Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A New Year, a new you?


I have been reminded, by reading a number of other blogs, that I am sort of expected to come up with some New Year's resolutions to help me keep on the straight and narrow in the coming year. Not keen. I must be honest, I really don't have space between the long term goals I have already set myself, and the day to day energy required to keep a household, with an overworked husband and two demanding children, at relative peace.

So, in the interests of finding some inspiration, I googled 'New Year's Resolutions' and every single image of a list had something about weight loss on it somewhere. It still amazes me that, with all this determination there are more of us overweight than not! So anyway, we'll stick that in. Resolution number one: lose weight, tone up!

Though practically perfect in every way, it turns out that I am a bit of a failure in the domestic Goddess front, but am not yet earning enough of an income (read contributing financially to this here household) to avoid household duties with any real excuse. (YUK) Ok, so there is resolution number two. Get a maid.

Hmmm, I guess resolution number three ought to be 'earn enough money to pay for maid', but since that depends on one of my long term goals it is hardly a new resolution.

Resolution number four, don't be hurt by other people's, usually incorrect, opinion of me.

Resolution number five...

Do you know what? I have lots of plans for 2010. Most of them are carry-ons from things I have been working on for a long time, so not really something I can list as about to change as the second hand ticks it's last tock before the New Year, and the rest... well the rest are kind of personal, secret and deep down and I will stick to them because they have meaning to me and mine.

I am not a fan of New Year resolutions because I think we should all be constantly striving for self actualisation. I am. I have a looooong way to go, but I try. Daily. And some day I know it will all pay off, one way or another, with or without listing my intentions at the start of every New Year.

Since some sort of change is always inevitable, I have changed the look of this blog.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas memories


I have lived in Africa more than half my life and in different life stages, (the first 12 years, 4 in the middle teen years, and the last 5 as a married Mum) and there are certain parts of me that are inextricably linked with Africa. Memories of my childhood, especially, are something I will never let go of, as they give me a sense of belonging, familiarity and something to pass on to my own children. One of my fondest memories is of Christmas in Zimbabwe, surrounded by a Very Large Family (in numbers, not weight) with so much activity, fun, sunshine (yes we still had sunshine in Africa in those days) food, drink and even peace and quiet. Being in the southern hemisphere and it being summer 'n all, there was no snow, and and it was never, never cold. So, to counteract this chilly, rainy day in today's southern hemisphere 'summer' (please can someone explain why global warming is so cold), this is my memory of Christmas in Africa.

My Christmas in Africa is synonymous with the daytime heat beating down on sun kissed children playing noisy games, or splashing in the pool outside, under the watchful eyes of numerous mothers; and all the Dads foregoing the sun to watch - read catch a few hours’ kip in front of - the cricket on TV. My Christmas is all about balmy evenings surrounded by family, the constant chatter punctuated by scraping cutlery on crockery and, always, laughter.

My dad is one of eight siblings and between them they have 21 children, my cousins, sisters and I, and every year we used to gather on a family farm, or in a resort somewhere in Zimbabwe, to spend Christmas together. We had long tables, decorated in silver, green, red and gold, and festively laid with countless plates, knives, forks, spoons and glasses, sometimes under towering trees in the garden, where we ate our Christmas lunch. There was a mountain of presents and always so much food and plenty of drinks flowing to keep everyone merry. But most of all there was family; lots and lots of us all exuding festive cheer.

Now that those children, my cousins and I, have grown up, and some of us had children of our own, the numbers are rather larger, and we are now spread over three continents and at least four countries, so those gatherings are, unfortunately, a distant memory for many of us. A memory that will, however, always be my perfect idea of Christmas in Africa. Now it is time to start making those memories for my children, so that in 20 years they can look back and remember, with great amusement, the things they did for Christmas as children in Africa.

Image credit: www.123greetings.com

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Sibling rivalry

I am convinced that siblings play a greater part in each other's character building than even their parents do and, though it is far from intentional and often the result of temperament and perception than any specific act, it should not be underestimated.

As a child I learned that the best way to avoid feeling like a failure was to do none of the things that my elder sister did. Clare was always more ambitious, more determined and more astute than I so, no matter what natural talent I displayed, if it was in one of her areas of interest, I would always be second best, because she was willing to work harder at it. In some ways it worked beautifully as I did well in the things I chose, in others it may well have backfired, after all Clare is a Dr. of Engineering and I am not anything specific, although writer is the tag I go by now. I think it may also have something to do with vision but that is another blog post altogether.

So my questions are: is sibling rivalry a good thing, a bad thing or a bit of both? and how does a mother help her children to channel their rivalry in a manner that both, or all, children benefit, if that is even possible?

At the moment the biggest issue I have with sibling rivalry is who got which toy first and the whole 'my Mummy' argument in which Shannon delights as it winds her little brother up no end. Despite the three and a half year age gap they are very close and play together well much of the time. As for the rest it drives me to drink (yes, a large glass of red at bed time) trying to persuade Shannon that at five years old she should know that two different coloured blocks of exactly the same dimensions are really not worth fighting over. Or should she? Perhaps I am unfair and should also admonish Jordan, at not yet 2, for caring which one he has.

I am sure that very little harm will come to their developing psychs fighting over lego, however, as they grow older those rivalries will change and I am not sure I will notice in time if one of them is applying my avoidance tactics and pretending that they care less. The downside to that tactic is that it is a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy and the drive, ambition and character they both show now may grow dimmer in which ever of the two is the less dominant. Between you, me and cyber space, though I really dislike predicting how children will turn out as adults since they usually surprise even their greatest critics, I think that it will be Shannon who falls into her brother's shadow. I think her need to needle him is already a sign of her knowing that on some level. How do I help her to choose her own path without losing her self and her way in the process?

Perhaps I think too much.

Monday, November 30, 2009

5 things...

my children said over the weekend that made me laugh:

1. Is it yours Mummy? - Jordan, very innocently, after having been sent to the naughty mat twice for trying to use my make up and not stopping after being asked at least a million times. (No, I am not prone to exageration.)

2. But the car is on water pilot. - Shannon when asked if her brother could have a turn pretending to drive while we waited for Dad to come out of a shop.

3. Daddy! Look at the pantis! - Jordan regarding the praying mantis (which turned out to be a stick insect) that was entangled in the net curtain.

4. Mummy, Shannon's not being my friend! - Jordan... he is not yet 2, I can't help but laugh especially when i know he is just coppering (Shannonism) his sister!

5. Hi, my name is Shannon and when I grow up I want to be a Doctor. - Shannon at her preschool graduation. The other girls picked ballerina or shopping lady (!), and Shannon had been 'practising' ballerina the whole time prior, so where Doctor came from I'll never know, but she surely raised a laugh for her efforts! Oh, and of course I will have to hold her to it. She made her bed...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Holidays???

What is wrong with Merry Christmas? Why are all (sometimes pagan) Christian ceremonies becoming taboo? And why, for that matter, is it only the Christian ones that are getting laid off? We aren't frowned upon for celebrating Hanukah, and Diwali is still lit up with aplomb. I can understand that asking a non-Christian what their Christian name is might cause a little embarassment but come on. Why is it that in the western world of today, so many Westerners are afraid to stand up and be counted to the point where we renounce our celebrations in disgrace?

I am not implying here that all Westerners are Christians. Far from it in fact. But there are certain celebrations, such as Christmas and Easter that go way back in our cultures, and in fact some stem from Pagan ceremonies, that quite frankly we should just not feel bad about. The problem is that it is not the commercial side of these celebrations that is falling away, but the underlying bits and pieces that make them special. No Nativity plays anymore? In England? Why not? Because it is offensive to other religions? Am I the only person who thinks this is wrong, on so many, many levels? You are in England, respect their customs and their history.

Here's a shocking idea. instead of removing one culture to make others feel better, why don't we just include the new cultures in their own right? Have your Nativity and have your festival of lights celebration too. Culture is not an either/or question. Everyone has a right to their beliefs, rituals, celebrations and ceremonies, why is it so hard to work out that it is better to learn more about other cultures and religions than try to squash them? Especially when the majority of the native population are from that culture. I get that every religion believes they are right and others are wrong, well, if you can't convince others, revel happily in the smug knowledge that you are right, and leave everyone else alone. The world is a small place what with air travel and cyber space and the ability to pretty much live and work anywhere given the required skills. But if you want only your food, your traditions and your religion, stay in your country. If you want to be part of the global community, learn to share. How would it look if the English moved en mass to India and said right, no more Diwali, we find it offends our cultural beliefs? Hmmm, global outcry perhaps?

