Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Generally speaking, I actually hate to generalise

Generally speaking, I actually hate to generalise
30 October 2013

Blegh!  Generalising – such a nasty habit.  And one I take caution in not indulging in. 

I dislike the way some people or things are grouped together, randomly, because they have one or two common factors.  As if that makes one an expert on everyone or everything that has those same two common factors.  Such a ridiculous sentiment, isn’t it?

And I suppose that generalising, comes under the same heading as sweeping statements.  Equally awful.

Furthermore, generalising, is such a safe habit.  It allows the opportunity to make a statement, and in the event that you are wrong, it’s actually all above board and quite legit, because you did say generally speaking.  It leaves a margin for error.  As you don’t state unequivocally that something is a certain way.  You allow for exceptions and deviations off your rule.  You’re basically playing it safe.

Yet how can one not generalise?  We pick up little bits in our life experiences, and we draw conclusions from that.  We deduct and we deduce.  We come to understandings.  And we see something as being a certain way.

And despite my high and idealistic ideals, I do the same.  But perhaps this is human nature.  We seek to find order.  To make sense of our world.  To have a better grasp on how things work.  Why they work.  Why they are.

Boys are a certain way.  Men too.  You know all about middle children.  As if all men, who happened to be boys (one should hope so) and were middle children are exactly the same.  The way people say that women are bad drivers.  Or people with hats drive slowly.  Certain ethnic groups have spatial awareness problems.  Gay men are all raving queens.  Girls like pink.  And so the list goes on and on.  Such complete and utter rubbish.

But I know, that I myself, fall into some of these random conclusion traps. 

And so perhaps, one should rather embrace this odd habit of ours?  Maybe it shows that you have thought processes to start off with.  That you have a brain swirling around in your noggin.  Always a winning starting point. 

This habit allows us to safely traverse through life.  To get by.  To not act like an idiot for all of the time.

Thus, generally speaking?  Well I hate to generalise, but in general I find it rather useful. 

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Tuesday, 29 October 2013

I'm considering getting my husband a second wife

I'm considering getting my husband a second wife
29 October 2013

I’m toying with the idea of getting my husband a second wife.

Oh, we’re not having marital problems at all.  And it’s not as if we’re getting the big D.  In fact far from it. 

I actually want to get him another wife, while he’s still married to me.  No, he’s not a Mormon.  Nor do I actively encourage the practice of polygamy.  But I’m flexible, and willing to adapt.

Wives do a heck of a lot.  They’re generally, busy, capable people, able to juggle multiple balls.  They do.  They organise.  They arrange. 

Now just imagine, if there were two of us?  Just imagine how much we would be able to accomplish in any given day?  Though to be honest, I’ll give the second Mrs Cloete, all of the crappy jobs.  The ones that are not much fun.

And so, in essence, I’m thinking about outsourcing some of my wifely duties.  On spreading the load.  On making my life less rushed and hurried.  Of being able to delegate a bit more.

Afrikaans people are quite often known to call their domestic help, “Ousie”.  But given our surname and the fact that the 2nd Mrs Cloete, would be an extension of me, or a reprint second edition, so to speak, I’ll call her “2C”, instead.  Pronounced, as “two-see”.  Sounds marvellous and has a wonderful ring to it already.  Though speaking of rings, best she gets no crazy ideas about getting a big fabulous ring from my man as a part of the deal.  Ain’t gonna happen!  And while we’re at it, conjugal duties will not be a part of her perks.  Those are reserved for me alone.  I’m not really into sharing all that much.  And as such, smooching and hand holding is not allowed either. 

And so perhaps, just to hedge all of my bets, I’ll have to do a thorough check on 2C before employment.  There will clearly be a few boxes that need to be ticked.  She’d need to be ugly – no bones about it.  Being physically repulsive will go a long “weigh” too.  Maybe throw in a bit of body odour while I’m at it, to just ensure that there is no attraction.  And finally, she’d need to be super old.  Just so that I’m hedging all of my bets.

