Thursday, 31 December 2009

2010. Here we come!

Happy New Year to you all!

A new year with new beginnings! Last year (2009) caught us off-guard with the baby coming three weeks early. We are only beginning to catch up now…
This year is going to be planned with New Year’s resolutions and goals! I love new beginnings!
Let’s begin! (Smile)
(Photo: Best friends!)

The toddler is not hitting other babies anymore

A while back we were worried about the baby hitting other babies. We saw the disturbing behaviour while she was “playing” with a friend.
But yesterday Mieka was happily playing alongside her friend Zander . They both complained a bit when the other one had a play thing in their hands they also wanted to have. But it was not a major upheaval in the baby politics. (Take that for worrying about the little things – most of it get sorted by themselves!)
It was another day in paradise, enjoyed with friends in Potchefstroom in South Africa.
Really awful times! (Evil grin)

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Sunshine days

Glorious hot open blue skies! Sunshine holidays! We are lazing around in the sun, enjoying the holidays and Dries is making wonderful food!

It is tough here in Jozy at the south point of Africa!

Monday, 28 December 2009

The baby is a toddler

The baby is a toddler already! One year olds are not babies anymore. I feel sad to realize that my baby is not a baby anymore. I’ll have to change my status now. I am a mother of a toddler, and not a baby.
Where are the BRAKES?
She is one bundle of inquisitiveness at the moment. When she opens her eyes, it starts with the pointing (yes, it seems the pointy finger are going to stay for a while). Points, points, points… and when there is no reaction from us, it is scream, scream, scream… VERY exhausting!
She is becoming more mobile by the day. She stands and moves along the furniture or whatever she can hold onto. She has given her first few steps already. The crawling is not an option anymore. The crab creeping works very well for the little lady. It has a bright side as well; I can keep on putting on dresses, because with the bum shuffling the dresses does not get caught up underneath her knees. And she looks very cute in a dress.
Eating has become difficult - for us as the parents, not to her. No more the easy way out with foods from jars. We have to think of finger foods for her to eat. She just closes her mouth and turns away (with a look of disgust) when we bring a spoon near her.
“I am not a baby, Mom/Dad!! I can eat on my own!”
She mostly uses her hands, and the back of the spoons and forks to pummel the food.
Sleeping has also not been mastered by the parents. We are still doing the nightly rounds. When I compare it with the first few days and weeks, it is now a breeze. (Powerwoman will not complain!)
She has a new thing; she starts to kick her legs vigorously when we try to put her into her bed. A tantrum type of manoeuvre? Or is something bothering her? Bad, bad teeth!! (?) She also wakes up screaming, but with the eyes still closed. She wants to sleep, but something is out of whack. We need that baby translator badly!
The hair is starting to grow. Not long, and we will be able to put in the ribbons…
Hold on to the reigns; our baby is a toddler!
(Photo: Mieka was not impressed with the musical water fountain at Silverstar Casino last night.)

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Cook with(-out) thumbs

How not to use a food peeler.
My skills as an excellent cook came to light again. So NOT!
Dries bought us the food peeler with 101 uses. I was so impressed when it peeled the carrots with ease – we have been using a terrible peeler – that I grabbed the butternut with gusto. It was with the second slash that part of my nail and skin came with.
Dries was beginning to say “Be careful…”, but it was too late. Now I’m stuck with a sore thumb for at least two weeks.
Dries has banned Arnia and me from ever peeling the butternuts or gem squashes again. He says he will be doing it from now on. Bargain!
But I did not slash my thumb to get out of peeling the heavy stuff… It is way too sore, and extremely uncomfortable. We DO use our left thumbs, you know!

Friday, 25 December 2009

Christmas time in South Africa

Hope it is a blessed time for all!!
Christmas, most south in Africa. What glorious wonderful sunshine days we are experiencing. Hot, hot! Normal for this time of year. How lucky we are to be here. We spent two days with family, enjoying the weather and the company.
The 24th we enjoyed Christmas with Dries’s family in Hartebeespoort, braaiing (barbequing) and swimming. The 25th we spent with our family in Krugersdorp, eating cold meat and salads. We were also blessed with the presence of my sister and her husband who are visiting us from London. We bought presents for the children, and they were spoilt rotten. It truly is a nice time of the year. Slowing down a bit, being with family, and enjoying the holidays!
It is also a very special Christmas to us, with it being Mieka’s second Christmas. She was 4 days old the previous year at Christmas time. We are enjoying the whole experience as if anew, although she is still clueless about the whole experience.
I said to Dries tonight: “Watch how quickly the next Christmas is going to be upon us. As soon as you have kids, the years just fly past!” Cherished times…

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

The first birthday – the party!