I am not picking on individual people here so if this doesn't apply to you and you are happy to allow all cultures to live side by side, don't go getting all offended. I am not talking to you. I am talking to whoever it is that is rotting this world with hatred and subterfuge, slowly culling other cultures in a way that is worse than the overt violence of history in its deception. Hating and sabotaging me for somethings that prior generations did is, in fact, immature and counterproductive.

History has not been kind in this area. I realise that. Gross atrocities were carried out globally by many Western societies, and many, many people suffered. Can we get over it? Can we pick up the pieces and move on now? I had nothing to do with any attrocities, and I am now bringing up the next generation that will have had nothing to do with them. Yet we are still paying now for what people did back then. Come on people, we have one planet here, and it's a tiny one all things considered, can't we find a way to enjoy it? At no one else's expense?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Say what?

OK so, in what could swing from pretentious to self-absorbed and back again like a well wound up pendulum, I have declared myself a writer. Pretentious and self-absorbed I am not, but this is written communication, and everybody (except those who really know me) who reads this blog depends on only words to 'get' me, so how could you possibly know that. Did you know that 55% of effective communication comes from non-verbal cues (facial expression, body language, intonation, etc.). Not really possible to convey non-verbal cues in writing, is it?

Determined I am, however, and thus I must learn how to overcome that 55% efficacy that I am now lacking in the written word. I don't actually believe this is possible as there is no accounting for every frame of reference that creates the myriad prejudices that we suffer on this ever-shrinking planet. Far more experienced writers than I cannot overcome the prejudice lens that blurs the decoding of their message by readers for whom assuming the worst is the most natural reaction. Or perhaps those readers are just picking a fight for the sake of it and because they lack the imagination to find something more productive to do with their time.

I recently took a long overdue foray into the 'bloggoshpere' to catch up on some of my favourite bloggers and was both horrified and entertained to find just such a thing happening over at Pond Parleys. Reading the post from my frame of reference was interesting and entertaining, especially having lived in both the UK and the USA. However, someone took umbrage to Expat Mum's dislike for a certain vegetable casserole, and all hell broke loose. I am quite sure EM meant no offense, rather she was expressing a personal taste. How it could have been misconstrued I will never know. But it really, really was. Really. In fact you should go on over and see the fight that ensued. Great reading!

Having said that it seems important to continually improve the way we communicate, in writing, over the phone and face to face, since there is a good chance we could be going around upsetting people who are narrow minded enough to presume that their's is the only point of view and that anything said that disagrees with it is so obviously wrong. Or maybe I should care less, afterall you can't please all people all the time.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Hiatus

I know it has been a while but I am here. Sitting at my laptop starting on a new journey. For the last three years I have poured much of my creativity, cognitive effort, time and emotion into doing a degree. It is finished now (results not yet in but here's hoping).

When I started that degree I had a plan. I wanted to be a psychologist. I wanted to help others improve their lot, make better decisions and follow new paths. I have learnt more than I thought possible, and not just about psychological theory. I have learned about people, what makes us do the things we do, think what we think and feel myriad, often unrealised emotions. I have learned how we impact our social environment and how it affects us. I have learnt a great deal about how societies, communities and groups function and how people are central to that function.

I have learnt the art of communication and interpersonal skills. I have assimilated those jewels as they have been realised. What a difference effective commnication can make. I have learnt how to research, how to find the most important facts from an agglomeration of information. I have learnt things that I have stored away for future use and things I have incorporated into my daily life. I have learnt one thing that came as a surprise. One thing that has become part of who I am even though I have only been allowed limited pursuit of it due to my other commitments. One thing that I want to grab with both hands and make the most of. I learnt that I am a writer.

So now my journey begins in earnest. I am taking this coming year to focus on making a success of my dream career. Honours will have to wait. I have so much to learn so I better get to it, today is the first day of the rest of my life.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tinkerbell and the Boy

Having not been back here for a good few weeks I have a number of interesting developments to update on.

Thanks in no small part to the fabulous Sooze I have finally got a handle on the Boy! I am in disgrace, however as I do not have photo proof as yet, photography being low on my priority list in an increasingly busy life. BUT. But. The days of chasing the Boy down the road, school bags and shopping packets flying in all directions, in an attempt to thwart his escape, have long since passed! Now he gets out the car and is gently coaxed (read dragged) in the general direction in which we are actually headed! Not to mention the screaming boy who attracted those pitying glances from other shoppers as he was manhandled into the trolley seat, who wanted so desparately to get out of the trolley and walk, has turned into the lion satchel toting, independent (though secretly restrained) master of his own universe. I owe you Suzi!

This monologue from Tinks... erm Shannon amused me somewhat and I hope I live long enough to see it materialise:

Shannon: When I am 165 years old the fairies will give me magic. *dramatic pause* And I'll grow a rat that you can only hold by the feet, 'coz if you touch its back, or its head, or its tail it will bite you. *another even more dramatic pause* And it will be poisonous! *dramatic silence*

Since then she has been wearing her fairy wings and skirt at every available opportunity (such as at school today) and insisting on being called Tinkerbell. But NOT Tinks!

As for me, I am working as a volunteer at a brain injury rehabilitation centre called Headway to get some experience and to have something to add to my CV at the end of next year when I will FINALLY be able to start my new career proper and will be looking for a job! I also have exams looming so if there is a longer delay than usual in updating this blog, that is why.

Sean seems to be going from strength to strength with BMO Steel and, though it feels slow it seems to be growing all the time. At the very least he has not been without work since he started and he is more able now to direct his business where he wants it to go, rather than just following where the jobs come from.

Right, I hope you are all up to date enough to go on for a few more weeks... I will add pics of the Boy in his reins when I get round to it!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Positive discipline and the marble jar

Picture curtesy of
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a1/JM_marbles_01.jpg


I know I am often banging on about how things go in cycles and how we should learn to see and anticipate those cycles in order to be most effective. Well, here is another cycle:

The cycle of discipline (or the lack of it) in my children. This may well be linked to my cyclical way of life but nonetheless it needs some attention.

So we are in a downward spiral of rapidly declining behaviour in this house, which happens from time to time as I relax my expectations and/or lose focus, and the time has come to put a stop to it. I am however, or have been until recently, at my wits end. One of the problems I can't seem to overcome is that, while Shannon is constantly brought to book for her indiscretions on the behaviour front, Jordan has been allowed to get away with a good amount of disastrous behaviour under the guise that he is too little to understand (bad mother). He has been recently subjected to the Naughty Mat, but since he thinks it is a game for me to catch him when he gets up and runs away, I am still figuring his discipline out. In the mean time, Shannon needs to be less victimised and positive discipline has always worked better for her anyway!

In discussing this with another Mum, who is also head of a pre-school, she suggested I try the Marble Jar with Shannon. This ought to stop the shouting and offers a positive form of self discipline that I am reinforcing rather than enforcing. This is an age old method, used by many a parent before me, and for anyone who is keen to try it here is how it works(in theory anyway, I have yet to begin!):

There are two jars, one for Shannon and one for me, for every good behaviour such as tidying up, listening the first time, getting her own things together for school etc, she gets to take a marble from my jar and put it in her jar. For every bad behaviour, she must take one out of her Jar and give it back to me. Once she has a certain number of marbles in her jar she recieves a treat, like stickers for example (she loves those) and if she get more than the target she gets a bigger treat (haven't decided on that yet, but I think I will ask her for her input!)

The fact that shannon herself is doing the rewarding and punishing, in the form of moving marbles, is supposed to lead her to regulate her own behaviour! We shall see. I still have to buy the marbles!

I am going to start on Monday as we are out and about all weekend, so it would be pointless starting now. Until then the Naughty Mat will remain a warm spot to sit. I will keep you posted on the success (or not) unless I lose my own marbles in the interim!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Intelligence vs Porridge Brain

Having recently had a conversation regarding IQ tests and my obvious average-ness, I couldn't resist taking one I found on Super Mom's blog!

