Eskom, you beauty


Last year one of our friends alerted us to the fact that Eskom was rolling out this project whereby they were replacing all household globes and bulbs with energy saving ones, they were also putting timers on geysers and pool pumps and installing energy saving shower heads. Oh and all this for free. It sounded too good to be true, and if our friends hadn’t successfully made use of the service, I probably wouldn’t even have taken it further – you know me, Little Miss Cynical.

Well I always have a few choice words for Eskom at the ready, but today my words deviate from the usual bleepers – I actually have something positive to say about Eish..Kom.

I submitted the online application late last year and forgot about it. When I got back to work in January, I received an email apologising for the delay and advising that my house would be serviced before the end of January. Last week Friday I received a call to check my availability for the Saturday, and the next day, they were there. All this without me phoning to check up on my online application, without any nagging or complaining? That’s a first for any governmental service.

Two pleasant guys popped in right on time on Saturday, and replaced every light bulb in the house in a matter of minutes. They even replaced all our down lights and all our lamps.  They changed the shower head in the kids bathroom, and not to just any cheap head, one of those nice wide-ish ones that give you a good even squirt. I didn’t want them tampering with my shower head which I love and my husband didn’t want them tampering with his beloved pool pump and we already have a timer on it, but they were happy to oblige with these services too.

They spent about 40 minutes in our house, were friendly and professional, politely answered the millions of questions from the kids and didn’t freak out when Hannah smashed a globe on the kitchen floor. They left with all the old bulbs and fittings they had replaced, so I didn’t have to worry about safely disposing of them and they cleaned up after themselves.

What a welcome break from Eskom. I don’t know who’s paying who for this service, or who’s scratching who’s back, or which tenderpreneur has just pushed millions into an offshore account, but for once I actually don’t care. I am just going to say thank you for a well run project which I’m sure is benefiting homes across the country.

Of course I am keen to see the difference in our light bill as the true proof of this pudding. But if anything else, at least I don’t have to replace a globe for a long time. Good job Eskom. High five to you.

Not sure if the project is still running, but get in on the action if it is.

Ps: they put these bright lights in Liam’s room… Looks like day light even in the dark. Wanted to take a few bulbs out, but the kid likes his over lit room, so we left it.

 

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L is for Liam, the super star!


Now I’m not saying that we’re raising the next Einstein over here, but come on, look how this kid writes his name? Proud is not the word! I am sure that there are three year olds all over the world writing their names and surnames and dates of birth and swear words and symphonies and theses on life or whatever, but this is MY three year old and he can write his NAME! Even if he has learned it by “rote” (copying the way I write it, versus actually learning the letters and putting them together to make a word) I don’t care, I still think he is amazing!

 liam name

I’m no teacher, so I don’t know if I am doing it correctly, but I trace out the letters of words, I let him go over the traced out words and then he eventually doesn’t need the tracing anymore. He knows his letters so at least he knows L is for Lucy the Lollipop Lady and I is for Iggy Iguana and A is for Alice Apple and so on.. so I don’t think the way I am doing it is interfering with the way he is learning to write at school. I think I must actually discuss this with his teacher so that we are at least working on the same base, but for now I think he is making great progress.

I don’t spend a lot of time doing anything constructive with my kids – yes we play, laugh and are “together” a lot of the time, but I can’t say that I spend time teaching/growing/nurturing their minds. It’s sad and makes me feel extremely guilty because as a working mother, there just aren’t enough hours in the day, especially now that they are older and clearly need more one-on-one educational time – if I can call it that. Speed reading through a book before bed time, or letting them paint while I cook isn’t enough anymore. Beside the fact that THEY recognise when I am rushing to just  get it done, I can see that when I DO spend quality time with them, they really are like sponges who absorb and learn so quickly. I mean Liam learned to write his name over two days? And no, not because he is a genius (even though I still think he is), but because I spent that time with him. It’s so difficult to juggle everything in a day, isn’t it? This weekend we spent a lot of time at home doing  nothing. It was great to have absolutely nothing on the calendar – a very rare occurance but one I am going to try and repeat often for 2013. So we did spend a lot of time doing fun learning things and that abated my guilt ever so slightly. And it didn’t take much. Writing, drawing, making up stories while playing with their toys, reading books and letting them interrupt me (usually I HATE questions in between a page, especially if it’s a rhyming book because it messes with the rhythm, and I tell them to only ask questions at the end of each page – cruel I know, but it’s an OCD thing!) – we didn’t do anything out of the ordinary, nor did we need anything fancy and expensive to make it work. It made me feel good about myself and I know they relished my focused attention. Some days I wish I could be a SAHM but I also know that that would NEVER work for me, stay at home moms are a special breed of people and I simply wouldn’t cope because I need that time apart from my kids, and besides we need two incomes in our household.

