Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hello, Readers

Just wanted to say hi to the readers from....

Greenpoint, CT
Kensington, JHB
Horsham, UK
Barcelona, Spain
Alpharetta, (Atlanta) USA
Beltsville, (Maryland) USA

Thanks for stopping by today. Even if you're just lurking and don't comment, it's nice to know you're out there.

Do you?

Every night we pray with Nellie before she goes to sleep. While I don't think she yet understands that we're actually talking to Jesus, she loves the routine of it. We do the 'Thank you, sorry, please' routine. And every night it goes something like this:

Me: What do you want to thank Jesus for tonight?
Nellie: Leo, Tigger, Barney, Bessie, Bears, Safira10 Magenta Penguin, my curtains, my pictures that Daddy put up.
Me: Anything else?
Nellie: No.

Every night. Without fail. Same list. Same order. She's had the same list (up to Safira10) since we started praying with her - MONTHS ago, maybe a year or more now. In the event of there being something to add, it's added at the end and nothing it taken away.

Every night I have a huge mental sigh waiting for her to get the list out. Every night I have to bite my tongue from rushing her through it. Yes, yes, I think to myself. LeoTiggerBarneyBessieBears..... get on with it!!

But tonight, as I was waiting for her to say the list, I found myself wondering why she has the same list. Why does she feel the need to continually thank Jesus for the same things, over and over again? I think Jesus gets it. I think he understands how grateful she is.

Then I remembered something someone said to me earlier this week at cell group about thanksgiving. In talking about prayer, this person had heard someone else tell about his journey. Gentleman X kept a diary of how long it took God to answer his prayers. Then he started an experiment and thanked God for as long as it took for God to answer. So, if it took 3 months for his prayer to be answered, he would go on thanking God for the reply for 3 months after it was answered. (Interestingly, Gentleman X noted that after starting this experiment the average time it took for his prayers to be answered decreased.)

The point was made that we're so quick to get upset when God takes his time in answering, but when he does, we're also quick to forget the answer. Surely we should take better stock of the answers to prayer we receive by thanking God a bit more often and consciously?

Maybe Janel has a point. Leo is very, very precious to her, therefore she goes on thanking God for him - thankful that he hasn't been lost, or broken, or hidden away by Mommy/ Daddy. Tigger is another sleep partner who keeps her safe from falling out of the bed (he lies between her and her sleep guard/ gate). Maybe she goes on thanking God for him because he's a special gift from Granny. Maybe she just appreciates how fortunate she is to have all this stuff - new curtains, toys, pretty pictures.*

Certainly, there is a lesson for me in there. Although I am extremely grateful for my children, surely of far more value than toys and haberdashery, and although I do thank God for them, do I thank him daily for them? Do I thank him daily for the roof over my head, the food in my cupboards, the clothes on my back, my job, my car, for all the gazillion things I have benefited from as a result of being white during Apartheid?

Do I count my blessings daily and thank God for them? Do you?

*Then again, maybe she just likes the routine, like brushing her teeth and eating her vitamins in the morning, without thinking deeply about them all, without understanding that prayer is a conversation with her Creator. Who knows what she really thinks?! It doesn't really matter though - the lesson remains.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dialling it down, and up.

Cell phones. What miracles! I LOVE my phone. Can't live without it. When I can't get onto FB* via my computer, I can at least still get some access via my beautiful, wonderful phone. I can tweet from my phone. (OH! How do I love thee, Twitter... let me count the ways...) I can blog from my phone. I can listen to FM radio on my phone (but not CapeTalk... darn it! I need an AM radio phone too). I can chat to my students on MXit and give them help after hours. I can email from my phone. I can even, oh yes - now I remember why I bought it! - take photos and videos with my phone. I love my phone.

For the longest time, I've been trying to convince our principal to remove the ban on phones by trying to convince him of their educational value. (While he agrees they MAY have value educationally, we're agreed that the safety of our kids is of greater importance. At the start of this year a girl was mugged at gun point right outside the school gates for her phone. This is not an isolated incident... it happens with astonishing regularity - at least once or twice a year, if not once a term.) Phones can be used to create podcasts, or video clips. They can be used to check out things on Google Earth. They can be used to inspire and capture a disenfranchised 'audience' through creating competitions. They can be used for research/ data capture purposes (sms 5 people you think might know the answer - how many actually did?) They can be used to access special cell phone applications, like the SA designed Maths help programme (real time help and support via MXit). They can be used to help kids summarise information and check learning (can you explain this concept to me in one sms?). The list is only as long as your ability to be innovative and creative. From a school perspective, phones can be fantastic.

