Tuesday, 20 November 2012

The Last Big Push

School is almost over for the year. Two more weeks of waking up at sparrows, dragging the kids out of bed, fighting over who wants what for breakfast, fighting for breakfast to get eaten at a pace more suitable to a human than a snail, lunches to be made (not peanut butter sarmies AGAIN!!), fighting to get teeth brushed, uniforms on, hair brushed, etc etc ETC! Two weeks left of homework (lets face it, I'm as over my kids homework as they are at this point!), of extra mural activities, of the ballet run, cricket matches all the way down the hill on a Friday afternoon, of early morning traffic jams, of lunchtime traffic jams, of spending more time IN the car than actually WITH my kids. Two more weeks and its December, school holidays, sunshine, and CHRISTMAS! 

These last two weeks are already jam packed. No time to ease into the festive season! With swimming gala's, Carol Services, Market Days, Speech Days, Parents information evenings, parents end of year get-together's,  there is literally no room to breathe before now and the end. And the end this time signals the end of Junior Primary for my kids. Next year is Senior Primary - and they are back to being those proverbial little fishes in the huge pond of Big School. Life changes for them (and me) next year. I have this impending sense that it all gets more serious from here on. Big subjects are introduced at school - history, biology, science and technology, as well as the usual maths, English, Afrikaans and Zulu (I see exciting homework sessions in my future!).  Tests and assessments become more formal, and exams loom in the not too distant future. Its a lot to take in for a parent. I think I am more apprehensive than my kids!

One of the biggest changes next year (again, more frightening (read: shattering!) for us parents than for our kids), is the introduction of i pads at my son's school for Grade 4's. Each child has to have his own before the school term next year. There has been much back-and-forthing between the school and the parents, but the bottom line is - it's happening. Gulp!! The school will be going above and beyond to provide as safe and secure an environment for the introduction of this new, expensive piece of school stationary as possible, but I am still seriously dubious as to how I can expect my son not to lose / drop / misplace / stand on / damage / abuse his i pad, when I am overjoyed just to see him returning from school with TWO school shoes (with two laces - I have no idea how, but he seems to manage to lose one lace out of his school shoes at least every second week!) and a full PE kit!! I see inflated insurance costs in my future!!

Homework next year poses more challenges for us parents once again, than for our little darlings. Brushing up on maths, science and history will be child's play compared to making sure we are all as technologically up to speed as our kids! At this stage, they are already far superior with our phones and computers and i pads than we are. Now we give them their own, plus dedicated lesson time with them at school.... another cause for eye-rolling kids at mom (and dad's!) ineptness!! But just as calculators and computer lessons at school during our day was frightening for our parents, it was inevitable. We  are going to have to up the bond to buy them for our kids, and embrace this technological teaching aid. Gulp!!

Before we even get there, though, this time of year is always a sad time for saying goodbye to those who have made such a difference in our kids lives on the school front. It is even more poignant this year for us, leaving Junior Primary behind. My kids have both been blessed with outstanding Heads of Primary, ladies who have really taken the time to get to know all the kids under their care, and to use their positions to motivate and inspire. They have both enthused a culture of genuine caring and love, not only for traditional learning, but also igniting in our kids a passion for the environment, and their responsibility thereof. Both Mrs Lane (Highbury) and Mrs Cuthbertson (St. Marys) have been wonderful role models for my kids. Saying thank you and goodbye will be hard. Again, both my kids have been fortunate enough to have had outstanding class teachers - from Grade R right through to Grade 3. Each one being so different, yet all leaving my kids with their own unique take on life and the world. Being a teacher must be the most challenging, rewarding, frustrating career for any one to chose. Having friends in this profession (Ashleigh, Terryn - two of the most amazing teachers I know), I have seen how much a teacher has to give of herself in order to have successful pupils. SO I am grateful to those my kids have been fortunate enough to have been taught by during the foundation phase of their lives.

Its almost time to turn off the morning alarm, haul out the advent calendar, start my Christmas shopping and holiday preparations.  Almost. Its almost time to buy the tree from the Christmas Tree Farm in Gillits (one of my favorite family traditions!), to book tickets to the Beauty and the Beast Pantomime, to find my Carol playlists on my ipod, and to embrace the end of the year. Almost. Before we run out of steam, however, we have to take a deep breath and not lose focus. It's the Last Big Push... I'm Just Saying...

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Glimmer of Hope

Hurricane Sandy has certainly lived up to its Super Storm status way over in the US. Images of sharks in back yards and half peeled buildings have really shown us the true force of a pissed off Mother Nature! Thoughts and prayers go out to all affected by the devastation left in its wake. 

Not to be ignored, however, and closer to home, Hurricane Sandile, (Thanks Twitter for the dubbing of this one!), the absolutely bipolar weather being experienced in Durban right now, attempts to wreck havoc on a more local scale. Four seasons in one HOUR, at the moment!!! This is not what we are used to, here on the coast. This is supposed to be summer. I know this because even though the sky is dark and miserable, and the heavens open every ten minutes or so to spew out icy rain, hail, and the odd crack of thunder and lightening bolt, and EVERY social network news feed is littered with the moans and whines and laments of wet and miserable people complaining about the weather, Boney M is playing in the shops.  This is my glimmer of hope.

Boney M in the shops can and does mean only one thing... Christmas is around the corner!! I am a total pain in the rear end to everyone around me (particularly my long suffering husband!), at this time of year. I love Christmas, and everything it stands for, everything it means - from the Birth of Jesus, to the coming together of family and friends, and the celebration of traditions. I adore Christmas carols. Every year Warren hides my Boney M CD, and every year I buy a new one. Boney M was always the LP of choice playing whenever we decorated the Christmas tree for as far back as I can remember. Thanks mom for this one! Its a tradition I force on my kids and anyone within a listening radius! Luckily for me both my kids love carols, and luckily for me and everyone around me, my kids can actually carry a tune (unlike me!).  So as soon as it is not completely ludicrous to do so, I will haul out all the carol CD's, and slowly start irritating Warren with my insistence on playing them.

I can't wait to start decorating my new house for Christmas. I now have banisters and a proper mantle over my fireplace! It sounds silly, but I get ridiculously excited at the thought of reams of holly trailing down my stairs, and a gorgeous fireplace framed in Christmas bling! The Advent calendar (very important to my kids!); Christmas crafts; Christmas shows; Carols by Candlelight; Carols with Dolphins (Ushaka - a show not to be missed!); Christmas Panto's; Carols at my kids schools; Christmas baking (hauling out my Gran's old recipes which  have been the foundation of the tradition of Christmas baking in my house); Christmas shopping and gift wrapping; Christmas Eve and Day planning; long, hot weekends spent with family and friends around the pool; holiday planning and embarking on - I am an absolute SUCKER for this time of year!!

