Tuesday, 31 July 2012


31 July 2012

You know that awkward moment when someone over-shares something very personal?  Right, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  There’s that brief “did I just hear that?”, followed by the “how do I react to that?” as well as the “please let my face not show horror” thing that we all go through.  Everybody has experienced that.  In fact, one goes through the exact same cycle of responses when someone unexpected, unexpectedly “shoots a bunny” so to speak.

Now I’m not innocent by any means (not of the shooting bunny thing – why I’d never do something like that – I’m a girl!!!).  I’ve also been guilty of over-sharing.  And sometimes it’s more a lack of tact that deliberate over-sharing.  Like that time I saw an old school friend and seeing her shape and remembering that she was pregnant, asking her how long until the baby was due.  To which she replied that her baby boy was already two weeks old.  Eish!!!  So sorry about that.  And yes, you guessed it.  After that little faux pas, I was featured on that month’s “Foot-in-mouth-magazine”.  Don’t you just hate it!

And would I ever, as long as I live forget the time I phoned my mom at home early one morning and my mom’s, then boyfriend (now husband) answered the phone.  It took me completely by surprise.  I really hadn’t expected it, which was rather silly of me as they had been an item for a few months and I’d known him for years.  After my dad had died, my mom belonged to us – her kids – and now all of a sudden a man other than my father answered her phone.  I was silent for a minute and then said, “Err, Hi, Rob!  Is Maggie perhaps there?” (as if she’d be anywhere else).  And then to my utter horror, Rob answered, “She’s right here.  Lying in my arms, purring.”.  I was stunned and mortified in equal portions.  It was nothing personal against Rob – I absolutely adore him, but it was just so unexpected.  It also made me realise that it must be true - quite obviously my dad had indeed died.  He wasn’t just away on a 3 year long trip.  It was a sobering moment and we often giggle about it today, in hindsight.  But I will never forget that stomach-dropping moment when Rob first said it. 

But the best example of over-sharing ever, happened at a good friend of ours’ wedding.  It was a truly magical occasion.  Our friend had waited until his 39th year to finally tie the knot and by that stage most of us had thought that he would never get married.  He was the perennial bachelor, you see.  His lovely young bride was still in her early twenties and it was just fabulous to finally see him so happy and content.  They had a majestic wedding.  Very grand and smart, without being show-off-ish.  Beautiful touches - rose petals, loads of flowers, look-out over a dam on a wine farm, marquee tent for the service, a plethora of bridesmaids, flower girls, best men and page boys, red petal strewn carpet, flower arches, gorgeous glowing bride, bursting-with-pride-groom, fairy lights galore, metres of draping, gob-smackingly magnificent cake, bubble machine, beautiful and sentimental speeches, and then…..

The speech that never should have happened – EVER!!!  The preceding speeches all spoke of the love the bride and groom had for each other.  A few anecdotes of their separate and joined histories.  Tributes to those that had passed on and that couldn’t share in the event.  Toasts to the beautiful bridesmaids and flower girls.  Thank you’s to all that made the day so magnificent.  In fact it was all going swimmingly.  And there were some lovely poignant moments and dabbing of eyes.  Until the groom’s sister (let’s call her “Lise” – wouldn’t want to step on any toes and cause permanent embarrassment) stepped to the fore.  You see, her task was to toast her mother, the lovely “Mrs Malherbe” (I’ve changed the mom’s name to protect the innocent) – as in the groom’s mother.  To thank her for all that she had done for her children.  The sacrifices she had made, the love she had bestowed, their gratitude to her and their love for her.  But, sadly it all went a little bit pear shaped. 

The sister regaled all with how remarkable her mother was, how down to earth, how humble etc.  And then to highlight this, she told a very, very inappropriate story.  It was about a time when they went to visit another sister (let’s call her “Esna”), that lived a few hours away.  In fact, the mother and “Lise”, were going to surprise “Esna” with a visit.  They drove far and pushed themselves to get to their destination, and once they got closer, even though the mom had need for a bathroom break, they decided to push on.  Which meant, that by the time they reached “Esna’s” house, the mom was absolutely bursting.  Big was their surprise though, when there was nobody at home.  They decided to not ruin the surprise and to rather wait it out for “Esna” to return as she had in all likelihood just gone to the shops.  But sadly for “Mrs Malherbe”, she could wait no longer.  Now at this stage, we were all sharing nervous looks at our table, thinking “Please let this not be going where we think it’s going!”.  You simply don’t share stories about your mother pee-ing at a wedding!

Then things got even worse.  Apparently “Mrs Malherbe”, said to “Lise”, “Please fetch me a spade” and then “Lise” went in to great detail about how they had to dig a hole in the garden because “Mrs Malherbe” had to make a more, shall we say ‘solid’ deposit.  No, friggin way!!!  Absolutely no one saw that coming.  It was truly unexpected.   Everyone exchanged looks of “did that really just happen?”.  There was stunned silence, followed by howls of laughter, and through it all, “Mrs Malherbe” sat with a glowing expression on her face.  Not even slightly embarrassed, mortified or non-plussed at all!  Just so proud to be sharing the special moment of her only son’s wedding.

It actually was a marvellous thing.  Because how can you not have a fantastic time at a wedding when the ice has already been broken like that?  We had a blast.  Festivities included inflatable instruments and guests hamming it up on the dance floor, pretending to be in a band.  We laughed and danced and ate and laughed even more.  Such a happy, happy day.  And not to be left behind, the bride’s dad also made the most of the occasion.  He spent the remainder of the reception, dancing with the garter around his head, his arm, his leg, his neck, his ankle, his elbow, his knees and his head again.  Truly memorable!

For as long as I live, the “spade” story shall remain with me.  In fact, it will go down in the annals (sorry, I simply couldn’t resist) of history!

Monday, 30 July 2012


30 July 2012

If you share your life with kids, then inevitably, you will also share your life with pets.  And like most families, we’ve done the conventional pet thing.  Loads of dogs (currently just three).  Barring one, all of indistinct parentage.  It’s like a mystery package.  As they get older you get more clues as to their lineage.  It’s simply amazing how many different breeds can be visible in just one dog. 

