Depo Pro-vengence


This happens to me every 3 months. I know when I have to get it done, I don’t ever need to do the maths, or set a phone reminder, or stick a post-it on the fridge because it’s ingrained in my mind but every.single.time I have to do it, there’s drama. But I know that if I don’t go, oh boy will there be DRAMA!

So the whole week I’ve had it at the back of my mind to phone my gynae and get a script for my injection. On Tuesday I eventually called and listened to a long voice message which went on and on about what times Dr G is available, when she is off, when she is in theatre, when she is at the mosque or in prayer, when she is on half day – the jist of the message being that she is hardly ever at the office but rather off enjoying the consult fees from last week which accumulate to more than my monthly salary. I called again on Wednesday and left a message with the temporary receptionist because the regular receptionist was on leave. Temporary receptionist sounded scared and confused – all I needed was a script emailed to me, come on, you can do this. I still hadn’t received anything yesterday. This morning I phoned and thank the pope, Santie answered and we did our usual 6 month (I get a two dose repeat script) polite exchange and she promised to get it signed off AFTER I had sent through the proof of payment for the FIFTY RANDS you have to pay in order to get a script sent to you!! Geez. You mean all those thousands of rands in consult fees over two pregnancies and the thousands of rands for two ceasars don’t cover a simple fax? Ok. So I did that quickly while calling Dischem to get an appointment. The clinic was fully booked until the 3 October, huh? No thanks, I may be pregnant by then. Santie calls back to say her emails are down and do I have a fax number. Ok, hold on while I go back to the Ice Age and see if my fax machine still works. My fax to email doesn’t work, so I had to get her to send it to some strange person at my husband’s office because this person is the only person we collectively know with a fax number. Now some random man knows my contraceptive requirements, great. I googled Dischem and Clicks clinics and called two branches which were fully booked. Don’t people go to their regular GPs anymore? Eventually I got an appointment at Sandton City Clicks. I do not enjoy shopping at Sandton City purely because of the parking. No matter what time of the day it is, I always feel like a mouse on a wheel , going round in circles but not getting a parking any time soon.

I got to the counter because I first needed to get the darn injection in a bottle before I could get poked and she asked me if I’d like that cash or medical aid. Oh, they were having such great specials so I got Liam’s allergy meds and stocked up on the usual suspects: Stopayne, Demazin and my repeat Singulair. And full of bravado I said “run that through the medical aid baby” only to be told that our savings are just about depleted and that OTC meds should be paid for in cash, so I sheepishly agreed that yes it would be better to keep the crumbs left of our savings for a more important event like an unannounced trip to the doc. I then waited about 15 minutes to see the sister EVEN though I had a scheduled appointment, but seriously, I would have waited an hour for this poke. Pulled down my pants, took it like a woman who doesn’t want another child and left. Got to the parking pay point and realized I had about R50 in 5 cent pieces and nothing else. SIGHHHHH. I have no idea where any ATMs are in Sandton City and after running around like a headless chicken, someone kindly pointed out that there was one in Clicks, right next to the clinic. Funny that.

So here I sit, backside still smarting from my poke, wondering why I still endure this laborious task every three months when my husband should just go and get snipped. I mean I have done my bit for society, I think he needs to know how it feels to have some strange person in a white uniform fiddle with your bits. He isn’t opposed to it, probably because he is so desperate not to have another mouth to feed, but he expects me to do all the paperwork and give him a date, time and address. So early next year (since I’ve discovered my medical aid is all but BUST) I will be scheduling a little nip and tuck for the hubby. But what will I blame my weight gain, raging appetite and general crabby disposition on, if not my dear Depo Provera?

How in the world does anyone enjoy drinking it?


I don’t like water. Never have, and probably never will. It has no taste, it’s the same thing as eating cardboard – it’s a waste of time. I am not a complete idiot, I understand the health benefits of drinking water, but I just don’t enjoy it, and no matter how much I force myself, I really battle to get through my 1.5 litre bottle that I faithfully place on my desk every morning.

When I was pregnant, my husband would stand in front of me and force me to drink 8 glasses a day. He drinks well over 3 litres of water a day, he WISHES for water, who the heck wishes for water when you could be wishing for something so much more delicious… like a Coke or a milkshake or a smoothie? Water doesn’t quench thirst, what rubbish. Water just makes me feel bloated. Ginger beer quenches thirst, ok. I’ve tried mind tricks like using a 500 ml bottle instead of a big scary bottle that makes me feel defeated before I have even begun. I’ve tried pouring water into a glass from the bottle. I’ve tried buying cute water bottles and even bloody expensive Tupperware fancy bottles and most lately, a beautiful glass bottle. Ya, it doesn’t work, I’m just not that into you, water.

I can’t lie, when I do manage to drink a few glasses a day consistently, I immediately notice the difference in my skin. But I also notice the difference in my bladder. I mean WHO has time to be running up and down to the toilet during office hours? Water makes me pee like a race horse. I can drink equal measures of juice, and you won’t see me hobbling to the toilet with my hands between my legs because I need to go so badly. I’d quite frankly rather have bad skin and less potty breaks, than great skin which nobody ever gets to see because I’m always in the toilet.