This year, more so than any other year, I have expectations. Expectations which I hope are not unrealistic or lead to crushing disappointment. I am looking forward to this time of year not just for all the tangible reasons, but for over riding personal, emotional reasons. It has not been a good year for my relationship with my sister. Things have not been great and our close relationship, one we had finally cemented after years of strife, came under assault in the middle of the year, for reasons too arduous to delve into now. She has since given birth to twin boys (her second set), and the arrival of these two little angels has encouraged us to slowly come together again. I am looking forward to this wonderful time of year to help the healing and to give us plenty of opportunities to start again. I am counting on the magic of the season to over ride past hurts.

My kids are at that in between believing stage of their lives right now. They are too skeptical to believe in Santa Clause (an unfortunate sign of our times - kids growing up far too quickly :(, and losing their unquestioning belief in magic), yet are too wise to admit to me that they know he isn't real. They are, however, old enough to understand the true meaning of Christmas. Charity, toy donations, Santa's Shoes Boxes - they participate in them all (one, unfortunately, more willing than the other;)). They are at the perfect age where the penny has dropped, and they are able to see the bigger picture. This year will be extra special in this regard. I honestly believe if we don't nurture and encourage this philanthropic side in our children when they are young, we stand no chance in the long term.  Although it is a year round endevour, some how at Christmas it just seems more poignant. A glimmer of hope for the future.

Enough of this miserable bone chilling, wet and windy weather! The sliver of blue that peeks out every now and again is my glimmer of hope that things will improve. The weather, the season, life, love and everything in between! If we harness this hope, focus on it, instead of lamenting about the drudgery of more rained out cricket matches, a constant stream of wet socks and miserable house-bound kids, washing that won't dry and boots and jackets that were (prematurely) packed away having to be hauled out again, we will miss out on the excitement of what is just around the corner. So stop moaning about the weather,  crank up Boney M, and start untangling those Christmas lights. I'm Just Saying...

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Forgotten Rules

I remember sitting in my final assembly at high school, and hearing a poem about how to be successful in life. It was a simple poem, with simple advice. A poem I am sure most of us have heard before. It was written by Robert Fulghum, and was called All I really need to know I learned at Kindergarten. For some reason this poem, and its simple message, has stuck with me. That is not to say I personally have lived my life exactly to the credo it depicts, but I try.  Lately I have found myself questioning people (to myself, that is!). Questioning why some people do the things they do, say the things they say, hurt others so easily, forget the important things in life, forget how to act like a good friend, a good sibling, parent, spouse, basic human being. And no - this is NOT directed at anyone in particular. It is more a commentary from the peanut gallery. Again, I'm Just Saying - if the shoe fits, wear it - and I am the first to admit when it fits me! We all need reminding, sometimes, of these simple rules of life.

(I have saved the poem to a separate page at the top. It really is worth a read.) 

Lesson 1: Share everything
People don't share anymore. From recipes, to information, from time to friends. As I try to teach this lesson to my own kids (at 9 they are at this incredibly competitive age, and "its MINE" seems to be their immediate response to anything!), I often think how much easier it would be as adults if we remembered to share more. From "he can't be your friend, he's mine", to "no, those brownies are a family secret", and "I'm sorry, if I help you with that, then I have less time to do my own thing". What happened to Barney telling us sharing is caring? Sharing time, resources, friendships does not detract from our own quota. It enhances it. Before I get hit with a "be careful what you wish for", however, I have to point out that there are two areas in which we are more than happy to share - the giving of unsolicited-uninformed-ill timed-advice, and the sharing of gossip. Two areas where perhaps some restraint and circumspection should be maintained!

Lesson 2: Play Fair
Seems pretty self explanatory, yet for some reason, not so much! The order of the day seems to be take as much as you can from someone (be it time, money, effort, friendship, advice, support), and then sit back. At what point do we become suckers for always being on the giving side of the fair play line, and never the receiving?  Playing fair, in my book, is not simply tit for tat, but instead is having consideration for those around us, for those in our lives, for those who mean something to us. If you are going to take, be prepared to give.

Lesson 3: Don't hurt anyone (and if you do, say sorry, and don't do it again)
Again, so simple, yet so ignored! There are things we do in life, that hurt, and scar those around us. Speaking ill of people close to us and thinking they will never know, not standing up for those we love,  not being there when we say we will, breaking promises, repeating the same behavior and actions over and over, knowing the repercussions will be dire. Before our kids learn that this lesson extends beyond the don't-hit-your-brother-in-the-eye-with-a-wet-face-cloth, they need to learn that yes, sticks and stones DO break bones, but words hurt just as much. And before we begin to teach our kids this, we as adults, need to relearn  and start to practice what we preach.

Lesson 4: Live a Balanced Life
The shoe is fitting too well with this one! I have a tendency to become very overly focused on whatever I am doing at any given time, and the balance that is so important in life, goes right out the window! I need to keep reminding myself to ensure both sides of the scale are proportional at all times! I know I'm not alone in this! There is more to life than just work. Or just play. Or just one friend. Or just your spouse / boyfriend / girlfriend.  The more we focus on one area in isolation and to the detriment of all the others, the more chance we having of losing those other areas completely. And as we all know, it is far more difficult to recover what is lost, than to maintain what we have.

Lesson 5: Be aware of Wonder
Life spirals out of control at an alarming rate. Before we blink, the calm that was yesterday, is the mania of today. We blink and our kids grow up; we hesitate, and we lose opportunities; we run, and we miss the smell of the roses. I swear Christmas was only last week - yet here we are, singing to Boney M and trying to remember where we packed the tree lights.  This particular lesson is a big one for me right now. To remember that life is for living, for enjoying, for savoring. To enjoy the big moments, and to appreciate the small ones. Before we realize it, its all gone. And its too late.

Read the poem, remember the lessons, and instead of just nodding in agreement, practice what is surely a simple recipe for a successful life. Ever the nerd (;)), I plan on resuscitating these forgotten rules, and enforcing them in myself, and hopefully in my kids. There is something in them for everyone... I'm Just Saying...

Monday, 8 October 2012

Living Life Simply

Without denying the absolute need for technology (obsessed as I am with it!), life has become so fast paced, so driven by 2D, 3D and HD images, that as a mom I am scared we are forgetting about the simple, soul-enriching, memory-creating things in life.

