Nothing of me is original

combined-effort-quote

I don’t generally get too caught up in what happens in Hollywood, I certainly don’t get too torn up when famous people die, not because I don’t care but because I never knew them. It is always sad when you hear of someone passing on but I can’t really cry tears for something I never even saw in real life and only know them as the characters they play.

But the passing of Robin Williams did make me rather sad.

Dead Poets Society is one of my all time favourite movies. I have watched it over and over, I never tire of it. If all teachers had half as much passion as John Keating had we would not have the problems we do with education.

It is possible though, that I mourned the loss of John Keating, Mrs Doubtfire, Peter Pan, Chris Nielsen and Jack more than I actually mourned the loss of the man who played all those characters.

As I thought back to the all the movies he had starred in, it got me thinking about other actors, movies, sports men, singers and teachers from my childhood who have shaped my life. It was after watching Dead Poets Society that I knew that I wanted to write.

No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world. John Keating

We really are the sum of the experiences and people we have encountered.

If I think back over my childhood, there are so many characters, books, events and movies that impacted me.

  • Spud
  • Jonty Rhodes and his famous field dives,
  • The 1995 world cup victory – that moment with Madiba is still one of my best moments,
  • Princess Di and Charles getting married – we watched it at school
  • The death of Princess Diana
  • Opening of schools to non-white pupils – we had those big army tank things (I cant think of the name now) parked outside our school for weeks.
  • The floods in the 80′s – we had to queue for water from big water trucks
  • 9/11
  • Devils Advocate – this movie, for me, is such a powerful depiction of consequences of our actions.
  • The 1994 elections
  • The Grahamstown Arts Festival

These are just a few of the moments that stand out for me but there are so many things that shape who we are, how we think and why we make the choices we make.

What are some of yours? Do you have a favourite Robin Williams movie?

 

 

Why I am not apologising for my kids anymore

One of the reasons flying with my kids makes me anxious is because you don’t get “kid friendly” flights that are made up predominantly of parents or travelling families. We have to fly with businessmen, single people, childless couples and parents escaping their children.IMG_2386

I spend the entire length of the flight making sure my child aren’t annoying anyone, making too much noise, crying too much – generally I squash them and stop them from doing all the things that kids are supposed to do for fear of a scathing tweet about the mother and her unruly spawn or screaming baby.

WHY?

Are we, as a family, less entitled to be on an airplane? Are we less important than the businessman in front of us trying to edit his report or the career women counting the seconds until she can turn her phone on to check her emails?

NO. We are not.

Flying is not the only time I feel like I have to muzzle my children.

Restaurants are another minefield. As parents we are more worried about ensuring those around us aren’t in any way inconvenienced or offended by our children talking a little too loud, or eating their macaroni and cheese with their fingers, or a toddler announcing to the world he needs to POO NOW! And we all now how people feel about breastfeeding in public.
Shops also cause much anxiety especially when toddlers would rather walk than be confined to a pram. Heaven forbid a busy little person runs across the path of someone, causing them to pause and walk around them or a mom has to stop suddenly because her daughter has to show her that there is Barbie on the yoghurt. We all know how much fun toddler tantrums can be and often despite our best attempts to avoid them, they happen but again, we are often more in tune with the glares and sighs of those around us than the wailing child.

I am kinda done apologising for my children being children.

IMG_2497Before you get your knickers in a knot I am not condoning badly behaved children, yours or mine. I am simply saying, when my child behaves like a child and that inconveniences you, that is YOUR problem, not mine or my childs.

Babies cry on airplanes, their ears hurt, they get hungry, they cry. It is normal. I will not apologise for that.

Toddlers do not have the ability to sit through an entire meal without moving. They need to run, walk, move. It is normal. I will not apologise for that.

Children aren’t born knowing how to behave socially. We teach them, it takes time. They will talk too loud, they will ask inappropriate questions. It is how they learn. I will not apologise for that.