We’ve also done the cat thing.  And we loved our cat until Grant found him sleeping on Luke’s head as a baby.  Grant never quite got over it and still has a general feeling of mistrust towards all cats.  He was convinced that a jealous rage towards Luke led our cat to take drastic measures and try and “off” our child.  I’m “happy” to report that our cat died years later of natural causes at a ripe old age – Grant restrained himself remarkably. 

We’ve also got fish.  Goldfish in the past, and now we have some breeding guppies, much to Amber and Cole’s delight.  Wisely, after our last male died, we never replaced him, so now it’s just a bunch of sibling spinster sisters in our tank. 

And would you believe it, in the past we also had little bunny rabbits.  However the problem with the bunnies, was the incredible inbreeding.  They truly bred like rabbits and from starting off with two, we eventually ended up with about thirty.  It was an epidemic of biblical proportions, but to be honest, it was not all bad.  Never before had our grass looked so good.  Lots and lots of “organic” fertilization, if you catch my drift and while the bunnies were still in residence we never had to cut our back lawn.

Naturally we’ve also done the obligatory hamster thing.  We started off with two – yet again we were duped – a male and a female.  Evidently even they bred like rabbits, but luckily the pet shop were happy to take the babies off our hands once they were big enough.  The hamsters were in fact Cole’s pets and the poor boy was in a bit of a dilemma.  They were absolutely identical.  As is the case with a new pet in the house, there was much excitement over choosing a name, and finally Cole came to a decision.  He named both of them “Popcorn”.  Clearly the boy is not well.  His reasoning was that he didn’t want one to feel left out if he never called it.  This way, he hedged all bets.  If he called “Popcorn”, then both would come running to him.  Obviously his plan was flawed, because hamsters don’t run to you.  Uh, duh!

And for a while, we even considered getting a little piggie.  We did lots of homework and research about breeders and where to find them.  We learnt about how intelligent they were and how easy to house train.  What they ate, how clean they were, the whole enchilada.  In the end, we decided against it and went with yet another dog, but long will the glow of the pig search live.  We had sooo much fun coming up with names for the porker we never got.  For a while we thought of something cute-sie, like “Babe”, or some such.  And then we thought of more quirky names like “Bacon”, “Pork Chop” and “Rasher”.  But by far, the most fun was had with choosing some unconventional names like “Shlomo”, “Mordechai”, “Heinie”, “Saul”, “Tamir”, etc.  You know – good solid Jewish names.  Very naughty, I know, but funny nonetheless.

We even had a humongous tortoise, aptly called “Captain Slow”.  He was simply gorgeous and a real old gentleman.  I think that perhaps he was an elderly statesman in a previously life.  He knew his name and followed me in the garden and would come to me if I called him.  He ate veggies from our hand and he was just so regal.  We got him rather unexpectedly from a neighbour, after I had mentioned loving tortoises.  We tried to get a permit for him after the fact, but was told by the powers that be, not to bother.  It would take years for the red tape apparently and they assured me that they don’t do house calls checking on “illegal” pets.  I still felt badly, but we had tried.  It did however seem very cruel to keep him confined to our small garden and after a few months, we decided that the humane thing would be to release him into the Nature Reserve.  I’m hoping that he met a lovely lady friend and is now enjoying his golden years.

But our most bizarre pet by far, was our pet squirrel.  It was a love affair.  In actual fact we had two squirrels.  The first one died, sadly and I can’t remember ever crying so much over an animal.  I was truly inconsolable.  We came by “Squeezel” rather unexpectedly.  My grandfather phoned me to tell me that they had had some bamboo cut down in their garden by the tree doctor and later found a little new born squirrel lying on the grass.  The racket had made the mommy flee and my grandfather didn’t quite know what to do and thought that perhaps I would like to bring the kids to come and see.  It was sooo cute!  His little eyes weren’t even open yet and the second I saw him, I grew a whole new heart.  My grandfather gladly gave him to me and we set off trying to find out what we should do with him.  I wasn’t even sure if there was a sanctuary or a rehabilitation centre that would take him. Eventually after much phoning, I got hold of a lovely lady, who informed me that they do look after baby squirrels, and that we should come over so that they could have a look.  And so off we went. 

She reckoned that he was about 2 days old and she said that they had a huge problem with people cutting down trees, as the squirrels were losing their natural habitat. Furthermore, once their mother had abandoned them, they would not come back in search for their baby.  Another problem, was the labour intensive care that new born squirrels required and then she asked if I wouldn’t perhaps consider being a “squirrel-kangaroo-mommy”.  I was sold!  Huge excitement all around.  We got all the right mootie, syrups and syringes and off we went.  Squeezel was just too gorgeous for words.  I had to syringe feed him every 2 hours and rub his tummy clockwise to help with digestion.  In fact, we were all in love.  And for the first few days, Squeezel did really well, but in the end, he had just come through too much.  We were experiencing an extreme heat wave at the time followed by a sudden drop in temperature, and despite the warm light left on at night to keep him warm, he simply didn’t make it.

I phoned the squirrel lady in tears.  Absolutely devastated.  But a few weeks later she called me and told me that they had received a baby squirrel and would I perhaps like to Kanga again.  For sure!!!  We named our second squirrel “Squiggle”, because her little tail looked just like a little curly squiggle.  She was gorgeous.  She was a few weeks old and her eyes were open already.  We all bonded with her instantly.  I still syringe fed her and she used to hold onto her syringe in exactly the same manner that a baby holds onto a bottle.  She lived in a pocket in my clothes, or in the back of a hoodie.  I felt a bit like Paris Hilton, or some such airhead.  Wherever I went, my little squirrel and it’s cage would come along.  At least I drew the line at matching outfits, but it was close, I tell you. 

