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Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017 My Life 30 DEC 2016

Believe it or not, it is somehow that time where I once again round up the year that was and then turn the spotlight onto the year to come. Mind you, I’ve done a fair bit of these over the last couple of years (2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 20102009 to be exact), but looking back, I seldom get the looking forward part quite spot on.

Nevertheless, as always I’m game to give it a go.

I’ll start off by saying that for the Lötter family as a whole, 2016 wasn’t a particularly exciting year per say.

Chantelle continued her work pulling in a paycheck as one of the managers at Gordon’s Beach Lodge here in Gordon’s Bay, while still baking cakes on the side and as always, dreaming about her own full-time venture still to come.

2016 saw Emily continue her march into ‘toddlerhood’, thriving in the loving care of the Baby Steps team, an environment in which she also managed to forge her first great friendship in the form of another little girl named Marli. Emily is extremely bright, extremely stubborn, and extremely adorable to boot!

It would seem that she’s certainly inherited Jessica’s terrors (i.e. terrified of big animals and the sea), but outside of those, she is an independent, forward thinking little toddler who I am positive is going to do super well at her new playschool Vergeet-My-Nie come 2017.

Jessica had a lovely first year as a Grade R learner in teacher Matthews’ class at Gordon’s Bay Primary, remaining as always the lovely social butterfly that we all know she is. She managed to make a ton of friends across a variety of different age groups at the school and continues to be one of the most open and outgoing little girls that you’ll ever stumble across.

Unfortunately though, a few of the development issues that we were warned about due to her premature birth have now surfaced, and so she spent much of the year undergoing occupational therapy with the wonderful therapist Nicola van Zyl. However, following a professional school readiness assessment with educational psychologist Mia Schoeman, it has been decided to hold her back in Grade R for another year, to give her more chance to gain a better level of ’emotional maturity’ needed for the years still lying in wait.

So plenty of work ahead for my beautiful little blonde princess come 2017, but luckily work that at this point she still sees as being little more than extra fun playtime!

So, as I now sit down and reflect on it, on the whole there really was then very little disruption to the normal Lötter life – no job changes, no house changes, no car changes, no real major… situational changes.

Good, that suits me as a Taurus quite nicely then.

Of course 2016 didn’t start all that well for me personally mind you – I did after all only really start walking about properly again come May of this year!

However, this depressing setback did come with the plus that it made me strongly want to make it up to myself this year, and so I promised myself that I would get out as much as possible and see as many new places as what I possibly could before the end of 2016. Well, glancing over the 160 odd photo gallery folders on my hard drive, it is more than safe enough to say that I certainly achieved my goal!

(Note about the 160 odd folders of photos: to date, only about 106 have so far made it onto this blog – meaning a lot of stuff is going to incorrectly appear in 2017! So yes, I’m more than just a little behind on the photo posting front, and sadly, the excuse is slightly poor: I fell victim to the terrible addiction that stems from playing the awesome Dragon Age: Inquisition on the Xbox One that I too treated myself with at the beginning of this year. Who knew – just a year or two ago I was convinced that I’d kind of outgrown playing video games!)

Anyway, so my weekends were quite jam packed pretty much the entire year – so much so that Chantelle is rather understandably annoyed at the almost complete lack of maintenance on the house done in 2016!

I saw loads of local (Helderberg, Overberg, Stellenbosch, Cape Town) sights – far too many to list here, but pleasingly a list which includes numerous adult experiences like wineries and restaurants for a change – and out of the 12 months of the year, I was sleeping in another bed for at least one weekend in 9 of those!

For those of you keeping track (again, not that I’m sure anyone actually reads the stuff that I write), those 9 stays away from home included Jacobsbaai, Pinnacle Point (Mossel Bay), Warmwaterberg Spa (Barrydale), Stanford, George, USA (Anaheim and San Diego)*, Buffeljagsrivier, Tulbagh, and now Gouritz.

(*Yes, this means I visited the United States of America for the very first time in my life!)

Thanks to all this out and about then, 2016 therefore also saw me change the focus of this blog, adopting a new moniker in the form of “An Exploring South African” (note: I really am not overly fond of the names I choose) and consequently a shift in content to more local sights and sounds and travel type stuff.

