Raising a rainbow nation

Racism is man’s gravest threat to man – the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason.  ~Abraham Joshua Heschel

Sharon has posted a lot recently about the challenges of racing mixed race children. Even though I did not adopt my older two kids, I still get a lot of the same questions and comments she does because if you look at us, you could assume that we did possibly adopt them.

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I must say for the most part I ignore stupid comments and questions because otherwise it could get ugly.

Sharon’s latest blog post was about “Would you allow your child to marry a brown person?”. 

Lets think about this for a minute shall we. This question implies that you, as the parent, have a say in your child’s choice of partner which is a) extremely naive, b) an indication that you do not trust that your child is capable of making their own decision and c) rather racist!

My answer to this question (in relation to my white children). No I won’t allow my children to marry a brown person or a white person or any person because I have no right to forbid them or “not allow” them to marry anyone! We do not live in the 1900’s (or modern day India), arranged marriages are not how we do things here, thank goodness! And also, stupid person asking this question, I would rather my child marry a person of a different colour to them who treats them right than marry an asshole! Think about it! You kid can do worse things than marry a person a different colour to them!

I get asked a fair amount “Are they yours?

I want to yell “No they aren’t, I bought them from a Nigerian-Asian child trafficker to clean my house, do the ironing. I have just allowed them out today for the bi-annual dose of Vitamin D”

No one asks a white parent if their white kid is theirs so why ask me if the children I am with are mine? Again, lets think a little!

My all time favourite though is “Gosh you are such a good person

HUH? Why I am a good person? For loving my children?

Why is David a good person? For caring for 2 children who aren’t his? Would you still think he is a good person if they were white? Huh? Would you? Probably not!

If you are the type of person who thinks we need praise for loving our children of colour then you, douchebag, are not a good person! Good people don’t love their children. Parents love their children!

I tolerate these questions from children because they are questioning and learning and figuring things out but when grown up people ask me stupid things, loaded with racial undertones – I have no time! NONE!

 

5 Gadgets to improve your home safety!

Crime isn’t something I particularly like to talk about here but it is a reality of the country we live in. I am especially aware of it because I stay at home and Emma and Jane are also at home alone a lot.

None of us want to turn our homes into prisons with alarms and barbed wire and cameras and beams. But again, we have to be realistic about where we live and ensure that our homes are safe and secure without over reacting.

I have put together a few gadgets that you can add to your home to make it a little more safe without it feeling like it.

*Digital Peephole viewer

This is a really cool little gadget. Its basically like a super peephole, so you can see who is behind the door on an LCD screen. We have a peephole at home but its pretty useless to be honest so I like this idea. You simply attach it to the existing one and voila! This is particularly nice for me in complex living where people are able to just walk up to your door.

*Car tracker

We have trackers fitted to both our cars and I know they work well because we had an incident last year and they found the car pretty easily. I think now most insurances require that you have some sort of tracking device.

* Chubb/ADT

Last year after this incident in our complex we signed up with ADT. I know people are in two minds about security companies but we have had nothing but good service and quick response. I like that fact that I know if I push the panic button someone will come or at the very least phone David.

* A Wall Safe

Wall safes can be hidden so are an option if you have stuff that needs to be kept locked away and you don’t really want it to be on display or common knowledge.

*iSmartAlarm

Probably my favourite of the list! You can get a few cool gadgets from iSmart – alarms, sensors, remote tags. They are really cool, small and don’t look like they are security items which is always a win.

All of these things aside, burglaries still do happen, cars do get stolen which is why you can not afford not be to insured. You may have a 10 year old TV and a 8 year old microwave but sit down and add up how much it will cost to replace everything? It is not going to be a cheap exercise! So you need to add home insurance to your budget. It is sort of a like a medical aid/hospital plan – it is a necessity not a luxury!

Do you have any added security at home? Are you insured?

When saying goodbye is hard.

I have had these deep sense of sadness the past few weeks. Not an unhappiness because I am happy but rather the sadness that comes with loss. Not the loss of your favourite pair of ear rings but the deep sense of loss when a friend leaves your life. Not leaves as in you fight and break up but when they physically leave you and no longer are a part of your daily life.

I think it has been what has cause my writers block because I have had this post in my head for weeks now but have not had the words for it. I miss writing, I miss blogging so it is time to face it.

