Mommy you are really looking happy ….

Yesterday when I fetched Connor from school, he said: “Mommy you are really looking happy.”

Me: “Thanks for noticing my boy, I am feeling happy … but why do you say it?”

Connor: “You just look happy.  I don’t know why.  Are you happy about something?”

Me: “No my boy, I am feeling happy that is all, nothing really, just feeling happy.”

And that really is it. <<I can’t tell you how thrilled I was that he noticed…>>

I am not better, but I am on the mend.

My head is less filled with the negative/kill myself/kill all of you/oh my gawd I am being targeted thinking.

My head is actually quiet.  I do realise it sounds a bit “insane” to say “the voices in my head are quiet.” But they are. This constant internalised conversations that go on and on … all day … all night are quiet.

I can just sit.  And sit.  In silence.  Because there is no noise in my head.

I feel remarkably happy. Not “skip and sing the sound of music” happy, but definitely lighter, more free, and my head is just not as busy as it was before.

I sit and I smile. Just because I do.

I feel a definite sense of creativity.

There are little projects that I have started, and feel motivated to do. I sit in my garden on the old wooden chair, I dusted off and positioned amongst the lavender.  I listen to the bees buzzing, I sip my wine, I feel the coolness of the glass in my hand, and I just feel a sense of calm. Of peace.  Of silence.  Of not internally screaming.

I am not sure whether it is working with Dr CBT, the medication, Dr Pill-Pusher, the fact that I am sleeping, or the time that I hid away from life in the clinic.

I have no idea what to attribute it to.

I feel a sense of happiness.  A genuine happiness that I have not felt in what feels like forever.  I smile when I see my children and I see Kennith, just because they make my glad inside.

It’s a nice feeling.

It is also a  strange feeling I don’t know what to do with it.  I just sit with it right now.  And smile a bit.

<stay away black dog, for fuck sake say away, you are not wanted here!!!>

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I am so crushing on the LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer … like a lot …

Oh my giddy aunt (as my friend Alice would say!)

I really have very little to bribe Georgia with.  Painfully little you might say. I for one would agree.

Georgia is one of those quirky/difficult/does not react well to punishment-praise at all/I have not found anything that works sort of children.

Connor – I can indicate that I might think about taking away television or his DS, and I pretty much get an instant reaction.  The threat alone is warning enough for him to do what I need him to do.

He also does wonderfully if I threaten “time out!”

But Connor has always been that way.  He responds well to “I am counting to three ….. one ….. tw……..”

Then we got Georgia.

Georgia has been given to us to show us that we are indeed sh&tty parents and some children do not fall into the “average” so expertly referred to in parenting manuals.”I am counting to three ….. one ….. tw……..” results in her counting the “two, three…” out loud for me, which of course disarms me somewhat.

Nothing works on Georgia.

N.O.T.H.I.N.G.

I like to refer to her as “marching to her own drum.” In reality, not only does she march to her own drum, she appears to be the only one able to hear the tune.

I really love Georgia.  I love her gutzpah and her rather zany view on the world at large.

But, geez Louise, is she difficult to parent.

I ask her.  I speak in her language. I repeat.  I reinforce. I get her to agree so we are on the same page.  I
kneel so I am eye level. I promise treats and favours. I try not to lose my temper. I speak patiently. I scream hysterically.  I promise to take television away. I promise to pay her if she listens to me. I threaten to give her such a hiding that she will cry for a week.  I threaten to call her dad. I threaten her with time out. I give her time out. I take television away.I send her to her room.  I scream. Icurse. I ignore.  I beg.  I plead. I weep.

Nothing works.

I have never found the secret to motivating Georgia to do anything she does not want to do, or that she is feeling vaguely resistant to.

But then I did.

Oh my heavens, then I did.

I received a LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer to test out.  It falls into Georgia’s age category (ages 4 – 9 years old).

Georgia is not a big gamer, so I was not exactly swooning at the offer as I did not think she would really take to it.  I figgered she would glance at it, and then it would be thrown on the pile of toys-we-have-spent-a-great-deal-of-money-on-and-now-lie-in-the-corner-gathering-dust.

Well I have been mistaken before.  This will not be the last time.

Georgia thought Christmas had come early.  She has been firmly glued to the LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer since it’s jolly greenness arrived on my diningroom table.

It is a bit like an ipad for kids. It has games, and educational stuff, and it sings and it dances.

I have not found the teach-your-child-to-make-tea application, but no doubt is just a case of looking harder.

Last night Connor and Georgia were fighting.

About what?  I have no idea.  It never stops.  I have nearly lost the will to live.

I gave a few warnings.  I said that if they carry on I will take computers/LeapFrog/television away for the night.

Needless to say they never stopped.

I said: “That is it, you guys can keep on fighting but tonight there are no games or television.  If you whine or make a fuss, it will also be off the menu for tomorrow night!”

Georgia looked at me with her huge hazel eyes, with tears starting to well up in the corners: “I can still play my game with the green screen?”

Me: “No Georgia that is still a game, no LeapFrog tonight!”

Man, did she cry.  I am talking the anguish-of-a-nation-cry coming from a six year old – of course this all happened while I was outside in our cul-de-sac trying to be a good parent, so the neighbours were watching this all going on.

Seriously if I was not distracted by my glass of wine (which I drank in the road Jerry Springer style) and my two-year-old throwing rocks at the neighbours dogs, I might have given in to her pleading and tantrum throwing.

I stood my ground, and Georgia did continue to lament her fate.

Later in the evening, she drew a “list of who has been good and nice to me.”

I did make it on to the list.  I was at the end.  I did not get any stars. I actually got a black dot next to my name!  Cara had 8 stars, so clearly Cara had been good and nice to Georgia.

I ♥ LeapFrog right now!  Before I thought it was a luxury but now it has become a necessity.

< LeapPad Explorer comes with 2GB onboard storage, built-in camera, accelerometer, stylus and microphone. The features let the kids to play educational games and apps like Disney Animation Studio, an interactive reader and 100 other apps ready to download. 

Georgia has made several of her home movies already.  There is a little song/story that teaches her the alphabet,and she is singing the song, thus getting her alphabet sorted.  It is totally brilliant. 

Have I told you how in-love I am right now?>

Transporting Polar Bears …..

I have mentioned before that Kennith and I are the owners of a VW Caddy.

It is not sexy.

It is large and it is white.

It screams FAMILY-VAN, and no matter how much you rev the diesel engine at a stop light, no one looks at you with envy.

It is about as close to a family of plumbers or electricians as you could get, without wearing overalls.

The upside, is that all the kids can fit in, and bring friends (or a nanny.)

The upside is that two children can be in the front row, and one can be in the back.

The downside is that even though the three kids are sitting far apart they still manage to have those physical fights that only children can manage to have in a car. On a road trip.  Where mom is about to lose her mind (if the kids only realised how tentative my grasp was on sanity right now!).

Though we have dropped several thousand rand on a vehicle to allow for the kids to be spaced FAR apart, it is not unusual for me to find Connor unbuckled, reaching over the seat to smack his sister on the head.

Yesterday he was “sucking her brains out” – fortunately she had an “anti brain sucker” machine so that it non-effective. <sigh>

The back seats can be removed so that it becomes a “dinkum” utility vehicle, and we can transport large things.

Yesterday Connor goes: “I think you could put two polar bears into this car.  I would be worried about three, but two will be fine!”

I am not sure quite why we would ever have the occasion to transport polar bears.

I am unsure of how this idea popped in to his head.  I am not sure how he is okay with two polar bears. In our car.  But three seem to make him nervous.

I was overwhelmed with the vision of a polar bear biting my head off before I had reversed out of the driveway.

On the upside, I would no longer be able to hear the kid fighting in the car, and that would be a bonus.

Connor further suggested that the polar bear face the other way when loaded into the van. (simple solution to a complex problem)

We would of course now we have the polar bear’s bum in our face.  Connor suggested we insert a cork.  It should be fine, he promised, as a polar bear does not have strong farts.

Have I mentioned Connor watches a lot of Discovery Channel?

Have I mentioned that I have some concerns regarding the government curriculum school system?

Toilet time … not always alone time ….

I am trying to go to the toilet to evacuate my bowels, to put it as politely as I can.

I have all the kids in my bathroom – I am trying to herd them out, give up, run them a bath.

I explain that though this might mean they will need therapy later, I am going to need to go to the toilet INFRONT of them.

Connor of course then proceeds to tell me how I smell, and how the tiles are falling off the walls and all that feel good stuff.

<on the upside he is not fighting with this sister as I paid him another R5.00 today>

Connor is getting out the bath and I start telling him about the fact that I have a dream.

I dream about going to the toilet, alone, uninterrupted.

Connor tells me I went to the toilet yesterday by myself.

I said no, Georgia came to tell me something.

<The minute I aim my butt towards porcelain something goes off in Georgia’s head and she has to come and speak to me immediately.>

I must say the moment of me explaining to Connor (with my other two children) in the room and my need to be able to maybe one day take a crap by myself, was only made sweeter by Fortunate (our maid) arriving at the toilet door to tell me that Kennith was trying to get hold of me on the phone.