After a few weeks she went on to solids and we marvelled at how cute she was all the time.  As she got older she eventually had free reign of our house.  We never locked her up.  We had bought her a little wooden box with an access hole and she lived and slept in there.  As one would do for a human baby, we squirrel-baby-proofed our house - packing most of our ornaments away.  She ate Jungle Oats for breakfast with the kids in the morning and had even been potty trained to a large extent.  As she got more adventurous, we took her out to a little tree in our garden (it's kind of like the squirrel equivalent of walking your dog) and she simply loved it.  As she got bigger we let her go to a bigger tree in our garden, but she still spent the majority of her time indoors or in someone’s pocket.  And not long after that, she would demand to go out every morning shortly after her Jungle Oats and morning ablutions, but still she came home every night.  She would literally tap on the door outside to be let in.

We were fearful of the fact that she was so domesticated.  She was not scared of either people or dogs.  Luckily she was fond of us too and always came home.  And then, all of a sudden, a strange thing happened.  We all got usurped in our Grantie’s affections by a squirrel.  The kids and I actually got quite jealous and the kids often mumbled about “Daddy loves Squiggle more than us”, or “Squiggle never gets in to trouble when she’s been naughty, but we do”.  Truthfully, Squiggle didn’t really get naughty, she just got busy.  She’d scramble up the curtains and lay in wait on the curtain rods, pouncing on a shoulder for a ride as you came along and she gnawed on absolutely EVERYTHING!  Nothing was sacred and “Squiggle never got into trouble”.  To this day, our house bears witness to Squiggle’s escapades.  Shelves, curtain rods, cupboards and tables all have gnawing marks.  And then one fine day, all of a sudden, Squiggle got a strong nesting instinct.  She took little pieces of material and what-nots from our house and made herself a little burrow outside.  For the first time ever, she never came home and sadly we never saw her again.  I like to believe that she met the squirrel of her dreams and is currently living happily ever after raising her beautiful squirrel babies.  I feel blessed to have had her in our lives and miss her still.  It’s been years later and we still occasionally find nuts that she had hidden away.  It was the sweetest, most unusual experience for us.

So I kind of feel that we’ve run the gamut of pets and I’ve been remarkably accommodating to everyone’s tastes.  I do however draw the line at rats – I simply can’t do those tails (eeekkk!).  And let’s not even mention the “s” word.  There will never intentionally be a reptile in my house.  Come to think of it, we’ve never had chickens or ducks.  And I wonder if silkworms count?  I absolutely love silkworms – I think it’s the smell and the way I get instantly transported back to my childhood.  Memories of clambering in Mulberry trees, ostensibly on the pretext of getting leaves, whilst actually gorging on mulberries and staining everything in sight.  My kids have completely given up on the silkworms and I’ve given up on the pretence.  They’re mine and I don’t get them for my kids.  And would you know, I still love Mulberries? 

Ooh, and what about tadpoles?  I used to love tadpoles when I was little.  However, not entirely sure about the whole transformation-into-a-frog-thing.  Perhaps dogs are the safest bet after all.  A bit boring and conventional, but hey – we’ve seen the other side already and can always tap into the unconventional pet market again, should we wish to do so.  I hear that little monkeys are waaaaayyy cute!



Sunday, 29 July 2012

Hi! My name is Helene and I'm goofy.

Hi! My name is Helene and I'm goofy.
29 July 2012

Okay, so I’m the first to admit I’m a little bit goofy.  No, actually, I’m a lot goofy as well as kooky and slightly odd.  I’m always humming and singing to myself – more often than not getting looks from others at the shops.  At the moment I’m doing the whole Carmen opera bit.  I also thoroughly enjoy singing loudly in the car and have lately been contemplating getting myself a microphone, so that I at least don’t look like I’m merely talking to myself when I’m driving.  As if I’ll look any better with a microphone while I’m driving - people will still think I’m nuts.  However, I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to “up” my game, so to speak if I have a mike.  I mean, technically I’ll know it’s not plugged in, but still.
I have a tendency to bump things off shelves in shops or knock them over – an infliction my kids find mortifying.  I do add to it though, because when something like this happens, I tend to point my finger at whichever of my kids is closest to me, looking around and saying in a loud voice “She/He did it!”.  Oddly enough, I’m the only one who finds this funny.  Imagine that!  Apparently kids are sensitive like that.  Who knew?  So last year at the Noddy’s Party, I went solo with the kids – Grant said that he would rather face a firing squad that do the whole Noddy Party thing again.  Me, personally, I dig the Noddy Party.  Always have and probably always will.  I remember my folks taking me when I was a little kid.  I reckon that I’ll have to start taking strangers’ kids with me, once my kids outgrow it, so that I’ll have a legitimate excuse to still go.  But somehow or other it always takes mammoth co-ordination to get the whole Noddy Party thing together.  It’s at that time of year, when one is inundated with Xmas parties, class parties, farewell parties and birthday parties.  And last year, the only tickets that were still available to us, were for the very last Noddy Party of the season.  It also happened to be the day after the schools broke up for their 6 week long holidays.  And I had just survived Amber’s 10th Birthday party with a whole bunch of girls sleeping over.  And then Amber had someone else’s party that afternoon and then straight from there we dashed off to Noddy’s.  So, basically, I had overbooked us.  To add to that, I had also invited one of Amber’s friends along as well as a cousin.  I know – I’m a sucker for punishment.  So, in a nutshell, my kids were actually overtired and ratty by this stage – naturally I was still my normal scintillating self (right…). 

