Rush Home Road by Lori Lansens …

Another book that has been lying in my book shelf for ages, collecting dust and I have been meaning to read.

Book Title:  Rush Home Road

Author:  Lori Lansens

What’s the book about?  Addy Shadd is a seventy year old woman who lives in a trailer park (out of choice) and circumstances conspire that she is put in the position to take care of Sharla Cody who is a five-year old little girl living in a nearby trailer, with a somewhat unavailable mother.

The story is about how Addy and Sharla change each other’s lives, and as the book progresses, the story of Addy’s life unfolds.  There is nothing jarring or frantic in this book – though the characters and experiences are told with empathy and a real sense of “it was like I was there” quality – the story flows easily and you get carried along on its current.

The jacket describes the book as “Rush Home Road, the story of a seventy-year old woman’s journey through the unbearable sorrows of her past, in order to save an abandoned little girl, is a first novel of exquisite power, honesty, and conviction.  Its portrait of how much has changed, and how little, over nearly a century, in the realms of race, love, hate and loss, is nearly without flaws.”

Who told you about the book?  No one, it is one of those where the cover had some sort of appeal, but I was not sure what or why.

What resonated with you about the book?  The book is not a story with a beginning, middle and an end.  You feel you have stumbled into the lives of Addy and Sharla, and you get to walk a bit with them on this road they are on.

Time needed to read? 387 pages, 1 1/2 line spacing, not a huge commitment, probably took 3 – 4 days of reading a bit before bed each night.

Where did you purchase the book?  Books Galore, which is a discounted book store at Plattekloof Shopping Centre.

Would you save this book, pass it along to a charity store, or pass it along to a fellow avid reader?  My initial feeling was to toss it, but there is something haunting about this book.  I have it lying next to me right now, and I keep glancing at it, and the story does sit with you for a long time.  I would probably pass it along to someone – probably my mom.

Rating out of a possible 5:  3 1/2 – not a must read, but a “quite a good read.”

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All that glitters is not …..

I saw this on Facebook recently, and it was one of the few things I see on Facebook that makes me guffaw.

No doubt it is a joke, but I think any of us who has had to pop along to a GYNE appointment could so believe this could happen ….

“I was due for an appointment with the gynecologist later in the week. Early one morning, I received a call from the doctor’s office to tell me that I had been rescheduled for that morning at 9:30 a.m.

I had only just packed everyone off to work and school, and it was already around 8:45 am. The trip to his office took about 35 minutes, so I didn’t have any time to spare.

As most women do, I like to take a little extra effort over hygiene when making such visits, but this time I wasn’t going to be able to make the full effort.

So, I rushed upstairs, threw off my pajamas, wet the washcloth that was sitting next to the sink, and gave myself a quick wash in “that area” to make sure I was at least presentable. I threw the washcloth in the clothes basket, donned some clothes, hopped in the car and raced to my appointment.

I was in the waiting room for only a few minutes when I was called in. Knowing the procedure, as I’m sure you do, I hopped up on the table, looked over at the other side of the room and pretended that I was in Paris or some other place a million miles away. I was a little surprised when the doctor said, “My, we have made an extra effort this morning, haven’t we?” I didn’t respond.

After the appointment, I heaved a sigh of relief and went home. The rest of the day was normal… some shopping, cleaning, cooking, etc. After school when my six year old daughter was playing, she called out from the bathroom, “Mommy, where’s my washcloth?”

I told her to get another one from the cupboard. She replied, “No, I need the one that was here by the sink, it had all my glitter and sparkles saved inside it.”

I hope you had a Happy Easter where ever you were – and the bunny found you.

I think there should be warning stickers ….

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Mommy’s Little Helper …. try not to shit yourself ….

wine

A show aired on a talk show hosted by Katie Courie – I caught it on youtube.

I do not know Katie Courie, after the show I do not think she is someone I would want to watch.

The focus of the show I saw, was Mommies who admit to needing a swig of wine to get through the day – she had Marile Borden who is a mom of two who organized a Facebook page called, Moms Who need Wine! on.

What started as a discussion degenerated into a judgement exercise.

These are not moms who are having a glass at 7am to get through the school run.  Rather Moms who are having drinks at a play date (crikey holy, I would go to more play dates if there was wine on offer – it would also help me mask out the drone of the mom who was boasting about how fantastic Junior was or how Miss had managed to win yet another Cello solo …. I cannot bear it!!) or are having wine whilst they make dinner.

The horror!!  The shame!!

I found this entire thing a bit vilifying.

Why should we stand around and make excuses or “oh but I don’t when…” if we decide to drink a glass (or three) of wine at home – I believe last time I checked we were adults, and as adults we do not need the Nanny Police to decide for us.

I am not suggesting hopping in the car and doing an advanced driving course when the kids are tucked up in bed while you put wine in a sippie cup.  But let’s just get a quick reality check.

I drink 2 or 3 glasses of wine in the evening – when I want to.   I might drink 1, I might drink none.

Sometimes I even go wild and throw a white bread sandwich smeared in Nutella — calm yourself before you call the village and arrange torches and a funky chant!

I do not have to, I choose to drink wine.

I like wine.  I love wine — I am desperately looking for a wine sponsor for this blog or even one post, but instead I get approached by organic nappy suppliers.

I like the wine that I buy for myself and I pack into my fridge as a treat for myself.  It is not because I am a mom, it really has nothing to do with it (well most days)

I work hard, I pay for it (the wine), and even if I didn’t — I AM AN ADULT I GET TO CHOOSE WHAT I DRINK without having to run it past the holier than thou mommy police and Katie fucking Courie.

I get the wine for surviving the FUCKING DAY!!  I celebrate the FANTASTIC FUCKING day by having a large glass of wine if I want to.  Why should I stand here babbling incoherently and make excuses for drinking wine and having a uterus?

I do not have to give a reason why I want to enjoy a glass of wine.  And I definitely do not need to explain it to a mom whose idea of a good time is doing arts and crafts all bleeding day.

