The working year that was…

This post needs to be done purely because coming to the end of any working year is a big deal. I can’t say I have a very stressful job – not at all. But I can say that the work place is often a cesspool melting pot of many different, diverse and crazy people, so just navigating your way around people who you are forced to spend a good eight hours a day with, can be stressful. I mean in any other environment, we choose who we want to allow into our personal space. If we don’t like the people sitting next to us at a restaurant, we ask to be moved. If we don’t like the person sitting next to us on the Gautrain, we get up and find another seat. If we don’t like the way a person speaks to us on the telephone, we hang up. But the work place is different hey. Sitting in an open plan office among a lot people who are just different to you can be difficult. Now if you think I was going to go on about all the strange people I have had to put up with this year, you are wrong. This post is a shout out to all the people who had to put up with MY strangeness in the office this year. You did good.

Everyone knows I am loud. Or maybe I should say LOUD. I sit in the open plan immediately outside my boss’s corner office. When he first moved to South Africa, he would politely call me on the phone and make his request. When I need something from him, I usually yell it back to him from my desk to his office. Come on, I’m not going to waste a call when the man can hear me just fine if I yell. I’m proud to say that after a few months he got over his initial shock and now we yell across at each other when we need to make small talk. Mission accomplished.

I yell at everyone.. not angry yell, I mean I shout across the office if I need someone’s attention. I think it irritates a few people who go red, blow steam and hysterically reach for their ear phones. Usually I throw something at these people. I like to whistle. I find whistling very therapeutic. Yeh, not such a good idea in the office space. Usually I get the same red faced people phoning (even though we sit like 5 metres apart from each other) to ask me to tone it down. Usually I put the phone down and shout back at them to relax man.

I like to chinwag. I mean if I’m going to be stuck with you for a minimum of eight hours a day, I need to know you – where you live, how many kids you have, what’s your favourite colour and what you have in your lunch box today? So if I’m not at my desk, you’ll find me sitting on someone else’s desk assailing them for the contents of their lunch boxes, or asking for freebies. I work with a lot of young, carreer minded people who are so busy climbing the corporate ladder that they really don’t have time to chinwag… this annoys me no end. You mean you can’t stop what you are doing for ten minutes to listen to me whine about how much trouble the kids gave me last night? Who wouldn’t want to hear all about my fantabulous children?

We have this silly no-eating-at-your-desk policy. This is THE most ridiculous rule I have ever come across. I eat a lot, and I eat constantly. If I had to leave my desk every time I needed to eat, then I’d be fired for never being at my work station. They’d have to put my desk in the canteen. Ok, the rule states that you can’t eat any cooked food which releases an odour which some uptight people might find offensive. Well what does this mean? That you can only eat dry crackers and water at your desk? What is this, Pollsmoor? Well I don’t think my lamb curry or egg salad has an offensive odour at all, so I chow at my desk. I usually have people coming up to me to ask for a taste – probably the poor folk who are still hungry from the dry crackers they had to consume. But of course I know the blanket emails which come from the top floor once again reminding staff that they are not allowed to eat at their desks are aimed at me. So sorry!

One last thing, I don’t want to give away all my trade secrets after all…  I may have upset many people with my personal phone calls this year. Or I may have entertained them depending on who was listening. My dad and I have this horrible thing of speaking really loudly on the phone. Almost as if we don’t trust this amazing device which Alexander Graham Bell developed all those years ago. I don’t know why we feel like the person on the other end can’t hear us. So I do talk loudly, even when I’m phoning Standard Bank to ask for an increase in my credit limit and I try to whisper because I don’t want my colleagues to know that I’m on end of the month Salty Cracks on the 5th of the month… they still come to me after what I thought was a private call and offer sympathy with a pat on the back. So I think it’s safe to say that the whole of the 2nd floor knows my business. Sorry about that!

Yes, it’s been a hard 100 and something working days at the office this year! Fortunately for some, they have been promoted or found new jobs so they won’t have to put up with me next year. For those who chose to work through the holidays because they knew I wouldn’t be at the office, good on yer mates! For those of you who are stuck with me next year… can’t wait!! Let’s make it epic: work on your outside voices, come with some good recipes for us to try at our desks and let’s get it started in here. 2013 on the 2nd floor is going to be OFF THE HOOK!

Happy holidays to my work mates! xxx

The final episode in the Diaper Wars

For those of you who have been reading for a while, you will know all too well how much time I have spent over the last year and a half blogging about nappies, diapees, diapers, napkins or whatever you call them in your house. I have blogged lyrical about which brand is better, about how many leakages we’ve had, about which way to place your son’s appendage to avoid leakage, and so on. In this time I have changed what felt like a million and two diapers. In all seriousness, between the two kids, my rough calculation of number of diapers used in my household over the last three years is around 10 000? That cannot be right? How are my fingers still attached to my hands after all the poo they have been subjected to? How can I still see after all the wee my infant son seemed to aim directly at my face? How is it possible that I’m not on the national netball team after I’ve made so many hole in one diaper throws straight into the garbage bin?