This year was my second year on the Santa Shoebox committee. We are a small committee – I think around 10 ladies (and a man) who are actively involved in the organising of the Pretoria area. We have, by default in many cases, become friends. When you spend 4 stressful days trying to collect 6500 boxes, pack them, scan them, sort them you do learn things about people you wouldn’t normally. But like with any situation some become closer than others. Bonds are formed and friendships made.

As you all know, friendships don’t come easily to me, so I tend to guard the ones I do make, especially now, closely. It may have been the fact that Suzanne and I both have 4 kids (she has 5 actually). Or the fact that we were both single moms. It could have been the fact that she understands when I say I am having to do some extreme budgeting this month. Or maybe it is just the fact that we both are outspoken cows!

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Whatever it was, we become friends. Good friends.

Suzanne is from the UK, she has only been here 4 years and when we met she often mentioned there was a chance they would have to relocate at some point but “some point” is always “some point”. But a few months it ago it become “January 2015″ then it become December 2014 and then suddenly she is leaving on Sunday to start the move.

I am incredibly sad that she is leaving.

When I was struggling emotionally with Emma earlier this year, I message her on a particularly bad day. She replied “Right I am coming over to clean, hold Emma, whatever you need”. She never came round because I had moms and babes that day but the fact that she offered that meant so much because I think she is the only one in my every day life who fully understands what it is like dealing with four kids and a husband that is away at times.

I can say to her “Emma doesn’t like me” and she replies “Yeah I had one of those too, he was two before he liked me”

She doesn’t sugar coat things. There is no feeling sorry or wallowing in self pity – there is “yeah it sucks now make me some coffee please”.

I truly believe we all need a friend like that.

But now she is leaving South Africa to start a new adventure in Dubai and I am very excited for her but also sad!

I am sad I am losing a person who has come to mean a lot to me.

I know we will stay in touch and I know she will be back to harass everyone at drop off next year but it is not the same.

I am sad. Very sad!

That is all.

Gratitude

What a week last week was! It was all kinds of crazy and busy. This morning I sat down to catch up on admin, mails etc etc and when I got to the budget it depressed me completely. This month is about 25 days too long for our budget. We are jam packed with commitments all the way through November. I was feeling slightly over whelmed with life in general.

So instead of focusing on what we don’t have I am going to assume the “head in sand” position and focus on all the the things I do have.

  • My awesome husband. He watched the kids this weekend while I was packing boxes! I know he is more than capable but the thing is watching the kids on your own is HARD! Its a lot of work – all the time. I got home after bed time 3 nights out of the 5 days I was helping out at Santa Shoebox. He even took them all to a walkathon yesterday!
  • Yoga! I went to a yoga class this morning for the first time in ages and it was so great. Tough but so so so great.
  • My friends who listen and encourage and understand and offer wine.
  • The awesome rain we had on Saturday night. Wasn’t it just glorious Gauteng residents?
  • My kids who keep me on my toes all the time but bring laughter and love to our home!
  • Jane! I love Jane! Emma loves Jane! She has bought sanity to my life. She spends her days playing with Emma and in between she cleans so some days the floors don’t get swept or the ironing doesn’t get done but Emma is happy!

What are you grateful for today?

Its all about the mundane here I am afraid!

So my little #mundahappiness challenge has taken off better than I anticipated. My twitter and instagram feed are full of photos and updates (I am behind on blog reading so haven’t checked their yet). Thank you so much to everyone who is joining in! If you haven’t joined us then you can start now.

Julia asked me this morning why there are no posts. There are two reasons. The first is that I have been busy and today our Santa Shoebox Drop Offs started so its crazy crazy. But the second reason is a little disturbing for me. I just haven’t had the inspiration/desire/motivation to blog. This really bugs me because I have never felt this way before.

I think it is maybe due to the fact that it is so crazy busy here from this weekend on. We have 2/3 things on every single Saturday and Sunday. So it means David and I have to do some serious logistical planning.

So life really is about the mundane here. Getting kids to school, dancing, swimming, parties (Cameron has a party a week), exams, galas. The usual mundane stuff that occupies my day.

Be that as it may let me quickly update you on whats keeping me harassed.

