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.

Some random thoughts on the girls turning 5

5I wanted to do a whole post with pics of the girls from the last 5 years, but you see so much of them on FB and twitter I thought I would give you a break and only post this one pic of them on their birthday,

Instead I had a random little thought that’s like a thread I have to unravel, so this post is really about having a thought process more than anything else. And I need to give my head a break from thinking about Princess Party Origami Shoes* and other party arrangements that had me grinding my teeth last night.

It started with the girls’ teacher asking each of the parents to write their children a letter about the first 5 years of their life that is read to them in class on their birthday.  As you may know, I’m hardly ever at a loss for words, but I procrastinated writing my 2 letters (as you do when you have twins) until 10pm on the night before they were due.

You see, I have a lot to say about our amazing little girls and celebrating them each as an individual little person. A LOT.  It has been our life’s work to treat them as such, from dressing them differently from day 1 to encouraging different friends and interests and acknowledging that they have different emotional needs and respond differently to discipline.  But in the end I have to concede: they are very much alike in many ways, not in as many ways as they are different, but still. And it’s about time I maybe start to realise it and say it’s ok instead of pushing them away from each other in the end.

For people who don’t know them well there is the most obvious thing that they look very much alike.  Unless you look closely or know them really well they both come across as pretty boisterous (read: LOUD. No idea where they get that from by the way..), it seems like their body language is the same and they both love pink.

The thing is: they are both girls, so they will potentially both love pink.  They love Barbie and colouring in and helping in the kitchen (mostly because our household revolves around our kitchen).  They both love jumping on the trampoline and they both love bubbles in the bath.

I was lucky enough to attend their first ballet “recital” this week and was completely blown away by how much they have learnt in such a short time and how much they LOVE ballet, it made me all weepy.

They are children. They are completely and utterly awesome and we are so blessed to have them and their sweet soul of a brother that has just fitted into the mayhem that they bring with them.

So today I’m taking a moment to celebrate their alikeness instead of their differences, just a moment, because I think it’s worth doing.

*as usual I’m going OTT with party arrangements, mostly in my head, this is just one of those things I thought wouldn’t take long, but ended up being a pain in the arse more than anything else.

PS: men don’t understand parties.  Etienne and I have 2 big annual fights and they normally fall in the day or 2 before the kids’ parties because he is baffled by the amount of stressing I do about parties.  This year I got it out of the way early when I had a printer and origami shoe meltdown on Tuesday night.  At least it’s done and dusted now and life carries on.

PPS: men also don’t understand that if you have 18 of something and suddenly you only have 17 of that thing it is a big fucking deal because then you can’t have 6 rows of 3, you’ll have 2 rows of 6 and 1 row of 5 and that Just Won’t Do. But I think Etienne is on board with that now.

biscuitOh, and those star biscuits I was on about the other day? Etienne came up with the idea of painting glitter in the letters whilst I was decorating the edges.  Isn’t he awesome?

Lastly: I’m going to indulge my paranoia and take Isabel to the Ortho on Monday to have her arm checked, rather safe than sorry! Even though I was *almost* accused of being a hypochondriac like a certain member of my family we shall not mention (my Mother).

Catching up

This is a catch-up post, it’s been mad.

What a fun week we had last week and tomorrow the girls turn 5. I’m stocking up on tissues, can’t believe they are 5!

I came down with a sinus, chest blahblah thing last weekend and took the afternoon off on Tuesday to go home and sleep. I had just fallen asleep when Norma comes to tell me there’s a phone call. It turns out its aftercare: Isabel fell forward over a chair and broke her fall with her hand. They’ve checked, it looks ok, should they still send her to ballet? As much as I appreciated the call I was a little baffled, if the child’s arm is ok and she wants to do ballet surely she should just do ballet?

Off back to bed I go and I vaguely hear the kids come home and later Isabel comes into our room, proud as punch, arm in a bandage and sling. My eyes nearly popped out of my head.