My kids are (as are all, or at least most kids today), hooked on technology. They know more about my blackberry, my ipad, and Google, than I do. This fact alone scares me, as I am a self-confessed techno-slut! They play Wii, X-Box, and PlayStation as effortlessly as we used to play snap! or tag as kids. They don't need to read the instructions, or have the intricacies of the game explained to them. They just seem to innately know that pressing A makes the unbelievably life-like army dude run, B makes him shoot a machine gun, and C makes him launch grenades! Within minutes they have figured out the cheat codes on Moshi Monsters, have created new villages in Ice Age, have harvested new crops on Smurfs, and have completely killed my painstakingly cultivated high score in Temple Run. All without laborious instruction or tutoring!! As impressive as this sounds, and not withstanding the mental skills I am sure they have gained and fine tuned, I fear for my kids appreciation of the important, tangible things in life. 

Recently reality bit. And bit hard.  We went away with very close friends to Kamberg, and stayed at a beautiful, old-style farm. Barely any cell phone signal, a TV - but no DSTV card, so it remained off, no DS's, no Wii, X-Box or PlayStation. I held my breath the whole weekend, waiting for the inevitable "I'm bored" (which seems to have become my kids' shared middle name at the moment!). But it never came. Instead they played. They built puzzles, they explored, they canoed, they played cricket, swam, rode horses, rode bikes, and they laughed. Most surprisingly, they listened (a skill which seems to have become purposefully lost lately!). We bought them all fishing rods - simple, inexpensive fishing rods. And from day one, they fished. After the first fish had been caught, proving it could be done, we lost our kids to the edge of the dam. Hour after hour they sat together, patiently (who knew they had it in them!), and strategised how best to catch the evasive trout. And when they were successful, they were genuinely happy for each other. Instead of the way-too-early-morning wake-up to "mom, can we go watch TV?", we now had "Mom? Can dad untangle our reels, we want to go fish". What an absolute, heart-warming pleasure!

Before I come off sounding pious and judgemental, I need to say that this post is a commentary on myself as a parent first, not a blanket generalisation. However, if the shoe fits, if any bells are rung, listen and wear it. I'm Just Saying. Kids have far too many instant gratification options available to them. The TV fall back, the computer game baby sitter, the X-Box play date.. nonsense!! Lazy parenting breeds lazy kids. Even though I was hopeless at maths, even I can see the logic in this summation. I for one, am putting my foot firmly down, and will be attempting to stop the development of sloth-like natures in my kids, before I shell out any more money on OT for poor posture; before I get called in to the headmasters office to discuss the choice language of my 9 year old (I wait with bated breath for this one!); before I pay thousands to a therapist to tell me why my 9 year old is sullen and exhibiting Hannah Montana overly-theatrical-dramatic behaviour; or heaven forbid, pleading my child's case to the courts after a if-they-can-do-it-on-Grand-Theft-Auto-why-can't-I moment!

We have an "I'm Bored" jar now (thanks Pinterest!). If playing with the gazillion toys in their rooms, or reading the countless books on their bookshelves doesn't do it for them, my kids have to pick an activity - a mom-designed-sometimes-fun-sometimes-not activity - from this jar. Included in these activities are chores to be done. Not such fun! Suddenly my kids imaginations are being dusted off, their creativity is being stretched, and their playing-independently-muscles are being exercised. We talk more, we listen more, and life definitely seems less hyped up. What a win!!

I woke up this morning feeling really positive about life. The fact that Christmas is around the corner (my absolutely FAVORITE time of year!), and the prospect of a long summer holiday (with a two week road trip with very special friends), to look forward to, I plan on making living more simply work for me, my family and most importantly, my kids. If I have to become someone Hitler would be too afraid not to obey (I'm sure there's a little tyrannical dictator in all parents!), then I will gladly rise to the occasion! 

So its heavy restrictions on X-Box, limited TV time and only approved channels (banishing all back-chatting-parent-disrespecting-low-pants-wearing-teen-know-it-all channels), no more moshi monsters or plant killing zombies on the computer. Its bikes, books, friends, dirt, mud, Lego, puzzles, board games, crafts and imaginary play. From now on. Because I say so. Because my kids need it. Because we all need it. I'm Just Saying...

(Let's see how long this lasts!! I'm Just Saying...)

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Pavlov For People

BOUNDARIES... In the continued saga to settle Sasha, my 12 year old border collie, into our new house, we had to address the boundary issue - both literally and figuratively. In a nut shell, Sasha, being quite set in her ways and extremely stubborn, did not want to be confined to the area (the back garden), which was already fenced in and more  than suitable for a little dog. Instead, she wanted to be in the front, roaming free and doing exactly what her single-focused mind wanted to do. We realised very quickly it was not a battle of the wills we stood any chance of winning! 

So off to the vet we went, where we dropped an earth shattering R3000 (a big ask after the never ending moving expenses that literally appear infinite!), and bought a system called "Pet Safe" (an American product guaranteed to put us in a win-win situation). How this works (and please - NO JUDGING!), is a literal interpretation of Pavlov's Theory. The no-go areas (in our case, the top of the driveway leading onto the road, and the open hedges), are cordoned off by an electrical cable, which is buried under ground, and is demarcated by little white flags. Sasha wears a new collar, which is connected to the system,and has a little probe touching her neck. Should she attempt to cross the forbid territory, the system emits a little shock (a small zap - I did try it on myself first!) After a training session, and two little self-inflicted zaps as she explored her new boundaries - we had success! Without the collar even on, she WILL NOT cross the magic line.Such a clever dog!

Without turning this into a lengthy commentary about the ingeniousness of my four-legged child, this process had me thinking about the practical use of Pavlov with people. Imagine the success rate in churning out well disciplined kids?! Fight with your sister? ZAP! Back chat your mom? ZAP! Lie about homework? ZAP! Open the fridge and stare blankly because you are bored? ZAP! Slam your bedroom door in a rage? ZAP! Before child line is called, I would never do this to my kids. But I do dream about a system of reinforcement that has an instant effect rather than the grounding, losing a marble out the Being Good Jar, banning of X-Box etc.. discipline methods we rely on at home!!

And what about the errant  husband? Eyes straying in the wrong direction? ZAP! Looking at the watch, ignoring the cell phone and having the fifth absolutely last beer at the pub? ZAP! Reaching for the wallet to buy one more bank-breaking-will-die-if-I-don't-have-it piece of equipment for his mountain bike / golf bag / motor bike / or car? ZAP! 

On a personal note, the positive effects this would have on ME would be insurmountable! Not being hungry but have to have the last piece of Aero Bubbly - ZAP! Needing to go for a run but making up excuses to avoid it - ZAP! Buying yet another vase / cushion / photo frame / decorative piece of useless something just because - ZAP! Facebooking / Twittering / Pinteresting/ blogging instead for plowing through the piles of CV's in my inbox - ZAP! Reaching for the Bar One / Cosmo / bag of Chuckles conveniently placed in the queueing aisle at Woolworths- ZAP! Buying one more gorgeous journal / notebook / diary because it is beautiful (I have a drawer FULL of unused ones already!) - ZAP! Or my most indulgent (yes, I am a nerd!), spending money at Waltons / CNA / any stationers to feed my stationary obsession - ZAP!!! I would be thinner, richer, and far more productive if Pet Safe was designed as a pretty bracelet for people, instead of a black dog collar!