(Oh, and for a change I even made a little money off the site. Now there is something that doesn’t often happen!)

As always, with Chantelle working every second weekend, my full time commitment to my girls meant that no hobbies or extracurricular stuff could be picked up in 2016 – which is still okay with me. (Now all it means is that the girls are forced to drive out with their dad to new places pretty much every other weekend!)

Work is still boringly stable for me – the good paycheck, complete oversight, and the perk of working from home is still more than strong enough incentives for me to keep chipping away at my Kinetica feedback platform, which has continued to surge ahead this year in terms of new functionality and expanded use cases.

Right, so with all that now said and done, I can safely reckon then that 2016 certainly wasn’t a bad year – even in the slightest – for the Gordon’s Bay Lötter clan. Good.

As for 2017? Well, my predictions are never really all that spot on, but I suspect that it will be very much more of the same. I want to travel loads and see a lot of new places/things (and we do now have the disposable income to do this), and I think following the physical difficulties that plagued me throughout 2016, maybe 2017 will finally be the year where I start to once again properly take care of my body – you know, finally get around to losing all that weight that continues to make Summer such an unpleasantly sweaty affair!

Which is probably not such a bad idea mind you. These gray strands threaded in my hair are seemingly growing bolder with each passing day! ;)

Goodbye 2015, Hello 2016 My Life 31 JAN 2016

Last year I only got around to posting this annual year in review post in March. This time around I’ve done a little bit better – we are after all only at the end of January now!

IMG_20150927_130044 craig lotter with kids in the lavender patch at canettevallei lavender farm

Discounting the horrible December that we had thanks to my severed quadriceps tendon and Chantelle’s dislocated toes incident, 2015 on the whole was a pretty decent year for the Gordon’s Bay  Lötter clan.

IMG_20151006_181258 emily lotter in front of the country mews jungle gym

Emily turned 1 in January of 2015, and then very happily continued growing into an absolutely adorable little toddler who, while being incredibly shy around strangers, is a particularly clever, cute and terrorizing copycat sister to Jessica!

Strong-willed, slightly adventurous, and far ahead of Jess in terms of where our prem baby was at the same age, Emily continues to flourish at Baby Steps and I guess that is what we get to look forward to more of in 2016.

(Also, she has the most amazing bed head hair – it literally stands up at all angles each and every morning when she stands up in her cot, with only the prodigious application of no tangle spray able to tame it even in the slightest!)

IMG_20150810_114612 jessica lotter on a tractor at the kids play area at helderberg farm on the R44

Jessica had a good 2015 as well. She progressed well at the excellent Vergeet-My-Nie playschool, also enjoying her extramural activities of ballet, playball and computer classes.

She formed some close friendships with the girls in the complex, and is quickly finding her own voice and becoming a little lady – which naturally isn’t always the easiest thing to have to deal with first thing in the morning while trying to get everyone ready for school!

2016 sees her join the big school, starting Grade R at Gordon’s Bay Primary (conveniently, just down the road from us). Now in an English-only class, Jess is going to have to make new friends and tackle a trickier workload (something we’ll have to do our best as parents to help her with in preparation for the daunting Grade 1 to come in 2017!).

IMG_20151114_135828 chantelle, jessica, emily at the frozen photo booth at jessica's fifth birthday party at Montgomery Stronghold in Bellville

I think Chantelle had a pretty good 2015 too (discounting the horrible December of course!). Working at Gordon’s Beach Lodge again meant a stable salary and thus more money in the kitty, which translated into a lot less stress and worrying about what we can and cannot afford – plus it gave her a lot more of the social interaction that she had found herself craving in 2014 when she still worked full-time from home.

Emily, while still lots of work, was less so than when she was a newborn, and although not doing Chantelle’s Cupcakery baking full time any more, she did manage to get more than enough baking for orders in during the year to satisfy the creative craving that comes with the feature cake baking industry.

Oh, and then there was the year long looking forward to being bridesmaid and assistant organizer at best friend Retha’s Stellenbosch wedding in December!

IMG_20150715_105748 craig lotter Whale watching in Gansbaai with Ivanhoe Sea Safaris

As for me, well I had an excellent year thank you very much (again, discounting the horrible December of course!).

