Saturday, 25 October 2014

The Lavatory Retriever

The Lavatory Retriever
25 October 2014

Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!!!  Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!!!

I saw this on Facebook this morning, and I nearly had a coronary.  I thought it was absolutely hysterical!

Dog – truly man’s best friend and saviour.

I think this is so funny, because it happens.  To pretty much all of us.  At least once in our lives.

For some, it is the only wake-up we need.  Permanently teaching us to forever more check, ensure and prepare.

Safety first!

As a mom, I’ve had to fling a roll in the loo far too many times to mention.  And depending on the severity of the problem, I’ve had to resort to passing them through the crack of the door with tongs too.

This normally happens in response to a severe call of distress.  Nay impending panic.

As a mom, you get to know your children’s calls. 

When they’re babies, you can hear the difference between an “I’m hungry”, “I’m dirty”, “I’m tired”, “I’m hurting”, and an “I’m just really bored and want to spend some time with you while you’re holding me”, kind of cry.

And I confirm, that now that my kids are bigger, the same still holds true.  Though their calls are different.  And unlike babies, who are left to resort, merely to tears, my kids resort to loud bellows of “MoOooOooOmmmmMmYyYYyyyYyYyyYyyeeeeeEeEEeeeEeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

And the distressed call for loo paper, while they’re sitting on the bog, has a unique sound, all of its own.

In general, kids of all ages, take a special delight in calling their moms.  Usually loudly.  Often repetitively.  Mostly unnecessarily.

At times, I truly try to ignore mine.  I really do.

I find loud music helps.  Or pretending I’m busy with an important phone call.  Perhaps I’m phoning the department of…of…of shoe laces.  Or fridge magnets.

Then there’s the alternative.  When you simply push any buttons on your phone, pretend to listen to a caller on the other end, whilst simultaneously clicking a pen.  In-out.  In-out.  In-out.  This works even better, when you’re holding a clip board.  And you’re making a list.

Just saying.

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Sunday, 19 October 2014

So here's the story

So here's the story
19 October 2014

I’m gainfully employed again.  For a boss.  After many, many years, of working for myself.

Though to be fair, I’m still working for myself too.  And if truth be told, I’m currently juggling bosses quite a bit.  There’s more than one of them.  Or even two of them.  I’m a bit of a boss slut.  Sad, but true.

So this is the deal.  Firstly, I rent out Jumping Castles.  This entails work, mainly over weekends, with a rather large lot of admin thrown into the week for good measure.  Also supervision of cleaning crew, fielding customers’ phone calls, emailing of quotes, etc.  Then, I drive the odd kid around in the afternoon after school.  Not just my three.  I craft rather extensively for a friend, who pays me an hourly rate for certain work, and a per-item rate, for other work.  It all depends on the type of thing being crafted and made.  Then, thanks to the blog, I’ve been approached by two people, to write newsletters for them.  Now this I find kinda funny.  I write about stuff I know nothing about.  No experience of the products.  No knowledge of the industry I’m writing for.  Yet, I’m receiving fan mail and compliments.  This gets forwarded on to me, as no one knows that I’m the writer of these letters.  Very funny. 

And lastly, I’ve just become someone’s PA.  This is currently taking up the bulk of my time.  I didn’t think I was qualified to be a PA.  Well, actually, if I’m 100% honest, I didn’t really know what being a PA meant.  Or what PA’s did.  Nor did I think I had the necessary skills needed.  Still, I interviewed for the job, and I was chosen, over a few other applicants.  Much to my surprise.

Initially I absolutely dreaded it.  Before even starting.  The thought of it, made me break out in a sweat.  I didn’t want to be tied down.  Answerable to anyone else.  Responsible for more than I already am.  Stretched too fine with my time.  Over-extended.

But actually, it’s working out pretty peachy.  And here’s why – firstly, I work from home.  What’s not to love?  I can quite literally work if I’m starkers.  Or haven’t washed my hair (this will NEVER happen – I have dirty hair phobia as well as no-eyeliner phobia).  And though I roughly have to put in six hours a day, this time is flexible.  I can work in the afternoons or at night.  Early morning too.  I can even dip into it over weekends.  Work might fluctuate.  With some days demanding more time.  And others demanding less.  I mean how perfect is that?  The work changes all of the time.  Nothing is repetitive.  I do the odd bit of driving around.  And so I’m not stuck behind a desk, even though it’s my own.