Well, of course he was …… I am trying to take a crap, of course this is just the right time for everyone to come and talk to me.

Hansel and Gretel – child services should have got involved earlier!

A discussion recently reminded me of how much I “enjoy” classic fairy tales.

I really get intrigued by‘traditional fairy tales’ and what we are teaching our kids when we read to them – or just the message that comes through.

I think I enjoy them more as an adult than I did as a child.  They are by far more interesting to me now.

To be honest I really do not think kids hear the stuff we hear in these tales.

We can have hours of conversation about subliminal messages – but really – I am more scared of clowns than I have ever been of wolves.

And clowns never featured in fairy tales.

I listened to fairy tales as a kid, and I can’t say I thought very hard about the troll under the bridge or how the wolf managed to eat the gran in one bite and then how the woodcutter could get her out, it all seemed quite ‘normal’.

The stories seemed to have the ingredients to make them exciting, with the good little girl/boy; the wolf who you know is going try and eat someone; the woodcutter, who always appears available to chop someone’s head off with one stroke of his large blade; the evil and mean stepmother; the good looking prince, who is always needing a wife – and happy to setlle for a commmoner.

The sense I get is that  middle century Europe must have been a very dark and foreboding place for “well meaning” adults to come up with these stories as bedtime tales for kids.

No doubt there was always an element of warning in them – to counsel children to remain on the path (Red Riding Hood strayed – but granted she had been sent a long distance by herself, through a dangerous forest.  Where were the protective adults in all of this I wonder?)

I was thinking about Hansel and Gretel.

Hansel and Gretel’s parents left them in the woods twice!

Hansel and Gretel returned home to them – knowing full well the same parents had purposefully abandoned them in the woods with the hope that they would get eaten by wolves or what ever else lives in the forest.

I mean exactly how many times do you have to leave a child nd they get lost before they really learn the lesson, and not come home?

I think the quick lesson here might be – do not go picnicing in a remote area with your parents.

If you have no other options, picnic, but do not fall asleep after lunch under any circumstances.  Kids, write that down!

Possibly this is why I fear camping.

Hansel and Gretel, awake – realize they have fallen for the same “let’s go for a picnic and abandon you “ trick.  Right there one must question about how much Omege 3 and 6 they were getting in their diet.

They stumble off to find the nearest gingerbread/sweetie house and start gnawing away at it.

Of course I wonder if a witch has the power to turn a house into edible confectionary, surely she can conjure up a child as a meal easily enough if she just popped off into the local village.

It does seem very complicated she would use such a ruse like a sweetie house, in the middle of the forest, where few people walk past to lure little kids in.

It just seems odd, and unlikely.

I think she must have had a huge ant problem.

Hansel is captured and the witch tries to fatten him up while using Gretel as a house slave.

I am not sure exactly what the “hidden message” is in this rather dark, yet popular fairy/folk tale.

Possibly it is optimism?

Hansel the little scoundrel, remains optimistic.

Though he has been abandoned twice.

Has been “captured” because he tried to eat a house, and he has been locked in a cage, and his sister is held as a prisoner and a servant –  but somehow our little scallywag manages to “trick” the witch that he is still
a bit skinny (in case you are not familiar with this part, it is because he  holds out a chicken bone when the witch asks him to put out his finger so she can judge if he has fattened up sufficiently for the pot).

This little guy perseveres.

Of course it does paint Gretel as being a total dunce – or at the very least a rather helpless little fraulein.

She managed not to do anything to really help the situation.

We know the old crone was blind – so really it would not take a genius to dig a hole and push her in, or say hit her  in the head with a chair and free her brother.  Agh, maybe it was the Stockholm Effect, or maybe the witch was particular cunning.

Gretel instead stands around rather helplessly while her  brother is in a cage.

But at some point there is a large fire and a witch involved (Gretel’s starring role incidently) – here again it seems to be okay for kids to not knock someone out, but to actually throw them in a fire, is encouraged.

No calling 911 here!!

The kids – who are really lost waifs who have been captured by a murdering cannibalistic maniac who lives in an edible house –  then manage to find an inordinate sum of gold (not sure exactly why the witch is living in a remote area of the forest if she has this much gold at her disposal…. but maybe she has a bit of OCD combined with some hoarding issues).

What do our little Hansel and Gretel do with it?

Dude, they head straight home to the parents who LEFT THEM ALONE IN THE WOODS ON PURPOSE twice.

Of course the question is, if they  could find their way home then, how come they did not do it after the picnic – when they were lost the second time and had probably walked to the spot in the woods?  How long does one walk to a picnic spot before getting suspicious that your parents are going to leave you behind?

If I left my kids in the woods even by accident – even once – there would be nothing I could say to get them to go to the woods again.  Suggesting ANOTHER picnic, would really not fly with my lot.

I have no idea how Hansel and Gretel’s parents got them to go for the second time.

When the two finally get home they find out that the father was  so “heart wrenched” since he “purposefully lost them the second time” that he  has now abandoned the horrible step mother.

Fabulous – might have been good had he done that before he “agreed to lose” his kids for the second time.
Instead of agreeing to it.

But these kids are clearly forgiving.

Which really paints the father as a workless, pennyless, good-for-nothing dad, who is willing to abandon his kids for any woman who comes along, and who at the same time does not appear to make good judgments of women if he married a step mother who wanted to kill/abadon his kids.

Granted he does suffer some remorse.

But what really happened to that stepmother?

I think if the dad could “lose his kids at a picnic” there is a good chance that some “cadaver sniffing” dogs might find a few locations of interest around that log cabin.

I just think that from the beginning child services should have been involved after the first picnic.

These kids really need to be in some sort of therapy for their abandonment issues.

CSI needs to be called to check out the rest of witch’s cottage.  Clearly Hansel and Gretel weren’t her first crime, she seemed to have a taste for it, and it seemed well orchestrated.  Who has a cage in their kitchen, big enough for a child?

The only lesson I can pull out of this story is “stay optimistic even when Ted Bundy locks you up” and “if you ever get a pot of gold  run straight home to your parents and share it with them, no matter how shockingly they have treated you…”

That’s all I have out of this story.  Not sure if there is another moral there that is wasted on me?

730 days old today ……and actually so is this blog …. sort of ….

Today is Isabelle’s birthday.

She turns two.

The reality is she does not really give a hoot and appears happy to drink her bottle, and throw a tantrum until someone gave her a Cheese Curl for breakfast.

That girl really loves Cheese Curls.

What she does not love is talking.  Two years old and I still do not have a Mommy.  We have a “uck” a “cat” a “og” and “ooce (like juice)” and “aaarrr” which pretty much covers anything that is not yuck, cat, dog or juice.

Tomorrow we are doing a combined party for the girls.  I think Isabelle would be as interested if we went to the spur and I put a sparkler on top of a Krusty the Clown ice cream cup.

So the party is what I want, and has nothing to do with what she wants/needs/cares about (but admittedly aren’t most kid’s parties about the parents, especially the mom?)

I know birthdays should be all about the child and the presents and being thankful for them.

However, for me it is a day to reflect on how fast two years have passed and how much I have changed in the last two years (and yes how much Isabelle has changed, and has moved from teeny baby to little girl status).

Another thing to consider is if it was not for Isabelle, this blog probably would not have existed.

Isabelle being born = Reluctant Mom being born.

I was so sure with her that it would all be easy and I would get it all so right.  I was not going to be the perfect mother, but damn, I was going to be the organized and assured mother, and this time I was going to get it right.

Maybe not all of the time, but definitely the bulk of the time.

What happened instead is that I realized that I really did not have it together.

I was struggling because I thought it would be so much easier, because I had done it twice already, and it was so damn hard, pretty much all of the time.

I was so sure I would take to it like a duck to water.  Because I wanted this baby so damn much, and I was so excited about having her.  I had planned this, I was mature, I knew how this worked, and again, I had a plan!

I had visions of being a stay at home mom, instead I started counting how soon I could go back to work (I did actually contact my company and begged/pleaded/indicated I would like to come back early if they wanted me ….)

What happened instead was a plunge into another wave of depression.  I thought that one of us was going to die, or I was going to do her serious bodily harm. I was sinking into the abyss.

I did eventually bob to the top of the cesspool, primarily because I found/discovered/stumbled on blogging.

I know it is not cool to get all-emotional-on-your-arse.  It is so cliché to say “blogging is cheaper than therapy”, but damn, blogging was my saving grace (and still is, often).

I had done therapy, so I know it worked, and at my lowest moment I went to my first appointment with a new psychiatrist, and he wrote me a shiny new script of Zoloft, and he suggested I come back and see him …. soon.

Then I decided to try this malarkey called “blogging.”‘

I had never read a blog, I had clearly not blogged, but I thought it might help to write stuff down – and I type quicker than I write.

I adored and still adore Isabelle with an all consuming passion.

She however made me realize that every pregnancy is different.  Every birth experience is different and every child is different.  Far be it from me to offer advise to someone who is struggling based on my “wealth”  of experience, because my wealth helped me not one bit.