When was the last time we had a discussion about dads sitting on the couch drinking beer?  Er never!

Now why is that?

Because no one judges a dad smashing a can (or six pack) into his beak every day.  But god help you if you have a uterus, some mammary glands and deem to think you are an adult and can drink a glass or two of wine if you choose to.

Why is it that if you have a child suddenly you get judged by other moms?

Dads have opted to not even weigh in on this, and bless them — bless them!!  Why do they need to get involved in this, when there are moms squabbling and judging up a shit storm all by themselves.

Men must be thinking “thank fuck, I will just sit here quietly on the couch, not draw any attention to me as I drink my beer and change the channel with the remote ….”

Holy fuck — who gives a shit what judgmental women who are sitting on their prissy Biggie Best furniture whilst they hand weave their darlings next sweater out of mohair, that that they personally selected and plucked from a strawberry farm on organic Wednesday, and post Facebook updates of their off spring every 2.5 minutes?

I am so sick and tired of moms who stand around and tell everyone how holier than fuck they are.

I am so exhausted by women who band together so that as a group they can say things like “but … I never drink because I might have to rush my child to hospital” — well in that case I hope you are never naked  in the throes of an orgasm (or an origami), because maybe that might be an appropriated time for your child to sustain an injury and you need to rush them to hospital.

Because I have children, must I stop being an adult and remain a carer …. until ….. they are 21?  Must my entire life come to a stand still because I am a parent?

If you think so, then one of us is reading the wrong parenting manual.

I am a truly exhausted by the clutch of holier than thou moms that feel they need to constantly preach to us slightly-less-than-holy moms, who actually do enjoy a glass of wine (or a box), and actually – god forbid — enjoy time WITHOUT our kids, and — brace yourself — feed our kids hot dogs because kids love hot dog.   I actually do not care if there is a bit of donkey in there.

If your kid cannot survive a bit of donkey, then your kid maybe needs to be weaned out by natural selection.

Okay I have vented, now I need to pour myself another Chenin Blanc.

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I really adore my dog ….

I have had Dexter since January 2012 and he really is such a cool dog, I absolutely adore him.

He bounces around the house like he owns it.

He is the perfect size for a dog – has enough muscle and substance to not be able to fit into your purse and at the same time is not big enough to throw your hips out of their sockets when he sits on your lap.

I like that he has a bit of an attitude, and he is such a “busy” dog for the kids.

The kids have a trampoline, and Dexter will jump up on the trampoline and bounce with him.  He has such a ridiculous looking face, that one cannot NOT love him.

I have never owned a Boston Terrier.   I can say I am not in any way disappointed by what he brings to the party.  Any occasion with Dexter is a party because he always looks ridiculous looking.  And he looks like he is always wearing a tuxedo, so you can so imagine him talking in a Sean Connery voice ….. as he lies and farts on the couch — Dexter, not Sean Connery, because that would just be all sorts of weird, and a bit shocking!

On Sunday I took Connor and Dexter and we went and joined the SPCA PURINA Woefie Wandel.  It was a 4km stroll around the D’Aria vineyards with a few thousand other people and their dogs.

Dexter forgets he is only three apples high, and carries on like a rabied half-wit when he is among that many dogs.  But once he got over the rather cramped start, we had a nice little stroll/fast walk and it was a nice morning out.

It was a well organised day.  There was tons of water stops for the dogs and everyone had a good time.  The parking was well organised, they had set up gazebos and there were chairs out — really nice day out for us and our woefie.

There was even a photo booth where you could get a photo with you and your dog!!

Connor and Dexter  {one of them is really happy, the other is like “bitch please …..”}  —

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Dexter selling his soul as a brand slut …..

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Dexter and me hanging out like the cool people we are ….. I also really need to botox that groove between my eyebrows ….

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Buddy punch …

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I am not quite sure how it started, but we play buddy punch when we drive.

The game is fairly simple, has few rules, and has the upside of being able to punch someone at random intervals.

If you spot a Buddy Car (A VW Beetle, old or new model) you get to Buddy Punch anyone in the car.  You just scream BUDDY PUNCH and hit them at the same time.

As the driver this can be quite disconcerting as you are merrily driving along, and not really paying attention only to be awoken from your driving-day dream with a punch and a scream.

My kids love the game and play it all the time – even if you are not actually playing, this does not stop you being a target of a punch — this can also happen if you see one on television, so the game never really stops.

This morning Connor gives me a second Buddy Punch, and he is quite pleased with himself.

Georgia got upset as she has not seen any Buddies and did not see the one Connor has just seen either of the two Connor had discovered.

{to assist in picturing the scene} Connor is sitting in the front seat and Georgia is sitting in the back, directly behind him.

Georgia – moaning/whining: “I can’t see because your seat is in the way.  I cannot see because YOUR BIG GOOFY HEAD is in the way!”

Jeez Louise I laughed. I cackled, I snorted– it was such a bizarre thing for Georgia to say, totally out of character.

In one small flash of humour I did not mind the 14 years I would spend driving my kids to the same primary school.

Start playing BUDDY PUNCH today, even if no one else has any idea why you are screaming BUDDY PUNCH at them and then hitting them with all your might.  {Hitting someone when you have not seen a Buddy or incorrectly identified one results in you getting two punches from who ever you last hit}

Seriously it is a real game, though we have changed the name PUNCH BUG appears to be another name.

The maze that is the government health system….

See previous post about Priv and her bun in the oven.

Priv goes down to her local clinic, which is in Milnerton.

She goes on Wednesday last week, and leaves our house just before 08h00 to get to the clinic.  We know she is pregnant, she has had a fetal assessment centre scan – so she is going for them to check her blood pressure, her weight and have a measure and a feel around.

Seems reasonable.

I had a busy day, and got home with the kids around 17h30 – I thought she was in her room, and I carried on with the evening.  I sent her an SMS, and at about 19h00, I went to knock on her bedroom door to check she was okay and see what the clinic said.  No answer, and I think “shame, she is exhausted I will let her sleep…

At 19h30, I start to wonder why I have not seen her, and now I start to worry, and go back and knock on her door with a bit more force.