Ag, this post was supposed to be an awesome fun one about my awesome fun son, and now I’ve turned it into a woe-is-me-I’m-a-working-mother-who-will-have-stupid-kids-cos-I-didn’t-have-time-to-teach-them-anything one. Whatever. That is all. My son Liam is amazingly awesome, he can write his name! YAY FOR HIM!

The one about a crazy two year old and a mother’s love


Ok, I completely understand that Hannah is going through some serious changes. She started school, gave up her dummy and went off diapers all in a very short space of time. Challenging and scary for any two year old, I totally get that. I get that she is also at an age where the tantrums are at an Oscar award winning level, and that’s completely normal. I even understand her need to show off her newfound independence with everything from dressing herself, feeding herself, drinking out of a glass to a million other things she now thinks she can do – and I try, tryyyyyy, to be as patient as possible with her as she navigates her looooooong way around all these tasks.

So when she acts up, I get that too. I mean there’s a lot going on here, even for me, so for her and her little mind it must be like X 10000000. But this last week has been rough. The crying… OH THE CRYING… for everything! I can’t reach my toothbrush, let’s cry! I can’t find my shoe, let’s cry! I don’t like that t –shirt, even though I chose it myself last night, let’s cry! I can’t find that crumb of bread that fell off my sandwhich, let’s cry! I can’t stand watching Telly Tubbies anymore, let’s cry! Liam is bigger and stronger and has more capabilities than I do, let’s cry! This colouring pencil is the wrong shade of pink, let’s cry! I just feel like crying even though I can’t find a reason to, let’s CRY! OH MY SHATTERED NERVES!!!

Again, this is normal. Liam went through the crying phase. Totally normal. But boy, it’s doing my head in. We take her to her room, deposit her there and tell her she can come out when she is done crying. This worked for a little while. Then she realized, hey wait, I can open the door myself, I do not need to sit her by myself and cry, I can go out there and torture those suckers with my crying, yay! So out she comes and we ignore her and scream loud above her cries in order to be heard. It must look like a scene out of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest… a child going ballistic in one corner while the rest of the family eat their dinner, exchanging rather LOUD pleasantries above the screams.

She has also decided that she doesn’t want to put herself to sleep, someone needs to lay with her. Now if you’ve been reading here for a while, you’ll remember that Hannah decided she wanted to put herself to bed in September last year and we have not had this issue ever since. I’d say good night, switch off the light and off she’d drift to dreamland. No problem. Last few nights she has yelled for someone to come and lay with her. Marched out of her room a few dozen times crying and insisting that someone pat the baby to bed. First day or two, I did it without a problem… I mean the kid had just started school, and maybe she was experiencing a bit of separation anxiety. But now I just feel like we are creating a bad habit and regressing on the sleep thing. And besides, I have gotten used to my whole evening being free to do the things I like doing – playing on my phone, watching mindless TV, eating junk food, you know… I do not want to go back to laying in the dark, and hiding my phone almost under my boob so that it doesn’t distract the sleepy princess. I know, I know, she is only going to be this young for so long, but I also know how quickly bad habits are formed because we feel sorry for our little angels. Last night Sharon and I were chatting on Twitter, and it’s true what she said.. little people can be big manipulators. Now I am not saying that Hannah’s behaviour is not warranted, given the changes she has and is experiencing, but I do know that she has us wrapped so tightly around her little finger that I wouldn’t even notice if my little angel was deliberately trying to take my precious free evening away from me just because she knew she could.

