Let’s talk about Christmas

Ok. I will eventually, but first, let me say: Fokkies. People. It’s almost Christmas. I know it’s the end of the year when dragging my backside through the last month and seeing the days whizzzz by fill me with equal amounts of dread and glee. To-do lists seem to get longer and longer, projects *have* to be wrapped up by the end of November.

I also know it’s the end of the year when I no longer have any filters and some of the things that come out of my mouth make me cringe. My Boss calls it ‘Interpersonal Sensitivity’. I call it ‘Too tired to put up with crap’.

Tonight I realised that I’m doing the same as every year: buying too many little stocking filler gifts for the kids and contemplating the utter futility of buying expensive toys.

Toys that they will play with for about 20 seconds before they are discarded in favour of the disposable arty kakkies that are the stocking fillers. (Unless they are the 2 microphones and a guitar the kids got from my folks a few years ago. The less said about that the better. They are like a bad rash)

Toys we spent time agonizing about, not only because there are 3 children and it adds up WAY too quickly, but also because we would hate to ruin Father Christmas’s reputation of buying the perfect gift.
I really do wonder what the point is of buying toys. Our lot are quite content to play silly games with each other and, really, they (mostly) hold no educational value. But then it wouldn’t be a toy, now would it?

What are you buying your kids for Christmas? Do you agree that buying toys are more often a monumental waste of hard-earned money than anything else?

Life post-Au Pair

Funny how life works out.

I’ve been saying for ages how I wish I could just have an extra hour a day with the kids and through a sequence of events I now do. It used to kill me to come home at 5:30pm and find them wrapped up in themselves or the TV or an electronic device.

Yes, I now start work at 7am and just get to see them wake up before I leave, but I get to leave at work at 4pm. This is huge.

Yes, the kids have to go to Aftercare, but I get to collect them now. I get to hear all the stories about their day first. And trust me, they have a LOT to talk about!

Yes, I now have to do homework with a Master-of-Dodging-fling-yourself-on-the-floor 8 year old, but I now have a grip on what is going on at school. I get to see how well he is doing and tell him so. For the rest there is wine.

Yes, I’m now more responsible for dinner, but I was really, really spoilt, so it’s not a problem at all. I cannot abdicate all responsibility for supper to my long-suffering husband anymore. (On this note, I’m trying not OCD the crap out of it and set up a 6 week menu)

I’ve never been averse to change, but the whole rhythm of my day is a little out of whack at the moment, almost like when the clocks used to move an hour forward or backward in the UK. Weird for a couple of days, but then you’re back in the swing of things.

Now just to survive the homework..

A fun day at the Dermatologist

Isabel has the weirdest skin infection for a while now that started behind her knee and spread up and down her leg. Despite 2 (!!) doctors diagnosing eczema it clearly wasn’t.

So, off to the Dermatologist we went today. (I had a good idea what it was as my bestie, Leo’s, little girl has the same*)

Of course I had to go with both girls, can’t exactly be leaving the one at aftercare, now can I?

I should have known we were in for a fun time when we arrived and they went into hysterical giggle mode. As we sat down Isabel immediately jumps on my lap and starts bouncing and kicking the back of the (very expensive) desk. In between trying to have a conversation, holding on to Isabel’s legs and trying not to clamp my hand over giggling Mignon’s mouth we concluded our conversation and move on to the exam room.

Here they both climb on the examination table, ready for action. At this point the doctor starts talking a little faster, I suspect he was getting a bit nervous.

It went downhill from there and ended at a crescendo with ‘Mamma! Ek het in Isabel se gesig gepoep!’ By then the doctor was talking so fast I could only nod and back out of the room quietly, giggling twins in tow.

Next time it’s Etienne’s turn, pass the whiskey please.

*the condition is called Molluscom Contagiosum. It’s not dangerous and quite easy to fix, but it is annoying. Apparently it’s quite common?