I picked up my phone to call her, thinking she must be fast asleep, and saw that she had sent me a message at 18h40.  She was still in the queue, her phone battery had died and she had used the phone of the person sitting next to her.

It is not about 20h00 and no sign of Priv.  I start trying to reach people I think she might have walked to.

I tried to call her just in case.  I then called the number on my phone and spoke to the person who sat next to Priv at the clinic.  She had left the clinic at 19h45, and she is already home, she does not know where Priv is.

Now I was really worried.

It is dark – it is really late.  I know the taxi’s that run no longer run to our area.  How the hell is Priv going to get home?  How the hell am I going to figure out where she is?

Now I am panicked.  I am tried to work out if I should wake the kids and put them in the car and start driving around aimlessly screaming “Priv!!!  Where are you?” out the window like a crazy person.  I am weighing this up, and trying to work out whether I should go in my jammies or not, when I hear out front door unlock, and Priv walks in – it is 20h30!

{long story about how she walked and caught a taxi, and eventually went into a block of flats, someone took pity on her, and packed up his family into his car and gave her a lift to our house}

The clinic had kept her there the entire day.  After hours of waiting, she was told she needs to wait for the pre-natal nurse who arrives at 15h00.  Each patient takes 45 minutes, and that is where the time went, she did not want to leave as she knew that she would have to repeat the exercise and tomorrow might be worse.

She is exhausted, she looked a bit traumatised – I think sitting in a government clinic all day might put you in a position to see too many things you pray you do not ever have to witness.

And for the cherry – she had to return in the morning to have her blood taken, as the nurse who takes blood had gone home.

So we headed back to the clinic on Thursday morning, another three hours later she had her blood drawn.

10 minutes to draw blood, 2 hours 50 minutes to find the files that had been misfiled on top of a filing cabinet by the night nurse who had left the night before.  Of course she had to wait for them to find the file for them to draw blood — makes sense.

Priv will need to remain at this clinic, until she is past 32 weeks, then they will refer her records to the clinics which are closer to our (and her) home – they say they are not willing to refer her before that.

I asked her which hospital she will deliver at, she says she does not know.

I get the sense from her, that she has to continue going to the day clinic.  She goes there and if she thinks she is in labour, at that point they refer her to a day hospital to deliver.

Do bear in mind she needs to get to the day hospital by herself while a baby is threatening to appear out of her vee-jay-jay.

She said that they told her not to call an ambulance if she goes in to labour, they will not come fetch her.  Right well, now we know – I am off to buy a Golden Arrow bus card for her, because clearly even head out of vee-jay-jay is not a reason to call an ambulance.

If the birth has complications the day hospital then will then refer her to a hospital like Karl Bremer (which is close by) or Groote Schuur (or the day hospital will close and send her to the hospital or home…) – the hospitals deal with complications.

And here I was thinking a hospital was there to help someone say when they are giving birth or have cut off their leg with a salad fork.

I cannot imagine anything more long winded with gaps to where a baby can be delivered in a taxi or on a street corner, or in my kitchen with the aid of my Carrol Boyes salad tongs.

Or am I missing a key point here?

{I know, I bet you are now laughing at my wait at the emergency clinic for plus two hours with an ear infection, clearly I just needed some perspective on that issue to really fully appreciate how fantastic that service was}

My question is:  Are there OGBYNs who practice at government hospitals, so you pay a fee to consult with them – which might be slightly less than the cost of actually just buying a new lung.

Where the OGBYN sees you, and then when you deliver, you deliver in the government hospital he or she refers you to?  And he/she only comes along if there is an emergency?

I tried to phone Karl Bremer and Groote Schuur and the message was very clear: “Fuck off and leave us alone, we are too busy for your suburban problems!”  They did not say that, though the sub-text was clear. They did say they only take referrals for high risk births and then told me to go away.

I have googled the crap out of this, and have not really come to any other conclusion than what I understand above.

Does anyone (who really knows) know any better, or can offer advise on how to circumvent find a better method of working?

Or is this just the way it is, and I best take a chill pill and start cleaning my salad tongs, and boiling the kettle.

Spar Women’s Race – 17 March 2013

I would not under any circumstances class myself as a runner.

I shuffle.   I sort of stumble along.  I cannot run for very a very long time, or at a particularly fast pace without making people wonder how on earth my knees manage to move at that particular angle.

I tend to do short attempts at running, and spend the rest of the time trying to walk really fast.  There is also time that I set aside for dry heaving, as my body (and mind) do not enjoy exercise in any shape or form.

People keep promising me that my endorphins will be taking over and I will love it.  So far, there have been no sightings of endorphins or porpoises or Nemo for that matter.

I loath exercise, before I do it, whilst I am doing it, and especially when it is over.  I usually give thanks that it is over, and I can just go home.  I really do not sit there with a big smile on my face telling people how wonderful I feel.

The fact that I do it at all, speaks volumes about my ability to “just put my head down and get the fuk on with it” …..

I do enjoy running downhill (I can’t run uphill, and am suspicious of people who can – the human body is not designed to do that).

I like the way the sheer weight of my body propels the rest of me forward at a bit of a pace, creating the illusion of speed.  As my body hurtles down, usually at a speed slightly faster than my legs can move, towards the end of what ever lies at the foot of a hill is quite a thrilling sensation for me.

I am always surprised that there are not bodies strewn along the side of a hill when I run.  I definitely would be motivated to strew myself there if there were other bodies to keep me company.  But there never is, so I tend to take a deep gasping breath and just keep on moving — until I can fall down later.

I have been afraid of entering anything that has the word “race” or “run” or “event” in it – partly because there is this assumed perception that I am going to have FUN, and also that there might be pressure to wear a running vest.

I cannot think of anything more cruel to on-lookers or my sense of style that me donning a vest.   Vests are for people who beat their wives and convicts  no one else in the civilized world should ever wear a vest.  Just say no!!