It felt like nothing I had experienced had prepared me for what I was going through.  I have tried with this blog, never to come across as “having all the answers” and my aim was always to reveal how faulted I was.

Motherhood for me was pretty lonely, especially that first year – funny how you feel alone even in a room full of people.  I always felt people spoke about their babies and who eats what, but no one really speaks about how they struggle and how they cry in the bathroom, and how much they want to run away.

I made huge mistakes, like Mommy 101 mistakes.  I struggled and I cried, and I just was not getting it right.

It was nothing like I thought it was going to be.  And I was disappointed that I was not a better mother, the third time around.

It does not get easier, no matter how many times you take a run at it. (in my opinion)

Isabelole taught me a measure of humility.  She taught me that we all do what works for us at the end of the day, no matter how bizarre it appears to the rest of mommydom.

However  my having a Good Egg to step in and save me when I was totally fking it up, does help.  It really does, and it continues to.

Happy Birthday Isa-Bubbles …

Isabelle : About Two Seconds Old

Isabelle :  Two Weeks Old

Isabelle : Four Months Old

Isabelle : Seven Months Old

Isabelle : Twelve Months Old

Isabelle : Thirteen Months Old

Isabelle : Fourteen Months Old

Isabelle : Eighteen Months Old

Isabelle : Twenty Three Months Old

The Tooth Fairy strikes ……

Georgia has been sporting a wobbly tooth for some time.

I can’t stand wobbly teeth, they make me throw up a little when I see them.  I have the same reaction when I see stitches being put in, stitches being taken out, or have to listen to Patricia Lewis.

I just want teeth in or teeth out.  I can’t stand the stage where kids wiggle their loose teetth with their tongue.. It is the equivalent of biting on wool for me.

See how that makes you feel – that is exactly how I feel when I see a loose tooth.

Georgia shows us the wiggly tooth last night and Kennith says: “Let me pull it out with a pliers!”

And she goes: “Okay daddy … ” and then squeals in delight.

I start cringing and hiding behind the oven – not sure why the oven, and why I was hiding, but there I was.

True as nuts Kennith gets the pliers, which was actually his Leatherman Tool (I am not doing puns about his male member, it really was one of those all-purpose tool things, that you keep in a leather pouch, on your belt …… really no puns here) and he then pulls Georgia’s tooth out.

She runs through to the kitchen (where I am still hiding) looking like she might live on the Cape Flats and she is squealing in delight – not pain, delight!

I bought her a “tooth fairy” pillow nearly three years ago, and she dug it out, and deposited her tooth in it and was ready to go to bed.

<so the tooth fairy could come earlier you see>

At that moment I realised that besides having to quickly determine what the going rate was for a milk tooth (which we decided was R25.00), Georgia was on the road heading in the opposite direction of being a baby.

Soon we would be standing in the bra aisle at Woolworths, or in the tampon and sanitary towel aisle at Pick ‘n Pay.

It has all started with her one milk-tooth popping out of mouth to make room for her first adult tooth.

It has officially started ….

It makes me smile with a bit of warmth.  It makes me sniff back a tear because the clichés are true – it does all pass so quickly.

I also got a bit scared, as she is not going to be that little gawky quirky little girl who comes and hops into our bed to give us a cuddle for much longer.  Soon she will not be doing that, soon she will be stealing the car keys and sneaking out with stinky boys.

Yes …. I know it is JUST a tooth ….

Georgia sporting the Cape Flats look …..

The Tooth Fairy pillow, much better than trying to retrieve the tooth from a shoe …. I have been hanging on to this thing for years.

Georgias was past excited, and could not wait to go to sleep ……. possibly if you  are struggling to get your child to sleep, you can start pulling teeth out and see how that works …. I am just saying.

Some times the dust lifts and you have a moment of clarity …

My birthday was on the 9 May.

It was the rather large thirty-nine, which fills me with all sorts of dread.

Partly because it is alarmingly close to forty, and I think mentally I am still a twelve-year-old girl under all the wrinkles, cellulite and blemishes.

With that in mind, I decided to “write myself a letter” – from me the thirty-nine year old to me the twenty-nine year old. 

You know the kind where you  impart all sorts of wisdom and nuggets of truth, and then you sit back and tell yourself how clever you were for doing that sort of letter, and then go pour yourself another glass of wine and fill your script for Valium, that sort of thing.

So that was the plan.

The problem with “my plan” is the last few weeks have been rather “mind expanding” for me. 

I do not mean in a drug-induced way, I mean in the way where you start to “see things” and you have so many “ah hah” moments that you can actually feel the pressure that your brain exerts on the inside of your skull as it expands and starts to change.

I have had several over the last few weeks, and some that have rocked me to my core.

At the moment, I am quite unsettled and feeling nervous and anxious.  All those not so good feeling things, as one feels when one is on the cusp of a change of epic proportion.  (I could also just be on the verge of having a full-scale nervous breakdown, the symptoms are rather similar.)

I am sure I am not going to magically change into a size 8 underwear model before your eyes, but I definitely feel a shift at my core.

Back to my letter to myself, ten years ago.

I started writing the letter, but could not get through it as I kept crying and that was in the opening paragraph. 

Not small attractive little tears that artistically roll down your cheek as the light catches and glints off them.  Rather large crocodile crying jags, where the snot makes bubbles as it comes out your nose and rests on your top lip.

Which is all the more alarming when you do it at work, and you sit in an open plan office area….but moving along

It is not that I look back on the last ten years of my life and that I am sad because it was all so worthless.

I look back on my life in the last ten years and I am sad for me that I was so damn sad for so much of it.

I look back on my life in the last ten years and I am sad because I was (and am to a large degree) such a little girl lost, desperate for affection and affirmation but for the most part unable to accept it when it was offered.

I look back on my life in the last ten years and I am sad that I nearly threw it all away because I was so sad and so cross for the wrong reasons.

I look back on my life in the last ten years and I think about all the energy I have wasted being angry at my “lot in life” and all the hours I chewed up wondering “why me” when it does not matter ‘why’ it just matters ‘what now.”

I look back on my life in the last ten years and I think of all the wasted opportunities when I could have loved better, laughed more, and lived more instead of missing out on so much because I was too distracted to live in the moment.

I look back on my life in the last ten years and I think that there are so many times where I wanted to walk away from everyone and everything, because it was all so damn hard. I am sad because it actually wasn’t and isn’t that hard.

I look back on my life in the last ten years and I am sad, that I have been so very sad and so very angry for so much of it.

I look back on my life in the last ten years and I see how good life has been to me, and I was so angry and such a hurt little girl, that I often could and did not see how much good there is and was around me.

I look back on my life in the last ten years and I realize how selfish I have been.  On this exhaustive quest to find me, I have often risked those around me who are so dear to me and who have stood by me through my chaos and through my (epic) rants.

I look back on my life in the last ten years and see that I was so quick to judge and hold grudges for things that others were so quick to forgive me for, when I committed the same transgression.

I look back on my life in the last ten years and I wonder how I got here in one piece.

I look back on my life in the last ten years and I realise that I need to, desperately need to, just exhale, release all the shitty shit that I drag around me – just open my hand and let it go.  It has done me no good clinging to all of this, and holding on to it so tightly.

I look forward on my life in the next ten years and I realise that there is a chance that the next ten years will be different.

I look forward on my life in the next ten years and I want to be more present.

I look forward on my life in the next ten years and I want to be more available.

I look forward on my life in the next ten years and I want to be more in touch with what is going on around me.

I can’t promise I am going to be nicer. I can’t promise I am going to be more patient. I can’t promise I will swear less. I definitely cannot promise I am going to drink less wine.

But I can promise that there is a shift within me at the moment. I am not sure anyone will see the difference when they look at me – but it is there if you look carefully.

So happy birthday me.  Thirty-nine is not as bad as you thought, and see, the world did not actually come to an end.

You are wiser, maybe a little bit saner, have so many fabulous friends who appear to love you, even though you can be a total twat on so many occasions. 

You have children you adore and even like – and an Egg who is good to you, and good for you on so many levels.  

You also have a credit card (granted it is a little low on the credit aspect) and some Aldo shoes you have been coveting out for some time.  So get up, take a shower, brush your teeth, and go and buy the damn shoes already.

Happy Birthday Reluctant Mom!

Today is a GREAT day …

Today our friends, Joyce and Leon, collect their baby daughter Kirsten.  They pick her up, hold her close, breath her in, strap her in her car seat (this might take 45 minutes) and bring her home for the first time. 

Today is THAT day, the one they have been waiting for. 

Kirsten has been with a kangaroo care-mom for 60 days, and today that 60 days is up – it has been the longest 60 days, but it is over and now it is day 1!

Joyce, Leon and Kirsten, today is your day!  Enjoy every juicy squishy milk-smelling moment.

I saw this quotation and it made me have a good cry

Not flesh of my flesh, Nor bone of my bone,
But still miraculously my own.
Never forget for a single minute,
You didn’t grow under my heart – but in it.

Fleur Conkling Heylinger

Winners and losers …..

