Thursday, 28 February 2013

Catching my kids red-handed

Catching my kids red-handed
28 February 2013

Children are brilliant actors, I tell you.  They truly are.

They have an amazing ability to profess innocence, even when they've been caught in the act.  And evidence and proximity to the crime aside, they are able to argue quite ferociously that they're the injured party. The one who's been wronged.  For how dare they be accused?  Butter wouldn't melt in their mouths.

They turn big eyes towards you.  Open wide with surprise.  "No not me.  I would never", an oft heard refrain.

But they're little buggers.  Every single one of them.  

They delight in mischief and mayhem at times.  In experimenting with boundaries and testing the rules.

Will I ever forget the time little Amber gave hairdressing a bash?  I actually think they all do it at one point or another.  It doesn't take long for them to join the dots between enticing and dangerous looking pair of scissors and hair.  It's but a small leap.

We were visiting my Mom at Muisnes and Amber was about three.  I walked up from the garden and saw her standing on the stoep.  Scissors in her hand buried deep in her hair.  A pile of little locks discarded on the floor.  Surely not her beautiful wispy little strands?

I immediately asked her what she was doing.  Quite silly actually, as it was plainly obvious.  And then Amber absolutely floored me, by saying "nothing".  Stunned, I asked her if she'd just cut her hair. Once again silly, as it was plain for all to see.  Just add the pieces - scissors, hair on the floor, gaping hole where hair is supposed to be and slightly guilty expression.  No she said, she had not been cutting her hair.  Nor would she ever, she claimed.  And for extra good measure, she even added a "promise Mommy".

How does one argue with that?  Scissors still in hand.  Hair at her feet.

Such is the joy of parenting.  Dealing with little mishaps of this nature.  

I have also caught my kids, writing implement in hand, albeit crayon, pencil or khoki.  Indulging in a bit of artwork.  And as for a blank canvas?  Few things can compete with a carpet or a wall.  Heck, even a duvet cover will do.  Books another firm favourite too.

So often, depending on the nature of "the crime" these things are not funny at the time.  But in hindsight one can look back and have a good giggle.

Not only at what they have done though, but also in the aplomb they have in attempting to get away with it.  As if!
My three year old little niece, Bella, just took to her hair.  But at least she confessed.  She hacked off her hair, and then kindly handed her Mom the scissors back, thanking her for the loan.  She proclaimed that she had been to hot and was feeling much cooler now, thank you very much.
I must say, it does look rather tempting...
The weapon... 

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Given time, words change their meaning

Given time, words change their meaning
27 February 2013

It’s funny how each generation has a unique language all of their own.  How a simple innocuous word, that means one thing for one age group, has a whole different connotation for another.

Sometimes it’s a catchy “new” word.  A fabrication of sorts.  I mean seriously!  What does “kiff” really mean?  Or “lank” (it’s not lengthy and lean)?  Is kiff even a word? 

Yet, when I was a teenager, not a single conversation with anyone was held, without those words coming up a few times at least.  It could be used to refer to the surf at the beach, an awesome party, a cool outfit, a funky hairstyle, a spunky guy.  Absolutely anything.  In fact the word kiff was just so very kiff.  And to illustrate my point I give you an example.

But to set the scene, please picture this.  I’m probably about fifteen or so.  My friend too.  We’re both looking really hot in our opinion or trying too.  Probably lots of flicking of our hair.  Perhaps we’re at school, chatting during break.  Our school dresses are pulled up real high, showing maximum leg.  Our school dress belts however ride low.  And our pristine white socks?  Well they’re rolled down to the very bottom, in fat little sausages, touching our shoes.

Me:  “That party over the weekend was so kiff!”

Friend:  “I know, it was lank cool!”

Me:  “Did you see that kiff guy?”

Friend:  “Ja, he was really kiff”.  As in lank cool.”

Me:  “I saw this lank cool dress I really want to buy.  I think I will look kiff”.

Friend:  “I’m sure you will look lank kiff in it.”

So really, it’s like a special language.  A language you need the script for, to fully understand.  Or perhaps the use of a dictionary is rather more apt.

And I am really appreciating this with Luke.  Listening to him and his buddies is like reliving my past.  So the actual words have changed, but their meaning not so much.

If something or someone is not deemed to be cool, it’s lame or they’re lame.  This in no way reflects on the supposed lame person’s ability to walk.  Because, in actual fact they can.  Anyone that is not deemed to be cool is a faggot.  This is a really offensive word in my opinion.  But for them it has no sexual connotation.  It basically means the person is a loser and has no baring whatsoever on their sexuality.  Or lack thereof. 