If you like water, that’s great and I am happy for you. My mother goes to bed with a bottle of water – WHO in their right mind wakes up from their wonderful slumber in order to drink THAT? Give me a break. And no, adding strawberries, lemon or mint to your water does not make it any more drinkable, that’s just for aesthetics as far as I am concerned. The only thing that you can add to your water that will make me want to drink it, is Lecol Squeeze and Drink or W. Daly or Halls.

When people come to meetings at our offices and I offer them something to drink and they opt for water, I want to say “seriously? You want water over the delicious Nespresso coffee I am offering you? Or the Five Roses Tea? Seriously? You suuuuuure you want water?”

I encourage the kids to drink water, but hide my Fanta Orange in a coffee cup, under the guise of coffee which they know they aren’t allowed to have, so avoiding any questions from my nosey toddlers. Remember when bottled water came out in South Africa and everyone thought it was so cool to be drinking water out of a bottle from the shop and not from your tap. AGAIN I ask who in their right mind would actually PAY for this stuff, I mean if you must drink it, please rather drink it for free from your faucet and save your money for a good ‘ol fashion can of Coke. I mean that is money well spent. IF, and I mean IF I buy water, I will opt for sparkling because at least that gives me the illusion of having a fizzy drink. A tasteless sad fizzy drink.

Water is good for bathing, swimming, throwing at people (water bombs) and for making tea and coffee. I’ll leave it at that. To keep myself hydrated I use body lotion. Cheers! *liftsacanofcoketomouth*

Second Child Syndrome


So Hannah decided for herself that she doesn’t want to wear nappies anymore. We didn’t talk about it, she just ripped her diaper off in the yard on Monday and went bare-bums. I took her lead and put a big girl brookie on her and she stayed that way all day. I took her to the toilet every hour or so and she made a wee successfully. No accidents all day. I told Zoleka that we should just go with it, and keep the panty on during the day. And that’s where we are. There have been a few accidents, but that’s to be expected. But the real reason for this post is to talk about how second children just seem to “get it” so much quicker and easier than first borns. I know they have the best example in their older sibling, but even besides that, my second child has proved completely different and easier than my first. Maybe it’s because I am not as crazy as I was with Liam, maybe it’s because I don’t have time to dote on Hannah solely and my time is always split so she takes it upon herself to do things? Maybe God makes it this way so that mothers don’t completely lose their MINDS while raising two or more kids? I don’t know. But Hannah is like this breath of fresh air who really makes parenting a breeze. Ok not a breeze. Just easier.

So far, I have had very little to do with any of Hannah’s milestones. She started doing most things of her own accord, without any coercion from me. So much so that I have very few home videos or photos of Hannah mastering anything! Besides the baby milestones of talking, walking, sleeping through the night, and the like (all of which she achieved much quicker than Liam), her other milestones just “happened.” One day I was feeding her, and the next she was feeding herself. One day I was rocking her to sleep, the next she was climbing into her big bed and putting herself to bed, one day she was wearing diapers and the next she wanted to wear panties. She is a very independent so-and-so and doesn’t need to be micro managed. I don’t think this has anything to do with my parenting style, I am the same parent to her, as I am to Liam, I just think it’s second child syndrome! She sees how her big brother does it and just falls into line, it is so simple for her which in turn makes it so simple for me.

Sometimes I feel sorry for her, because she doesn’t get that instant praise or validation for doing something AMAZING. Usually, our reaction is something like this:

Me: oh look, Hannah can do X

Dad: oh ok, when did she start doing that?

Me: I have no idea, must have been a while ago because she’s pretty good at it.

Dad: yeh, she’s smart innit?

Me: yeh totally.

Liam: Yay Hannah, good job!

Hannah: whatchu lookin at mama?

She knows her colours, she knows her animals, she is potty training herself, she goes to sleep on her own, and sleeps in a big bed by herself, she doesn’t have a bottle (although the dummy is glued to her mouth but I think SHE will tell me when she’s ready to give that up, and not the other way around), she feeds herself and happily so, even though my three year old still asks me to feed him occasionally, she is currently cutting her molars without much fuss, she hardly gets sick and she is one tough cookie. And I can take little to no credit for any of this. I mean who wouldn’t have more kids if they were all like this! She really is a pleasure, except when she is throwing tantrums and whining my ear off, but I guess that is age appropriate for any two year old – first born or not. I’ve chatted to many moms who say their second or third kids were totally different and easier.

Yes, it must be a mix of all the factors I mentioned in my opening paragraph, but I do think that second borns deserve a shout out and a high five, just for getting on with it and making their mothers’ lives so much easier, even though they had to wear hand-me-downs, got all their older siblings’ leftovers and nobody really noticed when they achieved anything major. HIGH FIVE TO YOU SECOND BORNS!