They throw tantrums. They get tired, over stimulated. They test boundaries. It does not mean I am a bad parent or that they are a bad child. It means they are learning. It is normal. I will not apologise for that.

Toddlers love exploring, the love walking around the shops. Sometimes they get so caught up in it all, the forget to look in front of them, so they will bump into you and we will say sorry for that BUT I will not apologise for allowing him the freedom to walk around a little.

My children and I have just as much right to fly on airplanes, eat at restaurants, watch movies and shop as our childless counterparts.You may not like children, that is really ok because I don’t particularly like children, but you do need to accept that children are the next generation, they are here to stay and they aren’t perfect.

My children are noisy, they get excited over trivial things, they whine, the toddler hasn’t perfected eating with a knife and fork yet, the baby can’t talk so she cries when she is hungry or tired, they do still occasionally bump the table sending drinks and chips flying. If that offends you, you have the choice to go to another restaurant, stand in another queue or take another flight.

I am not apologising for my children being children anymore.

Disclaimer: If my children disrespect you, or anyone really, they will be reprimanded and we will apologise. I am not excusing away bad behaviour. I do promise to do my best to stop tantrums because, I promise you, they are even less fun for me to endure, if you promise to give me the space to do that.

 

BEE, sport and your kid

FAMILY

I was all fired up last night to write this post today, then Emma didn’t sleep last night and vomited repeatedly all over her cot, herself, me, my bed and about 10 towels and then all I wanted to do was write a post about how Emma vomited all over, the perimeter alarm kept going off waking Jack and David had abandoned us for some godforsaken African country.

So I wrote nothing.

Then I started getting antsy because there was no post today, so I considered writing about how terrified I am about Cameron’s new swimming adventure or how I am done apologising to people who don’t have kids for my kids or about the home made chicken schnitzels I made.

But I kept coming back to this topic.

During a chat I had with a sport coach yesterday he mentioned Cameron stands a good chance of getting into the provincial team because they do take their BEE targets seriously. OH! Ok then!

Obviously he can’t just show up, tick the coloured box and make the team. He does have to show serious potential BUT I am not sure how I feel about HIM making the team based on this should it ever happen.

I am not too keen on BEE in sport in general. I really feel it is one of those things that the strongest and hardest working deserve to make it, regardless of the colour of their skin. I personally feel we are far along in our democracy for this not to apply in sport any more and the more I think about it, the more I don’t want it applied to my kids. I want Cameron (and Kiara) to be chosen based on their performance and not on the colour of their skin. I think it almost takes away from them if they are chosen so that the team can reach its targets.

I also think that this creates a sense of entitlement, sort of like ” I deserve to be on the team because I am a person of colour” when in fact Cameron is growing up possibly more privileged that I did! I don’t want any of my kids thinking they have an advantage over their counterparts because of something like the colour of their skin.

I am possibly over thinking this whole thing especially since nothing has actually happened yet but it is stuff that I lie awake thinking about while I wait for the baby to wake up.

What are your thoughts on this?

How would you feel if your child was chosen for the team because they were the right colour?

Why I won’t take the toddler anywhere anymore!

jackorange

We had a pretty busy Saturday, I had a Reach for a Dream event, Cam had soccer and a contact lens fitting and then we had to make a “quick” trip to the Vaal for some work stuff David needed to do.

While Cameron was busy with the optometrist I quickly ran into Dischem with Jack. He was pretty chilled and was being rather cute. While I was waiting for our meds, I looked down and saw he had managed to slip his tennis ball passed me and was now bouncing it in Dischem. CRAP! Having boys means that I have to often to a quick check to make sure we aren’t shopping with the soccer ball or eating lunch with a bouncing tennis ball, but somehow this one got passed me. I didn’t make a big deal about it and figured the quicker we could get out of there, the better. En route to the cashier we had a little “Look mom I can bounce the ball like this” moment, immediately followed by a “MOM I CAN’T FIND MY BALL ITS MISSING FIND MY BALL MOM WHERE IS IT!” moment.