The last time I took an IQ test I was pregnant and unable to move far or fast... evidently my brain was also on a go-slow... that test labeled me distinctly average.

So I took this one and discovered that now, with my brain only functioning for one, I am gifted! With a blog badge to prove it. What a great way to start a monday!

Happy days!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I got an award...


I am beginning to believe there is some sort of plan regarding how our lives unfold, things seem to be going madly out of control and then something happens to put it all back on track. Meanwhile a lesson has been learned, a behaviour has been changed and relationships have deepened.

Blah blah blah, whatever! I know. I talk too much. Tough.

So I was starting to lose perspective on my self esteem and self confidence, for reasons I'll keep to myself for now... but I have been restored!

I got an award. My first award in the bloggersphere. Thanks Julie from Julie Cornewell's Writer's Notebook! The award is for having great attitude and/or gratitude...

Now I must pass it on and here's how:

1. Put the logo on your blog or post.

2. Nominate up to 10 blogs which show great Attitude and/or Gratitude.

3. Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.

4. Let them know they have received this award by commenting on their blog.

5. Share the love and link to this post and to the person from whom you received your award.

I would like to nominate:

Geriatric Gapper for living life to the full and keeping us all informed, up-to-date and inspired by life after... ahem... a certain age!

Confessions of a (not so ) super Mom for having great insight into normal things and an amazing imagination for the not so normal!

Potty Mummy for her hilarious take on being a Mum and a person too!

Sparx for being so real, so funny and for finding the positive and the humour in some of the most hair-raising Mummy situations!

And last but not least

Not Enough Mud for having such an interesting outlook on life and because she ran the London Marathon...

On top of this fabulous award came the decision to stick to studying next year, I will be good at helping people and I can always be a writer on the side, and an assignment result that can't be beat... 100% for an essay on education!

Feeling more like me again!

Friday, July 17, 2009

I was chatting to my Mum yesterday and she gently pointed out that I have failed miserably to update this blog recently. Too much work taking up too many words is my excuse. I mentioned that to Mum and then proceeded to tell her of all the antics Jordan has been up to recently... I thought it may as well make for some blogging fodder so here goes:

I don't feel it necessary to explain why but for some completely unknown reason I emptied the vacuum cleaner bag onto the grass as the back of the garden, rather than into, slightly less messily, a plastic packet. It made a little bit of a mess!

Having vastly more important things to do than pick up vacuum cleaner fluff from the grass I thought I would come back to it later, and I left it. Jordan found it.

Mumeeeeeee!!! Mumeeeeee!!! Mumeeeeee!!! had me dashing into the garden to see what life threatening situation the mini monster had got himself into, only to find him, hands clasped behind his back (I kid you not!) staring at the ground. Right near the Fluff.

Mumeeeee!!! lor!!! (floor) (Pointing now, so as to avoid any miscommunication!)
Oooh yes, look at that, how did that happen?
Mess!!!
Yes, it is rather messy!
way!!! (away)!

.....'scuse me?

Since when does the mother get told off by the only-just-1-and-a-half year old?

That's not the only time either! We have Sean's parents staying with us so, in order to make more room in the kitchen, I reorganised it! I merely swapped the microwave with the kettle and toaster to make more work space!

Jordan came home from pre-school and stood in the kitchen, looking from one side to the other. He stood there for a good minute before pointing at the microwave and yelling BACK! Then he pointed at the toaster and kettle and once again yelled BACK!

I may not actually be the one in charge in this house after all!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Catch me if you can!

I'm a little sad that no one could answer the questions in my previous post. I have so much more I could ask here but, since I have had no responses so far, and I am not in the mood to become irritating, I will drop it. For now.

So, I feel like blogging! Maybe I just feel like writing. On either point I have nothing of value to say so, if you don't suffer fools gladly sign off now.

I have realised that I was wrong. (Ha! That caught your eye, you'll read on just a little now, won't ya!) OK yes, I admit it! Once in a while I can be wrong! I defied the experts (mothers with grown up children) who said that it is virtually impossible to be a working Mum, (even from home, part time) and consistently keep up any form of exercise that requires you to leave the house for any length of time! Well I proved them wrong... for a while... and was feeling very smug about it too! I was running 3 or 4 times a week, for about 6 months, getting out, getting fit, still fitting in my work and my kids and I was loving it. It was summer and the daylight hung around giving me plenty of time in the evenings when Sean got home after kids were fed and bathed to venture out and stretch my legs! It's winter now. It's bloody dark by 5 and, being that I live in the relative danger of South Africa, I can hardly go running after dark now, can I! So now I am sulking. Not only was I wrong about the whole time to exercise thing, I am now feeling rather unfit and flabby again!

But!

Sean has assembled the gym in the garage and my trusty rebounder stands alongside. Perfect in home exercise equipment. Must be time for that. I don't have to leave the house. Well, we shall see, lack of time might be just one excuse better than 'I'm too bloody cold to get changed!' And it doesn't help that my house is at least 3 degrees colder than outside!

I know, don't complain about the weather, there's nothing you can do about it! Well, I never complain when it is warm, or hot. Stifling doesn't get a moan out of me. But cold! It changes me. It clamps down on my mind and no amount of positive personal pep talking can budge it. At least in England there is central heating indoors. And Suzi, bless her, has a roaring log fire melting the frosty claws that dare to force their way through her windows and doors.

I am unprepared for the cold. That may be my only problem. For now I can't change that. I feel a little rebelious.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

You know when you get the feeling someone is trying to tell you something? When certain 'reminders' crop up here, there and every where? Everywhere you turn the same message is written on the wall? Well, that's been happening to me for about 2 months now! It happened here where Expatmum had me in stitches with her take on the Good Wife Guide from the 1950s, as well as in numerous conversations, FWD: emails, on the radio. Everywhere. It all indicates what I am supposed to be doing but not why or how! And let's face it, I've never been good at blindly following rules!

I am a modern woman. Can't help it really, it's just part of who I am and I have recently, for whatever reason, been continually reminded that I am supposed to put my husband first as he is head of the household. Really? Is that still true? What of equal partnerships, women being as important as men and respect for each other?

Now, I have no problem with respecting my husband, I take no umbridge with the role I play in our relationship, I have no issue with seeing his point of view. But surely he must equally see mine? Have equal respect for me, accept and fulfil his role in our relationship? Is the MAN as head of the house not a little archeaic? OK, I am going to bore you now by saying that I am lucky in that the man I married does not see himself as head of our household. He seems to ascribe to my version of coupledom. We are a team. We make decisions together. If our points of view differ we discuss it (sometimes rather loudly, if I am honest) and we choose the RIGHT option in the end. Not mine. Not his. He plays his role and I play mine. If we both tried to do the same thing half the necessary work would be left unattended. If we both tried to do all of it we would suffer nervous breakdowns. We defined our roles and now we fulfil them. Is this not a healthier way of building a marriage? And as far as I am concerned the children come first. For both of us.

Where does it say that a man is superior? Where does it say that a man has better judgement in all circumstances? Where does it say that men and women are not equal? That social labelling was firmly affixed by men. Thousands of years ago. Perhaps because they COULD get out of the home since women were more adept at nurturing than men were. I think that modern marriages would have a better chance of survival if husbands and wives showed equal respect for each other. Just because the man earns the money in a household doesn't mean he does the lions share of the work or has more responsibility. He has a role to play. Just because the woman stays at home (and let's be honest there are not many women who do so anymore with the need for two income households) does not mean she does not play an equal part in the work or the responsibility that makes a family. She has a role to play. Perhaps I have misunderstood the signs? Perhaps there is a flipside to the discussion that says to husbands that they ought to put their wives first? Perhaps by having an equal partnership we put each other first?

Defined roles, teamwork, equal effort and equal R-E-S-P-E-C-T are the cornerstones of a successful, fulfilling and happy modern marriage.

My biggest question in this regard, I think, is does this mean I am supposed to put my husband ahead of my children and if so how? They are completely different relationships. The love for a spouse requires constant work, the love for children is unconditional. The expectations of the relationship are different and the needs of children differ from the needs of husbands. We do not ascribe to the 'because I said so' or 'becuause I am the Mother/Father' rules of parenting. We believe in respecting our children too, believing that this will teach them that respect is earned and not just given.

