Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Unintended Charitable Donations

When we lived in Zimbabwe, many, many years ago, we were broken into and robbed on more than a few occasions. Mum slowly but surely lost all her valuable jewellery. Her ever pragmatic attitude to this was that she could not be accused of not doing her part for charity in Africa.

Last night I donated my favourite black leather handbag that my Mum bought me for my birthday and gold watch which Sean and I had 'His 'n Her's' of!

I went out to ladies night Christmas dinner and Sean and the kids were at home. Sean was up late (for us) and didn't go to bed until about 10:30. 20 minutes later he was woken by the noise of people in the back garden. He called me to see if it was me trying to get in but I was still at the party. He called again a few minutes later to say he thought they'd gone and I came home.

We tried to work out (rather optimistically I suppose) if it had been a big cat coming though the window but were confused as to why the window was open all the way (we always leave them on the first latch to keep cats and monkeys out!) We could also see something on the grass in the back garden. Since it is not good practice to go wandering round in the dark in South Africa we left it til morning to go and see what it was. Turned out to be the contents of my handbag. At least the things with no commercial value. luckily there were no important things in there and, in fact, the handbag and watch (which was in it) and a few Rands from my purse are the only real things lost!

My bag is usually put away but last night I left it behind at the last minute and left it on the table... NOT near a window... at least not within arms reach. Turns out a rake can reach quite a long way into a small house!!! It wasn't even our rake! It belongs to our neighbour and has been missing for a few days! They must have seen the bag before the curtains were closed and then waited til Sean went to bed (about 3 HOURS later) to reach in and get it.

THEN! Then they stood outside the window. Ate some sweets that were in my bag. One each. Left the wrappers on the grass and my notebook on the wall. And a few foot prints, big ones of an adult man and little ones... boys school shoes I think, just so we could be absolutely sure they are audacious and couldn't care less if we know who they are. Sean looked out the window which possibly made them turn slowly and wander off. He didn't see them though. They were still going through my bag as they left since they dropped my handcream on the path by the neighbour's house. They kept my reciepts. Presumably to claim against tax? And my medical aid card. The old one.

I think the thing that pisses me off the most is that they didn't snatch my bag and run in fear of getting caught, but that they casually hung around to wait for Sean to go to bed and then reached right into our house with a rake, and then stood around, no more than a metre from the window, choosing what to take with them. Bastards.

On the plus side it was a non violent crime, no one came inside, no one was hurt and Shannon does not even know that something happened. This time. Which gives us a chance to improve our security and our awareness so that we can continue to remain safe. At least in our home.

And it strengthens my resolve to get all our ducks in a row so we can move somewhere less crime ridden!

NOTE ADDED: They also took a bag from No. 10 in the complex - she got off less lightly and lost her ID book, driver's license, bank cards et al!!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

No comment

I have recently been reprimanded, by a number of people who regularly fail to leave a comment on this blog and therefore should forgive me for believing they are not actually reading it anyway, for not having updated in a fair while.

So here I am again, back at the keyboard and poised to pour out my most interesting news and views.

Just feeling a little feak and weeble about it, actually. That may have something to do with the time of year; with the fact that my son, who I am sure was only born recently, will be 11months old soon; the fact that Christmas is in 2 weeks and I've only just noticed; and the fact that I seem to have mislaid about 6 months of this year somewhere along the way. I am hoping they are mislaid and not lost completely as I could use the time. Really.

So some relief comes from the fact that I have finished and passed my 2nd year exams and a little anxiety from having just registered for 3rd year. I have also embarked, perhaps in a moment of madness, on a diploma to compliment my degree. Did I mention I have a husband, two small children and a (sort of) job? Is there a need? Luckily I enjoy all of my jobs and once rested from all of them will be ready to launch myself into 2009 with determination and vigour. What's that you say? I don't get a holiday? All three? *sigh*

My son is a terror, albeit a happy one, and is inclined to do whatever it takes to achieve his desire. Even if it means potential race to the emergency room. Climbing up is his new game. At 11 months. He has not mastered the art of climbing off or down, and has chosen falling as his prefered method of descent. Height notwithstanding. That's boys for you, I am told! He has 4 teeth and is on the verge of walking; at the moment he can manage one step unsupported, but that usually shocks him so much he sits down with a bump. He like to have his own way and will pull Shannon's hair as hard as he can if she tries to stop him. She still tries. Ah, the optimism of a 4 year old.

My little princess has suddenly become tall and leggy at the grand age of 4 and a half. There is very little padding between skin and bone, and clothes that fit her last month are now too short in the arms and legs! With any luck she will fill out a little before she shoots up again or I fear for the elasticity of her skin! It's not as if I don't feed her!!!! She is as healthy as a horse. Just a bit bean pole-ish! She got a glowing report from creche which says that she is, as I suspected, practically perfect in every way. Oops, there's the doting Mum bit!

Sean is on a mission, as is his wont, to improve our lives once again in 2009! Watch this space...

Right, for a bit of a weak and feeble start, that turned out to be less painful than expected. I'm off to make brownies!!!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

It came out of nowhere

At least that is what it seemed like. Today has dawned a gorgeous African summer day, making yesterday's experience seem like something in a dream. Yesterday dawned like that too. I headed to Durban to write my exam with that feeling of awe and... and... actually words fail me here. I can't describe the feeling that a real summer's day in Africa brings. You have to be here. Experience it. It lulled us into a sense of summer happiness. Falsely.

At about 2pm, out of nowhere (I suppose it came from somewhere, we just didn't see it coming) a tornado hit. Sean was in the little town near where we live and luckily was parked underground because from where he was he watched trees being ripped out of the ground. A prefab building collapsed in front of him. It was empty. He went to check. The wind was ferocious. The rain came down in sheets. Thunder didn't rumble. It split the air with its anger. We are about 7km away from where Sean was.

It went from sunny to so dark it may as well have been night time in a matter of moments. I unplugged everything and shut all the windows. We were lucky. We caught the edge of it. The power went out. It made the darkness even more intense. Our garden furniture blew around a bit and the trees were bent in half. One came down in our complex. But that was it. Less than 2ks away our friends house lost its roof, their house is full of water and they still have no power. They are safe though.

Roofs have come off buildings all over the place, trees are strewn great distances from where they were once rooted, cars have been squashed by buildings and trees. The worst damage, as it always seems to be, was in the settlement near where we live. 400 houses were blown away. Over 1000 people are homeless. Cars were blown around. 8 people are dead. 8 so far.

Today you wouldn't know. Wouldn't believe it if someone told you. It is dead calm. The sun is hot at 8am. The birds are calling and the monkeys have come to visit. Out there is the evidence. The devastation of people's lives. And it came out of nowhere.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Conversations with Dad...

Dad prior to going shopping for a braai: Shannon, what's you favourite meat on the braai (BBQ)?
Shannon after earnest consideration: Chips!
Dad: Speechless

Shannon while Dad was donning a suit to go to a funeral: Dad you look like a maniac!
Dad: Speechless

Shannon at 5 this morning when Sean got up to see why all the lights were on: Dad, why doesn't the light on the garanda work?
Dad amused that she has actually checked: because the fitting is broken.
Shannon on a mission: I know how to fix it.
Dad intrigued: How?
Shannon duh!!! Parents know nothing: Don't go to your work. Go straight passed your work to the builders work and tell them to fix it. Builders know how to fix it!
Dad: Speechless

Luckily I was not in the same room as them for any of these conversations as their sincerity would have been ruined by my giggles!!!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

It's that time of year again....

Summer. With its glorious warmth, beautiful blue skies, dramatic thunderstorms and snakes. Yep. Snakes. I have never been a HUGE fan of these legless reptiles but now that I have small children running and crawling around the garden, oblivious to any danger (and one at an age where new and interesting things should always be picked up and investigated) they scare the you know what from you know where leaving me even more paranoid than usual!!!!

There was one at a friends house not too long ago. Then one at the house at the end of our street. Today one outside the back door. It was small. A night adder. Not too dangerous. No KNOWN fatalities. Except perhaps if you only weigh 9.5kg. And are likely to pick it up. Or 15kg and likely to stand on one before you notice it!

So summer is here. Time to play in the garden is over til winter again. *Sigh* I can't do that. I do know that I can't do that. But what can I do to prevent either a nasty snake bite on tiny people or anxiety attacks for their mother. Anyone know any natural snake repellents? Although the snakes are natural monkey and robber repellents. I'm off to find the rescue remedy. I may need something stronger this time!!!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

I need to vent

...and this seems as good a place as any.

