Friday, 14 December 2012

A child, in two parts

Now that I've had a couple of days to calm down and gain perspective, here's the tale of my son losing a toe... and what I've learned from the whole experience...

Last Saturday, Daniel fell off an aluminium ladder at a party... and lost a toe in the process. Apparently it's a common thing for people to lose digits and toes when aluminium ladders are involved - but getting a phone call to say that your child is in two parts at a party was something that I hope will not become a common feature of our world. The short version is that the toe has been reattached, and at the time of writing, we've yet to find out if the surgery worked - the off(ending) toe has to spend 10 days wrapped up, lifted and immobile, and we'll find out on Monday or Tuesday next week if it stays, or if it'll fall off. Yes, really.

So. In the interests of making lists (because everyone loves to read lists, don't they?), here's my list of Lessons from the Ladder.
  1. No adult or child should ever climb on or fall off an aluminium ladder if they don't have shoes on. I'm beginning to think that safety gloves are a good idea too. If a finger or a toe is severed from your body, you have six hours to get it back on. Sooner is better, but six hours is the outside, according to the lovely Dr Mia.
  2. The Linksfield Clinic can't deal with paed plastics emergencies.
  3. The Linksfield Clinic also can't bandage a foot with a severed toe. They can however chuck a bundle of bandages in the general direction of the offending foot, and send you off to the Milpark.
  4. The Milpark Clinic has no paeds facilities. At all. They only treat over 10s and gorillas.
  5. The Milpark Clinic is great at bandaging a foot with a severed toe. They're also great at phoning around for you to find the right place to go to with your child in two parts, and making sure that a great plastic surgeon is waiting for you when you get there.
  6. We've all heard of people being turned away at the door of Casualty because they couldn't pay a deposit or provide proof of medical aid membership. The teams at Linksfield and Milpark didn't even ask our names before they started attending to our son - and they didn't make us fill out any paperwork when we dashed out of their facilities. So - they were healthcare professionals doing what healthcare professionals do - addressing the needs of the patient, when he needed it the most, and without getting stuck on admin.
  7. The male paeds nurses at the Sandton Clinic are much better at their jobs than the female paed nurses. Thank you, Peter and Chico - you were rockstars. To your female colleagues who didn't respond to my repeated request for pain meds for my son for over an hour - you're not rockstars. Rocks, maybe, but not rockstars.
  8. While kudos has to go to the Sandton Clinic for having sleeper couches in the paed ward so that you can stay with your sick or injured child overnight, the person who designed those sleeper couches (and the person who bought them in bulk) deserves a bitchslap, and a night of sleeping on one of them as punishment.
  9. It's very funny to watch and listen to your son when he's completely whacked on opiates.
  10. It's a great idea to have a wheelchair in the family. We're using one that belonged to my dad's first wife. Ja. We have an exteeeeeeeeended family.
  11. Little boys are great at making fun out of stuff. I've been amazed at how quickly Daniel has mastered the wheelchair, maneuvring himself around the house, through doors, turning corners etc.
  12. Even boys get man flu. He hasn't needed pain meds for four days now, but every now and then, when he remembers, he reminds me that his foot might be a little bit sore. But it's clearly not.
  13. The Twitterverse is amazing. Of course, Brett and I being twittaddicts of a sort, we both passed comments about what had happened. People who have never met our child have kept on asking how he's doing. The world can be a caring place - thank you to all of you.
  14. We all bitch about Discovery. However, they have picked up every bill that's been created around this drama (as far as I know). And I am inordinately grateful that we had access to private healthcare that was quick and responsive, and that gave us a fighting chance to save that toe.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Here's what's wrong with SA

Advance warning: this post is a ranting one.

Around 80% of the time, I'm a glass-half-full-of-awesome-sauce about South Africa. I love our country, it's beautiful, it's fill with amazing people who are poised to do astounding things. But then, for that other 20% of the time, I really do have to sit back and wonder.

So. Picture the scene. Saturday. A room full of cancer patients are waiting for their radiation treatments, that they've had to go for on a Saturday because the radiation facility's equipment was broken on Thursday and Friday - both days on which they kept the patients waiting for their dose of hope for six hours and more, without very much information or care.

Back to Saturday. There's a beverage station in the waiting room. Nice. Only every single cup is dirty, and the ones that were clean have been dirtied by what is obviously a spill - so the cups that were rim-down on the tray, are all dirty too. There's no milk. The water cooler is empty.

I asked one of the ladies if there's a dishwasher (meaning a machine) that can be loaded so that the people waiting for treatment (and the people waiting with them) can have something to drink out of a clean cup.

"No," she says. " There are only two of us here today, and there's no maid to wash the dishes."