If something is wicked it’s a good thing.  Not bad at all.  Being gay is not referring to your happiness, it refers to a person’s sexual orientation.  Someone they think who bats for the other side.  A phrase all of us uses nowadays.  It does however also imply that something is really uncool, as in not hip at all.  But in my grandparent’s generation, it meant happy and jolly. 

And then there’s a personal favourite.  Sick.  No, it does not mean someone is ill or not feeling well.  It actually means something is super cool as in really, really awesome and hot.

And thus, I give you an example of what conversations between teenagers nowadays would sound like.

Teenager #1:  “That party over the weekend was so sick!”

Teenager #2:  “I know, it was wicked!”

Teenager #1:  “Did you see that sick guy?”

Teenager #2:  “Ja, he was really wicked.  As in sick cool.”

Teenager #1:  “I saw this wicked cool dress I really want to buy.  I think I will look sick.”

Teenager #2:  “I’m sure you will look wicked sick in it.”

I can only imagine the look on my kids’ faces if I greeted them when I fetched them from school and asked them if they had a lank kiff day at school.  Can you just imagine?

They’ll think I’m wicked and sick, in the worst possible way.  Referring to the old and time honoured meanings of those words.

Kids!  At times they're simply not lank kiff at all!


Tuesday, 26 February 2013

When bad clothes happen to good people

When bad clothes happen to good people
26 February 2013

We've all been guilty of making fashion faux pas.  Or a fashion flop if you please.  Of succumbing to ill choices and having a clothing catastrophe.

And please note that this is not the same as a wardrobe malfunction.  Not the same as a broken heel, a spaghetti strap snap, a popped button or a busted zip.

I'm talking about far worse clothing calamities.  Oh you know the type.  And somehow or other, the eighties were very prolific in supplying us with these.  The worse decade for couture in my humble opinion at least. 

Clearly the fashion police were not vigilant during that particular decade.  Perhaps they were indulging in donuts, instead of arresting those committing crimes against cool clothes and the ability to look good.

And to illustrate my point, I will give you a few examples.  Firstly the grey blanket jacket instantly comes to mind.  You know the grey blankets we use for our dogs?  Well some clever twirp clearly thought, "Hey I'll wear my dog's blankie".   And then for some or other reason the fad cottoned (though I actually think it was polyester) on.

Then there was the firm belief that purple and yellow were a winning colour combo.  And accessorizing was big.  So, you'd wear a pair of purple pants, a yellow shirt, yellow shoes, purple socks.  And the creme de la creme?  Why purple plastic earrings of course!

But did the horrors stop there?  Oh no!  If only we were so lucky.  Sadly it got exponentially worse.

There was the stone washed jeans shocker.  Cringe worthy for sure.  And woollen ensembles also went down really well.  Leg warmers were worn as often as possible.  Short cut off fingerless gloves too.  Then there were stirrup pants of the horse riding variety.  Even though those who were wearing them did nothing equestrian at all.

But the piece de resistance?  The cherry on the cake?  Shoulder pads without a doubt.  Where was the appeal?

But perhaps the worst casualty of the 80's was our hair.  The crinkle cut look was in.  Big hair was, well big.  Teasing of hair was also very cool.  We invented the banana clip and that one really makes me shudder.  And simply everyone permed their hair.  Even those with already curly hair gave it a bash.  And few things will ever out-gross the mullet or hair tail.

But give the 80's their due.  They weren't really all that bad.

It's not as if the speedo's their fault after all.

Because let's be honest is any single item of clothing more grim?

No, I don't think so either.  At least on that we agree.
Ah yes - the hair tail
This one's a triple whammy - stone washed denims, fringe and really big hair
Fingerless gloves - faux leather too, with studs - nice
 Oh super gorgeous! Black stirrup pants, short-ish shirt and court low heel shoes - class. Pure class.
That's a whole lotta shoulder pads right there - pretty intense

Monday, 25 February 2013

A positive birth

A positive birth
25 February 2013

The biggest gift one woman can give another, is the gift of a positive birth experience story.  Truly it is.  It is more valuable than lotions and potions, pretty jewellery, gift vouchers, spa treatments, clothing or even things for the home.

Few things are more terrifying than realising that wonderful though your pregnancy is, “this baby’s gotta get out”.  It is definitely a woman type thing.  An ancient old fear.  I remember giving it lots of thought as just a little girl.  Being scared then already.  And even though the miracle of Caesars were around when I was still small, it hardly sounded like a very palatable option.  Having my stomach cut open certainly held no appeal.  The term between a rock and hard place certainly comes to mind.  And funny enough, at just eleven years of age, my little Amber has already expressed concern.  Which probably partly explains her desire to adopt.

