Tag Archives: new year

Goodbye 2018, Hello 2019 My Life 18 JAN 2019

2018 was in short a good year for us Gordon’s Bay Lötters. Nothing particularly amazing or big dominated last year’s landscape, instead it was very much yet another year of pleasant stability or as I like to put it, “same same”.

The charmingly mischievous and cute Emily had a lovely year with her friends in the ever excellent Vergeet-My-Nie playschool, while big-hearted Jessica had a brilliant Grade 1 year of learning, playing and taking part in sport at Gordon’s Bay Primary. Chantelle too enjoyed a good year consisting mostly of baking cakes (so, so many work through the night weekends!) for her increasingly busy Helderberg Cake Company home-based venture.

As for me, I had a nice year of adding even more features to my code baby, Touchwork’s Kinetica platform, whilst happily continuing with my mission of visiting as many new places as what I possibly can get to with my girls come each and every weekend. I didn’t blog very much last year (basically I just didn’t feel like it), instead opting to play a LOT of video games come evening (much to Chantelle’s frustration I’m sure). Thankfully though, Instagram makes for a very good visual diary, meaning that not all is lost for those of you interested in following what the girls and I got up to over the course of the year.

In terms of holidays, the girls and I spent a lot of time up in Mossel Bay with my folks in 2018 – four visits to be exact, and also managed to squeeze in a weekend away to Jacobsbaai. Other than those though, we were very much home based the entire year. (Interestingly enough however, I did head off on quite a few business trips up to Gauteng and Durban over the course of the year – something that up until now has generally been a pretty rare occurrence.)

So. 2019 should be a lot of the same then.

Jessica has already excitedly kicked off her Grade 2 year with Ms Samson at Gordon’s Bay Primary (today is in fact Inter-house Athletics), Emily is entertaining new teacher Petronella and perennial favourite Rika at Vergeet-My-Nie, Chantelle is baking, decorating and delivering, and I’m sitting behind the keyboard typing this out whilst taking a break from coding and answering work e-mails.

As always, I suppose that I’ll now say that perhaps I’ll try and take better care of my health this year, maybe play a little less video games, and definitely stretch my legs more often, but truthfully we all know that this would very much be an untruth.

After all, I’ve found myself to be rather fond of all these “same same” years…

Goodbye 2017, Hello 2018 My Life 31 DEC 2017

I’m not sure what has happened to be honest, but I blinked and somehow 2017 appears to have come and gone. Being an adult, being married, being a parent to small kids, working full time (even if from home), playing a lot of video games, and heading out to explore each and every weekend sure seems to speed time up a fair bit! ;)

Consequently, any of the other things that I thought I would most definitely get around to in 2017, i.e. learn a new skill, get healthy, and perhaps socialize a bit more pretty much all fell by the wayside.

On that note, the blogging front didn’t fare all that much better – you probably noticed (if you are a longtime reader) that I didn’t exactly post a ton of new content this year. Honestly, I took (and enjoyed) a bit of a break from creating content, the result being that this was the year with by far the least amount of blog posts attributed to it since the site’s inception in 2007.

I’ll do better in 2018, promise.

It’s not like I don’t have content to post mind you. Tallying up the amount of photo folders linked to 2017 sitting in my Google Drive yields the number 137, of which only 66 have thus far made it onto An Exploring South African as one of my photo gallery posts.

In other words, plenty of local places worth visiting guaranteed to still to appear on these pages! (All that said, I did properly embrace Instagram this year and and have to admit, am totally loving it! No idea what I didn’t join the platform sooner. Facebook and Twitter on the other hand though? Meh. Couldn’t really be bothered with those two.)

In terms of the family, Emily had a fantastic year at the Vergeet-My-Nie playschool. She is clever, cute, mischievous, playful and super loving – everything you could wish for from a three (soon to be four) year old.

Jessica also had a fantastic year, with the repeat of Grade R at Gordon’s Bay Primary the absolute best decision that we ever could ever have made for her. Her emotional maturity has blossomed, both her work and work rate have improved, her physical conditioning and coordination is a lot better, she’s maintained her charming cheerfulness, and now she is SUPER excited (and ready) to tackle the big school of Grade 1 next year.

Chantelle took a pretty big step this year as well, abandoning her full time position at the Gordon’s Beach Lodge guest house in order to launch her very own Helderberg Cake Company venture. Of course, the loss of a monthly paycheck was/is nerve-wracking, but the wins stemming from the renewed job satisfaction and being based at home with consequently more time with the girls definitely makes this move well worth the while!

As for me, despite starting the year with a whole lot of good intentions, 2017 was a whole lot more of very much the same same as always.

Given that I enjoy being in charge of myself and more importantly the entire software solution that Touchwork sells (not to mention the perk of being allowed to work from home), I spent the year continuing to add to and refine my Kinetica platform – which has now been in constant development for a eight years or so!

This year I also got well and truly stuck into mobile development, with the end result being the dynamic Kinetica TouchandTell app (built using Appcelerator Titanium) being deployed to both the Google Play and Apple App stores.