Have I mentioned recently how much I love cell phones?

(I will be the first to admit that all things are good in moderation. Cell phones in live performances or movies - NOT good. Cell phones in libraries - NOT good. Cell phones used for bullying purposes at school - definitely NOT good.)

So imagine my joy to discover that phones are also helping to dial down the cost of food! I kid you not. Having a cell phone reduces the cost of your food. Don't believe me? Then check this out... Go on. I'll wait while you read it and come back here. Seriously. Go read it.

Now doesn't that just make the most incredible sense? I LOVE my phone! (as long as it's working!)

And how did I find out about this? Twitter**, of course. (Where else would I get all my news from these days? I certainly don't have time to sit and watch TV when I'm so busy blogging, etc!) Dial it up!
* FB = FaceBook

**People say that Twitter is just a fad, or that they don't see the point of Twitter. For me this is just one of countless examples of how twitter is revolutionising the world we live in. I don't have time to read all the (decent) newspapers out there. I don't have time to keep up to date with local, national and international news, let alone keep up with the research in my field or in the other fields I'm interested in, or even with the recreational stuff like the latest movies. (Some great person once said: of the making of books there will be no end, and much study wearies the body. Hmm... could that be from the Bible?!?!?! OMW, I just think it could be!) The way I do it, is through Twitter. Twitter gives me one-liners about all of those things. I can then read them all in about 1 min, and choose which ones to read more about. That way, I know a little about everything, and everything about a few things. (Ja, I'm wending my way to wisdom and greatness!)

Paying it forwards, or upwards?

It's every mother's nightmare - a baby that just won't stop crying. I never thought it would be mine. I guess I should have anticipated it. After all, one doesn't get to give one's own mother hell and then expect not to receive payment in kind. This must be a weird kid of paying it forward scheme.

Yup, I apparently gave my poor mother so much grief with my colic that not only did she wind up drinking my gripe water (which in those days contained alcohol), but she also threatened to throw me out of the first floor window. Sorry, Mom!! I still love you - you know that, right?

And now it's my turn. Again. I thought Nellie's colic was pay-back enough. Apparently not. Apparently both my children have seen fit to give me hell as pay-back for what I did to my mother. But, unfortunately for Nate, this time around I am older and wiser. I gave him 7 weeks to get over himself. I held him upright during feeding, slept with him on my chest, rocked him, patted him, sang to him, shushed him, bounced him, jiggled him, pushed him in his pram, drove him around in the car. Nothing worked. So, I gave him drugs. No joy. Then I gave him alcohol. That worked, as a short term solution. Then I gave him more drugs (since the first ones weren't working)... which also didn't really help.

After being awake for 8 hours (2.30am - noon, bar 2 hrs from 5-7am), I eventually decided to pull out the big guns, the mother-load cure-all. I took him to see a chiropractor.

Now some people don't do 'alternative therapies'. Me? I love them, but only after I've tried the conventional stuff. I actually wanted to take him to BSR (Body Stress Release), but hubby has a generous dose of scepticism. Of course, the fact that BSR has helped (and continues to help) me prevent my sciatica from returning when physio, chiropractics and acupuncture failed, doesn't seem to feature in his decision. Anyway!

Of course, being me, once I've decided that this is what I'm going to do, I want an appointment YESTERDAY already. And of course, no-one can accommodate me. Eventually, I turn on the waterworks (or rather, I couldn't stop myself from crying out of desperation, if truth be told) and basically beg for one. It works, and we got an appointment yesterday... but it's all the way past the Boerewors curtain, so the trip there and back is about 3 times the length of the actual treatment itself. The things we do for love ...

... and peace and sanity and sleep... let's not kid ourselves that this is entirely for Nate. Oh no! This is for me too. I want to sleep again. I NEEEED to sleep again.