That, on top of a very interesting and pretty hardcore day at the Daily Maverick's Gathering 2.0 on Friday, brought it home.

People just don't care. They don't care enough to do the little things that could ease someone's day - so why should they begin to care about the big things? How are we going to get anywhere, if we don't start taking care of the small details - simple caring actions that will make someone smile, give someone hope, change someone's perceptions about a stereotype?

Well, all I could do at the time was wash dishes. So I did. I washed the cups and saucers, dried them, cleaned the tray, and loaded the milk jug. All in the time it took for one five minute radiation treatment. Not exactly hard labour, and not exactly time consuming.

Next time someone asks you for a (metaphorical) clean cup - what are you going to do?

Thursday, 1 November 2012

One Month of Gratitude - join me?

Last year, every day in November, I put a post up on Facebook about something that I was grateful for, at the suggestion of Melanie Minnaar. I blogged the results here, if you want to go back and have a look, but I've decided to do it again this year.

 As South Africans, we tend to navel-gaze a lot, we tend to scream off in anger or terror or consternation (or a combination of all three, and more) at the slightest thing. To be fair, we do live in a pretty hardcore society (and we - you and me, in our leafy suburbs are insulated from the worst of it). It's not surprising that we react so dramatically to the bad - because there's a lot of it around.

There's also truckloads of good stuff around though - and I think we forget to stop and ponder it, give it a hug, and tell people about it.

Last year's postings had a pretty profound effect on me. I was angry about a few things, and I was rushing around from one panic station to the next, obsessing on details that turned out to be not very relevant at all. December dawned, and I felt lighter, happier, and I smiled more - at my family and friends, and at total strangers too.

So. Here's my challenge: join me in making November a month where you stop for two minutes each day, and think about the things that you're grateful for. You can blog them, Facebook them, tweet them or write them down an old-fashioned notebook, using a writing stick. Or, just think about them over your morning cup of coffee.

But do it every day, just for 30 days.

And tell me how you feel about life afterwards...

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Meme time again

I found this over on The Only Cin, and quite liked it. So, here goes: 

I am: a wife, mother, and daughter
I have: enough. Aren’t I lucky?
I know: that I am loved
I think: not nearly deeply enough or often enough
I don’t think: that you can ever have too many macarons or cupcakes
I want: to play my piano more often
I like: chocolate, coffee and afternoon naps.
I dislike: whinging and whining
I hate: liars
I dream: of a chef’s kitchen. And time to put it to good use.
I fear: losing my family
I am annoyed: by inconsiderate people.
I crave: to do something Different
I search: for love.
I hide: if I told you, they wouldn’t be hidden any more!
I wonder: what happened to an ex or two
I just can’t help: procrastinating
I regret: not spending more time with my dad before he died.
I love: lying on my bed reading
I can’t live without: my family
I try to: do the right thing
I enjoy: baking
I don’t care: about what people think of me, as much as I used to
I never want to: be at a loss for words
I believe: in trusting people, until they give you reason not to
I dance: a bit weirdly. But I have fun when I do.
I sing: in my head. Nobody wants to hear me out loud.
I argue: poorly, mostly because I cry when I get angry
I win: not nearly often enough
I lose: my hard drive, with all my photos on it, with alarming regularity
I wish: that the government would sort its sh*t out.
I listen: to what my husband mockingly calls “adult contemporary music”. And a bunch of other stuff.
I don’t understand: people who are cruel to children or animals
I forget: if I remembered, I’d be able to tell you.
I am happy: Yes, I am. 

Monday, 22 October 2012

Spooked by Hallowe'en

This is an updated version of a blog post I did for a few years ago - refreshed for 2012.

When I was growing up, Hallowe’en was a thing we saw on American movies – it was never a big deal in South Africa, probably because our parents were concerned about the security of children wandering around the streets after dark, and because dressing up in black to have fun was probably against some apartheid law or other.

While I think most parents still have security concerns, the advent of security estates and boomed off areas has created safe pockets for trick or treating – and then of course there’s the business opportunity for everyone from Pick n Pay and Woolworths to China City to make extra income from costumes and themed sweets.

Playschools, crèches, primary schools and communities have Hallowe’en themed parties across the suburbs now, commemorating a Celtic festival (or a selection of festivals, depending on your choice of origin (Halloween background) that they have little knowledge or insight about. Children whose parents have spent a small (or large) amount of money on costumes compete to see who is dressed the best, and who can liberate the largest haul of sweets from willing neighbours.

So why am I particularly ‘omgekrap’ about an extended fancy dress party?

Hallowe’en is not a part of my culture, just as Makar Sankranti, Purim and Hola Mahalla are not part of my culture – and interesting though they are, I don’t celebrate them. Hallowe’en may have been a part of the culture of my Celtic ancestors, but it has never part of my culture as a Christian-raised South African.

