The theme of last week was Adventure – running adventures, middle school social adventures, wine tasting adventures, hiking adventures, teaching adventures. A few of the highlights:
ON WEDNESDAY Charlotte and I ran a 5K trail run with headlamps in the pitch dark through the vineyards of Groot Constantia, the oldest wine producing estate in South Africa. It was an absolutely crazy, hard, exhilarating, unique, unforgettable experience. We literally were running in the dark with just a stream of lights ahead or behind us, or, depending where we were on the course, on trails above or below us. The lights of the city were far below. Up and down crooks and valleys, well marked paths and less well marked paths, over hill and dale. At the end? A free bottle of Groot Constantia wine for the adults (not the kids), discounted burgers and chips and a huge party. These South Africans know how to do it! Best of all – Charlotte won not just the Junior girls age group, but came in second in women overall!!! (I was behind – but just slightly; very proud of myself). It was nuts and perhaps my favorite thing we’ve done so far. And we are doing it again this week – this time with the boys!
Charlotte also experienced her first middle school “social.” I’ll leave it to her to reflect on it; let’s just a whole cadre of girls came up and hugged her goodbye when we picked her up, and she seemed quite pleased with herself as she remarked that she was the only one in the entire school that could actually do “the worm.” Brief reflection from a parental perspective: seemed like a really nice group of kids; it’s a tiny class with maybe 40 kids in the whole grade. Boys and girls all seem to hang out together, and to learn from each other. Apparently there are 30+ some countries and languages represented at the school. SO COOL.
LUKE’s adventures occurred throughout the week – from his enthusiastic embrace of all things sports – hockey, soccer, rugby – to his outstanding performance in school. Recognition included two Student of the Week awards for Responsibility of Choices and Communication in Language (which probably doesn’t surprise anyone who knows Luke from home). He is an avid rugby fan (hallelujah, the Springboks finally beat the formidable New Zealand All Blacks!), soccer aficionado (Ronaldo really should have made that hatrick), and a diehard champion for the Bruins (we can pop home quickly for a game this winter, can’t we mom?) One of the big debates Chris and I had was about television – to have it or not. He won, mostly for the sports programming, which excites both him and Luke.
Luke has also, to his extreme delight, secured his first iPad, ostensibly for use in school. While we haven’t escaped the Fortnite craze (the influence of which his teachers have warned parents about repeatedly), he is “the only kid who doesn’t have it.” (of course). He has embraced texting, and do so eagerly with his self-proclaimed posse of “The Dutch Union” consisting of one American, one Japanese, and two Dutch boys.
He also VERY enthusiastically embraced our wine tasting adventure in Franschhoek, one of several of South Africa’s most famous wine areas about an hour from our home. We took advantage of Franschhoek Uncorked, a “spring awakening” festival offering free tastings to about 15 wineries for a whopping entry fee of $10 per adult. That’s $10 for two days worth of free tastings at as many wineries as we can handle. Even better – most of the wineries sought to make these family events, offering music, food and treats, lawn games, bouncy houses, etc. Taking advantage of this, we let Luke guide our wine tasting adventures (which he did by prioritizing food offerings at the various places). Some of our favorites were Rickety Bridge and Mont Rochelle (one of Richard Branson’s properties.) Between tastings we ventured up Franschhoek Pass to an absolutely unexpected stunning hike with amazing vistas and revisited a restaurant we went to 13 years ago to celebrate Chris’s birthday. We cannot wait to visit again.
Charlotte and Luke entering a cork counting contest at the Allee Bleue wine estate. Stay tuned to see if they win a free night!!!
Finally – Chris’s adventure – SCHOOL. Incredibly enlightening, different, fun insightful, inspiring, He has been tracking his experiences at Elkanah House through his own blog – dangelsden.blogspot.com. Visit today!!!