To shoe or not to shoe – Captain’s log – Day 2

When I was about Daniel’s age I forgot my PT clothes at home early in the first term and felt completely freaked out when I was the only one that didn’t change into my PT clothes at break time. The following day I dutifully took my PT clothes to school and changed at break time, only to realise after break we didn’t have PT that day. The shame, the shame. So I have, to this day, a thing about being appropriately dressed for all occasions. It’s funny how a little thing like that could be so traumatic for little me.

This morning my own personal worst fear came true: Daniel’s school shoes were missing. I screamed a little on the inside, but also knew that this is potentially a valuable lesson for him to learn about taking care of his stuff.

There were tears and a rinse and repeat of yesterday’s drama to get him into the car wearing his takkies, but we finally got to to Aftercare to see whether they had found the shoes, but no such luck, all the while with the Sussies in tow.

I was cross. And sad for him. And then I was cross some more.

So, we all walked to his class, him clasping my hand for dear life as he did the walk of shame past hundreds of school children in school shoes.

When we arrived at class we explained to his teacher what happened, but that this was an important lesson in taking care of your things and she nodded sagely.

The shoes are gone. Gonner than gone. I try not to dwell on what might have happened to them.

I went to buy some new shoes, but he’ll be paying for them out of his pocket money for a very, very long time. And I’ll only tell him in the morning, when we have our next argument about the takkies. Mean, I know, but maybe he’ll sweat a little.

My folks came for supper tonight and I hugged them extra hard as a very dear friend of mine has just lost* her Mom. It’s been a melancholy day, made marginally better by having my family and my children close, those last hugs and sniffly kisses when they’re soft with falling asleep. It really is the best time of day. You want them to go to sleep because you have so much to do, but you desperately want to hold them for just a few more minutes, just for in case they forgot to tell you that one last thing about their day or they need to hear you say ‘Mommy loves you’ one last time.

Tomorrow will be better.

* I never understand the word ‘lost’ when someone passes away. You didn’t lose them, but they are irrevocably gone, your heart ripped out.

Mancation – Captain’s Log – Day 1

Etienne left on his 5 day Mancation this morning.

At 5am I had Daniel in bed with me, at 6am both girls were crying after their Dad left, nothing serious, they just tend to wind each other up.

Off to a great start then.

It was going well until Daniel had to pack his clothes for hockey this afternoon and point blank refused to. What follows is a loose transcript, I’ll spare you nasty in-between detail:

  • D: “I will NOT play hockey today, it’s match day and they always make me goalie”
  • Me: “Do you want me to email the teacher and ask that she doesn’t put you at goalie today?” (whilst putting on my face, trying not to stick the mascara wand in my eye)
  • D: “NO. Ok, what really happened is that I don’t like playing with some of the boys”
  • Me: “Oh, that’s quite different then. Why don’t you like playing with the boys?” (whilst I’m busy getting dressed)
  • D: “They’re not very fast, just like me” (this is true)
  • Me: “That’s not a good enough reason not to play hockey, you were having fun on Monday? I still don’t understand?” (by this time I’m putting on my shoes)
  • D: “Ok. What’s really wrong is that the teacher never gives me a bib and the team in the bibs ALWAYS beat my team”
  • Me:  “That doesn’t seem fair, have you spoken to the teacher about it? I can’t let you quit hockey today, it’s only one lesson, we can talk about it when your Dad gets home” (Yes, I went there!)
  • D: “NO!” (runs off to his room to sulk)

By this stage I have moved on to the girls’ room and found them with bemused expressions, having listened to the whole drama playing itself out in my room. I’m busy with their hair and we are chatting when I hear Daniel crying from his room, so I go and have a look and he really upset about the freaking hockey, he had worked himself up into such a state and there was very little I could do about it. At this stage I probably should have given up, but noooo, I persevere, because clearly I’m a sucker for punishment.

This was followed by him not wanting to leave the house, not wanting to get into the car, not wanting to get out of the car and refusing to walk into school. I tried leaving him at the gate, but he ran after me, to the horror of some Mothers that were on school traffic duty. So, I did what every self-respecting Mother would do: I walked him to class, even though parents aren’t really welcome at the classes in Gr 2. There I finally managed to leave him, not happy at all. As I passed those very horrified Mothers I suggested it was maybe not to early to start drinking and they assured me that somewhere a plane had gone over. Mothers in arms, I tell ya.