  • The #jozimeetup is nearly here and I still have SO much to do. SO MUCH! I have a small panic attack thinking about it. Its going to be super awesome though.
  • Jacks been sick again – it appears to be his tonsils again. It was exactly 2 months ago that he had they last attack.
  • Both kids write exams this term. Cameron has started studying. Kiara is not fussed at all. I haven’t received any dates yet, which is not to say that they haven’t been given dates, just that Kiara hasn’t registered them yet.
  • I have developed some major issues with the muscles in my shoulder. After two painful physio visits and a bio assessment I know have exercises to do that are great but very sore. Posture is SO important people! Stomach in! Chest out!
  • Emma is super cute. It appears she has finally accepted us as her people and is doing really well.
  • I am having lots of friend dates during the week. In fact it has been a really great friend year for me.

Whats new with you? Anything I need to know? 

The wheels on the bus go round and round (and round and round)

This post is part of a new challenge I have started over at Blog Share Connect - please join us. Its going to be fun.

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I moan often about the driving around of my many kids in the afternoon. It is tiring and no really a whole lot of fun especially now that its warmer. It’s not all bad though, far from it. There really are a lot of reasons why it is great to be able to play moms taxi in the afternoon.

  • Jack is always so super happy to see me. Every single day. Last week I was a little bit late to fetch him, the look on his face when I arrived was priceless.
  • I get to stalk watch Cameron interact with his friends before he sees me.
  • I get to find out stuff that needs to be done before they forget. Cameron tells me everything I need to know for the next few days every afternoon when he gets in the car.
  • I get to watch their sports games.
  • I can help out moms who are working by fetching and carrying if and when they need it.
  • I get one-on-one time with the kids. Often I will have one kid in the car en-route to fetch one, or after dropping one off so its a nice way to catch up with them.

It is not always fun but there is lots to be happy about that I get to do it.

Whats making you happy? Share with us!

Standing up for yourself is NEVER wrong even if you get pushed down again.

Articles and posts about bullies are everywhere. Stories of teens committing suicide as a result of bullies are almost a daily occurrence. I have blogged about it. Kiara has been bullied. Sharon has blogged about it. Bullies are everywhere, everyday.

Wikipedia defines bullying as follows;

Bullying is the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively dominate others. The behavior is often repeated and habitual. One essential prerequisite is the perception, by the bully or by others, of an imbalance of social or physical power. Behaviors used to assert such domination can include verbal harassment or threat, physical assault or coercion, and such acts may be directed repeatedly towards particular targets.

 

When our children are being bullied, depending on their age, we encourage them to stand up for themselves. We tell them to not give in, stand firm, fight back. We tell them its not about them but about the bully. We tell them bullying is unacceptable. Sometimes they stand up and it works out, the bully backs down (according to Hollywood this happens every time) but the reality is that there are many times when it doesn’t work out like that.

Bullies, by definition,  tend to choose the soft targets, the people they know they can easily intimidate. It is easy to gain control on someone who can’t or won’t put up a fight so they chose those children, teenagers and adults.

Bullies also ruin lives and destroy confidences.

There are a many reasons why people bully; they have been bullied, they have seen bullying, they fight their insecurities by bullying, they want control or sometimes they are just not nice people.

Regardless of what drives people to bully – it is still wrong.

Regardless how hard it is – it is never wrong to stand up for yourself. Never.

I will always encourage my children to stand up for themselves and when they do I will always praise them – even if it didn’t work out like they had hoped because standing up for yourself is never wrong.

Standing up is not easy. It means you are putting yourself out there, risking possibly being bullied more. It means you are looking for conflict instead of avoiding it. Standing up for yourself means you are being true who you are and saying NO MORE! Standing up for yourself means you are saying “I am strong enough and I do matter.”

So if you are being bullied – stand up. Say no more.. Fight back. A bully only has as much power as you give them, when you take it back, they have no more power.

Have you or your kids every been the victim of a bully?

 

If you are happy and you know it, leave a comment!

I had about three blog posts in my head yesterday but I got so distracted with the next #jozimeetup and catching up on blog reading etc etc.that I missed my window to actually write at least one of them.

So this morning I sat down ready to go because I had three options to choose from so I figured it would be a quick thing! WRONG! Here I sit 3 hours later and still NOTHING. I considered the post I had planned about bullying but then figured theirs enough fuel on that fire at the moment BUT there is still a post to come, then I wanted to write about teaching my kids to stand up for themselves but I couldn’t find the words for that. So whats left? Things making me happy so we will go with that!