Pushing, or ignoring boundaries (self - or sociably imposed) is something we are all more than familiar with. Until some Pavlovian follower invents a socially acceptable Zapper for People, I have to be content with spending a large amount of time thinking of ideas to either reinforce positively, or punitively, my kids, myself and in a small way (;)), my husband. And although the results may not be as instantaneous as the ZAP to the arm would be, I have seen success with banning the x-box, and rewarding with marbles that have a monetary value; the bathroom scale and the credit card statement; and the threat of being banished to the couch for the night! Pavlov in longhand - I'm Just Saying...

Monday, 17 September 2012

We have moved!

We have moved. Over. Done. Finished. Bar a few boxes lingering in my office, and a few dozen pictures, paintings, photo's, and mirrors waiting impatiently to be hung, we are in. Right off the bat let me say this - moving is NOT for the feint hearted! It has more than earned its place up there with death and divorce (either of which were tempting options themselves throughout this process!!).  It has been a process fraught with emotions - ranging from excitement, to nervousness, nail-biting-anxiety, sadness, rage-inducing-impatience, sheer disbelief, bewilderment, more anxiety, absolute bliss, confusion, concern, excitedness (again!), and utter contentment. But we have survived (or at least, are surviving!), and I am absolutely in love with our new home.

Moving has given me plenty of opportunities to consider change and the effect it has had on us. My biggest concern was how my children would handle the change. After an initial bout of unsettledness, however, both have acclimatised and  embraced the adventure of a new house, on a new estate, with more access to their friends, slightly more freedom, and new responsibilities. Warren and I have slotted in, loving being part of a new community of amazing families, close to quite a few of our very good friends, easier traveling distances, a bigger home, and in general, another tick on our To Do List of dreams. Sasha, my 13 year old border collie, however, is another matter altogether. As stubborn as she is loyal, she is refusing to go with the flow! So its a new fence, and retraining on the agenda. Here's hoping she is true to the adage about teaching old dogs...!

This old dog (ahem!!) has certainly learnt some new tricks lately. How to use a drill, electric screwdriver, hammer and my voice, very well! My pet hate is being patronised (a close second to being taken advantage of!). As was to be expected, there have been issues with the new house, issues that required dealing with know-it-all-electricians, patronising-blame-shifting-builders, clumsy-well-meaning-handymen, etc. Very quickly they all learnt not to take my short stature and blonde hair for granted!

And all through the upheaval of the past few weeks, life has continued. Hockey matches have been played, school projects and market days have been completed, Spring Flings have been attended, birthdays have come and gone, and babies have been born. What has remained steadfast through it all has been the love and support of friends and family. Friends have arrived with meals, carried boxes, moved furniture, entertained my kids, shared endless glasses of wine, offered advice, and generally been amazing! I am seriously blessed with my group of friends! And my mom - God Bless mothers! She packed, unpacked, moved, reorganized, fetched and carried,  understood my tears of frustration, and supported. Thank you, mom!

And so life has resumed. A little less like the old normal, a new kind of normal in its place. I look forward to new challenges, new adventures. We have worked hard to be where we are, and are so grateful to be here. Its all about grabbing that bull by both horns, and leaping into the unknown with our eyes wide open! SO we have moved. We are here. Ready to start making new memories as precious as the old. Watch this space! I'm just saying...

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Olympic Fever

Olympic Fever has gripped the world. Or so Twitter and Facebook would have us believe. Everyone has suddenly become  an expert on all sporting activities - even the not-so-common ones, like kayaking and triple jump long jump. And suddenly everyone is on first name basis with our gold medalists ("Chad? I went to the same primary school as him 100 years ago! He was always destined to be an Olympic Gold Medalist"!!!) I might sound cynical, but I have to admit that I too have been glued to the screen watching the women's weight lifting finals, and offering my clearly expert opinion on each contestant (you would be lying if you said you never watched and pointed out how svelte those 200kg ladies looked when they tightened their kidney belts!)

No matter how much we train for the 100m sprint (read: jog three times a week), or the 100m butterfly (read: bobbing up and down in the heated indoor pool at the gym), there CAN only be one Caster, one Chad, one Cameron (yes, I am on first name basis ;)). Should the Olympic categories diversify, however, I strongly believe that we would have quite a few Gold Medalists right under our noses.

Olympic Status Updates. This includes, but is not restricted to BlackBerry Messenger Status, Face Book, Whats App, and Twitter. The competition for the Gold in this category would be fierce. (For the record, Ash, I am not talking about you ;)) I have friends who update their status's up to 15 times a day! And what's even more fun is when they link their updates to all platforms!! So every meal, mood, thought that they have is delivered to those on the receiving end no fewer than 3 times at once. Its hard to keep up! You have just processed the news that their french toast was slightly burnt this morning, when they hit you with the earth shattering news that they are stuck in a traffic jam (oddly enough, the same one they were stuck in, at the same time every other morning since they learned how to update and share!!). Before I get accused of "Pottle" (Gareth Cliff - Pot calling the Kettle Black) I admit to once being one of those frequent updaters. I have, however, lost my place on the podium, lagging far behind the leaders!

Having the Last Word Olympic Style. As a self-confessed control freak, I have trained long and hard for this Gold. My kids, however, seem to have inherited this trait from me, and have the persistence of a 'flu bug in winter (well, in my house anyway)! Every comment, request, order, directive, appeal, is met with serious negotiation. When agreement is finally reached, that parting shot delivered just as they turn the corner is as predictable as the fact that whatever I have just reached agreement with them on, will be forgotten in three seconds!! On this same point, however, I believe that I am a strong contender in The Olympic Nagging category. Its not something I enjoy doing, but am forced to do by those who will just not listen to me the first time! My sparing partners in this field include, but are not limited to, my two children, my husband, and my border collie Sasha. And they have afforded me lots of practice! Unfortunately, unless I suddenly find that elusive magic wand, I fear I will remain untouchable in this category.

The Support at School Events Category. Hands down, there would be a unanimous tie for gold in this category by most parents. And yes, I believe it should be something we as parents be rewarded for. Sitting through the whole school play (and often more than once), just to see your little one come on at the end and do her two minute number; freezing (literally) our asses off on the side of the sports field for hours (literally!), watching all those eventful relays, and sack races, and more relays, just to see your little one do his 25m sprint; manning the coloured hair spray booth at the school's Founders Day, in the wind, with every child (read: headstrong I-want-a-red-star-and-blue-and-green-striped-pattern-in-my-hair under 12 year old), being precious about what they want; forking out hundreds of rands (literally!) to support the candy floss, jumping castle, cheap-plastic-cr@p-stall at the same school event. And every year, back we go, to repeat the process, loving our kids so much that those two minute moments in the limelight make it all worth while. Without a doubt, we South African parents would hold the world record in this category!