That said.

It is with much jubilation that I announce we are finally off any form of poo-holding-pee-soaking device. We have two fully potty trained bebes in our house. Hannah went off her night nappy successfully and well that’s that folks. She won’t let me call her “my baby” anymore, she insists that we call her big girl now. She tells us when she needs to go and the days of hiding behind the couch to do her business are well behind us.

This milestone is bittersweet. Sweet because who the heck actually WANTS to change diapers? Not I! But bitter because it marks the end of all things baby (ok yes, we still have the dummy to conquer but work with me here.) This is a poignant moment for me because my babies are growing and with each step towards their independence it means that they are less dependent on me, and that does make me sort of sad. Just a little. Diaper changes were five minutes in the day where Hannah and I would talk shop about nothing of any consequence. But she’d have my full attention and I’d have hers. And we’d always end with a hug and a kiss. And a most gracious “thank you mama” from her when we were done. And I guess that’s the part that I’ll miss.

I can’t believe how fast time has gone, how quickly they’ve grown and how the things I used to detest about babies – case in point: changing diapers – have become the things I’m now going to miss. In the throes of sleepless nights, teething, crabby babies, mounds of dirty baby laundry, my mother used to comfort me by saying this too would pass, that before I could blink it would all be over and I wouldn’t even remember how bad it seemed at the time. I used to roll my eyes and brush off her wise words that didn’t help me at that moment in time, but now I’ve received that revelation – she was right, it all went by so quickly. My memory must be fuzzy because in all honesty I don’t think it was that bad.. yet vaguely at the back of my mind I do recall I cried a lot and we fought a lot and my babies sometimes saw a really bad side of me… but why then do I feel like I would do it all again in an instant? God wired us mothers so perfectly, didn’t he? And just like there is a time and season for everything, so too has this season of my life come to a close. And I am grateful.

So our diaper season is over! Hallelujah! Of course I am anticipating a few accidents here and there but to not ever buy another pack of nappies does give me some sort of thrill! Oh what shall I do with that extra bit of cash?!

Well done Hannah Pushkin Pudding Baby, you’ve transformed from a stinky bummed caterpillar into a most beautiful butterfly. Love you xxx

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.. Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV

On the 11th day of Gratuity

Today my list could be about 100 points long. But I’ll hold myself back.

1. Grateful that it’s the last working Tuesday for 2012.

2. Grateful for this rain which makes everything green and fresh.

3. Grateful to my kid’s teachers who did a sterling job this year.

4. Grateful that I could spoil them with gifts this morning.

5. Grateful for simple recipes which create the most delicious foolproof butter biscuits. They are so yummy!

6. Grateful for my online friends who are always available to give help when I need it. Yesterday I was stuck looking for cookie cutters and between Facebook and Twitter, I got about seven answers within minutes – problem solved!

7. Grateful for my real life friends who celebrated birthdays this weekend – I went to three birthday parties this weekend.

8. Grateful for my early Christmas presents from suppliers and work colleagues.

9. Grateful for getting Bieber tickets for my niece yesterday. Still feeling sorry for those who missed the Bieber boat!

10. Grateful that pay day comes early this month.

11. Grateful for a good laugh… this morning we were early for school, so Liam and I were sitting in the car and I decided to pluck my eyebrows while waiting. After explaining to him that I was plucking my eyebrows, he carried on “driving the car” and playing with his action figures. A few minutes later when I was done, he said “are you done *#!cking your eyebrows?” Ever so innocently. Boy I couldn’t contain myself, that child cracks me up. I simply corrected him and we carried on with our conversation and he was none the wiser.

On the 7th day of Gratuity

1. Grateful for good advice. Today we made some big decisions based on some sound advice we received from a very wise somebody. I guess sometimes you fail to see what is right in front of you and it takes an objective third party to put things into perspective. More to follow on this topic in the next few days.

2. Grateful for simple pleasures. So I bought both Hannah and Liam these peak caps from Ackermans – cost me like R40 each and really they aren’t anything special. But you have to see them with their caps… they don’t want to take them off, I find them in front of the mirror checking themselves out, then they swop caps to see who looks better in which one. I never get tired of watching how simple things can bring such delight to little children. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

3. Grateful for the week we spent with my mother. She leaves today and although we’ll see each other again for Christmas, I still feel sad! But it was a good week, and even at age 31 it still feels good to have my mother around.

