Please don’t say ‘I told you so’

It was Daniel’s birthday last Friday and his party on Saturday. I won’t lie: it was very stressful.

There were some Moms here that haven’t been to our house before and an hour before the party Etienne was moving furniture around with Norma when she moved the couch over his foot, resulting in the loss of the nail of his big toe. Yes, it was as gross as it sounds, I apologise for the over-share. He is tough, but still in a lot of pain, poor guy.

On the way to the hospital we passed my parents so I promptly screeched to a halt and made my Dad take him to the hospital.

Then, when I arrived home and checked the soup on the stove I realised that the gas had run out. It was a real WTAF moment for me. A gas bottle normally lasts us about 6 months, so that really was not necessary. Luckily the guy responsible for Daniel’s party entertainment was able to help eventually.

The party itself was a blur, but the kids had a blast, I will do a proper post with pics soon, promise.

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Then, on Tuesday, a bunch of us went to see Bon Jovi. It was absolutely amazing, I’m SO glad I went, it was just what the doctor ordered.

In general I’m feeling very tired, a little miserable and burnt-out at the moment. It’s been a long year of parties so far. My 40th in Jan, the girls in March, my Mom’s surprise party in April and Daniel in May. Work. Parenting. Being a wife. Life in general. People being assholes on the Internet. Making time for family and friends. Gym. Keeping up with school activities.

So, before you say ‘I told you so’, I know. I’m overcommitted. If it were up to me I would curl up in a corner for 2 weeks, read mindless drivel and not speak to a single person the entire time.

Sadly though, life carries on, so I’m going to go easy on the Internet and Social Media and focus the most important people: my family.

What do you do when you are feeling stretched so thin you feel brittle? How do you find your way back to yourself?

On feeling an age

I just loved this piece on how old people feel vs their actual age.

Over the last few years I have written often about my In-Laws and how young they are for their age (my FIL is 83 and my MIL is of undisclosed not-so-far-off age). I have written about a friend’s Mom (who passed away a couple of years ago) that was such an inspiration to me on how to live your life young.

Tonight I’m wondering how old I feel and I don’t really have an answer. What I can say is that the number 40 so far is a watershed. Yes, only 4 months in and already I’m smug about being 40, but hear me out.

All those years I desperately and spectacularly unsuccessfully wanted to be thin because then and only then would other people like me and therefore I would then like myself? Utter bullshit. I was stuck in such a cycle of self-pity and hatred.

Not feeling comfortable in my skin and having trouble expressing myself because God forbid someone won’t agree with me and therefore not like me? Such crap. I’m actually a nicer person now because I’m more real.

Chasing friendships that will never be reciprocated and compromising my other (real) friends in the process? So over that. You either want to be my friend or not, we’re not children anymore.

Bandying to politics in circles of friends and at work and talking behind people’s backs because it appeases my own insecurities? Guilty as charged, no more will I do this or tolerate it.

I find myself saying more and more these days that life is too short and it is SO true. The kids are only going to be small once, we are incredibly blessed with the people in our life right now. The rest really is just superfluous shit.

– Don’t waste your time on people that make you feel bad or lie to you, they will only pull you down.

– Take care of your skin, it becomes obvious at 40. My mother made me stay out of the sun and wear eye-cream from the age of 21, I only wish she insisted I wear neck cream too.

– You really can choose how you react to the things in your life that upset you. You are either a victim of your own making or a survivor – the choice is entirely yours.

– Love your lover. Show them you love them, every single day, in every possible way. Even if they pissed you off the night before. Just do it.

– Read books aloud to your kids and with feeling. I read Cat in the Hat aloud to the kids tonight and it was the most fun I’d had ALL day. Fair enough it was a spectacularly shitty day, but reading made it all better.

I know this got all rambly and preachy, it didn’t really start out this way, but trust me on this:

Live your own life, not the life you think you should have had or you think other people think you should have. Just be who you are, the rest will sort itself out. Promise.

And be kind to yourself. You’re worth it. Always. No matter how old you are.

Food or Foe?

I’ve been thinking about weight and food lately and my relationship with food. Ok, who am I kidding, I spend my life thinking about it.