I am studying a degree through distance learning. That means limited or no contact with lecturers. They are also impossible to get hold of on the phone or via email as they hardly ever respond. So one of the things I have come to rely on to check whether I am on track with my learning is the feedback we receive on assignments.

There is a module that I am doing which doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. I think it has been badly taught/written and (here's my vent) they have categorically told us THERE IS NO FEEDBACK ON ASSIGNMENTS. The first assignment was multiple choice. I got 2 questions wrong out of 25 - but I have no idea which ones. OK - not the end of the world, I can possibly work that one out. That still doesn't help me with why I was wrong. The other assignment was written answers. It was unmarked as it was not a compulsory assignment, and THERE IS NO FEEDBACK.

Here's the crunch: It provides the basis for half of the exam. I have absolutely no way of knowing how I have done on this assignment. If I use my answers to revise for the exam I could be completely off track. That means I could fail my exam! I feel like I am being blindfolded, led down the garden path and then, with blindfold intact, asked to describe what I can see.

I feel that the people who designed this module are lazy and incompetent and need to be replaced with people who understand the need for FEEDBACK.

Right, if I am venting for no reason and this is a normal state of affairs in a learning process, please let me know. I will feel better. It will probably improve my mindset. If I am vindicated in my frustration, help! I need to change my mindset or this exam is going to cripple me. I will be well into revision by the end of tomorrow so please watch this space! I will endeavour to acquire some positivity between now and then!

Monday, October 06, 2008

How many chidren does it take... convince a mother to trust her instincts?

We seem to have solved the sleep issue. Separation anxiety. What in the world made me believe that something that felt so unnatural would be the best thing for my baby boy? Especially when I did the complete opposite with Shannon. As soon as Shannon was big enough for us not to be worried about squashing her, she slept in our bed. That's why we didn't have sleep problems with her. That's part of the reason she is such a confident, balanced child. It wasn't impossible to get her into her own bed. Sometimes she still comes back to ours. It's comforting. It's natural.

All my instincts have been screaming against me for the last month, while I have tried to force my poor little boy into an unnatural sleeping ideal. Because the books said so. Because I was worried about getting enough sleep to be alert for my exams. I didn't hear. Maybe I wasn't listening. One benefit of this exercise is that it has taught him to self soothe. It has also taught me to trust my instincts. I seem to walk a fine line between parenting the way science believes I should and the way something deep inside me believes I should. Once again I am seeing the world through my children's eyes and learning. I have learned that mothering is about what is right for parent and child. Individually. Uniquely in each relationship with each precious child. I have learned that science has helped us to develop a yard stick but that it must be used as just that. Not as the difinitive answer.

I trust myself more now. I trust Jordan, too, to let me know what is best for him when I feel a bit lost. We are all much happier now. Shannon had become very emotional. I think it had a lot to do with something feeling Not Quite Right. She seems a bit better the last day or two also. Mothers, remember: you know best!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

I'm having a moment

So it's that time of year again for me. Exams start on Tuesday and go on for 6 weeks. *sigh* I'm tired. I was tired last year at exam time as I was nearly 7 months pregnant which, for me, means fat, frumpy, swollen, sore, grumpy, over emotional and unable to sleep. (have I mentioned that I have my 2 kids and now this factory is CLOSED?)

This year my son is 8 months old and doesn't sleep. Well he does sleep but not in a manner that allows much sleep for me. In the morning he sleeps at around 9am, for about 30 mins. At 1ish pm he sleeps for about an hour. He has a crazy 4pm sleep which he can't cope without (otherwise he falls asleep, unable to go on, at 5:30 and then he wakes up at about 6:30 and won't go back to sleep) and goes to bed at 6:45. He then wakes up anything from 3 to 7 times before 5:30am when he is up and rearing to go for the day. Why? *sigh*

So when he wakes up he feeds. I know that this may be a habit but he really feeds. A proper full feed. Not just that suck to get back to sleep thing; as if I haven't fed him for a week. He self soothes at nap time and at bed time. He is put in his cot and he goes to sleep. So why doesn't he soothe himself back to sleep in the night? My tether is getting very short.

The other problem, which may be related, is his eating habits. For a little boy who is gaining weight in the 97th percentile, he sure doesn't eat very well. Sometimes he will wolf down his food but at other times (more often) I can get barely a table spoon into his mouth the whole day. Then I resort to Marie biscuits since he always eats those. Yet he never goes off the milk. So it's not like he's not hungry. Bear with me: *sigh*

I feel like a first time Mum on this one. I don't know what to do. Shannon ate fairly well (not so any more but that is a whole other post) and, though she didn't sleep through til she was nearly 2 and a half, she only woke once or twice in the night for feeds until about 13 months and then just for a cuddle or to get in our bed for about a year after that. I easily conditioned to that. I think. Perhaps I have forgotten.

I am really tired this morning. Perhaps I shouldn't be posting at all, I am exposing my vulnerability. It is a mind set, right. Pick yourself up and keep going, it won't last forever. And those exams. Let's hope the work done over the year pays off; revision is a little difficult when my brain keeps falling asleep.

*sigh* I guess this is why mothers are blessed with the ability to love their children unconditionally! Good thing he so adorable eh?

Friday, September 26, 2008

A sense of home

I grew up in a wonderfully unusual manner which involved not only moving house and school, but also moving country every couple of years. This means that, while still at home, I lived in 4 countries (Zimbabwe, Spain, Argentina and South Africa), on 3 continents (Africa, Europe, South America) and went to 2 primary schools and 3 senior schools. Since leaving home I have lived in a further 3 countries (England, America and South Africa) once again on 3 different continents (I'll let you work that one out). No, we are not evading the long arm of the law or dodging taxes, my parents are teachers, well they were then, they are now much more than that, and we moved from international school to international school. Where am I going with this?

Ah yes.

I feel a little flighty. I can list the myriad advantages to living this kind of lifestyle, to being exposed first hand to the many and varied cultures, languages, viewpoints and cuisines, to having a narrow child's mind opened up to the wonders of the world, learning far more than school could ever teach, I could go on. What I don't seem to have is deep roots. I am still trying to decide if I mind this very much. The world is continually changing and therefore seems to me a great place to venture out into. What I want to know is whether or not I will ever really feel rooted in one place. Will my children have a base they call home, where they store their treasured memories until they have a home of their own? Is it important? Will 'home' be where ever we are or where ever they are? Home for me now is where I am with Sean, Shannon and Jordan. When I go to my parents (in which ever country they are at the time) the accessories are always the same. Those familiar things plus the presence of my Mum and Dad also feel like home. Perhaps 'home' is a state of mind?

I was chatting about this with a friend recently and this was the perspective I got: She is surrounded by 3 generations of her immediate family; parents, brother and sister, husband, her own children and her nephews. All in one province in South Africa. That is roots. She feels inclined to stay put. Our families, both mine and Sean's, are a little less sure footed than that - or perhaps more sure footed and therefore more likely to travel. We are strewn across the following countries:

Turkey - My Geriatric Gappers
Spain - Sean's parents
England - My sister, brother-in-law, niece, sister-in-law and nephew, uncles, aunts and cousins
Australia - My other sister plus various cousins
New Zealand - A cousin
The High Seas - Sean's aunt and uncle who are currently trying to decide where to settle
Zimbabwe - A multitude of aunts, uncles and cousins
South Africa - My brother-in-law, sister-in-law, 2 nieces a nephew, various aunts, uncles and cousins and, of course, my hubby, myself and 2 adorable children

This makes the world a fairly small place. We are mostly all in touch to one degree or another and so the distances between us blur a little. I do not feel inclined to stay put. There is the crime factor that sends me into a frenzy of Moving On, but that does slip to the back of my mind and I love my life. But I still don't feel rooted here.

I wonder if the next place will be the last stop? I wonder if Shannon and Jordan will feel inclined to travel the world as I have. I hope so. I hope they always come home and tell me about it afterward. Where ever that may be. After some consideration I think I like the big world to be a small place that I can wonder through without fearing it. But I will put down roots. Somewhere. Sometime.

Monday, September 22, 2008

More magic moments!

Shannon has learnt the art of Storming Off in a Huff. I am not sure where she picked it up from but when she does it it always makes me giggle. I can't help it. I try not to let her hear as I am well aware that it is very important to validate her feelings. I know I am supposed to let her know that it is OK to be cross, and to teach her how to process those feelings in a socially acceptable way. But it's cute. I can picture the teenage Shannon in 10 years time reading this and being cross with me for not taking her seriously. Sorry hun, I do, but it's too precious.

