Saturday, May 30, 2009

The problem of pain

There's a popular worship song which has a line in it that sticks. I was reminded of it this morning by a friend who blogged about a particularly difficult situation she's facing. The line is "You give and take away, you give and take away, still my heart will say: Lord, blessed be your name."

Two years on, I still can't sing that line. When it comes up in worship, I think about Zoe, and I wonder. I couldn't bless God then, and I've only recently got to the point of being able to that God is still good. When I do, I still feel the gravity of what I'm actually saying - that even though God chose to let Zoe die, even though he took her away, even though he broke my heart forever, even though he permits horrible atrocities to be perpetrated against the innocents (children) he is still good.

The fact that others seem to be able to sing that line so glibly sometimes annoys me, because it seems they obviously have either forgotten, or never really experienced, a Job* moment, or that the suffering of children and those who love them is of little consequence.

I don't think there are any answers to the problem of pain, despite what C.S. Lewis and other luminaries say. It just is. And God is still good. I know people think Christians are crazy for believing that in the face of the suffering and cruelty in the world. Yet, in the words of Peter - Jesus has the words of life, to whom else shall we go?

* Job is a character in the Bible who lost all his children (if memory serves - 12) in a natural disaster, suffered a horrible skin disease (so much so that he was the outcast from society) and lost all his possessions. Even his wife gave up on him. He sat in the dirt and blamed God. Yet, he was still able to say that God was still sovreign and therefore worthy of praise. After quite a long time, and an encounter with God, he was healed and got on with his life - recovering his wealth and having another 12 kids. I often wonder though whether he ever stopped grieving his first brood, or wondering why God allowed it to happen. We, as the readers, are told the reason, but he is never given that luxury.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Bob the Builder

Can we do it? Yes, we can!

That's the way I feel this evening. Why? Well, I actually managed to DELEGATE some work. By 4pm this afternoon I had managed to finish ALL my marking AND entering said marks into my own spreadsheet, the Life Sciences spreadsheet and the school's mark system AND writing all my comments for all my kids. This is no mean feat, let me tell you. Everyone else has a whole extra week to finish some of it plus ANOTHER week to finish the rest of it. This means I am TWO weeks ahead of everyone else.

What I didn't manage to finish was the moderation. While moderation has little to no bearing on the school, the education department has started jumping up and down about how we HAVE to do internal moderation of all our work - from projects to tests and exams. We have to moderate it before it's printed (does it match their standards on about 6 different areas), and then afterwards again, AND then we have to moderate 10% of all the learners' actual scripts/ work. We have to be able to prove that we've done this.

(Of course, there are no real consequences if we don't do all this, except that they can refuse to sign us off from each year's process if we don't. However, the principle of moderation is a good one, one I agree with, even though it's a lot of PT.)

So, the only thing I haven't finished sorting out is the moderation process for this set of exams. BUT - at 4pm today, I took the executive decision to delegate this to two or three other staff members and go home. I'm very proud of myself. Me. Miss I-have-to-do-it-all-myself-because-it's-my-responsibility-and-God-forbid-anyone-should-be-able-to-point-a-finger-and-accuse-me-of-slacking-just-because-I'm-pregnant. Yes folks, she CAN be taught. Just call me Bob. And what's even better is that I'm not AT ALL stressed or worrying about whether they will do it 'right'.

I'm really quite impressed with myself that, now that my maternity leave has officially begun, I've actually managed to disconnect from work. It's NOT MY PROBLEM anymore. (It will be so again in a few months, and I'll probably kick myself then, but why borrow trouble from 5 months' time?) No, now I have only 2 goals to achieve.

1) Get the house unpacked and as sorted as I can by next weekend.
2) Give birth to a live son.

I think I've mentally found the space called 'work-life balance'. Who would have thunk it?! What a blessing.

So - now I will have plenty of time (ha ha ha!!) to blog and email and twitter and 'do' lunch and be a Mommy. Speaking of which, Nellie asked me yesterday: "Can you play with me or do you have work to do?" Hmm... profound, and scary. I know that these past 2 weeks I've been working flat out to get all my work done. Now it's time to be a proper Mommy. Starting tomorrow morning with taking her and the dogs out - weather permitting (OMW did we have a thunderstorm and a half last night - the dog was desperately trying to get under the duvet with me!).

Can I do it? Yes, I can. I can switch off from work and switch onto my life.
Can I do it? Yes, I can. I have. I have managed to get to this time without losing this baby, despite everything I have been feeling physically.
Can I do it? Yes, I can. I will. I will be a good Mommy to Nellie and a good wife to Graeme again.
Can I do it? Yes, I can. Not because I'm Superwoman. Not because I'm Mrs Incredible. Quite the opposite: because I'm finally able to recognise my frailty and humanity.

And because God is faithful and good and generous. I couldn't have got here without him.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Child Protection Week

This week is National Child Protection Week, with the theme this year being 'Caring communities protect children'. Therefore, today is specifically dedicated to the missing children of South Africa.

Many of you are probably aware of Madeleine McCann, the little British girl who went missing on 3 May 2007 in Portugal, while her parents had dinner about 50m away. She's still missing. What continues to astound me is the amount of publicity this little girl & her disappearance get. There are between 1500-1700 children who go missing every year in SA, whom we seldom hear about, and who certainly never get the same amount of publicity. Something doesn't sit right with me about that picture.

While I don't wish to detract from the publicity Madeleine gets, why is it that she gets it? Why is it that I don't know about the missing children from Cape Town? Why is Madeleine news, but not the children in my own city? Is she somehow more important than them? Is it because her parents are probably more wealthy than the average parents in Cape Town? Is it because life in SA is held in such low regard?

I have to say that I get this gut reaction every time I see something referring to Madeleine, something ugly that rises up inside me. The fact that Madeleine continues to get publicity and these children don't feels like something from the Apartheid era, where one group of people benefited at the expense of others. I wonder how many other missing children have had resources diverted from their search in order to focus on Madeleine's? I'm not saying it has been, just that I wonder whether it has. There is no doubt that high publicity cases get more resources than low publicity ones. Of course, everyone agrees that's wrong.

Every case should receive the same amount of resourcing, but we can all see how a foreigner's missing child would attract unwelcome publicity; thus, we can all see how such a case would receive more funding, more staffing, more resourcing in every respect. I just find it disgusting that it happens. If Janel were to go missing, I wouldn't have the money to publicise her disappearance the way that Maddy's parents have. I wish I could. I don't fault them for doing so - if I had the money I would also try to raise awareness in every country I could around the world. I just think it's disgusting that the 1500 missing kids in SA don't get the same level of publicity. Aren't they just as important to their parents as Maddy is to hers?