Anyway, last night it was boiling hot and she was laying practically on top of me all sticky from the Peaceful Sleep lotion and I grudgingly put my arm around her and couldn’t help that warm and gushy feeling as the oxytocin pumped from my adrenal glands. You see, this is the problem! How can you not love this crying yelling whining lump, when the very fibre of your being betrays you when she comes near. I want to be mad but the minute she has me under her spell – even though I KNOW I’m under her spell – I can’t break free of that little finger that I’m wound so tightly around. If that isn’t love, then I don’t know what is. If you don’t believe there is a God who especially wired us this way, then I just don’t know.

Just sleep and stop crying so much, child! You are driving your mother completely batty. I adore you, am completely in love and besotted with you, but you don’t need to flex your baby finger to get my attention, I am now and forever will be at your service, so give me a break ok?

Happy Birthday Husband


I couldn’t let this day go by without making special mention of the birthday boy. January birthdays are the worst, aren’t they? Even though the husband’s birthday falls on pay day, it’s not like there’s any time to plan anything amazing because until that beep confirming your salary has been deposited comes through, it’s still all dry crackers and water over here. Anyway, we made it as special as we could – even managed to serve muffins this morning, instead of dry crackers. Here’s something I learned yesterday, don’t EVER tell your three and two year old what’s in the gift wrap. Poor husband knew exactly what he was getting, and still had to act surprised this morning. And they didn’t tell him once, we had to spend the whole evening listening to what birthday presents Daddy was going to open tomorrow, what size and colour and how many of each, and how excited Daddy was going to be… well not anymore!

The kids made birthday cards and after much cutting and trimming and pasting and colouring, they were happy with their work. I took great pride in Liam’s card –he can draw people! I don’t know when kids start drawing actual people, as opposed to just colouring in or scribbling, but he is finally drawing people with arms and legs and smiley faces. He can also write his name, but that is a post for another day. Liam’s card was all about him and Daddy playing in the park and there was a rainbow (I think that’s all he can draw because we get a lot of rainbows). Hannah’s card was scribbling, torn edges, spit and stickers.

This morning we sang, Daddy dutifully blew out his candles and acted surprised by his gifts. Of course we had to light the obligatory candles for Hannah to blow – child thinks it’s her birthday err’day. We were a bit late due to the celebrations but everyone got to school and work eventually and this evening, thanks to the Joburg heatwave, we are going to swim and eat dinner by the pool and probably blow out a few more candles – Hannah, not Daddy.

My husband is a real gem. If I look back at last year’s birthday post, I am sure I said the same thing then. But it’s true, he is a wonderful husband and father, he cares for us, worries about us all the time, puts himself into uncomfortable positions to please me (he isn’t much of a socialite but with me as a wife, he needs to keep up), and goes above and beyond the call of his fatherly duties every time. Not because I expect him to, because he loves his kids I guess. Even though we complain about who’s turn it is to bath or feed or put to bed, he will most likely do it anyway. Just because. Even though he is a tough disciplinarian and I sometimes cringe when I hear him disciplining the kids, he has created this invisible line or boundary which the children know not to cross, whereas with me they are just all over the place and I have serious discipline issues that I need to work through for my sake and theirs – again, that’s a post for another day. He does tough love so well and they respect him for that, I just do love. Doesn’t always work, I tell you.

My husband is a real gem. He can cook, clean and bake  – only scones though. He can watch soccer, while drinking fake tea with Hannah and piggy backing Liam. And they say men can’t multitask. He isn’t much of a talker, but he always says the right thing at the right time, and that’s all that counts for me. I love that he is thoughtful and considerate (not when it comes to TV viewing though) but more than that, I love that he loves me, warts and all. Love isn’t easy, especially after a decade, two kids and a bond to pay. It can get downright ugly at times. And you can love someone, but not like them very much from day to day, right? But I love that in all of that, we always find our way back to each other, he is forgiving and doesn’t hold a grudge (that’s my job) and he is quick to smooth things over, whereas I like to stew and make a nice thick chutney out of it. And then some leftovers too for the next fight. He isn’t a gentleman in the true sense of the word, he doesn’t open doors and he leaves the toilet seat up, but he is gentle with me and with the kids.

I love him. Happy birthday Byron. My prayer for you today is that God will grant you the desires of your heart, as you continue to seek Him and walk in His will for your life. I wish you all the wonderful, delightful things you wish for yourself, and I pray that we will have many more birthdays together until we’re old wrinkly pensioners eating dry crackers the day before your payday birthday.