The other day Shannon had Stormed Off in a Huff and then slowly worked her way back to the living room in order to be closer to her favourite spot in the centre of attention. She had her back to me, sitting on the floor with her head in her arms, resting against the couch. I continued pretending to read a magazine while watching her intently.

After a while she sat up with a look of wonder in her eyes and said: "Do you know what we saw at school, Mommy?" "What did you see at school?" I inquired calmly. "A grasshopper!" she exclaimed. "What colour was it?" I asked. "Brown," said she "but I'm still angry!" After a second of glaring at me she returned to her position of huff and that was that.

It was a magic moment!

Here's another one:

There is a couple in our community who are both very tall. The gentleman must be over seven foot tall and his wife is by no means towered over by him. They are an elderly couple and so, luckily have many years experience of dealing with people looking at them in wonder. I am sure they have seen this before:

Sean, Shannon, Jordan and I were heading into a shop which this couple were coming out of. Shannon, as normal for small children, was not looking where she was going. At the last minute she turned round, looked up and said "Wow!!!" in a loud, surprised voice as she saw them in front of her. It was such an instinctive reaction that could never be re-enacted with such awe. All the other people going in and out of the shop, including the lofty couple, heard her and laughed. As one chap said, they're tall to us, imagine how tall they must be to her. Through the eyes and out of the mouth of my child! Oh to be 4 again, just to remember!

Friday, September 19, 2008


Or is that ageless?

Obviously there is something in the water in South Africa that makes people see things through rose tinted glasses. No I am not talking about the people who think that a certain un-nameable politician will not change the constitution to suit his cause when they give him power without asking this 'democratic' country if we mind. I am talking about me. It's my birthday so I am allowed to be a little self indulged, and you can just put up with it for today.

Apparently I am ageless. I am 31 today and, in fact, fairly pleased about that. But I am pleased about something else too.

Yesterday Dorcas, my maid, asked me how old I would be on my birthday. She was shocked and horrified when I told her proudly that I would be 31. No way, said she. I look 19!!!!! NINETEEN!!! Did you get that? With a four year old child, hmm.

This is not an isolated incident.

Our neighbour came over the other day to ask if we minded her chopping down some trees that were blocking her sun and, in fact, obscuring our view of the ocean(Yes, we live 30km from it but we can still see it, framing Durban with its deep blue!). No, I didn't mind one bit. She started talking about the children. She is a little highly strung and nervous about joining the elite club of motherhood. She said I was brave to have my kids so young. I said yes, I wanted them both before I was 30 and I just made it. Her jaw dropped and she confessed to thinking that I was about 22.

So either they need their eyes tested, they weren't close enough or I still haven't mastered Being a Grown Up. Either way, I hope this trend continues so that, to others (I can see the wrinkles when I look in the mirror!), I always look 10years younger than I am.

Now, where's that mud pack?

The Black Box

Try it... and if it brought you here, I would love you to leave a comment!

It sent me here

Well.... it sent me there first. Since then I have been all over everywhere. Except to my desk where revision awaits me. Oh curse the Black Box addiction... until no one's watching, then I'll be back!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Don't miss the magic!!

I have been (fairly) obsessed with the development of my little boy, very much as I was with Shannon when she was going through the stages of learning to roll over, sit, crawl and pull herself up. I monitored her growth and weight gain, when she got her first tooth, how long her hair was (or wasn't). I am in the same mode now with Jordan. And he is coming along nicely. He crawls, rolls over, sits, eats solid food, plays by himself and alongside his sister, pulls himself up on the furniture and has two bright, white teeth. I check his developmental milestones weekly, make sure he is keeping up and doing all the things he is meant to. Shannon has milestones too. I haven't checked for a long time what should be happening with her. What did I expect? She has mastered all the major baby ones so that's it? She has not finished developing yet so...

...I looked up 4 year olds. Their world is magical.

Everything they see and do, think and hear has an impact on their lives and the way they develop. I was merely going through the motions of parenting. Scientifically. Making sure I taught her how to behave, how to eat properly at the table, when to be polite and nice. I focussed on her clumsiness, her inability to sit still, her lack of decible control and her argumentativeness. I took my eye off the ball for a while and I missed out on some of her magic. Now I'm back on her side I see her enthusiasm, her vitality and energy, her need to be heard and her desire for autonomy. . I was not experiencing life through her eyes. Not learning from her about the exciting world of childhood. She still has a lot to learn, but so do I!

I am far more excited to fetch her from school now, I start to think about it from about 10am rather than 2pm. I am desperate to hear what she thinks of her day. Who she played with, which superhero she transformed into, what she understands from their lesson. They are learning about dinosaurs this week.

Shannon's development is no less exciting than young Jordan's. They both have many years of major milestones ahead of them. I want to experience them all. Twice. Through the eyes of two unique and special individuals. I don't want to miss the magic.

One magic moment happened recently. On Monday I took Shannon to the hairdresser to get a propper little girl haircut, rather than the straggly look she was sporting and, to my amusement, my expectations of how the session would go could not have been more off track. I have found with Shannon that with enough preparation beforehand she is capable of going tentatively into an unknown situation and experiencing it without too much trouble. Not this time.

I had explained to her about having her hair cut by someone else. I explained about having it washed first. I told her how much fun it is. She was excited. I forgot that she had NO concept from my descriptions of what she was about to go and do. She refused the wash in a panic, refusing to even go close to the contraption, she was terrified(she told me later that she musn't get her clothes wet so they can't wash her hair!). She eventually agreed to sit on the chair for cutting purposes and, doing all the things she had to do, like keeping her head straight and sitting up nicely, she maintained the most adorable cross face you can imagine. I've never seen it on her before. Not like that. I wish I could have taken a picture! When we left she asked "are we going to the hairdresser now?" I couldn't have got that one more wrong, could I?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Green Fingers

I am not professing that I have such things, only that I am currently hankering after them. Since it is my birthday a week tomorrow I think I shall ask for them then!

I have been gardening. Well, at least, I have been planting things. This is big news - especially if you ask my long suffering neighbour who has assumed the role of Gardener to the Useless, that's me - as I have always wanted to be interested in gardening and know all about it, but never knew where to start. So I thought I would just try. I planted some of my garden plants in pots to see what happens. All those gardening fundis (experts for any non-African readers) who surround me are being very kind saying "you never know, it might work!" They know. They are just letting my experiment run I suppose, in the interests of converting me to their ways... And I have made a compost bin in the garden for all that veggie waste so that it can be recycled into the flower beds!

Anyway, so far so good, I have planted a good number of things now (I don't know what any of them are called, there is a small gap in the knowledge required) and everything is surviving. And here's a turn up for the books, I am pleased to see the rainy weather today! Soaking my garden with life sustaining water, nourishing my plants and softening the ground! Imagine that!

In other news...

Jordan has a cold. A nasty one. He can't breathe properly when he is feeding and is not sleeping... I mean sleeping even less... at night, and hasn't touched proper food for 4 days. Poor little sausage is feeling very sorry for himself. The doctor said there is not much he can do as antibiotics are not required (thank heavens) and we just have to watch and wait! Not fun!

Shannon has been badly behaved at ballet for the last 2 lessons, so this week, as soon as we got home from ballet, I made her draw a picture of her being sorry (I wanted to make her write story about why she was naughty but I think that is asking a bit much of a four year old who has yet to master the art of writing!) to give to her teacher next lesson, in the hope that she will remember to behave nicely... we shall see.

Sean has no news to speak of...yet, but I thought it unfair not to mention him...

I am considering doubling my knowledge intake next year by taking on a diploma in counselling along with my third year of my degree... watch this space.

Last, but not least, Dorcas and Jordan have become firm friends. Even now when he is feeling a little worse for wear, he seems to be happy enough to go off and play with her while I get my work done!

Oh, and in what appears to be becoming a tradition in this house (see this post), I received my birthday present from Sean a little early this year... and it is a mini trampoline. Now Shannon and I have one each, the size of each, perhaps, an indication of how much energy is available to be expended!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Lost Smile

This week Shannon has not slept at school, at all. Really as a result of the incident and the fact that she has coped well without sleeping. However, once in a while she seems to need to catch up and, having reached that point, she collapsed on the couch when she got home one day, and was asleep before I even noticed! Being an indulgent mother and, knowing it would only be me who paid for it at bed time when she was refreshed and ready to play, rather than tired and ready for bed, I left her to sleep. Until bath time.