Even with this knowledge I entered the Spar Women’s Race.

I decided that the best course of action was to do it by myself.  That way I would not need to feel responsible to someone else, and the “togetherness” that we must share.  I figured I could run/walk at my own pace, or chicken out and of all of this with no outside pressure what so ever.

I tend to ignore things, it is my coping mechanism.  Kennith kept asking me the route and other probing questions that only people who regularly enter outdoor activities would know to ask.  I kept telling him that other than the fact that it is sponsored by SPAR, I have no information, and was happy to remain uninformed, so that I could concentrate on other important stuff likes which hat went better with my ponytail!

On Sunday I went along to join the 10km run/race/event.  There was a great energy and music playing – Kennith and Connor came along to see me start and then to be there as material witnesses to prove I finished, should there be an enquiry.

I have never had to run/move in such a large crowd so that was a bit frightening.

I was scared of falling .  You know that if all you can think about is “don’t trip, don’t trip, for god sakes don’t trip” then you are inevitably going to pull a Zola Budd (for those born after the 80’s please google Zola Budd and Mary Decker — it takes falling on your banana to an entirely different level).

I concentrated on where I was putting my feet, and kept my hands ready to push anyone to the ground who got in my way.

There were so many people.  People who ran faster or slower than I was going.  Kennith said it took more than 20 minutes for the people who were waiting to start to move past the start line.  Holy crap that is a lot of people!  Fortunately our “early bird gets the worm” philosophy put me about 15 metres of the front, so I can’t imagine who overwhelming it must have been right in the middle of that packl.

I ran more than I thought I would or could, or believed I should!

I realise that if you had seen me at any point, you would have asked “when exactly did you run?”  I do admit my running is probably slower than my walking pace, but you would know I am running by my very red face, and the funky way I was moving my arms in an up and down sort of motion.

I have a Garmin running watch, so I can see how far I had moved, what my time is and my pace, so that really helped.  It helped because I constantly wondered if I had covered 7 kilometers yet, but then was always stunned that it was only 700 metres, like maybe!!

I was really happy with the way it went – mainly because I did not fall. I did not end up having to use the porta loos along the way.  I only drank one gulp of Fanta Grape along the way, and nearly projectile vomited.  I thought it was coke – I hope it was going to be coke.  After that I was really suspicious when ever anyone tried to give me anything along the way, which is probably a healthy approach if you are ever in Sea Point Main Road.

I was glad I finished the 10km – not exactly flying, but I will take 1 hour 22 minutes as a win or at the very least a finish.

Thanks Spar!!

It was a well organised run/race/event, goodie bag was pretty awesome.  Thanks for the free muffins.  I was really impressed with the  sms’s I received before and after the race.   The race marshals were really great and were a constant source of fun and good cheer along the way.

I still have not seen my endorphins though.

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Mark, sort out your crap ….

A few weeks ago I was at Woolworths shopping for kids school uniforms.   {okay it was ages ago, but I have just been too lazy arse to download the photos off my phone – there you caught me!!!}

It was the usual chaos of stores trying to get all their Xmas shit out the door, at the same time as trying to work in the joy of BACK TO SCHOOL and Valentine’s Day soap on a rope – so it was pretty hectic in retail circles.

Woolworths, which usually is a store that is organised and very neat, was looking slightly less so on the day I was visiting them.  They had no idea who I was, so there was no begging and scraping as I have come to expect, but consistently miss no matter which retailer I am in.

I saw this note for Mark, and it made me smile, namely for three reasons:

1.  Woolworths can be as disorganised as the next store.

2.  There is always a Mark that needs to get his shit together – and this sign might have been more indicative of his life than this little hangar set.

3.  It supports my belief that people feel they can pretty much say anything, no matter how shit or stupid, but the addition of a smiley face or a LOL  at the end makes it universally acceptable.

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Another baby in the house …. not mine ….

As you know Priv works for me.

To say I love Priv does not even hint at the extent to which I adore her.

Of course I rely on her and she is such a wonderful person that I can’t help but like her.  I realised that I only met Priv in March last year, and hired her soon after that.  She is originally from Zimbabwe, and has a 13 year old daughter who lives in Zimbabwe, and she supports her financially and emotionally from here.

It feels like she has been with us for years.  She just fits in with our household so seamlessly, that it has been like she has been here forever.  I am sure I told someone recently she has been with us for more than two years …. clearly it all started to fuse together and it felt like she was always here.

She lives with us, and I rely on her to function.

Nothing is too much trouble.  I love the way she interacts with my kids, not because she has to, but because she is genuinely interested in them.  When I was retrenched last year, I did not think for a moment that I was going to let her go, I just figured I would make a plan, and I would rather drive myself into debt than even think about retrenching her.

Three weeks ago she told me that she suspects she was pregnant.

Long story, but the short of it is that she changed birth control brands – the birth control she was on meant she did not have a menstrual cycle, so not having one in a month did not necessarily mean you were pregnant (I have been on the same birth control, so I understood what she was saying).

She was not sure of what was happening, and did not know for sure but was going to the OBGYN later that day – she had been to the clinic, and they thought she was, but was vague as only a government clinic can be.

She was obviously distraught, as anyone would be if they found out they may be pregnant.  This was not the life plan they had in mind.  She made it clear that she could not financially support another child, and how was she meant to do this when she lived with us, and did not have a support network to assist her.

She was very clear that her boyfriend and her had been seeing each other for years, but she knew it was not a relationship that she referred to as a “non starter.”

She goes along, and returns and finds out she is 22 weeks along!!

I went in to full lunatic possessed person mode.  Called the Fetal Assessment Centre at Kingsbury Hospital.  As luck would have it they had a cancellation for 12h00 – it was 11h00.  Threw ourselves out the door and headed to her appointment.

She did the initial discussion without me, and then called me in for the detailed fetal scan.

Oh my heavens, there is nothing quite as toe curling and exciting is being in a fetal assessment scan.