And now, four weeks in, I’m discovering that I’m perfectly qualified to be a PA.  It’s mostly stuff I’ve been doing already.  For myself and my family.  At no bloody charge!

But here’s the big difference.  Lots of the stuff, is the annoying nitty-gritty that one never feels like doing.  That you end up putting off.  Procrastinate in doing.  Move over for the next day.

However, in doing it for someone else, at a fee for my time, I’ve simply got no problem.  I’m not emotionally invested in anything.  I simply do it.  No hardship attached.  Like Nike, I just do it.

I make a call.  I swipe a card.  I stand in a queue.  I see someone in person.  I do shopping.  I pay a bill.  I fetch something.  I drop something.  I collect it again.  I organise.  I liaise.  I find.  I send a mail.  I answer an email.  I source something.  I order something.  I get a number.  I put something on Facebook.  I upload.  I get a quote.  I interview someone.  I register.  I find a repair guy.  I make an appointment.  This is all stuff I do.  Every day.  None of it is difficult.  None of it is hard.

The irony?  I like doing it.  I’m enjoying it.  I have immense satisfaction in ticking something off my list.  Of doing something semi-tricky, and having success.

And it is all made easier by the fact that I like the people I’m a PA for.  Yes, the people.  An entire family.  They appreciate what I do.  They thank me for it.  They verbalise gratitude.  They’re friendly and kind.  Not dismissive of the sometimes menial stuff I do.  They’re friendly.  Basically, they’re just plain nice.

Which makes me want to help them.  And therein lies the difference.  It is all about how people treat you, and how they make you feel.

So what is the downside?  Well the downside is lack of sleep.  A mere four to five hours a night.  Every single night.  Seven nights a week.  Added to my work schedule, I’ve got three kids.  A home.  Meals to be cooked.  Homework to be supervised.  Orals that need to be prepared.  Extra-murals that need kids dropped off or fetched from.  A husband.

Quite obviously, something’s got to give.  And for now, the list is sleep, my daily walks, and blogging. 

And I miss all three.

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I miss this baby A LOT!!!

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

My mom, sister and I - each parenting a teen


My mom, sister and I - each parenting a teen
14 October 2014

Never in my wildest dreams, would I ever have envisioned this scenario.  The one where my mom, sister and I, are each parenting a teenager.  At the same glorious time.

What a funny twist of fate.

Last week, saw the three of us, spending two nights together.  This is always a highlight.

Yet every so often, we’d find ourselves grumbling about “our” teenagers.  Cause though my mom and sister are each parenting a stepchild, they’re fulltime mothers to those stepchildren.  Kids who live with them, that they’re raising, and that go to school from their homes.

But while I’m whinging about my annoying and hormonal sixteen year old teenager in Grade 10, my sister is whinging about her annoying and hormonal seventeen year old teenager in Grade 11, and my mom is whinging about her annoying and hormonal eighteen year old teenager in Grade 12.  Crazy!

Through consultation with my posse, I can concur that there is definitely a recurring theme.  Self-obsession.  Self-indulgence.  As well as a decided preoccupation with food, clothing, their social lives and their virtual social media lives.  Furthermore, there is large scale disenchantment with parental rules, the necessity for formal education and the by-their-standards abysmal amount of money at their disposal. 

How cruel life treats them.

It is awesome to have my girls on my side.  My mom and my sister.  Who better to consult with, and to bounce ideas off? 

Many of my friends who are parenting teenagers, sadly no longer have the luxury of a parent to consult.  Their mothers have passed on.  Are no longer there.  Not only is my mother still around, she’s also right in the very thick of parenting a teenager.  I can tap directly into the power source, from someone that I greatly admire and respect as a parent (just look how great my brother, sister and I turned out - J).  I can actually see her parenting at the same time as me.  In addition, I thought that without a doubt, my sister’s kids would be younger than mine.  She’s nearly seven years my junior.  Yet three of “her kids” are older than my eldest.  Funny, that!