With Chantelle back working at the guest house, I had the girls to myself every second weekend, and as such made sure to fill the year chock-a-block with outings of all shapes and sizes. Looking back through the archive, we definitely fed geese, saw crocodiles, spotted planesviewed lions, watched birds, petted penguins, fed farmyard animals, went to markets, enjoyed picnics, scratched for stones, looked for butterflies,  went for a boat ride,  spotted fishies,  and of course ate loads of pancakes and drank copious amounts of strawberry milkshake along the way!

IMG_20151011_181148 jessica in the air at gordon's bay main beach

Chantelle and I found ourselves enjoying more than a couple of weekends away as well, trips that included a weekend away in Jacobsbaai for the annual Oppiwa music and wine festival, a romantic stay in Franschhoek in celebration of my 35th birthday,  a family stay in the picturesque Montagu, and a getaway to Hopefield to view the West Coast wild flowers!

(We even sneaked away for some warm water soaking time at the Caledon Hotel, Casino and Spa – though that was just for the day so it doesn’t count!)

IMG_20150708_153824 chantelle lotter with jess and emily at die kloof padstal farm stall in montagu

I also enjoyed a couple of amazing first time experiences, the top of which definitely included whale watching in Gansbaai aboard the Ivanhoe, not to mention my first ever jaunt behind the controls of a small aircraft above the Helderberg Basin!

IMG_20150606_124240 craig lotter standing next to the stellenbosch flying club cessna 172 - ZS-SLM he just flew in 1

Being a dad to small kids remains a full time job, so I again didn’t find myself picking up on any hobbies in 2015, though I did do a bit of the weight loss thing, and found myself back at gym – though according to Chantelle it’s the most demoralizing thing that she’s ever seen!

Also, I (surprisingly) ended up playing a fair bit of console games during the year – enjoying a particularly successful run in our every month or so men’s FIFA battle royale I might add!

(Plus, my blog did win an African Blogger award – which kind of felt pretty nice at the time).

IMG_20150510_115411 craig lotter tasting wine at la provence wine estate

On the career front, I found myself man alone as Touchwork’s only developer for the year, taking my role back down to that of programmer and systems architect – but it did come with a pay rise and the perk of being able to work from home for four days of the week, something that I really appreciate because it makes looking after the girls a lot easier given Chantelle’s shift work.

I got a lot of work achieved in this more focused mode though, meaning that Kinetica got a whole lot more modules bolted on to it by the end of the year. We have since successfully started using it in the States, phasing out our legacy product in the process, and also launched it as an Exhibition visitor, exhibitor and delegate registrations system – a use case that saw me spend my 35th birthday in Sandton at the convention centre with the rest of the Hypenica team for their big African Construction Week expos!

craig lotter, chantelle lotter, jessica lotter, and emily lotter - family photo at Mountain Streams Nursery

So yeah, 2015 was a good year by all accounts and on all fronts (not counting December of course!).

Looking ahead, 2016 should probably be very much the same then – which is a good thing if you ask me. That said, for it to properly kick off I probably first need to learn to walk without a crutch and brace again…

Goodbye 2014, Hello 2015 My Life 04 MAR 2015

This post is now well overdue. The skeleton has been sitting in my Drafts folder since December last year, but honestly, I just haven’t felt like writing it up. I’ve had a few stabs at it, but never actually ended up with a finished product – which is kind of silly considering the fact that, taking all things into consideration, 2014 was actually a pretty good year for the Gordon’s Bay Lötter clan.

However, seeing as this “Goodbye Hello” post is pretty much an annual thing for this blog nowadays, I guess I have no choice other than to adopt a “better late than never” stance and pretend that 2015 is just kicking off… despite the reality that we’re into our third month of the new year already!

baby emily lotter smiling with daddy craig lotter

Of course the biggest talking point for 2014 was without a doubt the birth of our adorable little girl, Emily Jane Lotter. She was delivered on 13 January at Vergelegen hospital, and with no major drama like what we had with Jessica, she was back home and in our care from the get go.

