Saturday, 29 June 2013

always be a unicorn

Last week Friday turned 6. I think I gloated enough about the wonderful child she is here, so I'll just say this:

She is magnificent.

The awe and wonder on her face here is magnificent.

Also, how could it not be when presented with this?

And playing through our heads the whole time last Friday evening, after a morning in hospital with the grommets, and at the tail end of a super busy week, as Husband flexed his exceptional icing skills and I painted plastic unicorns silver and filled ice cream cones with sweets and hung streamers and packaged the last of those %!&## fizz balls ...

Always be a unicorn my sweet girl!

Thursday, 27 June 2013


It was late one night, whispering to her in the bedroom she shares with her sister, asking her to move up, or roll over or some such, when she suddenly turned and looked at me with wild eyes, as if she’d not known I was there, that I realised it.

She’d not known I was there. She’d not heard my voice. She was deaf.

Our pediatrician recommended an audiologist but I went straight to an ENT. Confirmation: radically deaf in both ears.

It’s probably only been a few months, I’m not allowing a blanket excuse for some of the behaviour we’ve suffered through this year, but a deaf little girl is not a happy little girl and I was relieved by the surge of tenderness which welled within me. My poor baby.

So last week, sandwiched between her sister turning 6 and an epic unicorn birthday party to celebrate this great milestone, we woke frightfully early in the morning and stumbled off to Claremont Hospital.

She was a star. She didn’t ask for breakfast, she didn’t protest or complain. She gave the nurses a special smile she’d prepared for the occasion (she has a selection of smiles in her repertoire – one for me, one for family, one for friendly car guards etc – all different), she watched wide-eyed as the younger patients returned from theatre in tears, and when it was her turn she lay, ever so small in her big hospital bed, as a friendly porter wheeled her through the halls, and gently succumbed to the anaesthetic. The only sign of her apprehension a raptor-like grip on my finger; so that even once the rest of her was floppy and limp I had to prise my hand away.

Grommets in, adenoids out.

I lay next to her as she slowly floated to the surface back in the children’s ward. A nurse was talking to the young boy in the furthermost bed from ours, offering him a selection of treats from the hospital menu.
Sunday’s eyelids fluttered, she raised her head a little to look at me and croaked, ‘Mum, did she say jelly?’

She had. I ordered some for my little hero and a while later we trundled home.

‘I can hear Mum, I can really, really hear.’

I’ve not heard anything sweeter for a long time.

Monday, 24 June 2013


Last week I was driving, listening to an EWN update on Nelson Mandela's condition, and I burst into tears.

Like, burst.

Naturally I've been thinking about him, following the updates. The death of my own grandfather at a similar age is recent enough that I can quickly draw on the associated emotions, my heart knows how this feels. But I didn't expect the wave of emotion I experienced that day and in that moment, it made me feel a little sheepish.

Sure he's Nelson Mandela, but did I have enough of a connection to respond like that? Was my grief credible?
But here's the thing about Mr Mandela, he has always been all about validating each individual's experience.

He visited Betsy Verwoed because her experience of the end of apartheid was valid. He celebrated with all South Africans when we won the Rugby World Cup because our experience was valid. Terrified white business men? Valid. Remorseful prison guards? Valid. Angry youth? Valid.
Nelson Mandela taught us all so much, and not least of all to own our experiences, to share them, to acknowledge them, good or bad, and use them to move forward.

Losing someone is so much about losing the person they allowed you to be. This is at the heart of all of our grief about his imminent death. We already miss the world in which he lived, in which his spirit resided.
Nelson Mandela made us feel free and idealistic, while he is still alive we know that lives on within our nation, when he dies we fear that spirit will become completely eroded by the sobering realities of the work ahead.

I was 15 when he was released from prison. 18 when I helped elect him President. The perfect age to learn lessons in forgiveness, humility and courage. The perfect age to learn to believe in miracles.

He gave me that, and so much more. He gave that to us all, and I think we're all allowed to be very, very sad when he goes.
Go well Madiba, and thank you.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

found in my notebook

Turns out witnessing someone learn to read and write is just as exciting as it was watching them start to walk and talk all those years ago.
The world just opened its arms to her a little wider.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

diy fizz ballz: don't do it!

In preparation for Friday's 6th birthday party in a couple of weeks we've been making fizz balls (bath bombs) to go in the party packs.
'Something I've Wanted To Do for Ages' meet 'Perfect Opportunity'. I'm sure you'll be very happy together.

Or ... not.

Frankly these were a mission, and after 4 batches (mostly unsuccessful) and still a few hearts short of the number we need to fill all the party packs, I'm SO OVER THEM.

Don't be put off by the vast quantity of ingredients - they're all easily obtainable (brandy optional, not actually for the fizz balls you understand) - and the instructions I followed here were very clear and helpful.

And the ones that worked are very cute and pink and rose-smelling. Friday has carefully labelled them all 'bath' due to concerns that her friends may eat them.