How peculiar, that we’re all dealing with it at the same time?  The very same joys.  Kids and their curfews.  The dangers of social drinking.  Have they been secretly smoking or not?  Have their cell phones and i-pads morphed into their hands?  Their shoddy attitude towards chores and helping around the home.  Their propensity for thinking they are far superior to us, in every possible way.  Their assumption, that their intelligence far surpasses ours.  Their body language, which portrays their frustration with our pedestrian attitude towards all things they deem we don’t understand. 

It is indeed true what they say – rent a teenager.  They know everything.

Few people can make me feel more thick, dense, and all round stupid, than my teen.  And I’m clearly not alone.  They have a disdainful way of talking down to one.  As if they’re explaining stuff to a toddler.  And not a very bright one at that.

Anyway, such is life.  Grateful for the support.  Cause all three of us, are in the same boat.  At the exact same time.  Perhaps we should look for a life raft for three?  Abandon ship? 

Alas, it is a  wonderfully enlightening experience doing this jig together.  Cause we compare notes, and laugh together.  At our kids.  At each other.  And at ourselves.

So I’ve had a scary thought.  If we’re all parenting teens of a similar age, does that mean we’ll all be grandparents at a similar stage too?

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Thursday, 9 October 2014

1st Kiss vs 1st Fart


1st Kiss vs 1st Fart
9 October 2014

Now this is true.  What causes more stress and discomfort, when entering a new relationship?

The first kiss?  Or the first fart?

Most likely, this largely depends on the sex of the person.

Now I can’t really answer for men.  Obviously.  But in general, they seem to encourage bowel movements of any kind.  And see them not only as a victory, but as a measure of manliness, and virility.  It truly boggles the mind.  Flatulence is celebrated.  Heralded as acts of greatness.  Boasted about.  Greatly admired.  And worse of all – shared.  With pride.

They’re pretty indiscriminate with their audience.  Anyone is fair game.  And they’re not really selective about venue or place either.  Quite literally, the world is their oyster.  Many have a fondness for confined spaces like cars.  Or open public spaces too.  I’ve often wondered if they’re similar to dogs, in that they like to mark their territory? 

Now I’m quite naturally not referring to my gentle and “sweet” smelling man.  Or not only to him. My family is rife with men.  Generally, they rejoice in farting.  Crude but true.  Don’t believe me?  Just ask the long suffering women in my family.  The wives, husbands, and sisters.  They’ll concur. 

As for women?  We don’t share the same enthusiasm as men.  We don’t celebrate flatulence.  We ignore it.  Pretend we don’t do it.  And simply never think about it.

The first kiss in a relationship is very special.  Hugely much anticipated.  Especially by the ladies. 

It is dreamt about.  Savoured.  And over the years, often taken out of the memory bank, and recalled with fondness.  Usually with a great deal of embellishment added for good measure.

I can’t exactly recall my first kiss with Grant.  I’m assuming it was pretty terrible.  Most likely uncomfortable and new.  Noisy.  All awkward and nose-bumpy, as we had to find our rhythm.  Our angle and our perfect head inclination spot.  In addition, we were rather young.  And I was probably a bit of a kissing novice.  I mean, how many boys have you kissed when you’ve just turned seventeen? 

But as for the first fart?  Well, Grant claims that it happened one night when we were sleeping. 

Yip, rather convenient if you ask me.  As I can’t defend myself.  Most likely he made it all up.  I was unconscious after all.  Defenceless.  Perhaps he imagined it?  Is he really a good character witness in the middle of the night?  It could’ve been a dream.  And surely he was unconscious too?

As for him?  Well, naturally I may not reveal the exact details.  Suffice it to say, that it involved a spade.  And jumping.

And I still laugh to this day, when I think about it.  And so does he. 

Which is pretty darn perfect.  An odd but special memory none the less. 

And isn’t it just true of true love.  A patchwork quilt of memories, all sewed together with love.  From the silly to the serious.  Special one and all.