So once I finally got all of us there, did the walk in the enchanted forest, greeted the creatures in the forest, parked the car, carted out all of our picnic gear, set up our spot, etc. I was completely pooped.  And then my darling little Berry had a wobble because she was thirsty and she had to wait for me to first get all of our gear together.  But the straw that broke the camel’s back for her, was when she opened her sparkling water and it squirted all over her, from being jiggled on our journey.  She had a complete meltdown because she was wet all over and she was absolutely 100% convinced that every single person at the Noddy Party would think that she had wee’d all over herself.  I told her to calm down, that it would dry quickly, that nobody would notice, that it was nearly dark already and that nobody could see and that she just had to suck it up as we had no clean clothes for her.  But would she stop?  No sirree, Bob.  She whinged and whinged and whinged and to be honest she was being a real drama queen and taking herself far too seriously.  All she had done was spill water on herself, not walk around with her panties on her head – nobody cared.  So eventually, in desperation I did 'my thing' as a sort of hope that it would make her realise that she was being ridiculous – I pointed my finger at her, looked around and said in a loud voice “She did it!”.  Well, Amber was mortified!  She worked herself up in a complete huff and said to me “Mommy!  When are you going to grow up and start acting like an adult?”.  The truth is, I hope never.  My father had a favourite saying which was “You’re never too old to have a happy childhood” and I truly believe in it.  And I am blessed and lucky because I’m having a happy second childhood as well.
So, I embarrass my kids at times.  Tough luck.  Big deal.  The upside is that I always make them laugh – admittedly sometimes at me, but so what.  I’m willing to pay the price.  I hope that I’m fun with them.  I play with them and enjoy them.  Just this evening Amber gave me a make-up make-over.  Brave woman, I tell you – her, not me.  Lots of glittery eye shadow and bling lip gloss.  I play hockey with them in the garden and we sing loudly in the car.  And let’s be honest, because I’m goofy I give them lots of reason to laugh. 

In the March holidays the kids and I went to my mom for a few days and we had an awesome time as always.  One of the highlights was surfing down the attic staircase on mattresses.  It’s an absolute incredible rush and really exhilarating.  The problem however was my weight ratio as compared to my kids’.  On my solo descent down the staircase, I forgot to add this to my calculations.  The result was that the mattress folded in underneath me and sort of curled up towards the back, which meant that I hit those last five steps with just my bum.  Now, I know that the fat layer on my bum should have cushioned the worst of the bumps, but apparently, it didn’t.  The result was that I broke my coccyx – I kid you not.   And I had a black bruise on my bum, the size of a dinner plate.  I spent about 4 weeks driving around and sitting on one cheek at a time.  The pain truly was excruciating!  I have never experienced anything like it.  I could not sleep, sit, lie, drive, or do anything comfortably.  Amber laughed for about 3 days solid.  If it wasn’t for the red tape involved, I would have strangled her.  Because apart from my delicate derriere, my ego had also taken a huge bruising.  But truth be told at least I gave them a laugh.  It is now nearly four months down the line and I’m still sore, especially if the weather is cold or I’ve been sitting in one position for a long time and have to get up.
On my drive home from my mom’s, I comforted myself with the knowledge of the warm, comforting and sympathetic love that I’d be receiving from my Grantie.  Rude was my awakening though, because when I told him what had happened he said “When are you going to grow up and start acting like an adult?”.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Big in Japan

Big in Japan
28 July 2012

So my Grantie is not entirely thrilled with the fact that I have started a blog.  Lots of mumbling that nothing is sacred anymore and that I’m sharing everything with the world now.  That is completely preposterous!  Why to date I haven’t mentioned any personal details!  Not once has the size of his “member” come “up”.  Or the frequency of “relations” so to speak.  See, nothing personal.  So I’ve mentioned his bald head a few times.  Big deal.  It’s not like it’s a secret.  I mean he even shaves his head to make it look more bald –  a fact that makes him look exactly like Dr Evil (it’s way cool when he raises his little pinkie finger and says “one million dollars”).  And I call him Grantie – hardly difficult to deduce that.  I have a thing for nicknames – all my kids have them.  So let’s get them out of the way, once and for all.  Since birth, Luke has been “Lukie-Poo”.  Amber has a few, but her main one is “Amber-Berry”, which in turn led to “Berry”, “Berry-Belle”, “Berrie-tjie”, “Puddingkie”, “Pudding-Pie” and so the list goes on.  And for some or other reason, Cole has like a million nicknames.  We call him “Colekie-Molekie”, “Cole-Cuddlebug”, “Moenkelkie-Poenkelkie”, “Moenkie”, “Biggie-Wiggie”, “Biggie”, “Moenkel”, “Bigs”, etc.  I really can’t say what a “Moenkelkie-Poenkelkie” is, except that to me, he looked just like one when he was a baby and somehow the name has stuck.  When Amber was little she called them her ‘nicknacknames’ and she still loves it when I call her by her nicknames.

The reason I started the blog, is very simple – I love writing.  And I very often do little newsletter type e-mails for my family with anecdotes and stories of where we’re at with the kids, etc.  It started off with me mailing them to family, and then some of them got mailed to friends as well.  There had been suggestions and requests for me to start a blog and people seemed to be liking the stuff I wrote, so I thought, what the hell and took the plunge.  Imagine my huge surprise when I started though.  Grant (that’s Grantie to me) was away on business in Namibia for a few nights, so I had some time on my hands and with that in mind, my blog was “born” on the evening of the 18th of July.  I sent a mail out to family and close friends, letting them know and I initially posted 8 old stories.  So on Thursday morning when I woke up, I checked the blog site and was blown away when I saw that I had received 169 hits in less than 12 hours!  I couldn’t believe it!  And now, 10 days down the line and with 14 posts, I have had 1 640 hits in total.  The majority of those are obviously from South Africa, but I’ve also had loads of hits from America and the UK and who would have known that I’d be “big” in Russia? 
But to be honest, the whole blog thing is hugely scary.  The writing bit is easy.  It’s the whole “putting-yourself-out-there-thing” that I find fear inducing.  Never sure how stuff will be received and I still haven’t bought in to the concept that people actually like what I’m writing.  Up to now, it’s all been pretty personal in any rate.  I can’t describe how much I’m enjoying it though.  I love the writing.  I love the stats and being able to check how often the stories have been read and in which countries.  And let’s be honest, I’m loving all the positive feedback.  Who wouldn’t?  I am human and praise is good.

