For the love of books

I used to be a voracious reader. No book was too hard or too long, I gobbled them all up like cake. And chips. And chocolate.

The first book club I belonged to was back in 1996, way before book clubs were fashionable and on and off belonged to book clubs until the last one dissolved into Whine club. Not a bad deal considering I still get to see some of my favourite friends most months and we sort each other’s lives out over dinner and wine. We laugh together and cry together. We talk marriage and children, jobs and life. A big win in my book.

It did however leave me without ideas of books to read as I wasn’t forced to spend quality time in bookshops and talking to the sales people, soaking up the awesomeness of books. Not to mention that I haven’t read an actual hardcover book in more than 2 years. Kindle FTW.

Amazon can be quite daunting too. So many books, so many genres, so many conflicting reviews.

But then, recently, I joined 2 Facebook groups, this one:

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And this one:

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(Apologies, but I cannot embed the links on my iPad and I’m far too lazy to get up from the couch)

These 2 groups, especially The Good Book Appreciation Society, have made the world of difference. Suddenly my Amazon wish list is overflowing with honest recommendations. My kindle is overflowing with books that I’m exited to read.

I never thought I would be grateful for Facebook, but hey, there you go. Roll on the good reading times.

Where do you get your book ideas from? Do you still read as much as you used to?

On wool and gifts

I may or may not have a slight obsession with wool. And crochet. And the thrill of creating something and seeing it right away. The joy of instant gratification still surprises me after all this time of toiling with wool and hook.

My husband doesn’t understand the pile of unfinished products lurking in drawers and cupboards in various stages of completion, but I’m quick to point out all the beautiful things I’ve made, mostly given away as gifts.

But.

Nothing, absolutely compares to the thrill of finding the perfect wool, playing with the colours and putting it all together, night after night.

And then giving it to someone.

I sometimes wonder if the recipients that don’t crochet understand the time and effort that goes into making something, but then I remind myself that’s about the giving, not the receiving. And then I make more stuff as gifts. Can’t help myself.

Today I popped into my favourite wool shop to buy sample colours to go with our new curtains (scatter cushion covers) and they had A SALE. Many balls of wool later I left, elated, and I’m going back for more. Must. Have. All. The. Wool.

Just imagine all the things I could make!!

Whilst my husband huddles in the corner, muttering about cupboards full of wool.

Do you knit/crochet? Or do you have an equally all-consuming hobby?

Funny kids

Our kids have developed such a sense of humor, especially Mignon. She looks all innocent, but yet she is the main instigator. She’s the first one to start giggling or pulling faces, often getting her brother and sister into trouble. It took us a while to figure that one out.

Daniel gets his own back though. Tonight Mignon comes running into the kitchen and straight under my arm. ‘Daniel tricked me’ she says. ‘He said his socks smell like candy, but they don’t!’

Etienne and I really had to bite back our chuckles.

Isabel called me from my Mom’s phone yesterday just so she could burp in my ear.

Daniel has a meltdown the other night ‘my life is SO terrible!’. Fair enough, it was the same day one of birds died and some of the boys at Holiday Care broke his ball, but surely it’s a bit early for the drama? I was kind of hoping we could skip the teenage angst altogether. This does not bode well.

In the meantime, we will embrace the funny, give big hugs and try to retain our own sense of humor.

About the inane

When I first started blogging it was to keep a record of what the kids were doing when. I was petrified of forgetting who started walking/talking first of the girls, I really needed to keep record of the things all 3 kids say and do.

I blogged most days, even if it was inane stuff.

It was healing, it kept me sane. Mostly. It was great to have feedback, to know that other people are battling through the same issues as I was.

Somewhere along the way things changed, as they do. Did I not need to blog daily because life got manic or because I thought I would bore people with the inane stuff? Should it matter what people think? They do, after all, have the option to read or not.

I’m not sure what the answers are, but I know that I still enjoy writing, always have. There is still a small thrill every time I publish a post, sending words out to the Internet.

I used to compose posts in my head the whole day, write myself little reminders of things to write about, much like you would save all your stories for when you’re about to see your best friend. I’ve stopped doing that, but I suspect it may be a habit I need to re-learn.

So, join me, I promise not to bore you. Not with 3 kids, a full-time job and a sense of humor. Barely.

Missing

Well hello there, it is with a shock I realise I haven’t blogged since 7 June!

There is a meh post sitting in my drafts from half-way through June which is not fit for human consumption, I see I was trying so hard not to be all whiny and sorry for myself and failing miserably that I just gave up. Probably better so.

June sucked big hairy balls.

I was in bed with bronchitis FOR AN ENTIRE WEEK. Isabel broke her arm (yes, same child that broke her leg on Voting Day). Daniel perforated the same eardrum twice (the first of which when I was home sick, very restful for both of us. Not).

Our Au Pair that we LOVE resigned, she is moving to Gauteng. We were devastated. I went into a flat panic and just could not get my head around what I would do without her.

