Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Rollin' rollin' rollin...

We had a fun time at the recent Baba Indaba at the CTICC. For the first time ever, there was something I wanted to do while we were there - roll around like a hamster. Just call me Rhino. (If you don't get that reference then you don't have small kids.)

As much fun as this looks - it's HARD work.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Grief strikes when you are unsuspecting. Over the weekend, while I was getting dressed one morning, both kids were in our room. We have a dresser on top of which are some photos, including a photo of Zoe, taken shortly after her birth. It's the only photo of her we have in the house.

From time to time, Nellie asks who the baby in the photo is, and every time I tell her the story of her precious sister. (While it hurts a little bit that she doesn't remember, I can hardly blame her - she was only 14 months when Zoe died.) The amount of detail I give varies each time, depending on how much time we have available to talk.

I heard her take the photo off the dresser, and prepared myself for her usual question. To my surprise, instead, she got down on the floor with Nate and showed him the picture (Nate ADORES pictures and photos, almost more than toys).

"Look Nathan. This is Zoe. She's our sister. She died and now she's in heaven. But we still love her."

Although I tried not to show it, my jaw hit the floor, a full second before my heart splintered again. On the one hand, I was thrilled to see that Nellie has taken Zoe's story to her heart. I was also so proud to see how she's taken it on herself to teach her brother about his other big sister.

But it breaks my heart that we have to tell Zoe's story. It breaks my heart that Nate will never know his sister. At least Nellie met her. I know that she doesn't remember, but we have photos of the 4 of us together. She gave Zoe a teddy. She touched her and kissed her. I have the memories of those precious moments and can share them with her. Nate will never have that.

Of course, had she lived, he wouldn't be here, I know that, so they would never have met anyway. That's not the point. The point is that the black hole in our family that is Zoe's death continues to have an effect on our family life. Part of me wishes we could just forget. It would be easier that way. But I can't ever forget her. I could burn her photos, scatter the last of her ashes, chop down her tree or burn it, give away the last of her toys and clothes I've kept, erase every reminder of her in our lives, but I could never erase the memories of her, nor would I want to.

I was reading a friend's blog earlier (she's also lost a baby), and she made a comment about how different her two girls were in utero. I suddenly realised that I couldn't remember the details about Zoe's pregnancy - about her movements, the way her personality expressed itself. And that realisation was like a fire through me. How could I forget the only memories I have of my baby girl while she was alive? Thank God for this blog. At least I can go back and read what I've written about her before, remind myself about her.

I know that my memory is atrocious - I make no bones about that - but the fact that it has finally betrayed me in this area of my life is ... traitorous.

Monday, July 19, 2010


For those of you who enjoy watching or playing rugby I thought I'd better introduce you to the latest set piece. It's called scrumping. You'd better practice this one, because it's going to become a crucial part of all games in the near future.

The scrump is a lot like the traditional scrum, with a few crucial differences. Firstly, the weights on each side should not be equal. In fact, the more unequal you can get them, the better. It works best when you have one heavy person (between 80-100kg) on one side and two very small people (each around 12 kg) on the other. The second major difference is that in order to scrump you have to be giggling. The giggling ensures that the scrump collapses on the side of the heavy person. In scrumping, collapsing the scrump is legal. In fact, collapsing the scrump is the desired outcome, since it immediately confers 2 points on the part of the non-collapsing scrump.

If only the Boks had put the scrump into action I'm sure they would have won both of the games they've just lost and guaranteed that they would have remained the top team in the world.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Invictus & 67 minutes of doing good

I finally got to see Invictus last night (gotta love home viewing!). While there were several errors and omissions (and yes, I realise that this is a work of fiction, only BASED upon the truth) it was still an awesome movie.

As we were watching, G and I were talking about our memories of that time - voting in the 1994 elections, our hopes and fears at that time, our rising hopes as the Springboks won match after match, and the day we won the Rugby World Cup. That was a truly emotional time - and to be honest, we didn't even know the half of what was really going on. In that regard, it was incredible to watch this movie, which filled in many of the blanks for us.