And once I was with child, I made peace with the fact that this baby would eventually have to make an entry into this world.  But I was a bit of a dreamer.  In fact, I’m one in many areas of my life.  I had visions of quickly popping a baby out, with minimum fuss and not too much pain.  My recovery would be speedy, my waistline would again reappear instantly and I would embrace natural childbirth with remarkable aplomb.  Oh, I was prepared for a wee bit of discomfort.  It was only normal.  And part of me certainly felt that it was like a rite of passage.  Something us women have to do.  It would make me feel more like a mom when I finally held my precious bundle, as if I truly deserved this miracle only after enduring labour.  And giving genetics it’s due, my Mom, my Ouma Helene and my aunt Bettie had virtually sailed through childbirth.  I therefore felt that it was not unrealistic to expect my uterus to also expand like an aeroplane hangar with a huge double door, enabling an easy exit for my much anticipated baby boy.

Huge was my shock though, when labour ensued.  Where were the fine beads of sweat on my brow that my husband would lovingly wipe?  Where was my feeling of one-ness with my body?  Where was my sense of earth motherly calm?  It was sore and very painful and I was petrified and scared.  And though the pain was not constant, it would ebb and flow with each new contraction.  Like a rush of heat and a tightening that swept through my body.  I anticipated the relief of finally feeling an urge to push.  But fifteen years later, it still has not happened.  I envisioned dilating and an end being in sight.  But no such luck.

My waters had broken at 3h15 in the morning.  Though it was a trickle and not a gush.  At first I was not even sure if the show was about to start.  But by 4h25 after a phone call to the Hospital to double check we must indeed come in, as well as a call to both sets of grandparents, we set off to go and have ourselves a baby.  What an interminably looooong wait.  With not much happening at all.  My poor dad could not stand the suspense.  He popped in to the Hospital a few times during the course of Luke’s birth day.  Each time he would reach my room, stick his head around the door with a huge big anticipatory grin, as if he assumed that Luke had just been born and the waiting was finally over.  And each time, he would see me still in pain, turn green and beat a hasty retreat, having not said a word.

After many hours, an epidural, an episiotomy (fun, fun, fun!!!) and a suction cup, Luke finally took his first breath at 20h25.  By this stage, I had already signed the consent forms for a rush Caesar, but we thought we’d give it a last ditch attempt.  Three last pushes and if he still did not appear, we would do the Caesar immediately.  I really could not care.  They could have sucked him out of my nose for all that it mattered.  I just wanted him out.  It was most certainly not a highlight in my life.  But hearing his little cry and holding his little body most certainly was.  It was all worth it and the second they laid him in my arms, Grant said I glanced up at him and said “I want to do that again”.  He thought I was a nutter.  My recovery was slow and painful, but it all faded into significance, compared to finally having my new baby boy.

And then when I fell pregnant with Amber, our doctor who is a friend said “Not over my dead body are we doing that again.  It’s definitely a Caesar this time.”.  I could have kissed him I was so delighted.  And subsequently I had an elective Caesar with Cole too.  What a marvellous experience!  It was incredible!  None of that undignified huffing and puffing and agonies of pain.  Yes, my recovery was also painful and not all that fast, but here is the clincher – I COULD PUT A BANDAGE OVER MY WOUND.  And believe you me, it made all the difference in the world.  I felt victorious and vindicated.  I was a woman!

There is no right or wrong way to bring a child into this world.  Whatever works for you.  It is personal preference.  Though medical safety and costs certainly also play a role.  No one has the right to make you feel like less of a woman or a mom because you never had natural childbirth.  That you’re a failure because you had a Caesar.  The important thing is that your baby is born.  Is it not more important that you get out on the other side, healthy and whole?  Able to care for your child, not traumatised?  Your baby’s delivery, whether it be natural or Caesar, is but page one of their life story.  And your story as a mom.  It is merely the preface or introduction.  It’s setting the scene.

It’s what you do with the rest of that child’s life that makes you a true mom.

So, be kind to yourself and cut yourself some slack.  The same goes for the old breast vs bottle debate.  Pretty superfluous in my opinion, as long as you’re feeding your child.

And though I’ve told you a slightly less pleasant birth story, I was merely doing so to illustrate a point.  I was my own worst enemy because of the ideal I had in my head.  Being pregnant and the prospect of birthing and raising a child is daunting enough.  Make it easy for yourself where you can.  Encourage other women to look after themselves.  To see to themselves emotionally too.  They are not to be judged for the choices they make in birthing their child.  Natural child birth is not always all that natural for everyone.  Some women are just less able to do that.  Their bodies don’t allow it.  But thank heavens for the marvels of medicine and the choices it allows. 