On a tangent, I read a news story over the weekend about a woman in East London (a small city in SA) who murdered her 8 & 10 year old daughters last week. She strangled them with rope. Some time before she did though, she rang a friend to tell her what she was going to do. The friend alerted the police, but they were unable to find her. What I found horrifying though was that, as the mother strangled the younger one, the older one phoned her mother's best friend to tell her what was going on, and to ask for help. Neither the friend nor the police were able to get to them in time. Can you imagine that? You get a phone call from your best friend's kid screaming that her mother is trying to kill her, and although you do everything in your power, that child still dies. Can you imagine that child's terror? I felt physically ill after reading that story. The mother tried to commit suicide after killing her kids, but the police got to her in time. She's in hospital now. No-one knows why she did it.

There's another high profile case in the news at the moment about an SA cop who shot both his kids and is now pleading temporary insanity as a result from work-related stress.

To kill your own kids.... I don't know. Something has to be seriously wrong (with you as a person and as a parent) for you to do that.

I guess the good thing about having a Child Protection Week is that it raises awareness about the issue. For example, I learnt today that, in SA, if your child is missing, the police would rather you report it to them immediately, before you conduct your own investigation. There is no 24hr waiting period here as there is in other countries. Police are aware that if the average parental search for a missing child takes 4-6 hrs, the child may already have been taken out of the country by the time they are alerted. They would rather launch an immediate investigation and have the benefit of those 4 hours than risk losing the child forever. I don't often say this of government organisations, but how eminently sensible!

The other thing I heard on the radio today is the plea for South Africans to take much more of an ubuntu approach to children. If you see children wandering around (especially during school hours), whether they are your child's friends or not, whether you know them or not, take an interest. Treat every child as if it was your own. Stick your nose in. Get involved. It may just save a life.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Are we there yet?

HEALTH WARNING: this is going to be a venting post.

I feel like the kid who, sitting in the back seat, constantly asks" "Are we there yet?" when you're on a long car journey. I just want to BE THERE already.

I'm fed up of all the boxes everywhere. I'm fed up of having to live out of them and around them, and not being able to find my stuff. I'm fed up of the chaos. I'm fed up of having contractors in my house. I'm fed up of the noise and dust and mess. I'm fed up of not having enough shelves and space to put all our stuff (and no, I don't want to get rid of it all...). I'm fed up of Alyssa being on the verge of panic that we're about to abandon her every time we move a box or a piece of furniture. I'm fed up of Baggins charging out the door (and into the road) every time we open it. I'm fed up of not having blinds up in our room, or proper light fittings in some of the rooms. I'm fed up of the new stuff in the house still having teething problems. I'm fed up of things not just being the way I want them. I'm fed up of the garden being such a tip.

As far as being pregnant goes, I'm also feeling hugely fed up about that. I'm fed up of being unable to bend over, lift things, push things, pull things. I'm fed up of getting severe heartburn the moment I even vaguely bend at the waist. I'm fed up of these blasted contractions that do NOTHING (if they were at least proper ones, and achieving something, that would be different... all these Braxton-Hicks ones do is cause me severe discomfort or pain). I'm fed up of having a bladder the size of a pea. I'm fed up of getting leg/ foot cramps in the middle of the night. I'm fed up of being unable to turn over in bed at night without pain/ severe discomfort. I'm fed up of not sleeping well. I'm fed up of having pelvic pain (my body has been producing relaxin since the beginning of the 2nd trimester, instead of only starting to produce it now' so as a result, my ligaments have all relaxed FAR too much and my pelvis has come apart - and yes, it's as sore as it sounds) and being unable to walk far or easily. I'm fed up of having to inject myself every day and take other medication every day. I'm fed up of not being able to get comfortable in any position (standing/ sitting/ lying down) for any length of time. I'm also fed up of the worrying that this baby is going to die and the frequent dead baby thoughts.

As far as work goes, I'm fed up of marking. I'm fed up of being fed up about marking. I'm fed up of having to deal with stupid kids and their discipline issues. I'm fed up of having to deal with parents of kids I have to discipline. I'm fed up of having to be there at 7.45am. I'm fed up of getting no marking done because of the rubbish I have to deal with & loose ends I have to tie up.

Please? Please can we just GET THERE already?

(And yes, I know it will all be worth it in the end - the house will be lovely & the baby will be fine. Knowing what the end or future result will be - in the case of the house at least - does not make it any easier to go through all this stuff in the present.)

Saturday, May 23, 2009


Taken on my phone about 20 minutes ago, from outside our new house. We are SOO going to build a deck up on the garage roof in due course to take full advantage of the views we have!

Baby 3

I've had the last gynae appointment before baby boy is due to arrive. I never thought I would get here, but here we are.

At present, baby boy is slightly bigger than he should be. His measurements sit around week 35, but I'm only at week 34. He's currently about 2.5kg, so he should be around 3kg when he's born, which is a good weight. It'll also be the biggest baby I've given birth to. Hmm... Nellie was 2.2kg and Zoe was 2.8kg. It's both good and bad news: Good news because it means he should be a bit stronger and more able to cope; bad news because oversized baby boys often experience complications during or post birth.

At the moment, the other good news is that my cervix is very closed. Despite all the contractions I've been having there has been no effect on the cervix, so he's still sitting very securely. This is good, but if it's still the case in 2 weeks time, then we may have a problem. If my cervix doesn't "ripen" somewhat, then I may not respond to the induction, in which case we will have to have a caesar. I'm not looking forward to that option, but as I said to the gynae: I'd rather have him out and alive than leave him in there and lose him in a few weeks' time!

We've also talked about starting the induction a day early, to give it more time to work properly, in the hopes that we then won't have to go the route of a caesar.

The number of contractions I'm having though has brought home the fact that he will be here VERY soon, and I'm getting more and more excited about that. I'm also getting more and more stressed about the things that still need to be done in the house so that when I come home from hospital I can come home to an ordered home.

But before then, I have piles of work to finish up, so let me go and do that...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Moving update

You know how, when you're about to move jobs, you reach the point where you just don't care anymore about the current job. You are just so OVER it already, and SO ready to move on? Well, I'm there. I am SO OVER school at the moment. I just don't care about the fact that I still have all my marking and comments to do. I really, truly, honestly, don't care. For me, this is quite an unusual situation, because I always care. I'm the type who will come back in after I've left to make sure that things are done properly. Not this time. No way, mate. I'm OUTTA here.

Except I still have just over a week to go. And PILES of marking to do. And I have to care, whether I want to or not, because I'm coming back to this job. This is not the end for me. Sigh.

Part of the reason is that this moving house story has really taken the stuffing out of me. I am so mentally exhausted by the whole deal. I've been very good, actually, about not picking up heavy stuff, about just directing other people to do stuff. Mentally though, I'm finished. All the decision making is almost more than I can deal with.

What's making it worse is that our kitchen still isn't finished. I'm hoping they will finish tomorrow, or at worst on Friday. Until then, we still have piles of boxes that need unpacking, and I don't know where my mugs/ plates/ bowls/ washing powder are. I like a clear space to live in; it's important for my mental state. I'm therefore finding all the semi-ordered chaos stressful to live in the midst of.