But each batch was tryingly hit and miss and I'm not really sure why. Obviously sometimes the mix was too dry, sometimes too wet - but we measured very carefully, honest. Possibly the recent weather was a factor too - rainy days are not very conducive to drying powder.
I'm tempted to say that all in all the project was a bit of a balls up but you know ... cheap joke.

Luckily similarly to baking experiments, there are always those in this household prepared to make the most of the failed attempts - the girls have had some very pink 'n fizzy baths recently.

But still we must make more! Just a few more ... and then NEVER AGAIN I tell you, never again.

Thursday, 6 June 2013


So someone called me a bitch this week. Not to my face, not even this week really. Someone called me a bitch (twice apparently) a few weeks ago but someone else told me she did this week. Comprendo?

What I don't comprendo is that the woman who called me a bitch is in her 40's, and the person who relayed this kind message to me, is 6.
Yup, a grown woman called me a bitch in front of her daughter.

THIS is why we women have issues with each other.

There is so much focus these days on raising our sons to be respectful to women, what about raising our daughters to be nice to each other? And let's not forget just raising our kids to be respectful of other people, regardless of gender, or perceived bitchiness.
Let's not give our kids the language with which to hurt and degrade each other.

How's that for a not unreasonable suggestion?

Monday, 3 June 2013

food guilt? no thank you.

You know ... I'm getting a little tired of all this food drama. I know, I know, I should probably be taking it all more seriously but my god, how much time are we expected to spend on this?

Let's break down all the things we know or have been told about food:

We should drink more water.
But not from plastic bottles, mountain streams or taps in most countries of the world. We're told Cape Town is one of only 33 cities in the world with drinkable tap water. Then we're told that's not in fact true.

We should eat lots of fruit.
But not those with waxy skins. Not those grown too far away. Not those grown in the 'wrong' countries (like oranges from apartheid SA of old). Not those whose fructose content is too high. We must take note, collate and memorise the long lists going round of fruits which should Only Be Grown Organically.

We should eat lots of protein.
But not red meat. Not battery-reared poultry. Don't eat chicken reared on animal by-products, oh but watch out for the grain fed ones too. Only fish from the right SASSI list, and those which contain no traces of dolphin. We must not eat animals which were slaughtered inhumanely. We must find this out how? We must not eat meat which is too fatty. We must not eat meat which is too lean. We must not eat meat cured with numerous different hard to pronounce substances. We must definitely never eat 'deli meat'. Pate is to be regarded with suspicion.

I'm not even getting in to eggs.

We should eat lots of legumes.
But only organically grown ones. Also ditto, no beans with too great a carbon footprint (they don't even have feet) or grown in countries not regarded as fairtrade.
We shouldn't eat beans canned in certain metals and we should always, always be on high alert for Additives.

We should drink milk.
Just not un/pasteurised, possibly bleached, incorrectly bottled milk from cows which may or may not be hormone-fed.
Ditto cheese.

We shouldn't eat too much wheat. But heaven forbid we touch maize.

All honey should be BEE approved.

Sugar is evil. But also good. And sugar-replacements are direct from Satan.

Makes grocery shopping a whole lot of fun huh?

I'm being flippant, but I'm also quite serious. I could spend an immense portion of my time getting my knickers in a knot about this. I could add food-guilt to the long list of things we parents fret about. Guilt that we can't afford to buy all organic. Guilt that we don't spend every free moment growing and rearing our own food.
Guilt that I'm not forcing my family to only eat organically-grown-fairtrade-anti-oxidant-humanely picked-additive free-unflavoured-'healthy' meals which we can't afford and they probably won't eat but I spent 100 hours this week planning, shopping and preparing them so shut up and eat it and you'll thank me when you live to be 105?

I shop as consciously as we can afford to. I pick my food battles, my principled stances, and I stick by them. I enjoy preparing well-balanced as healthy as possible meals for my family. I feel positively ecstatic when everyone eats these meals.
I am NOT going to add food guilt to my list of parental burdens.

I'm saving my guilt for when I'm at the checkout of the supermarket with my trolley full of groceries and the woman behind me has a baby on her back, a toddler at her side and only a 5kg bag of (not organic! genetically modified!) mielie meal in her basket.
That's what I choose to fret about.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

a necessary list

Yesterday evening, a little terrified at the prospect of being stuck indoors all weekend in this rainy weather, I got out the whiteboard and commissioned a list.

A List for a Rainy Weekend.

The first thing on the list quickly became 'play with board', but then we got down to business. My favourite item is Friday's idea, to 'wear cuddly clothes'.

So far we've completed items 1, 3 and 5. And as it turns out that 3 ('watch circus') meant Cirque du Soleil and Madagascar 3 (polkadotpolkadotpolkadotafro), we've kind of stalled there.

It's good to know we've got a few more plans in the works for when we need them though.

If you're in Cape Town, stay warm and dry!