It's not the best movie I've ever seen, but it touched my heart deeply. I feel more patriotic than ever, more proud to be South African, more proud to call this rainbow nation (or butterfly, as Tutu called us) my own.

As someone said - in 1994, we put the World Cup bandage on the wound of our history. In 2010 we took it off. What lies below? What state is that wound in? Is it healed? Is it well on its way to being healed, or is it festering and gangrenous?

I'd like to think that it's healing, but maybe not as fast as we'd like it to. I'd like to think that reconciliation is taking place.

This morning, in church, we watched a video on poverty in Cape Town, with interviews from various people living in squatter camps around the Peninsula. The service went on to focus on Madiba's vision for us all to make this world a better place for everyone - which means uplifting those in poverty.

Given that I live in middle class suburbia, and earn a decent salary, I recognise that my view on whether or not reconciliation is taking place is going to be skewed. I'd like to believe that it's happening, but I can't really say - I'm protected, to a large extent, by my income.

So where does that leave me?


I live in hope that the sacrifice of one unique, incredible human being (and I'm not referring to Christ here) made has not been in vain.

I live in hope that the sacrifice of the unique Son of God made has not been in vain either - for it if is to have meaning, then the people of God need to step up to the plate in whatever way we can to make that hope a reality.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I needed a laugh today (video post)

Today I found out that a good friend, who has been battling cancer, and had seemed to have been healed, isn't. She is now resistant to her cancer drugs and so needs a bone marrow transplant, and urgently, if she's going to live. She has two young daughters. She's already tried the bone marrow register, and she's already had a drive to get people to get tested and sign up as donors. No luck.

What a sucky morning I had after finding that out!

So I needed a laugh.

Thank God for blogs, Facebook and Twitter - who all came through for me today. I thought I'd share a few bits here, in case you needed a laugh too.

I had to watch this one a few times - first time I was like : WTF??? But after a few times, all I find myself saying is "I'm on a horse!" BWHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

There's that horse again...

or how about this discussion over on Tertia's blog about things you never thought you'd hear yourself say? I nearly wet myself with some of them.

or how about this website detailing all the faux pas people make on Facebook? (not always funny, but guaranteed to take your mind off your own problems for a few minutes.

Sigh! Laughter is good medicine to help take the edge off my pain.

Speaking of which - I have a swollen lip and a massive cut inside it. Why, you may well ask? Because my daughter saw fit to connect the top of her head with my lips when I was trying to kiss her goodbye. Yup, I have two very purple tooth impressions on the inside of my lip to go with that lovely cut. Of course, I can't drink or eat or talk properly now. Which is also kind of funny (given how much I love talking and eating and drinking) - okay, more like ironic, but who's counting?

I'll leave you with this one... (courtesy of @FunnyOneLiners on Twitter)... I'm sick and tired of my computer being the only one to get naps and cookies!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

My baby girl... brag time!

Last year we sent Nellie for a bit of play therapy to help her to adjust to Nathan joining our family, coupled with all the other change that had taken place in her short life. One of the things that has stuck with me since then is a question the therapist asked in our (parental) interview: what do you think Nellie does well?

At the time, I was stumped. I love my baby girl dearly, but I struggled to find anything I thought she could do well. She was (and still is) behind all her peers in most things (whether because of being summer-born and so the youngest in her class, or whether because of her prematurity she's still playing catch-up I don't know). Her muscle laxity means that she also struggles with all physical activities - her balance, her hand-eye co-ordination, etc, etc. Because she struggles with physical things, she doesn't enjoy them much, so prefers to sit and do puzzles or have books read to her. At the time, the only thing I could come up with was that she's good at puzzles.

I was so despondent that I couldn't brag about my baby girl or what she's capable of. Either it meant that she is below average, or that I'm a rubbish mother because I can't celebrate her achievements irrespective of how she's doing in comparison to others. I believe it's the latter.