There was her daughter, all 22.5 weeks of her.  She is perfect.  I was so relieved.  I could see her toes, her spine, her little mouth, her head, her hands …. I cannot tell you how excited I was.

Priv had not had any prenatal care, and of course she was worried.  Seeing a perfectly formed, perfectly healthy little girl must have been such a relief.  I tried to do a happy dance quietly so as not to distract the scanner doctor person.

I am not sure exactly what is going to happen or how it is going to go.  We have asked her to stay with us, and have the baby here, and then keep the baby here with her.

I do not want her to send the baby to Zimbabwe, to disappear into the hinterland that is Zimbabwe. I want her to stay here and have the opportunities our children have.

Priv is due in June – which is the same month both my girls were born.

I am sure the road ahead will not be easy.

I am sure there will be challenges, but I am sure we can overcome them and her daughter will have a better chance of a life here with us, than if we let Priv go, and she had to return to Zimbabwe.

I am not sure what the rules are around helping to raise your Nannies baby, but we are going to give it a go and see what happens.

{I discussed whether she wanted to consider adoption or foster care, or whether she wanted to raise the baby here and we help her as much as we can – at this stage she is going to have this baby, and we are going to help her and we are going to just make it work.}

So that’s that then!

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28% of South African schoolgirls are HIV positive – FACT

I heard a horrific statistic today.  One of those where I go “hey that’s not right … that can’t be right”

At least 28% of South African schoolgirls are HIV positive compared with 4% of schoolboys.

My brain was trying to work out exactly why there was such a variance in the statistics between the boys and girls.

They are having sex with each other, so it should be a bit closer in terms of related figures.  The boys shouldn’t be 7 times less likely to be HIV positive that the school girls – they are exposed to the same things and equally at risk.  Right?

But it appears I am alarming ill informed.  The girls are testing HIV positive, because of the high prevalence of school girls having sex with “sugar daddies!”

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said that some pregnant girls – aged between 10 and 14 years of age – also tested positive for HIV.

“[About] 77 000 girls had abortions at public facilities. We can no longer live like that. We want to put an end to it,” he said.

More than five million people in South Africa are HIV-positive – about 10% of the total population.  Last year more than 260,000 people with Aids died – almost half the figure of all those who died in the country.

I am astonished.  I am disappointed.

My heart dies a bit for what is happening in our country and these girls.  I have no idea how to remedy the situation.  I have no idea what more our government, HIV Activists, and private individuals/companies can do.  At a certain point you do as much as you can, then you need to step back and let people be responsible for their choices and the repercussions.   But how does one stand and watch this happen?

How you are infected with HIV is really not a difficult concept to get your head around.  Its a really simple message.

I do think that the government and clinics have used an exhaustive campaign to inform the public – the campaign and message has been punted from about 1993/1994, if not earlier.

Why is the message just not getting through?

One in four of our school going girls is HIV positive.  That is a horrific statistic.  What does this mean for our society and our future?

I am actually not sure who to blame.  The school girls?  The parents?  Society?  The sugar daddies?  Society as a whole?  The unemployment and poverty rate?

I am so alarmed, I am nearly speechless.

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Street Kid by Judy Westwater …. just read

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One of those books that have been lying in my book shelf for about three years, and I have been meaning to read it but never quite got there.  Now that I have finished Game of Throne {I cannot wait for the next installment}, and have been committed to that series since October 202.

I really did need to read something else and my eye stumbled on this book I had borrowed from a friend ages ago and just have not got to yet.

Book Title:  Street Kid – One Child’s Desperate Fight for Survival

Author:  Judy Westwater

So what’s the book about?  A child has parents who can only be described as dysfunctional on the best of days and the parents go through a divorce.  The psychotic spiritualist father {who is the perfect candidate for a bit of mob justice} takes his youngest daughter, more as a means to spite his wife than his overriding urge to be a good/even mediocre father and decides to raise her.

He is a horrendous father.  His new wife/girlfriend is abusive and hates the little girl on sight.  The “new mom” treats the little girl a bit worse than you would treat a dog with mange – and Judy spends much of her childhood locked outside in the backyard, which may not be bad if you lived in sunny South Africa, but in rather cold and grim UK it becomes an exercise in survival just to make it through a day in the backyard and survive to be let in at night.

The book is a true story based on the author’s experience.

It is obviously a fairly grim story, with very little in the way of characters to redeem it or make it likable   I was constantly amazed by this little girl’s ability to survive and to overcome.  It did remind me a bit of Dave Pelzer’s story, titled “The Lost Boy”  which I read back in 2000.

It did make me think of the incidents of abuse and neglect that must be happening within 100 meters of us every day, and not necessarily in some isolated informal out of the way place.

Who told you about the book?  No one, I had actually never heard of the book, and have not seen a review on it either.

What resonated with you about the book?  I kept comparing her age to my children, and being amazed by her ability to adapt and survive.  I think she shows that the human spirit is so resilient, and the power to overcome is often more powerful than the urge to crawl into a corner and give up.

Overall Impression?  I was not swept away by the book.  I found something about the tone, and the way it was written a bit rushed.  I did not get into the real feeling of Judy.  It did feel like I was looking at this as a third party and the details were being glissed over with very little emotion, but maybe that was the way the story was meant to be – a chronicle of her journey, rather than an in depth expose on how she coped.

Time needed to read?  A fairly thin book, so I got through this in one day over the weekend.

Where did you purchase or obtain the book? Lent to me by a friend.

Would you save this book, pass it along to a charity store, or pass it along to a fellow avid reader?  I would probably add it to the charity store pile, but in reality I need to return it to Joyce who lent me the book about three years ago.  It is not a bad book, but it is not something I would remember in 6 months time, or recommend to someone if they asked me for my top three books in the last year.  It’s sort of okay …. yes a rather lukewarm review I am afraid.

Rating out of 5 stars : * * *

An evening at the emergency room ….