A very special someone out there that I know, is facing this dilemma right now.  Her first experience was traumatic and she nearly didn’t make it.  She is still deeply troubled by it today and has lost lots of sleep over it.  More than a year down the line, the memories have not faded.  And now she finds herself expecting again.  She is petrified and my heart simply aches.  It doesn’t have to be this way.  This new baby is not a ticking time bomb, growing deep in her womb.  I’ve seen both sides of the coin and for me there is no comparison.  I would have a Caesar in a heartbeat again.  In fact I wear my scars with pride.  Visible proof of two of the best days of my life.

Look after yourself, special lady.  You can do this.  Your little boy needs you to be healthy and whole.  You need to make a pact with yourself.  To look after your wellbeing too.  Lightning doesn’t strike twice.  It will be better this time.  You can ensure it.  Be kind to yourself.

I have full faith that your “Page One” of your new baby’s life and your motherhood journey with this new bundle will be an awesome one. 

You are a woman, a mom and a survivor too.  Much love. xxx

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Well done Helene!

Well done Helene!
24 February 2013

Every so often, I have a rare moment.  A moment where I sort of step back.  A moment where I am able to look at my kids objectively.  A moment where I don't look at them as their mother.  A moment where I look at them as just kids.

These moments usually occur when they do something so perfectly and utterly marvellous, that I am filled with wonder and awe.  Coupled with pure motherly parental pride.  As well as a big dollop and dosage of pleasant surprise too.

I so often make the classic mistake of correcting them all the time.  Particularly when they are in public.  Oh, I don't do it in an embarrassing way.  But I look at how they interact and react in certain situations.  And then I take that knowledge and work with it to try and mould them.  To show them what is right.  I might whisper something quietly in their ear or talk to them about it afterwards. 

It sounds terrible when I put it like this.  As if I'm on a permanent fault finding mission.  But I can promise you this is not so.  In fact, I think most parents do this.  It is how we teach our kids.

The magic though lies in those moments of utter perfection.  When they just make you so damn proud.

And for me these moments are found in the everyday and in the seeming mundane.  It is not the academic, cultural or sporting achievements that bring forth this wonder.  It is not the A-team for this, Eisteddfod for that, or 90% for something else.  These don't happen so often after all.

And though these certainly make me feel proud, they are not my children's greatest achievements by far.  These achievements are all reached within an artificial atmosphere - the schooling one.  An atmosphere where they compete against their peers for academic brilliance, sporting prowess and cultural excellence.  In a sort of level playground.

But give them their due, these sort of accomplishments are remarkable indeed.  And they make me feel very proud.  I just find it slightly artificial.  Not very much like real life.  Real life is not as neat, fair and equal like school life is.  Real life is far more harsh.

In real life, where you compete against the world, no one says to you "well done - you are the first in this, or the best at that".  Real life is not quantifiable like that.  It is far too abstract.  You don’t get certificates for attendance or being top of the class.  No medals are awarded at the drop of a hat.

My moments of immense motherly pride come to the fore in the far more every day.  In Luke's insistence on always carrying the groceries for me.  Without me ever having to ask.  Not even once.  No matter how long our walk is or how heavy the bags are.  In his helping to unload the car when we've been out and about.  In his friendly manner in greeting adults and shaking men’s hands.  In ensuring he says goodbye when we leave somewhere.  In his willingness to help other adults when help is required.  Never mumbling or grumbling, simply getting on with it and getting the job done.

In Amber's extreme generosity with all that she has.  She will share of her best with anyone out there.  She is capable of great empathy.  And this is a sterling quality too.  Though extremely witty and sharp with her tongue, she is also able to show great sensitivity at times.  She is kind to the elderly and little babies too.  She is friendly and helpful.  She is extremely thoughtful in so many ways and delights in easing other’s lives and making things from them that she knows will bring joy.

And as for my darling little Cole.  He has the smallest and softest little heart.  He is tough as old takkies on one level for sure, but deep at his very core, he is mushy and squishy.  There is no more gentle soul when it comes to small children and he's batty about animals.  He is careful and considerate of other's feelings and is willing to be the least, so that others can feel good.  He is caring and his nurturing nature makes me glow on the inside.

Parenting is a hard and sometimes thankless task at times.  Often loggerheads ensue.  There are rules to make.  Examples to be set.  Points to prove.  Guidance to be done.

And then every so often, you glimpse something that just fills your heart with love.  Something so pure and good it makes it all worthwhile.

Something that makes you think “It’s working!  This parenting thing is a breeze and a charm!  Just look at how incredibly magnificent they are!  I’ve done good!”.

And though my kids are a wonderful result of team-parenting and Grant deserves equal credit, for just a moment, it is good to bask in the glow.

It energises one to keep on going.  To slog on.  Ever hopeful that yet another pocket of magic is awaiting soon.

And with a bit of luck, it is.