In all the time that I’ve written over the years, I’ve never ever sent my Grantie (that's Grant to you) any of my stories.  Somehow his opinion means more than anyone else’s and I’m always worried that he won’t like it.  Not sure how well I’ll do with criticism from him with regards to the writing, so I’ve avoided it altogether.  In the past he always got to read the stuff after the fact, when people sent comments via e-mail or spoke about it, and in that way he checked it out too.  I still don’t send him stuff, but now he comes home from work and tells me how he laughed at one of the stories, or he lies in bed giggling whilst he’s reading it on his tablet.   Evidently he’s checking the blog out too. 
Which brings me back to the start of my letter today – Grant’s concerns that nothing in our lives will be sacred anymore, as I’m sharing it all with “the world”.  Firstly, it’s not "the world".  I reckon that at least half of the hits I’ve had can be attributed to my mom and my sister.  Secondly, Grant has asked if he can please first read my posts before I share them with “the world”.  Me-thinks that he thinks I’ll let him edit stuff.  Ja well, good luck with that.  Ain’t gonna happen.  Guessing he’ll have lots to say about today’s post, but it will be too late.  Sorry for you!  And let’s not forget, I never released any personal details (his pin code on his ABSA card is 43789) and he currently weighs “70”kg’s. 

I’m still unsure how those Russians found me.  And I’m pretty convinced that they’re not able to read the blog due to the language barrier.  But on the odd off chance that they can…”Mother Russia, comrade, vodka” – covering all my bases.  And perhaps, once I’m “big in Japan”, I’ll truly know that I’ve hit the big time.  After all – the true purpose of my blog is pretty simple.  All I’m asking for is fame, fortune and earthly riches.  And praise – lots and lots of praise!

Friday, 27 July 2012

My Mom - The Bride

My Mom - The Bride
27 July 2012

It would appear as if my Mom is the perpetual bride.  Well, maybe that’s a bit unfair.  She’s actually only done the whole wedding thing three times.  But to be honest, each and every occasion has been truly unique.  And sadly, of her three weddings, I’ve only been to one.  In fact, the very first one to be precise, which is quite unusual.  To be fair, I was still in utero, so I’m not sure how much that counts, but still, I feel so lucky to have shared the special day with her and my dad.  And I think that my mom and I looked quite good.  Very obligingly I curled myself up really small that day and barely made a visible bump.  Obviously, my memory of that day is quite hazy, but by all accounts it was magnificent.

My folks were 18 and 19 and thrilled to bits to be getting married.  It had all come about rather quickly.  I’m assuming that they had not really anticipated a baby, but were delighted at having an excuse to get married.  They had been dating since my mom was 15.  My mom found out on her 18th birthday that she was pregnant and then had to urgently get hold of my dad, who had just been drafted to the army and was busy doing his basic training in Kimberley.  My grandparents offered to adopt “the baby”, but my parents declined the offer, declaring undying love to each other and a wish to be wed.  A wedding was arranged post haste and my dad was lucky enough to get a weekend pass from the army for his wedding.  Apparently there was much bantering about his crew cut hairstyle and all of my dad’s male friends did an impromptu “uit-tree” and lots of parade-ground-style marching at the wedding.  Those were the days of compulsory conscription and all the guys were doing military service at the time.  My folks dashed off to the Holiday-Inn in Bellville for a one night honeymoon, before my Dad had to catch the 9h00 train back to Kimberley for the rest of his basic training. 

My mom was studying to be a teacher at the Wellington Teacher’s College and got sent a lovely letter, asking her to please leave the College as she was pregnant and presumably bringing ill-repute to their formidable establishment.  My mom gracefully removed herself, had her baby and promptly started College again, this time in Stellenbosch, when I was just 10 days old.  Apparently I also started sleeping through the night when I was 10 days old (a suspicious co-incidence).  To this day my mom says that she’s not actually sure if I really did sleep through or if she was just too tired from being in College, studying, running a home and looking after me.  My mom often regales me with a funny story of when I was still a baby.  She says I woke up one night and she was absolutely shattered and just so exhausted.  She remembers stumbling out of bed to get both me and a bottle and then simply melted back into bed with me in her arms, falling fast asleep again within seconds.  Apparently my dad woke her up a short while later because I was crying in her arms.  She had stuck the bottle in my ear and it was dripping all over the bed.  My Dad gently nudged her awake and told her that that ear was full already, perhaps she should try the other one.

I simply love the photo’s of their wedding.  My folks just look so ridiculously young.  To quote my mom, within a very short while, they were kids with a kid and I was the best toy they ever had.  My grandparents were fantastically supportive.  My folks lived in a little flatlet in their house and my grandmother helped to look after me during the day while my mom was in College.  Money was in very short supply, but somehow as one does, they seemed to get by.  My mom and dad were truly happily married for 26 years before my Dad died from Cancer.  As was the norm with everything they did, my folks were ridiculously young when my Dad died and my mom was left a widow.  My dad was 46, my mom 44, I was 26 and Luke nearly a year old.