4. Grateful for the weekend. Who isn’t? This weekend is full of birthday parties, family lunches and meeting up with best friends – I wouldn’t want it any other way.

5. Grateful that the end of the work year is nigh. I only have a week left at work and I can’t wait to go on leave. Not because I don’t like my job, just because it’s been a long year – I want to sleep in, stay in my pj’s all day, tan by the pool, eat chocolate for breakfast, photograph my children to the point of irritation and bake butter cookies and eat them straight from the oven.

6. Grateful for my fabulous #Bloggersecretsanta gift. I love getting goodies in the post and my secret santa (aka the blessed barrenness) knows me surprisingly well – I was spoilt with the most precious trinkets and a pair of earrings I would have literally chosen for myself without hesitation.

7. Grateful that my hair is so fresh and so clean-clean. Yesterday I had a fight with one of the sprinklers on the irrigation system – it wasn’t working so I tinkered with it while the power was on and let’s just say it came to life and won the fight. I was sprayed wet from head to toe and you all know my hair woes… this is not a nice thing to happen to a Coloured girl with already blow dried hair. Everyone thought it was the funniest thing ever, but I was MAD! I have a function to attend tonight and there was NO way I was going to go with a ‘fro but I was not prepared to waste another hour of my life beating my hair into submission with a flat iron – not my idea of fun on a Thursday evening. But thank goodness for my mother who blow dried my hair and fixed me up.

Happy Friday folks, count your blessings! xxx

On the 6th day of Gratuity

Today I am grateful for:

1. High waisted skirts which have made a comeback. I’m wearing mine today and it hides my white flabby toneless stomach so well. Sitting at my desk without having to keep my stomach pulled in all day brings me incredible joy. You have no idea.

2. My mother’s homemade food. Last night my mother made good ‘ol beef and vegetable stew. I make this dish all the time because I know the kids love it and it’s as nutritional as it gets in my house, but it never tastes the same as my mother’s. We were licking our bowls. Love my mother’s food.

3. My mother in law. So I’ve invited my husband’s entire family for lunch on Sunday and I was going to be doing all the cooking, and this morning my mother in law insisted that she would make the biryani. I wanted to run and jump into her arms with gratitude but I restrained myself.

4. Good music. I travelled alone to work today because the husband dropped Liam at school. I LOVE being alone in the car because it means I get to choose the playlist, and while I enjoy the odd Barney song and the Children’s Classic Collection, I still like to occasionally blast something with at least a PG13 restriction. This morning I listened to The Beatles and The Carpenters VERY LOUD all the way to work – hardly PG13, but it felt good. Amazing how good music can affect your mood hey?

5. Reconciliation. You know when you and your partner fight, argue, play silent treatment – however it is the two of you disagree, it isn’t very nice. I dislike fighting with my hubby more because it impacts everything else around me. I’m not a very nice person to ANYONE if I am at odds with the husband. Anyway the last two weeks have been filled with lots of little disagreements and stress and we’ve both just agreed to let it go. Of course we will disagree on something else in the next half hour, but we’ve spat-on-it and agreed to just make up and move on. He is better at moving on than I am, but I am going to try.

6. Date night. That’s tonight! Cant’ wait!

Count your blessings today, people! xxx

On the 5th day of Gratuity

I enjoyed reading everyone’s Gratitude Journals last month. The older I get, the more I realise how important it is to be grateful. It keeps us humble and cognisant of the fact that even though we have problems and trials to face every day, there is but still a blessing – even if it’s just in waking up with air in your lungs every day. I also like to count my blessings because it detracts from all the other things I think I so desperately need and want. Nothing like a bit of perspective to keep you grounded hey.

I’m going to jot down as many gratuities as the day of the month. Today is the 5th December, so I’ll start my list with 5 things… and so on. So on the 25th December, you’ll need more than a minute to get through my list!

So in no order of importance…

  1. Grateful to be alive. This morning we heard of the death of my sister’s husband’s cousin who was involved in a car accident. A young man who leaves behind a young wife and a brand new baby.
  2. Grateful to know the Lord. Seriously, without Jesus I don’t know where I would be.
  3. Grateful for my husband. Yes I am grateful that I have someone to share the load with, someone to share life with. Someone who makes me feel like a million bucks. Someone to fight with and makeup with.
  4. Grateful for my children. Liam’s school report was really good. But I’m not grateful for his good report, I’m grateful that Liam is doing well, is well adjusted, has an opportunity to go to a good school where his mind and body are exercised and he has a chance to reach his full potential. Hannah is healthy, she is growing well, more than anything she brings me so much joy. She is perfect for me. My heart is grateful for these two bodies who fill my life with an indescribable sort of contentment – even when I’m mad at them, I’m still so content.
  5. Grateful for my job. Firstly because it gives me a place to go everyday where I can be away from my children. Yes I said it. Secondly and more importantly because it means I am able to draw an income to pay for the things which my family needs, it means we get to live in a house with a roof, eat a cooked meal everyday and pay for a car to take us where we need to go. Without our jobs, none of this would be possible.