We go along and see Educational Psychologist guy.  I must confess, I was not wowed off my feet.

I sat there looking at this guy thinking “seriously, you are going to help us, really?”  And at one point in the consulation, as I realised we had alreayd got to the hour, I suggested that: “Will you be spending any time with Georgia in this interview?” – said pretty much in that tone.

It appears we will not be Facebook friends moving forward.

He inspired absolutely no confidence in me. I started glaring at him at a certain point, and thinking that Kennith is going to turn to me at the first opportunity and go: ”Why have you wasted my time making this appointment with this tjop?”

What Kennith said instead was that he thought he was super – I was less enamored, decidedly less so in fact.

But that being said, I am going to attempt to take a chill-pill regarding Georgia, and use the “wait and see approach” – one which I am not really familiar with, but with Dr guy recommends.

We have opted to double up on her speech therapy, introduce OT with a focus on concentration exercises, and then at home make an effort to do more games with her so she learns to focus her attention, and Education guy also suggested a book with exercises, called Brain Gym.

He also suggests we try some of these techniques and then relook at her and have her eduationally assessed in about August and then get a real feel for how she will cope in Grade 1 – as it is too early now to get a real indication.

He did agree that her “concentration” and “focus” were a concern.

With that in mind – Kennith came home with two board games last night, and got Connor and Georgia to play Kid Monopoly.  (Kennith loves games, and has endless patience for this sort of thing, me, not so much)

I went downstairs with Isabelle and played with some balloons and Kennith played Monopoly with Connor and Georgia.

After about an hour, Monopoly ended, and Kennith congratulated Georgia on winning, and Connor came second and Kennith lost.

Afterwards, Kennith was saying that he did not “let her win” he tried to play a strategic game, but the key to winning is to “buy without any restraint.”

We were trying to get kids to go to bed after teeth brushing, and a few delaying tactics on their part, they started making moves to bed.   I was braving pouring my first glass of wine for the week – I have been a bit scared of the wine glass since last Wednesday.

Connor is taunting Georgia, as he does, and Georgia, being Georgia is not going to back down, so she is getting in his face, and basically it is Ganglands in our passage.

Georgia then clicks that she has just won a game, and that makes Connor the loser, so she taunts him in this whiney voice that he is a LOSER.  Connor is not a good loser, and does not take this sort of ridicule well.

I know we should have climbed in and stopped them, but it was so funny that we were guffawing in the kitchen.

Eventually we get them into bed – using very stern voices of : ”Okay bedtime now guys, stop monkeying around!”

They get into bed, bedroom doors are left open so we can say good night, give them a final kiss and close the bedroom doors. 

As the quiet in the house settles, we hear Georgia pipe up loudly from her bedroom: “Good night LOSER!”

Snort ….guffaw ….. snort-snort …. we never want to change that girl!

<I know we should teach our kids about the fun is in the game, but hells bells, sometimes it is just good to win, and it is nice when she wins over her older brother.>

The quiet before the storm …

There is no denying that I am probably in the throngs of a full-fledged depressive episode.  Can’t say when it started, but it is without a doubt here in its full rather grim glory. 

Which is fantastic.

I think there have been too many things that have occurred, and they are not isolated events, they are symptoms of something else at play.  Not sure what the something else is either.

I have felt a bit “out of it” for more than a week – and even today I feel like I have a hangover.  I am not following exactly what is going on, I feel like I am in a tunnel, and everyone is sort of over there and I am right down this side and can’t quite get to them, or hear them clearly.

My head throbs – which is unusual, I do not usually have a headache – however Panado, Myprodol, or anything capsule like lying in my bag has definitely been my friend this week. 

I can hear and feel the exaggerated thudding of my heart beating – which is not normal, unless I am running up stairs.

I do hope the increased heart beat and the additional adrenaline leads to weight loss, but I am not terribly optimistic (however that might just be a side effect of the depression, and maybe the weight is falling off me in sheets at the moment and I am just too depressed to realise it.  Just maybe.)

I am so drained and exhausted I can hardly explain it. 

I feel frayed (not as in the Afrikaans “to have been loved” but in the English “piece of material that is falling apart at the edges.”)

All in all a bit disorientating. 

But it is what it is, and all I can do is brace myself for the inevitable downslide, and warn Kennith to baton down the hatches, because it is going to be a bumpy ride – and not in the way he would like.

Sunday we had a super baby shower for our very dear friends, Joyce and Leon, and celebrated that Kirsten would be joining them on the 21 April – we are all so excited for them.

The best part about a baby shower is the surprise factor – I think if you have that sorted, then you can tick all the blocks. It was a lovely day and many a tear was shed. 

Of course the issue with planning a baby shower, the same as planning a dinner for three, becomes a huge stressful endeavor for me.  Because I stress about everything.  EVERY THING!   

It does not matter if there are 3 people or 33 people, my level of anxiety is far out of synch with what is actually going on, and I am totally over reacting.  I know this, I see this, but I can’t change it.

By the time the guests arrived I have screamed at Kennith, and the kids, and resorted to giving the nanny the silent treatment. 

It is all very dire and quite unpleasant. 

Some people are wonderful hosts – my friend Alice is like that.  Guests arrive and she will swan into the lounge wearing perfect makeup, hair done, clean clothes and a just hint of Chanel # 5, while she smiles and greets everyone with double air kisses.

I aspire to be that sort of hostess. 

In my world people arrive, I usually have saliva spittle on my chin, a slight crazed look in my eye, and my fly is unzipped.  Not in a sexual come hither way, but more in a I-rushed-to-the-toilet-and-forgot-to-pull-it-up-sort of way, which of course makes them wonder if I had taken the time to wash my hands? 

And then they have that thought in their head the entire day – and as I am usually handing food when they arrive, it sort of sets a thought process that they now can’t move away from.

But besides me being me, it was a lovely baby shower.

I finally got to meet the legend that is Lisa and Travers.  I intend to stalk Lisa and make her my best friend in the whole world; she just does not realize it yet. 

Travers, throw some wood on the braai, we are coming over with my box of Drosty-Hof Extra Light!

My next group-support-room-full-of-broken-limping women is on Friday night.  I have not quite recovered from the Viva La V.ul.va video and experience as yet, and am still having flash backs (and have that faraway look in my eyes like a war veteran).  I still have not done the personal exam, and am unsure that I will be getting there.

Why?

Well as a precursor to the next class I now have a double DVD called “The Wonders of Mas.tur.b.a.t.i.on.”  The fact that it is 4 episodes and extends over two DVDs is beyond concerning.   Seriously what are you doing with yourself for that period of time?  However I have not actually put the DVD into anything that plays yet.  It is still in the shame bag and I am just too mortified to look.

I am traumatized and I haven’t even taken them out of the DVD covers yet.

So I need to get over that hurdles (or hurl) this week before Friday night.

Kids started school this week – fabulous.  Just in time for them to go on holiday for two weeks, again.  I seriously do not know what moms do who do not have holiday programs at schools.  Fortunately mine just carry on like normal, just in casual clothes.

Tomorrow morning I have an appointment with an educational psychologist to assess Georgia. 

I also have her booked at a child psychiatrist and a pediatrician who specializes in attention disorders.  Kennith feels I am over reacting, but in my defense I have cancelled three other assessments with three other specialists, so I think I have it pretty well under control as I have it down to three, which seems reasonable for me.

So that is where I am.

When boys become men …..

Every now and then, I catch a glimpses that Connor is no longer a baby.

I think as a mom, it is very difficult to make that mental leap –because not that long ago I was changing nappies and breastfeeding, and carrying him on my hip – for me he is always that soft and cuddly boy with his big blue eyes. 

But the old cliché of “kids grow up” does apply – no matter how hard we fight the inevitable.

Connor is nine years old and I still get amazed at the realisation that he is not a little boy.  He is on his way to being a big boy.  Well almost a young man, and in 3 year and 8 months he will officially be a teenager –  and then I might just plats (actually it is guaranteed!).

Because Connor is the oldest in our house I put pressure on him to be the responsible one.

“Connor, please watch your sister by that step.”

“Connor, please can you go and fetch Isabelle’s bottle in the kitchen.”

“Connor, please don’t fight with your sister, let her play in your room, please.”

“Connor, are you too young to open a bottle of wine yet?”

And at the same time I admonish him when he acts like he is the “class captain” or the “house police.”

He will be the one to order his sisters around, or tell them that they are not supposed to do something.  He has even started threatening them with time out.  Often he will do this in the exact same tone of voice that he used Kennith and I use to speak to the girls.

Then we say “Connor, you do not have to be the parent here, leave that to us, okay!”

Because he is the oldest, and we have a 21 month old, mom and dad are often distracted and Connor sometimes does have to be the parent – when it is convenient to us. 

So we are forcing him to be more responsible and maybe more grown-up than he is ready to be.

I expect him to remember to get his homework book signed.  I expect that he will remember to get all his school clothes together and bring them home at the end of the day.  I expect him to remember to brush his teeth in the morning.  I expect him to remember to tell me the important piece of information from school.  I expect him to be able to find his shoes in the morning.

