized, what with all those unnecessary CAPSLOCK instances, but it turns out that they really do provide a useful service, if you are at all inclined to end up in the hospital on more than just a few occasions.

Obviously our big hospital encounter was the recent(ish) birth of Emily at the Vergelegen MediClinic, and although everything went super smooth and we were thrilled with the level of service received from both Dr. La Grange and Dr. Blaine, the reality is that when the invoices arrived, both far exceeded the Discovery Health’s Medical Rate, pretty much by double.

Of course these were grudgingly paid, and of course, that left a rather large hole in our finances, which therefore makes it super pleasingly that, after a brief review period, Stratum has just gotten back to us with the following news:

Patient: Chantelle Louise Lotter         
Procedure: C-Section
Admission date:  2014-01-13
Doctor La Grange: R 6 788.00
Doctor Blaine: R 2 567.40
ClaimStatus: Assessed
Claim amount:   R‎ 9 355,40
Claim payment date: 2014-04-15

…which is of course a welcome sigh of relief for my rather stressed bank account.

So yay for medical aid gap cover then in other words.

Related Link: http://www.stratumbenefits.co.za/

Calling All Buyers: Our Home is now up for Sale!

So with our Homelink Estates agent Len Wilmot’s week long vacation now over and done with, pleasingly he kicked off the week by getting straight back into the saddle and putting our house officially up for sale.

We’ve listed the house at what I think is a very fair price (R835,000), and so now it is a simple matter to sit back and wait to see if there are any interested buyers lurking out here in the always beautiful Gordon’s Bay.

Of course, when I say sit back and wait, I do mean paint all the interior walls, keep the place spic-and-span, and of course whip the garden into the shape of its life – after all, we are now on show! ;)

Although I’m sure the listing appears in more than just a few places, here are the links to both the Property24 as well as the Homelink Estates web listings:

(I have to say that I was a little surprised to see that Len decided to include some old exterior shots of the place dating back to when he last sold the place – i.e. to us. Obviously the house is no longer that colour and the lavender bushes are no more, plus the garden is now a heck of a lot more established, so I’m not entirely sure why he thought that might be a good idea. I can for now only surmise that speed was of the essence to get our listing up and running, and as such, he used what he had before coming to take the official photos this morning…)

5 country mews water fountain

Right. Here’s to wishing ourselves luck then! :)

(P.S. Interesting fact – our neighbours across the road also happen to be selling their house at the moment! How’s that for coincidence?)

The Big Sell

Believe it or not, Yesterday marked the end of the sixth year that I’ve lived in the wonderful little coastal town of Gordon’s Bay. Six years of living close to the sea, but miles away from friends, family and work.

First Nagua Bay, and then Country Mews, Gordon’s Bay has certainly been a pleasure to live in, and certainly I enjoyed the friendships made during my training period with the Funakoshi Karate guys and girls, as well as the various people I came into contact with through Chantelle’s guest house work, not to mention the people living in the Country Mews complex itself.

5 country mews home

However, the time has now finally come where I need to fix at least two of the three long distance aspects of our life, and that means it is time to sell up here in Gordon’s Bay and move back to Bellville in order to be closer to our friends and family, a point that has become increasingly important to us and our young little family as we get older with each passing year.

So what does that mean?

Well, we’ve approached Len Wilmot of Homelink Estates to start the process of selling our home for us (we did in fact buy this house from him, which means he should be able to sell it again!), and once we get some movement on that front (it could take a couple of months of course), we’ll start packing up our belongings, store the baking equipment with Cheryl and Monty (who have a little more space now that Rob has moved out of the home), and then go on the property hunt to find something that we can either rent or buy, and will hopefully be big enough to accommodate the four of us!

So right now I am in the stage of getting the house all nice and shiny for potential buyers – which roughly translates to me having to remove all those shelves I’ve lovingly put up over the years for Chantelle’s Cupcakery business! :)

The journey of moving back to our home town of Bellville has now started, and although it won’t be quick, Chantelle and I are VERY excited (and a little lot nervous because we’re moving from a cheaper area to a more expensive area and am not entirely sure as to how exactly we’re going to afford this, though of course we’ll make a plan), and SERIOUSLY can’t wait to have little Jess and Emily be close to Ouma and Oupa, and Granny and Grandpa, and of course Chantelle and I to be closer to our longtime circle of friends.