No, we did not have the big party!
Mieka was looking at us in utter amazement with our party hats, and balloons and candles yesterday morning. We three had the fun, while she enjoyed her new toy.
But she still doesn’t know what it is all about. We will have the parties when she is bigger and understands the meaning of it.
Happy birthday, my baby! One year is a big deal to us!

Monday, 21 December 2009

One year

The baby is a year old today! Woweeee!!! We’ve made it!
Congratulations are in order! We are patting ourselves on the back!
Somebody in the family asked yesterday how we get them grown up. I just said: “I don’t know as well!” (Smile!) It just happens. With a lot of miracles along the way.
But here we are, and Mieka has survived us for the first year, and we have survived her.
The broken sleep, the worries, and the 24/7 attention she asks for…! We did it!
Happy birthday, my baby! You made it worth our while!

We can’t wait for the next year!

Friday, 18 December 2009

The baby is a girl!

The gender of a baby is a very personal issue to a mother. I get extremely upset when somebody refers to Mieka as a boy! I dress her 99% of the time in pink. Does it not count as a good indicator to the sex of a baby?
“Is he a boy?”
“No!” (With clenched teeth)
If you are not sure, check the clothing!! Pink and bows and flowers and dresses usually means of the female kind. But do not get the gender wrong! You are insulting me!
I knew from the moment I became aware I was pregnant that she was a girl. It was the same with Arnia, the teen. I am extremely glad that she is a girl. I love having girls.
I have friends with boys. And it seems like a struggle to me. Especially when they start attending school. The mothers have to prod and push and be on their cases the whole time. Girls are easy. They do their own thing, and they enjoy doing it well!
I have been following Tertia’s blog as well. She has a twin boy and girl. And it seems the boy has a lot more growing up - moving up on the evolutionary scale (my personal opinion, sorry guys!) - to do than the girl. All mothers love their boys, and luckily some of them grow up to be wonderful contributing members to society. (I’m sure with a lot of help from their mothers. Smile)
But I vote for girls, and I am glad that there are two of them in my life!

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Goals for Christmas time

It is baby’s first Christmas. What a wonderful time. Being with the family, and planning Christmas with Grandparents and brothers and sisters with their families. The whole famdamily bazaar! (Smile. I am saying it with a lot of love.)
But it’s going to be different, again, because we have a little one whom we want to share the experience with. I have decided to take it very slow his year! There will be more Christmases where we will be busy or running around. Now we have the baby, and we will focus this year on her.
She demands all our time and attention at the moment. Rather than fighting it ad trying to accomplish something, it is better to go with the flow and to slow down with her. She will only be one once, and this is such a great time (the baby being one, and Christmas time) to spend time with her.
I will not feel lacking in my house executive duties, nor will I admonish myself for not doing something I have set myself out to do his holiday! The great advice: Presents is not as important as your own presence in a child’s life. This year I will be present in Mieka’s life!
Kudos to all those stay-at-home moms who manages to work from home. I don’t know how you do it. Powerwoman knows her limitations, and that’s why I have set my goals to that which I can accomplish. I can only focus on the baby at the moment. Multi-tasking is a long-forgotten dream to me…

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

The Dog

Dries found the dog cowering in the corner today with a big cat busy eating her food. Now we have to teach her how to chase cats as well… In her defense, Dries said that it was a cat much bigger than her!
We had to lower our high expectations of her in any case: Petite Peu (little bit), the dog, is definitely not a Miniature Pinscher. She got a lot of the Dachshund genetics as well. We were still hoping that she would suddenly turn into the Pinscher, but the ears never got pointy, and the legs are too short. She seems fully grown by now.
I am not pleased (to say the very least) that we had bought her at a pet shop as the real thing! She came with a very steep prize for a cross a well. Where do we report such a thing?
And now she is part of the household. She is a family member whom we love with all her quirks. She is also still very much a baby at five months old. Chewing and barking (very loud for such a small thing) and jumping up and down. But she is sweet as well. She sometimes turns her head, looking at you as if to say: “What are you on about?” (See photo)