So, I put on a bra and pants and off to the hospital we went. On the way there I called aftercare in my best WTAF voice and was told that they try to give parents the facts, but they try not to upset parents with too much information and sometimes you have to “read between the lines”. I assured them that I would be upset either way, so rather give it to me upfront and “reading between the lines” is not one of my superpowers.


Our little trooper
Our little trooper

The locum took one look at Isabel’s arm and carted us off to X-rays (already after 5pm) after taking my temperature (I had a fever people!) and giving me a script for antibiotics. That little girl of ours is one tough little cookie, she didn’t as much as flinch when they were poking and prodding, even though you could see that she was in a fair amount of pain.

Diagnosis: Greenstick Fracture of the right wrist, slab and bandage for 2 weeks, no cast needed.

The next morning I receive a call from the aftercare manager, a lovely woman whom I have loads of time for. It seems there was a miscommunication of the severity of Isabel’s injury and yes, they will rather give me news straight up in future, none of that reading between the lines malarkey.

I’m still not 100% convinced we will be ok with a slab and bandage for 2 weeks, but I’m also not sure if it will scream OCD mother if I take her to an Ortho for a second opinion.

What would you do?

The chest sinus thing? The locum at hospital wasn’t too concerned over my less-than-stellar state of health; he gave me a script and said that if I wasn’t better in 2 days I should then probably get the antibiotic. It is now a week later and I am now on steroids (after a visit to our regular GP on Saturday) because my ears are so blocked and ringing constantly. So you’ll forgive me if I don’t rate that locum’s opinion very highly.

This coming week is all about party preparation, so I’m slave-driving poor Etienne to get all the bits and bops done before Saturday and still remain sane. I’m hoping it’ll all work out well, which it will, I’ll just OCD the crap out of it as usual.

cookieLastly: Yuppiechef sent me an awesome Letterpress cookie set (for free!!) that I took for a spin yesterday, thinking I would make cookies with the girls’ names on for school. The results are actually not too bad, let’s hope they look ok when I’m done decorating.

May you have a lovely week!

Ps: did you see that I’m giving away 2 tickets to go and see Koos Kombuis with us this coming Sunday? Hurry and comment here, it closes today.

If being stubborn was an illness..

.. then Isabel would have been terminally ill.

We try really hard not to a) compare the girls with each other, especially because they are twins and b) predict what they will be like when they grow up. It feels like we would put them in a certain “box” and we want our kids to be free to grow up to be who they are, not what we think they should be based on our perceptions.


Isabel is by far the most stubborn child I have ever come across. Eeeever. Take last night for example:

We made lovely ostrich steaks, mash and salad for supper. (yes, I actually helped, it might rain) Madam decides, no, she’s not even going to come to the table. At this time of year we all use leverage created by the Christmas hype such as no gifts, no visit from Santa, no sweeties from the advent calendar and so on and so forth.

We don’t often use this leverage, it’s not how we want to parent, but it shames me to say it has come up over the last few days. Whenever we do use it it works to varying degrees, so imagine our surprise tonight when none of it worked.

Isabel just ignored us flat out. She wandered around the house whilst the rest of us had a lovely supper and knew not to come near the table otherwise there would be trouble. We didn’t shout, we didn’t get mad, we just said that there would be no other food and no choccie from her advent calendar. Was she upset? Nope, she was not bovvered. Not one little bit.

She just politely ignored us. We were waiting for her to finally give in and have supper, she has done this before, but always caved in and had supper in the end. But she stuck to her guns.

As a matter of principle we don’t fight about food, we only ask that they have at least a little of what is on their plate and generally they all eat really well. But this is a whole different ball game.
I know I over analyse stuff, but I worry that she is trying to control or manipulate us. I worry that she might have issues with food. I worry that she trying to tell me something I am missing. I worry if she is getting enough attention. (Etienne, if you’re reading this, stop rolling your eyes!)

Or maybe she just wasn’t hungry. But she said no to chocolate. What type of kid says no thanks to chocolate? (Actually, Mignon does, but that’s another story)

Do you have a really stubborn child? How do you handle these situations?

