Hitting the Reset Button

Our happy chappie

On 19 October our sweet baby Ivan turned 2 months old. It feels like just as we were getting comfortable with sleeping through the night and starting to get our youngest out of diapers, WE HIT THE RESET BUTTON! It’s been a busy time adjusting to being a bigger family and it seems that each of us are experiencing change and growth in one way or another.

Pravani:

Being a mom of a newborn again while paying attention to the needs of each one in the family and continuing to maintain a household is a bit of a crazy job description, if our house were a circus, I’d be a juggler! The adjectives that come to mind are exhausting, awe-inspiring, hilarious, exhausting and enriching. I am reminded that every breath we take, every new morning we wake up to is an opportunity to learn and grow or to stop and stagnate.

Stealing a quick nap in between feeds

I have been re-reading all our baby books on feeding, development and sleep cycles. It’s amazing to note how different each child is, how much “parenting stuff” one forgets and even though we’ve had two kids already, there is always so much more to learn! In this season, a new learning curve for me is figuring out how to use cloth diapers.

These cloth diapers are too cute!

A generous friend passed on their stash to us and I’m so grateful for all the money it’s going to save us. I’m also in a “try-fail-learn” cycle when it comes to figuring out how to give personal attention to each family member. Their needs are so unique – Ivan needs milk, diaper changes and cuddles, Kiran needs wrestling, tickling and “play-with-me-outside” time, Vinnie needs puzzle-building, watch a movie with me, hug me tight when I have meltdowns time and Nicholas needs wifey, best friend, partner-in-ministry and let’s talk about family logistics time. It’s a busy time but a kaleidoscope of joy – every spin in my day has a unique mix of hues and tones (joy, frustration, calm and moodiness). How do I manage? I’m grateful that every second or third day I get a morning where I’m awake before everyone else is and I get the beautiful combination of silence, coffee and time with God. Friends, this is the real immune-booster, sanity-pill and energy drink all in one.

 

Nicholas:

Pappa and the boys

By the grace of God Nicholas was able to take his paternity leave and sabbatical at the same time, giving him 8 wonderful weeks at home to help with baby and to recharge spiritually. A sabbatical is a 6-week period of rest from ministry that we take after every 7 years of service in CCC. It was wonderful having him home – especially to give the two older boys the attention I couldn’t while healing from the birth. Potty-training Kiran and walking Vincent to and from school were all very special dad-son bonding times and I’m so grateful for all the love he pours into our kids.

Fetching Vincent from school

Vincent:

Pappa Springbok, baby Springbok and Vinnie Smileybok

Vincent is continuing to enjoy grade RR. He is now showing a greater interest in class participation and has greatly developed his puzzle-building skills. He amazes me with his skill and focus. We’ve recently begun the process of applying for admission to a primary school for kids with special needs. The waiting lists for such schools is usually quite long so even though Vincent will only begin primary school in 2021, we were encouraged to apply now. The application process involved lots of paperwork from all his healthcare providers including his speech therapist, paediatrician (who helped diagnose his autism and is currently treating him at Steve Biko hospital) and his nursery-school teacher. We were also required to take him for an IQ test which was conducted in a non-verbal manner because of his speech challenges. Hopefully we will hear from the Department of Education soon regarding their recommendation for his placement. At home, he is a very sweet natured child who enjoys playing imaginative games with his toys, physical rough-play with Kiran and he is incredibly affectionate towards his baby brother Ivan. His speech at home is developing slowly but surely.

Kiran:

He loves being a big brother!

Kiran is in the process of discovering his voice and the strength of his will 😊 He enjoys telling us all what to do, including making sure I drink my water and eat my food when we’re at the table! His little antics and the things he says are hilarious and adorable and sometimes a bit much to take in (like when he occasionally calls us Nicholas and Pravani instead of papa and mamma!).  Nicholas and I are learning the balance of discipline and encouraging his independence. He is currently potty-training and it’s going well! He is very eager to go to school just like his big brother.