This probably was the moment I should have engaged the “get out the shop as quickly as possible” mode but instead I found the ball and grabbed us all something to drink. Jack ALWAYS chooses an ice tea. ALWAYS. He orders it as we walk into restaurants, its his thing. Until Saturday when suddenly the luminous red Energade was his thing. He needed it. NEEDED it like Kim Kardashian needs a reality TV show! I stood firm though. Took the ice tea and tried to herd him through the pens that are the queues at Dischem. I hadn’t thought the whole little trip through, so had no basket and the medicine I got required a BIG medicine cage.

I was now standing in the queue with my BIG medicine cage, 5 bottles of colddrink and a screaming toddler, wondering how it all went so wrong.

Obviously at this point, the VERY irate toddler decides to rather vociferously bounce his tennis ball while we are boxed in in the junk food laden herding pens. The ball bounces, once, twice and is gone, swallowed up by the MSG free corn chips and sugar laden nougat. By now I am sweating profusely, trying very hard to maintain my composure as my child again starts screaming “MOM I CAN’T FIND MY BALL ITS MISSING FIND MY BALL MOM WHERE IS IT!”. Fortunately the stars aligned briefly and about 10 cashiers suddenly freed up, possible fueled by their need to get the screaming kid and his mother out the shop as quickly as possible, so we were able to move around to the other side of the shelves where the ball had lodged itself.Once he had the ball safely in his little hands, he resumed the “I WON’T DRINK THE ICE TEA I DON’T WANT IT MOM I DON’T DRINK THAT” wail.

Finally, after what felt like an hour, we get to the cashier, Jack still screaming. I drop the drinks and medicine onto the counter and pick up the child, he starts kicking his legs, so I put him down. Now Jack has perfected this move, it is very similar to that moment in an action movie where the good guys catch the bad guy and he falls to the floor onto his knees, all very dramatic. So he drops to his knees, head on the floor and wails and wails.

By this point the entire Dischem has come to a dramatic stop. All eyes are on the mother of the clearly out of control toddler. What will she do?

I did what any self-respecting mother would do. I paid, with my head held high, took my stuff and walked out of the shop, with the screaming toddler trailing behind me.

Because really? WHAT are the options?

Leave my shopping? Wasn’t an option.
Smack him? How would that stop him crying?
Buy him the juice? I did consider it but for obvious reasons it would be wrong.
Yell at him? Again, probably not going to stop him crying.
Tell him “I hear you Jack, I understand you want the red juice but you can’t get that juice right now. Mom got you the ice tea instead”? Ja that has never and will never work on my kids because it wouldn’t work on me.

We did sort of talk about it afterwards but I suspect it had no effect because on Sunday Mr Price Sport banned us!

David left for the DRC early on Sunday morning so I knew I would have to get the kids out of the house for all of our safety. Stupidly I decide to take them ALL shopping. The quick Sportsmans Warehouse trip went well. The second Mr Price Sport visit, not so much. Cameron found a costume but wanted goggles, I said nope he needs to find one of the many pairs we have at home, I am not paying R100 for ANOTHER pair of goggles. Cameron, thankfully over the tantrum stage, was ok with that. Jack not so much. He grabbed a pair off the shelf and told me Cameron NEEDS these. I said “Nope he doesn’t” and put them back on the shelf.

Do I even need to tell you what happened?

There was wailing, Jonty Rhodes style dives across the floor of Mr Price, screaming and general brat behaviour! It was so much fun.

I have actually left out the incident at Spur on Saturday where he waved his knife, like some crazy ninja at his dad and then at a lady who was trying to introduce her son to him. I suspect you may all judge me too harshly if I put it all out there.

So I have decided that for now, it is safer for us, and the general population for me to not take him to any shop (or restaurant) for now.