Ps: This is the same child that politely informed me this evening that she will have an iPad and a diamond necklace for Christmas. Boy, is she in for a nasty surprise.
Pps: it’s December. In Cape Town. Rain is highly unlikely. Just so you know.

Hugs for Moms

I know, I need to post about Daniel’s operation this past Monday, all in good time, promise.

I had a small epiphany tonight and its too important (and too complicated) to put on Facebook, I need to put it here so my kids can see it one day when they are teenagers and hate me. Or when they are parents themselves.

I may be a little soppy at the moment, I have been thinking about clearing the air with someone that I need to find a way to co-exist with that used to be a friend mostly because I can’t bear ignoring that person anymore. It’s too hard. But it will be a big thing.

I’m worried about another friend that seems distant, I hope she’s ok. I wish she would tell me what’s wrong, but I’m afraid she’ll brush it off.

But what I really wanted to tell you about is how Isabel has been out of sorts lately. Not eating well in the evenings, battling to go to sleep. She is such a tough little cookie normally, nothing ever seems to phase her, she takes everything in her stride. She’s not huge on kisses and hugs like Mignon and Daniel are, she just wants to get on with the really important stuff in life like painting.

But tonight, tonight she said ‘Mamma, ek wil jou hê’ (Mom, I want you). This is huge, so I promptly got into our bed with her and we had ourselves a long chat and a cuddle. She just needed to be held and touched and hugged and loved.

And I realised, I needed it too. I needed her to need me. I needed those hugs and cuddles and love too. My own child comforted me tonight. Comfort that I didn’t realise I needed.

I’m spending the day with Daniel tomorrow as he can only go back to school on Monday and Etienne will only be home late tomorrow evening and I am really looking forward to having them all to myself for a change. (I might come here and whine about them tomorrow evening, but just tell me to shut up, ok?)

This has turned out to be quite a random blog post, but I’m going to leave it just like this. It’s how I feel right now.

Ps. Even more randomly, Etienne found a song tonight that we have been looking for for 11 years. The Goo Goo Dolls and Limp Bizkit performed Pink Floyd’s Wish you were here at the Heroes concert just after 9/11 and we could never remember who sang it. Anyway, so Etienne found it tonight. I’m really bad at embedding videos, so here is the link to the YouTube video. Do yourself a favour and keep in mind when it was performed. It is achingly beautiful.

What is your favourite?

Isabel has this thing she does.

Whenever you ask her to pick a dress / movie / shoes / book / fruit she’ll say ”What’s your favourite?”

Now, if you’ve been a parent (specifically of a child as stubborn as she is) for longer than 2 minutes you will know that this is a trick question, designed to test you. A question that never has the right answer, or at least not until they have driven you to the liquor cupboard out of sheer desperation. Do not fall into the trap. I repeat: do NOT fall into the trap. Especially as she taunts you with the idea of “letting” you decide on her behalf when, in fact, it gives her a reason to shoot down all your proposals.

Are you seeing our dilemma?

It does make for some interesting conversations though.

Parent: Isabel, which book would you like to read tonight?

Isabel: What’s your favourite? (said whilst bouncing around the room)

Parent: My favourite is the fairy book. Yes! Let’s read the fairy book!

Isabel: “shakes head” No thanks.

Parent: So, which one would you like to read seeing as how I picked one and you don’t like it?

Isabel: What’s your favourite? (cue more bouncing)

Parent: Er. The number book?

Isabel: “vehemently shakes head” NO.

Parent (in soothing, desperate voice): Please Isabel, what would you like to read?

Isabel: what’s your favourite? (bouncing has increased to manic stage)

And so you will carry on, at the mercy of our little madam until you eventually get to the option she wanted in the first place.

I almost prefer the “why” stage. It’s a LOT more fun and you feel a lot less rejected. If you want to pursue a career in sales having children is a wonderful way to teach you resilience and to handle rejection.

What do your kids say to drive you nuts?

Love through the eyes of a Four Year Old

After spending the day at home with a decidedly-under-the-weather Mignon and Daniel and an early-morning trip to the GP (I know! How shocking has this week been??), I took Isabel on some errands with me this afternoon.