Turns out, raising a child is actually a hell of a lot easier the second time around, mainly because by now you know the ins and outs of looking after a baby and can pretty much operate on autopilot – not that it isn’t a LOT of hard work of course, but still, it certainly is a lot easier this time around! :)

Of course, things were also made a little easier by the fact that Jessica was already three by the stage that Emily arrived, meaning losing Mommy’s full attention wasn’t the complete end of the world to her – though there were of course moments when jealousy would get the better of our little blonde princess!

Pleasingly, other than an annoying reflux problem that Emily struggled with as a little baby (leaving her permanently… well soggy), it’s been a doddle navigating her through her first year, and our good-natured, cute as a button baby girl has certainly proved a fantastic edition to our little clan!

jessica lotter rocking her rainbow dash swimming costume

Talking about Jessica, 2014 really was the year she blossomed into a confident little girl, who, although not particularly adventurous, is an open and seriously friendly child with an almost constant smile on her face and a playful twinkle in her eye.

During the course of the year she learned to ride a bike, made lots of friends, developed her first fangirl crush (hint, it’s the My Little Pony franchise!), and of course, thanks to the brilliant teachers at Vergeet-My-Nie playschool, is coming on in leaps and bounds when it comes to all sorts of social and artistic abilities!

And then there is the ballet, Playball and running around the complex, all of which really is rounding off my precious little girl!

jessica lotter sitting next to chantelle lotter

As for Chantelle, well she’ll have to say for herself whether 2014 was a good or a bad year from her point of view, though I suspect that despite all the hard work and lack of sleep that came with the territory of her juggling both her Chantelle’s Cupcakery baking business and raising a newborn little girl, the joys of her expanded little family pushed the positives right up there to the top of the pile.

And myself?

Well I had an a pretty enjoyable year thank you very much.

craig lotter, ryan lotter, terrance brown, yuko brown in japan

Lots of Daddy time was spent with my two daughters, there were some major shake-ups at work, I now work more from home than in the office (because, well, there isn’t very many people left in the new smaller, leaner Touchwork), and of course, then there was all the getting out and about adventures that filled up most of the year (Jacobsbaai, Piekenierskloof, Montagu, Mossel Bay, and Langebaan to name but a few), not to mention the big two weeks in Japan with Ryan for Terrance’s wedding getaway! (A trip on which I still have a lot to post – all in good time, I promise).

From a financial point of view, 2014 was a little tighter than what it needed to be, primarily because in the end, Chantelle’s little baking business simply wasn’t bringing in enough money to allow things to be comfortable for everyone. Still, we covered all our costs, even tried to sell the house for a bit, and like I just said, sneaked in more than just a few weekends away!

From a personal growth point of view… well not much going on there I’m afraid (just as it hasn’t been for the last couple of years mind you), but as I’ve stated before, and I’ll do so again, currently my number one priority in life is to be the absolute best dad for my two little girls that I can possibly be – and that suits me just absolutely fine for the moment!

chantelle lotter hugging jessica on a trampoline

As for 2015, well I expect it not to be all that different from 2014 to be honest. Sure, I don’t have the birth of a new child or the big Japan holiday to look forward to this year, but already there a quite a few developments on the cards which can only spell good things going forward.

For starters, Chantelle has pretty much hung up her baking boots (she’ll still take the juicy big orders though) in favour of a position back at Gordon’s Beach Lodge – which in turn means our finances get a bit of a boost and which therefore ultimately means that we have a little more in the piggy bank at the end of each month – all of which needless to say makes me a VERY happy chappy!

On the work front, the lack of distractions thanks to the smaller (almost non-existent) team means I can now at last really get cracking and finish up with my epic Kinetica project that has tied me up for the last couple of years, a prospect that certainly excites me more than just a little.

Oh, and this is also the year I take back control of my weight and actually start living like a thin person again – and I’m off to a great start thank you very much… though more on that in another post I think.

Finally, to wrap everything all neatly up, I expect 2015 will be much like 2014 in that I’ll spend just about every free minute with my girls – which as we all know by now, is the very best thing I could be doing with my time anyway!