Mamma’s little koala bear

Ivan:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We have often been told that the youngest child tends to raise himself and Ivan is proving that to us even though he is so tiny! He has very strong neck control and has a sturdy little body. He is showing himself to be the social one amongst his brothers – he loves the company of others and is very generous with his smiles and baby giggles. Healthwise, he is thriving – gaining weight and drinking his milk and sleeping well (except for when there are people to chat to!). It’s so special to observe how much affection his brothers shower him with. It is our prayer that these three will always be close. We also had the precious privilege of our family (the Pillays and the Keldermans) and friends surrounding us during his baby dedication on 6 October at our church – Doxa Deo Hatfield. This was a time of our church and family praying over Ivan and bearing witness to our commitment in raising him according to God’s Word and the wisdom and grace that He supplies. The ceremony was lead by our pastor Jo Strohfeldt. We feel so blessed, loved and supported by our church family, knowing that we are not raising our kids alone, but are rooted in a community that cares for us. To see the video of that special moment click here

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

I also want to take this opportunity to thank YOU for your love and prayers and for even visiting us as a family during this season. I’m reminded of the words of the Apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 2:8 when he says,

8Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.

This has been an amazing time of seeing how friends, family and even complete strangers have generously come into our space to share in our lives. That’s where the gospel of God truly shines – not just in words but how we share in each other’s lives.

With love,

Pravani

 

 

Kelderman party of 5! Baby Ivan is here

Welcome to the family Ivan!

Where did the name Ivan come from?

Nicholas and I have a love for old languages when it comes to the names of our children (Vincent from Latin and Kiran from Sanskrit). Our next choice was a Slavic name and when Nicholas suggested the name Ivan I looked up the meaning and immediately fell in love. Ivan is the Slavic version of the biblical Greek name Ioannes (or John as it is more commonly known) which means YAHWEH (God) is Gracious. This was certainly applicable to our story – God didn’t have to, but He saw it fitting according to His perfect grace to grant us a third child.

“A third child? Wow you’re brave!”

This was the most common response when people heard that we WANT and planned for a third child. What’s interesting about this comment is that this has been the LEAST scary pregnancy of all! There were so many beautiful firsts this time around. Here are just a few:

  1. Living in Pretoria meant that this is the first time I would share the experiences of the full 9 months of pregnancy and delivery of our baby with both our families around (our families used to only see us twice a year when we lived in Cape Town). This meant food cravings satisfied by mom, family members getting to feel the baby kick and even getting all that pregnancy advice that I missed out on!
  2. Our closest friends and family visiting our baby in the hospital, holding him and even praying for him. Even though our treasured Capetonian friends and colleagues visited us when Vincent and Kiran were born, it’s different having your parents, siblings and in-laws at your bedside in the hospital – this was a treat for me! I am so grateful for everyone who took the time to visit Ivan and myself at the hospital.
  3. People visiting us at home – We have been blessed in so many unique ways by our family, our church, neighbours, friends and even some moms from Vincent’s creche! Whether it has been by bringing us a meal, carrying the baby while I put my feet up or even coming just to wash dishes, we have truly felt the love. Those who haven’t managed to visit have sent the sweetest messages, voice notes, phone calls and even packages in the mail.
  4. Ivan’s birth was a planned Caesarean-section, the other two births were natural and an emergency C-section. This meant we could drop off our kids at Nicholas’s parents the night before and get ready to go to the hospital early the next morning. Funny enough though, when we got to the hospital, I started going into labor anyway! My procedure was scheduled for 8:30am and I went into early labor at 6:30am. Thankfully, all still went according to plan and at 8:47am I gave birth via C-section to a beautiful boy weighing at 3.96kgs and measuring 55.5cm tall. Hearing his cries in the operating theatre was the loveliest sound I had heard that day and when they brought his face to me those cries mellowed into a gentle coo.