And last but not least Olympic Procrastination. Without a doubt, categorically, unequivocally, absolutely - I would take that Gold in this event. Packing boxes to move - suddenly I have to reorganize my photo albums, bake Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, take the dog for a long walk, watch Good Luck Charlie (even though I have seen this particular episode a dozen times!), with my kids, write my blog.

We are so proud of all of our traditional Olympic Medalists. And as a nation we have all banded together to couch-support (read: coach and judge!), and cheer these sporting hero's on.  We own their victories as though we ourselves had physically earned them. But lets not short change ourselves. Back in the real world, in the Olympics of Life, we should own our own victories, no matter how trite, and pat ourselves on the back. I'm Just Saying...

Friday, 3 August 2012

Iceberg Moments

I have had a lot of time these past few days, while decluttering my "stuff", and starting the Great Pack in preparation for our move at the end of the month, to contemplate life. (For the record, I kept exponentially more than I threw away! I lost hours reading through every bit of paper, every card, every note, each school diary, and hundreds (actually probably more like thousands) of photographs, and memorabilia. I found birthday cards from when I was nine or ten from school friends, notes from the same and every other era, through to primary and later high school, University and from the start of my life with Warren, through to today.)

When I finally closed, sealed and labelled that box I was smiling. I had an epiphany - I have had, and DO have an amazing life. This might sound trite, how could I have only just realised this? But what it highlighted for me was that we, I, spend so much time focusing on the negative. The problems. The half-full moments. The uphills, the battles, the trials and tribulations. Stepping back for a minute and looking at my world from a whole, an almost clinical point of view, I realised that despite all the downs, the ups made for a pretty fantastic life. This was my Iceberg Moment. Focusing on the top, which in reality is minor, compared with the monumental bottom - which in reality is the greater part of the whole, and realising its Titanic importance.

From way back when, I have always had a solid foundation of the most special, most amazing, lifelong friends. I have, however, focused so much on the the fact that most of my oldest and dearest friends live so far away, spread all over the world, "Scatterlings of Africa", (in fact, with close friends living nearby, our busy lives make this sentiment true for them too), and pining for them, instead of embracing the fact that technology has made it possible to stay in touch, to stay a part of each others lives, making the real time visits so special. Our shared childhood, shared history, shared experiences, growing up and growing old together, will always keep our friendships strong.  And that is the greater part of the iceberg!

I never traveled on my own before getting married. This niggles me sometimes, that tiny tip of ice poking up. What would it have been like? Could I even do it? But beneath this tiny tip, lies an infinite icy rock. I met, fell in love with, and married my first love, my soul mate. And together we have weathered more ups and downs than I can remember. We fight, we bicker, we disagree, the urge to walk away has been felt on both sides many times, but at the end of the day, we find ourselves back where we belong. Together. And stronger. We have the most awesome life. And have done it together, starting off with nothing but University Degrees and a huge enthusiasm (and naivety) for life! And together we have grown, and built a life with two beautiful children, ticking off our dreams one by one. Reading through first Valentine cards, first Christmas cards, birthday cards, (there have been 17 in total!), and looking at the picture that is US, I am happy. Deeply fulfilled and happy.

My body has been through hell, health wise. And to be honest, the top of that iceberg does seem top heavy in comparison with down below. I battled to fall pregnant, and it took IVF and GIFT for this to be possible. It was beyond hard. Heart wrenching, physically and emotionally traumatic. But we did it. And at the end - twins. My beautiful Kirsten and Dylan. Years later I had to have a hysterectomy due to other medial issues. Again, the top seemed to over shadow anything else that may be lurking down below. Stepping back and critically looking at these events in my life, however,  I know this is not the case. Below the massive top which before seemed so overpowering, is an even bigger, more impressively influential, bottom. Every crisis brings my family, Warren and I, my amazing friends, closer together. And every crisis highlights two major blessings - my children.

When I moan about packing up my house, or about the 6th school run I have done in one day, or about the unrealistic expectations of some of my clients, or about Warren working late again, I will stop and remember my Icebergs. What is below the surface is way more important than the annoying chunks of ice on top. I'm sure Jack and Rose (or rather Kate and Leonardo!) would agree. I'm Just Saying...

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Moving On

In four weeks time, we are moving house. Stated like that it sounds so simple. In reality, however, it is anything but.  (Having said that, I have this amazing ability to turn the simplest things into the most complex, stressful, complicated events. I cringe when I think about what I will do with moving house!!)

Honored with a place right at the top of the list of the most stressful events in life, right after death (I'm never sure if this is my death or someone else's!!), is moving house. I have quickly come to realise that moving has a way of forcing you to deal with all sorts of issues. Physical, emotional, tactical, logistical, the obvious issues, and those that blindside you - coming out of nowhere and sending you reeling. Issues that have been safely compartmentalized, and tucked away for aeons suddenly rise up like Mount Everest, with sanity on the other side.

One of the most daunting tasks ahead of me during this process is one of both a physical and emotional nature. Unfortunately it is a task I have to perform before I can even think about packing a box. I am a collector (read hoarder). I am intensely sentimental and hyper-sensitive about things from the past. I have what I think is a normal, healthy attachment to these things (others might disagree and say it borders on unhealthy-obsessive-bag-lady tendencies, but who listens to that niggling voice in your head anyway!).   I have a collection of letters (written on actual paper - not electronic!) from my school days. Notes passed in class between my oldest BFF Jennifer and I. We are still firm friends today, and reading these takes me straight back to those carefree days of crushes, parties, school disco's, first boyfriends, clothing crisis's, and exams. There is no way I can part with them. Moving on.

I have cartons and cartons of old photos from my parents youth right through to my own kids. In boxes. Unsorted. Again, I can't part with these. Moving swiftly along... Up in the rafters in the garage is a suitcase of old baby clothes from my kids, cartons of school work (from my school days and from my kids), and picture frames - TONS of them. Outdated and empty - but maybe one day they will be revived and given a new lease on life? And magazines. I have no idea why I thought that by storing literally hundreds of magazines I would one day find the time to sort and file the relevant things in them  - the obvious reason why I kept them in the first place! I could go on, but as I list my "collections", the knot in my stomach grows, and that voice in my head gets louder and louder!

The emotional issue I have with decluttering before I pack needs to be dealt with. I keep these things for reasons. I don't live in the past, but I like to visit from time-to-time. However, I have decided that I need to purge and cleanse before moving. Be selective and  chuck. For me this is huge.