Did your toddler throw tantrums in the shops? What did you do?

Being honest with your kids.

When I watched Idols for the first time many many years ago I made a promise to myself that I would always be honest to my child. I would never send them off to be ridiculed on national TV of they could not sing (or dance or whatever) because like Stacey said in this post, your kid can not be anything they want to be.

Cameron came home on Thursday very excited because he had received a form from school about provincial swimming trials on the 6 September. He really wanted to go, he wanted to actually go to gym that day so he could start training.
IMG_7774

He can swim and he can swim well BUT he has not been in a pool since March and even then it wasn’t really what can be described as training. He was swimming with the school team but I have watched the sessions and there is no passion from the coach, no motivation and no real training. So Cameron really has gotten by on pure talent but as he gets older he has fallen further back because swimming is something that needs constant training and hard work.

So we had to have the discussion. The one where I tell him that I don’t think trying out now is a good idea. I explained how the trials work and why I felt he wasn’t ready, but then to my own detriment, I added “NOT YET”. The “not yet” saved me from being called the “dream crusher” (again). But to be honest, there are times I am ok to be the dream crusher. Sending my kid to swim against some of the fittest, fastest 12 year olds in Gauteng knowing he is not swimming fit, is not fair to him and will do nothing for his self confidence. If he wants to do it, then we need to do it properly.

Every year at this time we have the cricket vs swimming debate. Every year I steer him towards cricket, mainly for my own selfish reasons. I grew up swimming and I know the commitment it takes, not only on is part but on our part too. He does enjoy cricket but I suspect he loves swimming, in fact I know he enjoys it more which is why we still have this discussion every year.

Last night swimming won. When I explained to him why I don’t think he is ready, I also said that IF he decides on swimming, then we will find a club and he can work really hard and be ready to try about next year. He thought about it all weekend, asked me questions, discussed options and finally yesterday he said he chooses swimming. So we go tomorrow to have an evaluation at our local club.

I will admit, I cried a little bit (ok maybe a lot) and mourned the loss of the little bit of spare time we have.

Are you honest with your kids? From the amount of rubbish singers there are on Idols, it seems that not many parents are.

Working from home!

Working properly from home, has taken some adjustment on my part.

Doing the Pamper Parties didn’t really take up much time and I could do it from anywhere but now I actually have to sit down, research and focus. It would be pretty easy actually if I didn’t have Emma. As you all know Emma isn’t really a napper, although this seems to be improving and she is perfectly happy as long as someone is playing with her all the time.

I actually started working the week we were in Cape Town, so I had my mom helping out with Emma but it was still a challenge. Being back home, on my own with her made working in the morning virtually impossible. I would get a bit done but I found it very stressful. Which is what prompted us to get in help more than one day a week. Now that I have Jane it is much easier but it is still not as simple as hand the baby over and work away.

Cassey asked the other day if we had any tips for her because she has also just started working from home. (Isn’t it so awesome that moms are now able to find flexible positions like this?). The common consensus was “you need help” BUT that said I am sure Cassey will be able to pull it off, her little Keiden is a super chilled little man.

That aside though, there are a few things I have figured out along the way.

Get Organised

ROUTINE! Routine is probably the single most important thing to make working from home work. Jane and I are slowly getting Emma into some sort of routine now, so that both of us can get stuff done.

You have to be organised. Uninterrupted time is limited when you are working from home so you have to make the most of it. Get your things organised. You can’t spend 20 minutes trying to find a pen or figure out where you saved the last draft.

Have a REALISTIC plan. You need to have a very clear idea of what you need to achieve that day. Some days I don’t get work in, then some days I get a lot in. So I have a weekly target and then that breaks down into a daily target. Even with Jane here I can, realistically, only work until 13h30 when I have to either fetch kids or they get dropped off. She is only here three days a week, so I dedicate those two days to work and the other two is when I work on BlogShareConnect, my blog and other non-work related stuff. Setting an unrealistic set of goals will only create more pressure.