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My Jack! He is super super cute at the moment. He talks non stop and says the cutest things. His observations of the world are just adorable. I love just talking to him. The tantrums are still there but the naughty corner seems to restore order and just the mention of it sorts him out.

My friends. I have had a good friend year. I have a group of awesome people in my life at the moment. Some I see often, some I see once a year but they are all just super awesome and I am very grateful for all of them.

Its nearly holidays. Need I say more? Who isn’t happy about that?

My husband! Just because he is all kinds of awesome.

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How cute is this picture of David and Emma? Seriously how flippen cute!

My tween. I am still rather emotional about his sudden launch into all that is a teenager. A few days ago I went to fetch him and he didn’t see me arrive and was busy talking and laughing with a bunch of girls. He looked so happy and confident. I am really enjoying him at the moment.

The warmer weather. I am loving it. We are spending lots of time outside. The kids are swimming. There are braais and wine and cocktails. Its FANTASTIC!

Whats making you happy? 

 

 

 

Parenting just got real!

There is nothing more overwhelming that giving birth. That moment you are handed that screaming little person is possibly one of life’s greatest moments. You are overwhelmed by every emotion there is  – fear, love, panic, wonder, admiration – you feel it all at once every few seconds but the love is rather overwhelming. I don’t you realise it until the second day when the sister comes to do those first vaccinations and you hear your baby scream, I remember wanting to punch the nurse with every single baby. You realise in that moment though, that you would lay down your life for your child without even thinking about it.

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With each milestone you feel an immense sense of pride and joy and excitement.

Look she is rolling – so cute.

Look she can stand – isn’t she clever.

Look she can walk – what a big girl.

Listen she can speak – so smart.

Every milestone arrives and we celebrate. We share. We brag. We document.

Then the excitement dies down a little. They can walk and talk and draw and write and add and read. We celebrate but no one really gets excited when you post a picture of your kid doing his math homework.

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Then they start growing up. Really growing up. Not just reaching new levels on the growth chart kind of growing up but a kind of growing up that pulls really hard on your heart strings. The kind of growing up that makes you cry a different, more real kind of tear to the one you cried they day he walked. It is not only a growing up but also a growing away, which is possibly why it is so emotional.

A few weeks ago Cameron put a password on his phone, I didn’t think much about it until I did and then I realised that he was talking to his friends and didn’t want us to see*. His expressions during the conversations he was having also made it clear that he may very well be talking to a girl, which he neither confirmed nor denied when I asked.

I really was not prepared for it. I wasn’t prepared for the emotions that hit me harder than a bucket of ice. I shared on twitter the night it happened and the more I put into actual words what was happening, the more emotional I became. I wanted to rip the phone away and see who he was talking to and what they were talking about. I then wanted to smash the phone and tell him to sit down and watch Toy Story and declare it his favourite movie and ask for Buzz Lightyear Pajamas! I was not, and still am not, prepared for him to be experiencing “grown up” things like relationships and wanting privacy and separating himself from the family unit. It feels like they move through milestones at a certain pace and then they hit 11/12 and they leap across this abyss without fear to the other side while we, as parents, are still standing trying to catch hold of their feet as fly across because we aren’t ready because we know whats on the other side and we know that once their feet touch that side, we lose a pretty big part of who we are to them. I have never really been one of those moms who says “I wish I could keep them small” until that moment.

Parenting, for me, just got very real.

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It didn’t end there. As you know Cameron is now swimming. He had his second gala this weekend and I couldn’t be there to watch him. As he got out the car, I wished him luck and said “remember we want a faster time”. There is this amazing app that basically allows you to follow the gala in almost real time. So you can see the times pretty much a few minutes after they have swum. I was sitting at home refreshing every five seconds and then there it was Cameron De Klerk, 1st place with an improvement of over 3 seconds on his time. It may have been my proudest mom moment so far.

Not only because he won but because HE did this. HE did it all on his own. Yes we have given him the opportunity, the support and encouragement but HE did it. HE made the decision this is what he wanted and he is putting the hard work in, he is getting into the pool every day even when he is exhausted and he is training his heart out, he is sacrificing time with his friends and lie ins on a Saturday morning. He has a goal and he has determination. It is an incredible thing to watch and to know that in a small way, David and I, as his parents, played a part in his achievements.

