A bit late I know, and very few posts this year.  Better late than never though 🙂

A belated Merry Christmas to all our Christian friends and we hope everyone has had a wonderful festive season and restful holiday.

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This year saw us landing back on the 4th of January to a very empty Johannesburg, where our wonderful friends Aline and Rohan graciously picked us up from the Airport with 6 suitcases, 4 hand luggage bags as well as our laptops and an enormous box to see us through the next couple of months until our container arrived from the Middle East. It was great to be home and to know that my friend was just down the road again!!

We had to say goodbye to the many friends we had made in Doha, and it was more difficult than I imagined it would be. We have made so many friends from around the world and each farewell lunch, dinner or party we went to left us feeling that little more empty inside but with a reality that being an expat is a life changing experience.  You don’t have your family or friends from your past to fall back on in times of need, but you create a circle of friends around you that see you through the experiences that only expats can understand.  We miss you all!!

And so we started the process of settling back into SA life, the first few weeks saw us searching for a house, cars, and settling the kids into their new school. Then there was the where, how and what of basic everyday life and trying to find hotspots to keep the website running.
It was hectic and I remember feeling that moving back was harder than selling up five years ago and moving to Doha.  To round off,  2013 has probably been one of the most stressful years that both Steve and I can remember in a long time.  So we look forward to a healthier and happier 2014 for everyone!

We moved into a lovely new house in March and have slowly been making it our own. Initially thinking it was a move in house we have had to do a lot of maintenance with a lot more in 2014, but once these are complete the house will be perfect.

March also saw us adopting two little munchkins, Bella the Maltese and Jax the Jack Russell, who keep us constantly amused.   

The kids have settled into their new environment and school life, and have quite frankly kept me busy all year with all the extra activities.

We had so many RCI points to use up when we got back home, that we took a couple of weekends off during the year, going to Crystal Springs, The Drakensburg and White River for short breaks and then to Jeffreys Bay to see Dad a couple of times and to spend this Christmas with.
Steve has travelled into Africa quite extensively going to Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania and Lesotho for work. I think he prefers the SA travels 😛


Has settled quite nicely into his new life, trying out every sport available to see what he would love the most. He started cricket in the first term, then rugby, athletics, cross country and finally found his niche with Swimming in the fourth term. He is now part of the A-Squad at school and the team won every gala they participated in. He also loves horse riding and if he could would spend the rest of his life at the stables. Surfing was also a big part of his year, joining Andrew Moon at the Wavecrest Surf School in J-Bay every opportunity he could.  He was chosen as sports captain at the beginning of the year and as a prefect for the Prep School for 2014. His marks have reflected some hard work with an Academic Merit Award at the end of the year. His music has advanced and he is aiming to participate in the South African Performing Arts
Championships in January via Marshall Music. Hold thumbs 🙂
Plus the BIG 13 happened this year, living in the house with a teenager, umm say no more!!

Is blossoming into a beautiful young woman, and has also tried out just about everything this year. Starting off with Tennis which resulted in her winning the Prep Girls Tennis Champs certificate and trophy at the end of the year.  She also played netball and the team did very well against all their opponents, drama where they competed in the Eistedford and left with a merit certificate, choir which she loved, scripture reading, horse riding and gymnastics where she passed her first level. A busy little bee inbetween the extra lessons to catch up with Afrikaans and Zulu. Jess surprises us every day with her inquisitive and intelligent questions and is a complete socialite. And yes, she is 11 going on 13 as well, which means two teenagers!  Both the kids also passed their first horse riding competition receiving an all clear on the third level.

2013 has certainly been a challenging year for McManus Inc!! We have survived the transition back “by the slink of our teeth”. At the start of the year someone asked “are you suffering from a sense of loss?” at the time it made no sense, but with hindsight I think the word “loss” sums up 2013 for me, some of this being of our own making, some of it the making of others and some just the way life goes. We start the new year settled as a family, fully integrated back into life in SA. My consulting work at 21st Century has picked up all year, and it has been wonderful to be welcomed back with open arms and to be given some challenging and interesting projects. 2014 looks very exciting with the soon to be announced JV between 21st Century and our newly redeveloped Xpatulator website, which will hopefully grow the expat policy consulting opportunities, particularly focussed on expats in Africa. Look out for “21st Century Expat powered by Xpatulator” early next year.

I think 2014 is going to be a wonderful year for our family and friends. My wish for everyone is to embrace everything positive in your lives in 2014 and to get rid of anything negative to make more space for the positive. May 2014 be your best year ever.

Moving countries, unpacking, sorting out kids, new home, new environment, working on Xpatulator, and basically life, it has been a dam busy year.  We very proudly launched the new Xpatulator.com website, and upgraded our page ranking to 5.  Steve and I trained and finished the 94.7 (km cycle race) which was fabulous fun. MTB’ing however was the best fun of all and we so enjoyed our time out in the bush this year that we will be concentrating more on off road cycles in 2014, very different to our desert cycles and we do miss our fun times with the Qatar MTB Club. Our trips this year have been relaxing and reviving and I am so very happy to be back amongst my “old” time friends and family.  Thanks to everyone who helped make our transition back home so much easier, especially my fabulous cousin Hazel who helped and look after the kids during the stress of unpacking the container when it arrived + Always being around when there is a crisis!!
Happy that 2014 will be upon us and setting goals for a more settled year. 
We wish all our family and friends the best holiday season, Christmas and a 2014 filled with love, life, and laughter and that all your goals and dreams are fulfilled.

Love this so had to share it all over again!!