I’d make2C do stuff like the endless carting of kids all around.  The school meetings, the covering of books, the runs to school lost property.  I’d make her sit in the sun at school gala’s and be a time keeper at athletics.  She’d volunteer to be on the Governing Body and help to organise treats for teacher’s birthdays.  She’d make snacks for school events and help with costumes for dancing shows.  She’d definitely to tuck shop duties.  She’d do hair and make-up for umpteen kids at school concerts and help to frame kids art work for exhibitions.  She’d do trips to the municipality, Telkom and the bank.  She’d do the daily shopping and I’d send her on a culinary course for sure.  She’ll delight in daily homework and school projects will be her passion.  She’d be an administrative whizz and run the whole home like a pro.

Though, I suppose I better exercise a wee bit of caution, lest she becomes more valuable to the family than me.  I would hate to be replaced in the end.  They might just prefer her services to mine?

And perhaps given all of the above, I’m making a critical error.  Rather than getting my husband a second wife, maybe I should rather be investing in getting myself one of my very own?  I’d make her go to the gym, yet make her efforts show up on my body.  She’d pack school lunches for sure.  She’d cook without a doubt.  Homework would be her joy.  Practicing orals with kids her favourite.  She’s do all the tedious, mundane and boring bits of life.

Taking loads off my shoulders.  And easing my life instead.

Freeing up valuable free time, for me to spend with my man.  Romantic dinners and walks on the beach.

I think it’s a master plan!

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Oh yes I do! I do! And, I do!

Maybe four is a lovely number? I'm the really skinny one, to the right of the groom. His right, not yours.

Friday, 25 October 2013

My gateway drug was Coke

My gateway drug was Coke
25 October 2013

Hi, my name is Helene and I’m addicted to energy drinks.  My gateway drug was Coke.

Intellectually, I know they don’t really work.  That they’re probably as accurate, scientific and helpful towards fixing depleting energy levels, as horoscopes in the daily paper are towards revealing visions about your future.  That they’re as ineffective as using a teaspoon to empty a bath.  Particularly, when you could just pull the plug instead.

Cause the real solution, to boost your energy?  The magic fix-all?

Get more sleep.  It’s actually a no-brainer.

But here’s the problem.  Sleep is just so boring.  It’s so mind numbing and tedious.  And there’s so much else I would rather be doing. 

Now I’m not saying sleep isn’t nice.  Because I do like it.  I just find it a waste of time.  According to my mom, this has been my motto since birth.  Personally, I think it’s because I’m so scared I’ll miss out on anything fun.  And any product that give me a means to cheat Wee Willie Winkie, is a-okay in my books.

Still every so often, I indulge in an energy drink.  Because ineffective or not, they con my brain into thinking, I’ll have a bit more oomph.  Sort of the placebo effect, if you catch my drift.  Because though a part of my brain is thinking, “who are you kidding?”, another part of my brain is thinking, “yippiee, today I will have an energetic and super productive day!”.  I am also usually overcome with visions of the energizer bunny that just keeps on going. 

But I’ve given it some thought, surely the magic ingredient that would ensure energy, apart from boring sleep, is sugar?  If memory serves me from way back in time, when I was still at school, sugar equalled energy.

I present to you, the original Wee Willie Winkie:

Wee Willie Winkie runs through the town,
Upstairs and downstairs in his nightgown,
Rapping at the window, crying through the lock,
"Are the children all in bed, for now it's eight o'clock?"
And then I give to you my souped up version (with wonderous second verse):

Wee Willie Winkie runs through the town,
Upstairs and downstairs with his party crown
Rapping at the window, crying through the lock,
“Yo-yo party peeps, it’s time to rock”
Have you had your sugar yet?
It will start your energy jet.
Put some zing in your step
Cause sleeping’s such an awful schlepp

 I would also just like to mention, that something has clearly gone missing in translation.  And I'm uber grateful for that.  In the original Wee Willie Winkie poem, of Scottish origin, the line was, “Are the children all in bed, for now it’s 10 o’clock”.  Thank heavens some clever person rewrote it, made a typo and changed the time to 8pm.  Can you imagine still having your children under your feet at 10pm at night?  If that was the case, I’d have to resort to bucket loads of sugar, to get me through each day.

But maybe not even that would help.

So perhaps I’ve missed a critical and far cheaper coup?  A triumph of sorts.  Rather than spend money on so-called energy drinks, I could just go right to the source – my sugar bowl at home.

Consider it done.  And so, sorry to Red Bull, Monster, Boost, Robust and Play – perhaps, rather than spend money on you, I’ll just sugar-up instead.  I’m sure my dentist would love to go on holiday again.  Maybe this way, I can even fund it for her…..

