Happiness is … I actually have no idea …. none

I am always reluctant to mention that I am feeling happy.

My thinking is then people start to think that “happy” is a permanent state of mind.

If like me, you have never been “happy” for very long, you realise that “happy” is not a normal state.

It is something that flits in an out of your life, without any certainty or more importantly an ability to hang around for very long.

So best not to rely on it.  When I get “happy” I immediately get suspicious. I start to wonder what it is that made me feel like this, and I start to look at the reasons for why it will pass.

A friend,Sue,asked me the other day how am I.

I always take it as a very loaded question and I start over-thinking and over-evaluating when I know the right answer is “I”m fine, and how are you…?”

Lately I have been fine. I have actually been more than fine. I have moved to a state of being “content” for much of the time.

I am not going to get all “Kum ba yah” on your arse, but I have felt more settled, less anxious and just more “quiet” in my head.

My answer to Sue was “Great actually!”

Sue, being Sue, pried a bit more and wanted to know why I was feeling great.

The short answer was because I am no longer running to an office to be on time.

I am no longer running around like a mad thing trying to be all things to all people.

I no longer feel like I am always late for everything.  I no longer feel that I am missing out on everything in my life, and my kids lives.

I feel far more in control.

I feel measured, and I am doing things that give me joy.  Small things.  I read more, I watch less television.  I have gaps in my day where I can do things I want to do — and not in a mad rush, with the accompanying guilt.

I am not suggesting I do not work hard.  I do.  Starting a new business, and trying to penetrate a market where there are existing and well established competitors, is challenging.  It is not all plain sailing and great bank balances. It is often work for no money, and making some questionable decisions, but I learn.  

And I get better.

Much of what I do pushes me far out of my comfort zone.  I am not a natural sales person.  I am not a natural people’s person, but I work hard at ensuring I return calls, I sell myself as much as I can, and I make sure I interact with clients.  

I work long hours, but I structure my hours around my “other things.”

I have started volunteering at Ubuntu House recently. I did the volunteer course some time ago, but I just never got there.

I volunteer at the House and am aiming to do two mornings a week.  It was such a humbling and wonderful experience to be at the House, and hold the babies.

I thought it would be sad.  I thought I would be trying to smuggle a baby out under my jumper.

It wasn’t.

I loved holding the babies and rocking them until they went to sleep.  I realised (again) that I don’t know any songs or nursery rhymes, but the babies do not seem to mind.  “Ten Green Bottles hanging on a wall ….” seems to work like a charm, I could start at a hundred bottles and not one baby complained – bless their cotton socks, or onesie socks.

I officially became the “baby whisperer” I put three babies to sleep singing my off key little song and rocking them just like so.  It is such a lovely feeling to have a baby fall asleep in the nape of your neck as you rock them.  That heavy feeling that comes over them. The deep breathing … it is so gorgeous and intoxicating.

Why am I feeling great?

I am great because I feel less chaotic. If I want to go to Mr Price for two hours, then I go.  If I want to go to an art exhibition then I go.  I just take more time.

I work the hours back later.  

I really feel so much less anxious and less rushed and just less manic than before ….. I think for me the answer is “not to work for someone else …” and “not to just get a job so you can work…” – I should have “gone out on my own” years ago, it would have saved me a bundle on psychiatrists and medication, and a few breakdowns along the way.

I love what I do …. most of the time.

I still do not get to sleep late as I have the school morning run, get home, make myself a cup of tea and sit down and work until 16h30 and then dash out to fetch the kids.  I get home after collecting the kids, and I usually do an hour or three of work.

I think I am one of those people who “working in an office and ensuring you are there at 08h00 and then leaving at 17h00” is just not suited to me.  

I work hard, I am self-driven, I like to manage my own time —-  but if I cannot do it at 17h00, then leave me to do it at 19h00 or 23h00.

Rushing to an office and trying to juggle three kids at school can be a bit …. well a bit enough to drive you to a mental facility.