Luckily I had the sense to call Aftercare and warn them that my son was just not that into hockey today and I did get “your son refuses to go to hockey” call. So I said to put him on the phone and said it was ok, but that we will talk about it tonight. What. Ever. It’s really not worth it, but his timing sucks.

Fast forward to tonight and the child is adamant. I’m just going to leave it for now.

The kids are now safely, but only just, tucked into bed, all fed and watered and read to after many jokes and farts and begging to brush teeth.

I am now huddled on the couch in the fetal position with my favourite things: wine, my iPad, my crochet work and Longmire on AppleTV. Yes, I’m a closet cowboy fan..

1 day down, 4 to go.

On writing

This is one of those posts that I hope comes out the right way.

Here goes:

My blog is not monetized. There are no adverts, no giveaways, no pretty widgets and plug-ins. I’m trying to keep it as clean and simple and honest as possible as there is enough noise on the Internet. I don’t have a Facebook page on purpose (although I do sometimes toy with the idea). I’m not driven by numbers.

In fact, the blog was private for a while this year and I’m still trying to come to terms with what I deem appropriate to share and what to rather keep within the confines of our home and closest friends. Emotionally it’s been a tough year, but I’m gathering myself toward myself. As you do.

I’m torn between wanting people to read (I will always love seeing people comment, even though I’ve unwittingly made it difficult for people to do so until today, thank you Laura!) and not wanting people to read (I feel too exposed, too judged, too emotionally fragile to deal with trolls).

I battle to find the right tone at the moment, I have to dig deep to see the funny some days, which is why I have to keep writing. It forces me to put things into perspective.

I have also neglected reading some of my favourite blogs – especially the local ones – and now I remember why I used to love reading them: they often put life into context. I haven’t opened Bloglovin for most of the year as, quite honestly, seeing all those unread posts make me want to run screaming (I really miss Google Reader btw, everything was *just* right).

What I’m really enjoying are the “quiet” blogs, the private thoughts that aren’t publicised. They somehow feel more honest, less contrived. Their intent, like mine, isn’t to generate income, it’s there for an outlet and support (I think). It’s like The Underground of Blogging.

It’s so easy to get sucked into chasing page-views, optimising what you write for the Whole Wide Web to read. It’s so liberating not to give a toss, mostly. Read it, don’t read it.

But for those of you that read and keep coming back I just want to take a moment to say thank you. Thank you for reading.

It means the world to me.


On choosing a colour

I suck at choosing paint colour.

BK (before kids), in our previous house, we decided to paint the outside of the house and I wanted a really soft yellow. I also worked very long hours, which meant I was hardly ever at home when it was light. The painter very kindly painted a sample on the wall for us and me, looking at it in the dark, thought it looked fine. What it actually ended up looking like was a sick lemon that had vomited all over the house. Since then I’ve been almost too cautious with choosing colours.

When we moved into our current house I once again picked what I thought was a light colour, but was actually a pinky mushroomy colour. I was pregnant at the time, so let’s just say it was pregnancy hormones..

With this renovation* it hasn’t gone too badly, except that I wanted grey, “not too dark, not too dead, must be just right”, I must be a paint salesperson’s nightmare. It looks cool, just maybe a little light, but I’m too scared to mess with it.

Which brings me to my latest project: painting over the slate surrounding our fireplace and in in our kitchen. The slate fireplace is lovely, if you’re stuck in 1975, so I wanted to incorporate some duck-egg blue. Jaaa, not so much, it’s more baby blue, but whatever.

The kitchen, once again done during my first pregnancy, circa the big pink mushroom paint debacle, has slate tiles on the wall and has dated really badly. And that kitchen is going to have to stay the same for the next few years in our current state of renovation fatigue, so painting slate it is. I had visions of a light turquoise, almost like that beautiful glass splashback you can install at a gazillion bucks a square centimeter. Instead, I have vomit hospital green. Do you think they will laugh down at the paint shop if I pitch up with my Le Creuset Caribbean Blue kettle and demand to have *that* colour? Ok, they probably will, but hopefully they won’t do it to my face.