So off we go to the chiropractor. I was worried that Nate would suddenly become an angel, and she would think I was imagining it. I needed have worried. Nope. The poor kid screamed his way through the entire session. Well done, my boy! Protect your mother's image!

Apparently, his spine is 'very tight'. As a biologist, I thought it was a good thing that your vertebrae held on tightly to one another. You know - protect the spinal cord and spinal nerves, and all that. But there is tight, and 'very tight', apparently. The former is good. The latter, not so much.

So has it worked, I hear you ask? Hmm... if you call sleeping an improvement, then yes, I think it has. Of course, we have at least one more session to go. (I'm thinking about how Jesus healed the blind man in stages...) But at least he's sleeping. He is still vomiting up milk, he still has reflux, he's still a bit constipated - but at least he's now sleeping again, and not just sleeping, but actually sleeping in his own bed (and not on my chest/ in the sling/ on Priscilla's back).

If we've gone from no sleep to sleep in one session, what, I wonder, will tomorrow's session hold for us????

Monday, July 27, 2009

Who needs locks to childproof a home?!

My sister-in-law sent me this video clip via email. It was just too cute not to share. I have no idea where it comes from, so apologies to whoever owns it that I can't acknowledge you properly. (If anyone knows whose it is, please let me know so that I can do so.)

Then, when I tried to upload it from my computer, it crashed. So, now I've embedded it from YouTube. Sigh! Anyway, at least you can get to enjoy it.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Waking faces

Inspired by my sister-in-law's collage of her baby waking up, I decided to take a few shots of Nathan as he woke. Starting top left with him asleep and finishing bottom right with him awake.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Of bikes and impossibilities

Remember how, when you were little, older relatives (notice I didn't say 'old'? Sure, they seemed old to you then, but you're probably their age now and don't feel old - I know I don't - so I thought I'd be generous.) were forever commenting on how fast you were growing? The awful ones would always grab your cheeks, or pat you on the head. When you have kids around you, not necessarily your own, you begin to understand why. They really DO grow up fast.

Take Nellie. (Not literally. I will have to bring out the double barrel shotgun if you do.) Only 5 weeks ago she got a pedal-less bicycle (also known as a run bike or balance bike). In part this was a diversion from Nathan's homecoming. In part it was something we'd been planning to get her for ages to help her gross motor development (which is lacking... more on that some other time). 6 weeks ago she was only able to walk a few paces with it before falling over. Today, she amazed me with her improved balance.

"Mommy, look at meeee!' she called. I looked up. Racing away from me, down the road, Nellie was at first pushing her bike with alternate feet, then with both feet together, and then suddenly, she had both feet off the ground and was coasting down the road. She managed to keep her balance for several long seconds before the road came to an end in a neighbour's driveway and she had to turn back. Amazingly, she navigated the turn without stopping (although she did put her feet down again) and without falling off her bike and splitting her lip (as happened a few weeks back).

She's gone from being awkward on this big girls' bike and preferring her old black bike, to being completely confident and having lost interest in all her old bikes. Who could blame her? This bike is far more exciting! She feels like a big girl, not a little baby. She can go as fast as she can push herself and feel like she's flying, instead of being tied to the ground on her bulky black bike. Plus it has very cool pink handle bar grips! (Every little girl dreams about having pink handle bar grips.)

I can't begin to explain how proud I was of her in that moment. It didn't even occur to me then that she's passed another milestone. It never occurred to me then that this is just one more step on the road to independence. I was just so proud of her achieving something she'd found impossible only 5 weeks ago.

Of course, now, reflecting on it, it strikes me that the more independent she becomes, the further she will slip from me. That's the way it's meant to be - the purpose of parenting is to make yourself redundant. Yet I know instinctively that I will suffer horribly from empty nest syndrome. While I will cherish the time to do my own thing - read books, garden, walk, whatever - I know that when I get there, I would gladly give it all up to have my baby girl back again.

So instead, I'm going to work really, really hard at enjoying every moment like the one we shared today. Feel free to keep reminding about this. Right now I have the memory of a sieve.

Now, what was I doing a moment ago?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

When is stealing not stealing?

When you're just taking something because you don't have the money to pay for it.