It seems like it is a moot point bearing in mind that our marriage is already built on an equal footing. But then why the bombardment with the same message? What am I missing here?

Friday, May 29, 2009

Of hair and being 4

When I was a little girl I was blessed with whispy, fly-away, style-less hair, coupled with a high forehead to give an overall slightly odd look at all times. I never really cared, I was not that kind of child! Since then I have tried numerous short styles, settling for the tousled crew cut I now sport. And will for ever more! Hair is just not my strong point.

For 4 years now I have resisted the fringe effect for young Shannon, determined that she would eventually grow thick long, blond tresses to be the envy of all. Sadly I think I may be deluded and, though in looks she is just like her Dad, she has the misfortune of having inherited my hair!

So I cut it. A short bob with a fringe that seamlessly frames her face making her look oh so much more adorable than she did before. I have embraced the fringe!

Shannon was over the moon with her new haircut, which happenend on Saturday afternoon. She couldn't wait to get to school on Monday for all her friends to see. And she was flocked, little girls of four and five oohing and aahing over the new stylish chica amongst them. Shannon came over to me once the parade had ended and said quietly: Mommy, I love you. Thank you for cutting my hair.

Then it all went horribly wrong. Yesterday one of the girls in her class said Shannon looked ugly because now she looks like a boy! I was not surprised to hear that this had her dissovling into floods of tears and left her tearful for the rest of the day. Even this morning she seemed not to have recovered fully! One person put her down and now she believes that everyone else was talking rubbish and, in fact, she really looks terrible! Something makes me want to take that little girl and shave her head!

Now I must undo the damage to her delicate self-esteem and convince her, once again, that she is beautiful with her new haircut! And not at all like a boy.

The thing is, once I am over my protective mother emotions, I am amazed at the importance placed, by very little girls, on their appearance and the need to be accepted. How delicate their emotions really are. And how easily one wrong word can ruin their little world! Once again I had fallen off the attention wagon and assumed that nothing could really be wrong in my babies worlds because I love them. A bit egocentric don't you think? So now, I am more attentive and watchful to ensure they recieve the attention they need from me, while at the same time hopelessly aware that I cannot protect them forever from the big bad world!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Job requirements... Epic Fail?

I've come to a conclusion. I would make a terrible counsellor.

I always believed, at least until recently, that I would make a great counsellor: I can see other people's point of view almost as clearly as my own, I worked through my own issues and reached a state of higher understanding about being me, I want to help other people improve their lot and I am a caring and empathic person. It turns out I may be deluded.

Behind the above facade lies a whole different person screaming to get out! This person says: get over yourself, pull your socks up and cope! This person prefers to speak than listen! This person judges others against her better judgement. OK, no not really.

I really do feel I understand how people work, better than many others do(hmmm maybe I am deluded). In fact I have no real hangups about how or what other people are. I just want everybody to be happy and successful! Oh and world peace wouldn't be a bad thing either!

So, where I fail really in the whole job requirements for counsellor story is here: I had an idyllic childhood, I belong to a stable and loving family, I was given a good education and guided through life's harder decisions by parents who knew enough to allow me autonomy, while at the same time making sure I was safe, I am now in a stable, happy marriage and have two children who are adored and provided with boundaries to help them become content and successful adults. OK, so I was a bit misunderstood as a teenager and also tended to misunderstand a lot about the world, but that is more normal than not!

So where are my experiences of things traumatic? How can I counsel someone who has been raped, since I have no idea what they are going through? How can I counsel alcoholics or drug addicts when I've not walked a mile in their shoes. How can I help someone who is having a nervous breakdown, if I've never felt the stress that they are feeling? How can I empathise with an abused woman who won't leave her husband, when I've never been beaten or abused? How can I? Not authentically.

I am not all out of ideas though. I have had some experiences, that other people have all the time. Some can cope with them and some can't. Those who can't can be shown how to do so and be taught what to expect and different ways to handle it. I am still thinking about it. It is already done. It should be. I'll think about it some more and blog about it when I am ready!

When I am qualified as a counsellor I will see if I have anything authentic to offer. Until then, I'll be a writer!

Friday, May 22, 2009

on cycles, astrology and being me

I am done being cognitively driven for the moment and have decided to do a little soul searching. Don't know why, or where I am going with this, so please bear with me! Knowing me it will end up cognitively driven anyway... let's see, eh?

Oh, and it's a little long winded so look away now if you are in phase 3!

It is quite apparent, and has been for a long time, although I have chosen to mostly ignore the fact, that I work in cycles. This is not just true of me, but also some of my discerning friends who have noticed a similar sense of their own capabilities. Recently I have decided to pay more attention to my natural tendancies and allow them to guide me rather than trying to override them with positive, self-castigating pep talks. The result has been satisfying, interesting and a little frustrating!

It sounds a bit bi-polar actually. It's not, just so you know! What I haven't yet worked out is how long I take to complete an entire revolution, but I find myself moving, fairly smoothly from highly efficient, motivated, determined and outgoing to demotivated, almost completely inefficient, not bothered and withdrawn into my shell. As I say, this happens fairly smoothly, so I am not bouncing up and down like a yo yo! Nor is it easy to notice the actual time of transition! The motivated phase (P1) moves to some sort of Zen phase (P2) where, though I find it easy enough to do the things I need to do, I am less bothered if they are not perfect or done straight away, this slowly revolves to the whole can't be bothered, don't care, can't bring myself to do anything productive phase (P3), and then I am on the upward curve again back to Zen (P4) followed by highly motivated!

So, what does this twaddle mean, right? It means becoming more intuitive. Listening more carefully to who we are rather than what we want! What it means is that during P1 I can do everything, I can be a great Mum, a brilliant wife, my house is immaculate, my work is finished to a high standard in record time and I am the life and soul of the party. Phase 2 and 4 render me capable of completing all my tasks fairly well, I am perhaps a little less attentive, a little more inwardly focussed, slightly less aware of those around me. BUT. Phase 3, the sucker, makes me desperate for isolation, me time, down time, my housework starts to fall behind, even though I try very hard to force myself to do it, blogging is a no go as my words all seem to dry up, I am impatient with my children and inattentive towards my husband. I have always really struggled with this, thinking things like: what's wrong with me? Why can't I just get on like I usually do? Why am I eating so much (!)?

Ok where are we going with this? So, knowing that the cycle exists allows me to understand where I stand with me! How much I can expect of myself and that overcoming it requires careful reflection, planning and knowing myself a good deal better than I do now. So far I have managed to stop fighting phase 3! But, being a Virgo, and therefore desperate for perfection, I still need to find a way to get things done during the down time! So I am now working on trying to figure out just how long the cycle takes. I am currently emerging from phase 3 I think, I may however have just entered it (not completely au fait with this yet!) as things are still a bit of a chore and I am not feeling very life-and-soul-of-party-ish.

Yes, yes, I know, off on one of my wierd tangents once again. No! Not this time. It feels right! Knowing our natural selves makes life a whole lot easier as, rather than fighting our natural disposition, the mind will (it has to) start working with our intuition rather than against it. Being in tune with who we are must lead to a happier, more content, more satisfying existence, versus thinking that we can make ourselves feel better through eating, shopping or gossiping. Feel better first... then indulge ourselves!

So the crux of the situation is that I am attempting to become more intune with the natural me and take back control from the cognitive me, which is highly dominant! One step closer to perfection! *sigh* (Oh, there's Virgo again!)

Anyone else out there got any fabulous insights in this regard?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I've been away...

...and there was no internet and the dog ate the computer! That's my excuse for not blogging and I'm sticking to it.

Actually it may have more to do with writing other stuff and not having any words left, but there you go. And here I am, back again!

Since my last post my Mum has been to visit... and returned to Turkey... and is, in fact, already packing for her next trip, to another daughter. Mum's visiting all three of us this year: South Africa, England then Australia. What a life! We had an awesome time together. The best we ever have, I think. It was great to have her to myself for once since, though those of you who know me may not agree, I am the least talkative of us three sisters! I love to talk, that's a given but, when in a room with my darling sisters, it can be a little difficult to make myself heard sometimes. Just an observation you understand! Mum spoiled us rotten, as is her wont and we laughed and played at being writers, we shopped, we ate chocolate. The dark stuff. Shannon was a little bemused that her granny doesn't knit but, since Mum devised a brilliant game for Shannon to play which involves learning to read without noticing, she got the thumbs up anyway! It was fantastic, come again Mum, but try to bring Dad with you too!!