Over the weekend our fireplace goes in. I'm also hoping to make a decision about desks & workspaces. Then I can start thinking about shelving/ bookcases and sorting out the books and files. Next week some time we should get the blinds in our bedroom, burglar bars and security gates. That's basically all we're still waiting for.

I'm really hoping though that before I head off to hospital we will be completely sorted. I really don't want to be living with that 20:80 rule (the last 20% of the work takes 80% of the time). I don't need that sort of stress with a new baby in the house.

In the meantime, we're also having to deal with the stress of others. Nellie seems to be adapting well, but still has a few hiccups every now and then and is obviously not yet feeling settled again (unsurprisingly). Worse though, is the dogs, Alyssa in particular. She is COMPLETELY stressed out. Baggins seems to be settling down much more quickly, but (I guess because she's a rescue dog) she is not really settling. She is underfoot all the time, and will jump up at you the moment you so much as look in her direction. She is desperate for affirmation and assurance that we're not about to abandon her. I feel terrible for her, but at the same time, it is incredibly annoying and frustrating.

Actually, yesterday was the first time I noticed Alyssa behaving vaguely calmly. While I was sorting stuff out in the garage she actually lay down and watched me (as opposed to being underfoot all the time). The minute you walk around the corner though, she is right there with you, keeping an eye on you, making sure you don't leave her. Poor thing! It must be terrible to live with that sort of fear all day, every day.

The house itself is growing on me though. There are lots of little niggles - light switches in places I think are impractical, not enough plug points, etc, etc, but all in all, I think what we've done has made it a lovely house. I think we'll be happy here in the long run, which makes me really happy. I don't want to move again for a very long time (which is probably 5 years for me!).

I got a lovely email the other day, which made me stop and take stock, particularly in the light of all the things I want to see sorted and have been complaining about.

"I am thankful for:
  • the wife who who says it's hot dogs tonight because she is home with me and not out with someone else.
  • the husband who is home being a couch potato because he is home with me and not out at bars.
  • the teenager who is complaining about doing the dishes because she is home and not out on the streets.
  • the taxes I pay because it means I am employed.
  • the mess to clean up after a party because it means I have friends.
  • the clothes that fit a little to snugly because it means I have enough to eat.
  • my shadow that watches me work because it means I am out in the sunshine.
  • a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning, a gutter that needs fixing, because it means I have a home.
  • all the complaining I hear about the government because it means we have freedom of speech.
  • the parking spot I find at the far end of the parking lot because it means I am capable of walking and have been blessed with transportation.
  • for my huge heating bill because it means I am warm.
  • the lady behind me in church who sings off key because it means I can hear.
  • the pile of laundry and ironing because it means I have clothes to wear.
  • weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day because it means I have been capable of working hard.
  • the alarm that goes off in the early hours of the morning because it means I am alive."
I am thankful for all the niggles of this house, because it means I have a house. When I compare my house to my domestic's, well, this place is a palace. I am grateful for the space we have, the number of rooms, the amount of stuff we have, the boxes everywhere... they are all indicators of the blessing we have in our jobs and in our families & friends who have been so generous in their gifts. So Telkom have stuffed up our phone line and the ADSL line (at first we had a land line and no ADSL. Now we have ADSL, but no land line!), so we had no electricity for a day because the electricity department cut off our supply for a rather ridiculous reason, so our toilet was broken and the taps leak, so what? We have a roof over our heads. We have power again. We have running water. That's a hang of a lot more than many people have.

So although I am VERY tired of this move now, and VERY ready for it all to be over, I am also very grateful for the space we are in. Here's to many happy years ahead of us here.

Missing education

I learnt something very interesting today. Thanks to Paul of Cape Town Daily Photo for this tidbit.

Did you know that the first Governor of the Cape of Good Hope was a coloured? No, neither did I. Apparently, the writers of the Apartheid textbooks thought to "conveniently" omit that little fact. Yup, Simon van der Stel was of mixed race. His maternal grandmother was of mixed race, and his own parentage was mixed. His mother was the daughter of a freed Indian slave while his father was a Dutchman.

Interestingly, the second owner of Groot Constantia (part of Simon van der Stel's original farm that was subdivided and sold up after his death) was also a coloured woman and her ex-con husband.

Isn't history fascinating?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Yes, we are back online, but now I only have about 10 mins until my laptop dies, so this is just to say hello, we've moved, we're about half unpacked, and I can't WAIT to be on maternity leave... Oh yes, and I HATE MARKING. Absolutely detest it.

OK, must go find a plug for my laptop otherwise there will be no more internet for me for a while (again). Can't have that. I've been getting withdrawal symptoms. Thank God my phone is GPRS enabled, but I've spent a small fortune on that as a result. This is much cheaper.

MWAH! MWAH! Will do a proper post soon. Promise

Thursday, May 14, 2009


One way or the other, this weekend is going to be interesting.

When we move house, we always seem to pick the worst time. A few years back, we picked the single hottest, record-breaking weekend in London. Now it seems we have picked the single worst, record-breaking one in Cape Town. Yup, the air pressure is set to drop to 940mb. Given that Hurricane Katrina was at 920mb when it made land in the US, that's pretty scary. Winds are predicted to get up to 100km/h.

Hmm.... could be interesting trying to move house in that sort of weather...

But there's something else I'm more interested in. I think I had a contraction today. A proper one. Not just a Braxton-Hicks.

With both previous pregnancies, I had contractions in week 33 (which is where I'm currently at). With Nellie, my waters broke after about 3 contractions (!!), and then labour had to be induced after 10 hours of not much else happening. With Zoe, I had contractions for about 8 hours, after which the pregnancy continued as normal until she died. I've been expecting something to happen this week, so wasn't surprised. I was, however, alarmed.

Thus far, nothing further. Baby boy seems healthy (although I can't find his heartbeat). He's kicking strongly, and the placental blood-flow sounds healthy, so I'm not too worried about him.

I'm not at all worried about him arriving this early, in fact. I am, however, worried about going into labour and not being in hospital to be monitored, and/or not having had some steroid injections beforehand. I suspect that Zoe died during the initial phases of labour at 37 weeks, following which the labour stopped again (for the 2nd time).

My uterus has been feeling rather irritable all week, which was the same with Zoe. ("Irritable uterus" means it's hard all the time and the midwife is unable to feel physically the position the baby is lying in. It's a sign that you're going to go into labour soon.) While the meds I've been on are supposed to reduce the risks of stillbirth, I have no idea what impact they will have on my body's decision to go into labour.

Nellie was born at 33+4, which would be on Saturday. She's fine, so I have all faith that if he's born this week, he'd be fine too.... as long as he is born alive.

So - will we be moving house or not this weekend??? Will the weather, or the baby, cause us to change our plans???? THAT is the question.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

How does SA fare??