Friday, 22 February 2013

Mommy Kanga's and their Joeys

Mommy Kanga's and their Joeys
21 January 2013

There is a band of selfless women out there.  Women so generous of spirit and full of love, that they offer their homes and their hearts to babies in need.

These women all have children of their own.  Children requiring attention and love and an input in their lives.  Children of young ages, still needing lots of guidance, help with their homework, lifting and carting and heap loads of motherly love and enthusiasm too.

Yet, somehow or other, these women are able to dig deep.  They have hidden resources they’re able to tap into within themselves.  Resources allowing them to care for those out there who are vulnerable and unable to care for themselves.  They do this at a huge financial cost.  They invest emotionally and physically into babies they will never have the joy of seeing grow big.  Babies they learn to love within seconds of meeting them.  Babies who make deep footprints all over their hearts.  Babies who’s faces will linger with them forever more.

I salute them one and all.  For their bravery, their caring, their selflessness, their empathy, their dedication.  Most often these babies have special needs.  Many are preemies, requiring nearly hourly feeds.  Some go through a painful and excruciating process of cold turkey, trying to ditch their mother’s addictions they were subjected to in utero.  And even though they are so very, very little, these babies have been through some trauma too.  And I’m sure these leave emotional scars, subconsciously at least.  To be rejected by your birth mother for whatever means, is a hardship for any person, even little ones too.  Some have been abused and have been exposed to neglect.  No matter which way you look at it, they are taken away from what they know and are thrust into the arms of a stranger to them.

But, just as these Kanga moms love “their” new babies.  The babies love them too.  How could they not?  They now have a warm and cuddly, nurturing woman in their lives.  One who sees to their needs.  Not just the needs of hunger, comfort and warmth.  Their other somehow more basic needs too.  These women, feed these children emotionally.  Making them feel worthy of love.  With lots of kisses, hugs and cuddles too.  A woman who rejoices in her temporary gift of this baby in her life.  A woman who loves unconditionally.

I know two such women like this.  And they are hero’s in my eyes.  They understand the value of changing our world and making it a better place – one baby at a time.  They do this at a huge personal cost and great sacrifice.  Because with every new baby that comes into their lives, they grow a new heart of love for that child.  And once that child is taken from their care and placed into the arms of their forever Mommy and Daddy, that heart must surely ache.  And ache.  And ache some more.

Just imagine the energy invested in rearing a baby every single day for a few weeks, sometimes months on end?  Bathing, feeding, burping, changing, rocking to sleep, kissing, cuddling, carrying around.  And then all of a sudden you have to relinquish that child and your arms are empty once more.  Thank heavens for their own children who surely help to fill this void.

And thus, being a Kanga mom is actually a family commitment.  I look at my three beautiful kids and wonder how they would feel if the attention they were getting, suddenly had to be spread amongst four of them and not three (some Kanga moms even get twins to care for).  How would they cope?  I would need their help.  They’d need to help me to hold and to burp and give the odd bottle too.  They would also invest emotionally into this new little baby.  Heart ache for them would also surely follow.  But perhaps as a child, these things are easier for them to accept.  Also they go into it, being well prepared for the inevitable day when the new baby left.

I know with conviction that I could grow a whole bunch of new hearts for babies to love.  I don’t need them to come from my body for them to live in my heart.  But my Grantie knows this too.  I have spoken to him about it, and he rightly feels that the emotional strain of separation from these babies would be too great for me.  That I would mourn their loss and their weight from my arms.  That I would invest myself fully and be shattered afterwards.  He knows me too well.  I would beg and plead for each baby to stay.  And they are only ever meant to be in your life temporarily.  You are just caring for them in the interim until their forever Mommy and Daddy steps into their lives.  Their true parents forever more.

And so, whenever I see one of these Kanga mommies around, I hijack their babies for a wee little bit.  I cuddle and I hug.  I kiss and admire them.  These perfect little gifts.

But I have come to realise, that I need not feel hopeless and like I’m not making a difference, just because I can’t have a baby in my home.  Because I can help.  I can make a difference.  I can ease the plight of these babies and their Kanga mommies too.  They receive a measly R13 per day from the government for these children in their care.  One of my Kanga friends has been doing it for over a year and is still waiting to see even a single cent.  She’s had four babies so far.  Taken them into her home and her heart.  Two single babies and a set of twins.  All of these babies have been sickly and needed medical care.  She had to foot this bill.  At her own expense she had to get a pram, a cot, a car seat.  Baby bedding and clothing.  Formula and baby food, once they go onto solids.  Nappies, baby shampoo, wet wipes too.  As well as the myriad of other things you need to care for a baby.  Those of us out there who are moms, know exactly how much stuff one just seems to need.