I expect him to … because I am too distracted attending to two smaller kids, and my life, to stand behind him and do it for him.  So I expect him to.

I expect him to be more grown-up than his nine years warrants. 

At the same time I forget to reward him for being a grown up and being moms-happy-little-helper.  He still eats with the kids and he still goes to bed at the kids bedtime.

We have a new nanny, and she said to me the other day: ”That Connor is a very respectful boy!”

And he is.  Sometimes I forget what a good guy he is.

I do need to cut him a bit of slack and remember that even though when I look at his lanky body, and his “big boy” teeth he is actually a little guy, who needs a hug from his moms (but where none of his friends will see) and a cuddle with his dad.

That being said I often get put on the back foot when he is upset and he cries.  When I look at him I see an adult.  When he has a young boy’s tears running down his cheeks, it often leaves me surprised and a bit caught off guard.

I forget sometimes that he is still a little guy, underneath all that gangliness.

On Sunday we went off to lunch at a friends, and there was a girl of twelve there.  I realize that Connor and “the girl” are not star crossed lovers, they are just two kids who like to play Playstation together. 

But when I look at “the girl” I see a girl on the edge of being a teenager, and because Connor is nearly her size I sort of clump them together in my head.

Then I looked over at the couch, and witness Connor making fart sounds with his hand in his armpit. 

I laughed and figured that maybe he is not quite ready to start dating just yet, and maybe I still have a few years of a gangly boy before I have to deal with a little man.

Let them eat cake …..

I am really sucky with many things …. none of the things Kennith would like me to be sucky about … but that no doubt is another post for another day.

But I am totally crap at birthdays/anniversaries/valentine’s day and so on, sometimes (often) forgetting them and just being ill prepared in general.

I really would like to blame my upbringing here and say that we did not celebrate anything, and thus I have not been trained correctly, so all holidays that require gifts throw me into total chaos.

The idea that a holiday/festival is approaching and one needs to start thinking of gifts and an appropriate card did not really start for me until I met Kennith.

But 16/17 years later and I realize that I just suck at it.  I actually love buying a gift and all of that, I just seem to always run out of time, and then instead of getting what I really want, I end up buying what is being sold in the aisle at Ackermans (or some other unfortunate place)!

I start about 4 months before hand and draft a list of potential gifts.  Then I criticize them and think well, that will be fine as a back up plan, but I will think of something better.

Knowing I have loads of time I think “no rush, I can deal with this later”.

Fast forward 4 months, the day seems to jump out of a bush at me, rather than creep up.  I am in a state, and usually have totally forgotten about my list and then have nothing, and realise – usually the day before – that I am in sh*t street and panic!  Like little boy from Home Alone panic!

I usually start looking around my desk for things I can gift wrap.

It is all a shocker, and poor Kennith is usually at the receiving end – poor little long suffering egg.

We have just been away and Kennith’s birthday was on the 11th.

The problem (or one of them) was that prior to us going on holiday I had that little thing of a new job to sort out.   I also had a babyshower for my friend which I had to organise.

When I finalized realized I was going to actually be away spent a few weeks in a tizz trying to arrange the logistics of kids/school/maid etc for while I was away and the usual stressing and hair pulling that occurs when one abandons one’s kids.

I also had to sort out some canvases for a friend’s wedding, and a friend asked me to do some photographs at their wedding – so I was very distracted and just was not getting my arse into gear on any level.

So the short answer is that before I knew it I was in the poo and though I had not forgotten about Kennith’s birthday, I definitely did not have a present to  present on the morning of the 11th.

<in my defense I did buy a birthday card for my husband – which for me is quite a thing – but I bought it and wrote in it, I just felt it was lame to give it to him without a present – so didn’t, still have the card …..>

I did however arrange a dinner for him and some (almost long lost) friends in Johannesburg.  Granted I did not cook dinner, our friend Cynthia did that.  I did not even clean up after dinner – Cynthia and Anita did that.  But it was a really nice evening and great to sit down for a dinner with so many loved mates, who all go back with us such a long way.

I ran out of time and I did not get Kennith any thing.

I think Kennith is still thinking I am going to jump out of a cake with his present, or at the very least pull out a cake from somewhere.  Shame he keeps looking up in expectant surprise every time I walk into a room, only to be disappointed … again and again.

To add to the timing issue, Kennith’s birthday is on the 11th February and then Valentine’s Day is on the 14th February – usually I do get my sh*t together and do a good effort for Kennith’s birthday, but then have totally lose steam for Valentines Day.

Kennith and I woke up this morning in Johannesburg after about 2 hours of sleep.  We went with about 110 000 others to the U2 concert at Soccer City.  It was a fabulous – the concert was beyond imagination.  U2 and his crew of friends totally out did themselves.  Loved the concert.

Bono pulled up a girl onto stage.  Initially I was really excited for her, and then loathed her and wished her a good dose of crabs and body odour as Bono lay on her lap and led her around the stage (as I wanted to be the girl on stage …. or at the very least having Bono lie all over me … on stage, off stage, does not really matter).

She had her hands all over him, and really it was quite unnecessary to be that excited! I mean clearly the girl was just trying too hard and it smacked of desperation.  I was not feeling very charitable towards her.

Then I listened to an interview with her this morning on Highveld while on the way to the airport, and some key points were:-

1.  She arrived at the concert at 12h00 on Saturday – concert started on Sunday at 8pm!

2.  She slept under a truck on Saturday night as they did not bring camping stuff and it rained (there was a  HUGE thunder/lighting/rain storm).

3.  She works for the Department of Labour!

I think once I learnt all of those things, I felt differently and realized had I been next to her I might have hoisted her up on the stage myself!  So good on her. (she has been in the same underwear since Saturday morning, the girl clearly needs a bit of love for goodnesss sake)

Anyway back to me and my problems.

Woke up this morning after 2 hours sleep, got to Lanseria, and got onto a Kulula flight, got home, kids, school, unpacking and so on.

Valentine’s Day was just not high on my list of things I could get to, and clearly there was not much I could shop for, unless Kennith specifically wanted a wire chicken for his collection (or to start one).

We collected kids early from school today (as we have not seen them in 10 days) and thought we would stop at Canal Walk and take the kids to the Spur, we also had an errand to run at the centre.

We walk through and Kennith takes me to Build a Bear and says that for Valentine’s Day I get to build my own bear.

I love Build a Bear – I do realize how naff it is, but I cry when ever they put the little hearts inside the bear.

Yes, now you know on the outside total b*tch, on the inside custard!  I cry at everything: advertisements, opening of Olympics, when I watch wildlife programmes, when I watch a child being born, when someone sings a song that I find moving, when Steve Hofmeyer goes anywhere near the Jikskaai River …. that sort of stuff.

It was really sweet – the helper at Build a Bear got the kids in to it.

To be honest there was no chance I was going to enjoy this moment by myself as Georgia was running around the store like she was on TIK!

We are standing with my Bunny (I got a Bunny and not a Bear) – and the helper Claytin (actually spelt like that, I read his name tag) says that we should all take a heart and rub it and so on.

At one point he looks at Connor and says – what is your mom’s favourite food?

Connor is caught a bit off guard, so he sort of shrugs.  I smile maternally and fluff his hair and I say: “I really love Chuckles…” and then I had to explain to Claytin what they were. (Does this guy ever shop outside his store?  Was he born in a Cave?)

So Claytin goes  “Okay, that is cool…” and he is just about to move on to another subject, and Connor goes (as now the question has caught up with him) – and in his loudest voice says: “My mom’s favourite food is WINE!”

Of course Claytin started to laugh.  Kennith smirked.  I clutched my little satin heart a bit tighter as I realised the magic of this experience was slowly evaporating before my very eyes.

Then Claytin proceeded to tell the story to everyone in the store – individually – whilst I was standing there with my Bunny’s heart in my hand and wondering where I should shove it.

I got my bunny, dressed her in a pink outfit, got her some white takkies and I thought it was really sweet (yes it’s naff, but it is still sweet for me, I am not trying to tell you it is sweet for you).

Kennith is a very good egg, even though I am sucky (or not!)

What the hell is it about Mondays?

So we went cabining, which I believe is not camping.

To be honest cabining is about as close to camping as I plan to get.  The cabin’s inner walls did not go to the ceiling, so if you were frying an egg in the kitchen, you could and did have a full going conversation with the person who was using the toilet.

Georgia was also really excited that her bedroom was in the kitchen, which it was.  So really it sounds like camping to me.

But I am taking away from how incredibly good these cabins in Swellendam were.  They were placed at the foot of the Langeberg and to say it was totally exquisite, would be to do it a disservice.  You literally stood on the stoep and went “wow!”

We had a lovely little dam right in front of our cabins.  The cabins were very well organized and super clean.  The views were breath-taking and it was really divine – within 10 minutes you felt like all your worries had floated away.

Sure you then started to worry how you were going to get your wine cold while you waited for the gas fridges to cool down – but then I have a Kennith, who had stopped at the local Swellendam Drankwinkel and bought me ice, so really I had nothing to worry about.