At least, that's the reasoning of some folk in the Western Cape. They don't have money to pay for food, so they went to Pick 'n Pay and just took it. After all, they argue, the government should institute a policy of giving R1500 to every single unemployed person so they could have enough money to feed their families. And since they don't, well, these folk will take the law into their own hands and just take what they need. It's not stealing though.

Of course, I'm not sure I could tell the difference between stealing and taking stuff that doesn't belong to you because you don't have the money to pay for it.

It's a bit like Julius Malema's comment that "sleeping around" is not having sex, or maybe it is, but he's not telling us what it means.

While I think this country has tons of potential, and while I believe that the majority of people (in the Western Cape - I can't vouch for the rest of the country given the overwhelming support Malema seems to enjoy) are reasonable, rational, logical human beings, it's events like this that make me wonder where we're heading as a country.

When I taught in the UK I learnt that many adults NEVER develop logical, rational thought. They simply are incapable of formal concrete thinking. While in SA I had never come across this phenomenon because of the sheltered existence I led. In the UK, however, one is not protected in the same way unless one's parents and family are royalty or stinking rich multimillionaires.

On my return to SA, I couldn't believe some of the things happening. I mean, surely anyone with half a brain would refuse to listen to the Julius Malemas of the world? Surely they could see his ignorance and bluster and realise that he's not fit to be anyone's leader? It's like a re-run of Mbeki's "AIDS isn't caused by HIV" statements.

Apparently though, the reason that idiots get into power is because there are hundreds of other idiots who are even more idiotic than them. Like the twits who stole food from Pick 'n Pay today (or was it yesterday? my brain is so fuzzy from tiredness I've lost track of the days...). Anyone who reasons that today isn't actually the 23rd July, but is the 23rd July instead, needs their head read.

So folks - if you want that flat screen TV, or that DVD-r, or Wii, or whatever, and you don't have the money to pay for it, well, that's fine. Just walk into your friendly electronics store and take it. After all, you're not stealing it; you're just taking it because you don't have the money to pay for it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Joy and tears

I knew he was big, large even, but when presented with the evidence of his actual size, I must say I was shocked. Shocked, and pleased. That's my boy, I thought!

Yes, despite all his reflux issues, he's grow 2cm in length already, and he's now 5.1kg. That puts him on the 75th percentile, more or less. What a big boy!!

With every joy though, comes a hurt. Several months back now, a friend blogged about something she realised with her little boy when he reached about 6 months (I think it was around then). He has Rubinstein-Taybi, which is a rare genetic disorder. The upshot of that is that his development is greatly delayed. In some cases, he may never develop properly. Anyway, at around 6 months (or was it 4?) he suddenly started doing what most newborns do around 6 weeks. She blogged about how she suddenly realised why she'd been feeling so depressed and disconnected from her son. She realised that smiling, making eye contact and cooing facilitate the bonding process. If your baby smiles at you, you can't but help smile back and your love for them grows. When they don't connect with you in any way, it's very difficult to continue to feel love for them.

While chatting to our paediatrician today, it struck me that Nathan hasn't yet smiled, or cooed. I know it's early days, and this means nothing in the greater scheme of things, yet it upset me. I realised that I've often thought (and sometimes commented) on my friends' photos of their babies how happy they seem, how sweet their smile is, etc. Their babies are around the same age as Nathan. My poor boy is either asleep, feeding, or crying. He never just lies and looks around at his environment. He has yet to smile at me (or anyone else). He has yet to start making any sound other than a cry. This depresses me. It also makes me realise how difficult it is caring for someone who can't respond in a positive way. I've only been at this for 6 weeks. I can't imagine how Matt's mom coped for all those months. I guess you do because you have to, but that doesn't make it any easier. I can't wait to see Nate's face light up with joy, or pleasure of any sort. It makes me so sad that thus far his waking life has only been filled with pain.

But this too shall pass. He will recover. He will know happiness and joy. He will smile and laugh and giggle. I just hope and pray that this very painful start to life doesn't mean he will be a more serious child, less prone to laughing. I want him to be a happy-go-lucky kind of child, but I fear that isn't going to be the case.