She apparently battled a little on her own at school today, so I was determined to have a little alone-time with her. I’m really glad I did.

On the way home we were listening to Adele in the car and talking about her songs. Isabel wanted to know what they were about and I tried to explain that most songs tell a story and that most of Adele’s songs are about love.

So, she asks, does Adele have a boyfriend. Yes, I say, she has had a couple of boyfriends.

Is she married, she asks. No, I say.

Why? Well, I tried to explain, you should only marry someone who loves you very much and that you love in return, like Mommy and Daddy do.

She then wanted to know who Adele loved. Whilst I was battling with how to answer a question about Adele’s love life, Isabel asks me if Adele loves everyone. So I said kind of, thinking about how awesome she was in her concert at Royal Albert Hall and how that probably relates to Isabel’s concept of “everyone” as they have seen the concert.

Which left me in a bit of a pickle. If I say “No, you can’t love everyone” am I teaching her about judgment and exclusion or am I teaching her to have good sense? I had a vision of her going to school and saying to some poor child how much she doesn’t love them.

So I tried this: “you can’t love everyone the same way. You have to love Mommy and Daddy and Daniel and Mignon because we are your family and we will ALWAYS be there and we HAVE to love each other. But you don’t have to love people who are horrible” (with my Calvinistic upbringing ringing in my ears about how God loves us all, followed shortly about the wrath of God)

It was quite an interesting conversation to have, certainly more entertaining and thought-provoking than having to explain that the tampon she was holding earlier was not a sweet.

How would you explain love and the concept thereof to your children?

Edit to add:
Just seen on FB: The average 4 year old asks 437 questions a day. We reckon Isabel is an overachiever.

First day of school – 2012

We officially survived the first day of school yesterday and I am very relieved!

Our lovely helper (I hate using the word Au-Pair as it feels like it puts us in a certain category, which could not be further from the truth as my grey hair and unmanicured nails will testify to) started on Monday so she had a chance to settle in.

We sent Daniel off to holiday camp at his new school with his BFF on Monday and Tuesday, so he had a chance to get a little aquanted with his school, but yesterday was still a big day for him.  Of our kids I worry about him the most (stop me if you’ve heard this one before), because the girls are mostly fine wherever they end up as they are always together.

First we all went to Daniel’s school so The Sussies could see his classroom and have a look around.  Here he is on the playground, thoroughly gatvol of me with the camera:

And here he is with the girls, Mignon on his right ad Isabel on his left:

As you can see, they were also rolling their eyes at me.  (which reminds me, Isabel has this little exasperated sound she makes these days, too funny)

I left Etienne in charge of The Big Goodbye and the Girls and I went off to their new school.  Here they are, humoring me in the road.  I don’t know how they put up with me 🙂

Incidentally, I had to take 6 pics to get this one, and still Mignon refused to look at me.

And finally, here they are, playing at their school.  I even managed to get both of them to look at me AT THE SAME TIME.

How did your first days go?

The Control Freak continues confession..

After spending my day on the verge of tears yesterday and doing my best OCD/OTT thing I rushed out the door to my poor, desolate, deprived and neglected child.

My parents had collected them from school so I had to collect them from their house. I arrive at the house and find the 3 kids sprawled over the furniture happily munching on popcorn and watching a Barbie movie and ignoring their long-suffering mother. I really didn’t know whether I should be happy or sad.

Fast forward to bedtime.

We did an extra long read-and-cuddle-time, me with the girls and Etienne with Daniel and going-to-sleep-time didn’t go too badly. Normally when they are asleep they stay that way apart from the odd wet bed/fever/snotty nose/bad dream etc.