We usually get her in to “vacuum” the floor, especially underneath Mieka’s chair. She loves sitting on us or underneath us when we are on the floor. She loves gardening, and we get lots of upturned plants in the garden and leaves in the garden. She loves carrying Mieka’s toys and socks around, and we find most of it buried in her basket in the house. Luckily, because she is so small, she doesn’t bite through the stuff that she is chewing on.
It was said to us that she is not very bright, because she peed in her own bed, but we think she knows what she is doing. She marked it once and for all… And she is the Queen, for goodness sake! She sees blankets and cushions on the floor as the ultimate in invitations for using the toilet…

Monday, 14 December 2009

The baby and eating

The baby has been eating very well since she started to eat. But now The Missy wants to do it by herself. It is very difficult to be creative the whole time about which foods to give her. We try to give her the same vegetables and meat that we are eating, cut into smaller pieces. I still try (that’s the only word that works here) to give her Purity or mashed foodies (e.g. avocado, bananas) at her mealtimes. But mostly she just shakes her head. I sometimes get something in when I can distract her with a plaything, but most of the times it is a shut mouth.
She loves sitting with us, and eating her own food, but I am not sure that she gets in a lot of it. As I have said, Petite Peu the dog, vacuums everything up that falls from her high chair. We catch her sneaking the food off between her legs, or over her shoulder. She then peers over the side of the chair with her mouth full of food, while biting on the side of the chair (see photo). We take this hook-on chair with us where-ever we go, and most of the time I am embarrassed about the food stains on the rim of the chair. It is never clean even when I have cleaned it!
She also tries to poke the food with the back of the spoon or the fork, or squash everything in her fists. Not for the squeamish! We just say to each other, “don’t look!”, and then wipe up afterwards! (This too will pass. This too will pass.)
We had a difficult Sunday. Mieka was not a happy baby, and we still don’t know why. Being difficult, and screaming the whole day. At 8pm we did our first (I am very proud for caving in only now) drive with her. We had a good laugh when the whining had the sound of a wind-down battery. It took five minutes and she was gone! Maybe we should have tried it a long time ago? But she still woke up after that. Is it the flu, the immunizations of Friday, earache, the tantrums? Dries and I are The Walking Dead today…
I have a suggestion for Google: a baby translator. Need I say more?

Friday, 11 December 2009

Big Heads and breastfeeding

The one year goal is looming of weaning Mieka. From the beginning I said I would see how far I could go with this. I continued expressing feeds at work until she was 9 months old.
Now I am still breast feeding at night; when she goes to sleep, during the night, and early mornings. And sometimes over weekends or off-days. It is still going very well. And I am beginning to re-think my goal of one year. She is my last baby, and it has been a wonderful bonding experience for both of us. There is nothing that soothes a baby quite as well as putting her on the breast!
The first teeth (now seven already) are beginning to be a bit of a pain (she starts grinding when she has had enough). That’s a draw-back, but I tell Mieka “No!”, and it seems as if it has helped! She hasn’t done it in a while. Another draw-back is the fact that she gets easily distracted. When there is activity around us while I am breast feeding, she stops and wants to look at what’s going on. I have to keep her occupied with necklaces and earrings during the day while I am breast feeding her. The belly dancing earrings helps a lot. (Smile) Oh, and it doesn’t help to put a blanket over her head; then she tries to get it off as quickly as possible. She thinks we are playing peek-a-boo.
In the early months I could breast feed her any place, because I just threw the blanket over her. (In South Africa it is frowned upon when you pull out a breast. You have to cover up here.) Now I can’t feed her anymore in public, because she pulls off the blanket…
When something is still working well, should you stop doing it?
I asked the paediatrician at her one year visit, which was this morning, about his advice. Mieka has been very healthy the past year. She only got antibiotics once and that was a few weeks back. He said I can continue for as long as I want. I’ll take his advice for now! I know I will be very sad when I have to stop….
The paediatrician also said that she’s got a big head when he took the measurement. He asked us about the big heads in our family, and we immediately said her dad’s got a big head. No wonder we struggle getting the t-shirts to fit over her head. We’ve got two Big Heads in our family now! (Smile)
Photo: Breastfeeding when Mieka was only a few days old (Photo by Debbie Rogers, my aunt)