Connor has always been an ENT (ear nose and throat) child.  If there is an infection doing the rounds, he will get it, and it will be something that either means his sinuses are blocked or his ears are infected.

Either way it is excruciating pain.  Usually if not treated effectively he risks bursting an ear drum and this may lead to the loss of hearing or part there of.  We are old hands at this.

On Sunday morning Connor looked a bit off colour, and not as exuberant as he usually is.

On Monday morning he looked less than ideal.  I was under the impression there was a mathematics exam, so bundled him off to school though I knew he was not feeling great.  I said he should call me as soon as he is done/not feeling well and I will collect him.  I did not want him to miss the exam (I am so in the acceptance for grade 8 school zone right now).

Mistake # 1 : The exam had been postponed.

Mistake # 2 : Connor started throwing up pretty much as I left the school.

By 09h10 I was back fetching a very sick and feverish child.  No doubt I was being discussed in the staff room with reference to my questionable parenting to bring my son to school in that state.

We saw a GP at about 15h30. He needed an anti-biotic and pain relief.  No amount of fairy dust and happy thoughts were going to get rid of the pus.  We just needed to kick it anti-biotic style.

The evening went as evenings went in terms of dinner, homework, bathing and the usual chaos that ensues.

Connor got more and more uncomfortable as the evening wore on.  He started crying that his ear was really sore at about 19h00 and by 21h00, after more painkillers, he rates his pain 10/10.  The only option left was to toddle along to the nearest Medi Clinic.

At no point do I wish to suggest I am not thankful we pay a small fortune to have the luxury of medical aid.

I also do not wish for a moment to show a lack of appreciation for what probably is a top class hospital right on our doorstep.

But after more than an hour in the waiting room, with a sobbing child, and really nothing to do but sit there with a look of angst on my face, I started to wonder about our service provider Medi Clinic.  And whether some where in their service model things have gone badly wrong.

Or maybe whether I am expecting too much in terms of timeous medical care, and should just get my “wait and be patient” on.

We arrived, had to fill in a mountain of paperwork.  Though every member of my family has been to this exact hospital for everything from birth to allergic reactions, but for some reason they did not have access to our updated records.

No one assessed how much pain Connor was in, and whether they could assist him.  Clearly he was not missing a limb and bleeding to death, so we filled in paperwork grabbed a chair and waited our turn like good little patients.

I did start to get all sorts of delusions of entitlement. I was paying for a service, and it starts to feel like you are at Elsies River Day Hospital (which I am sure is a wonderful place, and I have not been there …..) and really I was not really getting a service.  I was waiting in a queue.

After an hour a sister did come and do observations.  Connor is still crying in pain.  She cheerfully told us to head back to the waiting room, wait for the doctor and that she was now going home.  Yes, lucky you!!

Connor had eventually cried himself to sleep.  An eleven year old boy crying in a public area until he is so exhausted he falls asleep.  You must realise that is a special kind of crying.

We eventually saw a doctor after yet more waiting.

The problem is that every doctor I see looks 12, and in some way either a clone for Doogie Howser, or the boy who got left home alone at Christmas time.

The 12 year old doctor told me what I knew and that was that Connor had an ear infection.  What really!?  I might have had less of a sense of humour than I normally would have had.

The doctor said that he could not give Connor anything for the pain.

A hospital with full access to a myriad of medication.  One of which must be connected or loosely related to morphine.  Access to a drip and a needles cannot give a boy pain killers ….. I started to doubt why exactly I had spent more than 2 – 3 hours waiting for this pearl of wisdom (granted I was now tired, irritated and cold – the air conditioner was set on “freeze your snot to ice”

The doctor wrote a script for some gargle stuff, some nose drops, and after I started to insist, he wrote a script for ear drops that had a Novocaine base.   I figured anything to relieve some of the pain in Connor’s ears would be a good idea, at worst I would put it in a tot glass and sip on it.

Because we were already not having enough fun, we had to drive to another location to fill the script, as the hospital pharmacist was not open.

Fortunately we have access to a 24 hour pharmacy.  I bought a lice comb while I was there (another one) and a bag of Easter Eggs (first one) – I figured the night was such a disaster I might as well just breath in a bag of easter eggs, and check my hair for lice, I mean it is practically a party.

I walked away from the experience thinking that my thoughts and prayers go out to anyone who has to deal with a public/government hospital.  Here I was sitting in a private hospital, and feeling angry because we were not being seen timeously and my demands were not being met.

How hopeless must you feel in the public health sector?

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What our kids see ….

I realise I over think this sort of thing, because Kennith tells me “you over think this sort of thing.”

This idea links back to the girls being princesses idea.  Pretty, pampered, immaculately dressed and waiting for their prince to waft in on a horse and hopefully with a large engagement ring in his hip pocket.

Two thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head lately are – “Do my children see enough black people doing a range of jobs for them to believe that black people/non white people can do a range of jobs?”

… and ….

“Do my girls see women in a range of positions for them to believe that women can do anything?”

The issue is not whether you believe a women {insert non white person} can do anything, but whether you see them in every facet of your daily life, so that the fact that they are the dentist/doctor/teacher/paramedic/secretary already tells you that they can do anything, and do everything.

I think it is one thing for someone to stand and tell you “women can do anything” but one tends to think in terms of what you see, and then you aspire to that.

I am not suggesting there are rare and exceptional women who will aspire to be the president and an astronaut and a hundred other things that women have not been, but I am thinking here more about what we show our girls every day.

I don’t want Georgia (or Isabelle) to think they can be a teacher or a nurse or a doctor because those are the positions that they see women filling. I want them to really believe and feel they can be the president, head of the IMF, head of FIFA and build a bridge because that is the positions they see women in each and every day.

Someone asked me the other day why I am trying to change the world, why not just go with the flow.

I am actually not trying to change the world, for the world’s sake – but I am trying very hard to ensure that my girls have a clear idea of what the world has to offer, and their view is not tempered by what is presented to them.

I get seriously annoyed when I look around and see the images that my girls must take in each and every day.

