Me and The Rock




No, not THE ROCK. Rocky! Our doggy! Love my Rocky! So we’re off to the coast this weekend and we’ve had to book our pup into Doggy Hotel. Funny thing is… one of the reasons we got him was because we wanted a presence in the yard when we were away, but now that we have him, how could we possibly leave this little thing at home alone? Just look at him awwwww!

Did I tell you how sick he was? Can’t remember if I did.. he needed a BLOOD TRANSFUSION. Who knew dogs can get transfusions! You learn something new everyday. We thought he was going to die, the three of us stood in the Vet’s office doing the ugly cry as she explained how very sick he was.

But he is back to good health and terrorising us again!

Boy child turns FIVE.

My son. The fruit of my loins. My first born. The apple of my eye. My son who will carry the family name. Boy child with the imagination of a storyteller and the heart of a saint. Boy with the mischievous smile and the sunrise in his eyes. Son who worships the ground his mother walks on and mother who would do anything for her son. Son who is so like his mother, yet so very unique. A son was born unto me who would change my world forever. It wasn’t by chance, it was by Divine Orchestration. God looked at me and said “I know you Robyn Ann, I know exactly what would fill your heart to bursting. I made you, I know you better than you know yourself. Because I love you, and because I know every hair on your head and because I want to see you smile for a thousand years, BECAUSE you are so precious to me, I am going to gift you with the most beautiful gift and you will call him Liam John.”

Five years with you have not been easy. But it has been worth it. I am hard on you, I have great expectations of you. I want to see you over achieve and I want you to be imperfectly perfect in everything you do – that simply means I want you to do your best. You are so full of potential, I get so excited when I think about the endless possibilities your little life holds hidden in the creases of your beautiful brown skin. You are a good boy. You are a lovable boy. You are a kind boy. You are wonderful. You are everything I’d hoped for in a son. You are perfect to me. You are destined to be the GREATEST Liam John that you can be.

I want you to know that I love you unendingly and unconditionally. Even when I shout, I love you. Even when we argue, I love you. Even when you are being punished, I love you still. Nothing you do will ever change the way my heart beats for you. Being a mom is not easy, my son. It is a battlefield where it is easy to wound and easy to BE wounded – both parties have to endure and overcome many trials and challenges. But being your mom has proved to be my life’s best work. Raising you has opened up a Pandora’s Box of the most wonderful things I hadn’t known about myself – things I hadn’t figured out about myself until you came along. So you see, as much as I am raising you, it is YOU who is raising me too. Raising me to new heights of love, understanding, and JOY. Oh what JOY my children bring me. Granted, it isn’t joyous all the time (!!) but that’s just the thing about joy, isn’t it. It’s not the same thing as happiness which is temporary and which changes with the ebbs and flows of your mood. But JOY. Joy is something you are able to feel and hold onto regardless of the situation or circumstance. You bring me a joy that only a parent can understand. Watching you grow and flourish brings me a deep sated joy.  Through you, I have come to know and understand the love my own earthly parents have for me, but far more, I have come to understand the love that my heavenly Daddy has for me. He loves me like a child, I am his daughter and when I think of the love I have for YOU, Liam John, as MY child, and I think that my heavenly father loves me a million times more in a way that my human mind can’t attain – you have NO idea how that makes me feel. So through you, I have come to know my God better. Thank you for this.

We called you Liam John. Your name means Unwavering Protector, Strong Willed Warrior. As I’ve watched you develop from a toddler into a preschooler into a real Boy, I know we have chosen your name well. Already your name’s meaning has woven itself into the fibres of your being. You are so strong willed, always have been, you know what you want and you have the will and determination to keep going until you get it right. You look after your sister so well, even when the two of you fight (which is OFTEN), you will not let a disagreement cloud you from protecting her at all times. You recently came to have your first pet. The way you love and protect Rocky warms my heart, and I know that love is reciprocated and I can’t wait to watch this boy-dog relationship unfold.

Son, today you are FIVE. A whole handful of fingers. Even though I wish time would stand still on this moment where you are untouched by the real world, where your boy imagination is still ripe with little boy dreams and visions, I can’t wait to see the Liam John you turn out to be. You know why? Because if these past five years are anything to go on, you are going to be AMAZING, you are going to be AWESOME, you are going to be a WONDERBOY and I can’t wait to be with you every step of the way.

Assuring you of my constant love, admiration, pride and absolute pleasure at mothering you…

 Mom xx

some photos of your 5th birthday party…

What’s making you mad or sad?