I totally get that Hallowe’en is an opportunity for kids to dress up and have fun – but why do we need to wait for a festival that has nothing to do with our history or culture to do that? Why do we not make a bigger deal of our own Heritage Day, for example, and invest more time in celebrating that with fancy dress and local food (because let’s face it, there is more to South African food than braaiing!).

So what do I do about Hallowe’en, without making my children feel like they’re the only ones not going to a city-wide party? I’m happy for them to dress up for parties, at friends’ houses or at school, but I draw the line at letting them beg for sweets on the streets when there are others not so far out there who don’t even have food for one meal a day, never mind three.

Talk about a juggling act… but when was parenting ever anything but?

Friday, 12 October 2012

Beetle off to Baron's, why don't you?

Melanie Minnaar is an in-computer friend, and a real life fellow mom at St David's. She's also somewhat of a dynamo - and when she puts her mind to something, you know it's going to happen. If you haven't heard of Melanie's Twitter Blanket Drive, I would have to ask what rock you've been hiding under for the past three years...

She's taken on the cause of The Tomorrow Trust, and is using social media to help them raise R2million before the end of the year. Sounds like a lot of money, yes? But she's broken it down into chunks - and is challenging 1000 people to raise R2000 each for the Trust. That old thing about how do you eat an elephant - one bite at a time? She's got that down to a fine art - so please contact her if you're keen to host a tea, have a lunch, do a raffle, or just do your bit to help her raise funds to help school going orphans or vulnerable children bridge the gaps in their education, so that they really do stand a chance out there in the big wide world.

If you're not up for raising the money, you can still help - and have some fun while you're at it, with the help of Baron's Woodmead.

They're launching the new Beetle on Saturday 20 October 2012, and you're invited to the event. Your entrance fee? Some books for the Trust to hand over to the children, or a teddy bear or soft toy, to offer some comfort.  

So...beetle along to Baron's Woodmead, books and bears in hand, between 08h00 and 13h00 next Saturday, to have a look at the next edition of one of the world's favourite cars.

Disclaimer: This post was not sponsored.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Some observations.

So, the last while has been pretty chilled in my world, but here are a few observations: 

  • Puppies can instinctually swim. We put both the puppies in the pool over the weekend, pointed them in the direction of the step, and they made it out ok. 
  • Puppies do not know instinctually that you shouldn't get too close to the pool. 
  • If a puppy falls in the pool and is not pointing in the direction of the step, it is likely to stay where it is, doggypaddling madly, until it can't any more. 
  • Our pool net is no longer there for our (swimming) children), it is there to prevent the puppies drowning. 
  • I am not freaked out at all by holding a live lizard in my hands. I've done it several times. 
  • I am totally freaked out when a lizard that I'm holding drops its tail in my hand, and the tail carries on wiggling. 
  • I guess that that is the desired result for the lizard... 
  • I'm loving spending more time at home over the weekends. I'm not sure what we've changed recently, but home has always been a sanctuary, and we're revealing in it at the moment. 
  • When you have a new gardener, it is Murphy's Law that he will find the irrigation system's piping, without looking for it. And he'll find it with the tine of a big garden fork. 
  • Even though I'm not eating anything with wheat flour in it at the moment, I still enjoy baking. And judging by how my zingy lemon cupcakes with homemade lemon curd secret centers were received last week - you don't have to taste it to bake it. Although tasting would be great... 
  • Junipa's in Bryandale is The Business. Even though I couldn't taste what is apparently Joburg's best croissant (weep!), the breakfast that I had yesterday was the best I've had in years. 
  • Builder's Warehouse is a time/space vortex. No matter how quickly you intend to be in and out, it will take five times longer than that. Multiplied by a further five times for every additional person that goes with you. 
  • The Country Road till point in the Men's Section at Woolies in Sandton is the slowest till point in the whole of Johannesburg. And it's a Rule of Operation there that no matter what you have to purchase from wherever in the shop, there will always be something that they can't scan. And they will always try to scan it at least five times before admitting defeat.
  • My sons live in an imaginary world that is part Skylanders, part Star Wars and part sniper soldier. However, Daniel is remarkably good at chess, so we must be doing something right. 
  • It's a good thing to check your junkmail folder every now and then. It's the best way to avoid being embarrassed in front of the taxman, your pregnant friend, and your retirement annuity broker. 
  • It's never certain whether the shelves in Pick n Pay are empty on a Sunday afternoon because a) it's a Sunday afternoon, b) it's the Sunday afternoon before Succot and your PnP is in a Jewish area, or c) the shelves are empty because of the truck driver's struck. Regardless, a little bit of stockpiling won't do any harm...
  • You've got to keep your eyes peeled for the good news stories in SA. They are out there. If you don't, you just may not get up in the morning. And that would be a terrible waste of a beautiful day, in spite of all the crazy stuff that's going on out there. 