I had been so scared that my mom would be left alone and grow old on her own after my Dad died.  I truly did not want that for her and for the longest time after my Dad died, it felt as if all of us were stuck in a moggy fog – unable to escape.  But then in stepped a remarkable man, Rob Nagel.  Now would you know, that Rob and my Dad had been best friends?  How odd is that.  Rob claims that he fell in love with my mom the very first time he saw her (it’s so sweet – he still remembers what she wore that first day he saw her and how she wore her hair).  But what was he to do?  She was married to Frank – his very best friend.  My mom and Rob obviously remained friends after my dad’s death and kept in contact.  As time passed, they somehow got to have more contact and apparently one day, he phoned her up out of the blue and said “Maggie, I’m in love with you.  It’s been 3 years since Frankie died and I’ve waited long enough.”.   From what I gather, he put the phone down on that little bombshell and let my mom stew on that for a while.  So she stewed and stewed and about 3 minutes after he had phoned her, she phoned him back and the rest is history as they say.  They “went” out for a while, as in boyfriend and girlfriend, but eventually Rob said that it simply felt silly to say that Maggie was his girlfriend and they got engaged.  As is the by now familiar pattern with my mom, they did not take long to get it together and as both of them had already been married before, and neither wanted a big hoopla, they dashed off to the furthest (yes, furthest, not the nearest) Department of Home Affairs, with strict instructions to the passle of Lombards, just waiting in the wings to have a proper wedding.  They wanted to do this solo.  Just the two of them wearing jeans, black t-shirts, their Wayfearer Ray-Bans and slops.   Well, to be honest, we were all quite miffed.  So we decided that we didn’t need them after all and had our own little celebration at Cloetenberg.  Never mind the fact that there was no bride or groom, we had a fantastic wedding celebration in their absence.  Luckily Rob’s friend, Ou-Jan, paid no attention to them, joined them after the fact and took some lovely pics and boy don’t they just look sooo cute!  Simply love it!  So at the age of 29, I gained a step-dad whom I absolutely adore and love very, very much.  Interestingly enough, I also gained a  6 year old step-sister, called Katarina, who now lives with my folks.  Daya (Rob), is an awesome guy.  My mom reckons he had a long term plan with her.  He was always going to get her and never took his eye off the end game.  I truly love Daya and he is a fabulous grandfather to my kids.  Luke was too little to remember my dad when he died and Amber and Cole weren’t even born yet.  Daya is fun and funny and I both like and love him lots and am so grateful for the love and kindness he gives to my mom.  And to be honest, my Mom is quite a hectic package deal.  Daya did not just gain a wife – he gained a tribe of Lombards.  Never mind that, he proudly boasts that he is the only guy he knows that has a mother-in-law, an ex-mother-in-law as well as a step-mother-in-law.  Even my Dad’s mom loves and accepts him.

Now when is the third time my mom got married you might ask?  Well, this is the story.  The quick background, is that my mom is a hippie and a groupie.  No seriously, I’m not kidding.  As in growing own vegetables, the whole toot (I’m not saying she doesn’t buy any, but she can seriously eat from her garden).  She’s also into the whole live music thing.  In fact all of her husbands have been musicians.  My brother is also a musician as is my brother-in-law, various uncles, cousins, etc.  And my mom happens to be the manager for one of the bands, namely The Blues Broers.  And two of the starring musicians in The Blues Broers, are …..Daya and my brother, Albert Frost.  A long standing festival on the musical calendar every year is “Up the Creek” and my musical family are pretty much an institution at “Up the Creek”.  In fact at the first “Up the Creek” festival after my Dad died (believe it or not, he was the drummer for the Blues Broers – prrrdish!), they had a minute’s noise for him in remembrance.  Which was very, very apt.  A minute’s silence would so not have been his bag.  So one of the organisers of the festival, called my Mom up (he’s an old festival friend), because apparently at the previous year’s festival a couple got married and wouldn’t it be fun if my Mom and Rob got remarried again at the festival that year.   My mom stewed on this for about 3 seconds and said “Oh, what fun!  Let’s do it!”.  This was on the Thursday evening and the “wedding” would be on the Saturday afternoon.  I got a rush excited phone call from my Mom that Thursday night telling me all about it.  She was so chuffed, because she had just recently bought a white dress that would be perfect.  I was really bummed that I could not be there for the wedding, but quickly put my thinking cap on and did a bit of planning and mad dashing about. 

Firstly, I phoned my friend, Gill and asked her if she would do a sign for me (she does the whole signage thing).  The Blues Broers do a fabulous song called “I’d rather be sad, than happily married”.  So I asked Gill to do a sign like that for me, but we tweaked it a bit, making it more personal and applicable.  Next, I went to China Town and got my mom a white parasol (something new – check).  She was going to float down the river on a boat to her waiting groom.  Bear in mind that the festival is always over a scorching hot weekend, and most of the festival go-ers spend hours floating about in and on the Breede River, on anything from inflated tyres, to air mattresses, to lilo’s, etc.  And what would a bride be without a white parasol after all?  Dashed to the fabric shop and got some blue ribbon for her to wrap around the handle of the parasol (something blue – check!).  Went to my Ouma Helene and explained my plans to her and asked her for some jewellery for my mom to borrow (something borrowed – check, as well as something old - check).  I arranged a lift through for my parcel of goodies and apparently big was my Mom’s surprise on the morning of the wedding when she got all the gear.  She loved the goodies I’d sent and Gill’s sign was a huge hit.  From what I’ve heard, the wedding was the talk of the festival.  In fact they even made the papers.  Loads of photo’s were taken and don’t they just look sooo sweet! 

Only my Mom, hey?  She is simply the best and truly unique.  I did have a very cunning plot though.  About 2 000 people attend “Up the Creek” every year.  Now, by my estimation, if every person there just gave R100 as a “wedding gift” to my Mom and Daya, my Mom and I could have gone on a lovely Honeymoon to visit my sister in the UK.  I mean neither of her other weddings or honeymoons had been conventional, so why should this one be? 

Wedding 3 - February 2012

Wedding 2 - 13 September 2002

Wedding 1 - 27 May 1972

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Area 51

Area 51
26 July 2012

So my foray into the mysteries of the Bermuda Triangle, made me think of a few more of life’s great mysteries.  Or should I rather say conspiracy theories?  I’m not talking weird and wonderful persecution type stuff like being spied on by “Big Brother” with a video camera through my TV.  Or having my phone tapped by the FBI, in case I’m planning an assassination attempt on the Pope.  I’m talking more mundane, as in Area 51.