The Sheffield University has a team who have produced a computer programme that alters the map of the world (or the relative size of the countries and continents) based on data available on a particular question. Their results make for very interesting reading. How does SA fare, and where are going if we don't change things fairly soon?

This is what the normal, to scale map of the earth looks like.

This is the earth in relation to the number of TB infections
This is the earth in relation to the number of HIV infections.
This is the earth in relation to the number of malaria infections.While this is scary, because it puts into perspective the problems we face in Africa and South Africa particularly, there are other things which are just as scary. For example, the lack of the development of technology.

This is the earth in relation to the amount of scientific research currently being conducted.

And this is the earth in relation to the number of patents being registered. It's a measure of both creativity and entrepreneurship.
So basically, unless we do something radical about our education system, SA is doomed.

Education: the life or death of our planet

WARNING: This is a long post. But it's about an important matter, so I think you can forgive me.

I am definitely getting pregnancy brain. This afternoon we had a PROGRO, and I forgot about it completely - even though I'm on the committee that organises these sessions for the staff! Sigh!

We were very privileged to have Prof Brian O'Connell as our guest speaker today. He is currently the Rector and Vice-Chancellor at UWC, but he has a very long history in education, having started out as a humble teacher. Before being appointed Rector of UWC, Brian O’Connell was Head of the Western Cape Education Department, from 1995 to October 2001. He obtained a B.A. Honours Degree in History from UNISA (with distinction), and M.A. and M.Ed Degrees from Columbia University in New York. O’Connell’s contribution to education has been acknowledged and rewarded with a Fullbright Scholarship to the United States, two British yCouncil grants and an Anglo-American Chairman’s Fund grant. So - rather a distinguished guest, actually.

His topic was based around our theme for the year, which is "Leadership in the classroom". He started by looking at why Homo sapiens has been so successful as a species. Essentially, there are 5 so-called humanising factors that have enabled us to be so (frontal cortex, development of language, development of technology, adaptive capability, and a scientific sense, if memory serves me). He then outlined the top 10 current revolutions facing humanity en masse, which are all occurring simultaneously - things like globalisation, population explosion, global warming, technology explosion, etc).

His point was that in order to cope with these 10 revolutions, humanity is going to need to think its way through them, which will rely upon us having people who are able to make use of their humanising factors - their ability to develop the necessary language to communicate effectively about the problems facing the world and to develop the technology needed to solve those problems, which requires the use of their adaptive capabilities, etc, etc. The only way to achieve all this is to have excellent education.

Thus, he established the centrality of education to the life or death of humanity as a species, but also of the planet as a whole. As I said - you really had to be there to hear the whole argument... what I'm writing here really doesn't do it justice, but as I suspect this is going to be an extremely long post, I have to try to keep it as short as I can.

Bringing this home to SA, Prof O'Connell then took us through a brief or potted history of the aftermath of 300 yrs of colonialism and 50 yrs of Apartheid on our nation, w.r.t. education in particular. Essentially, the problem was two-fold: more money being spent on the minority, and many of the majority boycotting education in protest to Apartheid. We all know this, but the picture he painted of how we got there was fascinating. It certainly opened my eyes to some things I hadn't realised. Of course, I was only born the year before the Soweto uprising, so that doesn't really surprise me.

His conclusion from this brief history tour was that the new democratic government was faced with 3 possibilities. Pour enough money into education so that the majority could be brought up to the standards of the minority (but that would mean not spending money on housing, primary health care, provision of primary services like sanitation/ electricity/ water, etc); Grow the economy dramatically (but with an entire generation having boycotted education, how would that be feasible?); Reduce the unit expenditure.

Had the government taken the strategic step of painting a picture for the nation, we might have been able to go the route of the first option. However, the ANC promised the people that they would all receive a house, electricity, water, appliances (fridges, stoves, etc) , land, etc, etc, etc. To go back on those promises would have spelt disaster.

The second option was no option, so that left the last option. The problem with this option is that it left everybody dissatisfied. It's the 1.6 rule. Let's use an analogy to explain it. Assume there are 10 children being educated. Under Apartheid, the government spent R5 on the first (white kids), R3 on the second (coloured kids), and R1 on each of the other 8 (black kids). That makes R16. Reducing unit expenditure means spreading that R16 equally between all 10 children - R1.60 each.

The first child isn't happy because you can't provide quality education to a child on just R1.60. The second child isn't happy because he fought in the Struggle, but now is getting less. The other eight children aren't happy either, because they had been promised the R5 education the first child had been getting.

So now we sit with a system where no-one is getting a decent education in South Africa. This is a problem. Why? Well, for SA to succeed, it has to deal not only with learning about what democracy is and how it operates (and that's another whole post on its own because the people living in this land have never had true democracy), but they are also faced with the 10 revolutions taking place in the world. In addition to this, we are already severely limited by the debt the Apartheid government ran up by taking loans from the national pension schemes... to the tune of R1.4 BILLION. (Trevor Manuel - we bless you for the work you have done over the past 14 years trying to repay that debt as quickly as possible!!!) AND, SA has the additional problems of TB and HIV. (I'll do a separate post on that...)

To add insult to injury, the new democratic government decided to change the curriculum. Anyone who has taught in SA will understand the debacle that Curriculum 2005 has been from a purely practical stance. e.g. No textbooks. Why? Because the politicians forgot that to teach a new curriculum you need new textbooks. (I kid you not! They simply didn't bother to budget for them.)

However, something I didn't understand about the new curriculum was explained to me today. The ANC wished to steer clear of anything that smacked of Apartheid, but with education they did the exact opposite. By changing the curriculum, they were actually sending the message that blacks, coloureds and Asians did not have the brains or the wherewithal to cope with the previous curriculum... i.e. the message they were sending was that the whites were right in thinking that the rest of the nation were inherently inferior.

OMW! Why didn't I see that before????

Instead, they should have stuck with the original curriculum (and saved themselves oodles of money that could then have been spent on raising standards in non-white schools.

But anyway, now we are sitting with a situation in which kids' literacy is amongst the worst in the world, in which education is not highly regarded, and in which we are failing to adequately prepare our youth for their future role in leading this country.

It is into this scenario that he addressed us as teachers. I have always believed that teaching is not just a job. I have always believed that what I do really matters. After today though, I see a new facet to that belief. What I do really matters, because the future of this country, and the future of the world, rests upon the quality of the education its children receive. Without a quality education, we will never develop the potential of the geniuses who will find the solutions to the revolutions currently facing us. If that doesn't happen, well, we can kiss this world goodbye.

In 50 years' time, the suburb in which I live will be under water and Table Mountain will be an island.....

...UNLESS... unless I (or my colleagues across the world) can nurture that one child who will make the scientific breakthrough that will help to not just solve the problem of climate change, but reverse it.

Education is not just central to the future of the planet. Education IS the future of the planet.


