Tag Archives: holidays

Empty Nest

So we went down to the South Coast for the long weekend, Uvongo to be exact, and we had such a good time with my parents and my sister, bro-in-law and their two boys. Those of you who read often will know the high value I place on family. We love to be together and we visit Durban as often as we can because my husband knows I need to see my family as often as possible. I also want to continue the legacy which my parents and grandparents have instilled in us – one of strong family ties, times of togetherness, and building into our relationships so that our children grow up knowing and loving their extended family of aunts, uncles and cousins. All the things I want my children to learn start first within the confines of family, don’t they? Love, kindness, generosity, genuine concern for the next person – it’s easy to teach and to learn when it’s with people you love. My hope is that this then spills over into the rest of their world – having learned to love within their family first. Of course, it isn’t so with every person you meet, family member or not, you may find that you just don’t click with some people, but generally I find my pie in the sky theory works, and I’m sticking to it. I think we all want to raise our children to be kind, loving and generous in spirit, right? Right.

So yes the weekend together was wonderful, the only negative being that it went too quickly. Then we left, and the kids stayed with their grandparents. It’s been two days and I miss them way more than I anticipated. Make no mistake, I do not miss the administrative duties that come with having small children. I do not miss bathing, changing, feeding, playing the referee, repeating myself ten times, reading the same story 20 times, being summoned 30 times after bedtime to make sure that the prince and princess are indeed sure that everything is suited perfectly to induce sleep. Boy, I am so grateful for being relieved of those duties, I ASSURE you! But in between those duties, there are laughs and tears, there are jokes and questions, there are hugs and kisses, there are long explanations of how things work and why digging your nose and constantly holding your pe.nis is not appropriate behaviour, there is the white noise of tiny feet running up and down the passage – and THIS is what I miss, I guess. Weirdly, I miss baby girl the most. I guess this is because I know she needs me more. Liam is our suave-smooth-talking-man-about-town, he is at an age where as long as his physical needs are met and there’s someone for him to chinwag into a coma, he is pretty much happy. Also, I KNOW Liam is doing ok because he couldn’t get rid of us fast enough. Over the weekend, he kept insisting that it was time for us to go back to Joburg and leave him alone! But Hannah still needs me, so I think, perhaps I am wrong. Hannah still seeks me out in a crowd and still looks back to see that I am there, the apron strings we share are still much shorter than the apron strings which bind Liam to me. She is my baby and I miss her!

But they are having a good time! And I know the time they spend with their grandparents is building into their lives and fortifying the foundations which we have tried to and continue to lay. And more than that, I know that when they are older, they will cherish the time they spent at Granny and Pa and Nana’s houses. I know even as an adult, I cherish the time I got to spend with my grandparents when they were still alive.

So what are WE doing without the kids, you ask? Well that’s a post for another day! I will say that it’s weird, it’s eerily quiet, and having to pee alone without any interruptions is oddly disconcerting. Who would have thought?

Today is a good day!

Today my oldest brother, my sister in law and their 4 kids arrive from Australia. I haven’t seen them since my wedding six years ago and I am so excited to see them that I hope I don’t cry like a big baby at OR Tambo this afternoon. My niece is already 21 years old, she is an adult, we can talk about big people’s things! My two nephews are closer to 20 than they are to 13, they are no longer the little tweens they were the last time we met. And Matthew is six years old  so the last time I saw him, he was a little speck of a baby ! I.CANNOT.WAIT!

 Time and distance truly does make the heart grow fonder. And while Skype and Facebook are such great tools for keeping in touch with your loved ones, nothing beats the human touch, right? Nothing beats being together, sharing food together (we love to eat) and trying to catch 6 years up in one evening. I think it’s going to be loud and messy and I am really looking forward to it. More so, because Liam and Hannah have not met this part of the family at all. I am excited to see how they react to their long lost cousins, uncle and aunt.