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Thursday, 24 October 2013

I'm in the Fitness Protection Programme

I'm in the Fitness Protection Programme
24 October 2013

I’m currently hiding out.  Trying to protect my anonymity.  Hiding in plain sight.  Hoping to blend in.  To draw no unnecessary attention to myself.

First rule – make no eye contact.  I’m in the Fitness Protection Programme.

I absolutely abhor exercise.  In any shape, form or manner.  And it’s not really difficult to deduce why – I’m lazy.  There!  I’ve said it.  Now shoot me.  Go ahead!   I don’t make a difficult target – it’s not as if I’m fit enough to run.

I don’t like to exert myself physically.  I don’t understand the exercise euphoria I’ve heard people talking about.  How addictive it can become.  How you simply need your daily fix.  It simply makes no logical sense.  But then again, I’m inherently lazy.  I really, really am.  I’d far rather read a book, or watch a movie.  Alternatively, watching paint dry is more exhilarating and even a root canal holds more appeal.

If I run, it can only mean that someone is chasing me.  In fact, I am so bad at running, as to appear comical.  Apparently.  How rude!  When my kids are feeling bored and need a good laugh, they ask me to run in the front garden.  And I’m nothing, if not a sport.  And so, every so often, if I’m feeling indulgent, I’ll do just that – indulge them.  And boy do they love it.  They make themselves comfortable on the stoep.  Sitting is advised, as they may fall over in laughter if standing up.  They actually stop just short of getting snacks.  But perhaps that is more due to the fact that “the show” I give them is so exceptionally short.  I wish I could say that I streak past them with long legged grace.  But, I really, really, really don’t.  Apparently it’s part gallop, part who knows what.  My arms flail.  My legs appear not operational.  And in addition to that I think the wheezing is pretty amusing too.  What can I say?  I’ve raised truly awful kids, who enjoy laughing at their mother.  Worst of all, I’ve probably actively indulged them in this hobby of theirs.

Getting out of breath because you’re exercising, leaves me emotionally cold, even though I’d feel physically hot.  Why do it?

The gym holds no appeal whatsoever.  As in nada.  Zip.  Zilch.  Zero.  And any other word that means nothing, starting with a “z”.  And more than likely this is due to the fact that in order to gym, you have to appear in skin tight, figure hugging clothes.  I’d feel self-conscious, and I’m pretty sure I’d suck at whatever the gym threw at me.  Exercising with groups of people in a class, like Zumba, or something, would not help either.  I’d appear uncoordinated and would have to slunk and hide in the back of the class.  A pretty difficult thing to accomplish, given the propensity of gyms to have mirrors all around.  I’d be that one person in the back that steps left, when everyone else is stepping right.  Yip, that would be me.

What makes this all particularly funny, is the fact that my kids seem to like exercise, sport, dancing, etc.  Of their own accord?  There is my eldest son, the hockey-mad-A-team-playing whiz, who has a passion for soccer and enjoys running around outside playing either soccer, hockey or cricket.  Unprovoked!  There is my very coordinated daughter, who thrives whilst doing dancing.  And my youngest kid is just sports mad.  I can’t actually think that I’ve ever seen him just walking.  The pace is way too slow for him.  He tends to run, gallop, skip, sprint, etc.  Most often, whilst making bowling movements with at least one arm.  Truly odd!  And if it wasn’t for the fact that I was physically there, conscious when each one of them was born, I would doubt the fact that they were even mine.

Every so often, I dabble with the idea of exercising.  And of getting fit.  I have visions of slimness.  Lean, supple muscles.  Experiencing the exercise adrenaline high for myself. 

And then I just sit down, until the feeling passes again.
And to be honest, I've given the exercise thing the odd bash over the years.  Though to be fair, I've never really truly committed.  I've done lengthy walks with friends - but the main exercise is actually given to my jaw, as we jabber the whole way long.  I've done power plate, where I jiggled my bits.  And many, many, many moons ago, in my late teens and early twenties, I actually gave a small gym a try.  It was NOT true love.  I still can't quite visualise the bit where I go from burning chest, aching muscles, wheezing lungs, lame feeling in legs, floaty pass-out sensation and spots in front of my eyes, to a place of pleasure.  And so perhaps I've always given up too easily.