Farmer guy gave us permission to go into the berry fields and pick berries until we puked – he did not actually say that, but I took it that it was implied.

We did – and I just want to use this opportunity to comment that child-labour is alive and flourishing in Swellendam.  Kennith paid Connor R50.00 to go and fill up a tupperware container, which by Woolworth’s prices would cost about 3 million rand to purchase in store, full of berries.

We were not given the same freedom with the pigs.  But we did eat bacon for breakfast – which was supplied by a distant cousin of the pigs we saw.  We did feel a little guilty as the pigs we saw were quite sweet.

It really was a lovely weekend and I cannot recommend  Fazenda Log Cabins more.  If you are sitting there thinking, hmm, that sounds good, then contact Ina Ross on 0724997879 or drop her an email on iross1@telkomsa.net

No, she is not paying me to punt the cabins, but they were really good, and we are definitely going to head out there again.  It is a total get away from it all.

We went along with two other bloggers and their significant others and off-spring.

It is amazing what a few bottles of wine/beer and a large fire will do to suddenly make everyone all chummy.

I think for the girls it was easier, as though we did not know each other in the biblical sense, we did feel we knew each other, so spending time together felt quite easy.  I like the part where we could just sit on the porch in silence and look out at the scenery!

The boys however did have to stand around the braai and bond over boerewors and beer, but they were fine and seemed to enjoy it as well.

Overall a really good weekend – we felt well rested and all in-tune with nature and stuff.  Kids were dirty and exhausted, which is always a sign they had a good time.

Karma has a funny way of reminding me that she is alive and rules the world – so Sunday night and Monday morning went for a bit of a crock of crap, just to show me the balance in the universe.

Georgia was on high energy the entire weekend – so she was a bit trying – which is not like her, but anyway.

She insisted on singing her school concert song pretty much the entire way on the drive back, until she fell asleep from exhaustion.  Now I am all for encouraging kids to sing and be expressive, but right now I am all concert-songed out!

When we got home to home-sweet-home, we realized how stressful it is to do house renovations, so as soon as we arrived home and started stepping over the dust and plaster, we started to feel a bit stressed.

Added to it that our DSTV was not getting a signal, and we no longer had the luxury of warm water.

Our geezer has been very temperamental of late, and right now it has decided to err on the side of no hot water.

We decided to take the kids and head out for dinner at the Spur.  Add Georgia singing the concert song again and bouncing off Spur furniture, and it was slightly less than a pleasant evening out.

We got home, threw kids into a bath – Kennith boiled pots and kettles and then kids got into bed – see we even took the camping theme home with us.

Once kids were in bed, Kennith and I sort of fell down in an exhausted heap ourselves.

Unfortunately I had a little fall on Saturday night – which I would love to blame on the copious intake of alcohol – but instead I need to blame the gravel and the combination of slip-slops and my stupidity.

I pretty much went head-over-tit with Isabelle in my arms.  My focus was on falling backwards and not forwards – so as not to damage her further.  Which I believe I did judging by my elegant landing.

My left leg however did one of those bend-out-backwards-in-a-direction-only-barbie-dolls-made-by-matel-should-be-able-to-do.  My back did appear to take the full brunt of the fall – as well as my pride.

The reason for this little sidebar story is that on Sunday I was feeling quite sore, and by  the time I crawled into bed on Sunday night I was whimpering.

I fell asleep only to be awakened by Connor screaming and apologizing simultaneously.  Like screaming like a mad man screaming!

I dashed/limped down the passage – switched on his light to find him puking giant great-dane-sized throw-up heaps of vomit (listen, there is just no polite way of putting this).  But while he is puking he is apologizing to me for puking …

I must confess had I had more time I would have found this endearing.

But he was sleeping at the top of his double bunk and thus puking off the bunk.  The chunks were splattering against the wall, as it made it’s way down to settle into his toy box!

Fantastic.

Kennith does not do puke – at all – so I knew that it would be safer to send him out of the room, else odds are I would be dealing with his puking as well.  I was sure my sense of humour was not equipped to deal with ore puke at 2am.

Connor clearly felt grim.  I can’t say at that point that I was feeling much better.

He did have a roaring temperature, so I cleaned him up, the bed up, the wall up, the toy box up, the floor up, then the side of the bucket up – I retch-retched a bit in sympathy – and then gave him some Panado, and sat with him for a bit.

Once I got the odour of I-ate-Spur-for-dinner-and-now-have-hurled-it-up-in-chunks smell off my hands, I fell into bed at about 3am, and whimpered before I fell asleep.

Isabelle woke up at 5am, and normally she goes back to sleep.  But she could clearly sense the fact that I was not having a good morning and decided to scream in that I-want-someone-to-come-get-me-out-of-my-cot-right-this-damn-minute tone. I wish I could say I ran there immediately – but I did sort of lie there for a few moments the hope that she was playing a joke and would go back to sleep.

It appears the joke was on me.  So I dragged myself through to collect her and that is pretty much when the morning got going.

Of course there was no hot water for a shower.  Every muscle in my body ached.  I was so sleep deprived that I could not actually sit up vertically.

I decided to go in to work late as my back was really killing me and I figured a two hour sleep would be just what the doctor ordered, along with two syndols and a cup of tea.

The arrival of the plumbers with the jack hammers had other ideas, and had scant regard for my need to sleep.

The thing I learnt was that sometimes you are exhausted enough to sleep through the noise of a jack hammer, but not for very long.  45 minutes seemed the maximum before I had to sort of roll myself out of bed and down the passage and attempt to colour co-ordinate my wardrobe for work.

So all in all, not a great start to the week, and easily – added to a few other issues on my Monday – I can say that this day sucked with a large fat zerbit kinda suck!

Gone fishing …. or being murdered …..

So this weekend Kennith and I are going away for the weekend with girls we have met through my blog and some forums I chat on.

When I saw we have met, I really mean I have met.  And I am dragging Kennith who has become the reluctant husband along with me.

This morning while Vera was waxing my personal bits, I was telling her the story and what we were doing this weekend.  She asked me how Kennith feels about being dragged along on a weekend with people he actually does not know.

I said, well, I am not sure, because I had not stopped to ask him.  She raised a finely plucked eyebrow and carried on ripping my hair from it’s roots.

Vera commented that not many men would agree to go along for this sort of weekend, and Kennith was quite a trooper/unusual/not like most men.

I had not actually given that much thought.

Here we are going away on a weekend, where the girls in these three couples have struck up a friendship, albeit a strange one.  We seem to find something in each other that resonates with us and on what appears to be an agreed liking for each other, we have committed to spending 48 hours together – away in a cabin, next to a river/dam/water mass.

I really had not considered that I am “forcing” Kennith – and the other girls are forcing their respective partners – to spend a weekend with two other men that he might not be friends with, and possibly might not choose to be friends with if the choice was left to him (Possibly, they might prove to be bosom buddies and be spooning by Saturday night.  One never knows what happens when boys go up a hill and there is an open fire, see what happened in Brokeback Mountain and all).

The choice actually is not being made by him.

I planned this weekend, and he said “no we are not doing it, we don’t even know these people” and then I told him to stop being a “Nancy boy, what is the worst that can happen, it will be fine, not get it together” and then he said “okay” begrudgingly and I carried on planning this weekend.

Actually he is quite a sport and has taken ½ days leave today, and is doing all the shopping for the weekend.  As reluctant as he is, he is still getting behind this idea in a big way.

So yes, Vera, as you remove my deeply rooted pubic hair with maybe a bit too much force – you are correct.  Kennith is a little unusual as far as “most men” go.

I have always admitted that Kennith is not “most men” – he supports me and gets behind my seemingly insane ideas.

He stands next to me and supports me when most other “men” would have abandoned ship and headed for the hills.  Though we do have boy and girl roles, I do think as partners in a relationship, our roles as man and woman are sometimes blurred, and he often picks up some of my roles, as I think I do his.

I like that I have a Kennith who does stuff that maybe not all men do, and whose take on our life is not “old school and traditional.”  He is an active inclusive father, and we do not look at it as something strange.  If I am an active inclusive mother, why should he not be an active inclusive father?

About two weeks ago, my mom and my aunt were staying with us for the weekend.  I was away on the one day, I can’t recall where I was – but I was out.  Kennith was sorting out the kids.

I got home early evening/late afternoon and my mom and aunt were sitting at the dining room table finishing dinner. They were talking about Kennith in hushed tones of awe, as if he had just turned water into wine, while walking on the water, and wrestling with the lions in the den.

I though “Okaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyy.”

Once I got past them, I went to find Kennith and check on the kids.  He had them all in hand.

I asked what he had done that had created such awe in my mother and aunt,  and he commented “nothing really.” I asked him what he had up to this evening.

He said he had fed the kids, got the kids into the bath, got them into their jammies, and they were downstairs watching television.  He had fed Isabelle, and was waiting for me as I enjoyed bathing with her.  I said “okay, anything unusual” and he said “No, but your mom and aunt did keep looking at him and smiling…maybe they aren’t used to a guy doing stuff.”