Yesterday I bumped into this Kanga mom.  And her heart is sore.  The twins went to their forever parents the day before.  Emotionally she is drained and needs to regroup and recoup.  Physically she is tired from caring for two.

A big challenge she says is funding.  They have moms out there who really want to take on babies and be Kanga's too, but the financial burden is too big.  Others who are Kanga's also take strain because of the costs.  She gets the odd donation, but says that funding is a problem.  She has dedicated a space in her home, for donations and supplies.  But her shelves remain pretty bare.  Apart from all of the babies they are looking for temporary homes for, there are a whole bunch of bigger kids needing care too.  Kids floating in the system, being bounced around and that are deemed to be not viable for adoption because of their health or their circumstances.  These kids also deserve so much better than the hand life has dealt them.  And so, they try and do what they can to make them feel special and loved.  Presents for Christmas and their birthdays, Easter eggs for Easter.  She says that they need people to help.  In fact they’re desperate for it.  One box of marshmallow Easter eggs, put in your trolley when you do your grocery shopping, does not hurt your pocket so.  But that single box, can give 48 children a smile on Easter Sunday.

And therefore I have told her, that I will gladly donate one box of Easter eggs for those little kids.  But the needs do not stop there.  And one thing I know to be true - people need direction.  To be told exactly what they need to do to help.  Many out there are willing I’m sure.  But practical, specific and forthright instructions are essential.

I, Helene Cloete, hereby pledge to donate one tin of Baby Formula every month.  I will give it to my friend in her hand and feel good for doing it.  Knowing I’ve made a difference.

I may not get to hold one of these babies in my arms and have them in my home, but they’ve walked across my heart none the less. 

We all can help to make the world a better place, one tin of Baby Formula at a time.  And if Baby Formula is not your thing, then there’s nappies, or wet wipes.  Bottles, dummies, soap, Purity, clothing too.

I would like to challenge anyone out there to join me on my quest.  I will gladly supply the name and number of my friend.  Feel free to contact her and ask her what she needs.  And if a monetary donation is easier, then there’s bank account for you to make a deposit in to.  In a perfect world, companies step up to the plate.  And offer to a monthly commitment for the care of a child.

Just think how much better you’ll sleep tonight, knowing that there is a baby out there who is warm, fed and cared for, partially due to you.

And so today, I bought my first tin.  I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is.  I have helped to fill one baby’s belly and that makes me just feel so good. 

You don’t need to be the one holding the baby to make a difference in that child’s life.  Even if you’re just the one supplying the formula or the nappies, you’ve done good.

For you brave Kanga mommies out there and your families too – all I can say is Thank You!

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Snow White and the three little bears

Snow White and the three little bears
20 February 2013

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, there lived a fair maiden.  The most beautiful girl in all of the land.  She was pure of heart and spirit too.  And her Dad was rich – which didn’t hurt at all when it came to her popularity.

If anything, it made her a bit big headed, if you know what I mean.  But still she was plenty nice enough.

She lived in the biggest and best castle, high up on the hill.  Everything of the best – just for her. 

So one day, Snow White donned her red hoodie (some might even have called it a cape) and went for a walk in the forest.  Her dear old grandmamma was feeling rather poorly, and she thought she’d pay the old dear a visit.  She loaded her backpack with wholesome good eats, a few Red Bull energy drinks and set off on her way.

But the forest road was rather winding and long, and she got travel weary and a bit bored.  And thus, she started to wander off a little bit.  Truth be told, she followed a trail of breadcrumbs and thought she’d look where it would lead her.  She’d heard the tall tales of a little boy and a little girl, who were trapped by a witch.  A witch who was feeding them fat for the pot.  A witch she thought!  What manner of fancy is that!

But before long, while still on her Hansel and Gretel quest, she met seven of the oddest little fellows she’d ever seen.  They were rather short, and kept on singing annoying little songs, about being off to work and some such.  They all had axes and pitchforks slung over their shoulders.  She gave them a queer look and then made the obvious assumption.  They were surely protest workers, about to embark on industrial action.  And perhaps their song of work, was a freedom one?  Or maybe they were actually seeking employment?  Or bemoaning a cruel boss and unfair working conditions?  One in particular seemed pretty grumpy and another one kept on nodding off.

Well, odd little men aside, she decided to beat a hasty retreat.  No ways was she going to take the risk of being spotted with trouble makers.  A labour relations dispute was never nice.  Trouble was likely to follow.  The cops or forest security would surely make a turn and just imagine if she landed up in jail?

Daddy-dearest would have a right fit!  And as for her wicked stepmother, who constantly tried to feed her bad apples!  She seemed to spend absolute ages talking to her mirror, asking it questions all day long.  And peculiar enough, the mirror seemed to answer!  Well, if an arrest was to follow, stepmother was sure to have rather a lot to say too.