Yesterday I made the huge decision, (I say I made the decision rather than we as Sean put his faith in me to choose and left me to it) at least it feels huge to me, of which school to send Shannon to next year! She starts 'big' school and we have chosen a lovely little school about 3km from home which I am so pleased I went to see as I had sort of written it off thanks to some incorrect information about it. Just goes to show you should always find out things for yourself before making a judgement, even if your source is usually very reliable! So Shannon is off to Forest View Primary School next year - just have to sort out all the paperwork. Ugh.

Jordan is growing outwards and upwards but still has only 4 teeth! He is 17 months old for goodness sake! I wouldn't mind so much if he didn't spend so much time trying to grow more teeth! Honestly! Otherwise he is completely adorable and very naughty!

Shannon is all long, skinny arms and legs and seems to be having one growth spurt after another. Just as I've restocked the cupboards after one bout of growing, she's eaten the lot again. A little advice, don't buy tights or trousers that fit a 4-5 year old! Rather buy them for a 15 year old and let them grow into them!

Sean seems to have really found his place in the world with steel fabrication. He has a lilt in his voice and a spring in his step that I have not seen or heard for a long time! He is still under enourmous pressure from a cash flow point of view, but the work just keeps coming in.

And as for me, I have decided to postpone my honours degree for a year (yes, I will have a Bachelor of Arts Degree by the end of this year! How time flies!) in view of being a full time writer! The career of my dreams, let's see if I can pull it off!

Well that's it for now! I think we're up to date! So, 'til the next time...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Word games

A child learning to speak, starting with the very first words all the way through to trying to get their grammar correct, and the right suffix on a word, is one of the most amazing developmental processes to bear witness to.

Jordan is stepping boldly into this world with his version of what he hears and can already, to his mother's ear, say Mummy, Daddy, Shannon (Nana), bottle (bobble), car, play, up (blup), no, yip(somehow 'yes' has eluded him), dog (do), door, (do) - yes I know they are the same, it's the context that alters them - among other things. I watch with facsination as, everyday, he adds another recognisable sound to his repertoir.

Shannon, being the chatterbox that she is, is well on her way to talking correctly in every aspect (although she still adds endings that she seems to think make more sense than the real one, or put words in an order that she prefers!) so, in the interests of keeping things interesting we play word games with her. When she was younger this used to consist of the following interaction:

Mummy: Shannon, say fossilised
Shannon: I can't
Mummy: what can't you say
Shannon: fothilithed

very cute!

Then we went through this stage:

Mummy: Shannon, say fossilised
Shannon: I can't
Mummy: what can't you say
Shannon: I can't say what you said (got brains that child)

recently this has started:

Mummy: Shannon say photosynthesis
Shannon: photosynthesis

Mummy: Shannon say multidisciplinary
Shannon: multidisciplinary

Mummy: Shannon say metamorphosis
Shannon: metamorphosis

... when did that happen??? I can't seem to catch her out any more... I need more words people, how can I challenge her diction if all the words are too easy for her? hmmm maybe we should move on to meanings. Shannon's first, that'll bring some interesting ideas to light. Asked what Daddies are made from she replied wood, and Mummies, apparently, are made from water and strawberries! Glad I'm a Mummy!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Around the world in 80 clicks

Exciting things are afoot! For the first time in my blogging existence I have been tagged to take part in a meme that's doing the rounds. Thanks Sparx you've made my day!

So in the interests of playing my part...

Here are the rules: Write a post of your own about 5 things that you love about being a Mum. Tag 5 bloggers - someone from your own country, if you like, but definitely someone from another country - and link back to me here and finally go to Her Bad Mother and leave a comment.

Ok, 5 things that I love about being a Mum are:

1. trying to make myself believe that these two adorable little beings are there for me to love, nurture and interact with all the time. I am wholly responsible for 2 little people(Eek). Nearly 5 years on I am still over-awed by the fact that I helped to create real little people and who they are, and what they get out of life starts with how much love and interaction I share with them. That's a huge responsibility and an amazing privilege!

2. having an excuse to sit and colour in while other adults go about preparing food and doing the dishes. I would really love to help, but the children will all be underfoot and causing trouble if I don't keep them entertained... really!

3. seeing life through my own mother's eyes and beginning to understand our relationship from her point of view. This is a neverending chain of changing relationships as daughter becomes mother, and I am part of that chain.

4. seeing the world through the eyes of a child and realising that the little things, like chasing butterflies and saying 'I love you' are more important than the hustle and bustle of life in the fast lane.

5. getting to see the children's faces when they are given a surprise or a treat that they were dying to have: Disbelief mixed with wow-Mum-is-the-greatest/-magic/-the-cleverest-bestest person in the whole world!

So, that's my five and now I tag, in the interests of keeping it international, Expatmum in the USA, Reluctant Mem in Tanzania, Potty Mummy in Bonny Blighty, my own Mum, Geriatric Gapper, in Turkey, and because I enjoy her story so much, So Close, from Cape Town, South Africa. What are your favourite things about being a Mum?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Comments 101

Right, people. In the interests of making this blog more attractive to NON Family members I have decided to write more posts, more regularly. The idea of a blog, other than to keep family up to date on the goings on in our lives, is to join a whole new community of similar minded people and interact with them in the blogsphere.

As it stands I do interact with them... on their blogs. So the question is, how do I get them to come over to visit me? The technlogy in this seems to elude me - please feel free to enlighten me if you know what I have to do there - so I have decided that more posts, more regularly is a good place to start.

I also think that perhaps more comments might make me more visible to all those search engines. So, in the interests of giving me a step up, I need your help. I know that many family read this, so please leave a comment every now and then...

Here's how:

  • Click on the word 'comments' at the bottom of the post
  • Fill in the comment box with anything you feel like saying (preferably nice and preferably on topic)
  • Fill in the funny word so I know you are not a hacker and then
  • If you don't have a google account select either Name (url is optional) and fill in your name, or Annonymous if you prefer to remain so
  • Click 'publish your comment' and voila you will be part of my virtual community
Right, now there are NO excuses. Please do your bit for this poor lonely blogger!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Dilemma:

How long do you go on doing a favour for someone after you realise they are using you and are not even grateful?

I have been giving someone's maid a lift back to the complex everyday after I drop the kids at school. I don't mind but it does have its downsides: I am committed to coming home after the school run every day and am unable to change my mind at the last minute and go and get the shopping out the way, or pop in to the library, because I have to bring the maid back first. I forwent this freedom and arranged my life so that I could do this favour.

Yesterday I didn't realise, through my own inattention, that she had asked me to give the maid a lift home when I fetched the kids. So I happily drove on by oblivious. Later I recieved a very accusatory sms saying the poor woman had had to start walking and this person's Mother-in-Law had had to take her herself. I appologised. It was my oversight. I have heard nothing back. On top of this, I might just add that she almost never said thank you or even bothered to stick her head out the door to say good morning when I dropped the maid off. I am sure I was doing her a favour. I felt as though I was working for her.

I am not the kind of person who needs recognition for helping out and can, in fact, happily do things for people who don't even know it was me doing the deed! But in this instnace I suppose I just expected a bit of politeness and to not be taken for granted. Needless to say, I no longer will be fetching the maid and will have my time back as my own.

Is this selfish of me? What would you do in the same situation?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Is there such a thing as too much chocolate?

I am afraid (yes I know, I know, it's chocolate) that I have to say a resounding YES! But only in certain circumstances including ones where will power is required to resist consumption and others where most of it (the chocolate rather than the will power) is actually Shannon's.

The Easter weekend has passed and we were, as usual, conservative with what we bought, perhaps knowing that the urge to indulge our beautiful children may be too much for others to bear. It was and they were, as usual, spoilt by those whose priviledge it is to do so! So, now we have a fridge full of chocolate and nowhere to keep the veggies. *sigh* The trouble is... will power is one of the last things on my list of self help requirements. In fact we can safely say I haven't even considered attempting to overcome my grossly obvious lack of it, after all you only live once.