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

#BrandPlus to Woollies

On Sunday we did a bit of a shop at Woolies in Sandton, and part of the shop was picking up two bras for me, at a special offer section outside the food hall.

We paid for everything in the food hall - and I had a chat with our lovely cashier, Aphiwe. We were chatting so nicely that I forgot to put the packet with my underwear in the trolley.

Which I only realised on Monday morning.

Now, a few months ago when I was frustrated as hell about not being able to find the right size shirt for Daniel in that store, I bumped into a roving manager, and vented somewhat. He gave me his business card and promised to sort out the issue - which he did, via email.

So, I mailed that same email address on Monday, explaining what had happened, describing the items by size (ahem) and colour. Hmmm. Explaining to a strange man over email that you've left your underwear lying around Woolworths... embarassing, much?

And, credit to them, a different gentleman mailed me back, saying that Aphiwe had found the packet, and had turned it in to their lost property. He offered to have it delivered, or I could go and fetch it. I mailed him back saying I'd collect, but when he didn't reply before I left the office, I called him to make arrangements.

This time, a phone conversation with a strange man about one's underwear that you left lying around in Woolworths, again with references to size and colour. MORTIFIED.

End result though: I got my shopping back, and everyone along the way was very helpful and friendly.

So, Woolies. I am vocal when you do something wrong, but this time you did something very right. Thank you, so much. And thank you to Aphiwe, for not only being a really friendly and helpful cashier, but for being an honest person, and someone with initiative too.

#BrandPlus to Woolies!

Monday, 24 September 2012

Lost and found

Yesterday we went to the air show at Waterkloof Airbase - AAD2012 as it's officially known. Tribeca has done all the PR for the event, and I worked there during this week, so I was excited to take Brett and the boys to show them what all the fuss was about. 

Great morning out, phenomenawesome aerial displays, cool planes on show - all the boys got Gripen pins when they went into the Gripen enclosure, and the boys were so excited to be able to climb on and in real tanks that were parked to one side of the runway. 

Which is where we lost Matthew. 

He was on top of a tank, and asked a soldier to help him inside. He was going to be fine in there, wasn't he - a tank is a pretty closed thing, and there were children crawling everywhere! Brett was watching Daniel on another tank, and I went around the side to see where Matthew would come out. But he didn't. This was literally a space of less than five minutes - because we're both paranoid about our boys in crowds. 

I called and called his name, I climbed on top of the tank, shouting out for him. Brett was calling him, Daniel was calling him, I ran off the tank and asked soldiers standing by to help us. Only the fourth one had a cellphone, and the fifth one, a major, called his guys to help look for Matthew. 

By this stage I was near hysterical. I got back into the tank and saw a back exit that I hadn't noticed before - he'd probably got in through the hatch, and gotten out through the back. 

And then where had he gone? 

I think there was a guardian angel out and about at the air show yesterday, because as we went in, there was a guy with a black marker writing parents' phone numbers on their children's arms. We've never done this before, but we did it then - and thank goodness and the Universe for that. 

I checked my phone - and I'd missed a call. I only got through to the nice lady on the fourth try, and she  told me she and a colleague had' found him and taken him to the Broadcast Centre - which was probably at least half a kilometer away, if not more. Airbases are big places. But, she and her colleague said, they'd call and get her colleagues to bring him back. And then they couldn't get hold of the colleagues. Apparently there's bad cellphone signal on airbases too. 

So I ran to the Broadcast Centre to fetch him, imagining my hysterical child, and bordering on hysteria myself. I get to the Broadcast Centre, and nobody's heard of my child. 

I call the original soldier - who asks me to go back to him. By this stage, I'm convinced I'm being given the runaround while someone evil spirits my child away. But what could I do? So I start heading back, swearing to go back to gym so that I can actually run if it's necessary. 

Halfway there, he calls back to say that Matthew's been taken to the Medic Centre, next to Hall 5. OK, another half a km of running, at least. I get to Hall 5, and can't see any Medic Centre. Run through Hall 5. Run back. Phone in a panic. Which is when another soldier sees me, having obviously been sent to look out for me, and she shows me where the Medic Centre is. One white tent and a few brown vehicles. For 40 000 people. Nothing much medic-y there, but anyway. 

And there was my child. Twenty five minutes of hell. 

I am so grateful to the guy at the gate who wrote my number on Matthew's arm. Daniel knows my number, but Matthew's still too little. 

I am so grateful to the woman who was comforting him when I got to him, and I am grateful to the soldier who made phone call after phone all to try and track my child down. 