The more press the ANCYL gets, the more I have to laugh at their spokespeople. They really have the most RIDICULOUS things to say. I guess that recently (there isn't time to go into all the history) it all began with Julius Malema, ANCYL president, who commented that the ANC was not just going to win a two-thirds majority, but they were going to win a three-thirds majority.

Then, this week, Helen Zille made a comment that was unrelated to a question she had been posed regarding her appointment of an all male provincial cabinet, possibly in an attempt to deflect attention from herself. Her comment was about President Zuma (and THAT is another whole series of blog posts in itself) and his sexual conquests.

Jumping to his defense, the ANCYL made a series of ... I can only call it laughable statements about Helen Zille. The ANCYL is, apparently, "disgusted by remarks attributed to the racist girl Helen Zille, who when failing to defend her stupid and sexist decision to appoint predominantly white males into her Cabinet, attacks the president of the Republic of South Africa. Zille has appointed an all male Cabinet of useless people, majority of whom are her boyfriends and concubines so that she can continue to sleep around with them, yet she claims to have the moral authority to question our president.

OK. So, as if that wasn't ridiculous enough. This morning, on radio 702 (a Jo'burg based talk radio station)/ Cape Talk 567 (the Cape Town version of 702), an interview was held with another ANCYL spokesperson, in an attempt to clarify their statement. You can hear the podcast of the interview here, but two things that were said made me laugh:

1) According to the ANCYL: "Racist" means being someone who undermines black people.

Umm, yeah, I'm not sure in which universe that is the meaning, but last time I checked, it wasn't in this one.

2) According to the ANCYL: "Sleeping around" means sleeping around (not having sex with someone), and if you don't know what that means, then you need to look it up somewhere, because there is no other way to explain it.

OK, then. That really helped to clarify the situation. Thanks. So blue means blue, except that blue is not the colour in the spectrum that is between green and purple, and if you don't know what blue is, then you'd better find someone who can describe it to you, because there's no other language I can use to explain it to you.

In fact, the other thing that made me chuckle was that at the end of the interview the spokesperson told the interviewer to grow up when speaking about 'these matters'. OMW!! Open mouth, engage both feet.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Google Analytics

A while back one of the bloggers I followed did a post about the stats she was collecting on her blog, through some software that tracks who reads it. I thought it was interesting, so decided to do the same, signing myself up for Google's free package, called Google Analytics (GA).

Now before you all panic and think I'm out to stalk you (or something equally ridiculous), remember that most sites you visit (I'm talking non-blog sites now) track data. That's partially what cookies are used for. It's just that you're not aware of it, and so it doesn't bother you.

You'll be pleased to know that the free version of GA does protect your privacy in that it doesn't tell me who you are. It does, however, tell me what city you're from, how long you stay on my blog, and how many pages you read. If you return to my blog, it also records that data (although that is a more general piece of info - it's not linked to you specifically, just that x number of people returned y number of times).

What I was particularly interested to learn was that there are two regular readers who use a French language browser (I'm not sure whether their browser translates it for them, or whether they read it in English). What was more amazing is that they each read about 3 pages every time they visit (most people only read 1 page per time), and that they spend about 10 minutes on the blog each time they visit (most people spend less than a minute). That's incredible!!! I only know one person who might be using a French browser, and I doubt she would be taking 10 minutes to read that amount of info from my blog, so I seriously doubt it would be her.

So, all of this begs the question: if I've just described you, who are you????? What do you find so fascinating about the details of my little life that you keep returning here? Are you just using my blog to practice your English (which is fine with me), or is there something else that keeps you coming back? I'm not saying 'go away', please don't misunderstand me! I'm just intrigued that you find my musings sufficiently worthy of a return visit, so I'd like to know more about you.

I'm sure that a lot of hits are from people who are just randomly trawling through Blogger, hitting on that 'Next blog' button. I'm sure that they will never return this way. As I've only been tracking the blog for about 3 weeks now, I don't really have a lot of data to go on. Still, it is fascinating.

Amatomu is the other site I've been using to track my blog. Amatomu is primarily a site where all registered SA blogs are listed and ranked (today my ranking was 843... I don't know how many are registered, but Nellie's was ranked 2000-and-something, so I would guess quite a few) based on the number of people who read them. From Amatomu I've learnt (no surprises here) that the more I blog, the more people will visit and read my blog. I've also learnt that when I talk about deep, heavy, meaningful stuff, people stop visiting. I guess that's to be expected - folk read blogs as a distraction, a bit of fun, so reading something heavy is not their cup of tea.

From all this, I'm sure some of you will be thinking that now I'm going to start writing to my audience - targeting my writing at the style that will attract more people to my blog. I really hope I never do that. Of course, it's a temptation, but this blog is meant to be a kind of journal for me, and a kind of news bulletin for friends & family around the world, so I hope I can keep it that way.

Anyway, I really need to get to that packing now, and I am now DESPERATE for that cup of tea... so, I will detangle myself from 'Nicole world' (as G calls it), and get back to real life.

The most stressful things in life

Everyone "knows" that moving house is stressful. There's a list, which some quote (rather inaccurately, it turns out) of the most stressful events you can experience in your life. According to the list, moving house only ranks as number 30. Renovating a house, though, comes in at number 28. Being pregnant and having a baby rank as numbers 12 & 14 respectively. You can find the ordered list of the most stressful life events here. It makes for rather interesting reading, I thought.

Some people suggest that when calculating your stress score you should consider events during the past 2 years; others recommend only including events from the past year. A score of less than 149 indicates low stress. Medium stress is indicated by a score from 150-299, while severe stress is any score over 300. I was surprised to find that my score (based only on the last year) is 235. If I include events over the past 2 years (i.e. Zoe's death, and moving back to SA), then my score is 417. Hmm.... so either I am very stressed, or I only have a moderate amount of stress. That's rather helpful. Not. Since I'm trying to keep positive, I think I'll go with the lower score.

Of course, the more stressed one is, the more susceptible one is to illness. Thus far, despite Nellie being ill and despite the a significant percentage of the staff being ill, I've managed to remain relatively healthy. Today, though, I caught myself starting to cough. I was rather alarmed but tried to put it down to a mild asthmatic/ allergic reaction to something I ate. By the end of a half day though, I was already exhausted and tiredness is usually my first cold/ flu symptom. Given the number of meetings and decisions I had to make in the afternoon, I'm feeling shattered now. Hopefully I'm just doing too much. Hopefully I'm not actually getting sick.

Before I can hit the sack though, I've set myself the task of packing the baby clothes and Nellie's currently unused clothing. Either that, or give up by 9pm, whichever comes first. But first - tea!!! Tea is the cure-all and perk-me-up I need. Care to join me for a cuppa?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Is this it?