We thank God for times of togetherness. I thank God for family bonds and the joy that comes from sharing our lives with people we love. I have to run, I need to work on our “Welcome Home” posters for the airport this afternoon 🙂


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

Snowed in…

So last week I was highly annoyed at the white stuff falling from the sky. I was more annoyed at the euphoria of the people around me (big grown adults) who were behaving like Christmas had come early… it was more like sky dandruff, than snow. Let’s be honest (me? the Grinch? Nooo?). But the actual reason for my snow-hate was because we were travelling down to the farm to spend the long weekend with my sister and her family, and the weather conditions and road closures were messing with my plans.

As soon as we heard that the N3 had reopened, we made plans to make an early get away. 3am on Thursday morning. What normally is a seven hour journey, took us 10 hours. I’d like to moan and groan about what a horrible trip it was, but the truth is, the same snow stuff I complained about above, is what made our trip really exciting.. especially for the kids. Check this out:

The snow was amazing! The kids were in snow heaven and Hannah was eating the stuff like it was candy. We were stuck on the N3 somewhere between Mooi River and Estcourt and everyone got out of their vehicles to play in the snow. We got chatting to our “neighbours” and it really turned into a strange block party of sorts. Serious! My most favourite moment of all, however, was this:

Sooooo, keeping this for his 21st!

Some observations from a great weekend away…

On Friday afternoon we packed our bags… and toys, and bikes, and bottles, and nappies, and swimming arm bands… sjoe… and headed for the hills. Haartbeesport to be exact. We spent the weekend with good friends who also have a two babies around the same age as our children. The weather was perfect, the company was great for the adults and children, and the only downer was that it was over too quickly. Here are some observations from the weekend…

  1. There’s no replacement for good conversation with a good girlfriend. There’s nothing better than someone empathising with you and saying “yes, I know exactly what you mean” and not because they are trying to be nice, but because they too are going through the same parenting and relationship struggles that you are and they really can identify with you. We swopped war stories and exchanged ideas on how to deal with our toddlers and our husbands and how difficult it can get but how we, as the moms in our houses, just have to get on with it – REAL talk, you know. Not that fluffy stuff like how nice your hair looks like that and what do you use on it… no I’m lying, we’re girls, of course we talked about hair and nails and how desperately we both needed a pedicure. I love her!
  2. That you aren’t the only one with a crazy toddler. You know that feeling when your child is screaming the house or the mall or the parking lot down, and you are so embarrassed and angry, and you can feel you heart rate increase and your skin turns the colour of beetroot, and your hand is positively itching because you want to smack his bottom but you don’t want people to see that you are a cruel and horrible parent? Yes? Well then you also know that feeling when that kid isn’t yours, and you can smile smugly while that other parent has to deal with their kid. Ha! Tyler is the sweetest little thing, but just like my Liam, he has his moments and it made me feel normal, made me realise once again that this is just a phase which children this age go through and that Liam is not going to be a brat forever and end up in detention every day, as I sometimes fear.
  3. I have got to learn to say no thank you. I always say that holidays are a time to let your hair down; eat, drink and be merry. But I have come to learn that my relationship with food has become abusive. I, being the abuser, and that poor piece of steak – the abusee. I ate a lot. From the time we got up to the time we went to bed, we were munching. I have GOT to take stock next year and assess my eating habits.
  4. And on that topic.. do not let your children engage in “holiday eating.” On Sunday morning at precisely 4h30am, I felt Liam poking me in the ribs telling me he needed to make a poo. As I wafted back to consciousness, my senses were hit with THAT smell.. that smell of a stomach gone bad. I know that smell before I even open a nappy. That smell that says put your gloves and nose peg on before you even attempt this. That smell that means you are going to want to burn the clothes and bed sheets. So there I was at 4 in the morning cleaning poo and washing clothes, my kid standing in the sink as I tried to hose his bum down. I suspected it was from all the junk they had eaten, because Tyler’s belly was also troubling him. Note to parent: no, you cannot let your small children eat whatever they please with the excuse that it’s the holidays, these things always come back to haunt you.
  5. You know those classic black bikes that every kid under the age of three has, the one that sounds like a Harley with a bad exhaust. Now times that by two, up and down the whole day and night. I’d rather have Barney on auto loop than listen to two boisterious little boys zooming around on these motor bikes. Tyler’s daddy even devised a money making plot, to produce these noisy bikes with rubby wheels instead of plastic ones (I’ve patented the idea already, don’t even think about it). Which parent wouldn’t buy a quieter version of the infamous plastic bike? We are going to be rich on this idea!
  6. I could never be a school teacher. I have toyed and flirted with the idea ever so often, but this weekend has convinced me that I would not be able to survive in a room with more than one toddler of the same age group for more than 25 seconds. Between running after them in the flea market as they grabbed greedily at toys on a toy stall, worrying about them as they ran around the swimming pool, trying to talk over their screams of delight as they played together… I am now more sure than ever, that I would be better suited to working in a convent or a buddhist monestry, than working with small children.
  7. Hannah was the only little girl amongst all the boys and of course she fitted in perfectly. She also likes to climb on tables, and has a fondess for wrapping her little legs around poles and jumping up and down. No comment – just an observation.. hmmmm.
  8. And lastly, holidays are good for the soul! No matter how short, getting away from your routine is refreshing and recharges those batteries – especially at this time of the year when everyone starts taking strain from the year that was.. Roll on the holidays with Christmas trees, eggnog and Boney M.