But my question is this: 
WHY ON EARTH did they take him away from where they found him? Why not stand with him there and phone the number on his arm? Standing there with him would have meant that we would have seen him when we were running around the area in an absolute state. At least 10 people would have been saved the trouble and stress of the day - not least my child - if he hadn't been spirited away across the air base to the Medic Centre, which, in spite of absolutely no branding at all, was also the Lost and Found Centre. 

I was told that it's policy to take all lost children to the Centre. But how in any way does it make any sense to take a lost child so very far away  from where he's found - when his parents would no doubt be hunting for him where he was lost? 

And, how does it make any sense to send a frantic parent from pillar to post around an air force base, because nobody knows of this policy, or how to give specific instructions on where to find the Medic Centre? 

My lessons from this awful experience: 
- Never go to ANY crowded public place without writing my number on my child. 
- Brief my kids every time we go somewhere on what to do if they can't find us. 
- Make sure that they never can't find us (without literally sitting on top of them).

I have at least 40 more grey hairs. And they're too grey to pass for highlights.  

Monday, 17 September 2012

A food experiment - savoury flapjacks

So, last week I found out my body has a bit of an aversion to gluten. I'm not missing bread at all, I must be honest, although I have only cut out gluten products since last Wednesday. Not sure how strong my will power is going to be next time I walk past a croissant or a fine piece of confectionery, but let's leave it at "going well" for now. 

Saturday night saw me feeling experimental in the context of all this - so the recipe below is what emerged. I'm no nutritionist, but I reckon it would tick the boxes of: vegetarian, gluten-free, high-protein, and most importantly, easy. 

I served them as savoury flapjacks, topped with onion marmalade, tomato sauce or mayonnaise (depending on age and preference), but the dearly beloved (who had chilli with his) pointed out that they'd be a great bread-free alternative to topping and tailing a burger. Or as being a base for an open sarmie. Up to you really... 

So you go: 

Savoury flapjacks
2 cans of beans, drained (I used one each of red kidney beans and cannelini beans)
1 onion
A handful of coriander
1 egg
2 teaspoons of baking powder
3/4 cup pea flour (I think chick pea flour would work well too)

A food processor
Butter to grease the pan
A non-stick frying pan with a lid

Peel the onion, and whizz it in the food processor till finely chopped. 
Add the other ingredients, and let the food processor whizz away until everything looks smoothly blended.
Heat up the pan and grease it with the butter. 
Ladle spoonsful of the batter - any size you want, according to what you're going to use the flapjacks for afterwards. 
Cover with a lid (the contained heat helps them cook more evenly). 
Flip when browned on one side, to brown on the other - and then serve. 

Regretfully, I don't have any pics. They didn't last long enough to photograph - even my boys polished them off! 

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Taking stock

I'm not one to socialmedia-ise about my medical issues or bodily functions, but I thought this worth a post.

I haven't mentioned it much, but I've been coughing since June.
It's always a tight cough, and some days I just cough a bit, and other days I cough till my whole body is sore.
I've been through three courses of antibiotics, some cortizone, and enough bottles of cough mixture to make a bergie happy.
Today I went to see a homeopath - two friends suggested that I do this, and the gentleman I saw was recommended by one of them. I have never been to a homeopath before, having always trusted in conventional medicine, but even the lovely Dr Setzer has given up on trying to fix what's up with me and it was time for a different tactic.
He hooked me up to a gizmo - kinda like being in an electric chair, but way more comfortable and I lived to tell the tale. It analyses 14 000 different things about your body, and then yields results. It's his job to interpret the results, and suggest a plan of action.
The results?
The biggest, loudest, shoutiest thing was that I am exhausted. Totally. When he told me that (because it's what I have known for ages but haven't given it the seriousness of a Diagnosis), I burst into tears. A lack of sleep also means you have low levels of seratonin and dopamine, which are your happy hormones, from what I gather. (Refer back to crying). But when you're not in control of how much you sleep - how do you get that magical, mythical eight hours? Between two children, a husband, (all of whom I love more than I could possibly describe) four dogs, burglar alarms going off and cats (not ours) in the garden  - how is it possible to be in control of not being awake? He gave me a stern talking to: change the way things work in your routine, and get more sleep, or my health will continue to suffer, or worsen. He even chucked in the C word.

The next thing:
I show high allergic reactions to almonds (no more macarons then. Well, not to eat, anyway), corn, gluten and feathers. I'm willing to cut those out of my diet (I don't eat feathers though), and will have to remove my down duvet and pillows. Apparently feathers are threefold bitches: you can be allergic ot the feathers, to the dust that they gather, or to the mould that grows on them. Yuck, right? Totally. Time to go shopping for new bedding.