I went back and sat with my mom and aunt at the dining room table.  They commented again that Kennith was such a super man, and should have a cape and maybe wear his underpants on the outside.

I sort of smiled and drank some more wine – I might have chugged it a bit actually – and then went on with my evening.

Later I was chatting to Kennith about his super-man status.  He raised something that I probably had not really thought about much.

My mother and my aunt are not used to men who help out with “women’s work.” They are used to men who arrive home, complain about their heavy day, kick off their shoes, put their feet on the coffee table, and wait for their wife to bring them a cold beer in their favourite glass.

While they read the newspaper, the little woman goes off and finishes dinner which she serves with a flourish.

Same man eats dinner, and pats his wife on the head and complements her on the great meal.  Burps in appreciation and goes to settle himself on the couch and watches a bit of footie on the tellie.

When that is done and he is ready to go to bed, he will wink over at his wife and say “Honey are you coming to bed” – to which is wife will say  “Right there honey” and she will be.

What he does not see is that she has spent the day running around after kids and the house.

She has prepared the meal from scratch – no Woolies throw-in-the-microwave faire here – and got kids homeworked, bathed, jammied and in bed, and done a host of other activities.   The kitchen is spotless.  She found time to go to the bottle store and restock on the beer.

She has done a bit of gardening, probably some grocery shopping, stood in queues for paying electricity, completing Tim’s school project on owl migration, and spent 15 minutes making herself pretty and presentable before Mr. Husband got home.

So she will appear next to her husband, while he goes on to tell her about the difficult day he had.  She will not think for a minute to tell him that Tim had flushed the cat down the toilet and she had to single-handedly go in and rescue the cat, and then wash the sh*t off the cat, while Tim and his brother Larry watched.

And what’s more she will be ready to have sex if and when he wishes it.  All this she will do without uttering a word of complaint, or reflect on her situation and go “Fek, I got the short end of the stick here in this relationship deal.”

But times are different – thank heavens for that!

Kennith does not “help” out with the kids.  He has responsibilities that include the kids – his kids.

I confess, I do sometimes say “please help me get the kids out of the bath” as if it is my duty, and he is being a real help by helping me.

I also confess that we have taken on different roles in our house – most of the children related things fall to me to deal with.  But at the same time Kennith does all the grocery shopping and most nights he cooks, or he brings home take aways, or he takes me out for dinner. He does not expect a meal to miraculously land in front of me.

Well maybe he does expect it, but the cold reality has hit him that if he waits he will go hungry.  Maybe he has taken on the role of “hunter and provider” in our little family as he is tired of waiting for the food to magically appear out of the oven he bought me that I still do not quite know how to use.

So yes, a few things might have changed since my mom and my aunt had their kids, and maybe our home operates a bit differently to theirs and even to other households I have seen.

Even now I see friends where the  guy has a limited role in terms of house and kids – fortunately that is not my household.   Both Kennith and I have chosen that he takes an active role.  Okay I chose it, he sort of got beat into doing it, but damn, does that boy do a good job now!

Back to this weekend – I am really excited about going away with my internet chums.

It is a bit like internet dating, but without the pressure of “whether we will need to have sex.”  I am really hoping that they are not thinking we are all going to be having sex, as I am sure that was not what I had  conveyed.

So I am officially “Gone Fishing” and will see you on Monday!

If you don’t hear from me on Monday, and you need to report me as a missing person to the police as my “internet chums” have turned into nothing more than “serial murders who stalk innocent prey like me on the internet” get the police to look in the direction of Swellendam near some log cabins.

Sunshine to warm the soul …

I really beat myself up that I do not spend enough time with my kids.  But when I am spending time with my kids, I wonder if they will notice if I slip away, pour myself some (more) wine and  chat on Facebook or read some blogs.

So, yes I am perfect in my imperfection and fail miserably at most things motherhood in nature.  But there we go, such is the way in my neck of the woods.

Isabelle is my baby and maybe because she is the baby I love her with a gushy gurglie kind of love.  I love her pudginess as she snuggles close to me.  I melt when she gives me a toothy grin.  My heart wants to burst when she pushes her face into my neck, or when she gives me a zerbit for a kiss.

I absolutely adore this little girl more than I can explain in any rational you-appear-to-not-actually-have-had-anything-to-drink-this-time-but-are-babbling-uncontrollably manner.

I am not trying to take away from how much I love my other children, but my love for them is different.

Connor is eight and pretty self-sufficient.  He is at the dirty nails, scraped knees, snot coming out of his nose stage, where he regales me with stories of what bait to use to catch which fish.

Georgia is a law unto herself. She needs me for little more than wiping her bum, and maybe the odd snuggle at night – however I seem to be very useful when she is faced with creepy crawly or flying insects – moths specifically.

But Isabelle is my little fufie-nuffie (pronounced foo-fi noo-fi!

When I get home from work, I say hello to everyone and then try and go for a little walk with Isabelle up our road.

It is a walk of about 100 metres, and she toddles as a 16 month old does.  She grips my hand firmly with her pudgy sticky fingers and I love every moment of it.  She points at things and goes “caaaaa….” and I sort of just stand around with her aglow in the wonder of this blonde-haired-blue-eyed piece of heaven walking next to me.

It is our little moment of quiet, in amongst all the time that she has to share my attention with everyone and everything else.

On Saturday morning, I bathed Isabellle.  When I took her out of the bath, I put her on the mat on her bedroom floor.  The sun was shining through the window and made a nice warm patch.  I sat on the floor with her and she was on my lap.

I was rubbing cream on her skin – and for no other reason than that it made me feel good to sit with her and massage her – she actually did not need the cream.

She was quiet and sort of leaned in to me.  I lay her on her back and massages her legs and her chubby toes.  She just lay there and serenely looked out the window.  When I massaged each toe, she made a light giggling sound, that was very sweet, but she did not try to pull her feet away.

I massaged her arms and her fingers and she just lay on her back and smiled at me.

It really was such a wonderful little moment in time that I got to spend with her and just have some peace and quiet, with some one-on- one time with her.  She came and sat on my lap, and I rubbed her shoulders and she put her head against my chest – not in a clingy way, just rested against me, it was so peaceful and blissful and reminded me why I like kids so much.

Kennith made her a bottle. I dressed Isabelle for her late morning sleep.  It was all quite wonderful.

I was putting her into cot, and spoke in a soft voice, saying pretty things to her and telling her how precious she was and how lucky I am that I get to be a part of her life.

Georgia then came bounding into the room singing…

I asked Georgia to please be quiet as I was putting Isabellle in bed, and she needed to leave the room – still using my sweet I-am-earth-mother voice.  Georgia then upped the tempo and not only sang, but danced around the room.

Still retaining the illusion of peace-mother, I asked her in a slightly less sweet voice for Georgia to please leave, as Isabelle was going to sleep (and she was spoiling the entire moment here!).

Georgia it seems, does not respond to sweet and light voice – and moved to the second chorus of the song in a more up-beat tempo, to which I responded “Get out of the room, NOW!”

Georgia then backed out and stood in the doorway and continued to sing her song loudly … to which I in turn responded: “GET OUT OF THIS DAMN ROOM NOW!! WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU, WHY CAN YOU NOT HEAR ME THE FIRST TIME, NOW MOVE BEFORE I GIVE YOU A HIDING ON YOUR BUM! GO!”

Georgia left the room.

I glanced down at Isabelle to see if she was still in her mom-and-I-are-at-peace-and-this-is-a-magic-moment place.  It seemed she was blissfully warm and snuggly in her pink blanket, clinging to her play-dog and sucking on her bottle with blue eyes firmly fixed on mommy!

‘good sleep my angel!”

<now let me go and find your sister so I can make good on my promise of giving her a damn hiding….>

All clean and shiny …..

I stumbled on Megan Hughes a little while ago when I was pregnant with Isabelle and wanted to do some pregnancy photos.  I decided to commit to a four-photo-package which was maternity, newborn, and then two sets of family shots.

Money was really tight at the time – as it always is – but I saw the value in getting photos done.  I do love good photos, and they last well after the memory of crackers-and-water-to-get-through-the-month has faded.

Megan did some super photos while I was pregnant- my theory is that she can make a block of cheese look good, so it is more because of her that the photos look good, rather than because I looked good at the time.

She did magic photos of Isabelle as a newborn – really really lovely stuff.

We did a great family shoot in about May. I wanted to do some more photos as Isabelle is bigger and has lost that baby part of her – she is a toddler and walking around, so though we have not changed dramatically since the last shoot, I wanted it more because Isabelle has.

Kennith hates having photos taken – to be honest so do I, but I endure it because I focus on the goal (story of my life with so many things actually.)

But anyway last weekend we were hoping to do some outside photos, but the weather turned, and we opted instead to do some studio shots.  Megan has sent me some “sneak preview” shots this morning and I absolutely love them.

I like them because they are not forced and posed – she got so many of us just monkeying around.  I am glad she did not get the one of me screaming at the kids for misbehaving ….

Isabelle – 15 months.  I know everyone says they have the most beautiful child in the world, but I cannot stop myself kissing this child repeatedly … and constantly wondering how something so perfect and divine came out of me!  This photo captures the way she is.