Still, in lieu of traditional exercise, I lift Jumping Castles for a living.  And hence I’m actually ridiculously strong.  Humongous muscle power in my arms and maybe by coincidence in my legs too.

The marvellous by-product of which, is that my physical prowess, helps to keep my husband in line…..  I’d take that skinny boy down!

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Wednesday, 23 October 2013

It's not that I'm fat. I'm just short for my weight.


It's not that I'm fat. I'm just short for my weight.
23 October 2013

It’s not so much a case of me being really fat.  I’m just exceptionally short for my weight.

And to be honest, it’s actually taken me a rather long while to finally figure this out.  But now that I have, it naturally makes perfect, logical, if slightly warped, sense of course.  And I can’t believe it didn’t join the dots earlier.  I’m normally not that slow off the mark.  But perhaps, my diminutive height, is to blame for me taking so long for the penny to drop.  Maybe the combo of my shortness, lack of vertical scope, and my expanding need to shoot up, has caused a brain malfunction of sorts.  Pressure on plates, medulla oblongata, spleen(???), blah, blah, blah.

Currently, by obese standards, I’m not that.  Luckily.  Still for me and for what I’m comfortable with, I’m leaning towards the podgy side.  It’s that bloody fat alter-ego of mine, Mildred.  She’s a truly nasty piece of work.  I can’t stand the evil cow!

And with summer around the corner, I am ever aware that it is time for Mildred to shove off.  She is no longer welcome at all.

And as such, I have given a thought as to how to boot her.  Dieting is so hunger inducing.  Exercising is so tiring. 

Instead, I’ve come up with a master plan of sorts.

I am expending all of my energies on thinking lengthy, elongated thoughts.  If I just stretched a wee little bit, it would sort out a whole bunch of troubles for me.  Just think of it.  My weight would not have to drop.  There would be nothing for me to lose.  None of that nasty dieting and exercising required at all.  Instead, the existing weight I’ve got, would just settle into a bigger allocated space.  Personally I’m visualising it in the longer leg area.  Potentially plumping up my calves nicely.  However, I’m quite willing to adapt.  It stands to reason, that my arms would stretch too.  And fuller lower arms, even muscles, would be perfectly all right by me.  In addition, I would not moan at all, if the breast area filled out a bit more.  In fact, I think I’d like it a lot!

One friend of mine, is super anxious to lose weight.  She’s going on an exotic beach holiday next year.  A holiday that would involve lounging around on the beach in a cozzie.  Covering up with a scarf, beanie, jeans and sweater simply won’t do.  And she says, that despite her on-again-off-again yo-yo dieting over the years, this time she is determined.  She will succeed.  Why this week alone she has lost 3kg, all thanks to putting her scale on a different tile on the bathroom floor…

But perhaps, I should take the advice of another friend.  On a recent shopping excursion, she went to a (let’s call it) “larger-lady-shop”.  This title given by her own admission.  And upon emerging a while later and having the size 16 jeans not fit her either, she hoofed it off to the food court, where she promptly ate four samosas in a row.  Knowing her, it didn’t stop there either.  She has a weakness for Nik Naks chips and chocolate Chuckles too, and I’m surmising that she would’ve worked her way through a bag of both of them.  All whilst doing the school run with her kids and being out and about doing her errands.

She reckons that her goal of many years, to be thin, has been flawed.  In fact, it’s ridiculous, she says!  Instead she has lowered the bar a bit.  Decided to be more realistic in setting her targets.  And so now, her newly revised weight goal is to just not be obese.

And big up to her.  So far so good.

She’s doing just swell.

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Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Stalking used to be so much more difficult in the old days - before Facebook


Stalking used to be so much more difficult in the old days - before Facebook
22 October 2013

I would like to take this opportunity, to personally thank Mark Zuckerberg (and his four former mates) for Facebook.  Because before the advent thereof, stalking was so much more difficult.

It involved lengthy stake-outs in cars.  Nah, we only had bicycles.  Sometimes we had to do it on foot!  Occasionally, it called for the climbing of trees for a better vantage point.  Lots of peering and creeping.  And tiptoeing too.  Clothes got dirty, from crawling around.  And camouflage make-up was particularly harsh on the skin.  If stalking with a friend for company, whispering was tricky, and learning complicated hand signals, even more so.