Allergies Smallergies


On Sunday morning, Liam woke up with what I thought were lots of insect bites on his body. The more he scratched, the bigger the welts became, until his body was pretty much covered in angry looking red lumps. I took him to the pharmacist who said it looked like some type of dermatitis and gave me a cortisone cream. We fumigated his room, I put one of those insect repellant plugs into the wall and I scoured his bed for bed bugs or eggs or anything foreign looking. The redness cleared during the day.

On Monday he woke up and although the redness wasn’t as severe, it was there. Yesterday he woke up and they were back in full force, he came home from school and they had cleared up. Last night I was cooking and the kids were in the yard with their dad, raking up the cut grass. I called them in to bath and as Liam walked passed the kitchen towards the bathroom, I yelled for him to come back. His left eye was almost swollen shut, he had big red splotches all over his face, behind his ears, down his neck, I took his clothes off and cringed at the sight of his body which was littered with these red lumps. The swelling on his face was definitely getting worse, and although he was showing no other signs of discomfort – no fever, no listlessness, not even scratching – I was afraid because it seems to be getting worse very quickly. We bathed him and I took him to the doctor, he was thrilled for the nighttime escapade. Doc took one look and said it was Urticaria (hives), an allergen either to food, chemicals or pollen / grass. After many questions and what felt like an interview for a job, he deduced that it was most likely something in our garden. It made sense: it comes up after he has been out in the garden, it’s only started  since we’ve moved to our new place, his diet, body products or washing powders haven’t changed at all, and last night in particular it was at it’s worst after he was picking up grass and trimmed plants. Now if you haven’t seen our yard, there are more than 10 different trees, there are plants and flowers galore – I don’t even know their names. To narrow down WHICH plant or tree is causing the allergic reaction is virtually impossible. It would be easier to keep Liam inside or cover him in bubble wrap before he goes outside, than to establish which plant(s) he is allergic to. The next solution is a daily dose of an antihistamine, probably for the rest of his life. Doctor thinks that it will calm down once pollination/germination season is over. I don’t want Liam on drugs everyday for the foreseeable future, I want to consult my most trusted doctor, Dr Google, to see what other parents are using for their allergy prone kids.. natural remedies maybe?

Liam was allergy prone from birth, he picked this up from his dad who suffers with hayfever, allergies and mild asthma. He practically came out of the womb sniffling, coughing, sneezing and with watery eyes. But I didn’t think this would mean he is allergic to EVERYTHING! Doctor says that he is most likely genetically allergy prone and we should watch him for other allergies as well, especially his first bee sting. He didn’t recommend the allergy testing which is expensive and not really conclusive other than defining if your allergy is food, chemical or pollen based – but that we could look at the testing if his allergies persisted and also the severity of the attacks, maybe from about age 5.

He woke up this morning, hale and hearty and his skin was clear. Both my kids have never really been sick. They’ve never been hospitalized, or suffered with serious illnesses or had to have grommets inserted or any of the “normal” illnesses that befall most children. So when I discovered that Liam has quite a serious allergy which needs to be monitored, I felt a twinge of something – powerlessness, guilt, fear? I’m not sure?  I think when your kid is sick, in whatever way, it makes you sad! Well it makes me sad anyway. Is there anyone else dealing with allergies in children – pollen and grass in particular? Other than putting Liam into a bubble, are there other useful tips for dealing with it? And no, I am not selling up and moving house. Never ever! Look at this poor kid…

Thoughts on this birthday eve


Like New Year’s eve, when we sit back and evaluate the year that was, and we make resolutions for the new year that awaits, I think birthday eves conjur up the same sort of feelings. My 30th year was good; it was not without its trials and testings, but overall it was a good year. It started on a high with my 30th celebration with my nearest and dearest, and it ended on a high with us moving into our own home. This year I thought I’d make a bucket list of sorts for my 31st year – so a list of things to do in my 31st year, not a list of things to do before I die! I will review this list from time to time and hopefully tick things off as I go. This list is not a list of weird and wonderful things that I must achieve in order to feel good about myself, but rather a constant reminder that will propel me to do the things I need to do to grow myself to new heights. I don’t think of myself as a procrastinator, but I do have a tendency to “leave things be,” when just a simple tweaking would make a world of difference.

So here’s my To-do list, in no order of importance, for my 31st year.