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Invitation to prepare your own meal at the End-of-Year function

Last night I felt like The Outsider. We were invited to Dries’ end-of-year function to “test our culinary skills.” Dries forwarded the invite to me only yesterday, although he had it for a week already. He knows I would have been bitching about it for a week if I had known earlier. To prepare food is not my favourite activity. It is my least favourite activity of all! (There, I have said it! Sound of sirens! Waiting for the bombs to drop…).

To prepare my own food at an end-of-year function feels like absolute hell to me!
I want to be wined and dined and to feel I am in for a treat!
But there I was with all the happy people (happy to be invited to make your own food?) around me, and thinking that I am definitely from another planet to be the only one swearing on the inside. Apparently also on the outside, because Dries told me later to stop swearing.
Luckily there was red wine! The ultimate lifesaver! After three wines it went really well, and I was opening the phyllo pastry packet for the apple strudel and pecan nut phyllo pie with gusto. I don’t know if it was the red wine, or if the chef saw my clumsiness with regards to food, but he helped me with stacking the phyllo layers, and folding it. Amazing, between me and Dries we made the brinjal starter and the apple and pecan nut strudel desert!

I must congratulate Angela Day Kitchen at Lifestyle. Even me, an absolute stick-in-the-mud enjoyed it, and the food was all-round excellent! Luckily Dries also works for very very nice people, and with their partners we had a lovely time!

BUT I still don’t like making my own food at an end-of-year-function!!

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Reconstructed families and relationships

The diplomacy of relationships in reconstructed families is a minefield of politics. Huh? Too much of a mouth full, but that’s what we are dealing with in the combination of new family units. Divorced parents with your kids and my kids and our kids. Recipes for conflict situations…
In our situation it is only my kid, and our kid, but it is still… I should call it, ultimately difficult!
There was an altercation between the teen and her stepdad (we never call him that, he is Pa Dries – something which Arnia herself decided to call him a year ago). The teen got upset about a small little word “Please” which was not used. And then it exploded. I usually try to stay out of the altercations, but sometimes you have to step in for your children. Although I am being called “undermining”, I feel that I can’t leave her to fend for herself.
A big star goes to Dries for being the adult and sometimes saying sorry when it is needed.
I was thinking that in reconstructed families you learn more about respect for each other, and taking each other’s feelings into account. It is something which would not always automatically happen in normal families (if there is such a thing as normal). We have to be more diplomatic towards each other. Not a bad thing for a child to learn when they are growing up.
The question is: How far do you let it go as a parent when the other parent tries to discipline the children in a manner that is alien to your own way of discipline? I have read that the other parent is supposed to leave the discipline to the biological parent. I think it has got some merit, but I also like the idea of a united front which the parents should have. What do you think about discipline in reconstructed families?

Wordless Wednesday #2

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

The Shriek!

Alas! I thought we were not going to see it. (Margot called it “the era of the one loud shriek”). But here it is. At nearly one year of age. The baby shrieks for EVERY THING! It is not even the hurt cry anymore. It is the unhappy shrieking when something is not going her way. At this stage she is only contented being carried and showed stuff, or walking with her where she wants to go. The rest of the time we have to be very creative to keep the little mind occupied. The Manipulator wants to have it her way!
The question is: How far do we let her get her way? For the outside observer it looks like THE TANTRUM. Maybe it is the tantrum already? This weekend Dries and I said to each other this is a very difficult stage. Not even the constant crying and being awake of the beginning feels as taxing as this. How long does this last? Or will we get immune to it? Is this the battle to win in the power of the wills?
SHRIEEEEK!!!! We are trying to go with the flow, taking it moment by moment… BUT we are too exhausted (because of a lack of sleep, thanks to baby as well) to jump to every demand.
Sorry, Mieka, my girl, we are not able to follow all your commands! Now is the time you are going to learn about boundaries… It is going to be very difficult on you, but on your parents as well…