But nowadays?  Well, nowadays it’s a breeze.  With the mere click of a button, you can go right into someone’s home.  Also depending on what pics they’ve added, you can see their garden, their holiday.  Heck even their pets.  Maybe even their bedroom too.  You can see their families, their kids and their friends.  You can see them at play – out and about.  You can see them, most anywhere you like.

In addition, you can see who they mingle with.  Who their friends are.  Where they work.  Where they live.  Even get their contact details.

And somehow, one tends to forget all of this, when you personally, are posting and adding things on to your wall and your profile.

Most times when I hook up with someone on Facebook, I have a peek at their world.  It stands to reason.  And how would I do this?  Well, it’s easy you see – their photos.  It usually, most elegantly and beautifully, gives you the highs of their lives.  All compacted into albums conveniently.  It shows you the important bits.  The bits worth immortalising on camera.

And I’m surmising that most people do this.  If you get a friend request, you quickly have a look, if you’ve got the time.  And you’re interested enough to do so.  Which goes without saying.

My own Facebook page, has grown to close to a thousand friends.  And perhaps inadvertently, I’ve made myself more out there with the blog.  Which is a strange concept to me in itself.  For me, it’s still little old me, sitting in front of my computer typing.  Wrapping my head around the fact that people other than my mother, sister, aunt and gran read regularly, is a bit surreal.  Maybe I’m a bit more in the public domain because of the blog?  But I don’t really know.  It all sounds rather odd to me.  Many friends have found me through the blog.  Then there’s friends, family, friends of friends, friends of family, friends of friends of friends, etc.  And so the circle gets ever bigger.

For any teenager, worthy of their weight in hormones and attitude, Facebook is about three things and three things only:  Firstly, acquiring as many friends as possible.  Secondly assuring that only flattering pics of yourself are posted – hence the huge amount of selfies taken by teens.  And thirdly, creating the illusion of popularity.  Goal number one is achieved by stalking and poaching friends.  Goal number two is achieved by taking selfies.  And goal number three is achieved by taking selfies, tagging yourself, doing numerous status updates, and increasing your number of friends, via means of stalking and poaching.

Yip, stalking is much easier nowadays.  All thanx to our friend, Facebook. 

Anyway, got to dash.  Quickly going to take a photie of myself.  Pouting my lips.  Wearing a strappy top.  Pushing up my boobs for maximum cleavage. 

You never know – if an old boyfriend just so happens to stumble across my page, I simply have to look the part.

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Sunday, 20 October 2013

When I grow up, little Helene said

When I grow up, little Helene said
20 October 2013

When I grow up, little Helene said,
A world renowned pianist I shall be
I’ll play the best songs
And fame will surely come along
Beautiful melodies will ring
In my ears like jewel bling
But overly long practices?
What life would that be?
On second thought?  No, not for me.
When I grow up, little Helene said,
A famous actress I shall be
I’ll learn all my lines
Fan autographs I’ll sign
I’ll wear fabulous frocks
And have beautiful long locks
But faking and pretending to earn a good living?
How sad that would be!
 On second thought?  No, not for me.
When I grow up, little Helene said,
A teacher I shall be
I’d help eager young children to learn
Fill their minds for all they could yearn
I’d help and I’d guide
With intuition on my side
But naughty, unruly, cheeky little scamps?
I’d surely want to flee!
On second thought?  No, not for me.
When I grow up, little Helene said,
An archaeologist I shall be
I’ll excavate and I’ll dig
Unearthing treasures so very big
I’ll be covered in dust
Dirty clothing a daily must
But playing with bones?
What about the debris?
 On second thought?  No, not for me.
When I grow up, little Helene said,
A lawyer I shall be
I’ll argue and I’ll fight
For my client with all my might
Justice will reign
For criminals no gain
But if my client’s guilty in the end?
If it’s only baddies I get to see?
On second thought?  No, not for me.
When I grow up, little Helene said,
A journalist I shall be
I’ll write the best stories
And bring them to true glories
I’d use the best words
Perhaps rhyming in thirds
But constant deadlines and pressures?
Printing errors with glee?
On second thought?  No, not for me.
When I grow up, little Helene said,
 A Mommy I shall be
I’ll have the best squirts
Without them my heart will feel like it hurts
I’ll love them with a passion
With abundance always being in fashion
I’ll feel happy and so rich
Would never ever want to switch
 But then just for fun,
I’d start to write a little blog
It would fill the empty spaces
And take me off to wonderful places
My world would expand
For another passion I’d make a stand
But my true love would always be
My husband man Grant
And my kids one, two, three
And so,
When I grow up, little Helene said…
Big Helene I’ll be
And she was.