Instead I have changed the way I shop (i.e. no chocolates, sweets, puddings or biscuits get bought so no will power required to limit my intake) and the way I think about food so that I feel more than a little self righteous about my healthy choices, rather than feeling sore that I am not indulging in my greatest fantasy: a chocolate eating marathon. Followed by my second: eat as many ribs as you can with chips on the side! Ok, I digress...

SO. Easter is over. The fridge is full of chocolate and somehow screaming my name. I am home alone.

*Who will even know?*

Friday, April 10, 2009

Family ties

This time of the year is all about family for me. As a child I remember large gatherings of my extensive family in one place or another with an abundance of different characters in whose company and familiarity one could indulge. I think, somehow, I took it for granted. All those important people were always there and always the same. We are fewer now, and yet more. Some of the prominent characters have moved on to greener pastures, others have just begun their sojourn within the comforting confines of the family. Branches have been added as other families have joined the original one. We are all related. Somehow.

I am determined, now, not to take it for granted. To enjoy and file away to memory all the bits and pieces that make up the memory of Family. I want to indulge in each age group within the herd, know what they want, feel and know. Understand them and remember how they are, so in years from now I can say: Way back then... and the memories will be a part of all of us.

Last night we had an awesome gathering of family. Only 2 generations, and only those that still live in these parts. But we still numbered 12 people (if we count Jordan who slept through the whole event). I talked more than I have for a long time. On every topic from the end of the world to life choices. I hope I listened too. But we chatted non stop. And I could because I feel accepted. Because they know me. Because I am part of the family. I can speak my mind and be part of their stories. I belong.

As luck would have it I will be getting an added dose of family over this long weekend of family-ness. Part of my first family is in town, here to indulge their craving for sun, sand and sea. And they are here on mass. It is so important to me to keep abreast with that part of me. I share the same blood line. They are part of who I am genetically and personally. They watched me grow up, change over the years (hopefully), accepted my addition to our family and then, in turn, were excited and happy when our new little bundles joined the ranks. I belong there too.

On top of that, the following week another extension of that extensive family will find their way here. And then Mum arrives for a flying visit. I am smiling now as it seems that it can't possibly be just this time of year that is all about family, for once my first family have returned to their respective homes, those from my new family who no longer live here, descend upon us. We will all be together. Three Generations: Parents, three children and their spouses and all the grandchildren. Life for me is all about relationships and experiences. I hope they will always remain entwined.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Mother's pride

Before I begin I just have a little Shannonism to tell:

I was talking to Shannon about Grannies as she was wondering why hers never fetch her from school the way other children's grannies do. So I told her about how my Mummy and Daddy and Sean's Mummy and Daddy live very far away and that we get special time with them when they come to visit. So we talked about Mum coming to visit and how she would do puzzles and read books with Shannon and... Shannon looked at me sideways and said: 'why will she do puzzles? Doesn't she do knitting?' Ah, stereotypes from a 4 year old!

So. I have it on good authority that a mother's love is the strongest kind. Without really trying most mothers develop a bond with their children that nothing could break. And so it should be. I would say that whoever designed it that way knew women (according to Shannon God is a girl... she is adamant about that...) extremely well. I have two children who I adore with every fibre in me, and yet...

When I look in the mirror I see more weight than I would like to be carrying: I got that from 2 revoltingly weighty pregnancies; I have a wrinkly, flabby tummy (from the same 2 pregnancies) that strikes the bikini from my wardrobe forever; every time I think I have a minute to myself I find I have to get up to fetch milk, make a sandwich, wipe up sick, run the bath, sweep mud back into the garden, clean crayon off the walls, cook supper (and then be moaned at because no one wants to eat vegetables)...

And I do it all. I love my babies more and more every day. I can sit and watch them play, watch their facial expressions change, their abilities improve (Jordan can now climb up onto most things that are above his head height - and when you say Get Down he giggles triumphantly!) I can watch them grow and develop into the people they will be and I get to love them and be loved unconditionally in return.

But, damn... when I look in the mirror... *sigh*

Being a Mum is no easy task: it takes away most of your independence (since you usually have little people in tow where ever you go) is demanding, tiring, frustrating and never ending. Yet, I would still endure all of that and loads more, for the privledge of having my children. So here's to that well designed, unbreakable bond of a mother's love for her children!

And a large glass of wine at the end of the day never hurt either!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Do what?

The reason I have been *missing* for the last few days can be attributed completely to the incompetence of Telkom, my ISP, and their inability to either protect my bandwidth from theft, or to assist me in reconnecting to the new user name I paid good money to use. Luckily I am blessed with brains and a very understanding husband, between the two of us we got it sorted!

This post is, however, not an anti Telkom vent, infact I wouldn't afford them the priveledge! It is, among other things, because Shannon's solution to keeping Jordan in check is somewhat faulty. Here's how it played out:

Me: I think I should spin the vacuum cleaner around the house.
Shannon: Yay, we can pretend to get scared of the noise and go aaagghhhhh (faulty in itself but not the worst of it)
Me: How will we keep Jordan from getting in the way?
Shannon (with very little consideration, thankfully): Just tie him down, Mummy!

Jordan started creche just last week and seems to have settled in straight away. He spent much of his first day saying NO! to the teacher and shaking his finger at her when she wouldn't let him do the naughty things he was trying to do. His second day was much improved, however, and it seems that it has been a good decision all round. This month he is only going 2 days a week and next month he will go 4 days a week!

We also seem to have overcome the sleep issue. Accidentally. Here's how it happened: I put Jordan down for his nap and the phone rang. I left him in his pram and went to answer the phone. When I came back he was asleep. Next he went to school and at his nap time they chucked (not literally you understand) him in a cot and he went to sleep. I retrieved his cot from the garage, put him in it at bed time and... he went to sleep.

He still wakes up in the night but ususally only once and that is definitly manageable!

Now I need to rant. I am still breast feeding Jordan at 14 months. I have low oestrogen levels. In order to combat that a medically trained person recommended that I must wean him now (which is fine, I have started as it happens but for reasons other than these) as, and I quote: it has absolutely no benefit to him now and he is just using you for a dummy!

I beg your pardon? She is a nurse! Where was she taught and which archaeic medical professional told her that? Perhaps I am misinformed but I have always believed that:

1. breast milk is still nutritionally rich - that's why they make follow on formula for bottle fed babies older than 12 months

2. breast milk has components that aid in brain development and the longer the child is breast fed the longer they are able to use those chemicals (DHA being one of them) and the better they will cope with living and learning.

3. breastfed babies are lower risk from MANY problems occurring in kids today including obesity, allergies and behavioural disorders.

4. breast feeding lowers risk to the mother of breast cancer and osteoporosis

5. it is emotionally beneficial to both mother and child. Children whose emotional needs are met as babies and toddlers (and breast feeding is the most amazing emotional staff for babies) grow up to be more independent and better at coping.

I am not saying here that anyone who has not breastfed has done their child a disservice, only that it is not useless post 12 months! If I am wrong on any of these accounts please tell me.

Phew! I feel better now!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

That dam wall and the dolphin show

We live in a beautiful area of KwaZulu Natal, surrounded by every colour, sight and sound that nature has to offer... and then some. For some reason, however (for argument's sake we'll say global warming), our natural environment seems to have lost its sense of humour. The weather is taking its toll.

Recently we have had destructive winds, rain, thunder, lightening and hail hurling their wrath upon us in a most unnecessary manner. The latest in this trail of destruction was (nearly) our house and, most definitely, our conservancy. The rain that dropped out of the sky on Saturday was rather alarming to say the least especially as, for some reason, it started to fill up the garden. That has never happened before! So, having made makeshift sand bags from refuse bags stuffed with wet towels, we had to find a way to avert certain disaster. After threatening to knock over the little wall around the drains, heeding my request to make another plan and dashing round the garden to research the next best course of action, Sean knocked some fence posts out (then rebuilt it later while it was still raining - bit of a go-getter, our Sean) and dug a trench which, luckily, drained the water quite quickly and we soon saw grass again.