I was once given some worthy advice about sleeping children... let them sleep. Well, I woke her up. Only to be rewarded by Little Miss Grumpy. Only little in size. I asked her what was wrong so she said, "I didn't have a nice sleep." I asked her why, to which she replied "coz I lost my smile"

Now, indulgent parent I am but not so much so that I can't find it in me to tease my poor, defenseless offspring. Lost your smile? Oh dear. I'll help you find it!

And I searched. High and low. Pantomime style. Her Highness was not impressed. "It's not funny!" she told me. But it was. Very funny indeed. And I was enjoying myself so not ready to stop. Sean went and busied himself in the kitchen to avoid the wrath of Shannon, since he couldn't stop laughing. Jordan looked at me as if I had finally completely lost my marbles (presumably in deference to Shannon) I looked under the chairs, in the toy basket, under the cushions, in her mouth to see if she'd swallowed it...

Slowly but surely she began to see the funny side of it and, after watching me make a fool of myself for a few more minutes, she said to me in a whisper: "I know where my smile is!" Where? I asked her, "here!" says she as a big grin spread across her face! Hmmm, perhaps not so defenseless after all.

© Jane Hendry 2008

Monday, August 25, 2008

Where does the time go?

We have had a full and fun weekend. We did not stop moving and shaking until about 2pm yesterday afternoon. Shannon has been spoilt as only little girls can be, Sean and I have honoured two ladies who are very special to us, and Jordan has been adored by every person who lays eyes on him.

On Friday night we had a braai with our neighbours where we were regaled by all the gossip from around the complex and, though we were tired from a long week, sat up late laughing our socks off.

On Saturday we dropped Shannon off with her Aunt, Uncle and cousins for a morning of sport watching at her cousin's school and then some shopping. Shannon had a brilliant time at the school and was then introduced to clothes shopping the way it ought to be done (what would you like to wear, Shannon?) not the way Mommy does it(Sit in the trolley and don't touch!)! Anyway, when we saw her again at lunchtime the little princess was decked out in a beautiful little outfit, white and blue and very slightly frilly and looked like she should be on the cover of a magazine! If only I had my camera *sigh*

While Shannon was off being treated like the princess she is, Sean, Jordan and I were at a Natural Birth Seminar hosted by the Midwife and Doula who guided us through Jordan's birth. They had asked us to relate our birth experience to the expectant mothers who were not quite sure how the private midwife birth works (it is the norm in this country to have a gynaecologist in charge of a birth rather than a midwife). We retold the story of the amazing journey we had from beginning to end, and how those two wonderful women helped us create an experience worth remembering when our son was born. They were elated with the kind words and believed that many other women would want a private midwife at their side after hearing our story!

By lunchtime we were reunited with the now-more-beautiful-than-ever Shannon, who was distraught to discover that she was being left behind by her adored cousins while they went off to the stadium to watch 15 novice rugby players... erm... I mean the Springboks, receiving a lesson in humiliation from a rather more worthy Australian team. We watched in horror from the comfort of the couch at Sean's brother's house before feeding our sorrows with homemade pizza followed by pancakes. We got home at about 9pm.

By 8am on Sunday we were at the Verster's for a morning of natter for Trace and I and squealing delight from the masses of children we were surrounded by (and a little sawdust which seemed to find its way onto the floor in one of the children's' rooms) and Sean went off to the car sales with Quin (for boy fun)

Early afternoon we headed home and then I shot out to do the shopping (this is easier than stopping off with 2 children in tow) Sean sorted the house to a livable state and then we collapsed in a heap of exhaustion while, for a few precious moments, both children slept.

What a great weekend this was, fun and full to the finish - I think next weekend we'll opt to do a little less, though, I could use the rest!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Child rearing 101

So The Nanny has been here 3 weeks now and a number of issues have come up. None, you understand, that have not been resolved in my interest, but all, of course, which require a bit of work.

Dorcas and I do not see eye to eye on a few factors concerning Jordan:

1. Dorcas thinks he needs a dummy! I do not!

Dorcas is horrified that the poor child is not given a device that will possibly destroy his dental growth, certainly impede his speech development and, most of all, look ridiculous. ('Ach shame M'em he will feel better!')

2. I have a phobia about children and sugar! Dorcas does not!

"He can have Rooibos tea, Dorcas, but no milk!"
" And how much sugar M'em"
After I scraped my jaw off the floor, I asked her in my kindest scary voice to never, ever, EVER, give the little chap sugar, under no circumstances, EVER! I think I made my point clearly and have since secretly peeped in on breakfast and lunch operations... just to make sure!

3. I think it is fabulous for my little prince to fall asleep on me before he is put down to sleep. Dorcas looks at me down her well experienced nose and informs me he needs to sleep himself.

He is sleeping himself - on me - and really (I know you are all on Dorcas' side for this one) if he loves it and I love it it must be good for both of us!

4. When he sees me my little angel wants me.

This is a small house, I work in the dining room which is in the middle of an open plan living space. Where ever he goes, other than his bedroom or outside, he can see me. "you make him cross with me M'em" What can I do, I love it that I am so important to my children and so don't, perhaps, do enough to discourage this sort of behaviour.

So, we work on the rules, regulations and spying to the best of our ability in the hope that Jordan turns out all right in the end. Not that I am a control freak, nor paranoid, you understand!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The spoken by a 4 year old!

We have had an 'incident' at school recently which went something like this:

Shannon came home from school, on about 3 different occasions, saying that one of her teachers had smacked her at nap time for not going to sleep. (I also discovered that, due to following the example of a friend with a tendancy for bad behaviour, Shannon has hidden in the big tyre to avoid 'capture' at nap time!) When pressed about the subject of being smacked as well as that of hiding she would say brightly "it doesn't matter now" or "we've finished talking about that now" Which, I have to be honest, made me wonder if there was a little more to the story (or perhaps a little less) than was being told!

Nonetheless, I called the school and spoke to the head teacher who said that, unless something had changed drastically and she had not been informed, the accused teacher is the only one with an absolute no smacking policy. Let me just put you all at ease here, smacking is against the law in schools in South Africa, so when I say she is the only one who never smacks, I mean that goes for her own children too. So the likelyhood of her smacking someone else's child is rather remote to say the least! I was told under no circumstances to let Shannon know that I suspected an iota of mis-information from her (afterall we want her to believe that it is always safe to tell Mommy everything) as there was no way she could possibly know truth from fiction in this instance. Shannon is no fibber. She never has been, though she has occasionally led herself to believe something that actually isn't! This is one of those instances. Needless to say, the teacher in question is a little put out by the acusation (even though she is a pre-school teacher and she should know better).

So we have devised a new sleeping plan for Shannon in which she only sleeps twice a week (she no longer really needs a nap every afternoon) and I prompt her every morning as to what is expected of her. Yesterday, when I could get a word in edgeways, I asked Shannon about Nap Time earlier that afternoon:

me: did you have a nap today?
her: yes
me: did you hide from your teacher?
her: no only last week (can I insert here that her concept of time is vertually nil but her use of past tense just means that it happened before now!)
me: did you sleep nicely?
her: I went faaaaaaast asleep! but Kyla beat me!
me: Did Tina smack you?
her: It's not fair, my nose will grow like Minocchio.
me: Why will it do that?
her: It's not fair when I be naughty!
me: Were you naughty today.
her No, I'm a good girl but we've finished talking about that now.

I think that we can safely say that the smacking did not actually take place. I am still left wondering, though, how that little bit of fantasy found it's way into her head and became a reality for her? Something someone said...followed by a dream...??? Who knows.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Happy Women's Day

Today is Women's day in South Africa so, to all the women out there, have a great day and remember how special you are!!!

I have recently joined a community which, though I knew it was there, I never really grasped the closeness of. Reluctant Memsahib recently posted on a topic which, it seems, is very close to the hearts of many women. Certainly all those in this close community. Her words seem to have had a powerful effect on many of us! Potty Mummy recently posted on why she blogs... I identified with many of her reasons. Here are some of my own:

It is fascinating to consider that this group of people, very few of whom know each other face to face, and many if whom are spread across the globe, find that they have so much in common. I feel privileged to have a look in and to slowly become part of this community.