And who knows, I might even be persuaded pick up the badminton racquet once I’m back in my old stomping grounds? ;)

Exciting times indeed!

My Tongue!

mr price mens running shoe gravity trainerA while back I needed to replace my jogging shoes because once again I had worn my existing pair out (pretty much because shoes aren’t generally built to withstand my weight, hence they die a fairly quick death).

Affordability being my primary criteria considering that this is more of a hobby on the side than anything else, I ended up picking up a nice pair of Mr Price Sport’s Chinese-manufactured, home brand running shoes, a pair of Maxed Gravity trainers.

And I have to admit, I was pretty pleased with my purchase – lightweight, comfortable and fairly cool thanks to its mesh outer.

Of course, I’ve been through a rather lazy patch the last couple of months as my RunKeeper profile can bear witness to, meaning that these new shoes of mine have been neatly packed away at the bottom of my cupboard. That was, until Monday when I thought it would be a great idea to take them out, blow off the dust and go for a afternoon walk during office lunch hour.

So there I was, sitting in my chair at my desk, pulling my shoes on whilst discussing the merits of Bitcoin as an international currency with my colleagues, when I heard the loudest of ripping sounds which in turn lead to an audible squeak from me as I lifted the tongue right out of my new right shoe.

Sigh.

running shoe anatomy

LEGO on the cheap: Enlighten Bricks

enlighten lego girls train setAs a child I adored LEGO. Obviously we didn’t have very much in terms of LEGO sets, because even in the 80′s LEGO was ridiculously overpriced and we were poor(ish). Today it feels even worse. (The overpriced LEGO, not being poor.)

A brand new, wonderfully stocked exclusively LEGO store opened in Willowbridge Mall a few months ago. It’s an awesome browse, but man, I can’t see myself buying anything for Jess at her current age at those prices. It’s disheartening that one can charge so much for what amounts to little more than a few moulded pieces of plastic.

Anyway, I know I’m preaching to the choir here.

Now I’m no stranger to buying counterfeit LEGO systems, indeed I got a great big bundle of the oversized blocks from Mambos Plastic Warehouse for Jess when she was a little younger, which she thoroughly enjoyed. (We’re very lucky with her in that she completely skipped the stage of putting everything she could lay her hands on in her mouth, meaning that from an early age I was quite content to play plastic bricks with her).

jessica lotter building lego tower

Towards the latter stage of our December holidays I stumbled across a nice surprise. PNA in both the Somerset Mall branch as well as the Strand branch was stocking something that looked remarkably similar to your standard LEGO sets but coming in easily at a third of the price!

Enlighten Brick has been around since the 60′s apparently, and it is produced by a company called Zhongyue Industry Co. operating out of Cheng Hai, China. It’s a pretty infamous and controversial LEGO clone, with the majority of sets being little more than rip-off clone copies, often featuring slight modifications just so as to get away without being called a direct copy.

Curious, I purchased a few small box items for Jess over the course of a few days, all of which ranged between R10 and R30.

And I have to say, I was very impressed.

The packaging is fantastic, all the pieces are present (with build guides as expected), the colouring is good, the plastic quality is great, and the bricks fit well together – heck, it is as if they got their hands on original LEGO moulds to be quite honest!

In other words, I can definitely recommend this as a cheap alternative for introducing LEGO to younger children without the worry of them destroying it in the first week and in the process blowing a full month’s salary.

Oh, and the topping on the cake? LEGO is notoriously anti-military, but ENLIGHTEN doesn’t suffer from that. They’ve got some pretty fun military-themed sets that is sure to delight the boys!

As for Jess, well she’s in the stage of loving planes, trains and automobiles! :)

enlighten lego rocket launcher military series

Related Link: http://bricker.info/osets.html?brand=ENLIGHTEN

Goodbye 2013, Hello 2014

So reflecting back on 2013 very quickly points to it as having been a rather uneventful year – certainly not a horrible year, but certainly not a very exciting year either! Having already downgraded my outlook for the year to a more realistic view at the start of 2013, I’m sad to note that a) we ended up not having more money than normal last year and b) we certainly didn’t have many weekend getaways at all. Sigh.