(On that note, Touchwork actually enjoyed another pretty successful year, pulling in a lot of new USA-based clients, partnering up with some local selling partners, and even grabbing a new contract or two on our own out here in South Africa.)

Next year should be pretty exciting too for me in terms of development – we’re jumping head first into IoT devices and the SigFox network!

It wasn’t all work this year of course – as I mentioned at the start of this post, the girls and I went out exploring a LOT. Literally each and every weekend of 2017 saw us jump in the car and drive out somewhere (naturally, as is usually the case for me, most of it unplanned and usually very much spur of the moment), with the big family holiday up to Addo and Port Elizabeth through Oudtshoorn taking center stage back in July.

Outside of our local travels, I did find myself playing an inordinate amount of video games in my spare time this year, with Paladins being by far the game that sucked me in the most – so much so that I now actually play competitive ranked matches online, much to Chantelle’s amusement as she listens to me gripe about someone not picking either a support or front line character for the umpteenth time! ;)

I write these hello goodbye posts on an annual basis, and the “what is in store for the new year” section is almost always pretty rubbish (or better put, almost always completely wrong), however, that said, I really, really do need to improve my indoor/outdoor life balance in 2018 – meaning I suppose a lot less game time, less time sitting in my chair behind the keyboard, more time in the sun, and definitely more time in the gym (or at least on a yoga mat).

Well, that’s the plan anyway.

(I’m off to an okay start I suppose – I am now the owner of a brand new shiny gym membership here at our local Bay Fitness gym. True, I haven’t used it yet, but it is at least all mine.)

So. All in all, 2017 was pretty good year for Gordon’s Bay Lotter clan, definitely no complaints or any major problem on any of life’s fronts. That said, here’s to wishing for an even better and more prosperous 2018 for us all – a Happy New Year indeed!

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! ;)


New Year’s Lunch with the Lotters (2015-01-01) Photo Gallery 08 JAN 2015

After spending a lovely evening out with Damen, Michelle and Ryan for New Year’s Eve, the actual 1st of January was dominated with a trip out to Mom and Dad’s house in order to celebrate the New Year with a big family lunch.

Despite Chantelle working for the first half of the day (she would join us later in Bellville), Jess, Emily and I made an early trek through to the Northern Suburbs, where we joined Ryan, Riley, Claire (with the boys), and Granny Lotter in chilling at Mom and Dad’s pad. Lots of conversation, lots of swimming (though Emily wasn’t quite so keen on the cold water), and lots of relaxation as Mom and Dad scurried about preparing the feast, was the order of the morning.

Lunch was absolutely delicious as expected (so much variety!), Jessica and Emily enjoyed themselves on the day (as did Gran I suspect), and when Chantelle finally did join us after work, we immediately (well, after she had first eaten – hey, we’re not monsters) made her put on her new boardshorts that she had received for Christmas and got her in the water (a rare treat for Jessica who was absolutely thrilled at the opportunity to swim with Mommy!).

We even dug out an old Polyotter (from when Claire, Ryan and I were kids) to see if it would be useful for Jess, but after a couple of tries we quickly decided that drowning our child with an ancient flotation device is probably not the best of ways to teach her how to swim! :)


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Goodbye 2013, Hello 2014 My Life 22 JAN 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

Goodbye 2012, Hello 2013 My Life 03 JAN 2013

So 2012 is gone and 2013 is now firmly in place. As per usual there were almost no downs in 2012, but looking retrospectively back at it, it was perhaps not one of the greatest years past, perhaps even more lacklustre than 2011, which itself was a pretty uneventful year.

Without a doubt the biggest movement in the Lotter household was the running of Chantelle’s Cookies & Cakes, which pretty much saw me give up almost all my weekends in order to help Chantelle sell her baked goods at the various markets like Willowbridge, Century City and Hathersage. Make no mistake, I thoroughly enjoyed working the stall but I have to admit, it was pretty tiring giving up one’s weekend after working a hard five day week behind the programming keyboard!

Another unfortunate side-effect of Chantelle’s Cookies & Cakes was the amount of time it took away from Chantelle, who for most of the year was running it in conjunction with her day job at Gordon’s Beach Lodge. Of course she has now since left and is pursuing Chantelle’s Cookies & Cakes full-time which should make things a lot better, but this lack of free time impacted heavily on our social activities, so much so that I can probably count on my one hand the number of getaways or adventures we could take together.

Jessica on the other hand proved to be loads of fun, as we successfully navigated her to her second birthday. Her year was filled with many milestones as expected, the most exciting of course being her finally learning to walk!

craig lotter sitting with toddler jessica lotter at oude libertas stellenbosch market

On the work front I did rather well last year, churning out hours and hours of great code on my big Kinetica (formerly SurveyThumb) project, in what was now my fourth year with Touchwork. I replaced Simon Nainkin as Development Manager, and now with the final of the old guard developers on their way out, I can look forward to building a new development team in the way that I want it to run, which of course is great for me in terms of both personal and professional growth.

However the bad news is that all of this time spent on work, raising Jessica and helping Chantelle meant a big blow to my personal exploits, and as a result I was forced to stop karate, failed to get a single one of my business ideas into reality, pulled back a huge portion of my online portfolio and presence, failed to produce much artistically, pretty much stopped watching anime, and even allowed my XBOX to get dusty – never mind the neglected DIY at home!