(And of course, because I'm who I am, and because I'm his mother, I feel guilty as if this is all my fault, because really, I feel like it is. I feel that if I were someone who laughed more easily he would be too, that we could have avoided all this reflux and colic... and yes, subconsciously there is a part of me that believes all his issues are a direct result of the stress I was under while I was pregnant with him and during labour.)

A friend suggested I take him to a chiropractor. The paed has asked that I wait a week, to see whether the medication will help, or to what extent the medication will help. I don't know what to do - I just want my little boy to be pain free, to be able to sleep without disturbance, to be able to have the energy to interact with me or Graeme or Nellie and with his environment, to be free to grow into all that he can be.

Monday, July 20, 2009

TBG: The secret (or maybe not-so-secret-anymore) celebrity

I've recently started reading a Cape Town blogger Seth ( It's a site all about Cape Town stuff. If you're looking for deep, meaningful, insightful stuff, then it's not the site for you. (If you want that, then you should be reading the Mail and Guardian's ThoughtLeader blog. Lots to chew on there!) No, rather, this is typically student culture kind of stuff. But it's local, and as everyone knows - local is lekka.

So anyway, I've just come across the most bizarre thing from the site. Way back in August 2004, Seth commented about an anonymous guy who just appeared in a photo he took*#. Well, what with one thing and another, the guy, nicknamed TBG (Tall Blonde Guy) took on a celebrity life of his own. Or rather, 2oceans readers gave him a life of his own. Since then, whenever someone has spotted him, they snap a quick pic and send it to 2oceans. What's amazing is that there are readers from ALL OVER SOUTH AFRICA who have done this. Yup. TBG (not to be confused with the other TBG - Token Black Guy - also a Capetonian, but he has a name... I did find it on a website during my trawl to discover the identity of 2oceans' TBG.. sorry, can't find the site now. Can you tell that I'm stuck at home today and don't feel like doing anything constructive??) has developed a real cult following.

Apparently, you can see him 'all over [Cape] town'. Hmm... Can't say I've ever seen him, but then I guess that since I live a rather insular life (having kids & pets will do that to you), was out of the country for nearly 8 years and work in a job where you can't really leave the office between 7.45am-3pm, I can't really comment.

So - I will make a plan to get out and about more in the remaining weeks of my maternity leave, and while I'm out and about more, to keep my eyes peeled for TBG. Who knows - maybe I will get my minute of fame by snapping a photo of him with me and sending it in to 2oceans. A girl can dream, right?

* That reminds me of another story... about G's brothers who went through a phase of trying to wangle themselves into the background of other people's photos. That would be all well and good, except they did so with their fingers up their noses. Ja, even I have a photo of one of them trying to do that to me. Well, he succeeded, I guess, since he's in the photo, eh? If I can dig it up I might post it for your viewing pleasure. Then again, maybe not.

# If you want to see it you should go to the site, and click on the link in the left hand menu. I tried to get the link for you, but the site seems to have crashed in the last 15 mins. Sorry.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Dairy cow on two legs

Of late I've felt that I really have nothing worth blogging about, nothing worth saying. Why? Because my entire life seems to revolve around milk and poo, and, really, since you're not the parent or grandparent, I doubt you want to hear about that stuff.

I've been thinking about it a lot just recently. I hate feeling like I have nothing to say, nothing useful to contribute. I hate it that my conversations all seem to revolve around breastfeeding and the state of Nathan's nappies. Surely I am more than just a dairy cow on two legs or a poop scooper? Surely there is more to life than worrying about Nathan all day long - when his last feed was, whether there's anything I can do to relieve his pain, when next he will sleep (and for how long), when last he had a nappy change, etc.

Don't get me wrong - I love him dearly. I am grateful for every moment of worry he gives me simply because it means he's here & alive. I wouldn't trade my life in for any other if it meant losing him.


I hate that right now (& I do recognise that it's just a phase) I have lost myself in the role of mother to a newborn. I have been trying to watch the news, so that I can at least talk about that, but Nellie has put paid to that in the last 2 weeks as she has insisted that I bath her. Of course, because I feel guilty about not being able to spend as much quality time with her as I used to, I oblige her; but that means no news. I try listening to the news on the radio, but somehow something else always prevents it.