When it comes to organs etc, my stomach and spleen are out of whack. Two things here: my food isn't being digested properly before it's absorbed into my body - which in turn leads to allergies developing. And, those parts are in control of the fluids in your body - and if they're not sorted, then stuff goes out of balance. Like an endless post nasal drip (check) and lots of irrational crying (check). So he's given me a tonic to sort that out.

This device also measures other things, like hormones, minerals, vitamins etc (all of which are normal). It also picks up emotions. And here's where I'm going to have to start working on deeper stuff on myself, because the things that came tumbling out here were guilt and self-repression and a few other words that made me cry some more, because they struck home so much.
I'm happier with this process than with conventional medicine because it tackles causes rather than chucking drugs at symptoms. (An aside: cortizone suppresses your body's ability to fight off germs. Hmmm). What he said makes so much sense on so many levels.

He's given me a range of pillules, drops and a tonic, and I see him again in three weeks, when I hope I shall be more healthy, and a lot more together than I was today.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Some randomness for a Thursday

On storms in teacups
Some days I really do wonder WTF about South Africans. There's so much out there to think about, talk about, and celebrate, and yet, some random guy choses a Saturday to create a PR stink for Woolworths. Please don't misunderstand me here -  I've had my fair go at Woolies about their quality and service from time to time. But they're expected to follow the law of the land just like all other companies. And picking a fight with them over something that's out of their control is petty, stupid and ridiculous. What's even worse is all the ou toppies that have climbed on the bandwagon in 'boycotting' the outlet. All they've actually done is reveal - or highlight - their racism, more than Woolies ever could have done.

On Marikana
Oh. My. Word. So much sadness, so distraught, so upset. This is not the country that the struggle fought for, these are not the people of Madiba's rainbow nation - not the violent miners, the police or Lonmin management. Stop messing with my country's future, yoh!

On picking battles
I've learned to do this. I've gone from drawing a line in the sand and refusing to keep quiet, to picking battles. It's meant I've self-censored a lot of tweets, a lot of Facebook posts - because, yes, I probably wouldn't have said those things to the person's face - so why be a coward and put them up on a computer?

On private school holidays
Ah, you say. #FirstWorldProblems. But really? Five and a half weeks of little (and big) boys sitting at home? My boys may go to a private school, but I work a full day job to help make that happen, so I depend on my housekeeper and my mom to entertain them. Such a long time off school is surely not constructive - boys are bored, silly, crotchety, and all they can talk about is the in-console world - even though their screen time is limited. Seriously, private schools? Seriously?

On baking
Hmmm. I've found a new recipe for macarons, and it seems to be a winner. First time round was pink macarons with fresh strawberry crush frosting, with a secret bomb of strawberry jam. I've also made a divine-looking date-meringue thing for bookclub tonight... hoping that the extra half hour in the oven didn't do too much damage...

On wise words from children
Matthew (4), said that I should have known that he wanted a Nintendo 3DS for his birthday. How should I have known, I asked? You didn't tell me? Mom, he says. You should have used your imagination. Your imagination knows everything.

Never a truer thought, actually...

Monday, 3 September 2012

And the winner is...

Last week I was lucky enough to run a competition for a reader on this blog to win a two-night getaway at a Tsogo Sun resort of their choice.

After a highly complex process of writing all the entrants' names on pieces of paper, folding them all to the same size, shaking them around a lot, and asking the lovely Karli (who sits next to me at work) to pick one...

The winner is...


Stacey, please send your contact details to the lovely Kirsty Sharman on kirsty at retroviral dot co dot za, and she'll put you in touch with the lovely people at Tsogo Sun to book your break.

I have to say though, that if I hadn't left finding a winner completely up to fate, there is no way I would have known how to choose one on merit.

Every single entry deserved to win - folks out there are having a tough year of it. Here's hoping the year only gets better, and that everyone else gets to have a holiday treat before the end of the year!

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Are we nearly there yet?

I don't know about you... but although it's only August, I'm about ready to head off for the December holidays right now. It's been a big year for the Haggards - lots of busy times, a bunch of awesome times, but some pretty stressful times too.

And I get the feeling that that's true for pretty much everyone out there?

The time has clearly come to take a break... we won't talk too much about the dash to the coast over the Women's Day weekend that was pretty scuppered by snow and ice on the roads on the way there, bronchitis while I was there, and then the Traffic Police from Stupidity Hell who decided to put up a roadblock on the Sunday of a long weekend, undoing any good that the break had done in the three hour queue...

Just in time to avert the panic about everything that still has to be done by the end of the year, a little birdie told me about the sale that Tsogo Sun is running, starting today. It seems that the folks at Tsogo Sun have got their finger on the pulse of stressed families, and they're making it easier for us all to have a decent holiday at the end of the year.