I don’t believe it’s any of this mumbo-jumbo alien-shmalien stuff they’re trying to force down our throats.  Area 51 exists – fact.  Roswell exists – fact.  UFO’s don’t exist – fact.  Aliens don’t exist – fact.  We can beam “God save the queen” out in to the universe as well as one of those Beatles tunes that they keep sending into space, but I can bet you your bottom dollar – ET will not be phoning home.  There is no extra-terrestrial cover-up.  What they are trying to cover-up is actually far more sinister.  The truth behind all of this is…

Area 51 is a secret holding facility housing the following:

Colonel Sander’s secret recipe of his blend of eleven herbs and spices (KFC – greatest food ever invented – Colonel Sanders truly was da bomb!.)
The Coca Cola recipe – man that stuff is good.
Elvis is alive and well and living in Area 51.
That friggin sock that always goes missing in the washing machine.
Erasers – can never seem to find them.  If they’re not in Area 51, it is entirely possible that my kids are eating them.
My fondue set.
Those two balls we lost playing Putt-Putt.
Luke’s Leaping Wolf Badge he got when he finished Cubs.
Tennis Balls – not matter how many I buy, we can never find any at home.  If they’re not in Area 51, it is entirely possible that my kids are eating them.
The weight I lost before my wedding.  Actually on second thought, I got all of that weight back as well as a large surplus of extra weight.  Was so hoping I’d never see it again.  Perhaps it's not fair to blame this one on Area 51.
Money – I swear it simply vanishes into thin air…
Two-pronged plugs.
Spare batteries.
Riaan Cruywagen’s real hair.
My Grantie’s hair.
Those guys that wrote the “Macarena” are hiding out in Area 51.  If I ever find them, I WILL KILL THEM!  No wait, the UNIVERSE will kill them.
Those spare keys I lost in 1995.
Instruction manuals.
Map books for men.
Kobus Wiese's neck.
Morne Steyn’s form – he seems to have misplaced his kicking boots.
Phil Collins’ mojo – once, a really, really long time ago he was really good – now he’s sold out to doing Disney movie soundtracks.  Just plain sad.
Babies’ dummies or pacifiers.
Bad tests that you don’t want your parents to see, never mind sign!
And finally, it is also the real home of The Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy, The Tooth Mouse as well as Father Christmas, his elves and his reindeers.

Actually, come to think of it, perhaps “aliens” have indeed abducted the above things and are busy doing experiments as we speak, trying to clone some our very best stuff.  All I can say is “ET, go and find your own fondue set and give mine back to me.  You can buy your own!".  And on that note…One-Maca-Two-Maca-Three-Maca-Rena!  Hey-Maca-Rena!!!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Life with an ADD Child

Life with an ADD Child
25 July 2012

Sjoe!!!  Some days are hectic with Cole.  His exuberance is absolutely boundless.  Add to that a healthy dollop of excitement, more than a dash of mischief, an inability to keep still, the concentration span of a gold fish (“Oh, wow!  Look!  A new fake treasure chest that I haven’t seen yet!” when you simply know that only about 15 seconds have passed since the last time they swam past it), confirmed selective hearing loss (his ears are merely decorative - I'm thinking perhaps a rebel earring wearer in the making), an intense lack of focus, his conviction that he was put on this earth to entertain us and make us laugh with his antics and chirps, outbursts of spontaneous running, and a lack of urgency in doing anything that is asked of him.

It took us a really, really long time to join the dots and finally put Cole on Ritalin, but how life changing it has been.  The bummer though, is that interminably long half an hour it takes for the meds to kick in.  I don’t like to have him on tablets all the time.  Apart from the cost, I think it’s good to give his body a break, so over weekends and holidays we give it to him selectively as needed.  But if we’re having a home-day we go au natural.  Undiluted Cole.  This is not for the fainthearted.  Over the holidays Luke and Amber absolutely begged me to put him back on.  They weren’t coping.  He is not destructive, just busy and completely unable to concentrate and focus.  Just to give you an example, the other day Grant and I both dropped him off at school and when we got to school I asked Cole to give me a kiss goodbye.  He kept on leaning forward jerking against the seatbelt saying “I can’t get to you Mommy!”.  Over and over again.  Right…undo the safety belt!  How else were you going to get out of the car and into school?  Never mind giving me a kiss.

Throughout his playschool and pre-school years I had to remind him each and every day to bring his school bag home with him.  He just gets so excited when he sees me that he simply charges out of his classroom without his bag.  In fact, I have to remind him daily to take his bag to school as well.  Lost shoes, jackets, sweaters and hats are the norm.  He’s just not wired that way and it’s okay.  One just has to go in with your eyes wide open and remember these things - because he simply can't.  I don’t get school letters and homework often gets left behind at school.  As well as tennis rackets and hockey sticks and towels in summer.  He doesn’t give me verbal messages from teachers – he just gets too side tracked and involved with something else.  School uniform is a nightmare, because he leaves stuff behind at school and don’t even get me started on lunchboxes.

The ADD warning signs were there from quite young, but we were not able to see it at home.  We kept on making allowances for the fact that he’s the youngest and everyone just always seems to help him to do stuff.  So partly we have conditioned him this way and have enabled him to be even more absentminded and distracted.  There is always someone else that will do the thinking for him and remember.  After four years of concerns being voiced by various teachers as well as numerous visits to Occupational Therapists, School Psychologists, Paediatricians, endless assessments etc. we finally reached the decision.  We had come to a crossroads and had to help Cole.

In hindsight I wonder and marvel at my antipathy towards Ritalin.  We had been so bamboozled by Ritalin-horror stories, via Carte Blanche, nay-sayers and the likes, that we were unable to see the light, so to speak.  Had Cole been Asthmatic, we would have given him medication.  Had Cole suffered from Epilepsy, we would have given him medication.  And truly, ADD is no different.  It has made a huge difference in our lives, Cole’s life as well as those around him.  His teacher could see a remarkable improvement within the first 2 hours of school on the very first day already.  Life changing.  I’m not saying it works for everyone, but it sure works for us. 