That, sadly, was just the tip of the iceberg, however, as, just below our homes, in the gorge, is a conservancy with 2 little dams... at least there used to be. Now there is a conservancy with one little dam and a rather swollen river.





Oh, and a big mud hole 30 odd metres across where the other dam used to be. No more fishing. Although, on the bright side, Sean reckons he can now restock his fishing box with all the tackle he, and others, have lost in the middle of the dam on previous fishing trips.






I haven't shown Shannon yet. I think she will be horrified. I will take her down on Saturday, maybe. Jordan will think someone just made the MOST fun new playground for him so perhaps I will strap him in his pram for the duration... hmm, that'll be interesting.


So, having had a rather wet Saturday, we were all gagging to get out on Sunday. Since our fabulous friends Les, Ollie and little Sam, were here to visit, they decided to treat us to a trip to Ushaka Marine World.

Once again, as in this post, Shannon was spell bound. Jordan and Sam were equally spellbound - for all of about 10 minutes. Having said that Sam sat intently through the Dolphin show while Jordan screamed his lungs out until I started dancing with him on my shoulders.





I guess he just couldn't stand the MC chap without whom the show would have been a good deal better. It was, however, amazing to see those huge dolphins strutting their stuff!!!






The aquarium was full of fish, amazingly, and people doing various shark diving and snorkling activities. They were funny to look at from underneath! Lunch was delicious and Shannon managed to put away 2 whole icecreams!!! Thanks, Les and Ollie, for a great day out!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Just trying to work something out

I am teetering on the edge of Can't Be Bothered. And, incidentally, Denial. Denial because Can't Be Bothered is actually a symptom of something deeper that I can't lay a finger on, not the problem itself. A lack of motivation? Unlike me. I usually potter along easily to the beat of my routine! And so where is this precipice on which I find myself?

I have many, many things to do: finalise paperwork for visas, finish and send off a unit of my diploma, join an organisation for a module of my degree, renew my driver's licence, renew Shannon's passport, apply for Jordan's passport, start assignments whose deadlines loom closer every day, write an article... yet another looming deadline... oh and cook, colour in, bath children, run...

It's not that I don't enjoy any of the tasks that make up my day. I do, in fact, enjoy almost every one of them. The incidentals are a bit of a bore but necessary nonetheless. It's just that I feel like there are bigger things afoot and that I ought to stop concentrating on all these little things and focus on the big picture. The problem is that the big picture is made up of all the little things without which there would be no picture. Am I right?

Maybe I need chocolate... or perhaps it is less serious than that?

So maybe I am losing focus? Hmmm, that sounds about right, actually. I need to focus on the 'why' behind the picture - What do all the little tasks add up to? Where will they take me? What will become of me if I do/ don't do them? - Then gather myself together and tackle each task a little bit at a time.

Ah, another insight... it's all a little overwhelming too. Having so many small tasks to concentrate on has great potential to cause unravelling. I need to put the big picture on the wall and add bits as I go, to each separate concept, little by little, building up until the next stage is complete. So deep breath, focus and... look out Salvador Dali!!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Eenie Meenie Miney Mo

The thing is I am such a wonderful Mummy that my son wants to spend his every waking hour with me. Cute, eh? Perhaps, and in an ideal world this would be heaven for me.

In that ideal world I would be just-a mum. (yes I know it never works like that but I did mention a world that is ideal) I would get my adorable, well behaved cherubs up at around 7 in the morning - in preference to the 5.30 am rude awakening I generally receive - They would cheerfully eat all their breakfast, in one go, and take their empty bowls to the kitchen. We would then engage in learning/constructive play all morning, during which they would hang, spell bound, on my every word, following which we would have lunch, with adorable cherubs consuming all their veggies without a second thought. The afternoon would include a trip to the shops and then free play. Then Sean would come home from work and attend to bath time, supper time and bedtime while I languish comfortably on the couch, glass of wine in hand waiting for my own supper to be served! hmm I seem to have removed myself to another universe, rather than just an ideal world.

Ah well, back to reality. I have a number of tasks, during the day, which require my undivided attention. Jordan is supposed to play with Dorcas while I concentrate. The problem is: He Wants To Play With Me.

My options are:

1. wait for the phase to pass if it ever does????
2. send him to school with Shannon and do the housework myself?????

Not sure I like either option actually. Presumably, in order to avoid making a decision, I will end up with option 1. Bother!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Discipline...

...or the lack of it, is the most prevalent concern in the Hendry household at the moment. Shannon seems to be doing ok, as long as I remember that she is four years old and a normal four year old:
  • jumps on the couches and beds when possible
  • bounces off the walls
  • runs, hops and jumps everywhere she goes
  • and is VERY VERY loud!
No, it is Jordan who is causing trouble and depleting the reserves of Rescue! I have taken to saying 'NO' firmly, leaving no one in any doubt that they are doing something wrong. No one, that is, except Jordan, who bursts into tears as if his world is ending and goes right back to doing what it was he got in trouble for. I have, I am sorry to admit, tried smacking his tiny little hand as it goes for the things he is not allowed to touch, like my computer/mouse/keyboard (can you say accidental ctrl/A/delete?) and I get the same reaction: distraught tears and a return to the scene of the crime! *sigh* I can't send him to the bathroom or make him sit on the naughty mat as he would not have a clue what was going on!

So what is my plan of action?... um ....I think... perhaps I should... OK, I admit, I am at a loss. How do I discipline a 1 year old who merely thinks I am ruining his fun when I get cross with him? Either I can't remember this from Shannon 3 and a half years ago (yes, I have probably blocked it out in order to dupe me into believing it is safe to have a second child!) or she was just better at listening. At least THEN she was! Ok, ok I am deluded and suffering from some sort of amnesia but back to my question: What do I do now???

Other than this:

Thursday, January 29, 2009

In the mean time...

...2 very important birthdays have come and gone, at such a speed they have left their cards flapping in their breeze.

Jordan turned 1 on January 15. I can't believe a year has passed already, and how he has changed in that time amazes me. He is a proper little boy now. No longer a baby. He understands simple instructions. I ask him: where are your blocks? and he beckons me to follow him to fetch them from his room. When I say bath time, he heads for the bath room. If he is hungry he drags his high chair towards the fridge. When he hear me pick up the car keys he says 'bye bye' and goes to the door. He is only 1. Only just. But he knows and understands far more than I give him credit for. He is adorable. At least I think so, I his Mum, I'm allowed to see all the special bits only. If I want to.

Sean turned 41 on January 24. Sean was already pretty good at simple instructions. We are working on the more complicated ones now: where are your keys? When he is hungry he.... OK, stop making fun of him, 41 is not THAT old! Moving swiftly on... His birthday present? A steel business. His own. Officially BMO Steel Fabrication is trading from Monday, February 2nd. I, for one, am very excited. Sean is aprehensive, as anyone would be on the verge of something that means so much to them. I am proud of him. I know this is his big success story.


Happy birthday to my boys, here's wishing you have many, many more and you spend them all with Shannon and me!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A little perspective, if I may...

We are in the process of making yet more life furthering decisions. Sean is starting up in business partnership in his continual drive for improvements in our lives, I have successfully negotiated 2 years of a degree and am well set to meet the requirements to continue my professional development once I finish this year. Our children are growing up fast and the years are ticking by. As they do so our marriage grows stronger, our family bond has become the foundation on which we make our decisions and our children continue to light the way to our future. And so we must strive to live and make our lives what we want them to be. That’s why we do what we do. It has never been clearer.

Sean and I are intelligent, individual people, with hopes, fears, dreams and realities, just like everybody else. Due to the paths in life we have taken, we are where we are now: a full time mother, wife and student, and a husband, father and earner. We are different to many other people. Our lives have ensured that. We have been places and experienced things that other people only read about in books. We may not have years of career behind us, but we have years of life experiences. Life is too short to only spend it planning for the future. We have lived. Now we are realigning our needs and wants, ticking the right boxes, ready for the next stage. It is yet another experience. We are living.