How easy? Tsogo Sun launches their summer sale this morning, 29 August 2012, and you can get up to 30% off rates at a wide range of hotels in Gauteng, KwaZulu Natal and the Western Cape (because, yes, people do come to Jozi on holiday too...), for the time period we need it most: December 2012 and January 2013.

But get clicking on that link fast ... bookings opened at 6am this morning, and close tomorrow, 30 August 2012, at 20h00.

One of the things I've always loved about Tsogo Sun is that two kids get to stay and eat breakfast for free when they're staying with two adults. See what I mean about the group keeping their finger on the pulse of what families need?

So... what next?

Apart from the great discounted offers, Tsogo Sun is offering one of this blog's readers a weekend away at a Tsogo Sun hotel. All you need to do is tell me in the comments below why you deserve a weekend away with Tsogo Sun... and then tweet it with the hashtag #TsogoSale. Transport's not included, but with so many hotels to choose from, I'm sure you'll find one that works for you!

Entries close on Sunday 2 September 2012, I'll announce the winner next week!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

20 thoughts on turning 40

Yup. Who would have thunk it - I'm knock-knock-knocking on 40's door... I have a few thoughts to put down on the screen, but they're pretty random. So here goes.

  1. I am incredibly blessed to have the most wonderful husband whom I love so much, the most incredible sons, a loving and supportive mother and mother in law, a comfortable home and a good job that I enjoy.  
  2. I've learned that you're never too old to make new friends. And I am lucky to have some really great 'old' friends.
  3. My boys teach me something new every day. Sometimes small lessons, often really big ones.
  4. While I'm done with suffering BS, there are times when it's less stressful and more peaceful to just smile and wave.
  5. I have had a bit of a hiatus from cooking and baking lately, but every now and then inspiration strikes. Sometimes it strikes in a double-whammy - today's inspiration is all about lemon macarons and strawberry smoothie cupcakes. Separately, not together.
  6. While I'm fiercely independent and somewhat of a control freak, there's a little girl inside me that wants other people to take charge and make things happen. Thank you to two special ladies who did this for me on Saturday night.
  7. I have this deep creative urge inside me that I don't know what to do with. I can't draw a stick person, or paint a splatter painting, but I feel this need to make something beautiful.
  8. That same creative urge is desperate for me to write a book (ja, me and about 40 million other people, I guess.) I have two book-kernels in mind. But oh, where to start, where to take the storylines, and the Fear of wondering if anyone will be interested in them when they're done.
  9. I want a covered patio that can house a big comfy daybed, that will capture the afternoon sun but be sheltered from the rain.
  10. I've got grand plans for rebuilding/renovating our kitchen, but am terrified of the expense only a little more than I'm terrified of the mess.
  11. I am so immensely proud of being South African. But also immensely sad at how many things this country constantly screws up.
  12. One day when I grow up, I'd love to make a difference in education. I have a couple of ideas brewing, but need to find time/support/knowledge/money/technology to make those happen.
  13. I'm a sucker for puppy breath. That is how we land up expecting dogs number 3 and 4 to arrive on Friday. Texas and Dakota, the daschund cross Foxy pups will be joining Phoebe the Rottweiler and Sebastian the Daschund.
  14. I'm breaking from the norm this birthday. I usually ask for practical, sensible birthday presents. This year, I've asked for 'envelopes', and I'm going to use the proceeds to buy something completely useless but incredibly beautiful. I don't know what it is yet, but the search is underway.
  15. I don't get Car Envy any more. I do however get Shoe Envy, and Wardrobe Envy. And occasionally Perfect Hair and MakeUp Envy.
  16. I would dearly like to have a dressing table. Not with film star lights though.
  17. I really enjoy my job, but would love to get to the position where I could work a 3/4 day, to be able to spend the afternoons with my boys, either helping with homework or supporting them when they play sport.
  18. This is the year I want to sort our garden out. We need to put decent lawn in the front, and I really want to get my veggie garden producing enough for us to actually use. It's been great, but more of a "look how easy it is to grow stuff" project than a "we don't need to buy vegetables any more" project.
  19. I need to stop looking for the negatives in situations and people, and focus on the positives.
  20. The only way I'm going to get into the kind of shape I'd like to be is if I do what's necessary to get there. Doh! Obvious, right? I need to get stronger with myself, and with setting aside the time and care it's going to need for me to get there.
So, the big day is on Thursday. I had dinner with good friends this previous Saturday, and will spend Thursday with my boys, Brett and my mom... and will take the rest of the day as it goes.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012