I have a great group of friends with whom I spend as much time as I can spare, we are all mothers, we are all women in a similar stage in life and we are all very different. Our time spent together almost always involves our children in one way or another. One evening every month we get together at one or another's house (and sometimes, when we are all free, for a morning coffee), without children, and we laugh. We can be just friends and just our Selves. For that time we are not mothers or wives or business owners or career women or any other of the many roles we have to play. We get to be the Selves that we were at 5 years old, and 18 years old and twenty something. Carefree.

Being part of this blogging community has given me another group of friends. I may not know them to wave to in the street, to stop and catch up on the recent past, but I can drop by any time I need a friend. Any time I need to see how they are, any time I need to offload the pressures of fulfilling all my own roles.

I love the all the roles I play in my life, from daughter and sister to wife and mother and every one in between. Sometimes I just like to be me.

I am happy that I am part of these special communities, real and virtual.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

A different perspective

After a dearth of updates I seem to have a lot of words to get out at the moment... and perhaps a little more time to do so. Dorcas was not here yesterday due to the nationwide stay away to let the government know we are a little upset about the rising cost of food here! She had no idea there was a strike until she got up on Wednesday morning and saw the taxis barricading the roads, not letting the work force out of their villages. I forgot to mention it to her. It was nice to spend the morning playing with my gorgeous son and it cemented in my mind the fact that I have done the right thing by employing her. Dorcas I mean. I am adapting just the right amount. I think.

I had a friend around yesterday afternoon, mostly so our little girls could play together, but also so that we could catch up. She is a bit of a workaholic and, as well as running her own TWO businesses, has just picked up another job on the side! So her free time is precious. It was fantastic to chat. I often forget how similarly we think and, every once in a while, she exposes me to a different perspective, in a familiar idea, that changes the way I think. Yesterday she did this.

I am often charged with communicating poorly when my beloved and I do not see eye to eye (all our disagreements are through poor communication - his and mine). This is always made worse by being reminded that I am supposed to be good with words, I ought to know how to use them better. I never really thought about it til yesterday, but my words are carefully crafted, worked and reworked before they are presented, in the written form, for others to see. I am not able to revise my spoken words in the same way! I feel a little less pressurised to get it right under duress.

In my current state of openness to change, looking at things from a different perspective is helping to push my paranoia to the back of my mind. I would like to see everything from someone else's perspective, every day, in the hope that I can learn something new and add a little bit of difference to the Me that I am now.

On an entirely different note, Jordan's tooth, that has been trying valiantly to become fully erupted, has now managed to do so. The full tip of the tooth is exposed and the potential for tooth mark in skin has now been realised! Nonetheless, Mommy is very proud!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

A lesson for me

In the interests of change I have also changed the look and feel of the blog... let's see shall we?

It is winter here in South Africa. At least in theory. July/August is usually chilly during the day and certainly very cold at night. At the moment the days are warm and the sky is very close to the deep blue that it usually only becomes in summer. It is warm enough for Jordan to spend half an hour outside in just a t-shirt, free of nappies and other restrictive, but warm, clothing; and for us to play in the garden all afternoon until bathtime. It's a little unusual.

I am enjoying the weather; I am one of those people who thrive on warm, sunny days. I am productive, positive and pleasant to be around. This is good. In the back of my mind, however, lurks a little unease. July shouldn't be this warm. It is winter afterall. Global warming feels more real now. I used to think of it as something far away and that, as long as I did my part along with everyone else, in time it would go away altogether. Perhaps not.

I will allow that thought to lurk for now. In the back. I can't help but love the blue sky, brightly coloured flowers (that are up and about a bit early this year) and the birdsong. I never used to notice many of the smaller things that happen on warm sunny days. Now Shannon points them out gleefully; a butterfly looks like a face "that one's a pretty lady mommy". We lie on the trampoline in the afternoon looking for shapes in the clouds and her imagination is startling. She points out all sorts of things, abstract things. I am enthralled by the world through my child's eyes. It seems as though as childhood dwindles so too does our realisation that thing are exciting and beautiful and worth noticing. I have learnt to pay attention finally (my parents will be pleased to read that) by learning to be a child again!

I think we should all take stock once in a while. Take notice of the world around us. And look after it, so generations after us can be reminded by their own children that we live on a beautiful planet. One which deserves our awareness and consideration if it is in danger of suffering heatstroke through our folly.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Change is good...

I think!

Today I feel better about things. Housework is being tended to and Jordan is quietly playing with his new best friend! I suppose the better we get to know each other and the more things get done my way (",) the happier I will feel. Yesterday I was a bit panicked and didn't really know where to start. Today I have realised - thanks to some wise words from Sean - that trial and error is actually ok. I don't have to be perfect or get everything right the first time.

Jordan has been much happier today too. Yesterday he was very unsettled and last night, when we should have been sleeping, he thought it would be fun to play with Mommy since Mommy had ignored him all day!!! Although after some discussion Jordan agreed to sleep as long as it was on me. Have I mentioned he is nearly 9kg? Well, you try sleeping with 9 bags of sugar on your chest! Nonetheless at least he slept!

Dorcas also seems to be more confidant today. I suppose yesterday was pretty daunting for her too. She quit a secure part time job she loved to come to me (almost) full time. If that were me I would be scared that I could have made the wrong decision. She is very good with His Majesty Jordan who seems to be putting a lot of effort into making her feel welcome. He sits on the floor beside her dutifully playing with the toys he is presented. Then, when he thinks she's not looking, I get a sly look of pride at how well he is playing his part! Clever little monkey!

Speaking of clever little monkeys, I was left speechless by Shannon the other day when she was eating a piece of toast. She wasn't being at all ladylike about how she was eating it and I said: "don't do that it's not polite!" to which she replied (with a mouth full of toast) "Yes it is! I put polite on it!" Who can argue with that?

I have to commend Shannon for her part in my return to fitness. Yes, she is my new personal trainer. It happens that she LOVES to jump on her trampoline when she gets home from school... every day... with me. Who would have thought that the most effective form of exercise I have ever tried would be so easily maintained by playing with my children!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Changing times!

The theme of this blog is really intended to be about my children and their antics. It seems to have been a bit wobbly though, going off track often and haphazardly. A dramatic change has just taken place in our lives (well mine and Jordan's anyway) in that - and I know that many people do this and that, at least in South Africa, it is considered the norm - I have just relinquished a portion of Jordan's care to a nanny. I am a bit of a control freak and, as I sit here typing, they are happily playing in his bedroom. I can hear them. I can't see them. I can't control the passage of play. I am feeling a little freaked out. In the interests of making myself feel better I am going to reign in this blog and centre it, at least for the time being, around this new state of affairs. So here goes.

Dorcas has come for the first time today. I am a little unsure how to manage her. I want things to go my way but at the same time I don't want to be a tyrant to work for. I expect Jordan will be happy as she is totally focussed on playing with him at the moment. I wonder if this means he will sleep less often but for longer? I want her to do house work too. How do I go about setting a routine that works for me as well as for Jordan? I foresee a week of trial and error ahead of me. I want to find this easy but I don't.

Actually I am a bit pathetic I think. I have to work now, I have exams coming up and a writing career to get off the ground. I work FROM HOME. I am not leaving my precious litte boy at a creche where I can't keep my eye on him. I am not leaving him at home alone with Dorcas (who comes highly recommended by the way) I am here. They are here. Hmm. he is crying. The tired cry. How will she know?

I am off to do some managing. Wish me luck.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Oh peanuts!

So, monkeys are cute looking creatures... from afar. And enjoyable to watch playing in the garden. I don't find them so cute when they are ransacking my kitchen.

I was at my neighbours house, chatting and not bothering anyone and, in fact, happily watching the monkeys play, when the garderner came running saying that the monkeys had got into my house. MY house. Ugh! Now, I am not sure if the window had been left open too wide or if the mangy creatures have worked out how to open it. Whatever the case, they were inside. They ate all our fruit, especially enjoying Jordan's banana that I was hoping to feed him that afternoon. There was naartjie (clementine, in English, I think) peel all over the place and, for a reason known only to himself as there is no food down there, one big monkey was in the bedroom! Ugh.

We had bought a packet of raw peanuts to take with us on our little up-coming holiday, with the intention of roasting them over the fire. Well they were uneaten and scattered all over the kitchen. At least EAT the things if you are going to ruin someone elses plan for them. Don't just cover them in monkey germs and leave them behind.