Sean has found, after many years of searching, an industry in which he feels comfortable, and one where he sees the potential to fulfil his drive for financial security. He has been given a huge leg up, for which he is extremely grateful. But he is ambitious and wishes to constantly improve the lifestyle that he provides for his family. He can’t do that by standing still and waiting for handouts. He can do that by investing in himself and his natural talent for all things practical. Why wait? Why put off something that can potentially change our current situation for the better? Even if it is only a little bit better, better is always good. Isn’t that a valuable way to live a life? I believe in Sean; he has an uncanny understanding of things that appear murky and confusing to others (including myself, often), but he usually proves himself right in the end. Belief is a powerful tool that we can use to improve our lot, lacking faith in one’s self removes that power, so we strive to maintain it. Sean will go far self-employed in the right industry. That is our goal.

Another way that Sean and I are attempting to improve our situation is by furthering my education and allowing me the time to do that as quickly and as well as possible. We are happy to live life as we do in order to make this a possibility. If this means that we must go without a few things, then so be it. Once I am qualified I will be able to increase our financial stability and future prospects, alongside Sean, far more than I would if we concerned ourselves with our current situation and I went to work full time now. Once again, why wait? My earning potential is currently very low and the expense of full time care for our children and the extra petrol money would make it a waste of time. Before Shannon is even in senior primary, and Jordan starts school, I will be a bona fide psychologist. That is our goal.

Something else that is of huge importance to us is the way we raise our children. We are in the enviable position that enables me to stay at home with Shannon and Jordan. I am here whenever they are here. I believe that gives them an invaluable start to life, knowing that I am always a constant in their lives. I realise and appreciate how lucky we are that we can offer this to our children. Once again if sacrifices have to be made to allow this, then that's what we will do. This is another reason I do not go to work. We are lucky that our lives have worked out in this way. Had I developed my career earlier I would be compelled to work in order not to fall behind. By the time I am ready to lauch myself back into the working world Shannon and Jordan will both be at school/creche and they will need me less. Timing is everything.

Long term security rather than instant gratification are our objectives; if we do not do what we are doing we will not achieve them. They are our decisions. We have made them carefully and thoughtfully in the best interests of our family. Life has taught us many lessons which we have learned and implemented in a way that has broadened our horizons and opened our minds. We have grown as people and have come to the point we are at now through much discussion, understanding and experience. We are capable. Our continued belief in what we are doing will help us to fulfil our reality. That is something that I know! Having learnt life's lessons thus far has paved the way for 2009 to be the year we step up a level, and every year after that will be yet another step up. Each new life stage offers a chance to change and improve on what has come before. Now is our spring board into the future. Until the next one, onwards and upwards.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

And another thing...

Ok, just so you know, the start to the year has been a little frustrating. I am a creature who requires routine, activites and time limits in order to function. At all. This obsession (no, that is not too strong a word for it!) is happily satisfied most of the time and, being the psychologically mature adult that I am, I am able to cope admirably with the odd diversion into chaos. However. Chaos seems to be the main thread so far this year, with the occasional return to routine (perhaps the only thing keeping me out of the clutches of men in white coats)

Did I mention that Jordan is, shall we say active and intrigued by the world. He displays these traits by attempting to handle, take apart and/or distroy anything he can get his grubby little paws on. He is VERY cute and his life saving attribute is his perfect timing with returning to the adorable little cherub I know he is, JUST in the nick of time. Thank heavens for Dorcas or I would be in BIG trouble!!!

My next distruption comes in the form of forms. If you read my last post you will know I am trying to get my applications for various things in order. This means that I have to go off and do things that do not fit into my routine and always take more time than I expect and are just plain frustrating. At least I have my finger prints now... so on to the next step!

Oh and my wonderful university seems to lack personel. I think the dispatch department exists, as I have recieved most of my study material, but I am loath to put any faith in the existence of any other useful or necessary people or departments. Mostly because I have been trying to contact them for nearly a month with a registration issue I have, and have got through to ONE PERSON! And as it turned out she couldn't hlep me anyway... just picked up the phone at someone else's desk!!! Great institution. Really.

My planned daily routine for 2009 went something like this:

Monday to Friday
7:45am drop Shannon at school and fetch Dorcas

8am start personal admin

8.30am start work on one of my 3 jobs (degree, diploma or writing)

10am coffee break

12pm lunch break

12.30 continue working

2.30 drop Dorcas off and fetch Shannon

4.30pm children's bath time

5.30pm children's supper time

6.30pm Children's bed time, breath and then relax.

I am managing everything except the bit between 8am and 2.30pm. AAAAAGGGGGHHHHHH

Sometime in all that time I like to fit in a run or some rebounding just to allow me to continue to to keep the chocolate makers in business!!

The other thing I have to do is update this blog with the following posts:

Jordan's first birthday (that was a week ago already)

And a look into my total lack of will power in relation to choclate, and in fact any other snacky food I can get my hands on. May have something to do with the lack of routine,but as I say that is a whole other post!!!

Ah well, I will keep on keeping on in the hope that things will soon fall into place and I can make that routine work for me!!! Wish me luck!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Forms, forms and more forms! Part 1!

2009 is a year of sorting things. In this wonderful part of the world that means a fair amount of red tape and time delays.

1. Sean investigated the possiblity of arming himself in the interests of protecting us from some of the more dangerous inhabitants of our province, only to discover that doing so legally would take almost a year. Obtaining something illegally would take a matter of days but it is not something we are interested in so unarmed we remain!

2. I am trying to change one of the modules I have registered for this year (due to a lack of prior planning I am registered for a module I have not done prerequisites for) Seems there is no one working at UNISA any more and I will just have to get on and do it and hope they give me my degree at the end of it! (OK I am not that gung ho, I will persevere until it is sorted but c'mon, is there a need!!!)

3. We spent the morning at Home Affairs on Friday only to discover that my application for permanent residence will take a year to 15 months to go through... is that NORMAL??? Oh and they told us I can convert my temporary residence permit to a business owner one and work for myself. Now they tell me. 4 years later! Thanks guys!!!

4. The form that I was given to fill in in the interests of changing my permit says I have to have R2 5 ooo ooo in the bank in order to do so. I think it may be the wrong form! I hope!

5. I have to get police clearance from the SAPS to say that I am a nice upstanding citizen but I must take the forms etc away from them and I must send all the stuff off myself as they will probably get it wrong!!!!! Great!

Ah well, here goes nothing!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

This year...

...I resolve to earn millions and live happily ever after! Really! This year!

Seems my posts are a little thin on the ground at the moment. Here are my excuses: Shannon is on holiday, Jordan requires six pairs of eyes watching him at all times to prevent total destruction of either himself or his surroundings. I only have 1 pair last time I checked so everything is not safe.

So, Christmas and New Year happened. I think. At least that may be what the blur was that flashed past at the end of 2008. I have a good feeling about them so must have been enjoyed by all. As I said, a bit of a blur. Someone said to me that the way the earth has erroded over the years means it is smaller and therefore spins faster on it's axis and so time has sped up. Not sure how that works with hours, minutes and seconds, but after this recent festive season I feel I may begin to believe it!

Anyway, here we are in 2009 and big things are afoot. Jordan walks. He gave it a proper shot on New Years day and had it mastered by the second day! He also climbs. Which is where the 6 pairs of eyes come in. My little angel boy has been known to remove plants, roots and all, from their pots, relieve glasses of their very useful, and in fact necessary, arms, and do back flips off the couch. The latter ended with him landing deftly on his head where he now sports a carpet imprinted bruise to be proud of. The fact that people will think I beat my children over the head with carpet covered blunt objects was perhaps not considered prior to the event! And my glasses are currently convalescing out of reach with glue in all the right places - hopefully! I remain optimistic... for now! Slowly transferring the pot plants to the garden is my only defence in that area.

Shannon seems to be getting longer and skinnier as the weeks pass, I am holding out for her to fill out a bit before her next growth spurt in the interests of not snapping in the middle. Other than that she is very interested in everything that is going on to the point that her incessant questioning of 'who was that, Mom' or 'who were you speaking to?' or 'what did she say, mom?' or 'where are we going?' 'who is coming here?' 'why did you do that?' may be the last straw with my insanity! aaaaaggghhhhhhhh! School starts next week, they can share some of the inquisition!!! Shannon is a fabulous big sister and has assumed the role of pair of eyes number 3 in the hope of salvaging some of her own things from destruction.

That's all I have time for, The Destructor is awake and I must return to sentry duty. Happy 2009! This is a good year!