But by this stage, Snow White was really getting quite tired.  And her glass slippers were absolutely killing her toes.  So she took them off, flung them in her backpack, had one of Granny’s Red Bull’s (sorry Oumie) and headed off once more.

The next thing she knew, she was caught in the most terrible cross winds.  No, they weren’t angry – they were just all over the show.  Helter-skelter, from north, south, east and west.  Her pretty little locks and her beautiful frock – blowing everywhere.  And what with all the wind, she could barely see where she was going.  Which kind of explains why she tripped over this huge big log.

Some careless woodcutter, was just hacking off trees.  Willy-nilly and randomly too!  Not a care in the world.  Well, she sure gave him a telling off for being so irresponsible.  She was a damsel in distress and could have been badly hurt!

But this woodcutter (boy he was a piece of work) – he claimed innocence.  He said he did no wrong.  The logs and the rubble were not caused by him he said.  Had she not noticed the cross winds?  Well, he claimed they were caused by this wolf who apparently had some beef with these three little pigs.  Now that just made no sense at all.  Why would he have beef with them?  I thought they were pork?  Supposedly he was all huffing and puffing and throwing his weight around.  It sounded a bit like a housing dispute.

By this stage Snow White was just sooo over it.  She decided to catch herself a ride.  She hitched her frock up, showed a wee bit of leg.  Which apparently wasn’t even necessary at all.  Because a pumpkin carriage pulled up in no time at all.  The three blind mice pulling it had their work cut out for sure.

The only other occupant in the carriage was this humongously fat dude.  Starkers he was!  Not a single stitch of clothing in sight.  He was some or other emperor, who was gushing, oohing and aahing about his beautiful new suit.  Well Snow White really put her foot in that one she did.  What suit she begged off him?  He screeched at her in disgust for not admiring it.  Made of invisible thread he exclaimed.  He clearly was potentially a creep.

And without further ado, she got out at the next stop.  Which actually turned out to be an okay move.  Because before long, another ride came her way.  And would you believe it, he was rather hefty too.  Quite an elderly gentleman, all decked in red.  He had the oddest laugh though.  All “ho-ho-ho” instead of “ha-ha-ha”.  Anyway they made a bit of small talk along their brief journey, but he made like a million pit stops.  Perhaps poor bladder control, because he appeared to stop at every single home and take a slide down each chimney.  Can only be bathroom stops.  No other explanation for it.

Close to Granny’s place, Snow White, ditched her ride.  And there in the distance, she spotted grandmamma’s humble little cottage.  She skipped, danced and pranced the rest of the way.  But when she got there, big was her disgust.  Granny’s place was a tip!  Three bowls of porridge – she must have had other guests.  Not that any of them had finished their food.  How rude!  Chairs knocked over.  One even broken. 

In the lounge, a mouse was running up the clock.  In the kitchen, the dish was running away with the spoon (can’t blame them).  Clearly chaos everywhere.

Quietly, quietly she tiptoed up the stairs.  Feeling a bit nervous, she cautiously knocked on granny’s door.  Not a peep.  Thumping heart.  Sweaty palms.  “Granny, are you okay?”.  She pushed open the door, ever so quietly and peered deep inside.

And lying there all peacefully and perfectly content was Granny.  Reading a story ever so softly to Daddy Bear, Mommy Bear and Baby Bear.  And Hansel and Gretel too.

Good night!

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

The Long Table Delights

The Long Table Delights
19 February 2013

It is so very easy to get sucked into life.  To get caught up in the day to day grind.  And before long, if you don't keep an eye, you might find that because you got sucked into life, it's sucked your life dry.

It is absolutely essential to do something very special every so often.  Something out of the ordinary. Something frivolous and fun.   Something just for you, because you deserve it too.   What point is there in living otherwise you might ask?
As a bunch of good friends, we used to regularly indulge in stuff just for us.  Something unusual, slightly indulgent, awesome and fabulous.  But as our kids have gotten bigger, it's somehow become more difficult not less.  Weekends away must be planned to not clash with tests and exams and the absolutely huge array of sports our kids indulge in too.

Us girls get together very often.  We do nights at the movies, the odd midweek supper out.  Girls meals at one another's homes, the odd meet-up for coffee or tea, even breakfast too.  The challenge comes in arranging the men (who all happen to be friends) and the kids too.

But you know what?  You have to make these things happen.  Take the initiative.  And thus, two Sundays ago, we decided that it was time to treat us adults and rightly so.  Do we not work hard every day?  Jobs, homes, kids, running around too?