I had such grand plans for an exercise routine & getting back into playing my piano. Neither has happened because Nate hasn't yet settled into a routine, & because I've just been too tired (& lazy) to make the most of the time when he has actually slept in his cot. (Because of his reflux & colic he generally sleeps in my arms or on my chest.) I am constantly aware of time ticking by, and of November drawing inexorably nearer. I've already had nearly 2 months of maternity leave... only 3 months left. "There never seems to be enough time to do the things you want to do once you find them." (Jim Croce, 'Time in a bottle')

What I am also aware of is that this is not how I want to stay. Everyone knows that mothers of newborns only seem to talk about poo. But does everyone also realise that maybe we don't want to, yet are caught in this inevitable pattern of conversation? Certainly in my case, I feel forced into this against my will. I feel brain dead (I'm sure with some sleep I will recover!!) and downright boring. As someone who is capable, & anti gender stereotyping, this rather feels like a slap in the face.

So the next time you run into a mother of a newborn, ask how the baby is, and get a reply about poo, don't think to yourself how boring/ typical she is, or that she really needs to get a life. Pity her. Her hormones and the lack of sleep are conspiring against her. Smile encouragingly & let her know she's still someone worth talking to, even if she sounds like a stuck record. After all, if you're nice to her now, when she becomes 'herself' again, she'll think of you more fondly, and that may be a bonus for you.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Cape storm photos

Although these photos were taken a few years back, they could have been taken over the weekend. What's nice about them though, is the story about how they link in to the storm we had over the weekend. Worth a read.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Rain, rain, go away...

Once again, the Cape of Storms has earned it's name. Over this weekend we had a whopper of a storm - parts of the Cape registered over 100cm of water in 24hrs (yup, over 5 inches). For the first time in longer than I can remember (I think I must have been a kid the last time this happened) the canalized river near our house burst its banks! That's one HECK of a lot of water.

WE had gone away for the weekend, to a small holiday town called Kleinmond. The road we drove back on (past Rooiels, for those in the know) was closed a while after we got through. As we were driving along it, there were a number of small rockfalls, and where the water pouring off the mountain hit the ocean there was a clearly visible, massive patch of brown water hugging the coast. When we got to Gordon's Bay, we had to turn back and take back roads because it was so badly flooded the car would either have been washed away or at least been flooded if we'd attempted getting through. (It reminded me of a trip home from Blombos across the drif... the Suzuki got across fine, but the other cars had water pouring in the doors, and then it stalled. I was so grateful to have been in the Suzi.)

Driving along the N2 was terrifying - the squalls were so bad that visibility was only about 100m in places. What was worse was that some cars (why is it always the dark ones?) were driving along with no lights on!

The roads around our house were flooded - even driving in the middle of the road I was worried about water coming in the doors. Fortunately, our house sits high enough above the road that it would take some serious flooding before the house was at risk. Unless, of course, the roof and doors weren't doing their job....

Yup, we have discovered that the Happy Doors we bought from Builder's Warehouse weren't glazed properly. The water comes in between the glass and the wood. So - now we have to wait for warmer, drier weather to fix them. In the meantime, we're trying to protect the carpet from getting soaked beyond repair. This morning we also discovered a leak in the roof above our bedroom. Further investigation revealed that part of the roof had blown off. At least, that's what we surmise, because part of it that was there before is now missing. Not just blown off, but blown away. It's not in our garden, or the adjacent land... nope - it's just GONE. Given that, it's rather quite amazing that the roof didn't leak more than it did. So again, we now have to wait for a warmer, drier day to get up there and fix it. (At least it's a slow leak, unlike the leaks in my dad's house - their carpets and ceilings are ruined. They will both have to be removed and replaced at some point.)

With all this destruction by water around us, it's rather incredible that I managed to enjoy the sound of the rain this afternoon. Of course, I was wrapped up in nice warm towels, having a fantastic massage and slowly drifting off to sleep. I guess that helped a lot! Somehow, listening to the gentle pitter-patter of rain under those circumstances wasn't scary at all. (Thanks to Charlotte & the rest of our small group for that incredible gift!)

The dams are now all full, so we'll have water this coming summer. However, there are over 1000 people who are homeless tonight, and a further 8000 or so who have been affected.