We are at home and thriving! Ivan is drinking from me like a champion every 1.5 to 2.5hrs. Nicholas and I are still a bit sleep-deprived but filled with joy. Vincent and Kiran are learning to love their baby brother more each day (even though he cant kick a ball or build Lego towers). Please feel free to arrange a visit with us at home. We would love to see you!

We hope you enjoy the pictures we’ve included below from our newborn photoshoot where Ivan is just 8 days old! A huge thank you goes out to Tiaan Kelderman at Kelderman Photography (click here to find his page on Facebook) for his excellent photography!

With love,

 

Pravani Kelderman

Baby number three – Team Pink or Blue?

In December 2018, Nicholas and I, while house-sitting, watched a show on Netflix called the Big Family Cooking Showdown. It ticked all the boxes for me – family, food and pride of heritage. One family team was comprised of three siblings who laughed, cooked and had fun together. This compounded the ache in my heart that had been there for a while – our family was not yet complete – there was room for another sibling for our boys – whether a brother or a sister. On 19 December, I got the call from the doctor’s office -the blood test results were in – baby number three was on the way! I literally could not stop jumping up and down! God, in His mercy, had chosen for us to be parents for a third time!

27 (1024x683)

Pappa’s teddy bear

14 (1024x683)

Kiran 3yrs (left) , Vincent 5 yrs (right). Inseparable best friends

It seemed that everyone we told was hoping we would have a girl. Eventually my heart began to follow suit even though I was so comfortable being a boy-mommy. What would life be like with a daughter? Could I handle a mini-me? As I pondered in this question in my heart, I enjoyed watching Vincent thrive at school and grow in his tender-heartedness and compassion for others, he will no-doubt continue to be an excellent big brother. Kiran however, is still mommy’s cuddly baby and pappa’s wrestling buddy. He loves physical contact and I wonder how he would take it when he realises that he’s not the baby of the family anymore. However, at our mom’s group on Wednesdays, he is learning to interact with younger kids and babies and seems to enjoy exerting his “leadership skills”. Gentleness is something he still needs to learn.

We are thankful to the Lord for a very healthy pregnancy. I’m still learning how to manage my expectations of being a good mom to the boys and yet taking it slow with what my body can handle. Thankfully, they are growing in independence and keep each other busy most of the time. Another way in which we have grown as a family was the celebration of 10 years of marriage for Nicholas and I! We are so grateful that even though the road has sometimes been rocky, the vehicle of our marriage has remained strong (and fun!). We know that the strength of our bond lies in the faithfulness of Christ and how the Holy Spirit has shaped our hearts over the years.

At our 20 week scan, it was time for the BIG REVEAL! Our gynaecologist confidently confirmed what Nicholas knew in his heart all along…

Gender reveal

My heart is full! What a blessed woman I am! Another son! One thing I didn’t mention in the beginning of this blog post was that the three siblings on the cooking show were three brothers. THREE BROTHERS!!! How awesome is that picture? The three of them in the kitchen laughing and cooking and celebrating their mixed heritage! I cannot wait for the future to unfold! Speaking of the future, now comes the waiting. We have roughly 4 weeks left before he arrives (19 August). During this time we would appreciate your prayers for the safe arrival of our little one. If you would like to give a gift in cash or in kind please feel free to email Nicholas at npkelderman@gmail.com.  We will certainly keep you informed of when baby has made in his appearance and look forward to you visiting us at home when he does – of course, please arrange this with Nicholas beforehand!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Our Adventure with Vincent: Learning about Autism

The smile that melts mommy’s heart

A heartfelt thank you to all who have inquired and even assisted us with Vincent’s developmental journey. So much has happened lately and we want to share our joy with you.