We will buy more peanuts. And leave the windows shut when we are out. As long as they don't come visiting when we are in, as they look at me in disgust and carry on as if I had actually asked "would you like another one?" when I try to shoo them out, and they are about the same size as my oldest child. That's a little scary for me. Sorry monkeys, but please go back to stealing Brian's food, that's as entertaining for everyone else as it is for you!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Shameless punt...

I have recently discovered that, with a little bit of creativity, I can make a few pennies (or cents in my case) from writing articles. This happened completely by accident as I was both bolshy and lucky enough to convince an editor to take my first attempt at writing and print it in her magazine! Of course this made me think it was really easy so I set about adding some details to a writers website and then, since I didn't have a clue what to do next, I left it at that.

Being a Mommy doesn't leave much time for thinking about things other than the here and now so, other than the excitement of the article actually being published, I thought nothing more of it. But then, out of the blue, I was commissioned by 2 other editors, and so, here I sit, thinking I really could be a writer! So I've made a website to market my ability. I know, I know, don't get ahead of myself, but since it was free to build and free to publish I see no harm. But. People need to know it is there. So (if anyone still reads this very intermittent blog) go check it out!

Nothing makes more sense to me than pursuing an interest that can earn me a little income while I spend my children's younger years at home with them, on my own schedule! I can get my career (?!?) going when they have better things to do than spend time with Mommy!

Shannon told me today that she wasn't going to jump on her trampoline because she was too cross with the monkeys that had been playing on it while she was at school!
I asked her why she thought the monkeys had been on the trampoline and she said: "because they told me!" while giving me a are-you-always-this-thick look and then stomping off Being Cross!

Jordan got himself in the proper, ready to move crawling position today. He then got very frustrated and squealed at a pitch that is almost only audible to dogs, because he couldn't get himself out of it. Once order was restored he did look very proud of himself though!

Those are the moments I would miss if it weren't for the privilege of being a work from home Mom.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Been a while...

Funny how inspiration comes in fits and starts. Was it Einstein who said that genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration? I only have about 1 % inspiration at the moment so perhaps if I put in a little more effort I could fall into that category!

Jordan will be 6 months old on Monday and I have no idea where the time has gone. In a way it seems he is quite old already but then at the same time he is still a tiny baby! My revision timetable starts in August and I am thanking my lucky stars that I do not have to send my little boy to school yet in order to be able to work. I was going to you know. At 6 months old. I know this is normal and not a matter of choice for many people these days and in fact they go even younger, most creches take babies from 3 months. For me it feels foreign and very unnatural. I have a child minder/maid starting in August who has been recommended to me by the owner of the school Shannon is at. I will still be at home and so will my baby but someone else will be there to play with him while I work! This is a compromise I can cope with. The other great thing about this is that I will have more time to write. Anyone know any editors looking for freelancers? Here sits a freelancer looking for work!

Yesterday was definitely a wintry day! We have had such a mild time of it thus far. For the first time this year (except when it is raining) I did not take my jersey off before going to fetch Shannon from school in the early afternoon. Yesterday Jordan and I went for our walk bundled up even though the sun had puffed it's chest out and was trying valiantly to warm the air around us! Today is also very cold and I think that brave southern sun has lost its battle with the clouds that seem to chase it across the sky.

Shannon has a frog in her tummy. He has been there for a while. Ever since she got a cough, in fact, and sounded a bit hoarse. I said she had a frog in her throat and, having found it's way to her tummy, it seems to have taken up residence. She is quite fond of her frog and gets a bit upset when anyone mentions that perhaps it has gone home now. This frog is the reason she can or can't do things. People might, perhaps, think she is trying to absolve herself of responsibility, but I think it is ingenious. If she can't do something she says the frog won't let her, and then when she is feeling more capable she can try again. This is especially true of the monkey bars at school. Shannon tells me every day that she can't do the monkey bars and that her friends can. She tried. Everyday. I am saddened for her. She ought to be able to do anything she wants. Her frog is there for her though. If she can do it she feels good, if she can't she can blame the frog.

I need a frog too.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Positivity Please

I have begun to wonder why the world is coming off the rails. There is something very discomforting about the fact that my last 2 posts have ended in "Rest in Peace". Something is out of control and it must be stopped. So, in order to stem this as best I can I am going to insert some of the brilliant things that have happened recently while all this badness has tried to take over.

  • Someone VERY special came to stay! I am not saying who as I selfishly told no one he would be here so that I could have him all to myself for 48 hours and because he is so wonderful others might be jealous and get cross with me. But anyway, we spent an awesome 48 hours together and caught up on so much... and ate mountains of rusks dipped in tea! I wish a certain lady could have been here too but we can't have it all, eh!
  • My Cyborg brained big sister (actually she is tiny but since she is older than me she must be referred to as big) got her Doctorate! So to those of you out there that do not have mitigating circumstances - like I do - it's Dr. Clare from now on if you don't mind!
  • I have mitigating circumstances when it comes to calling Clare Doctor. For very good reason! I asked her, when she told me she had passed her viva, what she would do now that she had reached the pinnacle of education, she said now she would try to get published. I've already achieved this so evidently I am one step ahead of her and therefore don't have to call her Dr.! (PLEASE do not burst my bubble by pointing out flaws in this logic... positivity is required in my life!)
  • My ebullient little sister (yes she is little so this fits) seems to be on the right track for where she wants to be in life and is finally in a fabulous relationship with a fabulous man!
  • I have been commissioned to write 2 more articles which makes me a bona fide writer as far as I am concerned. And I have been paid for every article I have submitted! None of this writing-for-free-to-make-a-name-for-yourself rubbish! (Although if needs must...)
  • Kim is coming home!!! Yay!! For the record, Kim, we miss you LOADS. It may be just for a couple of weeks but a little dose of Kim is required by lots of people that I care about!
  • Buddy and Grandma Hendry are also headed in our general direction so there will be plenty of family support at a time when it is well needed!
  • I don't have tonsils so I couldn't catch tonsillitis from Tracey (sorry Tracey but this is about me!)
  • Best of all, through some kind of friend ESP, Tracey has just arrived with avo and toast (well bread but (positively) we have electricity to make it into toast) and come to see me just when I was thinking I could really use a friend.
  • I am about to eat avo on toast... mmmmmmm!
Right, that is a fair amount of positivity which should keep me going til the next post which, with any luck, will start to be good news again!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Hendry Family

This blog is becoming a bit morbid but, devastatingly, the tragedy continues...

Yesterday, my niece Amy and 2 of her friends, Jennifer-Rae and Kate, were driving to the South Coast to go camping with some other friends for the long weekend. En route they stopped in Amanzimtoti to change drivers, and were hijacked. At 3:40 in the afternoon. In broad daylight. In a public place. The.... you have no idea what words I want to use here... I will settle for: callous, audacious, beasts shot Jen, who was in the drivers seat, and it seems the same bullet tore through Jen and into Kate who was in the passenger seat. Kate is in ICU and at this stage we do not know the repercussions of her injuries. Amy was physically unscathed, but, after being a victim of the attack, taking Kate to safety, having her belongings violently wrenched away from her, and holding and talking to her dear friend Jen in her final moments, will never be the same carefree young lady that she was.

Amy has an amazing support group in her many, many friends as well as her ever doting family and I am so grateful that she is constantly surrounded by them at this time.

I am ANGRY. I am scared, I am shocked, I am terribly saddened, but most of all I am ANGRY. How DARE they do this to 3 young women with so much going for them... how dare they do this to ANYONE. How brazen they were, attacking the car in a populated shopping street in broad daylight. This is what South Africa has come to. I loved this country, I wanted my children to grow up here. I haven't wanted that for a while now. It is pushed to the back of my mind, since we have to go on with our lives and we have to have lives. We have to do things and go places. We can't barricade ourselves in our houses.

We are leaving. It is just a matter of when. There are many, many people in this beautiful country who say they will never leave. I can't be one of them. I have to take my children somewhere where they have a chance to grow up without fear in their hearts.

I have so much else I want to say. I can't find the words. Our hearts go out to Jen's family, God give you strength. Kate, we are thinking of you and wishing you a full recovery. Amy we love you dearly and are here for you whenever you need us.

Rest in peace Jen.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Coughlan Family

Today a good number of my Coughlan family are gathered in Zimbabwe for the funeral of my Aunt Sheelagh. She was killed in a car accident on Friday. Our thoughts are with her husband, Brian, her children, Lauren, Brian and Lindsay, and all her brothers and sisters, as well as all the rest of our grieving family. We are all shocked by this tragedy!