The other not-so-pleasant side effect of the near-constant rain over the past few days is that the temperature has dropped. It's FREEZING. So we decided to give our new fireplace a trial run. Bad idea. (also bought from Builder's Warehouse... hmm) Smoke filled the house and we had to open all the doors and windows for ages to get rid of it. Light a fire and then get colder... hmm... not such a hot plan. We'll try again on a nice warm day, so we can figure out what's wrong without having to freeze our behinds off while we do that.

So, let's summarise then - rain, rain, rain. Cold, cold, cold. Yup, it's definitely winter here in the Cape! On the plus side, we've passed the equinox, so we're already heading on our way towards summer again. Another plus - Nate has incredible colic and gas at the moment, so I get to have him as a hot water bottle sleeping on my chest. This is great because a) I get to have lots of cuddle time with my gorgeous son and b) I get to keep warmer and c) he gets comfort for his sore tummy so sleeps better, so d) we all sleep better!!

Still, I'd quite like the rain to stop. Has God forgotten the promise he made, symbolised by the rainbow? I doubt it, but this past weekend sure did make me wonder.

"Laughing with"

What do you make of the last line of this song? What exactlt is Regina Spektor getting at? Is it a gentle poke at our excuses or a statement about how we (humans in general) view God?

Here are the lyrics, in case you don't want to download the video.

No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
No one’s laughing at God
When they’re starving or freezing or so very poor

No one laughs at God
When the doctor calls after some routine tests
No one’s laughing at God
When it’s gotten real late
And their kid’s not back from the party yet

No one laughs at God
When their airplane start to uncontrollably shake
No one’s laughing at God
When they see the one they love, hand in hand with someone else
And they hope that they’re mistaken

No one laughs at God
When the cops knock on their door
And they say we got some bad news, sir
No one’s laughing at God
When there’s a famine or fire or flood

But God can be funny
At a cocktail party when listening to a good God-themed joke, or
Or when the crazies say He hates us
And they get so red in the head you think they’re ‘bout to choke
God can be funny,
When told he’ll give you money if you just pray the right way
And when presented like a genie who does magic like Houdini
Or grants wishes like Jiminy Cricket and Santa Claus
God can be so hilarious
Ha ha
Ha ha

No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
No one’s laughing at God
When they’ve lost all they’ve got
And they don’t know what for

No one laughs at God on the day they realize
That the last sight they’ll ever see is a pair of hateful eyes
No one’s laughing at God when they’re saying their goodbyes
But God can be funny
At a cocktail party when listening to a good God-themed joke, or
Or when the crazies say He hates us
And they get so red in the head you think they’re ‘bout to choke
God can be funny,
When told he’ll give you money if you just pray the right way
And when presented like a genie who does magic like Houdini
Or grants wishes like Jiminy Cricket and Santa Claus
God can be so hilarious

No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
No one laughing at God in hospital
No one’s laughing at God in a war
No one’s laughing at God when they’re starving or freezing or so very poor

No one’s laughing at God
No one’s laughing at God
No one’s laughing at God
We’re all laughing with God

Sunday, July 12, 2009


At work, since the beginning of the year, there have been 6 babies born to staff, with another member currently pregnant. This is Nathan with Dylan, the son of one of my collegues, who was born a week after Nathan. Which one is Nathan, and which is Dylan? Can you tell?
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Kleinmond weekend away

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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Water taxi

Today I was a tourist in my own city. It was fabulous. We took the ferry/ water taxi from the CTICC to the V&A Waterfront. For only R20 each way, it's a great way to get to the waterfront. The skipper is a chatty guy, with a great store of (useless??) information about the various buildings and other features visible along the way. I certainly learnt some stuff about the city, and I've lived here my entire life. You also get to go through a working lock at the end of the canal, where it opens into the harbour, which is an experience in and of itself. Definitely worth a trip.

I took a selection of photos, mainly of the lock, but also of the sumptuous and scandalously wealthy apartments and hotels along the route, and of some of the interesting and/or famous boats, yachts & ships in the harbour. You can see them here, on Flickr, if you're interested.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Child safety

When I was little, kids travelled in cars without restraints. We sat in the back, most often, but because cars did not have seat belts in the back, we just sat on the seat, or lay in a carry-cot on the seat. However, as safety standards have risen, so the laws regarding child safety in cars has also changed.