Then, I want a red front door (which took some convincing of The Husband. I still don’t think he’s 100% on board, but I also think he’s just given up). In preparation of the red front door I, initially with the help of 3 sets of messy hands and after what looked like a blood bath, painted an outside bench Postbox Red and it doesn’t look too bad. Mostly.

And no, I’m not taking pictures of the kitchen, it’s too bad. I’m also considering outsourcing the actual painting, I’d rather stick to crochet and baking to be honest.

Stay tuned, this could get ugly.

*which is still not done, but we are almost there. Except for a leaking roof in the original part of our bedroom this past weekend – I’m talking water coming down through the light fittings. There was a LOT of bitching and moaning from my side as the builder had “fixed” a much smaller leak earlier in the week and we ended up with Niagara Falls. Not. Impressed.

Tough Love and Parenting Purgatory

To say “Daniel is attached to his teacher” would be an understatement of note.

The last time, a couple of months ago, when her child was ill she wasn’t in class for 2 days and Daniel had a bit of a meltdown. On the second day we received a phone-call from the school, right after break, to say that he had a tummy ache. Like the caring parents we are we rushed to his rescue and wonder of all wonders, the stomach ache disappeared the minute he was collected from school by Etienne. It was nothing short of a miracle!

This week his teacher went on a Netball tour so she was away from class most of yesterday and the whole of today. We could already see by Daniel’s sleeping patterns (3am nightmare alerts and the inevitable bedhopping) and sudden excessive chewing of nails that he was not too happy about this state of affairs.

Like all good Helicopter Parents we tried to acknowledge and discuss his fears and give him extra love without getting sucked into the drama, but most of all we wanted him to know that he can survive without her as he only has a few months left in her class and then has to move on to the next teacher. Because, that’s life you know. We also had to trust the school that they wouldn’t send in Miss Rottenmeier is a replacement teacher, which they didn’t.

Yesterday he was fine, last night Etienne did the bed-hop and this morning he seemed ok, if a little muted. We reminded him that it was only 1 more day and then it it weekend and of all the great things we will do this weekend.

Like clockwork, right after break I receive a call from the school: Daniel has a stomach ache, he is not feeling well. Luckily the reception lady is really on the ball, so I ask her if she thinks he is really sick. She says she doesn’t think so. So, I ask her to put him on the phone.

  • Me: “What’s wrong my boy?”
  • Daniel: “My stomach hurts”
  • Me: “Did you go to tuck shop? What did you buy?”
  • D: “Only 1 sweet” (barefaced fib, he had R10 and I bet you spent every last cent of it, he is his Mother’s child)
  • Me: “Are you still worried about your teacher not being there?”
  • D: in a really small voice “Yes”
  • Me: “It’s almost time to go home, you are going to have to stay at school. It’s not long now, you just have to be brave a little while longer my boy” I didn’t plan on saying it, it just kind of popped out of my mouth, but once it was out there was no taking it back.
  • D: in an even smaller voice “Yes”
  • Me: ” Mommy loves you, I’ll see you later”
  • D: doesn’t answer

Don’t get me wrong, this upset me on many levels, but we explained to him last time that, if he isn’t really sick we cannot collect him from school and that, next time, we may not believe him if he really is sick. Cry Wolf and all that. I also realise that, if we don’t make him learn some of the tougher lessons in life now he will never be forced to learn otherwise, or will only learn them with a great deal of unnecessary pain.

I called home after school and he was happy as Larry, playing away, whilst his Mother was at work, counting the minutes until that first glass of wine tonight. It’s been one of *those* days.

People. Parenting is HARD.

Ps: It’s our beloved Au Pair’s last day today and from Monday they’re back at Aftercare, so that may also be why he’s feeling unsettled

Pps: Etienne is away on his annual Mancation for 5 days next week, so this may also be a contributing factor. At least I will have much fodder for blog posts

Ppps: This tough love thing must be an annual event, check out the Tough Love post below WordPress cleverly picked up. Click here if you can’t see it.