I am on fire. Birthday gifts wrapped. Valentine’s Day kids’ outfits purchased. Valentine’s Day choccies for teachers and my two little Valentines purchased. Party stuff just about done.

And that’s kind of where it ends and I am no longer on fire and I sizzle down to a sad little ember.

I’m not sad, I’m just tired. Not physically tired, just DRAINED. I want my husband to come home now. This marriedsingle life is not for me. We are fasting and praying to this end, I hope you are too on my behalf, hey?

So things that have been making me want to scream into a pillow lately… let the whining commence

  • Tired of doing everything myself. I’ve discovered that I’m not as pendantic about “if you want something done right, do it yourself” as I thought I was. Right now, I’d just like someone to do it – whether you do it right or wrong I don’t really care, as long as I don’t have to do it. The sort of things I would like done for me include: making sure there’s enough bread and milk, sorting out Rocky and all his dog business stuff, sorting out the kids and all their kid stuff, driving me to work and back so I can reserve some of my energy for something other than road rage, sorting out the gardener, fixing the pool pump, figuring out why the sprinkler in front of the driveway isn’t working so  that I don’t stand there getting drenched trying to fix it myself, running the day to day household stuff, remembering EVERYTHING because there’s no one to back you up or to remind you of X, Y, Z. I’d like someone to figure stuff out for me or at least WITH me – but having to do it alone or via an email or whatsapp message is becoming frustrating and annoying.
  • Why does the pool pump have to start acting up three days before our POOL party? I mean it had the WHOLE year to act up, but now, when I need it most, it conks. I spent ages pressing a gazillion buttons yesterday while Rocky chewed at my toe and the children were rattling about 500 questions to the minute about how/why/what is the pump doing. It’s still not fixed and the step by step tutorial from the husband did not work. Luckily the water is clear and I don’t think it will go bad before Saturday – unless there’s a storm in which case I don’t really care, green water never hurt anyone.
  •  Ever been in the situation where even though you cut and measure the wrapping paper, it’s still too short and you’re left with a gap and you can still see the present underneath. Then you try to fix it by patching it up and it just looks like something you don’t even want to open? I love things to be wrapped beautifully, there’s something about opening a pressie that is beautifully wrapped, isn’t there? Thank goodness this gift is only for a 5 year old, he’d be excited to open something wrapped in newspaper.
  •  MY PHONE. I had this BB which I detested.. wait.. I am going to use a word that I do not often use because it’s like a swear word to me, it’s such a strong word and it has so much meaning and is so venomous, I truly reserve it for special occasions.. I HATED that phone. HATED HATED HATED that phone. It was troublesome from about the 3rd month I got it. My upgrade is only in July this year and I was not prepared to take out another contract or spend money on another phone, I was just battling along with my foolish BB. Then on Monday night after yanking the sim card out for the 1905th time, those little gold pieces by the sim area just fell out. That killed that phone good and proper. While I HATED the BB, I now had NO phone. I am using hubby’s colleague’s battered old S3 (cracked screen and all) and while it looks pretty beat up, it works better than my BB did on the first day I got it. However. How’s these data charges, dude? Woah. Need to get used to turning data on and off if I plan to keep my bill down. Which brings me to my next point.
  •  I received my phone bill this month. It was 100% higher than my usual spend. Like DOUBLE. I get on the blower with Vodacom ranting and raving when the dear soul on the other side says “m‘am, you are being charged data usage as BIS no longer exists, please read your invoice correctly.” Hmm, what do you know, BIS is finished? I said to her that as a service provider, Vodacom should have informed their customers about this change so that we could have been prepared. How rude. She said it’s been in the media since last year! As a good friend mentioned last night, if we believed everything that was mentioned in the media we would be FOOLISH! I was most upset! For everyone still using a BB, here is a public service announcement for you.. BIS is dead.
  •  Our bed. For the last few months our bed has gone from creaking ever so slightly to literally sounding like a tree which is about to be FELLED. TIMBERRRRRR! The wood in the base sounds like it is going to split into a million pieces every time we TURN on it. In the middle of the night all you hear is “creaaaaaaaak.” When hubby isn’t there it isn’t too bad, but when we are BOTH on the bed, it is somewhat unbearable and causing many sleepless hours. We need a new bed!! Can I just say that this is our second bed in 7 years of marriage, we broke our first bed too. HOW? HOW? Aren’t beds supposed to last for like 10 years or something? And NO, it’s not what you’re thinking, I mean we have a good time on the bed but not THAAAAAAAAT much of a good time! Sad thing is, this last bed was a gift from my brother who worked in that industry and his supplier gave it to him, who gave it to me. I don’t have the warranty. SAD PANDA. Went to price some beds last week, and was surprised at the science behind choosing a bed? The bed we basically need is way out of the bed budget range, so we creak on…
  •  Oh this hasn’t been keeping me up at night but I just have to say… how EXPENSIVE is LEGO???? OH MY WORD. I was gob smacked. Granny and I agreed to build onto the Lego collection as part of Liam’s birthday gifts and I was just horrified at how expensive it is. And the worst thing? There’s no generic for Lego in the toy shops. There’s no cheaper version? Or so I thought, until I went into Plastic Land for paper cups yesterday. They sell no name brand Lego and although it isn’t thaaaat much cheaper, every cent counts right? And they sell the building board for way cheaper than Toyzone. You are welcome.