Tomorrow, this family will be taking Granny Coughlan's ashes to their final resting place, Chitora Farm, Rusape, where Grampa Coughlan is waiting for her. Gran passed away on April 24th this year. Sheelagh will also be laid to rest with Granny and Grampa at Chitora.

There is enough grief now - please give us a chance to deal with it all!

Rest in Peace

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Feeling flat!

This blog is intended to be a (hopefully) comical look at the Fab Four who make up this wonderful family of mine... today it is, however, a place for me to off load a bit. So if you prefer your whine in a glass (and without the h) leave now!

There are lots of things making me feel a bit flat - I am not going to go into the biggest causes because I am feeling a little private about it all. Perhaps once some time has passed.

Maybe a little has to do with the weather and the fact that - due to two unnamed (but very short and dependent) people - I have had very little sleep in the last week, but I am feeling FLAT today. Yesterday I was OK, I was productive and chirpy and positive about so much (hmmm the sun was shining yesterday, wonder if there is a coincidence?)

Anyway, GinGin has broken down and has to be towed to the car hospital. At least she hasn't completely broken down but those in the know think that if I drive her again she will... something to do with no oil pressure. So I am driving Sean's car... not VERY pleased, although most think I am crazy as GinGin is a Ford Tonic (hence the name) and Sean's car is a merc! Still prefer GinGin!!! And since we are not entirely sure what the problem is, we are not entirely sure how long it will take to get sorted which therefore follows that we are not entirely sure when I will get my car back. A BIG downside to this is that I have to drop Sean off at his Boss's house at 6:15am for work and fetch him afterwards. Grrr. I want my car back!

My next topic of disgruntle-dom is judgemental people. Who or what gives anyone the right to judge people they don't know, without giving themselves a chance to get to know them...properly? Usually this doesn't bother me because how I feel about myself and those around me is what is important to me not what others (who do not know them) think of them... today I am feeling judged by the world. Not for any apparent reason mind you, just out of the blue. For what it is worth I am a very nice person and worth the effort! I know, I know... build a bridge and get over it! *snif*

OK I am done wallowing. For now.

Jordan has decided that there is more to life than sleeping and therefore has given it up... indefinitely. I have a feeling that the sleeplessness has something to do with teething, but only because I have exhausted all other possibilities as he has no other specific symptoms except putting things in his mouth which is normal anyway!!! He has also learnt that if he squeezes his fat tummy in a certain way and purses his lips he can squeal. Loudly. And incessantly. Very cute... or a form of Chinese torture.

Also, he has decided that my advice to him that he should try to meet his developmental milestones at the end of the appropriate age, rather than the beginning as Shannon did, is a load of rubbish and sat beautifully by himself at the tender age of four and a half months. Which probably means I do not have VERY long before we need to dig out the baby gates to pen him in to the areas of the house in which I can see him at all times!

Shannon has been spoilt this year with her birthday present coming 3 weeks early - because a) we had nowhere to stash it, and b) we are not very good at denying ourselves the instant gratification of witnessing her pleasure and excitement. She got a trampoline. Second hand but she doesn't know the difference. It takes up most of our garden, but that along with the swings makes the garden what it is intended to be: children's playground!

Shannon's reaction was tenfold what we anticipated: Sean came home from work with the tramp and once Shannon had gone to bed, assembled it in the garden. Once it resembled a trampoline he went to get her out of bed. Shannon could not believe her eyes and did not release Sean from the biggest hug I think he has ever got! Then she hurled herself at me, then back to Sean all the time saying "my trampoline" over and over. Unfortunately for the little madam it is raining today so she has to stare longingly out the window at it...

Tomorrow will be a better day!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Out of the Mouthes of Babes


My dearly beloved daughter, who always has us in stitches with her off the wall behaviour and statements, gave us a lesson (actually more like an imprompu exam...without the prior learning) in controlled parenting skills. In fact we had to maintain total self control in an instance where our natural reaction was to burst out laughing unstoppably!

We were sitting at the table having supper - which I have finally managed to organise so that the whole family eats together... long may it last! - and Shannon was telling us about her day, when, in her best gossipy voice, she came out with this:

Shannon: You know what Kyla James said at school? (his name is Tyler not Kyla but she hasn't clocked the difference yet)
Dad: What did Tyler James say?
Shannon: F***


Luckliy - as there was little margin for error on our part - we were both able to not react to that and remained aware that in many ways it is not funny. Since she has no idea what the word means, and is only aware that there is something wrong with it due to the way the teachers reacted, the horror in her voice and on her face in her retelling of this event was why we really battled not to dissolve into uncontrollable giggles. Had we laughed, rather than sternly emphasising the need to NEVER repeat the story to anyone... ever..., she would have been a bit confused and probably gone on to tell other people who would have been absolutely horrified by our innocent daughter's language (although it is still early days with this one!).

Retrospectively, however, I am unable to maintain such composure, and keep getting those upwellings of giggles which, being the way I am, I am incapable of squashing. So I am paying for my sins by getting bewildered or pitiful looks from anyone and everyone around me. Not to mention the little madam herself keeps asking me why I am laughing!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The House of Sleep

Last night something strange happened in our house. This is how it all began: at bedtime, Jordan was screaming about something or other and there was no consoling him. Since I had gone through The List of possible options and nothing cheered him up I decided just to put him down to bed anyway. He stopped crying as I did this and stared at me in indignant surprise, as if to say who do you think you are? can't you see I am cross? Supressing the urge to giggle at his expression, I turned on his mobile and left the room. There was silence (except for the mobile music). I then went through the Shannon Bedtime Routine and got her settled. We sang a few songs together and then I went to enjoy a glass of wine in celebration of my Dad's birthday! Then Jordan realised I wasn't coming back, the mobile had stopped and he started to cry again... although this time with less enthusiasm. I went back to him and turned on the mobile again and walked out (trying VERY hard not to respond to the huge, open mouthed grin I got when he saw me!) Shannon took her usual hour to fall asleep but then the house was quiet. None if this is completely out of the ordinary, it has happened before... this has not:

  • Jordan slept til 5am... without waking all! I woke up! As did Sean. But Jordan slept, blissfully unaware that our broken sleep was still his doing!
  • Shannon got up to go to the loo in the night and went back to her own bed!

I am not expcting any miracles and at this stage am putting it down to the fact that Jordan overheard me and Sean agreeing that Sean would do the Saturday night feed this weekend so that I could get some much needed sleep! Manipulative little monkey thinks if he sleeps through I won't bother to express and then I wil have to get up and see him if he wakes up!

Well we'll see.

Jordan was weighed and measured today and weighed 7.5kg and is 65cm long... getting too heavy to lug around everywhere - I need a baby caddy!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Go Home!

Shannon has found a new independence! She has always been very independent and determined to do things by herself. We know this as she says, leaving no uncertainty, "I can". But now it is beginning to define her existence! So now I am beginning to feel a little redundant as here are the things I am not allowed to help with:

  • Getting dressed (no matter what she chooses to wear!)
  • Brushing teeth
  • carrying her school bag to the car (bonus - I used to look like a sherpa with all the things I had to carry)
  • Opening the car door
  • Closing the car door
  • Doing up her seat belt

Anyway the list goes on and includes many areas of her life including food preparation, cleanliness, and self preparation. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to extend to self entertainment and I am still required to be number one playmate!


Regularly, these days, when I drop her at school, Shannon likes to walk herself to the gate while I watch her safely into the door from the safe distance of the car. So she gives me a good bye kiss and waves to me from the door as someone lets her in! Today was different. Today she said "I can't kiss you mom as I have lipstick on (!) and I am at school so you can go home! Not even so much as a "have a nice day Mom" or "I'll miss you Mom" just "Go home".

*snif* my baby is a big girl... when did that happen?

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Is the window closed?

Yesterday Mary (who is here from England) Sean, Shannon, Jordan and I went to uShaka to go and see the amazing aquarium and to watch both the Seal and Dolphin shows! When we arrived the first thing we saw were some small sharks swimming around below us in a tank surrounded by very real looking rocks and - luckily - a fence! With a sign on it. No Swimming. Do you suppose people really need that sign? I digress.

So we entered the very real looking ghost ship which houses the aquarium and, after descending into its dark and murky depths, we came across 3 portholes through which we could see a colourful array of fish. I tried, in my excitement on her behalf, to lift Shannon up to the porthole... She squealed in dismay and wriggled til I dumped her unceremoniously on her feet a good metre from said porthole! Mary leant forward to show Shannon that she could get right up to the glass to see the fish and the sharks - which I think caused most of the dismay in the first place - and Shannon asked, in a very small voice: "Is the window closed?"