This need to cling to the past, the comfort zone of what we know, has been passed onto my daughter, Kirsten. She has had a hard time getting used to the idea of a new house, a new room, a new area. She has moments of panic when out of the blue the tears start and she asks "Mom? Can my snow globes come to the new house? And my books? And my curtains?" Seeing her battling with this has forced me to address my own fear of leaving the past behind. Stepping out of my comfort zone. Helping her through this as sensitively as possible will be a good exercise for both of us.

Logical issues (being logical is not in my nature!), are another hurdle I have to overcome. I have this tendency to be impatient (*blush*), and need to be firmly in control. I want things to happen how and when I want them. One thing moving house has taught me (in unavoidable neon lettering!), is that I am not in control of a lot of the when's. When the transfer happens, when the exact occupation date is, when my new curtains will be ready, etc etc. I am out of my nicely controlled comfort zone here!!

The physical issues about moving are staring me in the face. These boxes are not going to pack themselves! Before making a start, however, I need to update my WILL DO List. Maybe if I commit to categorizing my photo's and filing my recipes and sorting through my kids old artwork from school (boxes and boxes of it!), I will do it. Or maybe I will trawl Pinterest for How-to-Organise-Just-About-Anything ideas to get me started. Maybe then dealing with my moving issues won't be such a Mount Everest for me. Maybe. I'm Just Saying...

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Will Do!

I have read so many blogs and articles lately where the focus has been on "Bucket Lists". There have been Bucket Lists for school holidays,(which I admit had a certain appeal after a few "you are  both going to boarding school!!" days these holidays); Bucket Lists for adventures; Bucket Lists for the next three months (90 things in 90 days); Bucket Lists for before you kick the proverbial bucket; and my favourite from my good friend Bernadette (http://b4forty.blogspot.com/). Bern had an "I'm almost forty, and I still haven't done all those wild things" moment, and created her own form of Bucket List. Her journey through this list has been hilarious, and so admirable. She has literally put her money where her mouth is, and has documented her escapades for inspiration.
To be honest, I have always found the idea of a Bucket List to be a bit morbid. What happens when you get to the end? Is the whole concept not temping fate? I am such a believer in fate, so the thought of waving the red flag in front of the "OK-I'm-done-with-my-list-now-grim-reaper" scared the hell out of me. And then the antithesis: how many of us are really going to walk the entire Great Wall of China? Or cliff jump off some remote Death-by-Stupidity cliff face? Or write a Pulitzer Award Winning Autobiography? Or even organise our CD collections by genre and alphabetically??? So by committing ourselves to a Bucket List, are we not setting ourselves up for inevitable failure? Or is that too cynical an outlook?

Lately, however, I have found myself in quite a dilemma. I am a HUGE procrastinator by nature. I tend to put off doing things until I absolutely have to. And then work frantically under pressure. I am also big on lists. Having lists keeps me focused and on track. And I have dreams. Big "one day when" dreams. Dreamer plus procrastinator does not bode well for making "one day's" a reality.  So do I give into the modern trend of creating my own Bucket List? Somehow, though, I just can't shake the ominous feeling of impending doom if I do.
It is now two weeks into the school holidays, with another two still to go. On my list, stubbornly unscratched off, remains my twins' birthday party to organise; a house to pack up for our impending move; promises to teach Kirst to knit properly & Dyl to snake-board (yes, I CAN!!); thoughts of pre- cooking suppers to freeze for the start of the new term;  my running career to resurrect; my new business to set up properly; my recipe collection to organise and my wish to do more writing.  And this is just my To Do List!
I have decided that the only way I am ever going to see the other side of my "chore list", and create space for my "One Day When" dreams, while side stepping the morbidity of a Bucket List, is to create my own version - my Will Do list. The caveat is that it will be bottomless in practise, and the whip-cracking-motivation is that it will be public. Its time for me to put my money where MY mouth is, and commit to some of my "one day's". Nothing as mundane as categorising my CD collection, and nothing as eye brow-raising as tattoo's.  Who knows? Maybe as I work my way through this process my goals will become more adventurous and brazen! And mixed with my everyday "To Do" items, the scratching off of completed tasks will spur me on! Someone very clever once said that goals not written down are merely wishes. So watch this space, I am putting pen to paper... I'm Just Saying...

Wednesday, 27 June 2012


I recently learned the term FOMO. Typical of my nature, not knowing what this meant killed me! I had to know because, well, just because I had to. Ironically, this is exactly what FOMO means - Fear Of Missing Out. It made me sit back and look at life, where we are, how we live it, what motivates us, where we seek approval, what affirms us. Without delving into anything too deep, and yes, I am generalising, but for most of us the simple (and not-so-shocking!) answer, is Social Media. I- we - live with such a FOMO, that the radiply escalating trend of social networking has become the norm rather than the exception.
Between my Blackberry, Ipad and Computer I have Facebook, Blackberry Messenger, Whatsapp, Twitter, Uber Social for Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google Plus, apps on my ipad dedicated to pinging me when anything genuinely newsworthy happens (CNN, Media 24, BBC etc) and a hord of blog links that I regularly follow. And none of these is neglected! As soon as something mildly interesting happens (and embarressingly, its often only newsworth to a select few who are directly involved in my everyday life)  - its on facebook; snap a pic of my weekend activities (because of course everyone wants to see yet another picture of my kids!!) - its on facebook;  a glib observation (or sometimes passive aggressive jibe) - its on twitter; a divine (or mediocre - being selective is not important) meal out - picture on twitter with the accompanying hashtag #tweetwhatyoueat; my kids do well at school / on the sports field / survive a weekend of parental inflicted boredom (*blush*), the whole cyber world is alerted via one or all of these means.

I am admitting to my dependency, my FOMO, when it comes to social media. And I am not alone in my behaviour or mindset. I have friends (too many to name and shame!), who update their BBM status, profile pics, and Facebook status more often than you can click refresh!! Its mind boggling! There is very little that is private and discreet anymore. We "check in" when we go out, post photos of any and every event in our day (we even doctor these pics to be kinder to ourselves - thanks Instagram!), we vent, we rant, we disparage, we preach, we divulge - from a platform of relative security, often forgetting or dismissing the fact that once we hit send or post or update, its in cyberspace FOREVER.  I recall a pin on Pinterest stating something along the lines of "just imagine, all of this would be in peoples heads if Facebook didn't exist!" How true is that!

