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!