After establishing that the windows were indeed closed, Shannon was unstoppable! She wanted to see everything and to move on to the next thing to see if it was as good if not better than what she had already seen. And what a perfect day we had. I footled around with Jordan who slept fed and stared, bewildered, at the sea life, Sean took pictures and Mary and Shannon look at sea creatures, talked about sea creatures, claimed sea creatures (those are my Dolphins, hey Mary!) and got drenched by sea creatures.

We arrived at Seaworld at about 10am and saw all there was to see in the aquarium, watched the sharks being fed, watched a seal training session and then later a seal pantomime (!), and then to end off our perfect day we went to watch the dolphin show. Well Shannon was beside herself when she saw these beautiful mammals. She went from rigid to floppy to starring in wonder. Mary took Shannon down to the tank when the kiddies were called to get splashed and she squealed again (Shannon not Mary), this time in sheer delight and then dissolved into giggles! After all this activity we left Sea World at about 4pm wondering how anyone can fit in all the attractions there as well as going to the water park that weaves it's way through it! Shannon was so tired it was a bit like looking after a drunk person and she was fast asleep within about 10mins of getting in the car. All in all a perfect day. Thanks Mary! And thank goodness the windows were closed!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Sucker for punishment!

I find running (read walking, as at this stage 30mins walking is tiring enough) on a treadmill exceptionally dull but, as it is the only option I have for consistent and worthwhile exercise, I'll take it. I spend the time engaged in 'useful' thinking. This is thinking that should have some positive impact on life in general. Useful Thinking, as it turns out, is not always a good thing. At least not when you think about deep and meaningful things that can impact one's life. In fact it can be down right dangerous!

It occurred to me a year and a half ago that in order to improve my lot and maybe make a difference to other peoples lives, I should start an education process that will take me 3 and then 1 and then 2 years (undergraduate, honours, masters) to complete which will qualify me, at least on paper, to help people with any number of psychological problems to overcome their issues. Me. Really. Now, I realise that I am only half way through the first stage but I am having a bit of a speed wobble. How will I ever know enough to be a bona fide psychologist. This speed wobble came about whilst walking on that dangerous thinking machine. The other thought that TDTM brought to my conscious is: what am I thinking that I am capable of doing such a thing? Degrees are for clever people who are usually intrinsically motivated and who have a highly efficient long term memory for storing and retreiving volumes of information pertaining to their career of choice. When I grow up I want to be one of those people, but for now I live in hope that no one will guess my secret and expose me as a bit of fraud! Damn TDTM!

As it turns out, my motivation and my need to engage in Useful Thought seems to have been too much for the old machine and it has had a speed wobble of its own. This means that it is lying in state with a number of parts missing, (Sean has those and I know not what they are or what they do, that is Sean's business!) unable to tempt me to think and certainly not letting me take that exercise that I have been highly motivated to undertake. So here I sit, not getting any fitter but feeling a good deal better about my education. Now, where's that Pilates DVD?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Research Associate in the field of Child Development and Human Relations

I recieved the following in an email not too long ago and I think the fact that I recieved it again this morning means it warrants some sort of permanence in my existence. I desperately want to be given the oportunity to use the well deserved title and hope that all you research associates, senior research associates, executive senior research associates and associate recearch assistants out there get the chance to use it too!

A woman, renewing her driver's license at the County Clerk's office, was asked by the woman recorder to state her occupation.

She hesitated, uncertain how to classify herself.

"What I mean is," explained the recorder, "do you have a job or are you just a ...?"

"Of course I have a job," snapped the woman.

"I'm a Mom."

"We don't list 'Mom' as an occupation, 'housewife' covers it," said the recorder emphatically.

I forgot all about her story until one day I found myself in the same situation, this time at our own Town Hall. The Clerk was obviously a career woman, poised, efficient, and possessed of a high sounding title like, "Official Interrogator" or "Town Registrar."

"What is your occupation?" she probed.

What made me say it??? I do not know. The words simply popped out. "I'm a Research Associate in the field of Child Development and Human Relations."

The clerk paused, ballpoint pen frozen in midair and looked up as though she had not heard right.

I repeated the title slowly emphasizing the most significant words. Then I stared with wonder as my pronouncement was written, in bold, black ink on the official questionnaire.

"Might I ask," said the clerk with new interest, "just what you do in your field?"

Coolly, without any trace of fluster in my voice, I heard myself reply, "I have a continuing program of research, (what mother doesn't) In the laboratory and in the field, (normally I would have said indoors and out). I'm working for my Masters, (first the Lord and then the whole family) and already have four credits (all daughters).. Of course, the job is one of the most demanding in the humanities, (any mother care to disagree?) and I often work 14 hours a day, (24 is more like it). But the job is more challenging than most run-of-the-mill careers and the rewards are more of a satisfaction rather than just money."

There was an increasing note of respect in the clerk's voice as she completed the form, stood up, and personally ushered me to the door.

As I drove into our driveway, buoyed up by my glamorous new career, I was greeted by my lab assistants -- ages 13, 7, and 3. Upstairs I could hear our new experimental model, (a 6 month old baby) in the child development program, testing out a new vocal pattern. I felt I had scored a beat on bureaucracy! And I had gone on the official records as someone more distinguished and indispensable to mankind than "just another Mom." Motherhood!

What a glorious career!

Especially when there's a title on the door.

Does this make grandmothers "Senior Research associates in the field of Child Development and Human Relations"

And great grandmothers "Executive Senior Research Associates?"

I think so!!!

I also think it makes Aunts "Associate Research Assistants."


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

A Risk to National Security!

Jordan is 3 months old...already!...and I felt it about time I put some effort into acquiring official bits and pieces such as passports and British citizenship, only to discover he does not qualify because neither Sean nor I were born in England. He is a baby. How is it possible that a BABY can be denied citizenship that a parent is entitled to? Not to mention it is the ONLY citizenship that I am entitled to!

Here are the results of my quest for information on the next step:


To Whom It May Concern:

I am a British person living in South Africa and my son has just been born here. I was not born in the UK and got my right to citizenship through my parents who were both born there. I have discovered that my son does not qualify for a British passport unless I register his birth before his first birthday. Please can you let me know what this involves, where I can find the forms and how much it will cost. Also, is it possible, and if so any easier or cheaper, for me to get someone in England to register his birth over there? My first child was born in England nearly 4 years ago and she, my husband and I all have British passports, so it is frustrating not being able to get one for my son!

I appreciate any information you can give me.


Dear Sean

The child will not be eligible for a British passport unless you hold a Naturalization certificate, or can prove that you resided in the UK prior to his birth.Registration is no longer necessary.


Hi Barbara (I only know her name because it is in the email address)

What is a naturalization certificate and where do I get one from? What exactly do you need for me to prove that we were living in the UK?

Thank you


Dear Jane

Tax certificates, salary slips, utility bills etc proving you were living there for that period.

ME: (this time I decided to ask a lot of questions so she could just answer each oneand not have to think for herself)

Hi Barbara,

OK I can do that. Is there a form to fill in? Who do I show the proof to? Does it have to be all or any of the examples you gave? Can I email them? Do I have to do it before he is a certain age? How do I go about getting the passport once I have proved that I used to live in England? Can it be done from South Africa? How many months/years worth of proof do I need to show? Is there any other information I need to go ahead with this?


ADVISOR: (I was a bit optimisitc it seems)

Dear Jane

These must accompany the application and send as much evidence as possible


OK Thanks


Only a pleasure


What pleasure???? I knew more BEFORE she 'helped' me!

Other than this 'helpful' interaction I have spoken to a lady in Pretoria who has given me some different advice and looked at 3 govenment websites which also claim different things. This is what I have read/been told so far:

  • I must register his birth in the UK
  • That I cannot register his birth
  • That he must get a visa and live there for 3 years to qualify
  • That if I can prove that I have lived in England for 3 years he will qualify automatically
  • That my residence in the UK is irrelevant
  • That if I have a naturalisation certificate for my own birth he will qualify automatically
  • That I must apply before he is 12months old
  • That there is no time constraint
  • That I must apply before he is 18
Anyone else got any advice that might be a bit more useful... I would GREATLY appreciate it! Or is my 3 month old son a genuine risk to national security?