In my (admittidly social media obssessed) opinion, we use these platforms as some form of escapism. Its what we do while real life happens. Its an outlet. Pinterest is a wonderful example - our boards reflect homes and designs we don't have, clothes we desire (all displayed on bodies we pine for!), food we probably never cook, craft that we in all likely hood will never master (although pinning it makes us feel like we have used our creative outlet well!), places we dream of going should we ever win the lotto. Not much about pinterest is reality, yet it is one of the fastest growing social media platforms out there. And its addictive (I highly recommend it!).
We are not insular beings, and the web connects us like no family tree ever could. It keeps us in touch with those we would have lost years ago (and unfortunately, if we are not selective enough, opens up our world to those we WISHED we had lost years ago!!). It is largely for this reason that I refuse to quit social networking. I need it - I NEED to know who's done what with their lives, who is getting married, having kids, doing amazing things - even though they are a million miles away. And I NEED to share (I am a sharer by nature). 
As long as social networking does not replace real life, does not hurt or harm, is used for good and not evil, and does not distract us from what is important, I believe it has a place in my world. I will continue to brag about my kids, tweet about my life, Pin my way to a creative fantasy world. FOMO works for us in a lot of ways - it keeps us on our toes, keeps us moving forward. If it wasn't for my FOMO, and a very good friend convincing me that smart phones were way better than my old nokia, I would still have cell phone bills that could rival a small office park! FOMO keeps us striving for the next best thing. And I don't want to get left behind. I'm Just Saying...

Monday, 18 June 2012

The Men in my Life

I would not be where I am, or who I am today were it not for the influence - be it intrinsic or implied - of the men in my life. I have always considered myself to be an independent, strong I-can-do-it-by-myself-I-don't-need-a-man type of girl (thanks mom!). And I still believe this. But there are significant men who have left an indelible footprint in my life. Father's Day was a day of reflection on these amazing men.
I grew up without a dad. He died when I was only six years old - younger than my kids are now. Although he is not physically in my life, he is forever in my heart.  Six was too young for actual memories, and I sometimes think that what I do remember of him is prompted largely by photographs.
I have this image of him being this larger than life figure (he was a very tall man - clearly my height is no reflection on him!). He worked in computers (possibly where my love for all things techno comes from!), and I remember him bringing home reams of computer paper (boxes of perforated sheets - it was the '70's!) for us to draw on. He was also a Police Reservist in his spare time. In the late 1970's / early 1980's in JHB this was quite a terrifying part time profession to be in. It was deep in the days of apartheid, where the "dompas" controlled who was out on the street after dark, and  I vaguely remember my mom worrying relentlessly when he was called out on night duties. Luckily for us, these dark days in SA's history are far behind us. The pictures I have of him in his uniform portray him as a formidable figure, strong and dominant, with kind eyes. His eyes are probably what I remember most. I have his eyes, and so does my son.

My Mom and Dad had a special kind of love - love that lasts forever. His death did nothing to dilute this love she had for him, and it was felt everyday by my sister and myself. It left a lasting impression on me - that was the kind of love I was going to have.
And I do. Life hasn't always been plain sailing. It has been full of ups and downs, days of absolute adoration, and days of sheer hell, where holding a pillow over his face didn't sound like a bad idea! But 17 years later, I am still with the love of my life, my soul mate. Warren and I met in 1995 - a HUGELY significant year - SA won the Rugby World Cup, and I realised that along with my induction into this sport by my rugby mad in-laws, my life had changed forever. We were so young when we met. Still at 'Varsity, still living at home. Although it took him 6 years to propose, I think we both knew from the start it was meant to be. We went though all the important firsts together -  first jobs, moving out, first homes, first bonds (!!), babies, life . And we learnt from each other along the way. I would not be who I am today if it weren't for Warren. He is strong, determined, passionate about all things in life, highly motivated, kind, generous to a fault, and single-mindedly focused on his family. And I could not ask for a better father to my kids, or life partner for me.

My son is the littlest man in my life. He is very much like me in image and in his insecurities and anxieties, and like his dad in temperament. He is an amazing little boy - full of passion for life, incredibly determined, with a bottomless hunger for facts and information. Like his dad and I, he loves history and reading. He is also techno mad (he very quickly figured out how to bypass net nanny!). He torments his sister (my gorgeous, I-am-stronger-than-boys daughter!) relentlessly, but loves her whole heartedly and unreservedly. I have learnt  so much from Dyl. Patience, determination, resilience, complete unconditional love, that drawing a picture with actual sounds makes it come alive, the more friends you have the better your games are, and that cuddles and kisses all over your face instantly make you feel better. I have every confidence that Dyl will grow into a man I will always be proud of, and will keep teaching me life lessons along the way. I hope I can keep up!

Life has a funny way of shaping us. We can either choose to ignore the lessons, the hints, the big flashing signs, or we can embrace them and become richer for it. I for one, am far richer having these these three strong men in my heart. Squashing down my over powering independent, stubborn streak, I can acknowledge that I am a better person because of them. So, I'm Just Saying...Thank You.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Kiss and Tell

Should good girls kiss and tell?

I have been doing some intense research this weekend for a feature article in Cosmopolitan on a subject I have always blushed discussing... SEX. And not just sex, but on whether the bombardment of erotic literature and TV programmes into everyday life has changed the way women not only view, but enjoy, sex.

Let me state outright, that this topic pushed me to the limit of my comfort zone. I had to shake off all of my previous notions and trappings of what was or wasn't considered a "lady-like" discussion.

What surprised me more than my eagerness to tackle this topic, however, was the large number of ladies who were more than willing to share their stories with me. Clearly, "close your eyes, grit your teeth and do it for queen and country" was not the norm!! And the most verbal? Those girls who were no older than 21 or 22. Boy did they know their own minds, and boy were they eager to share and even offer advice!! This is certainly a head strong, independent, knowledgeable, open, and spoilt-for-choice-in-the-toys-and-gadgets-they-own-department, society of young women. Not only were they not shy with opinions and experience, but they were extremely comfortable discussing them. But I digress.

Should good girls kiss and tell? Topics that were once taboo, or at least spoken about in hushed tones behind closed doors, are now being bantered around not just book club discussions, but openly in all forums. Watching Game of Thrones, Californication, reading 50 Shades of Grey, the sex pages in Cosmo, has become as common place as watching CSI and reading Jodi Picult. Is this necessarily a bad thing?

We have always been told the that good girls don't discuss such topics, that only bad girls have an opinion on sex (in fact that only bad girls enjoy sex!). In MY opinion (and I'm Just Saying), views such as these are as ridiculous as the age old "children should be seen and not heard" . In doing my probing and asking of incredibly personal questions this weekend, I have formed the strong opinion that good girls not only DO kiss and tell, but SHOULD kiss and tell! How liberating! From car park gossip to book club babble, we as a, well, as a sex, have earned the right to openly read  50 Shades, as much as men have claimed the right to read Penthouse and Hustler (which they read purely for the stories I'm led to understand!).