Over the past few weeks, I've been having a lot of Braxton Hicks contractions (these are "practice" contractions to prepare the uterus). Then, last week, I had none. Suddenly, today, it's like WW3. I've been SO uncomfortable and my uterus has been rock hard most of the day. Of course, there are several consequences of this:

1) Baby boy has been uncomfortable, so has been kicking me a lot. (No paranoia today, as a result of that!)

2) I can't bend at all, not even slightly, without feeling extremely uncomfortable and sore.
3) I have had serious indigestion all day.

While on the one hand, all this is actually good news, I am slightly perturbed by it. The reason being that this is the pattern both previous pregnancies have followed... with the result that during my 33rd week I have gone into labour.

So... week 33 starts on Wed and my uterus is irritable. Hmm.... does this mean what I think it means??????

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Before you all get the idea from my previous post this afternoon that I'm completely morose, borderline schizo and had a horrible, horrible day, let me say that I am none of those things. Paranoid, yes. But I had a good day - despite the fact that it wasn't what I was expecting. It was a good day because my husband made me pancakes, my children hugged me, I got to hug my mother, and I got to be Mommy to my sick baby girl.

I've mentioned before that as a result of this pregnancy I've been contemplating motherhood. No-one can ever explain to you how being a mother forever changes you. I mean, they can try, but nothing can really prepare you. Becoming a *good* mother demands sacrifice, and let's be honest - who amongst us really likes sacrifice?

When I see first-time mothers, pregnant and scared, or women without kids terrified by the prospect of having kids and how it will change them, I can't help but gush. Yes, there is a price to pay, and yes, it is a high one, but oh my word it is SO worth it! That's the only reason I was prepared to try for a baby again. I know that there's a very high probability we will lose this baby and my heart will be broken again. I know that, but I'm willing to try. Why? Because having kids is the biggest and most incredible privilege in the world. While I absolutely want to honour my own mother for her sacrifice, part of me feels that on Mother's Day mothers should be the one saying thank you to their kids, not the other way around. Thank you for being my baby. Thank you for allowing me to be your Mommy. Thank you for the joy you bring into my life. Thank you for the lessons you have taught me. Thank you for thinking so highly of me, even when I screw up so regularly.

My favourite things about being a Mommy? Like Browning, I want to respond... "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways..."

I love the smell of my baby's head (even now she's a little girl).
I love the feel of her skin.
I love the shape of her face.
I love the feel of her little body hugging me.
I love the weight of her head resting on my shoulder.
I love the way she calls me when she's really in need - cut her finger, or bumped herself.
I love that sometimes she wants Mommy to wash/ carry/ feed/ help her.
I love the way she plays with her father.
I love the sound of her giggles.
I love the way she copies the adults who care for her.
I love the way she plays with her dogs.
I love her excitement about the world around her.
I love her curiosity about life.
I love her expressions of delight - squealing and jumping and clapping her hands.
I love that she is developing a sense of humour.
I love the way she lies in bed when she sleeps.
I love that she knows the difference between pretend and real.
I love that she is still (mostly) predictable.
I love watching her develop new skills and show unfettered pride in them.
I love her generous spirit.
I love that her nails are always dirty (it means she's been playing outside).
I love that she loves me, that she wants me to reassure her that I am *her* Mommy.

And loving her as I do, I can't but help be so grateful for her presence in my life. The price to pay for that privilege is high, but I'm very willing to pay it, and to go on paying it for the rest of my life. Sometimes I think that letting your kids go must be the most painful price to pay, but also the greatest joy as you accomplish your goal of raising healthy, responsible, mature adults.

A blogger friend wrote this poem for Mother's Day, and I think it's rather apt:

You were costly,
but we paid the price

You were carved from
our bone
fattened by our
very marrow
leeched out from
our souls.

You were costly
but we paid the price
knowing no certainty

We bore you up
on aching arms
shifted weight from
foot to foot

stood breaking-back
over cribside dark
stroking cheeks
with worried look.

You were costly
but we paid the price

You bruised our limbs
and splintered toys
pierced ears with
raucous shrieking noise
soaked our shoulders
with soundless

You were costly
but we paid the price

begging to be put to the
to be granted this risk
to hold heaven
to touch bliss

And in His abundance
He sold pricelessness
for cheap

needing nothing
but wanting all
gave us everything
gave us you.

You were costly
but we paid the price
vouchsafed by our love
secured with our lives

we paid the price

Mother's Day with all my children

As the 33 week mark draws near (Wed), I'm finding myself panicking at least once a day, often more. Fortunately though, every time I do start to panic, within a few moments, baby boy responds by moving and I can breathe a sigh of relief.

I had a wonderful moment this morning, followed by a moment of sheer panic. Nellie came for a snuggle in bed this morning before G got up to make me pancakes in bed (he has NEVER made me pancakes before!). As she and I were cuddling, I suddenly became aware of baby boy being part of that hug, and then of Zoe on my other side. It was such a warm, happy feeling - all my children with me, all happy, all loving me. I wish I could have bottled that moment; it was so precious.

A few moments later though I wondered to myself whether the reason that I felt Zoe's presence was because baby boy won't be with me much longer, and God wanted to give me at least one special moment with all my kids together. Cue panic.

People keep telling me to be positive, to trust that all will be well. While I appreciate they're trying to help, I wish they'd say nothing. I am trying to be positive, but however positive I am, that makes no difference to whether this baby will live or die. That decision is entirely up to God, and no matter how positive I try to be, it's a decision that is out of my hands. I was terribly optimistic about Zoe, because she'd managed to stay put till week 37; because the scan on the Wed showed that all was well with her and me. Look at how that positivity turned out.

I will treasure that moment this morning for a long time, but doing so does not alleviate my fear and paranoia. I'm getting to the stage where I want to have a monitoring belt permanently attached. If this baby is going to die, there will be no warning, no indications. He will be here one moment, and gone the next, but I want to know when that moment will be. There is no way to prevent it (other than what I am currently doing in terms of taking my meds), and therefore there is no way to reduce my fear.

Trust in God, everyone says. Hmm... trust in him to do what, exactly? Keep this baby alive? I don't know why God decided not to let Zoe live, so I have no idea whether he might make the same decision with this baby, or not. I am in completely uncharted waters here. While I trust in God to do whatever is best, I have next to no faith that he won't make the same decision again, that him choosing not to let this baby live is what is best. So how exactly do you want me to trust in God? God is sovereign. If he chooses to take this baby, or if he chooses to let him live, the extent to which I trust him is not going to change the outcome. All I can trust is that God is faithful. If he does take this baby, then he will help me cope; he will get me through it, eventually. I'm not sure how, but I trust he will. That trust, though, does not alleviate my fear that God's plan is to take this baby.

I guess that knowledge made that moment this morning all the more precious. If he is going to take this baby, then at least, for that one moment, I had all my children with me, and what better day on which to have it than Mother's Day.

So I'm grateful, even though the thought that that may have been the last moment on this earth that my children were all together scares me witless. Small mercies...