Monday, 7 December 2009

Sleeping in separate rooms

The baby has been sleeping in her own bedroom very soon after we brought her home. I was open to the idea of her sleeping in our room, but it did not seem practical to us. I was reading a very shocked blog post by Lisa who cannot understand how the baby can sleep in a separate room than the parents.
We found that we wanted to read and watch tv etc. after the baby went to sleep, and that we bothered her. Luckily we got an Angelcare gadget from friends of ours. We are still using it at nearly a year. We can hear every little peep that Mieka makes, but we know that she is sleeping in peace. As well as us! We also know that the Angelcare will start beeping if she should stop breathing. That gives us peace of mind! Definitely a gadget that is worth to invest in!
Also, the one that do not have to get up at night, can carry on sleeping uninterrupted. And Mieka sleeps in her own dark room which is apparently also good for sleeping well.
In my previous life with the X (cancelled one), he was adamant that the baby had to sleep in her own room. He was jealous of the baby and the time I spent with her. (Yes, unbelievable!) But we did it without Angelcare at that stage. Arnia started to sleep through the night very quickly (about two months). Because of that I also knew that a baby would be okay in her own room. Maybe it is my age, or maybe Dries who is not jealous of the baby and not demanding that I let her cry. But we are not very good with letting Mieka cry. Maybe that is the reason why she is still not sleeping through the night?
But the separate bedrooms work very well for us. I think that should be the key. What works the best for your own situation?

Friday, 4 December 2009

Mr. Right's Bday

It is the Hubby’s birthday today. He is still in his 30s! The lucky fish!
I AM the lucky fish! I have found Mr. Right! Having a younger husband who loves going out and doing things and always game for the fun stuff. He was immediately game when I asked him about camping in the beginning of January with Mieka. My sister and her husband is going to visit us later this month, and we are going to camp at Manyane (near Pilansberg, a Wild Reserve), while the rest of the family are going to stay in a chalet at Kwamaritane. We haven’t tried the camping thing yet with a baby, but it is only going to be for four days. (Are we letting ourselves in for too much?)
Dries is also game for hiking and mountain climbing and abseiling. Not that we have done lots of these activities lately, but we are planning to do it again. Definitely! (Definitely! Hopeful smile...)
We had a lovely day today with Dries. I had my shopping day, and Dries only worked half day. We went to see a movie. 2012. We loved the action and the end of earth concept. One of the movies I can count on one hand we went to see this year. We used to love going to movies, but it has become very difficult with Mieka. Mieka stayed with my parents tonight, and they said she was “VERY BUSY!” She kept them going the whole time. No sitting down or holding her. They had lots of fun when they tried to put her down on the bed, and she immediately started doing the backward leopard crawl… No putting her down on a bed anymore to sleep as well.
Dries has turned out to be a wonderful father who does his share with regards to Mieka. Wonderful to have an involved father who does his share AND who contributes financially. Things like this should not even be mentioned, but I come from a previous life where it was not as logical, and I know of a friend where the father also lacks grossly in these departments!
Thanks, Dries, for being a great husband and father! Enjoy your Bday and may it feel like your Bday for the rest of the year!

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Baby update

11 months, 2 weeks:
The baby does not sleep through the night. Not yet! But it is going much much better, thank you very much! We had a bad week last week when she was sick, but it is going very well again this week. Getting up twice at night is a bonus to me, and I have decided to not consider it a sleeping problem. I get up, put her on the breast, and sit-sleep for 20 minutes before I put her back in her bed again. If she complains, I take her to our bed until I can carry her back to her bed. Powerwoman got used to the interrupted sleep in any case… Sleeping sorted!
Mieka is still crab creeping, and we have to especially wash her left calve which is black every night. She uses the left leg to maneuver herself on her bottom in the direction where she wants to go. But she LOVES it when we hold her by her hands to walk. She has also found the stairs to climb while we are holding her hands. She manages to climb with alternative legs, not stopping on a step – even though her short little legs barely manages to lift up high enough. She is able to walk holding on to only one hand, but it is still going wobbly.
I can leave her for longer standing up near things, which she loves. While she is vertical, we struggle to get her to sit down again. She stiffens herself, and we have to bend her to get her to sit. Or, NOT!
She loves playing with containers and taking things out and putting it back in again.
She still gets excited when she sees her own reflection in mirrors or windows, and she claps her hands every time. (The Blonde reaction. Smile)
I can make out a “hello”, “tatta”, “ta” and “Mamma”.
And she laughs her head off when she “frightens” us. She makes sounds like The Exorcist! (Very funny to hear! Luckily I heard another baby over the weekend that is making the same sounds, or else I would have been worried…)
Mieka eats very well, and she loves to eat with us. I put the same food we have in her plate, and we try not to cringe while she dives into it. She manages to get some of it into her mouth, and the rest that lands on the floor is vacuumed up by the dog. That’s the only time the dog stops barking, while waiting underneath Mieka’s chair…
We are amazed at how much Mieka has become a little person with her own personality! I just hope that these words are able to show some of it!
And she gave all three of us a huge big open mouth kiss this morning when we asked for it! Nothing better than that!

