Sunday, January 24, 2010

Slaan my dood

You know how you take certain things for granted in your life? There are just some things that are, that always will be. There are just some things that could never in a million years take place. You know those things? Well, the truth is, there are no such things. Never take anything for granted. Ever.

I have always adored my eldest brother. He was my saviour when I was a little girl. He birthed a dream in me to teach Bio. He was my model for excellent parenting and a solid marriage.

Yesterday I found out that my amazing, incredible, caring, wonderful brother and his wife are splitting up. Now I know that kids from divorced families are under a curse and will also go through divorce, but I really, truly believed that he and his wife had broken that curse and moved out of its reach. I never in a million years would EVER have dreamed that their relationship could break down to this extent.

Of course, they're not getting divorced yet. There's still hope. But the fact is that my world was severely shaken this weekend. They've been married for over 20 years. TWENTY YEARS. It just goes to show that at no stage is a marriage ever 'safe'. At no stage can you sit back, relax and think that your marriage is going to make it. You have to work at it every day of every year that you are married.

I don't know the reasons behind this, and I'm not sure I care to. My brother has taken on a large portion of responsibility for the break down. However, comments have been made today that have completely confused me. Has my brother been living a double life? Is his wife making up stories to get back at our family? Because I don't know the truth of the situation, I can't judge either of them. I know that it usually takes two people to make a marriage fail (not always, but usually), so I can't just support his wife. He's also my brother, and he taught me that family ALWAYS sticks together - through thick and thin.

You know - sin destroys. It destroys not just the person who sins, but all the people around them. In this case, it's in the process of destroying a marriage, a family, and all the extended family as well. In one sense, I feel I have a right to know the details. But knowledge is power and with that comes responsibility. To be honest, I'm not sure I want either the power or the responsibility. I'm not sure that I won't be tempted to judge both my brother and his wife, and that's not really my place - even if I was able to get the full truth rather than just their individual versions of the truth.

I love my brother deeply. There's almost nothing I wouldn't do for him. He's the guardian of my children because I honour and respect him and trust him so completely.

So now what?

Friday, January 22, 2010


The clever little chap! He started making 'mama' sounds today! At only 7 months the talking process begins. I can't begin to describe the joy I feel hearing him say 'mama'. I know it's just sounds, rather than him actually calling me 'mama', but it still feels so nice to have him say 'mama' when he looks at me. (The fact that he says it while looking at the dog, his bottle, his dummy, his cuddly toys, or even his father is of no consequence at all!)

Plus, after several VERY disturbed nights, a mild fever and several vomitting sessions today and yesterday, we've noticed that there are .... wait for it .... tooth bumps on his lower gum!! THANK GOD his teeth are FINALLY on their way. I hope they break through tomorrow so that we can all get back to normal. (Normal? Normal? Let's get real. Nothing is ever normal around here. We just swing wildly from one extreme to the other, and hope that we spend a significant amount of time in the middle of the pendulum swing.)

So my clever little boy is growing fast! Did I mention that he's now 72cm long and just over 10kgs? Yup. He's a BIG BOY! He's even heavier than his little friend who was born at full term 10 days after him. And despite his obvious discomfort (now there's an understatement! When my finger comes into range it is quickly grabbed in a death-like vice grip and shoved into his mouth to be pulped by as-yet-toothless gums) he continues to be a cheerful chappie, full of smiles and giggles. He never ceases to amaze me. If I were in his shoes, I'd be a grumpy old fart.
What a blessing and gift he is!

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Who is this amazing creature who walks our hall? Sometimes I hardly recognise her. I remember her as a teeny tiny baby, lying in the incubator, or on my chest. I remember the way her skin was too big for her body and wrinkled all over her. I remember the way she would breathe so lightly I would have to prod her to make her move so I could check she was still alive. I remember the way she used to run her finger down the spine of books in the bookcase while looking at us and shaking her head 'no'. I remember how proud she was of finally being able to feed herself yoghurt from the tub and how it would get all over EVERYTHING. I remember how she learnt to walk by holding onto the edge of the futon in our tiny lounge. I remember how excited she was about discovering there were TWO Leos. I remember her joy at realising she could sign to us before she could really talk.

Now, my big girl is able to pour her own bath, wash herself, dry herself and dress herself for bed.

Mom & Dad are becoming redundant.