Have a dedicated work space. I was, some nights, working from bed after the kids have gone to sleep. I don’t enjoy this at all. I hate a TV in bedrooms for the same reason, bedrooms are for decompressing and relaxing. So I have stopped doing that. My laptop stays on my desk and that’s that.

Shut out the noise. This one is still hard for me but I do try to shut off Emma’s talking, the beeping washing machine, Facebook, twitter and focus on what I need to get done. Obviously the days I manage to shut it out, I get the most done, so I am doing it more and more now.

While it is a challenge and some days are just total disasters and nothing gets done but if you are given the opportunity to work from home, take it! You will figure it out!

There are some more tips over here!

If you work from home what tips do you have?

 

So what does tongue tied mean?

I will admit that until Emma was diagnosed as being tongue tied, I had no idea what it really was or that both my brother and I had had it.

For a proper medical explanation of the condition you can read this wiki page. The short version though is when babies are born with a shortened frenulum (that little piece of skin under your tongue) which means the tongue can’t move as much.

Another thing I never knew before we discovered this was just how common this condition actually is. Both my brother and I had it, five of my followers have had children with it and one had a friend who had it. I obviously don’t have exact stats for you but I think 6 babies with this, in my circle alone, make this pretty common.

Yet no one knows about it and from what I can make out, no one was told at the birth of their babies that they had it. (Correct me here if I am wrong). This is a little concerning since it can cause major feeding issues.

How did we find out about it?

My mom! I sent her pictures of Emma and she asked me about it. Obviously I shrugged it off because I actually didn’t know what it was and I just thought our breast feeding issues were the normal issues you have those first few days.

But my mom persisted and in one sms she said that Emma wasn’t latching correctly because of her tongue. So I googled it. I didn’t even need to read about it, from the images it was clear that Emma was in fact tongue tied.

EmmaTongue

Not the best picture of Emma but you can see clearly the line in her tongue.

How did it affect breastfeeding?

Emma did latch and she was drinking BUT she was latching incorrectly which caused my nipples to crack almost from day one. I used tubes and tubes of nipple cream, they did nothing. I was in excrutiating pain every single time she fed. It was terrible. Nipple shields did help but it was still a painful experience. Fortunately  she was still gaining weight but there are cases where babies don’t get enough milk because they can’t suck properly.

When we moved her onto the bottle, she still never latched properly but again it never affected her weight gain and she seemed content enough. So I put off dealing with.

Introducing solids was a challenge.

While she did take solids and fed well, we would have to hold the spoon in her mouth so she could almost suck the food off. It wasn’t a quick thing and often frustrating for us both.

Why aren’t we told about this when babies are born?

If you look at Emmas picture and the ones on the internet it is very clear to identify this, yet my paed never mentioned it to us. When I asked her about it at  our 6 week check up, she said she doesn’t “fix” it because there are two opposing fields of thought (surprise surprise). I actually had picked this up from a discussion I had on twitter about it. Basically some professionals feel you fix it immediately because it does cause problems while the other camp feel that it can, at times, correct itself and that it should only be fixed IF it presents a problem.

Regardless of what side a paed is on, I do still feel they have a responsibility to inform the parents immediately so they can then make an informed decision, before going through the trauma of battling to breastfeed.

How do you fix it?

Again there is no clear answer to this. Both my brother and I had ours “snipped” at birth but as you know Emma went under anesthetic. The moms who I know who had it done also had different experiences, some had it done at the Drs rooms, no meds, some had it done under local anesthetic. The ENT we saw for Emma explained why he does it under anesthetic. Apparently it came come back and so he cuts it properly with stitches and that reduces the risk of it recurring. I suppose I could have “shopped” around and found an ENT that would do it in his rooms but I like this Dr and at R700 a visit, we really couldn’t afford to do that.

 

photo (1)

And now?