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Thursday, 17 October 2013

Always have your eldest child first

Always have your eldest child first
17 October 2013

I would like to share a handy snippet of advice to anyone out there, thinking of starting a family.  This goes out to those who have not yet taken the plunge.  Who are toying with the idea.  People who are still in the romantic planning phase of becoming with child.

Now I’m not claiming to be a parenting guru.  Or that I know all the answers.  But in my fifteen years of traversing the parenting highway, I have picked up a few tips along the way.

And the most important one of all is this:

Have your eldest child first.

No, wait.  Don’t laugh.  This actually makes a lot of sense.

Eldest children are your first experiments.

They’re hardy little things.  They have to be.  Let’s face it, you don’t really know what you’re doing.  Everything is all brand new.  In addition, as new parents, you are full of idealistic plans to raise a perfect specimen.  A child so talented, clever, well behaved, gifted, intelligent, street smart and all round wonderful, that they are clearly destined for great things.  He or she will be a captain of industry.  A doctor.  No lawyer.  A president.  A CEO.  An entrepreneurial genius.  A rocket scientist.  In fact, why aim so low?  The master of the universe.  And rightly so.

Without even being aware of doing so, we place a lot of pressure on them.  But not only on them.  On ourselves too.  Because it stands to reason that only perfect parents can raise perfect children.

And let’s face it – with your first child you don’t know it all.  To be honest, irrespective of the amount of kids you have, you never know it all.  In fact in many ways, you know bugger all.  You stumble along the way.  You give it your best shot.  You try different things.  Some work.  And some sadly don’t. 

You read something cool and inspirational about rearing kids and you try to give it a bash.  To make it your own.  To incorporate it into your growing parental style.

And thus, we do a fair bit of experimenting on our eldest children.  They’re our guinea-pigs if you like.  And actually we really should know better.  Nowadays even major cosmetics companies know that animal testing is banned and is cruel.  Now I’m not saying kids are animals, per se.  However on some occasions, their behaviour can mimic those of animals.  It’s true.

Eldest kids are kind of like our “Exhibit A”.  And as such, we put a lot of effort into “Exhibit A”.  Naturally.  Especially as “Exhibit A” is the prototype for “Exhibit B”.  To however far down in the alphabet you want to go.  And thus, depending on the success of “Exhibit A”, you might tweak your formula a bit to try and better both your performance and the outcome of “Exhibit B”.  Sort of play around a bit to try and get the whole mix just right.  Perhaps add a wee bit of this.  And take away a dollop of that.

Also, if you do your job just right with “Exhibit A”, he or she will help you to raise any further exhibits you may have.  And so for instance, if you teach “Exhibit A” how to use the toilet properly, by example, “Exhibit A” will show later exhibitions how to do the same thing too.  It kind of lessens your load.  Parentally speaking.

Currently I’m busy with “Exhibit C”.  Though, actually, truth be told, he’s still a work in progress.  The same with “Exhibit A” and “Exhibit B”.  I’m testing on them concurrently.  All at the same time.  And in some ways it’s getting easier.  I’m thinking I might just start to get a better handle on this parenting thing by the time I get to “Exhibit T”.  Though sadly, my husband does not feel inclined to put my theory to the test.

But perhaps my feelings of accomplishments with “Exhibit C” are also due to my relaxing of standards ever so slightly.  No longer do I aim for, “My son the doctor”.  Or, “My son, professor Cloete”.  Can’t exactly remember that I ever did.  Quite frankly, I’m just hoping he gets through school. 

I want him to be well rounded in all that he does.  To be a nice kid.  One who has manners.  Is polite.  But has gumption too.  A spirited child who’ll get far in life.  Who’ll find happiness in love and enjoy his life.  In fact my aims are the same for “Exhibit A” and “Exhibit B” too.  My biggest wish for them now, is that they will be happy, safe and fulfilled in their lives.

Eldest children do us a favour, by being born first.  They give us an opportunity to stretch our wings.  To expand our horizons.  To find our feet.  To think on our feet too.