View More: http://damenoosthuizen.pass.us/jessica-lotter

In terms of family life, 2013 was a great year for us in that we could spend a generous amount of time together as a family. Jess is growing up exceptionally well, extremely cute, very loving, and amazingly easy to raise. Chantelle is now technically a housewife and entrepreneur, running our household whilst operating her successful home baking business from our tiny kitchen – oh, and did I mention she did this for the majority of 2013 whilst being pregnant with our second child! And with us having hired the fabulous Leandra to run the majority of the Saturday Willowbridge markets on our behalf, we had a hell of a lot more weekends free to spend with friends and family than in 2012 – which needless to say was a pretty awesome thing for us.

On the home front, we didn’t really do all that much to the house other than give it a new, darker exterior coat of paint (which really transformed its look and feel mind you) and reshuffle the rooms a fair bit, yup, definitely more than just once, that we’re now sitting with three bedrooms, a living area, a kitchen and one room that acts as a braai room/baking room/office space. (Yeah, we’re a little cramped thanks to the arrival of the new little one!)

Chantelle’s business (now known as Chantelle’s Cupcakery) did really nicely, though perhaps not quite as profitable as I would have hoped it might have been. Nevertheless, it stays in the black, and apart from one bad experience with a Christmas Market that put us out of pocket, it was enough of a good year to warrant a rebranding – complete with an exciting new logo designed by our friends at Branch Designs.

Sadly, our finances did take a bit of a knock with Chantelle writing off her Hyundai Getz towards the end of the year, but in reality, that really was the only major blemish on what was otherwise a pretty stable year.

As for work on my side, well my do pretty much everything in terms of managing the systems/development workload at Touchwork continued unabated, and I have to say, I’m starting to get the impression that my journey with them might finally be coming to an end. I’m not really learning anything new, I’ve been with them for a long time, and basically I could do with a new challenge or two. That said, I am getting a new mid-level developer joining us in February 2014, so maybe I can at last get my proper project management pants pulled on at last.

chantelle lotter posing with jessica

And that’s really about it actually. 2013 was a year of a lot of work, both in my formal work as well as in Chantelle’s business, not to mention all the time sunk in raising a cute as a button little three year old girl, meaning that there wasn’t all that much time for myself, never mind hobbies or personal growth activities. (Though I did try my hand at weight loss for a bit. Needless to say, the latter stages of Chantelle’s pregnancy quickly put an end to that train).

I don’t expect that to change much.

2014 has already kicked off with the birth of my beautiful little baby girl, Emily Jane Lotter, and between raising her and Jessica, and helping both Chantelle and Touchwork out, I don’t expect a lot of personal time for the foreseeable future!

Though who knows, hopefully I’m wrong? ;)

craig lotter walking with jessica along strand beach

For Sale: Sturdy White Baby Compactum – R1,200

Please note that this item has since been sold and is no longer available for purchase.

Although we’ve just had our second baby arrive on the scene, unfortunately the room that she now calls her own simply doesn’t have enough floor space to accommodate the beautifully sturdy and neat white compactum that we used first time around for Jessica.

I’ve attached a picture to this advert showing my three year old Jessica standing in front of the compactum to give you a good sense of its size, and as you can see, this tall, spacious work space comes with ample storage area in the form of four sturdy pull-out drawers and a vertical, shelved cupboard to the side. Its height is perfect for working with a baby, saving one a lot of backache in the process, and is definitely one of those must haves if you have the floor space for it!

We’re selling it for R1200, which seems a good price if I take into account other similar items for sale on Gumtree and OLX.

compactum 3

Please note it is fairly large and you will therefore have to arrange transport for it, either in the form of a trailer, bakkie or truck. (Unfortunately I can’t help you out on that front. My little Hyundai Getz just doesn’t cut it!)

For Sale: Flatscreen TV Stand – R200

Please note that this item has since been sold and is no longer available for purchase.

Sadly, with the recent birth of my second child, my space in the house has shrunk yet again (in other words, I lost my man cave office space), meaning that I’m now forced to get rid of some of my furniture in order to free up precious floor space in our now rather cramped house.

As such I’m selling my stylish, compact, originally a flat-pack, flatscreen TV stand for a measly R200. The pictures attached to the advert gives you an idea of the size – in case you are wondering, that’s a 40 inch flatscreen television fitting comfortably up there. As you can see, it has two shelved cupboard spaces on either side, with an open shelved space in the middle.

I bought it at the end of 2012 from Makro for R500 on special, meaning that its still relatively new and most definitely going for a steal!

flatscreen tv stand 2

(Please note you’ll need to arrange your own transport for it. I neither own a trailer, bakkie nor truck)