Over sexualised women (and girls) in television and in movies – girls who constantly tout they are doing it for self-expression and for girl power, but then why do they look like strippers and gain mileage on how sexualised their image is?

Adverts, music videos and most media personalities seem to buy into this “over sexualised image” – the short and tight skirts, the hooker heels and dancing as if there was a pole or at the very least a paying customer nearby.

I do think part of it is that we as adults no longer take note of these images, because they have become so pedestrian.  But the reality is that this is flashed before our children- our boys and our girls – and told that this is considered the “norm.”

I really do not think I am trying to swim against the current, but I really do not want to sit on my hands and then wonder in 10 years time why my daughters are dressed like strippers.

Or maybe I am over thinking this ….

Sleep writing and eating cake ….

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I had about a few years of sleep disturbance.  No matter how tired I was, I would fall asleep but would wake up between 2 and 3am and lie there exhausted, but unable to sleep.  My brain just did not shut down ….

By the end of 2011 not sleeping added to the general symptoms of depression and extreme stress, and really started to take it’s toll.

Any the who, my psychiatrist was treating me for a range of issues, but sleep deprivation is a real bugger, and is often the catalyst that makes it all fall apart.  I was prescribed some tablets to help me fall asleep.  Then another set to keep me asleep, and it was all happy days from there on.

I have been taking them for ages, and once we sorted out the levels so that I don’t feel lethargic or slow in the mornings, then it has been working like a bomb.

The key is that I need 8 hours sleep to allow the meds to work through my system, if I go to bed late (say 11pm) then I feel quite slow and heavy in the mornings.

The tablets are of the sort that I take whilst I am sitting in bed, as when it hits, it totally smacks me over.  There is no operating heavy farm machinery after I have taken my “sleep stuff.”

The other interesting side effect is it causes a bit of amnesia.  In some cases I still appear to be “all there” but unfortunately I have mentally left the room, and my body just does not realise, so I might be doing something or talking about something, and I have no recollection of what I did or what I said.

Last night I went to bed, took “my stuff” and sat and read my book.  Kennith brought me a cup of tea and some cup cakes and a chocolate slab.  I ate one of the little cupcakes, drank my tea and went to sleep.

Or so I thought.

This morning I wake up, and I have drawings all over my left arm.

I think “what have the kids done to me…” but then I realise that the swirls are rather advanced,and the design though from my elbow to my finger tips is a bit more advanced than my kids can manage – it is all swirls and doodles, and clearly is using a few different pens.

I am lying there looking at my arm, thinking “what the fuck” and then my eye drifts to the side table.

My pens that were in my bag, are all over the table.  There is an empty chocolate wrapper, no cupcakes and there are balls of chewing gum stuck on the plate.  It is total mayhem on my side table.

Clearly when my brain went to sleep, my body decided cupcakes, chocolate, chewing gum and drawing on myself with varying permanent markers was a fabulous idea.

… for fuck sakes …… {I should have taken a photograph!}

Cirque du Soleil – oh my grapefruit, it is amazing ….

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Last night we went to Grand West to watch Cirque du Soleil’s Dralion show.

Kennith was good enough to see the show was coming, and book tickets.  I really enjoy watching Cirque du Soleil on television, and I can’t imagine there will be too many opportunities for me to see it live in Cape Town.  Yay for Kennith!

I knew it was going to be good, but I did not realise it was going to be so damn brilliant.

The show is flawless.  The casts ability to co-ordinate their movements and to move so seamlessly is beyond what your brain can absorb.

There are various acts/scenes and the one that I thought was the most impressive is the trampoline troupe.

There is no way to explain what they do, and how well timed they are — if I was watching it on television or in a movie theatre I would be convinced there was ‘smoke and mirrors” and what I was seeing was not actually happening.  But there were 6 people bouncing around and flinging themselves against a wall.

It is a long time since I have sat with my mouth open in amazement!!  I spent about two hours with my lower jaw firmly disengaged from the top jaw.

The moves they do, the effortless manner in which what appears to be impossible feats makes your head ache a bit.  Actually it also made me want to go and jump on my trampoline wearing Lycra and see if I could also run up a wall, and off the edge of the roof of my house with such control and artistry.

I am doubtful, but need to just find the right hat and then I will be off on the trampoline we have installed.  I am sure with a few hours of practice and a few glasses of wine it should be easy-peasy.

The show is about two hours short.  The makeup, the artistry, the acts, the band, the clowns, the choreography is incredible.

I am not sure where they make people who perform in Cirque du Soleil, but I am pretty sure it is with a totally different genetic code that I have — my genetic code makes me trip over my feet on a dead flat surface.  These people fold themselves over double and juggle six balls, and still manage to walk off stage looking like they have done nothing much.

The show is mind blowing.  It will amaze, stun and alarm you!!  Grab tickets if they are still available, the most memorable show you will ever see.

Hidden Camera Catches Child Abuse …..

I saw this video that someone posted on Facebook and it is horrific.  It is quite an old video and dates back to 2010.

I think it is every working parent’s nightmare come true.

We trust our home, and our children to our nannies.  In this video Jeannine Cambell violently assaults the small child, who is less than 11 months old.  You see her throwing things at the child, she smacks him on the back of the head, which knocks him over … and so it goes on.

The family had installed the nanny cam, as they had thought the babysitter was ignoring the baby whilst babysitter.

They had no idea that the abuse was going on.  They had noticed the child had a black eye, but the parents had thought it was due to his older two year old brother.

They had fired her for ignoring the child — and only once she was dismissed did they sit through the video to find that ignoring the child might have really been wonderful if that was all they saw, but unfortunately not.  They contacted the police after they saw the video and laid a charge against her for abuse.

Jeannine Marie Campbell, a babysitter from Jacksonville, FL was sentenced to state prison after pleading guilty to 3 out of 4 counts of felony child abuse.