Xxx

Adult Acne – it ain’t pretty


Right so I’ve always had a good skin. I used to get the odd pimple as a teenager but I can’t remember ever stressing over acne or needing Clearasil or Cuticura or needing to Oxy’cute ‘em (remember their horrible advertising?). I didn’t have to cover my face with the wrong shade of my mother’s concealer before going to stalk guys at Youth Group on a Friday night.

Forward 20 some odd years later, and here I sit with my pizza face, pores clogged with what I hope is the right shade of concealer stick. In the beginning of December last year, I noticed a little breakout in the middle of my forehead, I wasn’t worried and assumed they’d disappear. It just got worse and has now spread to my left cheek – almost a month and a half later and no improvement.

I’ve always been one of those overconfident, irritating so-and-sos who go on and on about how you shouldn’t care about what other people think . So what if people laugh at you? Beauty is only skin deep… blah blah blah pizza face. Now that I have a face which has the craterous surface of the moon, I DO CARE about people laughing at me. I mean when your kid comes right up to your face and says “oh sorry mama” and I’m like “for what” and he’s like “sorry about all those sores on your face” you know you got it bad.

 I’ve tried a few things that haven’t worked at all, from masks which stink, to scrubs which feel like they’re taking off the first layer of skin (but leaving the pimples behind), to home remedies – nothing. I’ve started drinking more water and last week started on a course of Vichy treatment which will hopefully blast these suckers off my face to outta space. And this BETTER not be hormone related, I do not feel like taking prescription medication OR changing my birth control so that I can loose the Frankenstein’s wife look.

I asked my cyber friends what they thought I could try.. I was both amused and shocked at some of the responses I received!

Presentation1

 

You guys know that song If You See Me Walking Down the Street.. Dionne Warwick sang it first I think.. well I got a remix..

 “If you see me walking down the street and I start to cry each time we meet.. walk on by (because I saw how you looked at my pimple-y face and you really made a grown woman cry by the look of disgust you couldn’t hide)”

Why WHy WHY!!


I think I answer the WHY question from Hannah around 671 times a day. That’s just me. She converses with her brother and her father and Gogo and I’m sure her new teachers all day long, so in total I think she asks WHY about 698143 times day. Easily.

Wow, the WHY phase is driving me batty. I clearly remember this phase with Liam and it drove me equally insane. It’s not the fact that she asks the question, it’s the fact that she won’t accept the answer – like my answer is never good enough so she asks WHY again. Like this:

Hannah: Why you wear dat?

Me: What? This dress? Because it’s pretty!

Hannah: Why?

Me: Because it just is, look at the colours. Pretty mama!

Hannah: Yes 🙂  … But why?

Me: Why what?

Hannah: WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY?

Me: Because I said so.

Hannah: Why you said so?

Me: Huh?

Hannah: WHY?

Me: Because. Look at my shoes, do you like them? (Distraction technique)

Hannah: Why your shoes big?

Me: Mamas have big feet.

Hannah:  Why?

Me: JUST BECAUSE OK. BECAUSE.

Silence.

Hannah: But WHYYYY?

Liam is still going through the WHY phase but he is at the age where his questions and subsequent answers become a wonderful learning experience for him and often for me too. It’s amazing to watch how his mind unravels a new concept or idea. Like why does water have no colour? Wow, that was a hard one to answer. First he told me that water was white – if something has no colour, he always calls it white or silver. It turned into a long and beautiful conversation because he is at the age where we can delve into things and he can help answer his own questions and his WHY’s make sense! And because he has this amazing imagination, we all end up having a good laugh at the conclusions we brainstorm together. AND he is also old enough to accept things for what they are. Like if I say the darn dress is pretty, he agrees, is happy with my answer and we move on. He doesn’t go Sherlock Holmes on me asking WHY WHY WHY to things that just simply ARE!

But of course it is all age appropriate. Hannah is exactly where she should be. Ask any parent with a two year old and they’ll tell you the same thing. At this age, WHY becomes the new NO (the first word they really go off the deep end with) and there is no answer good enough. Barney the Dinosaur even penned a song about WHY.. remember this one?

Why is the grass so green?

Why is the sky so blue?

How many fish are in the sea and

Why does a Cow say Moo?

 

We sit around and wonder why,

About so many things

We just want to know….