I know you’re meant to eat to live and not live to eat, but honestly, I’m never going to be a salad and chicken breast only kinda gal.  I love chicken skin and pork belly and crackling (with apologies to my Muslim and Jewish and any other non-pork eating friends) and Malva pudding smothered with custard as much as the next heart attack waiting to happen.  I started eating meat last year after many years as a non-redmeat-eater and it’s been awesome. I could go on about all the things I love to eat forever.

BUT.

Of late I have listened in to my own internal dialogue after packing on a couple (!!!) of those  kilos it took me most of last year to lose.  If I sound a bit crazy, ja, well, then there’s that.

Firstly there’s the whole wheat/lactose thing.  I cannot eat a sandwich like most people.  Ever.  My stomach cannot handle all that wheat.  So if I feel like something bad I’ll have hot chips.

But on the Hot Chips Day it’s never just the Hot Chips.  It’s the burger/cheesegriller/chicken that goes with it, because I need protein you know.  And the carbonated drink (another thing my stomach loves) and then, after all that salt I crave something sweet to get it all down.

Do I feel good after having a Hot Chip Buffet? (because let’s face it, it’s never just the chips, it’s a veritable Buffet of Death). NO.  I feel like shit. So I top up with some coffee to stay awake.

Enter my other friend, Mr Lactose.  Never can I eat an ice-cream or drink Hot Chocolate made with normal milk, my stomach is immediately on fire. On. Fire.

Both my darling friends and stress also like to invite along their friend, Mr 4 Day Stomach Spasm.  I’m trying to get out of that abusive relationship, but I find myself back there every now and again and try not to hate myself afterwards.

Secondly, there’s the whole “It’s Holiday/Weekend/Date night I’m going to be bad tonight anyway so let me have a cheat lunch” internal dialogue.  I’m trying to train myself not to think like this.  It’s hard.  I’m trying to view occasions as, well, occasions and not the caution-to-the-wind-3-day-wallow-in-calories-occasions they are at the moment.

Thirdly we have the “Finish all the food on your plate” syndrome.  I must be rolling bursting at the seams ready to vomit really full to walk away from food left over on a plate. This is one of the things we also try not to teach the kids. (think of all the hungry kids in Ethiopia..)

Fourthly, I suffer from the “I’m not really enjoying this, but it’s in my hand so I’ll have to eat it” complex. For example, I was eating a piece of droë wors the other night that was so fatty I felt sick just looking at it.  I had to force myself to put it down and back away from it.  When will I ever learn that if it isn’t nice that I shouldn’t eat it?  And that eating it faster to get rid of it will only make it worse.

And fifthly, I would also like to include “half eaten crap the kids no longer want”.  You know, the soggy cupcakes sans icing, half-licked lollipops and half-eaten bags of candy floss.  I normally make Etienne eat those, but I have been known graze through plates of barely touched pieces of cake at parties where all 3 our kids have been.  See point above about the children in Ethiopia.

I’ve made a deal with myself: stay moving, eat healthy, have occasions, don’t berate yourself or hate yourself and if it aint nice don’t eat it.

How is your relationship with food?

What lessons have you had to learn?

 

On holding grudges

I’m curious: do you hold grugdes for any length of time or are you able to let go quite easily?

I always marvel at how people can fight like cats (especially online) and then, soon thereafter when loyalties shift, they are the best of friends.  It baffles me.  I mean, if someone does you harm surely you don’t put up with them?  I always thought that you either like someone or you don’t and that you shouldn’t give them a chance to keep hurting you?

Let me explain a scenario from my own life:

A long long time ago I had this boss.  As bosses go she scared the living bejesus out of me and caused me untold anxiety and stress. Nothing was ever good enough for her, she was terribly arrogant, critical and demeaning and she generally treated people like shit.  She was a textbook example of How Not To Manage People.  We didn’t part on good terms and I literally had nightmares about her for years after.  I still get the heebie-jeebies just thinking about her (which, thankfully, I don’t do often).  Of all the people from my past I really don’t miss, she’s number 2 on the list, only surpassed by her own boss at that time.