(Photo: Mieka with her arms stretched out behind her head, while sleeping in the car seat)

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Powerwoman on her soapbox again

A work colleague, Paulette Tshiredo, whom I unfortunately only knew from her sunny face in the corridors, has died recently because of domestic violence. Very very sad!! It happened last week at the start of 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children.
I hate this word “Against”. It gives energy to whatever comes after the word, and makes it persists. Therefore I will not say it again!
I know of so many women who found themselves in a position where their power are taken from them, or chiselled away. Sometimes we do not know what to call it, or we do not know how to get out of it. I also found myself stuck in such a situation.
To feel that you are not being treated as you should be or that you know this is not how it is supposed to be in a relationship…
That’s why I have an X (the cancelled one). I came to the realization that the only one who can do something about my situation was I. Which I did with lots of willing help from my family and friends! My daughter has also drawn the line, and I am proud of her for taking a stand!
We MAY say we will not allow a certain type of behaviour, and we are responsible for how people treat us!
I vote for a 16 Days of Activism for Peace and Empowerment to Women and Children! Who votes with me?

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

The teen is a beautiful lady

The teen is finished with grade 10 (standard 8 for the old folks). She wrote her last exam paper the previous Thursday. Now it is only two more important years left in High School. Very soon she needs to decide what she is going to do with her life!
Scary that they grow up so quickly! I saw Yvonne’s posting on her second daughter who has also completed her grade 7, and how sad she feels about them moving on.
I have been trying to think about all the cute things that Arnia did when she was little. I know there were many, and that she was SUPER CUTE! But I can’t remember the small detail. That’s why I want to blog about Mieka and the things she do.
I remember Arnia with her thumb. She refused to take a bottle when I had to go back to work. At four months I was forced to take her off the breast to get her to drink a bottle. She started to suck her thumb after that, and it was only at ten years of age when she had to get braces that she stopped sucking her thumb. A GOOD reason why they should not suck their thumbs, but unfortunately it is not something that you can take away such as a dummy!
At one stage I painted very bad-tasting stuff I got from the chemist on her thumb while she was sleeping. She was about six or seven years at the time. She could not understand why her thumb tasted so bad, and resorted to her left thumb. I felt sorry for her when I saw how confused she looked every time she put her thumb in her mouth. It was very funny to see the expression on her face. I could not do it for too long, and caved in after only one or two nights of her struggling with her thumbs:
Right thumb goes into mouth. Horrified look on face. Inspection of the thumb. Another try. Even more horrified look. Inspection of thumb again. Left thumb into mouth. Uncomfortable sucking of the alien thumb.
“Mom, why does my thumb taste so bad?”
“I don’t know, maybe it is rotting because you sucked it rotten?”
(Shame on you, Karen! The lies we tell them. I plan to do it less with Mieka!)
The thumb also came with the blanket. My mom bought a white blanket with a blue teddy bear imprint on the blanket, and Arnia took a liking to it from the start. She used to take the blanket everywhere, and worked her thumb through a hole in the blanket to suck it. It was a very big blanket, and she used to drag it behind her. When I had to wash the blanket, I had to promise her to put it back in her hand the same evening, which I always did. The blanket was far from white, and it was torn when she finally gave it to her dog after she stopped sucking her thumb…
With hindsight: I should have worried less about the thumb and the blanket – the braces sorted out the skew teeth and peer pressure prevented her from taking the blanket to school. (Smile) Today she is a beautiful lady, and we still remind her with fondness about the thumb and her blanky!