I don’t want to say I am  happy.  But I definitely feel content, and a little bit happy…. inside … quietly …. shhhhh don’t tell anyone.

{my hair dresser decided to put curls in my hair today … I said “okay”and then I came home with curls …. true story – this by the way is a “selfie” so don’t get too judgmental on the lighting and the mood music ….}



What you need for your baby …. even if he is a prince …

Having a baby is one of those joyful tinged with panic situations.  That last 9 months, or however far along you realise you are pregnant.

If you are adopting or having a baby through another route, the time line may be longer or get compressed into two frantic weeks.

Baby magazines, product advertising and all the “punt my product” blogs and forums make it really hard to buy what you need, and not find yourself blowing your salary on a chair that is pink, and for what ever reason costs R6 000.00 but you just must have it!

Right now my heart goes out to anyone pregnant with a baby – especially a boy child.  Because the media is going to go Little Prince crazy – and you are going to see heaps of items that you “just must have” but the reality is that you probably will never use.

I acquired a ton of things when Connor was joining us.

Georgia I also made sure I was organised – though the fact that she was a girl came as a bit of a surprise and required fast dashes to the closest Woolworths by Kennith when she made her entrance into the world, as I realised none of the “green” items were going to do.

Isabelle was a much calmer affair.  I knew what I needed, and it really was not a lot.  I did not spend much on all the new fangled items – and in most cases trolled for second hand items – let’s call them pre-loved or vintage which sounds so much better than second hand.

My friend Joyce asked me to a baby list in 2011 and I went to look at it again this morning – so here is ANOTHER BABY LIST that you probably don’t need, but there we go.

Not a comprehensive list, but just some thoughts.

Basic must haves:

Breathable cot mattress + mattress covers x 3 (this you buy new from Toys R Us after you have the cot as mattress must fit your cot)

Normal bedding – fitted sheets – usually you do not really buy duvets + pillows etc, as they can be hazards to a baby in a cot, so I tend to buy them because they look pretty not because they are a necessity.  I bought from Treehouse factory store, but you can get these anywhere.  Isabelle sleeps on a mattress + sheet, and then I put loose blankets on top of her.

Bumpers (to stop baby’s feet getting caught in the bars of the cot) are usually recommended for small babies, but I found Isabelle kept pulling hers down – so I ended up purchasing two great sets and never using them)

Changing mat – you need one that goes on your compactum –  big thick thing with raised sides.  Treehouse is good for this.

Box/Container for toiletries that stands on your compactum – I suggest a wooden one from Builder’s Warehouse or a plastic one from Plastic Warehouse.

Polar fleece baby blankets x 3 – 4 – I use these a lot, and just layer them when baby is cold.

Receiving blankets – 4 – 6 of these, also used to keep baby warm, used underneath baby, used to add layers, I am using some of Connor’s ones with Isabelle, so these are great to hand from one baby to another, and have a thousand uses.

Towelling nappies – not as nappies, but as puke cloths – buy a pack from Jet – fairly good quality and you just need something to reach for every time your baby up chucks.

Sleeping wedges – can buy anywhere – basically to stop baby rolling over on to his/her back, Toys R Us have these.

Baby towels – I ended up with dozens of these, and the hoody part is nice, but really not a have to have — and you always end up getting a dozen of these.

Kango Bath support for baby – you can pick these up anywhere, and they are pretty useful stuff.  I had a purple one and it was brilliant.

Microwave sterilizer – you can pretty much buy these anywhere – stick with the cheap and cheerful R89.00 one, no need to dip into the R450.00 one which just looks jazzy but essentially does the same thing (stay away from Miltons – used to clean bottles)

Decide on a bottle system – I use NUK, but different people use different ones.  The problem is the bottles/teats are not interchangeable, so once you decide on a system, you are pretty much stuck with it.  I got a free NUK one, and then just used it since.  Bottles are expensive and you need about 6 of them, so it is one of those things you buy, then do not open, and if you see baby is using them, then you open them.  (you do not open them so you can return them if your baby for some reason just does not like the particular system)

Bottle brushes – do not try to purchase the NIMBUS 2000 range, buy what ever is being sold at PnP or where ever.  I can’t say I used this that often …..