Thus, for that simple reason, I cherish it all.  The first kiss and the first fart.  Yet, because of the laughter, and the shared embarrassment, the fart sticks out by far.

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Tuesday, 7 October 2014

The male Praying Mantis - an advocate for abstinence

The male Praying Mantis - an advocate for abstinence
7 October 2014

Now here’s the thing – if ever there is an excellent argument for abstinence, surely the male Praying Mantis is it.

Sex = death.  Actually to be fair, violent death.  By cannibalistic decapitation.

At the hands of your lover.  Or more accurately, your lover’s mouth.

Talk about being bad at pillow talk!!! 

There are easier ways to avoid the awkward after-love conversation.  As well as the uneasy morning-after banter.

Which makes me think about the classic Praying Mantis pose.

Exactly what are they praying for?  Hoping they don’t meet any hot chicks?  Praying they make it to the gay bar in time, before coming across a sexy lady Mantis?

Our men have so much to be grateful for in comparison.

Still they whine.

Perhaps those ladies, that decline their men conjugal pleasures, are doing it to protect them.

From potential decapitation?

Must say – never really thought of that angle before.

Just imagine if, like the poor male praying mantis (post coitus), we too had an obvious tell - divulging our secrets as to what we’ve been up to.  Prancing about without a head, is really a “dead” give-away.

Or even worse - a tell as to what we’ve been thinking.

I can keep a perfectly polite face.  Masking what’s really happening on the inside.

Which is just as well.

I think we all do it.

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Sunday, 5 October 2014

Amber is slipping away


Amber is slipping away
5 October 2014

It is a sad fact of life, that as my daughter is growing up, she is moving further and further away from me.

She’s still only twelve and a half.  Yet I witness it already.

I’m becoming surplus to requirements.  No longer so needed.  She finds me too strict.  Too restrictive.  Not giving her enough freedom.  I suspect she thinks I’m too clingy.

Which is of course true.

It’s doubly hard, because this will be my second teen.

I’m still very much in the thick of it with Luke.  Which is heart breaking on its own.

I know – I’m pathetic.

This is how it is supposed to be.  As they get older, they gain more independence.  Need less influence.  And your opinion is no longer so valued.  Or sought after.

Luckily for me, the little girl is still in there.  For lots of the time.  Yet the teenage glimpses and visions of what lies ahead, makes me sad.

We still have a good and very close relationship.  She tells me lots, and shares with me.  Yet she’s pulling away.  Teeny tiny little bits. 

I also find it interesting, how she is gravitating towards her adoring Daddy.  Who absolutely loves his role as protector.  Her greatest champion.  Her biggest fan.

This is also the way it is supposed to be. 

They have a friendly teasing banter, which is really sweet.  A wonderfully close bond.

I cherish the chats and closeness we have.  And look forward to this deepening in years to come.  Especially once the excessive flood of hormones, eventually starts to wane.  And I perhaps gain a bit of increased popularity once more.

My deepest desire, is to have with her, what I have with my mom.  An unbreakable bond of friendship, support, understanding and love.

The link between a little girl and her Dad is super special.  As is the link between a little girl and her Mom.

Love you Amber-Berry!


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Friday, 3 October 2014

Part mom, part quantity surveyor, part event coordinator

Part mom, part quantity surveyor, part event coordinator
2 October 2014

Being a mom. 

I think there’s a huge misconception out there, as to exactly what being a mom entails.

You actually need a bloody degree.  No, a certificate.  Boot camp.  Tertiary education.  A technical qualification.  An apprenticeship of sorts.  A medal.  A trophy.  And a hole in your head.

It’s not the easiest job in the world.  Some days I’d far prefer sitting in a delightful air conditioned office.  Imagining crunching numbers.  Maybe being a lawyer.  A doctor.  A high powered business women, making my many minions squirm.  A psychologist – pickling and picking brains.  An entrepreneur, making gazillions.  A journalist, relaying current events.  Even a data capturer – whatever that might be.

But then again, I think to myself.  To be fair, I’m doing all of that already.  Sadly without the pay.  Or the holidays.  The 13th cheque bonus.  The entertainment and travelling allowance.  The free telephone.