What’s been making you mad or sad lately?

Rocky Horror Show continued…

So an update on Rocky.

I am going through all the phases that a mother to a newborn goes through: the sleepless nights, the frustration, which is then followed by guilt for feeling frustrated in the first place, the expense, the bad body imagine after giving birth… oh wait, no that’s there from when I had a real kid almost four years ago. Ha.

Ok seriously now. This dog has turned our lives upside down!!!!

Last week I was commissioned to find Rocky a kennel. Apparently outside dogs are less common than I thought. Finding a kennel is like finding a needle in a haystack, with most dogs sleeping indoors on fancy doggy pillows. I eventually found a man who makes kennels in Isando but he doesn’t deliver. I then had to spend money on getting a furniture removal company to collect said kennel because I don’t know a man with a van.

I was ostracized at puppy school this week when I complained about Rocky’s crying and whining in the middle of the night – apparently I am evil incarnate for letting a small little puppy sleep outside in the first place. Oh, I was also frowned upon because Rocky’s tail is docked and this is seen as animal cruelty in these parts folks. Who knew.

I found two big ugly ticks on him last week, I took gruesome horrible photos to show the hubby and made a video of the bonfire we started.. ticks don’t die, you literally have to burn them! He has already made himself a lovely deep hole in my flower bed and it’s in this sand that he is picking up ticks (and they want him to sleep in MY house?)

So along with his vaccine, de worming meds, a bloodsmear to ascertain that he hadn’t contracted Biliary from the ticks (it’s going around ya’ll, just like a nasty cough goes around pre-school) – we had to get some spray to keep the ticks and fleas off (he’s too young for the regular tick stuff). You can’t stop a dog from lying in the sand but you can prevent the nasties from sticking apparently. My mother also suggested spraying diluted Jeyes Fluid in the sandy patch for good measure. R788 later, Rocky’s first trip to the vet was successful. He has a clinic card just like the kids do, too.

Puppy school is going … um.. as expected. Rocky is the bad boy in the class, he and a gorgeous little Husky called Sheila, have taken an extreme liking to each other. They spend most of the class cavorting like two teenagers, it’s embarrassing. You guys know me, I expect straight As and no nonsense at school. He is not carrying the family flag high. All he wants to do is cavort with his girlfriend and eat all the treats. AND he runs to everyone when they are trying to call their own dogs. The minute you show any sign of wanting a cuddle, he rugby tackles you – whether you are his boss or not. EMBARRASSING. But cute.

Right. So after spending all this time, effort and MONEY organizing the kennel, we gave him a stern talking to and showed him his new digs. He was not impressed. I put his special pillow in the kennel, we put his toys in the kennel, I have taken to feeding him RIGHT next to the kennel  – no go. I suggested to hubby that maybe the area was too dark at night and he was afraid, so off to Builders Warehouse we traipsed, hubby installed a lovely bright light into the wall above the kennel, I mean seriously this dog is getting FIRST CLASS treatment here, but still he won’t go near the kennel.

His crying has come to an end at night but I still feel sorry for him laying on the grass all night, instead of in his nice warm kennel. I’ve started leaving the laundry room open  and put a nice big pillow down for him hoping he’ll creep in there, but nope, he prefers laying against a bucket in the middle of nowhere.

Yesterday he seemed particularly depressed. Not his usual bouncy bite-y scratchy ‘self… Not sure what’s up with that, but I’m not taking him to the vet to be prescribed antidepressants as my sister’s dog was HA! Dogs on ADs .. no man!

Not sure what we’re going to do with him at Liam’s party on Saturday, I believe the dog should be socialized, that’s what puppy school teaches us, Google told hubby that your watch dog shouldn’t be exposed to too many people because he becomes too familiar. We can’t even agree on parenting our dog, let alone the children!