Why, Why, Why, WHY

 

Why are there stars up in the sky?

Good Questions

Why do the clouds keep rolling by, and by and…

How do the birds fly up so high?

I Wish I knew?

We just want to know “Why?”

 

Why does a kitty cat purr?

Why does a bear have fur?

How does the day turn into night and

Why is the moon so bright?

 

We sit around and wonder why,

About so many things

We just want to know Why?”

Why!


kiss kiss

I still love you with your inquiring mind, my skatebol. Why? You ask? Just because. Why? Oh no you don’t…

My Son, the swimmer…


Funny thing about Liam, for someone with such a big mouth full of cheeky comments and all his bravado, he really is a fake. Yes, he is an extrovert and will not hesitate to steal your limelight right from under your nose, but the real Liam is really quite a scared-y cat. Not in the way you think – he isn’t afraid of the dark or loud bangs or the boogeyman. He isn’t afraid of creepy crawlies or daddy long leg spiders. He isn’t afraid to talk to people or interact with children he doesn’t know, nor does he shy away from taking the lead in certain situations. For lack of better phrasing, Liam is afraid of making the first move, I guess. Pretty much like the kid who, yes, will jump in the fire if his friend jumps in the fire, but only AFTER his friend has jumped into the fire (remind me never to use that daft line on him when he is older – I mean the things our parents used to say to us?). Basically, he feeds off other people to quell his own fears. Case in point: swimming.

Liam has been going to swimming lessons for about two years now. Over this time I have seen his confidence grow in the water and he is very aware of water safety and watching himself around the pool and what to do if he accidentally falls in and so on. This is great and I was happy with his progress. This holiday my sister’s two boys, aged 7 and 10, were with us for three weeks. All four kids spent a lot of time in the water, swimming almost every day and I couldn’t believe the monkey-see-monkey-do that I witnessed over this time. The tweens were fearless in the water; cannon balling, cartwheeling, seeing who can hold their breath the longest, and all the other crazy things that 7 and 10 year old boys do. Liam went from sitting on the pool step, to monkey walling (when you make your way around the pool, while holding onto the wall), to cannon balling with his arm bands on, to removing the arm bands and using only the pool noodle to keep himself afloat, to FULL BLOWN SWIMMING ACROSS THE POOL UNAIDED WITHOUT FLOATING DEVICES… all in three weeks. Now after two years of swimming lessons, I have to ask myself what made him just “get it” after three weeks? And the answer is simple: just being in the water watching his cousins and wanting to be like them and realizing that his fears were really only in his head. Hey, maybe they weren’t even fears, maybe it was the safety training he had received that just made him cautious, but from not wanting your face to be submersed for longer than two seconds, to going to touch the ground in the deep end and coming up giggling and gasping for air… come on, that’s a massive achievement! Lauren over at Life in Lolly Land told me that nothing can replace actual time in the water, so perhaps it was also the continual time in the water, versus a once, sometimes twice a week swimming lesson? All I know is, Liam has his cousins to thank for showing him how it’s done. He still doesn’t know how to  tread, but he can swim across the pool while kicking and coming up for air quite comfortably, I CANNOT WAIT for his first swimming lesson this term so that he can show off to his teacher!

As for Hannah – she is my no-fear child. She too, took to the water in new ways after watching her cousins and brother. She still needs her arm bands, but you have got to see this kid run and cannon ball into the water, happy to have her head submersed for those 3 or 4 seconds! She kicks and floats and holds her breath really well under water. Again, on Twitter, we were chatting about how soon to get rid of the arm bands and Lauren advised me that most kids get the hang of it after age three because any younger they just aren’t strong enough with only rare cases of children aged 2 ½  finding their water wings. I was always against floating devices because I just felt like they gave the child a false sense of security – little children think they can swim due to having worn arm bands and jump into pools without the arm bands, expecting the same result. OH the horror for any parent. Our swimming school is actually against floating devices altogether. HOWEVER, when I see how much Hannah enjoys the water and the freedom that the arm bands give her, and ESPECIALLY the way her confidence has grown due to the floating devices, I don’t think they are such a bad thing. The important thing is education I guess. Making sure they know NEVER EVER to get into the water without them, and instilling this in their minds.