Dealing with the sleepless newborn months was tough. Taming toddler tantrums is challenging. Potty training is vomit inducing. Introducing solids is exhausting. Starting school is eye-opening.

Cameron

Parenting a pre-teen will rip your heart right out of your chest. It will make all those early challenges seem like a walk in the park. You will wish for those days where you argued for hours with the toddler over which shoes to wear or how to cut their bread. You will miss the days where the talked non-stop about nothing and everything. You will wish that the next milestone had a start and end date. This stage, for me, is when parenting got real. It is NOW that you start to really be a parent because it is the years that lie ahead of us now that will really determine what he becomes and where he goes.

It has been a very emotional few weeks for me. I suspect it only gets tougher from here on out and I suspect there will be a lot more wine in my future.

This does sound like a very selfish version of things because it is. It is MY story. My emotions. Cameron’s story is now his to tell when and if he wants to one day.

The second photo was taken by Jeanette in I think one of then first family photo shoots she did in 2008.

The last photo was taken by Catherine at our photo shoot in September this year.

*I have no doubt that these are innocent conversations. He is not hiding them because he is selling drugs or having sex or whatever. Its just about him wanting some sort of privacy to be able to talk to his friends and very possibly girls.

Lets talk about the baby – the answers my friends are blowing in the wind

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You know how they say that by the fourth kid it should be easy? Well they lied! Just like pretty much everything else they say. Who are they anyway? The same people who say it gets easier as they grow up or don’t shout, talk to your child (have they ever talked 34680 times and had no one listen) or don’t pick them up too much (have they ever listened to crying for 50 solid minutes) or don’t let them fall asleep on the bottle/boob (have ever not slept for days on end) or just say no (have they ever said no to a 3rd old?). Do they even have kids?

Emma has been a challenge, for me, since she was born. She has seemed determined to break any mould’s her siblings may have set. She has had me questioning myself and my ability as a mother more than the other three ever have (even the tween who now seems to have a girl person he chats to on BBM). Thankfully, and mainly due to David’s persistence, we have managed to get her sleeping better but that really was only one issue. I have mentioned how unhappy she seemed with us. She doesn’t seem to like food that much, which I really find odd. The food gene is strong with both David and I and yet with her, meal times are a challenge, she purses her little lips and you can forget about getting anything in there if she doesn’t want to. She is firmly attached to a dummy, which is very new to me. I did try to get the others to take a dummy but they all refused so eventually I just left it.

It is a lot better now, not just with the sleeping but she seems happier and more content. Maybe I have just accepted that that is the way that she is or maybe she has just accepted we are it. Or maybe both?

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I don’t really know when it changed or what we did, if we even did anything, to make it change but it has and after 8 months it feels like she is part of the family, not just someone visiting, watching the chaos around her. I no longer dread the days the nanny isn’t here, I don’t start getting antsy when David is stuck in traffic (this may be the wine though). For the first time I am enjoying her. We have long chats while I do the shopping, she laughs at me, puts her little arms out for me to pick her up.

I get asked parenting advise a lot, not because I am an expert, but just because I have 12 years on the job training but all I can do is share what I did with my kids. Emma has proved that each child is very different, regardless of how many you have, and what worked for 3 may not work for number 4. This parenting thing really is a guessing game, sometimes you hit the jackpot and sometimes you lose all your money. Sometimes you think you have all the numbers but realise you only have 2, so you have to keep trying. Sometimes you are just too tired to even try and sometimes you just don’t want to because it is too hard.

Sometimes the answers are in the parenting section of Exclusive Books but more often than not the answers really are just blowing in the wind!

PS. I just want to say thank you for all the comments left yesterday. It does mean a lot. I think comment by “flaredmozzie” summed it up. Comments are important to us, not because of the stats but because of the interaction, knowing that we have reached someone or helped someone or just made someone laugh.

PPS. I am going to the physio this afternoon. I have been having these terrible spasms in my shoulder/neck and after a full assessment by my bio she has sent me to the physio to break the knots and then she can work on my posture. If there is no post on Monday, know I was killed by the physio!