I received a mail from @Brodiegal last week, and what she said resonated so strongly with me: 
" I stood outside the Goodman Gallery today, watching the protest – and the sight of stripped-down gallery walls, riot police, mounted police protecting an art gallery was a very sad moment. I’m not taking issue with the protest, but its expression was something that had the power to hurt rather than heal or reconcile.
And I thought I would like to do something that healed me, and that would indicate a need to keep talking about the issues the painting provoked – without resorting to violence, or threats, or intimidation.
This has also been such a masculine argument; so much hard energy, not enough soft energy, not enough care.
I thought it might be nice if you and me – and anyone who wants to join in – spent time over this weekend crafting things out of fabric, in wool, yarn, crochet, thread, felt, shweshwe... And we used these to decorate the trees leading from the start of the march to its finish, at the Goodman Gallery. Think of it as multi-media yarn bombing.
 have spoken to someone with links to local yarnbombers and hope we’ll have something “proper” at the “end” of the route (at the gallery), but I would like to invite you and any of your friends to join me – either on your own, or at my house this weekend – in making something that represents your feelings, and what you’d like to see in the future. Something about peace, love and understanding, as the old song goes. 
Also: please don’t share this on social media. This is supposed to be a random act of kindness. A surprise." 
So... I grabbed the opportunity. I've never taken part in a protest before, and this seemed like a pretty safe place to start. I plotted my craftbomb, to be made from ribbons in different colours, sewn together by hand - and this was the result (shown being prototyped on a tree in my garden):

I learned a few things from this experience:
1) It does your head in a bit to invest precious time and significant effort in something that you're going to put in a public place, where it will be for at most a day or two, before it is ripped down and thrown away.
2) Creating something in response to a situation makes you think carefully about what brought you to the point of responding (I guess that's the whole point, really). While I don't particularly care about the artist or the painting that caused all the fuss, I do care about the anguish and hate that it caused. I learned so much too - about the memories that the whole thing drew up for so many people. Although it must be said, when I spoke to 'people on the ground', most were of the opinion that it all about PR...
3) I was reminded AGAIN how obsessed the media is with bad news. I think at last count, the whole furore generated R40 million worth of exposure. I haven't seen a news story anywhere about the #LoveBomb. Sad, yes?
4) Sewing is therapeutic.
5) You can find ANYTHING you want at the Oriental Plaza
6) It's important not to take yourselves too seriously. We meet at 05h30 on Monday outside the Woolies at the bottom of Saxonwold. Edgy protest, this: suburban moms gathering in their SUVs outside Woolies to make a statement. 101 Reasons To Love South Africa, I guess. ;-) 

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

A(nother) meme

I came across this meme the other day, when I was browsing around the blog where I found a recipe for chocolate chilli cupcakes. Yes, they were divine. Needed a bit more chilli... but that's just an excuse to make them again. 

Anyway, here's the meme - feel free to continue, if you wish... 

Right now, I am waiting for Brett and the boys to get home from swimming lessons
I’m currently obsessed with what exactly I'm going to do for my mid-life crisis. 40 is looming, you see, and I don't have anything to crisis over. #FirstWorldProblems
Cannot live without my boys. The big one and the small ones
I’m reading nothing at the moment. Sigh. 
I’m listening to 702, a lot. But I am tiring of the doom and gloom and the obsession with bad news. What about some good news, people? 
Favourite place in Joburg The Jacobs pop up coffee shop. Go. You'll thank me later. 
Favourite place in SA The Drakensberg, followed closely by the North Coast.
Favourite place in the world Home. Wherever that may be. 
I’ve lived in Johannesburg and London. Johannesburg wins, in spite of itself. 
Next up on my bucket list is to make a bucket list
The last thing I crossed of my bucket list see above
I realized I was an adult when I had to start paying a bond
I realized I’d never be an adult when I knew I'd never stop freaking out about debt.
In the movie of my life, I want to be played by Drew Barrymore
Best invention since the wheel: The dishwasher
A house is not a home without a housekeeper
This week I’m crushing on cupcakes
I’m currently working on that marvelous balancing act that is known as being a working wife and mother
I’m really proud of my first foray into peaceful protest, with the #lovebomb of the Goodman Gallery. You haven't heard about it? Refer to my point above about obsessions with bad news...
You’d be amazed if I showed you my collection of lingerie
I cannot survive winter without the daschund sleeping on my lap in the evenings, and the Rottweiler at my feet
Signature dish 2010 - cake pops; 2011 - macaroons; 2012 - cupcakes
Guilty pleasure Magazines.
When no-one’s looking, I sing and dance in my car
In my next life I want to be a gazillionaire
Every morning, I cram an alarming amount of activity into the hour between 6 and 7. And then take the whole day to recover.
I believe that if we all treated one another with more kindness, the world would suffer from a minute fraction of the hardship it endures today.
I’ve really got to work on my FOMO
Best advice I was ever given  Don't take any advice on being pregnant or parenting. Follow your gut instinct.