As for the rest of the day, well, it was nice, but nothing spectacular. I didn't feel particularly treasured, or appreciated. Nellie is ill - she's going to the doc tomorrow to get something. She's been ill for about 2 weeks now, but was getting better last week. Then, suddenly, yesterday, she developed a fever. Today, she was completely lethargic... quite scarily so. At one point I was ready to rush off to ER with her.

The time we had with my mom she was asleep (she slept from about noon until about 3pm!) and I was constantly keeping an ear out for her to wake or cry, and worrying that she'd hardly eaten or drunk a thing all day (up till that point) and wondering whether she was getting dehydrated. (A mother's lot in life, I guess!) The time we had with G's family I spent entertaining her and so not interacting with anyone else. I'm not complaining about that - I loved the hugs and cuddles and snuggles... but having to remind/ harass others to get me stuff to eat/ drink or fetch my bag, etc because I couldn't get up, and not having a decent conversation with any of his family for 2 hours, well... that wasn't really how I envisaged mother's day....

So, now I'm off to bath my baby and get her into bed. Then I'm off to bed myself. Sleep cures a million ills, I figure!

Thursday, May 07, 2009


The number of days till I teach grade 11 again.

Grade 11

Home again, home again, jiggedy jig

So the countdown continues... only another week to go until we move into our 'new' home. I can't believe that it's almost done! There is still a fair amount to do, but it's all under control, and I think we're going to make it.

Of course, now that exams are almost upon us (they start on Monday), I've lost all enthusiasm for school. All I can think about are the things that are still on my to-do list. I'd much rather be running (OK, walking) around town getting stuff than babysitting classes (which is what it feels like at the moment). The kids aren't interested in revision, and we've finished the work. I simply don't have the energy at the moment to push them to do the revision work I've planned, which doesn't help matters either.

I have to say I was a bit disappointed today by my best class... not a single person in the class thought to give me a farewell/ good luck card.... It's not that I expect stuff from them, but I did think that if I was going to get anything, it would come from someone in this class because they are usually the nicest, most thoughtful bunch I teach, and have shown the most interest in the pregnancy. I guess the values my mother taught me aren't in operation anymore... you know - like thanking your teachers at the end of the term and giving them presents at the end of the year... Sigh!

Still, several of them DID make an effort to wish me luck, and genuinely so. Some even went so far as to work out how many days till my return. I'll post the photo I took later.

I was quite shocked in assembly, when the principal was saying farewell/ good luck to another pregnant fairy and me. His comment was: I'm sure you've seen the changes in Ms X and Ms Y, and I don't just mean physically. EXCUUUUUUSE me????? I mean, it was funny, and I laughed, but what exactly was he trying to imply? That I've got cranky? That I'm hormonal?

Fair enough, I do have serious preggy brain.... On Monday I was completing a departmental form, and I managed to mark myself down as being male. Umm... yup. Apparently, some part of my brain thinks that by having a baby growing in my uterus, I qualify as being male.

But that's besides the point!

Anyway, back to the moving story. I'm actually starting to get excited about it. Of course, it's going to drive me insane, because I'm anal and I like everything to be sorted out yesterday. Of course, it's going to take me days (if not weeks) to sort the house out, and until I do, I'm going to be cranky. Sigh! I am seriously high maintenance in this regard. Maybe I should apologise to G now, and buy him a present of some sort, to make up for how miserable I'm going to be to live with following the move.

The thing that really worries me though, is not whether or not the alarm system will be installed by then, or whether or not the burglar bars will be in, or whether or not the cupboards will be finished. No, the thing that REALLY worries me is whether or not our internet connection transfer will happen smoothly. Being without internet... being without email and FB and Twitter and Google Reader and all my cyber friends???? Inconceivable! Everything else is small fry by comparison. I can handle everything else, just don't take my internet from me!!!!!

The other minor worry (as far as everyone else is concerned, but not me) is that this move will trigger labour. Hmm.... well, if it does, good. That way, I can go on maternity leave early (I already wish I was on leave) AND I don't have to do all the exam marking which is the bane of my existence. PLUS I get the bonus of knowing that this little man will be alive and out of me (which must be safer than still in me and possibly dead). As much as I don't fear that, I hope it doesn't happen though. I really do feel I ought to finish well, and get my marking done. (Ja, I'm far too loyal and hardworking for my own good.) I also really want that week of no work to try and relax and sleep before the sleepless nights set in.

Speaking of which... I need to go and finish some marking and then head to bed. Had another insomnia attack early this morning, so I'm feeling rather a bit exhausted this evening.

Monday, May 04, 2009


I've been tweeting about various people I know who are ill and thought I ought to say something here about one of them in particular.

Yolandi is a work colleague who is almost at death's door. As it happens, this wonderful lady and I are also at the same church and in the same cell group. She has leukemia. When she was first diagnosed she was told that she had a mild form and could take oral chemo. A few months down the line, when she went in for a routine blood test, she was told that her cancer had gone to 'blast' stage (which is stage 3, I think) and that she would have to be admitted immediately. She first had a line put into her heart, since the chemo they planned to give her was so strong it would make her veins in her arms bleed. Then they started her on this intensive, 24-hr a day for 8 days regime. At the end of that, she had to have 3 blood transfusions.

The plan was that she would go home for 3 weeks, then repeat the cycle, until such time as a bone marrow donor could be found. (Thus far, none of her relatives are a match, and there is no suitable match on the bone marrow donor list in SA.) However, she was home for less than 24hrs when she contracted a bacterial infection in her blood and was immediately admitted to ICU. She has had another blood transfusion since being in ICU. She is not allowed to continue with the chemo until the infection has passed. She is also not allowed any visitors, to prevent further infection. She's been in ICU for more than week now, with only a very slight improvement in her condition.

Her husband is starting to think that the reality is that she is going to die. He wants to contact various hospices to get someone to come and talk to them both about that possibility.

Apart from the fact that she is such a lovely lady, what really upsets me is that she has 2 young girls - 8 and 10yrs old. No child should have to grow up without their mother, but particularly not kids that young.

If you're the praying type, please pray for Yolandi and her family. However, there is something that all of you can do - particularly if you live in SA: please go and be tested as a bone marrow donor. The cost is R300. All it involves is a blood test. The donation of bone marrow is also very straight forward these days. It basically involves taking some hormones the day before to make your bones release the stem cells they need, and then putting your blood through a dialysis machine to remove them. It doesn't involve the old invasive procedures of needles sucking stuff out of your bones. It's just a needle in each arm for your blood to be taken out and returned to your body. You will probably need to be in hospital for 2 days, because you will be at risk of getting an infection afterwards (low white blood cells count). If you want more info, then have a look at this site: The Sunflower Trust.