Mostly, because thanks to a quirk of fate, they love us unconditionally, despite all that we do wrong.  The many mistakes we make along the way. 

As they grow, so we grow. 

And sometimes, looking back, you see glimmers of gold in your exhibits.  One and all.  And you know, that you’re actually on the right track.  You’re doing okay.

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Exhibit A

Exhibit B

Exhibit C

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Most computer problems are a PICNIC

Most computer problems are a PICNIC
16 October 2013

Computers – blegh!  They can drive one absolutely batty!

Lately, mine has been sending me around the bend!  Switching on and off whenever it feels the need.  Lagging, stalling and just plain being downright stubborn! 

However, my beloved stepdad, Daya, has a theory.  And to give him his due, he is mostly right.  He is rather technologically advanced and writes computer programmes in funny languages I can’t even begin to comprehend.  It’s like there’s a whole subculture of techies out there, that talk software.  A unique language of their own and one that keeps on morphing and evolving it seems. 

Daya is also generally pretty good with sorting out most computer glitches.  He’s my mom’s go-to-guy when her PC plays up.  And on occasion I’ve even been known to phone him to ask him something or other. 

A wonderful bonus is his marvellous sense of humour.  And so a computer related phone call could sound something like this:

Daya:  “Hello!”

Helene:  “Hi there!  Is this online technical support?”

Daya:  “Yes it is.  You are number 37 in the queue.  Please note that your call may be recorded for quality control purposes.  Please stay on the line for our next available technician.  Your call is important to us.”

And so on and so forth.  This usually leads to a predictable bout of laughter from both of us.  Laughing at the same old jokes is the best, as there is so much comfort to be gained from it.  Getting an expected response is fabulous.  Especially if you genuinely find the chirp amusing.  And delight in hearing it again.  Our Daya is such a fun person.

However, back to Daya’s theory:


The first time I heard him say this, I took immense comfort from his confidence.  Surely if most computer problems were a picnic, it meant that they were easy to solve.  Hopefully by him.

But my blessed relief in his absolute ability was short lived.  My Daya is the pun king and loves playing with words.  He’s a real whizz at wordplay. 

I can’t remember exactly how long it took for me to first question this picnic theory of his and to start having my doubts.  Perhaps it was the expression on his face when I saw him.  Or the tone of his voice.

And so after questioning him, he confessed:

PICNIC – Problem In Chair, Not In Computer

Admittedly he’s theory is usually spot on!  Now apparently, this is not a new phrase and has been coined already.  Still I love it.  It gives me both a giggle and a pause for thought when it comes to sorting out PC problems.  Just plain switching it on and off again, thereby rebooting, cures most ails.

But will I ever forget a few years ago, when Luke was about five or six years old.  Daya had passed on a computer game from my stepsister, Katarina, called Freddie Fish.  Luke was super enthusiastic about this sweet little game.  And at that age, I still had to help him quite a bit on the computer.  However, the two of us kept on getting stuck on the same spot in the game, leaving us unable to advance to the more exciting levels.

And so, I had to phone Daya.

Daya:  “Hello!”

Helene:  “Hi there!  Is this online technical support?”

Daya:  “Yes it is.  You are number 37 in the queue.  Please note that your call may be recorded for quality control purposes.  Please stay on the line for our next available technician.  Your call is important to us.”

Helene:  “Daya, Luke and I are playing Freddi Fish and we keep on getting stuck on the same spot where you have to try and get the cork out of the bottle.  Please can you help us?”

And then my forty seven year old stepdad said:


And I do believe I told him,

“You’re just making that up.”

Which he wasn’t.  We actually had to find something in the game called the Shim-Sham-Jimmety-Jam-Clapper-Gapper.

True story.  Clearly most computer problems are a picnic.  Cause in this case, I couldn’t speak the Freddi Fish language at all.

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So that unsuspecting little clam shell, is actually, a SHIM-SHAM-JIMMETY-JAM-CLAPPER-GAPPER.  Apparently...
More Freddi Fish - I spent absolute ages with Luke playing and helping him navigate this game.  It was however a good investment, as I made him pay it forward when the time came.  And thus he helped Amber and Cole when they graduated up to playing Freddi Fish.  That is part of the reason one has eldest children - so they can help you with the littlies.