Decide if you are going to use a dummy – and then purchase – I opted for NUK (because I liked the bottles and the product) – but dummies are not a necessity, and you need to make a decision upfront as to whether you want to go with one or not.

Nappy bag – for your sanity opt for a backpack styled one.  (contents spare clothes, food, dummy, wipes, nappies, traveling changing mat – something that is always packed and ready to go, so if you need to go somewhere, you grab it – so it has duplicates of what ever you use for baby, and the idea is to have it packed so when ever you have to go somewhere you grab it and go)

DO NOT BUY CLOTHES, I HAVE MORE THAN ANY CHILD WILL EVER WEAR AND MOST WITH LABELS.  People give you and buy you clothes, and if you are feeling vaguely like watching your bank balance, people will drown you in baby clothes that all seem to arrive and look like they have never been worn.

However if you want to dress your child in Keedo/Naartjie/Earth Child, then please buy clothes.

Shoes are a total unnecessary purchase and are purely a “cute” purchase.

The only thing you need to purchase are probably vests – I prefer the ones that do not clip at the crotch, but most prefer the ones that do.  Your baby will be little in winter, so you need to purchase these as you will need one to two per day.


Nappies – I suggest you start with Pampers and go from there.  Buy from PnP and if you decide you do not like them, cannot use them you can return to PnP for a refund!  You average about 5 per day on a young baby.

Bum cream – I swear by Lucoderm – can buy from any chemist – comes in a tub, lasts for ages.  One tub will pretty much see your baby through from birth to about university, so no need to buy the full range of nappy creams.  Many of them are not great, and other than smell nice do not do a whole lot of good.

Wipes – buy what you can afford, Cherub works well, and is a good price, but I also like the Pampers ones.

Baby wash – I tend to use Johnsons Baby Top to ToeWash

Baby Powder – I use Johnsons with Camomile (purple label) – because I like the smell.  But most professional nurses would suggest an odourless plain powder based product without any frills or fuss.

Medication to keep on hand: Calpol, Empiped (suppository), Voltarin (suppository), Nurofed *****, Panado – you want to keep a ready supply of medication to combat temperatures, young babies pick up a fever quite easily.  Have a stash of short syringes (no needles) as getting medication into the back of a baby’s mouth/throat is a trick and a syringe will be a great tool.

Very useful: nappy sacks – fragrant plastic bags to dispose of nappies.  I use these when I go out – it makes me look civilised even though I have baby shit under my finger nails.

Pack of cotton wools makeup swabs – I find them useful for every day – wiping little areas and so on.

Johnsons Aqueous Cream, which I use on occasion.

Bepanthen cream – good for odds and sods, bites, dry areas, and so on.

Bathroom Stuff:

A non-slip mat in the bath.

Bath toys and one of those little bags that clip on to the side of the bath to put toys in.

A bath caddy for baby’s toiletries.

Baby toothbrush – I started with a baby toothbrush really early, so they get familiar with the brush and the toothpaste in their mouth, so that when you start brushing life is easier as it does not become a problem.  Easier to start with this in the bath when they are little as a game, so it just becomes a non-issue.

Sanity purchases (your sanity):

Mechanical/electric bounce/swing chair – try to find one second hand.  This was my tool of sanity with Isabelle who never stopped screaming.

Curtains or blinds that block out light totally – quite a good idea to do this from the start.

Rocking chair/wing backed chair/small single couch in babies room – will saving you standing rocking baby, and sometimes you end up sitting in babies room when baby is sick.

Electronic thermometer – buy from PnP – cost probably about R400.00 – total sanity purchase!!!  You will use it forever, I have a Braun Thermoscan and it is still going strong and I think it is 5 years old.