I hope and pray that a donor is found. I hope and pray that it isn't already too late for Yolandi if one is found.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Let's play catch-up

I haven't posted anything significant for a while... partly because I've been too busy, partly because I've been feeling really down. (As a result, I've noticed that the number of reads/ hits I've been getting has decreased.) So it feels like I haven't talked about stuff for ages... Let's play catch-up.

Building work: basically done. Cupboards start going in on Monday. Painting (internal) has started; external will start in the next fortnight as soon as there's no threat of rain to wet the plaster. Bathroom is basically finished (shower doors still need to go on, and we need to choose tiles for the shower floor). Carpeting & under floor heating - we've got one more quote to come in on Monday, then we make the decision. The outstanding things of importance are the fences, alarm and burglar bars. Yeuch! This is the part I hate. Anyway, the result is that we should be set to move in in about a fortnight. YIKES!! We have to start packing........

School: one more week full time, then onto half days till the end of May. Thank God because I don't think I can handle much more. My gynae says I walk like someone who is already full term (39/40 weeks), and I'm only 31 weeks. I am SO SORE all the time... I just keep reminding myself that we only have 5 weeks to go till the induction. As always, I have a PILE of marking to do, but my exam papers are all done - which is a huge relief.

Baby: At Thursday's scan he was doing well - now weighs 1.8kg (which is normal for 31 weeks) and had a good heart beat. He's kicking well at the moment too - he seems to take great pleasure in reminding me that he's doing well every time I get up in the night to wee. As soon as I'm back in bed, he spends about 3 minutes kicking the living daylights out of me. Last night was so bad I not only had to press on him to save myself from crying out, but I contemplated getting up and walking around to rock him back to sleep!

Of course, what keeps running through my head is that all of this means nothing. Zoe was exactly the same, and 24hrs later was dead. It could happen again. Having this amazing reminder that he's fine at the moment does not mean he won't be dead in 24hrs. So, yup, I'm finding myself getting more paranoid by the day.

Today was my baby shower, which was fantastic. I was blown away by the number of people who made it on a long weekend, and I was blown away by their generosity towards us. But I can't help thinking that I really hope and pray I'm not going to have to deal with all these presents if he dies between now and his birth. I'm getting more and more excited about meeting him, and more and more worried that it'll be a repeat of Zoe. For that reason, I'm so glad we have a doppler that is working now! It's such a relief to know it's there. I wish I'd taken a photo of all the pressies before I packed them away/ put them in the wash. Maybe tomorrow I'll take them all out and take a photo anyway.

The family: Things with G are going so much better. One of the positive effects of this friend of mine having cancer and being in ICU, and of my cousin suddenly announcing that her hubbie wants a divorce, is that it's made me start demonstrating what I feel for G more overtly. It's reminded me that life is short and that you can't take people for granted.

J has also been mostly an angel recently. She's got a nasty cough, so has been rather... um... well... grouchy and whiny. But inbetween her grouchiness, she has been such an angel. She really is growing up now, and can be reasoned with. It's such a blessing to have such a wonderful little girl in the house, even when she's screaming blue murder because she wants MOMMY to wash her and not Daddy! She's also getting very excited about her baby brother. She keeps asking when he's going to arrive, and told me yesterday she wants TWO brothers - just like Johari (a friend from nursery whose mom gave birth to twins). Both Dad and I told her she was lucky to be getting one brother, and to count her blessings. I don't think she understood that, so got a bit sulky about the whole thing. Ag shame!

And then there's the nesting instinct. Bizarrely, this evening, I got the urge to sort out my wrapping papers!!! I mean, HELLO????!?!?!! Ja, kid you not. Of all the things that needed doing, that really was not a priority, but I got this sudden and desperate urge to do it. I can only hope that does not mean this baby is about to arrive. My step-sister was joking today that 2 days after our move, he'll be here. I really, really, really, really hope that's not the case.

Speaking of whom - great news is that the doctors finally have a diagnosis of what is ailing her. Only took them 5 months to figure it out, during which time she came dangerously close to dying on several occasions. Now, the next step is to figure out what treatment she's going to take, or what meds, because this will possibly be a life-long thing for her. But thank God we now know what's wrong, and thank God it is treatable!

So - in a nutshell, that's my life.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Prof Ed Rybicki

What a great man! He's the parent of a kid I teach, and just happens to be a prof in virology at UCT. So, of course, I asked him to come and speak to our Gd 11s about viruses, since that's in their syllabus for the year.

He's a great speaker, plus it was just fantastic being able to hear first hand about current research in viruses (and some about bacteria). For example, did you realise that you have more bacteria cells in and on your body than all your other cells put together? Did you realise that it is possible to make nano-batteries from viruses?

Prof Rybicki also spent some time talking about swine flu, and it was SO nice to hear some sense being talked for once, instead of all this media hype about how we're all going to die. Prophets of doom seldom speak the truth. While there's no doubt that swine flu is vicious, it's nice to know that we actually don't need to panic, or run around like headless chickens thinking the end of the world is nigh.

He has a blog, in case anyone is interested, about all things viral.... Viroblogy.

Go on - I dare you: interpret this dream!

As some of you know, I dream in glorious technicolour and surround sound, but my dreams are always.... a little off the wall, crazy, weird, bizarre, insane. This past week, I overheard a brief interview on radio with a dream therapist, and it got me thinking again about interpreting some of the stuff I dream (I should actually use my dreams to write a book - no end of really great story lines that would keep readers guessing till the final pages!).

So, go on, I dare you! Have a go at interpreting this one...

G and I have hired a black taxi* driven by a WHITE guy in order to run some errands. We're sitting in the front, with the driver. Nellie is in the back, with another family member (who keeps switching from one of my brothers to one of G's). There is no dashboard, and no front to the taxi. Every time the driver brakes, particularly when he brakes hard (which is most of the time) I (and sometimes both G and I) fall out the front of the van. Usually I manage to hang on to the two sides of the car to stop myself being scraped on the ground or going under the van. Usually G manages to lean over, grab hold of my clothing and pull me back in immediately.

Of course, this dream makes no rational sense:

1) I would never travel in a black taxi. Firstly, I have a car, and if I need a car there are hoards of relatives I could borrow a car from. Secondly, they are just WAY too dangerous & I love my life too much (selfish individual that I am).

2) I would absolutely NEVER put Janel in one!

3) This one is driven by a white guy - something I have not yet seen in real life.

4) But the most ridiculous fact is that this one has no front. In no universe would I EVER get into the FRONT of a vehicle driven by a maniac like that when it had no front, and even more so, if I were enough of a lunatic to do that, I would not get in and FAIL to wear a seat-belt.

So, go on - give it your best shot. What's going on in my head???

*In SA a black taxi is a white MPV van that can legally carry 10 adults but frequently takes at least 16, with a gatje (a guy who sits and calls the route or destination out of the window and takes your money when you get in), is usually unroadworthy, driven by a guy with no licence, and who therefore never obeys any of the rules of the road.