Moms don’t spend their days making school sarmies, and driving kids around.  And painting their nails in between drop-offs and collections.  Moms are challenged way more than that.

In any given day, you can be expected to do the following:  Help do research for a project you have no interest in – RESEARCHER.  Bake muffins for an entrepreneurship day – PATISSERIE CHEF.  Help to accurately work out costs, for said muffins, taking into account electricity usage and labour – QUANITITY SURVEYOR AND COST ACCOUNTANT.  Drive kids up and down – CHAUFFEUR.  Buy kids’ clothing to exact specifications – PERSONAL SHOPPER.  Plan meals, do grocery shopping and cook – RESTAURATEUR.  Schedule kid’s extra-murals, and parties they’re going to, get-together’s with friends, and all their social commitments – PERSONAL ASSISTANT.  Plan Birthday Parties – EVENT COORDINATOR.  Liasse with school teachers, keep abreast with school projects and orals, sign school reply slips – DIARY COORDINATOR AND ADMINISTRATOR.  Help with homework, orals, projects and studying for tests and exams – PRIVATE TUTOR.  Pay for everything they need (and sometimes want) – PERSONAL BANKER.  Help at school cake sale – SHOP ASSISTANT.  Support next to the sports field – RA-RA-GIRL AND SUPPORTER.  Help with piano practice – MUSIC TEACHER.  Practice bowling or play hockey in the back garden – COACH.  Help to make an outfit for a dancing show or exam – DRESSMAKER.  Help with make-up for a dancing show or exam – MAKE-UP ARTIST.  Capture every major event in your child’s life – PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER AND VIDEOGRAPHER.  Go to various shops like the hardware store, plastic shop and stationary shop to get items for school projects, ranging from wood, nails, glue, wire, cardboard, funnels, tubs, glitter, polystyrene, etc. – GOFER.  Deal with problems with cell phones and computer related issues – TECHNO GURU.  Diffuse sibling disagreements and arguments – CONFLICT MEDIATOR AND ARBITRATOR.  Listen to tales of love and heartbreak – LOVE DOCTOR.  Explain the basics of male/female biology – SEX EDUCATOR.  Give advice on personal issues, ranging from body issues, to problems with friends – PSYCHIATRIST.  Help with goal setting, study methods, and future planning – LIFE COACH.  Basic wound care and medical assistance – DOCTOR/NURSE (depending on the severity of the injury or ailment).  Dispensing of medicine to cure or treat any ailments, illnesses or injuries – PHARMACIST.  Give general care and attention to matters requiring medical intervention, such as dentistry, orthodontics, dermatology and orthopaedics and liaising with said professionals in order to get expert care – MEDICAL ADVISOR.  Ensure social get-togethers, outings and sleepovers are discussed and coordinated with other parents – SECRETARY.   Set boundaries with regards to money – FINANCIAL ADVISOR.  Manage time spent on PlayStation, TV and the computer - MODERATOR.  Monitor content of material viewed on social media and TV – SENSOR BOARD.  Ensure healthy eating habits, and shop and cook accordingly to those requirements – DIETICIAN.  Limit intake of unhealthy food – HEALTH COUNSELOR/CONSULTANT.  Promote exercise and all round physical well-being – FITNESS INSTRUCTOR.  Be a non-judgemental sounding board – CONFIDANT.  Giving of life advice and little nuggets of wisdom – MENTOR.  Explaining and trying to answer questions relating to religion – SPIRITUAL GUIDE.  Initiate exposure to art, music, dance, architecture, literature and culture – AESTHETICS FACILITATOR.  Wardrobe and clothing advice – FASHION STYLIST.  Plaiting and gelling of hair, as well as hair straightening – HAIR STYLIST.  Oversee all written school projects – COPYRIGHT EDITOR AND PUBLICIST.  Teach etiquette, basic manners and respect towards elders – PROTOCOL ADVISOR.  Advise on career options and study courses for tertiary education – EDUCATION SPECIALIST.  