The “Vaalies”

At the eleventh hour, my husband finally gave into my demands (actually it was more like begging and pleading than demanding) and decided that we could spend the long weekend in Durban. This meant that I had about five minutes to organise a trip I’d usually spend a week preparing for, but I am not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, so I made it happen.

Now think back to your youth, do you remember how we Durbanites used to laugh at the Joburgers who would flock to the coast during the school holidays? The Vaalies would infiltrate our beaches – even during July, wearing their VERY short khaki shorts, socks and sandals; they’d apply sun block to all visible areas, except the moms who’d literally play dead in the sun in order to catch a tan and then prance around proud as peacocks, as if the boiled shrimp look was hot. Yes, you remember? Well it turns out that I have become a Vaalie – sans the khaki shorts and socks of course.

The kids started sweating almost as soon as we drove past the “Welcome to KZN” signboard.  On cue, my hair shrunk back to its roots – literally – and my sleek Highveld look morphed into coastal “croos.” It was the middle of June yet Durban was as warm and inviting as Joburg in October. My first thought was that I had packed completely wrong for the kids. All the fleecy jumpsuits and polo necks which had taken up MOST of the space in the suitcases, were packed in vain, I knew that the most we’d be wearing was one layer, as opposed to the four layers we were accustomed to in Joburg.

How nice to wake up to the sun splashing across your face – in Winter. We wasted no time greasing up with sun block and made for the beach. Although the Golden Mile was packed with revellers enjoying the sunshine, there weren’t many swimmers, except for the Vaalies! Liam and Hannah made a bee-line for the water, I was ill prepared for the splashing, cavorting and frolicking and had to call for back-up when my beloved Blackberry almost drowned – while trying to take photos and holding two children afloat. We made it back up to the picnic spot, the four of us looking like drenched drain rats.

I have come to realise why us Vaalies love the coast – the eternal Summer, the warm Mozambique Current, the fact that your ice cream melts faster than you can eat it even in Winter. Just that fresh sea breeze alone is an automatic mood enhancer, it’s no wonder I had such a happy childhood!

Durbanites, be thankful for your mild winters, your roaring ocean, curried pines and Murkoo, Britannia bunnies and Ushaka. One day when I’m big, I’d like to retire in the city of my birth. Perhaps my loving children will see to it that I have a sea facing room in my old age home.