Towards the end of last year, it was suggested to us by a few concerned friends and those who have been working with Vincent that we should take Vincent to a paediatric neurologist to have him tested for autism. I must tell you, that this troubled my heart. “Could my child be autistic?” It sounded like a life sentence. After many phone calls and emails to neurologists in Pretoria, I finally found one who was not only willing to see us (because it is hard to find a neurologist that works with kids) but also help us by allowing us to pay the consultation fee in three separate payments! Our consultation with her was a blessing and an eye-opener. She conducted an ADOS test. ADOS stands for Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule. It is a standardized diagnostic test for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Wrestling and cuddles with pappa and lil bro

We learned that autism isn’t one particular condition that can be defined or confined to a few symptoms. Now with all the information and new discoveries in the medical world we can see autism not as a disease (one particular colour) but as a spectrum (a rainbow with all the hues in between). The ADOS test helped us to see that even though Vincent has quite a few markers on the spectrum, he is actually quite brilliant and we as his parents need to begin to understand his world and what his unique challenges are, not so that we can “cure” him but help him manage how his body sees and responds to his world. Some of the red flags Vincent has are: speech delays, attention deficit, obsessive-compulsive disorder, high-sensory threshold and poor eye contact.  The neurologist recommended a holistic approach to helping Vincent with his development. This includes occupational and speech therapy done by people who specialise with autistic kids, attending preschool with a small classes as well as small doses of medication to help him with his tantrums and concentration. Vincent saw the neurologist in January 2019 and has made significant progress since then:

1. He LOVES school (pictured below)– We found an English preschool with small classes, a very experienced and loving teacher and best of all – it’s only 2 blocks away from our house! Vincent is surprising us at home with his growth in vocabulary and skills. Although he does struggle with paying attention in class, he is developing at a pace that I could not achieve by keeping him at home

2. The medication – We have seen steady progress regarding Vincent’s capability of handling his emotions better as well as paying better attention when attempting a task. This hasn’t changed his personality in any way – in fact it feels like we are getting to see the real Vincent – our joyful, friendly child. Through the grace of God we’re able to get this medication and see Vincent’s neurologist for free at our local public hospital. His teacher has remarked that Vincent is now completing his tasks at school and is indeed more focused as a result of the medication.

3.Occupational and Speech Therapy – Serna Smit – Vincent’s occupational therapist from October until now, recommended to us an occupational therapist in our area who works specifically with autistic kids. Her assessment with Vincent showed significant growth in his development particularly his eye contact and verbal interaction

The Occupational Therapist assesses Vincent through role play

(when compared to last year). She recommended we start with speech therapy and focus on that for now. This led us to Karien Marais – a speech therapist who works with autistic children. Her assessment of Vincent went well and she believes that Vincent will improve greatly with weekly therapy which he will begin on 9 April.

We as a family have learned so much in a short space of time. There are indeed daily struggles of course: Vincent still does have erratic mood swings, his speech isn’t fully discernible, he still speaks in 2-3 word sentences and getting him to concentrate is difficult. Once again this reminds us that autism isn’t about trying to cure Vincent, it’s about understanding his world and helping him learn how to thrive in it. Our greatest encouragement has been watching God’s provision – not just regarding the finances for Vincent’s care but especially the people who are giving us the love and support through this journey. It seems that God has already foreseen our needs and we are catching up with discovering what He has done!

It’s like what Isaiah 64:4 says:

“Since ancient times, no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.”

God is acting on our behalf, wow, we are indeed privileged to be called His children!

Friends, thank you for your love and support. We unwrap the gift of Vincent’s development every day and are humbled that the Lord would entrust him to us.

 

Getting sharper

Ecclesiastes 10:10
“Using a dull ax requires great strength, so sharpen the blade. That’s the value of wisdom; it helps you succeed.”