  1. Get into a swimming pool and start training for the Midmar Mile 2013. Having done it once before some years ago, I’ve always wanted to give it another bash. A friend of mine has promised to do it with me, so I need to get myself wet if I have any intention of not drowning in the middle of the dam.
  2. Go on a holiday without the kids. This was on my 30th year to-do list, and it was such a good experience, that we’ve decided to do this annually, even if it’s just for a weekend.
  3. Go on a holiday with the kids. Not to Durban. Durban isn’t a holiday for me because we spend our time there usually visiting extending family and meeting up with old friends which is wonderful but not exactly a holiday. I want to go away with the kids, just the four of us.
  4. Grow my green thumb. Everyone always talks about how gardening is therapeutic, and a good way to release stress and how rewarding it is to reap the harvest of your sowing when your garden blooms. I want to start with a herb garden because the pot is already well placed outside my kitchen window; how awesome would it be to stretch out my hand while cooking and grab a fresh bunch of coriander or thyme to add to my pot? It would be awesome!
  5. Nurture my relationships. I want to be a better wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend. As a wife, I am going to try to overlook his cringe worthy mannerisms (and there are a lot) and focus on doing more to make him know his worth and his value to the kids and I. As a mother, I really do need to be more present in the moment, yes I CAN multi task but I don’t want to multi task my time with the kids, I want to put everything else down and just focus on them and remember them at this age and not wish away this day because I am so tired and have so much to do. And as for the rest,  I want to make more phone calls, visit more often, Skype more regularly, remember birthdays without the help of Facebook and just really love on the people I love.
  6. Forgive and forget. I don’t want to dwell on things that make me sad or angry. I want to be able to release those people who offend me, intentionally or unintentionally. I don’t want to bear grudges against anyone because while they go about their lives unaware, there I sit seething and miserable. It’s just not worth it.
  7. Save more. This is such a critical point for me. My dad worked so hard at investing in us, a spirit of saving and not of spending, and it worked because I understand the value, I understand the importance and the downright need to save. But it failed because I just love to SPEND! Ha! What happens if I lose my job, or the kids get really ill or God forbid I or the hubby dies? We need a backup plan for the unfortunate events that could possibly happen to us. So I’m going to work on my nest egg this year for “just in case.”
  8. Take care of my health. Those of you who know me will know I hardly ever go to a doctor for myself. I will self medicate myself to death one of these days, because I think I know what’s best for me. This year I am going to see a dermatologist about all these moles and bumps and lumps. I am going to complete the dental work that I need to. I am going to go for all my annual checkups: gynae, GP, blood work – the whole shebang or as much as my medical aid will allow at least.
  9. I’m going to focus on me. For the last three and a half years, I have dedicated my life to my children. I have no regrets about this, it was a decision I made. I vowed to give myself to them in whatever way they needed me and often got scoffed at for being “that” type of mother. It would drive my husband insane and he has told me in more than one argument that I cannot lay my life down for my kids, that I need to live and that they need to learn to be more independent. I was/am one of those parents who do not believe in your children fitting in with YOUR lifestyle, but that you as the parent need to adjust to fit in with THEIR lives. I knew it wouldn’t be forever, and I conditioned myself to change my life for them. And I loved it. Now that they are older, I don’t feel bad about going on a date night with my husband, or packing them off to Durban when I need a break, and more so for my 31st year I am going to stretch the apron strings even further. I am going to focus less on them and more on me. This may mean that I join a book club, or enroll for a Bible study at church, or that I meet up with my girlfriends and leave the kids with their Dad, or that I schedule a mani AND a pedi on the weekend without feeling guilty about missing out on “family time.” And I know my kids will not judge me for it, they will be happy for me. As will my husband.
  10. Lastly, I want to love what I do and do what I love. Whether it be work, raising my children, blogging – wherever I find myself I want to be joyful in it. You see, there’s a difference between being joyful and being happy. Happiness is dependent on your circumstances – things will happen that will shift you from being happy to being sad very quickly. But joy is deeper than that, the real joy of the Lord bubbles up from deep within you and it isn’t dependent on circumstances. It is a joy that KNOWS that today’s trials will not last forever. It’s a joy that KNOWS God wouldn’t put you to it, if He wasn’t going to get you through it. It’s a joy that allows me to be happy, even when I’m sad.

Hip hip hooray, happy birthday  to me!

ps: tonight the kids and I are baking my birthday cake. I’ll let you know how that pans out for us!

Dear Big Liam and Big Hannah #4


Dear Big Liam and Big Hannah

So we’re in our new house. You guys love it and whenever people come and visit you pull them eagerly to your rooms to show off your space. I call your rooms the milkshake rooms; Liam your room looks like a blue bubblegum milkshake threw up all over it and Hannah, your room looks like a pink milkshake went through a blender without the lid on it. I don’t care that your rooms are one big fat cliché…blue for boys, and pink for girls, because ever since I dreamt of having a family and having a house, I knew I wanted a pink and blue room. And well, here we are!