At this point you need to know:

We moved our room around recently. Since we have had children Etienne has always slept closest to the door. i.e. he generally gets up more than I do. Now I’m the one closest to the door. Which is not a bad thing as I generally sleep like the dead. (this has incidentally backfired nicely on Etienne as the dogs bark directly outside the window and Lily has taken to sleeping on the trampoline) (yes, Lily the dog)

That is, when I’m not dreaming up a storm of bizarreness as I have been lately. Really weird dreams which I know is just my mind’s way of processing, but it’s still stuck to me the next day like dog poo on a shoe. So, last night I decided to use some, erm, chemical assistance to sleep i.e. an anti-anxiety tablet. And half a one nogals as I don’t generally take anything to help me sleep.

At 10pm I was happily in bed, children checked on and tucked in, house quiet, alarm activated and drifting happily off to dreamland.

At 01h00 I surface to a doefdoef coming down the passage and the vague shape of a 3 year old looming in the doorway. It’s Isabel. “Mamma, I’m cold.” Drag myself out of bed through the haze and tuck her back in bed with a kiss and a cuddle.

01h30: “Mamma, I’m awake”. Etienne gets up and does something.

01h45: “Mamma, there’s a scary man” Etienne gets up grumbling and mumbling and deposits her back in bed.

02h00: “Mamma, I need to poo”. I get up (very slowly) and switch on the bathroom light and tell her to call me when she’s done.

02h10: “Mamma, I can’t make a poo” whilst looming in the doorway. At which point it got a little ugly and we asked her very nicely to go to bed.

02h30: “Mamma, I’m awake!” Etienne and I: “Go To BED!”

03h00, 03h30, 04h00 and so on: dogs barking. Allegedly. Because I was sleeping.

I’m getting too old for this…

And then, this morning, when we finally managed to drag Madam out of bed, she insists on wearing these shoes my Mom bought her yesterday. In 9 degrees Celcius weather. The pure fugliness of these shoes know no end. And notice the battle scars on her shin.



Doctor Doctor!

I mentioned yesterday that we’ve been worried about Isabel’s stomach and by this morning we were really worried and waiting for the outcome of a stool sample I made my Mother get yesterday.

The Paediatrician’s rooms called this morning to say that the tests are back and there are no funny bugs, but to please bring Isabel in as they were also concerned about her.  And to bring a urine sample.

Which I completely forgot about of course until I arrived and was asked for the sample.

Have you ever tried getting a (sick) 3 year old to pee on demand?  Let me tell you, it’s not for the fainthearted. I dragged her off to the public bathrooms clutching the sample bottle and had to leave the cubicle open so I could plonk her down on the seat, go down on my knees and wedge in the little bottle at an appropriate angle.  And start begging.  I distinctly heard someone passing by and giggling, but I couldn’t turn around to glare at them as I was staring at my child’s vajayjay hoping for a drop of pee.

Needless to say it wasn’t very successful, so we (me) dragged our heels back to the doctor’s rooms.  No, he REALLY needs a urine sample. Thankfully they have a potty in the rooms so I proceeded to engage in promises of extended use of games on my phone.  And Volia! just enough drops to check that she was, in fact, not dehydrated as we feared.  Such a champ.

As it turns out she probably had a bug, but because we gave her medicine to stop the squirts it apparently uhm blocked everything.  Which apparently is pretty backed up anyway at their age.  So we were doing the complete opposite of what we were meant to be doing. (cue accompanying guilt trip soundtrack)

After the doctor’s I took her to my Mom’s house to drop her off, still not convinced that she would be ok, but Madam was having none of it today.  She’s not normally a very clingy child, but I think she just had enough of not being with Mommy or Daddy when she’s sick for the 4th day and she just cracked.  She literally cried hysterically and I just couldn’t bear to leave her again.  So I stayed and we cuddled on the couch for the afternoon.

So now she is pumped full of all kinds of things to make things progress a little more smoothly and we await an imminent explosion.  Pardon the pun.

Man, she’s really full of shit full of it. Okok, I’ll stop

ps:  Just curious, I’m very tempted to call the doctor that gave us the wrong diagnosis and let him know what the end of it was.  What do you think?  I don’t want to fight, I would just hate for someone else to go through the same as us.

pps: Here’s why I love Cape Town so much.  Pure autumn gold.

Autumn in Cape Town