Then, as Nathan has grown, I've seen his character developing and he has a gift for joy. Of course, this doesn't surprise me too much because we prayed it into him and blessed him with it at his birth and dedication. His name was chosen because of the character that goes with the name (and yes, I do believe that the name you choose is spiritually significant). It's obvious to see what his gift is, what I can brag about as far as he is concerned. Nellie, though, is a different kettle of fish.

A while back, I pondered here what her gift could be, and surmised that it was a sensitive spirit. I've thought a lot over the therapist's question since Sep/ Oct last year and what I can brag about as far as Nellie is concerned. Every child needs a champion, someone who sees his or her potential. A parent's job is, amongst other things, to be their child's champion. I want to be Nellie's champion. I want to be able to list off a bunch of things that I can brag about for her - from her character to her achievements to her gifts. This is something I'm generally bad at - for all my gift for teaching. I'm often bad at seeing things that are either right in front of my face or that are partially hidden (as the diamond-in-the-rough often is). It doesn't bother me too much when it comes to others, but it's really bugging me when it's my first-born.

This evening, after we'd finished our bed-time routine, I was sitting in the semi-dark, stroking her hair and silently praying over her, reflecting again on the therapist's question when it struck me just how far she's come in just over 6 months. It struck me that it seems like I suddenly have a bunch of things I can brag about as far as Nellie is concerned. I'm not sure whether she's had a sudden developmental spurt, or whether I'm just more attentive to the things she is now able to do, or both. Whatever the reason, I'm thrilled to be able to brag. So here goes...

Nellie is (in no particular order)...
  1. one of the most proficient kids in her nursery at the monkey bars. This is HUGE given that a) she's the youngest in her class and b) has muscle laxity.
  2. able to balance perfectly on her pedal-less bike for long stretches of road - and can steer herself safely down dirt roads from the tops of hills. She's discovered the joy of going "WHEEEEEE" down slopes. She's also learnt how to brake using her feet, since her bike doesn't have brakes. For a girl who doesn't really like physical stuff, this is pretty big.
  3. brilliant at making Nathan laugh. Not only does he love it, but she loves it too! This is incredibly useful in the car if we're travelling long distances.
  4. still a fabulous puzzler.
  5. starting to understand maths. I kid you not. She's not yet 5 and is learning how to add.
  6. still passionate about reading stories and can now identify all her letters.
  7. able to colour in and mostly stay within the lines.
  8. incredibly observant about the world around her, often spotting things and making connections between things she sees that I miss.
  9. very aware of right and wrong with a strong ethical/ moral opinion that often puts Graeme or I on the spot for having double standards.
  10. a comic, frequently (and deliberately) teasing those she's comfortable with.
  11. the person to go to if you want the best squeezy cuddle in the universe (even better than Graeme, who gives the second best hug in the universe).
  12. an elephant - she has a remarkable memory (well, I think it's remarkable that a 4 yr old is able to recall some of the things she does. My earliest memory of anything is from when I was 4, but she remembers things from before she was 4, plus she remembers little things from months prior that I only recall when she reminds me about them.)
  13. becoming popular - she has two friends at nursery that seem to be battling it out to win her affection and attention as their BFF. (As one of the not-so-popular people at school, this is huge for me as her parent. I hope that she never battles to make and keep good friends, as I have.)
So those are just some of the things that make me proud to be her Mommy. She is an amazing little girl, and I just love her to bits.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Canal Walk Century City

Yesterday we went to Canal Walk and decided to take a walk right around the canal. WOW! It's the first time we've done that walk (all the way down to Intaka Island and back) and I was stunned at how beautiful it is. I bet that most Capetonians not only don't know this walk exists, but have never done it. If you're one of those, it is definitely worth doing.

This is the view from Knightsbridge (an exclusive apartment block) towards Canal Walk.
This waterfall is half underneath the bridge that leads to Knightsbridge.