In part, I am saddened by it. I like being needed by her. In part, I am pleased as it means my evenings become less frenetic. But mostly, I am THRILLED for her because she's so excited at being able to be such a big girl and look after herself. Seeing her joy at becoming independent, I am just so proud of her. She has blossomed into a helpful, responsible little girl. She looks after Nathan and mothers him without our prompting. She drags her chair into the kitchen so she can reach the counter tops to be able to put his bottles together, or play with him, or be our "helper". She cleans up and tidies up after herself. (OK, sometimes she needs a bit of forceful encouragement, but mostly not.)

I know I've said this already, but something happened when she turned four, or over Christmas, I'm not sure. I don't know what it is, but suddenly my baby girl has become a proper little girl. Thinking about how proud I am of her, I almost start crying. Who would have thought that having kids could alter the centre of your world so completely?


I found this on a blog I read, of a woman who recently lost her baby. It just seems so appropriate at the moment.

from The Seaside and the Fireside
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

There is no flock, however watched and tended,
But one dead lamb is there!
There is no fireside, howsoe’er defended,
But has one vacant chair!

The air is full of farewells to the dying,
And mournings for the dead;
The heart of Rachel, for her children crying,
Will not be comforted!

Let us be patient! These severe afflictions
Not from the ground arise,
But oftentimes celestial benedictions
Assume this dark disguise.

We see but dimly through the mists and vapors;
Amid these earthly damps
What seem to us but sad, funereal tapers
May be heaven’s distant lamps.

There is no Death! What seems so is transition;
This life of mortal breath
Is but a suburb of the life elysian,
Whose portal we call Death.

She is not dead,–the child of our affection,–
But gone unto that school
Where she no longer needs our poor protection,
And Christ himself doth rule.

In that great cloister’s stillness and seclusion,
By guardian angels led,
Safe from temptation, safe from sin’s pollution,
She lives, whom we call dead.

Day after day we think what she is doing
In those bright realms of air;
Year after year, her tender steps pursuing,
Behold her grown more fair.

Thus do we walk with her, and keep unbroken
The bond which nature gives,
Thinking that our remembrance, though unspoken,
May reach her where she lives.

Not as a child shall we again behold her;
For when with raptures wild
In our embraces we again enfold her,
She will not be a child;

But a fair maiden, in her Father’s mansion,
Clothed with celestial grace;
And beautiful with all the soul’s expansion
Shall we behold her face.

And though at times impetuous with emotion
And anguish long suppressed,
The swelling heart heaves moaning like the ocean,
That cannot be at rest,–

We will be patient, and assuage the feeling
We may not wholly stay;
By silence sanctifying, not concealing,
The grief that must have way.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Let's play catch-up

Can you believe I've been VOLUNTARILY internetless for 2 weeks? Yeah, me either. But I have, and it's done me the world of good.

So let's play catch-up now.

End of holidays were a bit of a downer as G went back to work a week before me, leaving me with the two kids every day. Hmm... it was tougher than it looks! But I still managed to squeeze in a visit to a friend whose baby was born 5 weeks prem, clean out Nathan and Janel's closets (and all the stored baby clothes) and bag anything we're either not going to use or have no sentimental value in keeping, do some work in the garden, and read a book or ten.

I'm really impressed with myself that I managed to read this holiday. In 10 days I managed to get through about 8 books, I think (I've lost track). To me, reading is nearly as good as eating chocolate. I don't just read books, I devour them, preferably in one sitting.

My best read of the summer was a Harlen Corben novel "No second chance". It kept me riveted right up to the last page... and it kept surprising me. Fabulous read! Second place goes to "Harm Done" by Ruth Rendell. A good read, if you like that kind of thing (which I do, so I did).

Nathan... well, you have to see him to believe him. He's honestly just too cute for words. On Friday night, at a staff function, he entertained a few of us for about 20 minutes, till I was laughing so much there were tears running down my face. He really is such a happy child. I just keep thinking that this must be God's way of trying to make up for Zoe.

Still no sign of his teeth, though, despite all the drooling and chewing on everything in sight. He's nearly crawling now: up on all fours, wobbling backwards and forwards. He can get his knees up under him, and he can get his hands to move forward, but he just can't co-ordinate the two together into a forwards motion.

Janel is now one of the "big children" at her nursery school. There are only about 5 of them in her age group this year, so she is thrilled with her new role as her teacher's helper. She is thriving on responsibility and now constantly asks whether she can help me with anything. I'm thrilled at her new maturity, but don't want it to become a chore. As long as it remains fun, then I'm all for it. She's also come on in leaps and bounds in terms of her swimming. She's now safe to swim on her own (i.e. without one of us actually in the pool with her; not as in without parental presence watching over her), which is a massive relief for me.