What are you grateful for today? Make a quick mental list, you’d be surprised at how long it is 🙂  xxx

On the 4th day of Christmas.

Things are hectic.

There’s been a lot going on. At home and at work – it has just been all systems go. It’s like this every year so I don’t know why it takes me by surprise every time but THIS year it just seems to be that much more hectic. There’s been lots to blog about, but finding the time to pen it all down is becoming increasingly more difficult as we get closer to the holidays.

1. First on the list – I got a new boss. This, too, shouldn’t surprise me. In our business senior management move around a lot. I’ve had three bosses in three years. One French, one German (although born South African) and my new boss is American. It does mean getting use to a new management style, getting used to his quirks, his likes and dislikes and starting all over again with “trying to be nice” – I’m a personal assistant so my boss and I really need to gel in order to make my day job work for me. It does get a bit tiring having to constantly adjust to a new way of doing things, but I guess it keeps my work interesting. I met him last week and it’s just been a constant rush of getting him settled.

2. We have been to Durban three times in three months – that’s once a month of sitting in a car with two toddlers for approximately 6 hours at a stretch. And then still the return trip. None of these trips have been for fun. Well, we’ve had fun but what I mean is we’ve had to attend family functions or weddings – not a holiday as such. So this last weekend we left at 9pm on Friday night because the husband had a work function he couldn’t miss. We arrived after 3am. It was exhausting, even though I think I slept for the better part of the journey. I tried to stay awake to keep the driver company but my head was lolling so badly that I thought it may fall off my shoulders so I had to close my eyes. On just a few hours sleep we had to attend the wedding – but the best part was that I was the MC at said wedding. My first live gig. Ha. After I got over my nerves, I actually had fun with it. I’m going to start stalking the few unmarried friends I have to employ me for their pending nuptials. But seriously, it’s hard work – prepping for the day, and my nerves were a bit fragile at the prospect of messing up THE most important day in these people’s lives with a bad joke. So I was stressing over this for a while.

3. We attended a really cool theatrical play at church – How the Grinch Stole Christmas. It was brilliant and Liam loved it – except the carol singing in between, he just wanted to see the Grinch. Which brings me to the subject of Christmas. I really want the kids to experience Christmas the way I did as a child. Christmas was big for us, we would either be in Cape Town with my grandparents or at home with all our cousins and family friends– but regardless of where we were, it was a huge affair. My sister and I dressed in our matching dresses, lots of baking, lots of food and ginger beer and Gatti’s ice cream. Both my parents were teachers so we were never bored stiff at home with the helpers while our parents worked, we were out and about – doing fun holiday stuff. Christmas was really time set apart from the rest of the boring year. I looked forward to it all year long: Boney M on the stereo, having an afternoon nap so we’d be awake for midnight mass, shaking the gifts under the tree and reading how many presents were for you and complaining when someone had more gifts than you did. My parents used to put gifts under the tree from early in the season, and of course Santa used to bring on Christmas eve as well. I can’t remember when I stopped believing in Father Christmas. My mother used to always remind us that Christmas was about Jesus’ birthday so we took the whole nativity very seriously but hey, I still laid out the cookies and milk for Santa! So yes, back to the future, I want my kids to feel the same sort of excitement I did as a child. So our decorations are up, our Woolies Advent Calendars are out, Boney M has been downloaded and I’m hoping to start on the baking next week – more because I’ve decided on home baked goods as part of the teachers’ gifts this year but also to get into the mood.

4. Seeing everyone. Earlier this year, I said how I wanted to make more time for family and friends and really keep in touch with everyone I consider dear. This is great in theory, but really we have been so busy breakfasting, lunching, dining, schmoozing, impromptu get-together-ing – that really I am quite shattered from all the festivities. And it feels good, don’t get me wrong, but I’m tired of always having something on. I can’t remember the last weekend we just sat at home alone, with nothing to do and nowhere to go. I’m looking forward to the holidays where I have very little planned. I can’t wait to have nothing to do. Seriously. And to give the entertaining and even been entertained a break. Who would have thought I would have said that? Me, who loves to be surrounded by people and noise. This year has clearly been a long one for me!

But before anything dies down I still have a long list of things to complete.. presents to buy, teachers to thank, school concerts to watch, more parties to attend. The one thing I really want to do this December is that gratitude journal that most of blog-land did in November. I think I will start tomorrow. Being grateful helps put everything into perspective, even the craziness.

I hope you are not being bowled over by the busyness of the year coming to a close? xxx