I’m so pleased with how the kids have taken to him. Liam has gone from being terrified of dogs to letting Rocky get into bed with him when I’m not looking. He lays on the floor and lets Rocky nibble his ears and nose. I do think these two will be fast friends. Hannah is pretty blasé about the whole doggy thing and gets quite upset with the attention that Liam now lavishes on the dog instead of her.

Parenting three little ones sure is tough.

Planning a party for a 5 year old

Liam turns 5 on the 16  February. I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that I am the mother to a 5 year old. Good heavens, I can remember being 5 years old MYSELF, like I have actual memories of being 5,  and it doesn’t feel that long ago (don’t laugh, I’m not that old). And now I am the boss of a 5 year old? Like I physically gave birth to, and cared for another human being for 5 long years – and he is still thriving? Excuse me while I pat myself on the back.

Although we have celebrated every birthday with a cake, candles and their cousins present, we’ve never really had a party where he has chosen his guests himself. This year he asked for a party and he was also very specific about who we should invite. And I think that’s the point isn’t it? It’s his party and it should be about HIM and he should be surrounded with people HE likes.

I had to curb his enthusiasm when he declared that he wanted to invite his WHOLE class. No ways, I was not prepared to have 18 five year olds running riot in my back yard. We had to come to a very difficult compromise of 6 school friends (only 2 have actually rsvp’d so I need to prepare him for that too). Oh, he battled with this… he didn’t want to offend anyone! I said to him that he should think about who his SPECIAL friends were, the ones he most liked to play with, and eventually we narrowed the list down. He chose his cousins and family friends and asked if his cousins in Australia and Port Shepstone would be able to make it. I said to him that they’d possibly make it for his 21st but probably not for his 5th birthday.

We decided on a pool party simply because it’s what he loves best, and it’s easy to execute – hey you just need a pool! I am NOT a party planning person and it will NOT make the grade for Rattle and Mum Show me the Party. No. There will be a pool, other water toys, sweets, ice cream  and cupcakes. And you may get a boerie roll for lunch. On a paper plate. I thought about planning games and activities, and that’s where that ended. At a thought. Ha. Easiest party planned in the history of party planning!

His one and only request is for a Walkie Talkie thingy for him AND Hannah (bless). Oh and Lego. Lots of Lego. I love this age where they just tell you what they want – SO much easier. We’ve discussed if this is the year he will stop sucking his thumb, but he has been very noncommittal. When he turned 4, he declared that he would stop sucking his thumb. HOORAY! And he was very good about it… until bed time when he reneged on that statement and declared that he’d stop when he turned 5. So no promises on this one, folks.

You can imagine how this birthday and party are the ONLY things we’re allowed to talk about at home. That, and our dog Rocky. I do think that Liam and Rocky will be fast friends. Rocky was even invited to the party. I said that Rocky may frighten some of the younger kids but Liam thinks his friends will get used to and love Rocky like he does (wise words from the kid who was terrified of Rocky when he arrived). I said we’d see how everyone felt on the day. He agreed saying that yes, sometimes people are afraid of dogs and he knows it isn’t a nice feeling because he was afraid before. Clever child, this.

So yes, Liam turns 5. More on how I actually feel about THAT to follow soon.

Love xxx
Yes, Rocky is in my flower bed.
Yes, Rocky is in my flower bed.



City of Joburg, you SUCK

WARNING: This is a whiney post. If you’re happy, don’t read it. It will make you mad.

We moved into our new house in September 2012. In the same week of moving house, I went to register our water and lights. I got an account number and received my first bill and I paid it like any good citizen would. I was aware that the rates did not reflect because when buying a house, it takes forever a few months for the rates to be transferred from the previous owner to yourself. Cool, no problem, I get that. The first rate payment reflected on my bill from the City of Johannesburg in February of 2013. According to my knowledge, everything was now up to date. Great.

When I received my bill in May 2013, I noticed that my electricity portion was not reflected. I was paying for water, rates and refuse but there was no electricity reflected on the bill. I called the call centre, they recorded the problem, told me it would be investigated and that everything would be sorted out on the next bill, I received a reference number and that was that. When my bill came in June, I was STILL not being billed for electricity. I called the call centre AGAIN, no one could understand WHY I wasn’t getting billed. I received all sorts of “possible” scenarios: perhaps you requested pre paid electricity? No I did not. Perhaps you haven’t paid your deposit for electricity? No, I have an account number and I was being billed perfectly prior May 2013. Perhaps you didn’t have any usage this month? What. No. Don’t be stupid. I was told that the problem would be escalated. I was more concerned that a: I was going to get a HUGE bill when this issue resolved itself and b: I didn’t want my lights getting cut because someone woke up some day and realised that I hadn’t paid a bill in however many months.