Work: all good. I love my job. I have lovely classes, albeit a bit naughty. I have wonderful colleagues. In fact, for some reason this year, although I'm just as busy as in previous years, I'm not feeling particularly stressed by the busy-ness. Does that mean I'm getting wiser, or just lowering my standards? The only cloud on this horizon is that I have to leave Nathan behind. I miss him and it's MUCH worse than last year when I went back after maternity leave. Maybe it's because he's more interactive. Maybe it's because over the holidays he seemed to learn the difference between "Mommy" and other women. Maybe it's because I just loved spending so much time with him....

In fact, as evidence of my new approach to work, I spent all day in the garden today, instead of preparing lessons! I've found a fabulous gardener - today was his first day with me, and he's just brilliant. In one day we've achieved stuff that would have taken me WEEKS to accomplish. My garden is now SORTED. Front and back. For someone who loves order as much as I do, I'm relishing my beautifully tidy, neat and (now) welcoming garden. It's just a delight. In fact, I might even be tempted to spend some time out there just, you know, for FUN (as opposed to being out there because there's all this stuff that has to be done in it...). Now there's a thought. The sad thing is that I know that if I were to post photos, you wouldn't be impressed. That's because you don't know what it was like beforehand and how much of an improvement it is. But I'm impressed, and that's all that matters.

And that's my life. I love my husband. I love my kids. I love my job. I love my life. Hmm... is this heaven? Don't get me wrong, things aren't perfect, but right now, I'm really happy and content. Isn't it amazing what a bit of sunshine, sea, beach, garden and reading will do for one?

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Blowing raspberries

Yesterday the little man woke up having learnt, overnight (literally), how to blow raspberries. He hasn't even been attempting to blow them. Yet, when he woke up yesterday, he was suddenly able to. He spent the first few minutes of his day lying in his cot, blowing raspberries to himself and then grinning idiotically with pride at his new-found skill. It was so cute! Today, G managed to catch him blowing a few on camera.

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Friday, January 01, 2010


I can't believe that 2010 has arrived. Finally.

Looking back over 2009, it's been a huge year for us: renovating our house and moving into it, and Nathan's birth (and being on maternity leave putting us in serious financial difficulty).

Graeme and I are both exhausted - phyiscally and emotionally. We couldn't go away for a holiday this Christmas, and we're feeling it now. We need to be kid-free for a day or two to rest and get some sleep, but that's not going to happen so I guess we just bite the bullet and get on with it.

Financially it's been a really tough year, with massive credit card debt as a consequence. We've just about cleared the debt though, so by the end of January we should be back on track, I hope.

The house still has lots of small things that need to get finished off after our renovations, but we're just too tired to do them ourselves, and too broke to hire someone to do them. I've been in the garden a heck of a lot these holidays, trying to reconstruct our front garden. I'm getting there, but it's a very, very, very laborious process. My back is very sore from digging up grass.(NEVER plant grass unless you're ABSOLUTELY SURE you will NEVER need to take it out again... particularly kikuyu.) My hands are blistered and scratched and I've removed countless thorns...

However, as tired as I am, and as old as I feel, there is much to give thanks for from 2009:
  • We formally joined a church community.
  • We have a wonderful house (even if it is cluttered and doesn't look very "grown up").
  • Nathan was born alive and well, and is growing beautifully.
  • Nellie is growing into an incredible little girl.
  • We are surrounded by family who love us.
My hopes and dreams for 2010?

1) I want to be more organised, so that I can have more time with Graeme and my kids.
2) I want to drop down at least half a dress size, but preferably a full dress size. This will involve more effort than I'm keen on giving, but if I want to stop feeling so negative about myself, then I'm going to have to do something significant about it.
3) I want to start having regular times with God again, as opposed to the ad hoc, sporadic meetings we're having at the moment.
4) I want to start giving back to the community in service in some way.

I'm looking forward to this year, but at the same time, part of me is already sighing because work is always so busy and I'm already tired. Two things that would really help? If my mother moved back this side of the boerwors curtain and if my kids' nanny learnt to drive. So, inbetween trying to reorganise my schedule to include exercise classes and other exercise, and the usual manic-ness of the first term, I'm going to try to help my nanny get her learner's and then teach her to drive. At least that's something I CAN do something about!

May 2010 be a good year for all of you. May this year give you what you need, rather than what you want. May it teach you the true priorities in life and give you the skills/ ability to put first things first and to priortise the important over the urgent.

If you hear less of me this year, it will be because I'm trying to do just that - to prioritise my kids and my family over my love of web 2.0 stuff. As much as I love you guys, and as much as I love this place and space, my kids are only little and small once. Love to you all.