Georgia is at the point where she is a total monkey when you aim a camera at her.  For this entire shoot she kept singing the “elephant song” which is great, not so great if you are trying to get a decent photo.  The head-piece was something she saw the in the studio and decided that she just had to wear ….

Connor feels very awkward and it is quite difficult to get him to just smile “normally” – I asked the kids to hold up their hands to show how old they are – hence the reason Georgia is holding up “five” and Connor is holding up “eight.”

I wanted some individual ones with Kennith and I and the kids …. these worked out really well. (what you cannot hear is me going: “stand still” “smile” “no, not that stupid smile, a proper smile” “do that again and you will get no television” “just do it” “get off that” “no, leave that alone ….”

I love the ones with Kennith and Connor – I can’t wait to see more of those … and we will put up some canvases in his room.

And you are going “don’t you have more children” – and the answer is “yes we do” – but we wanted some shots just with Isabelle here …. also the other two were off destroying Megan’s towels in another room … <sigh>

Group family photos are challenging at the best of times ….

As you can see, this one is not going to plan … and I am also not sure what the plan was exactly …..

 

It’s how you market it ….

Georgia is a very head-strong girl – we do not know where she gets that from, but we are looking in to it.

Anyway, the other day I got her to eat cauliflower – and it was because I stressed the FLOWER part of the cauli – and she liked the fact that it was a flower.  She happily devoured it and then said “yumm” and I thought great.  Another win for super mom.

Last week there are a pile of mixed vegetables on her plate – cauliflower, broccoli, carrots and corn.

Georgia tends to eat with her fingers, so she has eaten the carrots and the corn, and has finished off the cauliflower, but was eyeing the broccoli rather suspiciously.

Georgia:  “What’s this?”

Me: “Broccoli …. eat it, it’s nice..”

Georgia: “Yuck, it’s yucky, I don’t want to eat it.”

Me: “No, it is nice, try it.”

Georgia: “Nooooooo….”

Me: “Just eat it …. EAT IT!”

Georgia: “I don’t like brocolli.”

As I am taking a breath to brace myself for the ensuing fight, Connor pipes up: “Georgia, it is green cauliflower” and then he looks over at me, winking knowingly as if I am in cahoots with his diabolical plan.

I glare at him, and think “what idiot is going to fall for that pearler?”

Georgia” Green cauliflower…?” and takes a bite. “Yum, I like green cauliflower.”

And the proceeds to eat the entire pile.

We gave her broccoli last night and told her it was green cauliflower – she just kept eating without even slowing her pace.

Do I feel a bit bad that I am deceiving my child?  Yes, a bit.

Do I feel a little superior that my 5 year is wolfing down cauliflower, broccoli and prefers salad to chips?  Yes, actually I am practically crowing about it.

Connor, that clever rascal, will be getting an extra boost to his I-want-to-buy-a-nintendo-ds fund!

Camping with kids + wine bar fridge ….

There really is something bleak about coming home after a holiday.

I also got the irony that I managed to win a Best Parenting Blog at about the same time that I was drinking a Mojito in Zanzibar, whilst I had shipped the kids off to their grandparents, with the nanny in tow – I get the humour in it!

Running away from home is quite surreal and especially if you have opted to do it without kids.

One quickly reverts to your former single/time-before-your-uterus-squeezed-something-out self, where you just lie around reading, eating junk food and yours is the only bum you have to wipe – ah the joy of the small things in life!

I will confess that from about Wednesday last week, I was starting to pine, especially for the warm, squishy feel of Isabelle.

Kennith and I are really fortunate that we are able to go on holidays without the kids.

My mom has retired and lives about an hour up the coast from us.  She has a large house and an inability to think quickly on her feet.  This inability assists us, as she cannot say no when I ask her if she can look after the kids.  So every now and then we get to abandon them and head off to places undiscovered, and though I am wracked with guilt (strangely I am, even for all my bravado) it is still a delicious treat!

The kids enjoy being with their granny and oupa, and Kennith and I get the benefit of sleeping until we wake up – which in itself is such a rare treat.  I also get to see what it is like to go to the toilet without company!

This was the longest time that  have left Isabelle and that was a bit hard for me – there were several moments where I just wanted to call it a day and head back home, and pick up my mucus and drool soaked 16 month old for a cuddle, and to sniff in the warmth of her urine soaked nappy.

I did return from holiday and have been thinking that Kennith and I should start to holiday with the kids.  My concern is how much of a holiday will it be for us?

Kids are hard work.  Ask any mom (and dad) and they will admit that kids out of your house are much harder than kids in your own home.

I do not think I am quite ready to pack luggage and take kids on the plane, but I am definitely going to start hunting for some kid friendly holiday places nearby – partly to sooth my guilt for leaving them behind on this holiday and partly because I think it will be cool.

Whatever direction we head with the kids needs to include a small bar fridge for wine, and babysitting facilities for when Kennith and I look at each other and realise that taking kids on holiday is actually not a holiday.

I know several moms who would rather not holiday than holiday without their kids.   I respect that there is a parenting continuum, and they may be in a different place on the continuum than where I choose to be.  I am on the end sitting with the chilled glass of wine, and wondering what all the fuss is about!

I know when I tell people I am going away without my brood, they hit the speed dial number for child services and start removing me from any “mommy and toddler” playgroups.

I have always said I really love my kids, and I am willing to admit that I really like them as well – which is a subtle difference.  My kids are funny and clever, and sometimes when they manage to go an entire hour without someone spilling juice or complaining because “he/she is looking at me” I start thinking that maybe I should stop fantasizing about running away from home so often, as before I know it these warm summery days of their childhood will be over, and all I will have is too many bottles of Chenin Blanc to show for it.

Last week Kennith and I got to just sit like two amoebas with the highest functioning decision whether we were going to drink a beer or a cocktail.  I could lie and read my book – undisturbed – until the drool ran out of my mouth, and formed a sticky congealed pool outside my mouth on the beach chair as I drifted off to sleep.

While acting like I did not have a care in the world, I knew my kids were safe, well cared for and getting a dose of sunburn on a beach along the East Coast.

Holidaying without kids is like having your cake and eating it as well. You get all the blissful stuff of a break from reality, and a chance to remember why you enjoy parenting, and then you get to come home to sun burnt faces and warm hugs.

But now I am googling “camping with kids + wine bar fridge” and seeing what I can locate.

Fairly good parents …..

I am sitting trying to watch the Dog Whisperer – I feel if this guy can train dogs without screaming at them, I can learn some good tips from him and amend them slightly to train my kids.

The Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan is really a brilliant show, I sort of stumbled on it, and thought this guy – he is the sh*t.

He speaks a lot about the energy you bring to the situation and that dogs can pick up on that.

I really like his move where he taps the dog in the ribs and the dog practically turns to jelly.  It just stops doing what ever it was doing – or even thinking about doing.  Cesar does not even raise his voice – he also does not attempt to break the rib – he just taps the dog like “remember, I am watching you…”

I have never watched him threaten a dog, or do anything remotely raise-your-eyebrow – I gotta get me some Cesar training – so I am trying to mimic a Hispanic man with slightly grey hair who is about 1.65 metres tall and speaks in even metered tones …. the challenges we set for ourselves!

There I am watching a bit of television and trying to keep Isabelle out of the cat food.  Georgia is drawing on her rather large sheet of paper that her favourite dad bought her.

Georgia says: “What is that hat that Jesus wears called?”

Georgia is known for asking the oddest questions at the strangest times.  The other day she said: “What is your mommy’s mommy’s name?” which had absolutely NO bearing on what we were doing or talking about at the time.

Back to Georgia’s headwear question.

I was initially a bit puzzled as Georgia has a speech impediment and Jesus sounds like Bejeshush or something similar.

I do speak (almost) fluent Georgia so I got the question, but then I thought “Hat, what hat?”

She then started to do a bit of a mime indicating what she meant –clearly she was referring to the ring of thorns that has become a rather popular image when JC is depicted.  So I thought well then I have to explain thorns and bleeding, so I opted for: “It’s called a crown.”

She seemed reasonably satisfied and called me a clever-mommy.  I went back to television – see this parenting this is dead easy.

Georgia: “Mommy, does Jesus have fairy godparents?”

Talk about a question right out of left field.  I do have some religious issues that I am working through, so I really find this a difficult subject to deal with when I speak to my kids.  I never want to lie to them about religion.  But at the same time I do not want to turn them into agnostics either ….. well then be if they want, but it must be their choice, not because I am all I-have-not-made-up-my-mind-and-stuff, but I digress….

Me: “Er….. I am pretty sure he doesn’t.”

Georgia sits there for a  while and ponders this problem.

Georgia:”Mommy I think he does, so I am going to draw him with fairy godparents.”

How does one even begin to go into a discussion with a  five year old about Jesus and God and where fairy godparents come into the equation.

I decided to opt instead to make the volume on the television louder to avoid any further uncomfortable discussion about religion, small elf people and why Jesus’ fairy godparents did not help me out of what really was a rather grim situation.