The reason for my love letter today, is to remind you of our journey to getting this house, so that we do not become complacent and too comfortable with our blessing. Yes I want you to enjoy this house, to make it a home with dad and I, but I want you to always remember that nothing (almost nothing) worthwhile ever comes easy. When Dad and I got married, we lived in a tiny first floor apartment. Your father always used to say that our bedroom was next to the oven, because it was that cramped. But it was big enough for the two of us. I used to run down the stairs early on a Saturday morning to be the first person to hang our laundry out, and then I’d have to stay at home all day to keep an eye on it! Ha! We stayed above a man who used to have a party at least four times a week, and his guests would park us in and they’d all be drunk and out of order and the parties would go on for days, not hours, DAYS! But with all the problems with that tiny place, we had some good times there. Our families used to visit from Durban, how we all fitted I have no idea. We even had a “tenant” for a few weeks when my cousin’s boyfriend at the time needed a place to stay. Liam, you were conceived there and your pending birth was probably the catalyst to us buying our first place. We bought a two bedroom duplex in a quiet area in Florida Hills. It was an old complex with big rooms and the space was generous as compared to newer units which were popping up all over Joburg. But the kitchen was tiny. It was so narrow that two people could hardly stand shoulder to shoulder in it. You had to stand in a line in that kitchen! But it had this beautiful bathroom which was in the middle of the two rooms and could be accessed from either room. It had this big freestanding claw bath which Liam just loved to splash in! The parking was a real schlep and visitors had to park on the road which used to freak the Joburgers out, the Durbanites didn’t mind this too much but the poor Joburgers with their alarms, high fences, tracking systems and the like would NEVER leave their car parked on the road, didn’t we know the hijacking statistics? Our duplex was on a hill and it had the most stunning views of the Westrand, we used to dine on the little patio often. There was a scary staircase which Liam tumbled down a few times and one of those olden days stoves that still had a warmer drawer that Liam would climb into and play in. It was our intention to keep this starter home and rent it out when our family and finances grew and we were able to buy a bigger place. It was great for a young couple with one child. The complex was full of old ladies who tended the gardens lovingly and the body corporate meetings were tea parties where the old folk would get together and discuss how we could make our surroundings better. We were happy there.

Then quite unexpectedly we learned that Hannah was on her way. We were in no way financially ready to buy another property, let alone have another kid. We needed our helper to live in and there wasn’t space in our duplex for that. We needed to move and fast. Sadly we decided that our dream had to change and we had to sell up to accommodate our growing family. We found a place even further from work. But the selling point was that it had servants quarters (politically incorrect phrase, but that’s what its called!). It had a decent sized yard for you guys and you each got your own room. AND we were desperate. We moved two days before I was scheduled to give birth to you, Hannah. But it was far, far away. We spent 3 hours in traffic – sometimes more – everyday. That’s almost half way to Durban in a day. Hannah, you were born, Zoleka moved in and we agreed that this was temporary, until we could find a house to buy. Over the next TWO years, we looked at hundreds of potential houses. In that time, I grew more and more annoyed at the distance we lived from where we actually did life. Work, church and school were on the opposite side of Joburg. We would leave when it was dark in the mornings and come home when it was dark – even in Summer! I was so angry that I spent such a little time with you Hannah because I was always at work or in traffic. I was angry that poor Liam had to get up at the crack of dawn and go to school half asleep and then he’d have to endure that traffic with us – that’s a lot of time spent in a small car for a little boy. I barely had time to cook in the evenings and thankfully Zoleka would cover for me, but our evenings were a mad rush of getting home, finishing dinner, getting you guys bathed and sorted and ready for bed, it was very hard and not the life I had pictured for us. We had no intention of staying there for long, but one year turned into two. After the first year, when the 10% increase in our rent was due, we refused to negotiate another year’s contract because we were adamant we would NOT be there for another year. But God had other plans for us. Liam had his second birthday in that house, Hannah had her first birthday there, AND her second birthday. We spent our weekends viewing houses, which is a horrible thing to do with two small children; in the car, out the car, kids are miserable, kids are tired, kids are touching other people’s stuff, dad is frustrated, mom wants to cry. We spent the week trawling sites, dealing with agents who promised that THIS house was the one, but they never delivered. Dad changed jobs, I started blogging, you kids grew. While renting is ideal because you do not have to worry about rates and taxes and geysers bursting and the stove not working – because the landlord will sort all this out for you, it’s not YOURS. For fear of our dear deposit, I never drilled holes in the walls, which meant I hardly put anything up; no photos, no homely touches, nothing. I caved and let Liam stick all his school work on the walls in his room using Prestick but even that gave me the heeby geebies because I was so afraid to damage anything. I couldn’t wait to get out of there. I know it was a roof over our heads, I know we had many happy times there, and I wasn’t ungrateful, I just wanted MORE. My own house, close to the places we needed to be, within our price range and with potential to grow there.. not in number, but in capacity – spiritually, mentally and emotionally. I felt stifled by our present living conditions.

So when we found THIS house, it was more than just finding a property on a street. It was five years worth of looking, waiting, hoping and praying. We had come full circle and our time of testing was finally over. Not forever, because we know the tests do come, all the time, but it was a beautiful respite, it was the answer to many, many prayers, not only from us but from many people who were praying with us for a house! It stands as a symbol of God’s faithfulness and of how he rewards those who wait on Him. When I look back, I can see how we were not ready for this house right up until now. Our circumstances turned just in time, the place we were renting was put up for sale and we were told we would have to be out literally a week after we had intended to be out anyway. My relationship with Dad had matured during this season of testing and I know now, that we were not ready for this responsibility before this. I have no doubt in my mind that all this has a touch of God on it, and this is why I want you to thankful for this roof over your head every day.