Act as intermediary and organiser for social calendar, incorporating school events, extra-murals and social time with friends – LIAISON OFFICER.  Deligate household chores and tasks – LABOUR CONSULTANT AND BROKER.  Encourage and fund an interest in a pastime – HOBBY FACILITATOR.  Discuss appropriate behaviour with members of the opposite sex – FOREIGN AFFAIRS.  Broker and foster fledgling relationships – SOCIAL ENVOY.  Document and record all important events and milestones – ARCHIVIST.  Organise playdates and get togethers with other parents – FRIENDSHIP EMISSARY.  Carry and load everything they ever need (Mommy, please hold my sweater) – BELLHOP AND BAGGAGE CONSULTANT.  Dispense with any rubbish (Mommy, here’s my empty packet of chips) – REFUSE REMOVAL.  Explain language anomalies, sayings, grammar, as well as all verbal skills – LINGUISTICS ATTACHE.  Attend parent-teacher school meetings – PERSONAL RELATIONS AMBASSADOR.  Boost the child’s ego at all times and help to promote a healthy overall image of the child – PUBLIC RELATIONS MANAGER.  Encourage pets and caring for them – VETERINARY ASSISTANT.  Foster a love for helping those less fortunate and in need of help – CHARITABLE ORGANISER.  Plan transport to and from places, as well as holidays and weekends away – TRAVEL AGENT.  Ensure clothes are clean – STAIN REMOVAL EXPERT AND LAUNDRY SPECIALIST.  Express admiration for all art works made in all forms of media and proudly display them in your home, regardless of their true aesthetic value – ARTISTIC AND GALLERY AFFICIONADO.  All round care of neatness, tidiness and cleanliness in the home – DOMESTIC ENGINEER.  Relay messages from friends sent to your own personal cell phone via sms, BBM and WhatsApp – CRYPTOGRAPHER (you firstly need to be able to understand their texting shorthand and signals) AND MESSAGE BEARER.  Help with selling of endless sheets of raffle tickets – SALES REP.  Basic mending of items of clothing, like sewing on of Cubs badges and adding buttons – TAILOR.  Bravely endure meals and snacks they’ve unhygienically prepared for you – TESTER.  Watch numerous plays and shows put together for your benefit – ENTHUSIASTIC CLAPPING FAN.  Play endless rounds of Monopoly, cards, Snakes and Ladders, Cluedo and any manner of boardgame – ENTHUSIASTIC-DICE-THROWER-INTENTIONALLY-THROWING-THE-GAME-SO-THEY-CAN-JUST-BLOODY-WIN-THE-GAME-AND-IT-CAN-END-AS-WELL-AS-PRAYING-YOU-LAND-ON-GO-TO-JAIL-SO-YOU-CAN-JUST-LOSE-ALL-YOUR-MONEY-AND-THE-THREE-HOUR-LONG-GAME-OF-MONOPOLY-WILL-FINALLY-END (I’m a huge fan).  Count how long they can hold their breath under water and how long it takes them to run from one end of the garden to the other – TIME KEEPER.  Stock endless quantities of stationary and craft items - STATIONARY SUPPLIER.  Home burials of much beloved pets - FUNERAL DIRECTOR.

So here’s the thing.  Looking back at the rather vast array and diverse scope of functions I am required to perform on a daily basis, I feel that it is within my rights to feel ever so slightly disgruntled.  Never mind disgruntled, damn outright exploited!  Moreover, the parameters of my employment have not accurately been documented, set and recorded.  And the list of duties I need to complete and take charge of, seem to be ever increasing.  Always growing.  Stretching and stretching.  Surely a proper job description is required?  Protecting me from being over extended.  And being taken advantage of? 

There is just one solution here.  Particularly given the complete and utter blatant disregard for formal remuneration in any form whatsoever.  Yip – no payment.  No salary.  No bonus.  Not even a petrol allowance.  Nor bloody free pens from work.

I’m taking my three bosses, Luke, Amber and Cole to the Labour Court.  They’ve left me no choice.

We’ve passed the point of arbitration.  And just to prove my point, I won't cook them any supper tonight (perhaps just a little snack).

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