So here’s to a prosperous 2015 – we’re already off to a good start! ;)

 

Photo Gallery: Dad’s Photos of Jessica’s 1st Birthday Party (2011-11-19) My Life | Photo Gallery 19 NOV 2011

We had an absolute blast with Jessica’s 1st birthday party, with lots of family, friends and babies. The weather was awesome, the ball pit lots of fun, food fantastic and the company brilliant. Jessie got loads of presents and as a whole, the day was simply one great big success – even if it did mean the devouring, and thus end of, Chantelle’s cute kitty cat cake!

And whilst I managed to snap a lot of photos (here), I wasn’t the only one armed with a camera on the day. Pops was there sporting his big fancy lens too! :)

Photo Gallery: Jessica’s 1st Birthday Party (2011-11-19) My Life | Photo Gallery 19 NOV 2011

We had an absolute blast with Jessica’s 1st birthday party, with lots of family, friends and babies. The weather was awesome, the ball pit lots of fun, food fantastic and the company brilliant. Jessie got loads of presents and as a whole, the day was simply one great big success – even if it did mean the devouring, and thus end of, Chantelle’s cute kitty cat cake!

Family Do My Life 26 AUG 2008

20071012_Red_WineSo after a stressful Saturday evening and all the worry about the car I woke up with, you would think I’d just slump in the couch and relax Sunday away, but no I had other plans for the day. First off was a kitchen rearrange because the damn Tupperware cupboard is now getting on my nerves (I’m domesticated, what can I say?), next was finally sorting out our television aerial (so we now finally have all our SABC and eTV channels at our disposal once more – sorry Babes for taking so long!), sorting out my home PC whose hard drive was failing, installing said PC in the lounge as a media center hooked up to the TV, programming an interface application to make using the TV as a primary monitor feasible (BigVid came out pretty cool in my opinion) and then finally re-arranging my whole office to make my workplace more efficient and allow me to get the most out of all the work equipment that I have there at the moment.

Talk about a busy day! No wonder that by the end of it my back was killing me and my phone manners were not at their greatest, a problem if you consider just how much Chantelle was phoning me from work on the day! :P

Anyway, the day passed by rather more quickly than what I planned, and Chantelle triumphantly burst in straight from work around 19:30 and it was a quick gathering of wine and goodies before jumping into the Getz and racing off to Bellville, dropping in at the local Spar on the way to pick up the final snacks (and getting an absolute bargain on double ply toilet paper, a fact I have no idea why I just shared with you) before grinding to a halt behind Claire’s still injured Polo at Mom’s house.

The reason for the impromptu family gathering of Claire, Riley, Mom, Pops, Ryan, Chantelle, myself, Monty and Cheryl was a bit of a farewell get together as next weekend Mom and Pops embark on their month long USA trip in which the lucky buggers will get to see the best of what the States has to offer, courtesy of the family and friends out there.

So we arrived to find that not only Claire’s Polo was still injured, but now her man is as well, with Riley recovering from his now second major motorbike accident thanks to a fool with missed him in his blindspot and just took him out while changing lanes on the M3. Luckily Riley and the bike managed to (miraculously) come off with fairly minor injuries, but still, it looks like Riley is becoming a real sucker for tar punishment.

As per usual dad was sweating it out in front of the dining room place, braaing us a mean bit of meat that looked enough to feed a small army and thankfully even though we were half an hour later than what we said we would be there, Mom had been kind enough to save us some of the starter focaccia snack which I graciously polished off in a matter of seconds. :)

Supper as always was an absolute treat, with some delicious contributions from Claire, Mom and Pops and to top it all off, Mom even baked us a double helping of both Ginger and Chocolate pudding for dessert! Good thing we opted to bring some ice-cream with then – even if it was only the crappy frozen dessert stuff that Spar was stocking :(

As always it was a raucous affair with lots of bad jokes and puns flying around, and it seemed that everyone enjoyed it, even Ryan who had to eat at the kiddies table thanks to us stealing all the spots around the dining room table!

Monty and Cheryl were first to leave (having been there the longest as far as I know) with Claire and Riley (shame who was working even while visiting with us) in tow not far behind, leaving Chantelle and myself to enjoy a nice cup of coffee and fresh cupcakes with the folks, chatting a bit and just enjoying the company.

Anyway, eventually enough was enough and a late Sunday evening means an early Monday morning for most, so it was back on the road with a tired Chantelle gently snoring beside me as I navigated us safely (and without clutch hassles) home.