Duval County, circuit court Judge Adrian Soud sentenced Campbell to eight years – for three separate counts, with seven years probation. She was credited 163 days, after spending six months in county jail awaiting trial. Soud also instilled special conditions – Campbell is never again allowed to care for any children or even be left alone with a child. 

The video is chilling, and I think the part which I struggle with the most, is this could (and can) so easily be your own child.

I trust that the teachers at my children’s schools care for them – but there is no guarantee what someone does when they are out of eye and ear shot.

You hire babysitters and nannies, you do your references, you meet them and get to know them, and then trust the care of your child … I have always trusted Nannies to take care of my children …. watching something like this does make you feel uneasy.

But, and this is about the only thing I want to take away from this experience, is that there are more good people who care for children than bad people ….. but clearly a Nanny Cam is quite a good idea.

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Video on Youtube.

What happened to her? Read it here.

Should you become a blogger?

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I get asked this question reasonably often — and I am still not quite sure of the right answer.

Blogging works for me as a sort of therapy – well to be honest, I use it at the moment instead of therapy.

People often gain sustenance from praying or talking to their ‘higher power.’

Unfortunately I don’t have that, but I do get something from blogging.  I am not suggesting that blogging is akin to religion, but it gives me a place to “be calm” and “to think” and sometimes to think through my thoughts.

I don’t blog because I need you to read my blog, unfortunately I am too selfish for that. I blog for me, because it makes me feel good and gives me an outlet for the stuff that runs around inside my head.

Cobbling words together and trying to get my thoughts into a loose line helps me.  Writing my thoughts down also helps me process some of my thinking.  My head is a really noisy place to live — and I have found that getting what is running inside my head out, helps me a great deal.

Why not keep a paper and ink diary I hear you tut-tut under your breath.

Unfortunately I get so caught up in the feel of the right paper grammage, and the right pen, and whether my pen strokes are all the same, that I don’t get to writing anything down.

I have a desk drawer full of very nice looking diaries which I have never started or broken the plastic on – I do however use the ink pens with reckless abandon.

Blogging regularly is harder than it looks.  I often struggle to find the right way to say something.  I have about 115 ‘draft posts” which I just can’t put in to the right words so they float there unposted unpublished.

The internet is strewn with blogs that started with a bit of a gust of wind, then died out like a frog being squashed by a clown car.

10 things I like about blogging:-

1.  I get an outlet to write what I like, and not have to run it past a copywriter or an editor.

2.  I sometimes need someone to go “rah rah rah I like what you think” and I sometimes get that here.  {I also get my fair share of people telling me what a total idiot I am, so that balances my ego out quite nicely}

3.  I like having one place to put all my stuff.

4.  I just can’t work with twitter and its 144 characters ….. I struggle to facebook status update as well, and do it rarely.

5.  I meet (though usually they remain in the cyber space) some interesting people who often challenge my thinking, and often teach me to view or look at something differently.

6. I like that I am part of a community – mommy bloggers, or bloggers. I like the fact that I am part of something that I can’t quite define —

7.  I like that I get to hear about other bloggers and their lives – and I feel part of what makes them happy and what makes them sad.  There are a lot of people with interesting stories to tell.

8.  I like that I do not need to say something, because if I do or don’t I will offend someone who pays me or who has a vested interest in what I say.  I think and say what I am comfortable with.

9.  I like to look back over my blogs and see how much I have changed, or grown as a person.

10.  I like love reading comments.  There is nothing better to do with my morning cup of tea than to read comments and know that even though I still think it is only me, a guy named Schalk who lives in Parow with his dog, who reads my blog, there are actually a few other people out there who stop by.

And, no I don’t make money from blogging.

My mom sold me ….

I was checking Georgia’s work last night and she had written a story about the recent Fun Day the school had hosted.

I liked the way she wrote I sold her for free chips and a hamburger ……

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Rhymes with mice ….

I recall seeing a Facebook post about a week ago referring to lice.

Of course I scratched my head, pretty much like you are doing right now.  I took a deep sigh and cast my eyes up towards the ceiling downward lights and said a few words of prayer that went along the lines of  “please please skip our family this year!”

And then I promptly forgot about it.

I noticed Georgia scratch her head on Monday.  I felt unsettled.

I noticed on Wednesday that Georgia was scratching her head the entire time she spoke to me.  I got in to my car and drove to the 24 hour chemist.  No point in waiting another day for the inevitable.

I felt like those slightly insane people who take their arm, and wipe the entire contents of the shelf into their shopping carts with that rather crazed look on their faces.

It was very much like that.  I bought two combs, a magnifying glass and a few hundred rands worth of varying lice treatment.

I figured I would hedge my bets and grab everything from the holistic stuff with happy lice on it, to the more deadly looking stuff with cross bones and a skull as packaging, with warnings of anal leakage and not operating heavy farm equipment.

I still had a fair amount of the tea tree lice treatment from last year, but recalled that Contra-Lice had worked like a bomb.  I figured lice might build up an immunity, and if I hit them with everything right out the gate.

I immediately started to wonder which kid gave my kid lice!

Wednesday night had me treating all the kids – they had their hair washed with the equivalent of battery acid.  Then I sat with a bottle of “lavender oil” and Lice Treatment and combed their hair PAINSTAKINGLY with a nit comb.  Each hair gets to move individually through a lice comb, and if you have seen the amount of hair my brood has, you will appreciate this is no easy feat.

I sat them in the lounge, put white paper on the floor so I could see the f*ckers.  Of course you hope there will be no lice, you really do.

Unfortunately this is one of those situations where you get MORE than you deserve, truly.

Georgia had a few – Isabelle has a lot – and Connor had none.

I repeated the entire treatment last night, and look forward to doing it tonight again.

And for the next two or three weeks, we get to play Kill Your Lice! Again and again!  Ah, the joy of school going children.

Unfortunately I need to admit that it might be MY kids who just gave the entire school lice.  I can hear the birthday party invitations being torn up as we speak.

{I guarantee that by the end of this post, you would have scratched your hair at least twice, if not more, especially around your back neck area …….}

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