To save you and I the bore of rehashing the story, I called the call centre every 2 weeks between June 2013 and December 2013. NO ONE, and I mean NO ONE, could explain what the problem was. NO ONE could HELP. NO ONE was kind enough to even TRY to figure it out. I WANTED to give the City of Joburg my money, I wanted to be a law abiding citizen and pay my bills on time. But NO ONE seemed to care. Every time I called the call centre, I had to explain the story from scratch, even with my millions of reference numbers, there was no continuity, and my frustration levels were THROUGH the roof. Surely call centre staff are trained to at least SOUND sympathetic to the plight of their customers. Every time I called the call centre, I got another nobody who yawned through my conversation, who could only tell me that they would escalate my problem. Don’t ask me how high my problem had been escalated to. Then I would be put on hold until I eventually hung up – I think this was their intention. Is that the purpose of the City of Joburg call centre? To merely act as a recording station? To take the compliant down and issue a reference number? Do they not ACT in sorting out your complaint? Do they not facilitate the problem solving? Or do I have it wrong? Through all of this, I continued to pay the municipality bill I was receiving for my property monthly. But still I was not getting charged for electricity and NO ONE in the whole of the City of Joburg could help me.

In December, I received a hysterical email from the previous owner of my property. She had received a whopper of a bill from CoJ, dating back almost a year. She had also received a final demand, stating that the electricity to MY property would be cut if the bill wasn’t paid. She had attached the bill and the final demand for me to see. Yes, they had billed her for months and months of electricity which should have been billed to me (all in one invoice – nice Christmas present, right). But wait, that’s not all. They were billing her for water, rates and refuse too. And what they were billing her, was different to what they were billing me for those periods. So. I have to ask. How in heaven’s name can you firstly charge a person who’s account should not even be LIVE for a property they sold over a year ago? Secondly, who pressed what button and broke it, because everything WAS working to begin with, I WAS getting charged electricity at some stage, so it’s not like this was a problem from day 1. Someone pressed something and changed something. Thirdly, HOW can you bill TWO people for ONE property? Fourthly, HOW can the amounts be different? Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and say there was a system error and we were both getting billed, surely the readings should be the same? HOW and WHERE are they even getting these amounts from? AND which bill is correct? This puts all types of doubt in my mind about how we, as poor customers, could possibly be getting messed about, because we just ACCEPT that the usage is correct?

I have been into a walk-in centre TWICE. STILL no one can help. No one knows what the HECK is going on. The previous owner has been into a walk-in centre and also has a dozen reference numbers from the call centre – remember, it’s HER name that is been dragged through the mud for a bill she is not even liable for – she too, has had no joy. In the mean time, there is a final demand sitting on MY property – for a bill I have never ever received? Oh wait, the one time I went into the walk-in centre, they should have opened at 8am, and at 8h15 the doors were still locked and staff hadn’t arrived! After waiting for THEM to make a grand entrance, I was told that sorry, Dorcas wasn’t in today and she was the only one who could fix the problem! What a joke!

But the BEST part is that on my last visit into a walk-in centre, they had the audacity to tell me that I shouldn’t worry, I could make payment arrangements when everything was sorted out, as long as I pay  30% upfront of the total owing. I would have laughed if I wasn’t feeling so venomous at the time! I must pay for something that was never my fault to begin with! I must pay penalties and make “payment arrangements” for a late payment that had NOTHING to do with me? I could possibly face legal action / electricity being cut because I can’t afford to pay thousands of rands in one go – through NO fault of my own? Seriously? Ok like seriously, am I being punked?

I don’t know what to do. I don’t know who to call, write to, address this issue with. I tweeted the CoJ a few days ago, the “person” on the other side responded to my tweet saying they would get back to me with a person to contact… still waiting for a response.

How does one deal with a municipality who clearly has NO COOKING CLUE! If this is the state of our municipalities, it’s no wonder that our country and our government are in such a shambles. I thought about “Hello Peter-ing”  my complaint… but you have to see the number of complaints up against CoJ, with no response to any of the complainants. Clearly, their customers are not their number 1 priority!

So my fellow electricity-using-municipality-paying-law-abiding-citizen readers… any bright ideas? (Pun intented) What would you do?