The difference in her sucking was noticeable with the first bottle we gave her as she came out of theatre. She is now finishing bottles, her winds are less AND she is actually sleeping better. Her eating is now a million times better, she is eating decent size bowls of food at each meal time with ease and little mess.

I am a little sorry we waited as long as we did but at least we have now had it sorted.

 

Whose shirt is it anyway?

IMG_2093

If you live within a 10 kilometer radius of our house you will hear daily calls of “WHERE IS MY SHIRT?” followed by “WHY IS MY STUFF NOT IN MY CUPBOARD!”

You may assume that someone either didn’t put their stuff in the wash to get wash or that they just weren’t looking properly.

You would be wrong.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to tell the difference between Cameron and David’s clothes and mine and Kiara’s. In fact David has given a lot of his smaller shirts to Cameron, blurring the lines even more, making it almost impossible for Jane and I to actually know which shirts belong to who.

For those of you who have actually seen Cameron in real life will know how tall he has gotten, it has caused a few soccer teams to call for his card to verify his age. This means that 12-13 year old clothes aren’t working anymore.

While Kiara aren’t sharing clothes just yet, there are a few items that are similar that do end up in the wrong pile. Jane now folds up the washing next to me so she can check who stuff belongs too.

This growing up business kids do has all sorts of unexpected surprises!!

P.S – this flu going around feels like a non-fatal strain of Ebola. I haven’t felt this rubbish in months and months!!

P.P.S – PicknPay have their summer stuff out and they have some really really nice stuff from babies right up to the pre-teens. I also managed to find some shorts on sale! Its worth the visit, if you haven’t already spent your money on the Woolworths sale.

P.P.P.S – this trip of David’s has been extremely uneventful (thankfully for me but the drama does provide for exciting blog posts!)

 

Forced out of your comfort zone

David left for Nigeria (please not one word about Ebola) on Sunday and so far we have had a very chilled 2 days. There is no sign of things falling apart. I attribute it to the fact that Davids mom took Emma for two nights AND I now have Jane so I don’t have to stress about cleaning, washing and other such stuff.

I have also been sick with some crazy flu that had me feeling like a bit of a basket case on Sunday, which means I haven’t really had energy to care about much.

Yesterday Cameron had a soccer match on. We don’t normally have matches during the week thankfully and it was scheduled for the same time as practice so not really an issue. The club they were playing against was in town but by some freak of nature I actually managed to find it first time. Almost every Saturday we get lost getting to the soccer venues, it has become a thing for us.photo

As soon as we arrived I felt a little out of my comfort zone, not only where we in the middle of town (unknown territory) but I was also the only female (well second one if you count Kiara). Two of our teams dads were there so at least there were some familiar faces.

Before the game had even started Jack announces he needs to poo! FANTASTIC!

So I head into the boys change rooms. There are some rather dilapidated toilets but no toilet paper. FANTASTIC!

Normally I would have wet wipes but Emma wasn’t with us so no baby bag.

I go into the other teams change room and ask if anyone has some toilet paper. Thankfully their coach had some but then I get told to wait while they go and get me some water? The puzzled look on my face gave away my confusion. Turns out that there is no water SO I need water to be able to “flush” the loo! FANTASTIC!

By now I am basically promising Jack a car when he turns 18, a real life Buzz Lightyear at his next party and all the cake he can eat if he PLEASE just holds it in. But he was having none of that! He needed to go and he needed to go NOW. His hands clenched tightly around his bum were a clear sign I was going to have to accept the water and embrace my Africaness!

So there we went, armed with our toilet paper and jerry can of water!

Kiara was rather horrified by the whole thing and started panicking when it appeared we were about to be locked in the change rooms.

I suppose sometimes it is good to be pushed out of our comfort zone a little?

But I have now put a bag in the car with toilet paper, wet wipes and hand sanitiser because who knows when we may find ourselves in this situation again.

How was your Monday?