One friend bravely offered her home for all of the kids (about seventeen in total) for the duration of our outing.  Her domestic worker would be there to keep an eye, but our eldest kids are all fourteen and fifteen years old.  Hardly requiring babysitters at all.  Or perhaps now, they actually really do. They have a swimming pool, which whilst we were away would be unsupervised by a swimming-abled adult (I don’t think the domestic worker swims after all), yet the strongest swimmer of the lot, is my eight year old, Cole.

And thus we set off in convoy, some even driving together, for the beautiful Stellenbosch winelands, just kilometres from our homes.  Our final destination?  A magnificent restaurant, simply called The Long Table.  Set in the very heartland of wine country, nestled in the vineyards of Dombeya farm.

The weather could not have been more spectacular.  The view incredible.  We sat at our aptly named long table with the mountains at our feet.  Beautiful big trees, dappled sunlight between the branches and leaves, a slight little breeze.  Perfection personified.

The setting truly is beyond compare.  But the glory did not just stop there.  We were a table of fourteen, with only one young waiter, yet he was brilliant.  I have gone to restaurants with a smaller number of guests, more waiters at our disposal, yet far worse service.  He was competent, friendly, professional, efficient, knowledgeable.  Not a single mistake did he make the whole afternoon.

The Long Table does not come cheap.  About that I cannot lie.  But every single thing about it is complete and utter class.  The atmosphere was relaxed and informal.  Elegant and unmarred by airs and graces.  Unpretentious. 

Our table was in fine form, with lots and lots of laughter.  Everyone relaxed and in high spirits.

The menu is not particularly big.  In fact there selection is rather small.  But every single item on it sounds scrumptious.  And is.  If I had more time, more money and a bigger stomach, I would have thoroughly enjoyed working my way through more courses.

Quite a few of us had starters, obviously everyone had a main and many had desserts too.  Every single one of us, bar none, was blown away by our meal.  Everyone was satisfied and more than happy.  The food was beautifully presented and tasted even better than it looked.

They had but a single draft on tap, but being a wine farm, their selection of wines is impressive to say the least.

I can highly recommend The Long Table to anyone.  It promises to be an enjoyable experience if you indulge.  Our whole afternoon – the food, the venue, the drinks, the weather, the company, the laughs – completely and utterly sublime

I include a link to their website,  So when you do decide to go, please remember to invite me along too.  I think I’ll have the Pork Belly this time, with the Papaya and Avo salad as a starter, and definitely the Crème Brulee for dessert again.

(Compliments and respect to my friend JP Verster for his awesome pics and his kindness in sharing them with me.  I made a few photographic attempts as well, and will include these too.  Though not brilliant, they do help to capture the mood and the vibe.)   

Yes, we'll definitely be sitting outside - in awe of our view
Perusing the menu
Decisions!  Decisions!
View from JP's side of the table
My Gillie and her Pete
Big Jim and Gail
Loving every minute
Rinette and Karyn laughing at Thea's antics
The lovely Rinette having a good giggle
K-K-K-Karyn (she's a speech therapist)
Karyn holding forth
Everyone just relaxing and enjoying themselves
The fresh Cambodian Prawn Spring Roll starter, served on Miso caramel and ginger and peanut dipping sauce.  Grant ordered this for himself, and I promptly finished half.  Sharing is caring after all.
Prawn Spring Roll starter - quite generous actually, with four spring rolls
This is the Pickled Baby Beets starter, with goats cheese panna cotta, cashew pastry, beetroot jelly and orange accents
The delightful looking Summer Berry Pavlova dessert, with berry sorbet and coulis
The Pecan Nut Praline Cheesecake, which is slated as a signature dish, the best in the winelands
And now sadly JP's pics come to an end, and I give you my "mik-en-druk's"
Rinette and Karyn laughing away
Still giggling
Our view
Close enough to touch
Such a relaxed atmosphere
Our table right under the trees, with the vineyards within touching distance
Breath taking view - we could be in Tuscany from the look of things
JP and Pete (doing who knows what)
Big Jim had the Pork Belly, which looked incredible!
Thea looking dreamy and Garth - they had already had a looong weekend by this stage, with not very much sleep
These two together spell one thing - T-R-O-U-B-L-E
Gail and her John 
Enjoying a good cup of cino
Just chilling
Good friends - good company
A rather long, long table
Lis' and Iv
Everyone listening to JP holding forth - he was particularly entertaining (but then again, he always is)
Grant and Gill got the giggles
Gillie has THE best laugh
And still Grant and Gill continue laughing - they were hysterical
And more laughing
Everyone else laughing too
Truth be told, we laughed at Big Jim's expense - it was very funny though
As in really funny!
The most perfect day
Thank you Long Table, we had a ball.  See you again, hopefully soon.