I know that you will love it here, and as you read this as Big Liam and Big Hannah, I hope you will reminisce on the good times that I KNOW we will have in this house of ours. I said earlier that we shouldn’t become complacent or comfortable with our blessing, because the point of a blessing, is to bless someone else with or from it.. that’s where the phrase “blessed to be a blessing” comes from! Let’s make our house a home where people will come in, and leave changed! For the better. Let us always help those who do not have a roof over their heads, those who are homeless, hungry and without hope. Let’s be beacons of light, because we KNOW firsthand of the glory of God. We are blessed to be a blessing, don’t ever forget that.

Love you madly

Xxx

Mom

Wordless Wednesday: Beautiful flowers for free


My mother and the kids picked these beauties out of MY garden. Yes, that’s right, my garden produced these lillies. I no longer have to pine over flowers that my husband failed to buy for my birthday, our anniversary or even to say I’m sorry. I can simply go into my garden and look at these babies, and feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Oh yes.

Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf?


I read such a good post on TJ’s blog about the fear we plant into our children’s lives. Sometimes purposefully, and sometimes innocently – but always wrong. Consequently, Sharon and Lisa also posted along a similar vein and all their stories resonated with me.

Here’s the thing with raising children, some lines are so blurry that we sometimes cross a line without even thinking about it. The trouble is that once that line is crossed, it’s very difficult to go back because children are like little sponges who soak up everything you let out into the universe and take it as gospel. Especially with fear. What do I mean? My fear of lizards, geckos, iguanas or any other four limbed slimy creature that crawls with its belly close to the ground did not come from nowhere. My mother has this irrational fear which she passed on to me. Living in KZN, geckos are part of the family, they are in the house, on your ceilings, hiding behind your shoes – everywhere. I have had encounters with them lying belly up in dishwashing water that wasn’t emptied the night before, and falling onto my head from the ceiling and them spying on me from the airvent in my room as I changed. The hairs on my back and arms are actually raised as I write this. My mother and I would fight off these creatures with a broom and would not sleep in a room if we found any lurking on the ceilings. My father would pick them up in his hand and chase us around the house, laughing at our fear. It was HORRIBLE. I am soon to be 31 years old, and I still cannot stomach these creatures, seeing them on TV makes my skin crawl, a friend of mine has two bearded dragons, in a cage with no chance of escape, yet I cannot even look at them in their cage for fear of what? That they’ll jump out and bite me? It’s a crazy and irrational fear but it is very real to me. I do not want to pass this fear onto my children. I want Liam and Hannah to pick lizards up by their tales and bring home bugs in a glass jar to show mom and dad – IF they want to. Not debilitated by a fear that I have passed onto them for a harmless creature (well except for those big scary iguanas who look like they will eat you whole in one bite).

Natural fears of real things are one thing, in fact I think the fear of things you can actually touch, see and feel is something that is easier to overcome. When I say easier, I mean that things which are tangible can be worked with. But the fear of monsters, the bogeyman, dragons and figments of the imagination are harder to eradicate. We as parents often brush these fears off, and after being called to your child’s room for the 6th time in one hour to look at the monster under the bed, one can be quite brusque about these things NOT BEING REAL SO JUST GOT TO SLEEP. But the truth is, to a young child, these things are very real. A fear that makes them shake and cry just becomes worse when they are told to toughen up and stop being such babies for crying over silly things. I have tried to shield Liam as much as possible. He only watches Disney Junior, Cbeebies and movies which I myself have watched or previewed. At school they only watch Disney movies. Although he knows about Ben10 and wears the clothing, he has never watched it, nor does he understand who or what Ben10 actually is. We never talk about monsters, the bogeyman and I most certainly do not entertain conversation about killing, dying and shooting anybody or anything (a phase most little boys go through depending on the media they are exposed to, and in turn the friends they play with at school). BUT I have heard myself saying things like “if you don’t do x, y, z, the bad man is going to catch you.” I have heard their grandparents and their father and my helper say things like “go wash your hands now or else the bogey is going to get you” or “don’t go outside alone when it’s dark or else the monsters will get you.” All well meant, and in an effort to elicit some action from your kids, but still planting a very bad seed for our kids. Children take everything literally, they don’t know that monsters do not exist, their imaginations are wild and untamed – which is beautiful but dangerous if used incorrectly. We laugh or become frustrated when our kids show strange and unfounded fears of things that don’t exist, which just further exacerbates the problem. And you know what happens, the damage is more far reaching than just that moment. You cripple their self confidence, you threaten the implicit trust they have in you, and you belittle and demean them when you don’t take their fears seriously. And we make the fear worse. I used to read the old tales and fables we all grew up with to the kids, but then I realized that some of those stories are quite terrifying for a little child who doesn’t quite understand the difference between fantasy and reality yet. When that big bad wolf huffs and he puffs, or when that big bad wolf hides granny in the cupboard and lies to Little Red Riding Hood (some editions actually say the wolf eats granny), or when that big mean giant chases Jack to the beanstalk – that’s all VERY real and terrifying for the poor toddler listening. Days later, out of the blue, Liam will say something like “that is a bad wolf, hey mommy?” Which just further proves how their little minds and spirits are affected by stuff we think is trivial. There will come a time when my kids will completely understand what’s real and what isn’t, then they can lose themselves in fantasy and flights of their imaginations, and until such a time, I want to try and protect them from unnatural fears as much as I can.