Before I get painted with the proverbial Scarlet Letter, I will climb off my soapbox. As long as its safe, and sacred, and done with love, its about time us "good girls" became courageous in kissing and telling. I'm Just Saying...

Friday, 1 June 2012

Dangerous Assumptions...

I am a self-proclaimed techno slut. If its out there, if its new, if it has anything to do with technology – I HAVE to have it. There is nothing I won’t do to download the latest “must have” ipad apps, or the newest blackberry ringtones, or the upgraded versions of whatsapp, ubersocial for twitter, twitter itself, facebook, pinterest or blogging information. And if I can’t figure it out, I would rather die trying than ask for help or read the instructions. And believe me, I DO figure it out!! (I’m obsessive that way)
I feel the same way about books – I HAVE to read the latest trend setting books (and if they come in a trilogy, I am even MORE addicted!). The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Hunger Games, Twilight (yes – I HAD to see what all the hype was about, and I loved the books!), and now Fifty Shades of Grey (all three books).   I can’t say I am a huge fan of the philosophies and lifestyle choices of Mr Grey, but I will plough my way through all three novels. Just in case I am missing something.
So what does my techno addiction, and my book addiction have in common (other than proving once again, that I have an obsessive compulsive, addictive personality?!)? Well, during a conversation with some friends earlier this week, my combined addictions led me to the conclusion that I have an even more dangerous side to my personality. I Make Assumptions. I assume everyone has the same basic knowledge and interests as I have. Because I know it, because I have read it, because I have used it, I automatically assume everyone in my social circle has too.
So why is this dangerous? While chatting to these friends this week, I happened to mention (*blush*) that I am going to have a column published in Cosmopolitan in August (Full photo shoot included!). When asked about my subject matter I mentioned the basis being on the obvious theme of control in the book Fifty Shades. Friend Number One jumps in and we natter about the book for a bit, while Friend Number Two stands there silently. She pipes up with the question on what the book was about. S&M, I say. Ohhhh! I love that!! She announces. Loudly. It took at least five minutes for Friend Number One and I to realise that what we knew S&M to stand for was very clearly (breaths held for a while!!), not what she took it to mean! On explaining it, and amidst the immediate back tracking and furious blushing, I realised that my predilection to assume everyone is on the same page as me,  could have resulted in dangerous summations being made about Friend Number Two (who incidentally, is the one friend we all rely on to ensure we all go to Heaven one day! She has a direct line to the top!!). 
Taking a step backwards, I have realised that before I paint everyone with the same brush, I need to remember that not everyone understands WTF or WTH, or ROTFLMAO, or even cares what it means! Not everyone compulsively reads the next big thing, or understands the pull of social media and technology. Not everyone automatically understands HTTP://, or plans on ever finding out about embedding buttons on a blog. I need to remember that one girls whips and chains S&M, is another girls Sex and Marriage!! And that’s OK.  I’m Just Saying…

Friday, 25 May 2012

Happily Ever After

So babe, should we do it?” Just like that. My marriage proposal. No sky writing, no down on one knee, no mumbled, gushing declarations of how wonderful I was. But after waiting patiently for six years (yes, six!!), my “YES!!” was uttered (read: screamed) with no hesitation. And so began my happily ever after. My fairytale wedding (pre-empted by an epic hens night – complete with a classy stripper hired by my mother-in-law), a move into our first home, and our first “child”, (Sarah the epitome of a mixed breed New South African dog), arrived. And life was complete – perfect in the way Good Housekeeping depicted it would be.

Then reality came thundering down. 

Believe me, I love my husband like nothing on earth, and I love being married, but it is by no means the bed of roses all those single girls think it is. Firstly, there’s the whole cooking thing – every single night! (No more eggs on toast if thats all I felt like!) And the actual housekeeping. I married a true South African male – “Babe? (I asked) Have you seen the iron?” “What does it look like”, he replied (in absolute seriousness). Then there’s sport. Every single rugby match is THE match not to be missed. I like watching Patrick making history on the field as much as the next girl, but EVERY match? And shopping – where I thought I might have a lifelong shopping buddy with on tap credit, I instead had a member of the censorship board watching (and commenting on) my every move. 

Given the choice, though, I wouldn’t change a thing. There is a unique bond that develops with that partner you have chosen to spend your life with. Knowing exactly what you love, (and how you love it!), building and sharing a history, a life.  Yes, I wouldn’t change a thing. Being married makes up for all the ups and downs. And to be honest, what I don’t get from him I get religiously from, well, from my bookclub! I'm Just Saying..

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Are you a Good Role Model?

What do we teach our kids? Speaking from experience, the age old adage "Do what I say and not what I do" springs to mind. This has never really been much of an issue for me before (after all, isn't it my prerogative as a mom to have my kids obey me no matter what?!), but lately, in the light of some of the questionable actions by those in positions of power in our country, the quick and lasting judgements we pass on them, and the scathing and disappointing opinions we form of them, I started to think about the message I was sending to my kids. And I squirmed.

Eat all your vegetables. An easy one, you might think, and one that is logically a sound instruction. Unless I don't eat all of mine. While spewing forth about the virtues of carrots making you see better in the dark, beans making your teeth squeak, and broccoli giving you bigger brains, I push my butternut around MY plate, and eat only what I like. Great message to my kids!!

You have to eat ALL your breakfast. Again - a good one. I can wax lyrical about the benefits of a good breakfast for as long as my kids stand still to listen, but if I do it while glugging back two cups of coffee and rushing out the house, the message seems hollow.

Early school nights and NO electronics in bed! Even as I write this I am blushing. The early nights I can certainly lead by example, but the no electronics in bed? I fail dismally! Thanks to my ipad (my third appendage), I am either pinterest'ing, facebook'ing, twitter'ing, blogging or reading from my kindle app. Until I fall asleep - never as early as it should be. 

As Warren curses in a moment of losing his temper, or I curse at that highly irritating driver on the road (pick a lane and drive!!) I hear myself saying "and don't think you kids are allowed to use language like that." Mixed messages? Oh yes!

But its not all bad. My kids do learn from my positive behaviour as well (I just hope these lessons last as long!). They watch while we donate to charity, while we help out friends and family, while we give one hundred percent at whatever we do, be it work or sport, while we are supportive of each other, and they watch how we demonstrate our love. But is this enough?

I don't think so. And while it may be easier said than done, I am going to make a concerted effort to eat all of my vegetables (even the ones that make me gag!), eat breakfast properly, go to bed with no electronic diversions, and bite my tongue and grip the steering wheel when I feel the urge to unleash my road rage. 

Franklin P. Jones said,  "Children are unpredictable. You never know what inconsistency they're going to catch you in next." Bearing in mind the sponge like quality and unnervingly long memories my kids have, I will either have to pull up my socks, or be more creative with my inconsistencies!! I'm Just Saying...