Needless to say, I don’t harbor many warm and fuzzy feelings toward her.  In fact, over the years tales of how things haven’t worked out well for her made me smirk and gloat a little on the inside, admittedly not my finest moments.

Until last week.

Imagine my horror when I spotted her at gym at 5:15am the other morning and every other morning thereafter.  I mean, really Karma.  What the actual friggin hell?

I’ve now gone over this in my head (Etienne says I’m obsessing about it and I should just ignore her) repeatedly and I just cannot bring myself to greet her and I feel quite aggrieved that she is encroaching on, not just the gym I go to, but also the suburb I live in.  And she uses the machines in the same area I do, so there’s no dodging her. I’m seriously contemplating changing gyms, that’s how strong I feel about her.

I know I’m a big girl now and in the end it’s been a lot of years (think the previous century).  I know that the wheel has turned and all that. I know I should simply walk past, look up, give her the evil eye I perfected since raising toddlers and then smile falsely and greet. I know that I am a bigger person than my current behavior.

But seriously.  Holding on to that grudge is so much a part of me by now that it’s really hard to let go and besides, why should I be (a) false and (b) talk to someone I really have no time for?

I’ve come to realise obsessing thinking about this the last few days that I am actually a Master Grudgeholder.  Hurt one of my friends, my family or especially one of my children?  Treat me with disrespect, lie to me or steal from me? You will find your name on my shitlist and almost impossible to have it removed.  Call it self-preservation, call it shallowness or a product of my personal history, I don’t care, but don’t mess with me or the people I care for.

Do you hold grudges? If you don’t, how do you let them go?

ps: Do I care that she might read this post?  Not in the least, maybe she needs to see how people feel about her and think about the negative impact she’s had on people’s lives.

pps: there are probably a couple of people out there that feel this way about me as a manager and if I ever made you feel bad I apologise. I’m a lot better these days, promise.

Win tickets to a Backsberg Picnic Concert

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I know! I’m not really about competitions, but Etienne and I have very fond memories of Stellenbosch days (waaayyy before we were a couple) when we used to go and see Koos Kombuis at Die Eike. He was well-known for drinking his Tassies and smoking the odd joint whilst performing some of our favourite Alternative Afrikaans music. We spent many a night with our very own R8.00 bottle(s) of Tassies singing along to the likes of Lisa se klavier and Die Fokol Song.

These days I hear he is all grown up and we would love to go and see him next Sunday, 17 March at Backsberg. How this works is that we get 4 tickets, 2 for us and 2 to give away to a lucky reader that is

1. in Cape Town (unless you plan on flying in for the weekend at your own cost) 2. available next Sunday, 17 March 2013 and

3. can join us for a picnic at the concert.(wine for your own account)

Alternatively you can buy your own tickets for the concerts from www.ticketbreak.co.za/backsberg for R85. Tickets are also available at the gate for R100 or R60 with a valid student card. Children under 12 years get in free when accompanied by an adult.

Admission to concert venue starts at 15h00, with the opening act starting at 16h00 and the main act at 17h00. For the full line-up of bands, directions, comments, and more information on the series, please visit www.facebook.com/backsbergconcerts.

Competition (giggle) closes at 17h00 on Monday, 11 March and a winner will be picked at random on Monday, 11 March at 20h00 using cut up pieces of paper with your comments on and will be audited by my accountant husband whilst we drink some of our favourite Backsberg Pinotage.

To enter all you have to do is leave me a comment telling me why you would like to go and see Koos Kombuis.

And GO!

Family Winter Holiday Break

beachI’m crowd-sourcing holiday destination ideas for a week’s break in winter this year to somewhere warm on behalf of our family and some friends.

By “warm” I mean somewhere I will be able to get a small tan in July and we can escape the Cape winter for a week. We also need to break up the 3 week school holidays otherwise our kids will spend 3 weeks in holidaycare and that’s not fair toward them at all.