All along the walk there are little alcoves, or benches, for stopping and resting. This one was particularly pretty.
A sign of hope? The canal has several Egpytian geese around, many with goslings. At the other end of the canal from Knightsbridge they are busy building a new suspension bridge and the pool in front of whatever building is there (hotel??) has been drained (or not yet filled?) but the duck/ goose ladder is still there. It seemed like such a sign of hope to me - planning for things to come.

I'll help you, Mom

Picture this: I'm in the garden, doing a spot of weeding. Not enough that I'm actually sitting on the ground. No, I'm only going to be a few moments, so I'm standing and bending down. Just going to grab this one, and that one, and maybe this one, .... While I'm doing this, Nellie is jumping on the trampoline and chatting to me, when I suddenly realise how sore my back is getting and grunt a bit.

N: What's wrong, Mom?
M: My back is sore.
N: Poor Mommy. Come here and I will rub it for you. Stand here Mom. (proceeds to stroke my back with featherlight touches for all of 4 seconds)... There we go: all better now!

Hmm... she's got the concept, but clearly I have work to do on her execution...

Thursday, July 01, 2010

An appointment with destiny

"It is said that some lives are joined through time, connected by a powerful calling to a higher purpose... Destiny."

So begins and ends "Prince of Persia: Sands of Time" (or words to that effect... my memory at this hour isn't great).

The movie itself was really good (see the end of this post), although G thinks the ending is a bit weak. But I want to talk about those words, not really discuss the movie in too much depth.

"It is said that some lives are joined through time, connected by a powerful calling to a higher purpose." I think that pretty much sums up what the true Christian community through the ages is. Our lives are joined through time to Christ, and to each other. We have a powerful calling on our lives, one that may demand we sacrifice our dignity, our pride, our comfort, our homes, our families, our jobs, even our lives, to the higher purpose of growing His kingdom and saving this world. I know that's not how the movie wants you to think about it - after all, this it is fantasy. But that doesn't stop those words from being literally true as well as fantastically true.

Destiny. Do you believe in it? Do you believe that fate and destiny are the same thing?

I believe in destiny in as much as I believe that before I was born God had already created good works for me to do. I don't believe in fate though: I believe in God-incidences. And yes, the Bible teaches that we are both free to choose Christ, and that we have been predestined (i.e. chosen by God before the beginning of time) to choose Christ. I'm not quite sure how free will and predestination work together at the same time, but they do. It's one of the mysteries of Christian spirituality. I believe that I was destined to love Christ and destined to follow him (and that I chose to do so out of my own free will).

Let's be honest: most of the time, I'm rubbish at doing either. Most of the time, my own comfort and desires and pressing demands are far more urgent and immediate, or even important, than following Christ. Most of the time, I'm in the driver's seat, not God.

But every now and then I have an appointment with destiny, an appointment with God, where he reminds me that, um, actually? He's God and I'm me.

Today was not one of those days.

But seeing those words on the screen, I meditated on them. I was reminded that my life is meant to be one of service to THE king, that I am a gate-keeper to THE Truth, and that THAT kind of life is actually one of the greatest honours that could be bestowed upon a human.

The lead female character (I'm useless with names, sorry) was a guardian and a princess. So am I. (All Christians are princes or princesses, btw.)

There was no better way for her than living her life in service to the gods, and ultimately in being prepared to offer up her life, even if it meant being misunderstood by others. If truth be told, the same is true for me. It's just that I choose to ignore that most of the time.

Having been reminded about all that, maybe going to see this film today was an appointment with destiny after all.

But, philosophy aside, go and see the movie - it's still a great film and one I think I'd like to get on DVD. Good special effects in places, great fights, some witty humour, a fabulous love story, one or two interesting plot twists and (I thought, at least) a just & happy ending. Pity real life can't be as awesome as fantasy movies!

(... or can they? Maybe we just aren't seeing the ending, and we're still in the throes of going through the horrible scary bits in the middle, so this doesn't feel like the happy-ever-after we see on the Big Screen.)