Mobile above cot – having one with music is a nice touch – the music and the moving things do sooth baby, but you can buy this second hand.  Really nice for baby to look at and the music does sooth some babies – I must confess that Isabelle liked hers while the other two kids were not that interested in them at all – so I think the mobile was for me, so I could stand and look at it when I was rocking one of them to sleep.  So buy a mobile you like – maybe Robert Downey Junior has a mobile!

Night light – I preferred not to use one, but some people do use them.

Baby Monitor – buy new – like a walkie-talkie – one goes in baby’s room and one in your room, so you do not need to keep going to open the door to check on baby, quite useful, but really not a necessity.  They do however help you to stop going: ‘Did you hear something?  I am sure I hear something.  Do you hear something?  I am going to go in and check.”

Floor doughnut – its that pink or blue cushion thing they lie and play on, with cushioned sides so they do not roll off.  You use it quite a lot even when they are sitting up.  Eventually the dog will go and sit in it, then you will say “Gee, I am glad I bought such a cool dog bed from Treehouse!!”

Seat cover – goes under the baby seat to protect your car seats – no matter how much you swear your child will not eat and drink in the car, sadly we all succumb to throwing Marie Biscuits into the bag with a bit of Oros and praying it buys us 10 minutes of quiet time.

Front seat cover – it fits over the front head rests and has pouches facing backwards – great to prevent baby kicking and damaging the back of the front seats, and nice to store odds and ends.  There are really expensive ones, but you can pick them up for dead cheap and car type stores, rather than baby type stores.

Window sock – slides over your window, so that baby in car seat is not sitting in direct sunlight.  Really nice – need to buy ones that fit your car, quite expensive, so a nice to have, not a must have.

Tiny Love – Gymini Kick/Play – baby lies on the floor underneath this thing and then plays with the things above it.  Sort of daily useful, but not a must have.

Big Purchases:

Wooden Cot (buy second hand)

Travelling Cot (fold down type) – not a necessity, and really only something you will use if you go away with baby.

Compactum – with drawers (buy second hand)

Narrow cupboard with drawers – little baby stuff fits better in drawers so if you buy a wicker basket draw thing or similar it does make life easier as you rarely put their stuff into a hanging cupboard.

Picolo/Snug and Safe – Baby car seat, carry around thing that you use for baby – it tends to become a baby feeding chair when baby is small, and where baby sleeps while you are in a restaurant, so find one that has an easy to clean cover.

Pram + Car seat (this is also the Piccolo/Snug and Safe – so you need to decide to buy this as a unit i.e. Graco Travel System or as two separate item.

(Car seats are by weight, small babies are strapped into a Piccolo and are rear facing – and they stay like this until they around about 12 kg I think, then move to a forward facing car seat – so best to leave the purchasing of a front facing car seat for a bit later.  Discovery does give a voucher for this, which is great.)

Good place for second hand stuff:

I can’t think of the company’s name – I think it is called Second Time Around or something – 021 762 2474, 309 Main Road, Kenilworth – but the owner is really nice, it is a small shop crammed with stuff, and good to touch base with her and explain what you are looking for and then she looks out for it.

Good place to shop for bedroom things:

Treehouse in Parow – corner of Zelda and Jagger Street, Goodwood, 021 591 1814 – really good to lurk around there, can pick up some really good things on sale.

Gumtree is a good place to lurk around – someone is always selling something.  Just use your natural Nancy Drew alertness when dealing with anyone.  Do not meet or go to anyone’s home – meet them in a public place, ensure you check them out before you meet them (if all they have is a gmail account and a cell number, then maybe rethink that meet).  I have been lucky and have bought a lot of things through gumtree, and saved a ton.

I hope that list helps you a bit ——-

I decided not to include this item, but now that I look at it, well, there are a few ideas of how I could use this —- at my desk with tea …. I like the way the packing has “stew/cocoa” on it.  Because those two tastes go together so damn well.