We have never been to a resort-type place before, but have decided that we want to give it a bash, OCD’s that we are.  We do not have the R90 000 it would cost for the 5 of us to go to Mauritius nor the R60 000 to go to Zanzibar (not even close!!), so local is lekker.  We would also love to take the kids on a plane if at all possible as they have never been, but flights are kaaaak expensive. Every place we have looked at is only slightly more expensive than the flights there and then you still need to hire a car. Without even blinking very hard you can spend R30 000 on a little holiday, so scary. And still above our budget.

We have a few things that we would really like:

  1. We do not want to look at dirty dishes for a whole week. Not as much as the rinsing of a single glass.
  2. We do not want to cook a meal for a whole week.
  3. We do not want to make beds, mop floors or do washing for a whole week. (ok, maybe the odd load of washing, but that’s IT)
  4. We want to go someplace where there is lots for the kids to do and very little for us to do except live from meal to meal and watch the horizon after breakfast to see when the plane goes over.  (which by my careful calculation will be at 10h00 every morning)
  5. We would love someplace we could swim in the sea or go for a walk with the kids.
  6. We need a week of sloth and cuddles and lolling about aimlessly with our kids, but with the option of a babysitter if we want to have a morantic* dinner for 2.

We have looked at the likes of the Wild Coast and Umhlanga, but any suggestions are welcome.

Aaannnnd GO!

Thank you in advance…

*Yes, I said morantic on purpose

Why I wore Black today

stoprapeThis morning I took this photo of myself in support of Black Friday.  If you know me at all you’ll know that

1. I hate photos of myself,

2. I avoid taking photos of myself (especially in mirrors)

3. I try to limit my outrage to a select few topics such as parents that don’t put safety belts on their kids in cars. Rage and anger takes up too much of my precious energy.

BUT

Every one of us knows someone(s) that has been touched by rape, abuse or violence.  We can choose how we respond to it. We can try to ignore the inconvenience and un-prettiness of it, or we can be outraged and angry and declare how utterly fucked this country is, or declare that we will donate money toward a good cause, or do nothing, nothing at all.

Or we can choose to make a small difference every day, a positive difference in someone’s life.

That is my choice, and I’m lucky enough to be able to do that every day at work and will continue to do so.  I’m also blessed enough to be surrounded by people that are making a difference in their own big or small way.

I chose to wear black today in solidarity with the people that I know and love (or don’t know that linger my social media streams) that have had their power taken away from them in any shape of form.

I chose to wear black today because I will teach my children about their own power and that it is never acceptable or excusable to have anyone touch you in any way that is not meant to display love through my actions and my words.

I chose to wear black today because rape, abuse and violence in not acceptable. EVER.

I chose to wear black today because I refuse to be silenced and I refuse to allow people to be silenced and not be able to speak up for themselves.

I chose to wear black today because too often the victims are forgotten.

I chose to wear black today because we should never, never, NEVER get sick of reading about violence, because if we do, we will never choose to make a positive difference.

What is your choice?

To Gym or not to Gym, that is the question

gym 5I’m not a big fan of going to the gym, it’s never really been my thing. When I was drinking and partying studying at Stellenbosch a friend (hi Marleen!) took me to the gym once and was greatly amused by all the new uses I had found for all the machines. It was a story that was retold with great gusto many a late night in Finlay’s (a long gone watering hole in Stellenbosch)

In fact, the only time I really frequented the gym was back in 1996 when I had just come back from London and was unemployed for 3 months. I rocked those step classes, but that petered out very quickly when I started working 14 hour days again in hospitality.

gym 4I have tried Belly dancing and Pilates and Yoga and I have loved them all, but I am in a committed relationship with walking now and am starting to run (when I say “starting” I really mean “thinking about it a lot”, but let’s keep that between us ok?).

The only time I have to exercise is in the morning.

5am in the morning to be specific.

I could tell myself that I will go for a walk in the evening after the kids have gone to bed, but that would be a big fat lie, there are too many other things to do and there is so little time in the day with them that I really cannot steal another minute of my time with them or with Etienne.

So, 5 am it is.

gym 3Except, all of a sudden it is very, very dark at 5 am in the morning and it’s getting harder and harder for me to make it out the door. I also know that I have to leave the house to exercise, I am *that* undisciplined. I will not get up and run on a treadmill or use an elliptical trainer or one of those type things. Ask the lonely health walker that stood in our house for 4 years.