Raising a boy

I grew up as a single child for almost 7 years and then along came a sister, so I didn’t grow up knowing what boys can be like. Then, along came our first-born, a son, and my mind is still blown.

In a nutshell: boys can be gross.

It’s a constant battle of eat-with-your-mouth-closed, are-you-wearing-underpants, please-put-socks-on-your-boots-will-stink, pick-up-your-towel-this-is-not-a-hotel, your-shirt-buttons-are-skew-yes-you-have-to-fix-it, do-not-toe-your-shoes-off-undo-the-laces, have-you-brushed-your-teeth-come-here-let-me-smell-your-breath, hands-out-the-pants-at-the-dinner-table-please.

It’s exhausting, but the look of guilt on his face gives him away and makes me smile, no matter how hard he tries. Every. Single. Time. Especially the underpants thing.

But he is a funny guy. Now that he is old enough to understand the difference between fantasy and reality he can be quite creative with games, I love to see how his mind works.

Yesterday in the car he was telling us how he is moving out of the house when he is 16. He is moving into a house he is going to build with friends (and then named them)

“Who will build the house?” we ask

“We will, duh. And then the builder can just paint the one wall yellow and paint Lego over it. And Emmet” he says

“What will you do for furniture?” we ask

“We will have an X-box, and A will bring his X-box as well”

“But you need a TV to play the X-box on, in that case 2 TV’s” we say


And yet, he is such a softie (in a good way). Always a hug for his sisters and girl BFF, upset to the point of waking up at night when he knows his teacher won’t be there the next day ( like last night)

Yet, getting out of him what upsets him really is like pulling teeth. You walk the fine guessing line without always having all the facts and running the risk of him just agreeing to what you think is wrong and not getting to the bottom of the problem, but I guess this is what parenting is about.

I just don’t feel that I’m grown-up enough to anticipate and read them well enough, but we will get there.

Do I make any sense of was this just a mad rambling?

Review – Skoorsteenberg

Disclaimer: I wasn’t compensated in any way whatsoever for writing this or asked to write about it, let’s just call this post Paying it Forward.

During the school holidays we decided to take the kids where there was no signal, no tv and no devices (ok, mostly no devices) and ended up at Skoorsteenberg in the Tankwa Karoo.

To get there you have to travel about 80 odd kilometres (the road between Ceres and Calvinia, at 270 km the longest gravel road in the country) on gravel and we passed 2 cars that had flat tyres as the gravel there tends to cut tyres, so bear that in mind if you do go. The landscape is flat, lots of little bossies and very few trees as far as they eye can see. Just what we wanted: peace, quiet and a little desolation. And breathtaking sunsets.


The kids had an absolute ball, they climbed “the mountain” (a koppie) about a gazillion times a day to go and sit on rocks or walk the mandala that the owner, Nana’s, daughter had packed out in stones.

We played Uno and Jenga, we built puzzle. We read and talked and walked. Mostly we played a silly Moshi Monsters card game that Daniel got in a magazine. As a side-note, he cheats shamelessly, the sussies couldn’t understand why he kept on winning until we intervened and they kept calling him out on it after that.

We were really lucky with the weather, no wind at night and lovely warm winter’s days, so we could sit outside after the sun went down and the kids were asleep.

The cottage itself is really well equipped, it has the 3 things I usually miss at places we stay: proper wine glasses, big coffee mugs and sharp knives. A big win in my books. It also has a gas heater and warm water bottles for every person. There is no fireplace inside, purely because the house is really well-insulated and the small matter of no trees = no wood to speak of. But don’t let this deter you.


The other thing I really liked is that they recycle EVERYTHING. They separate plastic, glass and paper and pretty much everything else goes to either the compost heap or the pigs. I was a little horrified at how quickly the plastic bin filled up, I’m definitely more conscious of how much plastic we use. Scary.

Go. Just go. It’s so good for the soul. It took my ears about 24 hours to get used to the silence, it is deafening. (when the kids weren’t running around screaming)

Lastly: on the way to the farm you must stop at the Tankwa Padstal, but don’t get stuck at the bar, be warned, you still have about 40 km gravel road to travel.