I am not a loony right wing, I know they are exposed to these things through other mediums – their school friends, watching a movie at a friend’s house which their parents think is OK, my own family who innocently make jokes about bogeymen and then laugh when they see how frightened the children are (they aren’t there at bedtime are they). My own husband plays  this game with them when he puts on a scary voice and chases them through the house, and while Liam enjoys this, I can hear the hysteria in Hannah’s screeches.. moms, you know that sound when your kid is just about to go from laughing to crying, that only you recognize? Yes that, that’s FEAR! Why would we do that to our kids!

I don’t want to be a fuddy duddy, I also don’t want to go to such great lengths to protect my kids that they don’t experience a full spectrum of emotion – fear included – because they need to experience it in some form to learn how to deal with it. But I do not want to unnecessarily terrorise them. Society has instilled enough fears in us – which I have been forced to pass onto my children for their own safety – the fear of strangers, the fear of running away from mommy in a shopping centre, the fear of running across the road without holding mommy’s hand in case a drunk driver guns you down in our quiet street – these are things I have had to instill in them and I know it frightens them but I need them to “get it,” to grasp the importance. With all that going on in their little heads, I don’t need them to be worried about monsters or bogeymen or dragons, but if and when these fears arise, I want to be able to quell their fears without first ridiculing them or picking myself off the floor from laugher or making them feel foolish. I got a bit sidetracked with this post, it’s such a big topic to tackle and we all have differing views, my own father will tell me I am overreacting; that we were raised on The Three Little Pigs and that they laughed at us when we acted like cry babies. Yes the same generation of parents who smoked in the same room as the kids and let us ride unbuckled in the backseat! No disrespect to our parents, but we are raising children in a completely different time and space. So if you come into contact with my children, please do not frighten them for your own amusement, please do not make fun of their irritational fears, as funny as it seems to you, and please do not think it’s cool to make jokes about monsters and bogeymen. I WILL go monster on YOU, then who will be the cry baby? No seriously, this is a reminder to myself about the way I speak and react to my kids, yet another “fear” to keep ME awake at night.

Plain and Simple article for Huggies Momville


I wrote another article entitled Plain and Simple for Huggies Momville. If you haven’t already, head on over and take a look at the Momville site. It’s a great resource for moms and expectant moms.

I’ve pasted my article below, for those of you who don’t like to click-click all over the place. But do click-click for this one reason only, there’s a kayoot pic of my kiddies alongside my article 🙂

 

Plain and Simple

Every so often, I find myself wondering if I’m being the best parent that I could be to my children. Am I making the right decisions for them? Even though I’m coming from a place of love, am I sometimes too hard on them? Do I sometimes forget that they are just little kids and in small ways, selfishly force them to grow up so that I can be less wanted; in less demand? Do I stick to a routine for their benefit or for mine? I often contemplate on how things could have turned out if I had said that differently, or reacted differently or let them “get away” with that. I find myself constantly second guessing myself – even after almost four years on this parenting trip. But what I’ve come to realize is that children really are simple beings who require simple things.
I think it’s us parents who blow things out of proportion, when all a kid really needs is love and fresh air and perhaps a good medical aid plan. Plain and simple. It’s an ongoing process, but I’m trying to eliminate the fluff that comes with parenting.

 

My children do not have to wear the most expensive diaper or branded clothes only. They do not have to suck a specific bottle or eat from a silver spoon. I do not have to feel pressurized into buying an expensive pram, car seat or bouncy chair. I do not need to buy a bigger house to accommodate ALL their stuff and I do not have to send them to a Montesorri school if I can’t afford it.  My kid does not need to have the latest toys and gadgets, and we don’t have to go to places or spend lots of money to have fun together. And I understand that as a parent, we want the best for our kids, but I constantly have to remind myself to go back to basics: my kids really just crave my attention and my love. Their love language is time spent together. They don’t care what bottles they drink from, as long as their thirst is quenched, they don’t care what sneakers they are wearing, as long as their feet don’t get hurt when they are racing on their bikes. They don’t care what school they attend, as long as they are learning and growing (which you as the parent can decipher) in a loving and safe environment.