The above-mentioned verse of biblical scripture was brought to my attention during a leadership course in 2008. I was taught the value and wisdom of keeping yourself sharp – to pursue growth even in your areas of strength. Speaking of areas of strength (or giftings), the Bible has something to say about that as well:

Romans 12: 7-8

7 If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. 8 If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

In these verses we are reminded that our gifts (given from God) are to be taken seriously, honed, perfected, taken to a standard of excellence and most of all, to be done with gladness in our hearts. After taking the Strengthfinders assessment by Gallup (you can find it online here), I came to understand that my top strength is Communication. The Comms Lab – a workshop organised by our human resources department was an ideal opportunity for me to grow and learn. Some of the topics covered were: Gestures, Eye contact, Movement and Sound. Every day concluded with a drill where we could practice telling a story using the lessons of the day. Here’s a video of my story told on the day we learned about Gestures:

This week-long course was a blessing to me. Especially because Nicholas chose to stay at home that week so that I could grow. One of the major things I learned was that when one is a good speaker the audience doesn’t remember her fantastic gestures, eye contact or loud voice – they remember the content of her talk! I want people to remember what I said, not how I said it. But now that I know better, I am going to SAY it better!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

One year plan? I can do that! Five year plan? Umm…I think I’d better sit down :-)

Missionaries are dreamers, boundary-pushers, risk-takers, big-picture people. Perhaps that’s true when it comes to our faith and aspirations (which cause us to accomplish great and seemingly impossible tasks!), but when we are asked to attach strategic plans, timelines and budgets to those dreams, a certain feeling starts to come over us and our plans become smaller and safer. Every year, each team with CCC creates a one-year strategic plan, with a budget and calendar. This year, the board of directors requested that each team submit a one year operational plan and a FIVE year strategic plan, each with their own budget!

Most teams gathered together physically at our national strategic planning event while others (like Nicholas’ team – the Digital Strategy Team) did theirs prior to the event. This was one of the highlights of my year work-wise because for 3 days and two nights, Nicholas was able to spend daddy-time with the boys on the site while I spent some quality work time with the national Student-led Movement team (my team!). I was in my element!

Our first order of business was to actually find out how everyone is doing. This was a very special time because we don’t often get the opportunity to connect as a national team face to face. It warmed my heart to hear how our missionaries and students in Cape Town are doing and to even see two of our missionary friends as newly weds (They’re the couple on the far left of the picture below).

The Student-led Movement of South Africa

I was given the task of leading the team through our SWOT time (a tool to help assess our current reality by considering our Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats). Taking some inspiration from the Digital Strategy team, I led our team through a time of dreaming about the future. Even though crazy, adventurous dreams lie in the heart of many a missionary, I feel we don’t take adequate time to discuss those dreams, stretch them, and even put them to paper. This was the time to do it, and we did! My question to the team was: “If funding and manpower were never an issue, what dreams would you dream for our ministry?” There were a few moments of silence, but then the ideas slowly trickled out. At the end, it felt like something had lifted off our chests and we were ready to build these plans. By the end of those three days, we had put together both a one year and a 5 year strategic plan! A few days later, I worked together with our national SLM team leaders to create a budget to see how these dreams will become a reality. I must tell you, it was exhausting but worth it.

 

Here are a few things I had learned from this time together:

a) Sometimes it helps to assess the current reality of your staff before you assess the current reality of your organisation

b) Budgets, timelines and calendars are not weights to your dreams, they’re wings. When the right wind comes it will lift them and carry them!

c) Vincent and Kiran love chasing chickens 🙂 It also was sweet to see them busy with a few toys while Nic and I sat in on a few sessions in the main hall.

Nicholas was also able to contribute to the national planning event by giving a presentation on the national plans of the Digital Strategy team. He did an excellent job and I’m encouraged by his team and the way they work.

Nicholas sharing the national strategic plan for Digital Strategy

Please pray for Nicholas and I as we take turns to give each other opportunities for ministry. We are figuring out how to care for Vincent at home with occupational and speech therapy in order to prepare him for school next year.

 

The boys kept themselves busy while we worked. Kiran had a furry 4-legged visitor to keep him company!

Thank you for your love and prayers!

 

Pravani