I wouldn’t change Cole for the world.  He is the sweetest little boy – extremely affectionate and loving, exceptionally cute, very funny and quirky and a real charmer.  The killer though, is that half an hour before the meds kicks in, as well as the remaining 6 hours after it’s worked out of his system.  I’m going out on a limb here, but I’m guessing that I’ll probably not send my nice stuff with him on school camps.  I’ll simply never get it back.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Two little children

Two little children
May 2002

Two little children
Born from my womb
Now lying in my bed
Sharing my room

The one big,
blond and fair
The other small and tiny,
With dark hair

Their souls entrusted to me
For their safekeeping
At night when they are sleeping
In their rooms I go a peeping

My tall and handsome
Great big boy
And my tiny baby
My greatest joy

Their lives and empty canvas
To fill with life’s delights
My painter’s pallet
Rich and full
The colours bold and bright

I wish them such a happy life
Where kisses, hugs and smiles are rife
May my mother’s touch
And soothing calm
Act like nature’s healing balm

Written in about May 2002 - when Amber was still quite little and had dark hair.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Pardon me?

Pardon me?
23 July 2012

So my main source of income is my Jumping Castle business – ‘wittingly’ called “Jump 4 Joy”.  I started it nearly 8 years ago and it truly has gone from strength to strength.  But the downside in my line of work is winter.  Boy, it REALLY sucks.  I’ve never had a fondness for winter and once I started doing Castles, I really started disliking it even more as well as taking it quite personal.  The ray of sunshine, however has to be my clients.  I genuinely like people and I enjoy meeting clients and chatting to them.  I’d like to believe that I quickly build an easy friendship with people and put them at ease and I also have the ability to chat to absolutely anyone.  However you will not believe the dof questions I sometimes get asked when I have enquiries.  And at times I really have to bite my lip and not laugh out loud over the phone.  I’ve sort of started an idiot’s rating list: 

In fourth place…..”Does the motor have to blow air the whole time to keep the Castle inflated?” – Okaaayyy! Yes, indeed as it has little air holes in between the stitching that lets air out – otherwise the Castle would pop, as in explode, as in fling kids off in the distance.  So please do keep the motor running.

In third place…..”The Jumping Castle is leaking air between the stitching.” – Okaaayyy!  Yes, indeed.  Otherwise the Castle would pop, as in explode, as in fling kids off in the distance.  Refer to fourth place answer above.

In second place…..”Do you inflate the Castle for me when I fetch it?” – Right.  That would stop traffic indeed.  Just picture this.  There you are pleasantly taking a drive, when you get overtaken by a car with a large inflatable boat-shaped Castle floating high above in the air.

However, the undisputed winner of the “I-am-an-idiot” prize has to go to……(suspense filled silence, followed by drum roll – prrrrdish)…..”Do you supply the water with the Slip ‘n Slide?” – Well, this one really stumped me.  In fact, I was mute for a few seconds after I got this whopper.  I was a bit slow on the uptake, but in hindsight, I should have said “Yes, certainly.  All you need to do is drop a whole lot of empty 2litre Coke bottles off the week before your party, and I will systematically start filling them for you.”  Seriously???  I am not quite sure if this person should be allowed to drive.  Or more importantly, propagate the species.

I am however being rather unfair.  Only a small percentage of my clients are idiots.  In fact, the majority of them are rather lovely, moderately intelligent people.  And I probably do feel a bit superior as Castles are my “field of expertise”.  And to be honest, I know pretty much nothing about most other things in life.  So, basically, I’m in all likelihood the idiot.  But please, do give me my due.  At least I get to be “good” at Jumping Castles.  Not quite sure that this is the bright future that my parents had envisioned for me, but we all have to lower our expectations at some or other point.  I mean, it was hardly likely that I would be a concert pianist, despite my Gold Medal for my Piano Eisteddfod in Grade 4.

Another area that is quite interesting is the mode of transport of clients.  I ALWAYS tell clients, that the Castles are heavy, that they need a bakkie or alternatively that their seats of their car should be able to drop down.  And depending on the size of the Castle, we also need an extra pair of hands to load.  Now, I don’t just say this because I like the sound of my own voice.  There is indeed a reason – they are bloody heavy.  And time and again some little “tannie” or “poppie” will arrive on her own with her little Toyota Corolla.  Seriously!!!  The moral of the story, is that we nearly die lifting it into the car with much huffing and puffing.  I keep hoping that I’ll get thinner with all the heavy lifting that I’m doing, but I suspect that I’m just getting stronger.  So, don’t mess with me.

But without a doubt my favourite bit of my Castle business, simply has to be the unexpected bonuses that I receive.  You know, those little “surprises” that you never anticipate.  As in the “treasures” left behind on Castles.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I don’t expect them to come back to me in pristine shape after a kids’ birthday party.  A Castle is supposed to be enjoyed and provide entertainment.  That’s it’s job, nay, it’s entire purpose for existing.  So empty sweet wrappers, packets of chips, bits of wrapping paper, the odd lollipop, is entirely the norm.  What I do find strange though is some of the stuff.  Like a towel.  A whole big bath towel.  Again, seriously!  And then there was the time I got a ring – with a lovely fake “ruby” stone in it.  And shall I ever forget the time a client rolled up a frog into one of my Castles.  It wasn’t their fault, really.  I mean it can easily happen.  The client had a lodge up in Grabouw and they used the Castle for a corporate function, running till quite late at night in the middle of summer.  They packed up in the dark and Kermit slipped past them unwittingly.  No one could have known that we would have an unexpected rain spell that lasted a few days, thereby leaving me unable to clean the Castle timeously, as we do after each rental.  Words cannot describe the stench.  We simply could not get rid of the smell.  We kept the Castle inflated for 3 solid days, airing it and using every detergent known to man, to try and clean it.  And I’m happy to report that all that now remains of Kermit is a vague stain, outlining his little froggy legs.

But this week, I hit the mother lode.  Imagine my surprise when we cleaned one of the Castles, only to find a hearing aid on it!  I kid you not!  A friggin hearing aid!  I phoned the client and she nearly wept with relief.  The birthday boy’s grandfather had helped to roll the Castle up and his hearing aid must have fallen out.  The replacement cost is R15 000, so I said to her “Pardon me?”.
Perhaps I should have hung onto it for myself instead.