I spent 3 days away from home for work (always lovely to go to Gauteng, but I miss my family something fierce)

But, it’s (half-way through) a new month and we are all on the mend, we have juggled schedules and things are looking up. It was just a matter of changing my perception of what I think the kids need vs what they really wanted. We have chosen not to replace the Au Pair, the kids will go to aftercare instead after our very first family meeting. Hold me please.

I have always said how much I abhor drama, and I couldn’t help but wonder how much of my own little dramas were self-inflicted recently. The answer: not much. I just chose to mope around, dragging my lip on the floor.

Well, consider that lip firmly tucked in, chin firmly in the air.

Bring it.

ps: I need to get back in the habit of writing, so I’m going to try and write every day (Mondays-Fridays) for the next month, even if it’s just something random and small. ¬†Stay tuned.

On managing expectations

I have had an (albeit a little late) epiphany.

When we have children we have conscious and unconscious expectations of how we want them to turn out beyond the obvious good manners/not a serial killer stuff.

We sometimes assume that they will enjoy (and be good at) the things that we did or could not do growing up.

My parents wanted me to have a degree because they never had the opportunity to go to University. We, unconsciously, assumed that our kids would want to participate in team sports and probably a truckload of other stuff we haven’t even realised yet.

Then, along came this beautiful soul that is our boy. He doesn’t enjoy team sports. It’s just not his thing. It’s a bit of a square-peg-round-hole thing.

So my mission is to learn to know our children as they were born and for who they are, not as we thought they should be because of our insecurities or history.

Thanks to the lovely Sally who introduced us to jiujutsu and to a lovely horse riding school in Durbanville, suggested by my darling friend Sue, I think we are now moving in a better direction for Daniel.

All I want is for them to enjoy whatever they choose to do. I want to cry every time I see their chests puff out or when they stand a little taller because they achieved something doing what they love. That look of joy on their faces is just spectacular.

So. If it means that they enjoy playing the ukulele whilst humming South-Sudanese love songs, well, I’m going to do my damned best to make it happen for them.

We have one job: find out what excites them, what they are passionate about and nurture the shit out of it.

Sermon over.

Things I will not do

We have now been parents for 8 years and during this time there have been things I have said, BC (Before Children), that I would never do and ended up doing.

Shout

Allow them to eat junk food. Ever. Ok, they only get junk food when they’re with my Mom, so I guess I didn’t do too badly there.

Pick things up from the floor of a shopping mall and lick them clean to give to my child. (In all fairness, I usually make Etienne perform this particularly onerous task)

I have done poo nappies, scraped poo out from under my fingernails.

I have mopped up vomit. Repeatedly. In one night.

I have walked around naked with flaming milk-filled boobs in order to feed twins.

Sacrificed many hours of sleep.

Made pots and pots and pots of butternut boiled and mashed to make and freeze for baby-food.

Pram and nap fails.

Trips to the hospital.

Threatened, cajoled and bargained to get kids dressed in the mornings.

But.

If there is one thing I never thought would give me the living heebiejeebies it is pulling the tooth of a 6 year old. I can’t. I just can’t. No matter how much wailing and gnashing of loose teeth, I refuse. I categorically refuse.

This is where I draw the line.

What is there that you categorically refuse to do?

Daily talks

As part of trying to getting to the bottom of Daniel’s worries we were given a great tip: talking about their day.

I know, wait, don’t go yet, there’s more.

The trick is to get them to tell you one good and one bad thing about their day. We were doing the whole smug we-eat-dinner-around-the-table-as-a-family-thing each night and totally thought we knew what was happening in our kids’ lives.

Surprise!! We had no idea.

Initially it was tough going. They must have thought we were mad. What? You mean you want to know an actual thing from my day? Good AND Bad?

It’s 5 months later and they are telling us stories that make our jaws drop some nights. They are funny, they are honest. Sometimes they need a little prodding, but listening to their stories is like having the door open into their beautiful minds. They remind us over weekends, even if it’s late and we rush to get them to bed.

Some stories are like unravelling a terrible piece of crochet, you just keep pulling and pulling and eventually, if you’re lucky, you get to the end. Where the knot is. And then you unravel some more.

I keep reminding myself that if we don’t get into the habit of really REALLY taking the time listen to them actively now we may miss all the cues when they’re teenagers and grown-ups. Life is so crazy, we have to force ourselves to calm down to a mild panic and just BE with our kids.

I’m not telling you this because I’m any good at it, it’s a conscious effort I have to make every single day. To put my phone/iPad down. To look in their eyes. To listen. To take those last minutes to hug and kiss them for the 3rd and 4th time before they go to sleep if they need it.

I have realised that now is the time to parent gently, to let them make mistakes and not crowd them. We have to be their safe haven, not their judge and jury.

Who else will do it otherwise? It’s our sole purpose as parents.