And to make things even worse, I completely failed (again) to up my physical fitness and lose weight.


So where does that leave us looking ahead into 2013? So while I was horribly wrong in my 2012 predictions, I suspect I have a much stronger idea on how 2013 will play out, which actually is a good thing because it now leaves me with a much more realistic view on what I’ll probably achieve this year.

In terms of our finances, I’m very confident that the Lotter clan will be in a much better position given both my new, more senior, managerial role at work and the fact that Chantelle’s baking business has hit the ground more than just running (thanks in most part to her awesome collaboration with the Sacred Ground artisan bakery situated in Franschhoek). This will of course hopefully translate into more getaways and adventures for Chantelle, Jessie and me, something I really am looking forward to. In the same vein, the new role at work should grow me (and my CV) nicely, so those challenges are definitely being looked forward to.

Realistically I am not going to be trying to churn out any artistic output (other than my writing on this blog of course) or business ventures this year – I’ve learned that being a dad to a toddler is just too much of a full day job than what one first imagines when they start out as those helpless little squishy jelly beans! This also means that for now I can’t see myself resuming my karate journey or any other organised sporting body for that matter, and as for fitness gains/weight loss, I can only hope that now that Jessica is a little more active, she’ll keep me a little more active and on my toes! :)

chantelle lotter sitting with toddler jessica lotter at hillcrest berry farm

So yeah, 2013 doesn’t kick off with anything major in sight for me, looking for now to be very a much workman year like the previous two, though the prospect of having a little more change in my pocket does mean that I should be getting up to more this time around – which of course is something I look VERY forward to!

News Year’s Weekend 2011/2012 My Life 04 JAN 2012

Ugh, it had to eventually come to an end, but of Tuesday 3rd of January 2012, I find myself firmly back behind the keyboard, banging out fresh new SurveyThumb code for my wage masters over at Touchwork. In truth, I thoroughly enjoyed my two weeks or so off, having spent a lot of time with family and friends, and just generally unwinding as I recharged my batteries in full preparation for 2012!

New Year’s Weekend was very much a Northern Suburbs affair, with Jessie and I traveling through on the Friday to my mom’s place in Bellville, where the three of us spent a lovely day in and out of the pool, despite the nasty little wind that kept popping up and threatening to drive us away. The evening on the other hand was spent back home in the company of wifey, where we got together to enjoy a delicious homemade pizza over a Eagles DVD after a successful putting Jessica to bed routine!

Saturday was literally Braai Day, and after packing both of our little cars to the brim with all of Jessica’s hardware and software, we sped off back to Bellville in order to offload the little one with all her belongings at the Montgomery Clan stronghold, where she’ll be spending the next two weeks with Ouma and Oupa until the Baby Steps daycare reopens mid January. After settling her in with Cheryl, and then promptly grabbing her away again, it was a quick stop off at the local Spar for supplies, before hitting the N1 to Kraaifontein, where Jessie, Chantelle and I joined up with Damen and Michelle, as well as the rest of our friends who had made the trip through for an afternoon New Year’s braai.

With Damen elected tongmaster and stuck behind the raging fire, the rest of the boys dug out a tennis ball and plank, and proceeded to carefully destroy Damen’s backyard with a hearty round of cricket (in a very confined space). Food was eventually served, before the boys once again peeled off from the womenfolk, picked up the XBOX controllers and proceeded to smash each other with a few rounds of FIFA 11.

From there it was back to Bellville as this time we properly managed to leave Jessie behind with Ouma and Oupa, as Chantelle and I headed out back into the breach, this time to Zevenwacht Wine Estate in Kuilsriver, where we joined up with Malcolm, Andri, Michelle, braai master Gary and all of their collective kids at the Ollewage’s swanky pad. There we enjoyed a fantastic evening of good company, good stories and even better food, making it all the way through to midnight for that all important countdown and many ‘happy happy’ wishes!

Finally, it was back to the Montgomery Stronghold in Bellville, where a tired but happy Craig and Chantelle hit the sack for some well-deserved shuteye, the first of 2012!

Sunday was a delayed start for Chantelle who slept in thanks to a massive headache, but when Jessica and I did eventually manage to get mommy out of bed, we persuaded her plus Ouma to join us for a walk around Sonstraal Dam in Eversdal in order to feed the multitude of Egyptian Geese and ducks that call that spot home. After a successful stroll and having depleted our loaf of fresh white bread, we beat a hasty retreat from the busy feathered fiends, heading off to Tyger Manor McDonalds, where Robert joined us so that I could treat everyone to some McDonalds as a late lunch.

From there Jessica, Chantelle and myself shot off to my folks, dropping in at the perfect time to catch both Great Grans (plus Ryan) at Mom and Dad’s pad. More visiting was had, a watermelon devoured, and then it was finally back to the Montgomery Clan where we handed over Jessica to an excited Cheryl and Monty, before hitting the long road back to Gordon’s Bay, and more importantly, our awesome bed!

So yeah, a pretty good New Year’s Weekend after all then I reckon! ;)