It’s a welcome feeling of relief to know that Liam is OK around the pool. Of course this does not make me any less vigilant around the water, that would just be foolish, but I guess the relief comes from knowing that IF he had to fall in, he’d know how to surface and swim to the wall, without going into a panic.

Check my ‘lil swimmers out:

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May the rest of your life be the best of your life


I saw this status on Facebook this morning and it was just so apt for today what with my baby starting school and my big boy joining the Red Group. I still find it hard to believe that both my children are in the education system for the next 16 years or so. I was just pregnant the other day, hell, I was in high school just the other day (ok 13 years ago wasn’t just the other day) , and now I have two children in school.

Hannah has been ready to go to school for the last six months, maybe even longer. She has wanted to join her brother at school probably from the time she started talking, so there was great excitement leading up to today. So much excitement, in fact, that I hope she isn’t disappointed. Like maybe school is this magical, fantastic thing in her mind when really it’s just play, eat, sleep, you know? Nah, she is going to love it! Yesterday we laid out their clothes, because I wanted to avoid any fashion wobblies on the first day. So we ooohed and aahed over what to wear, in the end Liam was laying on the floor with his head in his hands begging her to just make up her mind already – really the psychology behind a girl and fashion fascinates me? Liam took all of three seconds to choose his Spiderman top, a pair of shorts and his striped underpants. Hannah took about half an hour to choose her outfit and even then, she still wasn’t sure. We packed their new school bags and went over the school rules: no biting, no pinching, no hitting. No whining, and telling tales, and PLEASE PLEASE no crying for every little thing. No bullying and if someone does something you don’t like, you tell Teacher. Liam must look after his sister and she must look after her brother. Pep talk #1 done. As you can tell, these are MY rules and not really the school rules but they take me more seriously if I say these rules come from Principal Ruth, rather than Mom. Everyone was in bed by 7h30pm and although everyone was excited, I still had to battle to get them out of bed this morning – they even slept through the alarm which was blaring around 6am because the hubby went for a jog and booby trapped us in the house (another story for another day).

Our adjusted morning routine went well… although I foresee Hannah’s hair being the biggest time stealer. This morning I was still brushing it while she ate her porridge, and while she walked up and down testing her new shoes. Need to improve my skills and forget the fancy hair styles for the school week.

When we got to school, she confidently walked through the gate behind her brother and hugged Mrs P, the administrator, like she (Hannah) was part of the furniture. We took Liam to his class and she didn’t waste time finding a seat and starting a puzzle, while we greeted all the staff. When I called to her to join me at the door, I saw the hesitation and the tears well up as she looked from Liam to me because she didn’t want to leave him. But those big girl panties obviously work well because she pulled herself together and off we toddled to the Yellow Group. After much hugging and lots of hoopla over choosing her locker, she was happy to find a space and start a puzzle. She looks older than most of the children in the baby class and most of them are still in nappies, but Principal Ruth and I agreed that she would start in the baby class and we’d consider bumping her up if need be. She kissed me goodbye and whispered “I love you” in my ear and that was it!

No tears from either of us and I feel so much more comfortable about her first day than I did about Liam’s first day all those moons ago. Probably because I know the school and the teachers and I know Hannah will flourish there.

A side note about Liam: that child is a real star. He is so unfazed about life and change and upset, he just gets on with it. We took him to choose a school bag last week and he was totally besotted with a bag on wheels, so we bought it for him. When I got to work on Monday the first newsletter from the school had arrived and in big bold letters it stipulated that bags on wheels were not allowed this year. Apparently they had lots of tears last year from toes that had been bumped, trodden and plodded on by wheelie bags and they were quite a distraction – go figure. I felt so bad to break the news to Liam, but he patted my arm and said “that’s ok mom, take it back to the shop then.” He is still a whiner and a crier of significant NOTE, but his heart is in the right place! He is so protective over his sister and this morning he was giving her tips about school in the backseat. Very cute. He loves school, he was excited to see his little friends and his teachers and I barely got a wave as we left.

So yes at the start of this academic year, my prayer for my kids is that the rest of their lives, will indeed be the best of their lives. Starting school is probably one of the biggest and most daunting experiences that a kid will endure, like your first day at a new job X 100000! Pretty big deal, huh?

Hoping you and your little (and big) ones have a great academic year too xxx