On buying a car

I recently bought a car.

Not because I wanted to, it was more out of necessity than anything else (tax, blahblah), so budget was a concern. Cars are, in my opinion, just something that get you from Point A to Point B.

In saying that, we needed a Cross Over vehicle, something that we could comfortably take on the gravel roads we seem to frequent when going away for the weekend.

Also: I like to sit high. It’s a thing, don’t ask.

We did NOT want a balloon payment and it HAD to have a proper maintenance plan. Not asking for much, huh?

Herewith some thoughts on the dealerships in our area, I was blown away at how they differ. They fit into very definite personality types.

It’s also like entering into a long-term relationship: you need to be sure before you commit.

Ford: Stalkers

The Ford guy I dealt with when enquiring about the Kuga stalked me relentlessly via email and phone, promising to “make me a deal”, when I knew I could not afford what he had to offer and I was not going to compromise on budget or balloon payments.

Renault: Disorganised

I spoke to a salesman and made an appointment to test-drive the Duster. He had no idea who I was when I arrived. It also took them several working days to get back to me with a trade-in value on my car. They really just were not that into me.

Nissan: Failure to commit

I test-drove the Qashqai, the salesman was going to see about trade-in value and whether he could find me a demo model (which he assured me wasn’t a problem) and I never heard from him again. I was quite tempted to buy the Qashqai, good thing I wasn’t waiting by the phone.. (besides, I have a mental block about the spelling of “Qashqai”, it could have been very awkward)

Toyota: Arrogant

Actually, beyond Arrogant. I called to enquire about a Rav and the sales-man’s response was ¬†between a snigger and a huff. His words were: “You’ll be lucky if you get one, they’re very popular you know.” Well, clearly you don’t need my business dude. I’m buying a car, not joining a cult.

Hyundai: Efficient

You guessed it, I ended up with the Hyundai. The sales people at their Brackenfell showroom were professional, efficient, accommodating and friendly. They kept me in the loop without making me feel stalked. They didn’t cringe at the sight of my 9 year old Renault, they let me test-drive as many cars as I wanted and brought Etienne back to drive. They just put up with my quirks and made me feel like they valued my business in a completely not-creepy way.

So, there you have it folks, some useless info on buying a car. I appreciate that there are some other cars in my price class (ish) I could look at, but I ended up suffering from car-buying fatigue. Besides, the other selling point of the Huyndai was that their dealership and garage is close to work, so it’s not a monumental PITA when the car has to go for a service.

I’m just ever so grateful this whole car-buying thing is done, it was very hard work.

Can I have a nap now please?

The day Isabel broke a leg. Literally

It was Voting Day and I was doing what you do on Voting Day: enjoying a well-deserved glass of bubbles with some girl-friends, our kids messing around in the garden.

A few of the kids were jumping on the trampoline and suddenly Isabel starts crying uncontrollably. Isabel NEVER cries, she is as tough as nails. This should have been clue number 1.

I saunter run over to the trampoline, more out of curiosity than worry, help her down and she refuses to put any weight on her leg. This should have been clue number 2.

I dispense hugs, take her inside and proceed to look at her leg, not seeing anything amiss. She, however, is still crying. We shall call this clue number 3. (refer to “tough as nails” comment above)

By this time the play-date has come an abrupt end and, in a bid to calm Isabel down, we put her in the bath, but she cannot bend her leg. Yep. Clue number 5. (it seems so simple when you see it from this perspective)

We dispense some anti-inflammatory, bandage the leg up to stabilise it and settle in for the night. When I took the bandage off the next morning to have a look and the entire area around her knee was warm. The 6th and final clue that it really, probably, was time to get her to the hospital.

You know how it goes at the Emergency Room. Wait for doctor. Get 3rd degree about what may or may not have happened. Have extended, awkward conversation about whether X-rays should be taken, seeing as how the child is acting really cool about the whole thing. Wait for X-rays. Wait for results. Wait for doctor. Wait for second opinion. Wait for third opinion. Wait for cast. (in this case a back-slab cast that extended from her bum to the tips of her toes). Wait for crutches. Wait 2 weeks for follow-up X-rays to determine the extent of the break.

Here’s the thing though: You should always ALWAYS get the opinion of an Orthopedic Surgeon when a child breaks anything, something I forgot. The cast came off and, when she was still limping a week later, I was very nervous, so off we went.

Official verdict: wait and see, but it should get better, even without the cast. Let the good doctor know if it get worse. No ballet, no gymnastics, no jumping (ja right) and no climbing on jungle gyms (scoff)

I’m petrified of messing up my children’s bones by not being pro-active enough, but I always wonder where you draw the line between Caring Mother and Munchhausen’s. Either way, I feel like Mad Mother. BUT I know that everything has been done to make sure that it isn’t anything that should be dealt with swiftly.

This parenting thing, it’s hard.