So, gym it is. I think.

What’s it like going to gym these days, I gather it’s still done?

Must I get one of those personal trainer type people or just dodge them altogether?

What machines are there these days?

What is accepted gym etiquette, if any?

What do people wear these days?

Any other pointers?

Help me out people, I’m stuck in the 90’s..

 

My word for 2013

For 2012 I chose the word Power as my word for the year. It was quite a cathartic word and so much changed for me during 2012 that I’m going to make this an annual thing. (as I know many of you do already)

So, I am choosing the word Listen as my word for 2013.

Far too often the kids will try to get my attention and I’m busy tweeting or looking at something on whatever electronic device is in my hand at that particular moment in time. This means that I might hear some of what they are saying, but I’m not listening completely. I often feel guilty about this and wonder about the message it sends them. I want them to know that what they say is very, very important as we are here to listen to our children, come what may. And it’s not something I can suddenly start doing when they hit puberty. I have realised that I also don’t make as much eye contact with them as I should and because there is an electronic device in my hand I’m not touching, holding or hugging them as much as I could.

Etienne often comments on something that a little voice in the background was saying and I just haven’t heard what they were saying because my head was somewhere else. I’m not in that very moment with my children and it needs to change.

I also need to listen to my body. I need to listen when it whistles to get my attention to tell me that there is too much going on and I need to slow down. Because when my life is chaotic my head is chaotic and then I don’t slow down and really listen to the people that are important in my life.

I need to listen to my husband. It’s the same story with the electronic devices and the half-assed listening. It would drive me nuts if he did it to me, so I’m going to stop doing it to him.

The whole of 2013 for me is going to be more about my family and less about social media and trying to be Martha Stewart (Sue and Carmen I see you lolling in the corner there!). Lately I have come to realise that, because I’m the one taking all the photos I’m not engaging with my family and viewing Etienne making all those memories with them. And I’m greedy, this coming year I’m going to be making lots of awesome memories with the people that are the closest to my heart. Photos be damned.

If you were to choose a word for 2013 what would it be?

On turning 40

I have been thinking a lot about turning 40 and what it means, but the truth is that it kind of crept up on me in the end.

I used to think that age really is just a number, that how you feel defines your age, but now I’m not so sure. The thought of turning 40 didn’t scare me. In fact, I think being 40 gives me permission to be more authentic, more real. More honest.

More free as my friend Carmen says.

To explain how turning 40 feels its probably easier to explain it in relation to 30.

Except for the really obvious stuff like not having children at 30 and a completely different job, my life has changed significantly over the last 10 years.

My marriage is stronger than ever before. And not in the ‘comfortable worn shoe’ way, in the ‘you still take my breath away by your awesomeness’ kind of way.

I am a lot more patient and forgiving (see also: parenting).

My capacity to tolerate BS and falseness has diminished significantly. Really, life is too short.

There is just no way to explain how my capacity to love has grown. It often catches me unaware, the force of love literally punches me in the gut when looking at this family that Etienne and I made, these incredibly special little people in our life.

The friends in my life are amazing, you know who you are, I am so extremely lucky to have you. Some friendships were shed the last 10 yrs that were toxic or simply faded. It’s been so hard to let go of one friendship particularly, but I think I’m there now.

I don’t feel old, I feel mature. Calmer. Happier. (You should probably interpret ‘mature’ as ‘less churlish and childish’)

I gossip less, possibly because I’m just too busy.

Appearance matters less, what lies below is much more important.

My friend Lori also taught me recently that sometimes it is better to be kind than to be right. That was a biggy for me, and strangely liberating.

The undue pressure (Wife, Mom, Blogger, Worker) we place ourselves under that I am very guilty of, I’m working on letting that go. Not entirely, but less stress, more fun.

I look forward to getting older, I plan on making it completely fabulous!

How do you feel about getting older?

Ps. I started writing this post on the 31st of December whilst waiting for hours for Mignon to pee in a cup at the Vredenburg hospital emergency room and have been battling it since then, but I really don’t care that its late. So there.