 

I used to lay awake at night wondering if I was doing it right. I used to want to sign up for every parenting workshop, read every book and trawl endless sites to get advice, but more so to get affirmation that I was doing it right. I would feel guilty if I could not console my crying child, or if my child ate food out of a bottle instead of preparing it freshly, or if they were not reaching their milestones as per the “book.” I was so desperate to keep to our strict routine that I would turn down invitations and not let people visit if it interfered with bedtime. THEN I would feel guilty about forcing my kids to sleep at 7h30pm when other parents were tweeting about spending quality time with their kids in the evenings. Having two small children in the house was tiring, and I felt guilty for always being tired, for always looking forward to nap time and bed time, for being in such a bad mood, for snapping at my husband and the kids. If I had carried on with that emotional baggage, I would have snapped. I’ve become far less dogmatic in my approach – I still believe in the value of a routine – but I don’t let it dictate our lives. I now know the routine is there to benefit both my kids and I, in that it gives them guidance and direction and an expectation of what’s to come and I know they find comfort in knowing what’s going on around them. It benefits me because I know that at 7h30pm each evening, I can let my hair down, and I most definitely do not feel guilty about that anymore! I don’t beat myself up about snapping now and again, or smacking a naughty bottom, or confiscating toys or rewards – if I want to raise these children to be upstanding citizens, they are going to have to experience some form of tough love. And even on the days when they don’t deserve my harsh tongue, and I feel that stab of guilt straight to my heart, I quickly dust myself off and try harder and thank God that children are like puppy dogs – quick to forgive and easy to love!

 

I’ve always advocated that you should choose your battles wisely, especially with strong willed toddlers, and I still maintain this stance. I no longer fight over what to wear, what to eat, and how to apply body lotion – if they want to go out dressed as circus freaks, I let them, as long as they are dressed appropriately for the weather. If they want to eat only the green food on their plates, I let them, and we find a compromise whereby they’ll eat two spoons, “ONLY two spoons mama,” of something else. I used to force feed my kids, until I realized that they were at an age where they would not starve. They let me know when they are hungry, and this way works for us. If they want to apply body lotion to their tongues, I let them (I’ve read the label, they won’t die) and they have come to agree that the taste is yukky – but they had to discover that for themselves, rather than I dictate it to them. I get death stares from people in the mall, and even from my own husband, when I release my kids from the confines of the trolley and let them run wild through the open spaces. They know I need to see them at all times, that they mustn’t touch and that they may not go into any stores. So what? I try as much as I can to let them just be kids. It doesn’t always work, in fact it backfires quite a lot. Especially when your two year old daughter goes ballistic when her favourite worn, two-sizes-too-small sneakers are in the wash and she has to unfortunately wear her new pink perfectly fitting ones. Woah, her tantrums have nothing on the blasting of Hiroshima. But we get by.

 

It’s all trial and error. I’ve learned to loosen up, I know that what worked even yesterday, may not work today. I’ve learned to be more flexible and to accept that I’m going to make mistakes and not to beat myself up over it. The most important thing for me is to know that my kids feel loved and valued, that even when I’m at my worst and I’m on a shouting, grouchy warpath (happens often), they don’t doubt how I feel about them. And not any amount of hi tech expensive gear, or fancy light up toys or potions and lotions that are overpriced because they smell nice, can do that for them. They just need a full tummy and lots of hugs and kisses. Plain and simple.

Diaper Milestone complete


Remember I blogged about letting go of the night time diaper over here. After that post I didn’t really take any action. I figured I would wait for the warmer weather so that we could keep up with the wet pj’s and wet linen that would surely follow. Liam often wakes with a dry diaper, but it hasn’t been consistent, I’d say four or five nights a week are dry – but not consecutively or else I would have tried this a long time ago. I feel like I’m talking about an alcoholic’s habits.. how long have you been dry for?

Anyway, two nights ago we actually forgot to put his diaper on; they had had an early bath so I usually let him run around free wi.lly so that he can still use the toilet, until bed time when we attach the diaper to his bottom. So we forgot. And he woke up dry. I was a bit bummed because I had prepared this amazing speech for the first night my son would sleep without his diaper and how I would prep him and make a really big deal about this incredible milestone and well, that bubble has burst, how dare he ruin The Queen’s Speech by achieving this milestone all on his own? So we went for second best and made a rah-rah yesterday morning.

Then last night I figured there was no point in going back, and although I had to alter my magnificent speech somewhat, I told him that our diaper days were over. That he was a big boy, a champion, and that diapers were for babies like Hannah (she wasn’t in the room, or else she would have flipped at the baby reference) and Eli, his cousin. And he was all YES YES YES YOU ARE RIGHT MAMA. He watched me put the linen saver under his sheet and was confused, so I explained that this was in case he had an accident in the night and told me vehemently that he wouldn’t, and I was all YES YES YES YOU ARE RIGHT MY BOY. This morning when he woke up dry he said to me “I told you so.”

I’m going to leave the linen saver on his bed for a while, I’m going to expect the unexpected, but I’m also moving his diapers into Hannah’s room. No going back now. I do believe that Liam has pretty much told those diapers to kiss his smooth squishy backside goodbye.