The law about no under-12s in the front is still in place. It is now more dangerous than ever for kids to sit in the front of vehicles that have the highest safety systems ever - deployed airbags can kill them. Similarly, since it is now compulsory for cars to have rear seat belts, it is now compulsory for kids to be buckled in. As most people know, seat belts are designed for adults, not children. Children who use adult seat belts risk being killed in an accident. Thus, kids should only be strapped into age and weight appropriate car seats or booster seats.

However, it would seem that for many Saffas, that message still has to hit home. Driving around, I regularly see kids in the front of the car, not strapped in, standing and playing with toys on the dashboard; or worse, standing between the two front seats. It horrifies me. Don't those parents care? Don't they love their children? OK, so most of the offenders I see are clearly from poor families, so no doubt cannot afford car seats, but at least the kids should be sitting down in the back.

Why has this issue raised its head for me again? Because I'm rediscovering how inconvenient it is to have a small baby that needs regular feeding, but is not yet in a routine. On the way home from G's brother's wedding in Rawsonville, the little man decided it was time for a feed. We had decided to take the R101 back to Cape Town, rather than the tunnel. This was a fortunate choice as it meant we could stop at a viewpoint and, while he fed, we could appreciate the beauty of the Paarl and Wellington valleys. It would have been more convenient though for G to drive and for me to sit in the front or the back feeding Nate. We were all exhausted and the sooner we could get home, the better. (As it was, I fell asleep behind the wheel a few hundred metres from our home! Fortunately, only for a millisecond, and fortunately, no damage was done - but it was VERY scary!)

I am often tempted to ignore the car safety rules. I am often tempted to just go the 'short' distance to the shops, or wherever, without properly strapping the kids in. It's a schlep to strap them in properly. It takes several minutes to strap them in, and get them unstrapped. If all I want to do is pop to Spar for bread, do I really want to increase the trip length by 10 mins to strap the kids in at both ends of the trip?

BUT - statistics show that most serious accidents occur within a very short distance of the car's occupants' homes. Take my little failure - if I had fallen asleep a moment later, or for a moment longer, I would have hit the curb as the road curved. I wasn't travelling too fast, but it might have caused serious damage to the car. That, in turn, might have put us in a dangerous situation and put the kids at risk. Imagine if there'd been another car on the road at the time. It could have been really awful. If something had happened, and the kids had not been properly strapped in, and something had happened to them, could I ever forgive myself? It's one thing to lose a child 'naturally'; it's quite another to lose a child through a car 'accident'. Car 'accidents' are seldom accidents. Someone is usually at fault for not following the rules of the road.

Yet, knowing all this, there are times when I fail to strap Nellie in. The only time I go against my better judgement is if we've been out for dinner and Nellie has fallen asleep at our host's place. Then, G will sit in the back with her in his arms and I will drive. Usually, it is a very short trip (less than 10km) and usually, I take all the back roads to avoid other vehicles. The fact remains though, that it is always night time, and that in the dark accidents are more likely to occur. So why do we do it? Because, like everyone else, we believe ourselves to be invulnerable, immortal, and otherwise not at risk. Stupid, isn't it?

So while I rage at those who take risks with their kids, I have to confess that I am guilty too. It's easy to rationalise my actions: We don't want Nellie to wake up; if she were to wake up it would be a hassle to get her back to sleep; it's quicker and easier not to have to strap her in; it's such a short trip - nothing will happen; etc, etc.

And yet.... I know that I am at least aware of the risks. I don't know that the others I see driving around with their kids in very dangerous positions do. I feel so protective towards those kids I want to stop the driver and ask if he/ she really loves the child. I don't, because I imagine that most people would get very upset with me, and in Cape Town my fear is that he (interestingly, most often, it is a guy... I've just realised that. I wonder why? Are women instinctively more protective of their kids, or are fewer mothers drivers?) will pull a gun on me, or otherwise threaten me with violence. I don't want to put myself at risk, because I would hate for my kids to grow up without their mother.

So yet again, I feel guilty. By failing to intervene and by failing to seek to protect the kids, doesn't that make me an accomplice to the crime in the same way that someone who witnesses a murder and fails to report it is an accomplice? What a big mess!