Monday, 30 November 2009

A South African bush wedding

Mieka attended her first bush wedding this weekend. As a matter of fact, it was our whole family’s first wedding in the bush. It was classy and romantic and a picture perfect wedding. White tents, billowing white draped fabrics and hanging flowers, with rose petals and leaves…
But it was HOT! Hot as HELL!!
It was a formal affair, and the poor men were swimming in their own sweat! We were all sweating! And the locals assured us it was a very nice day, not as HOT as the previous days. .. (Jeeeeez!! We appreciate our Jozy weather after this weekend even more. It is mild the whole year through.)
We had to sit in the car with air con for longer than an hour while waiting for the bridal couple busy taking their photos. It was very difficult with Mieka wanting to walk in the sun and sand. I learnt that Cheese Curls helps to keep a baby busy. It is my favourite salty snack, and now my favourite keep-baby-busy food!
Arnia and I struggled with our high heels through the bush and sand. We should have thought about it before the wedding. That there is dust and sand and bushes on a farm… (Sic)
It also took very long before the food were ready to be served. Luckily we were prepared. We had lunch in the nearby town, Mookgophong (formerly known as Naboomspruit), on Saturday afternoon. That was a lifesaver! There was also the cheese and biltong under the trees after the wedding ceremony. Another lifesaver was the wine! We were all a bit worse for wear when the food arrived at 9, but at that stage we were all very happy. Thereza, my sister-in-law, pushed Mieka in her pram when she got all tired. There is nothing that works quite as well as a pram being pushed in the African bush. It did not take long for Mieka to go to sleep after that. But when she woke again at 10, it was our cue to retire to the B&B, where a roof fan helped us through the night.
And we felt very lucky that we were not one of the many campers on the farm…
Thanks, Riaan and Elri, you made it a very memorable South African bush wedding!

Friday, 27 November 2009

Older mom and pains

Being an older mother (over 40) makes you aware of muscles and bones. I have a back and I have shoulders. I did not know it is used as much until they started with their complaints. Ouch!
I am constantly putting out my back while picking up the baby. Mieka weighs 8.5 kilos. That’s 17 bricks of butter to carry around. (Luckily she is a much easier and cuter package to pick up. Smile!) At the start of this week I had a sore shoulder, also I presume for picking up the baby.
I have a routine at night with Mieka. After her bath time we “read” a story, and then I lie next to her on the bed while breast feeding. It sometimes takes me more than an hour to stagger out of the room, and after that it also feels as if my body has taken a knock. My back and my shoulders go all skew for lying with her in my arms. It is the same when I sometimes bring her to our bed at night when she wakes up. (Mmm…. Most of the nights!) Yes, that’s another reason for doing sleep training, but I feel too tired to try it anytime soon… Mieka was sick, and that compounded on her being more in the arms, and off course, less sleeping. Yawn!
The not sleeping has piled up a huge sleep debt in my life. Will we ever be able to work off the sleep debt? That also has a negative effect on the body. It feels like my body has wilted from having the baby… The red eyes in the mirror are perfect for Zombie VIII!
I can’t remember that my body got so many punches 15 years back when I had my first child. I remember being bouncy and don’t remember the aches and pains. Maybe it is Time that wipes out the bad memories?
Please tell me that it is not only us older moms who take the punches?

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Facebook rules for relationships

Social networking in the virtual world, aka the Facebook way, makes me think there should be a number of rules as well. I think that being part of a couple still translates to the same thing online as is acceptable in our daily social interactions.
- When both partners of a couple are on Facebook, the request to become friends should be directed to both of the partners at the same time. (It is still frowned upon when the opposite sex partner only be-“friends” the one partner.)
- It is acceptable when only one of the partners is on Facebook, for both of the partners to be-“friend” the other partner.
- It is advisable that the same sexes, being part of couples, mostly communicate with one another or include the other only when it is done simultaneously.
- The only time it is allowed to communicate only to the opposite sex partner of a couple is when congratulations are in order.
- Colleagues of opposite sexes are also allowed to become friends without including the partners.
- I am still not sure what to do when partners split?
o Do you unfriend the guilty partner immediately?
o Do you keep the status quo for a while; while they are still busy sorting out their lives? The possibility exists that they can patch up again.
o Do you only keep the guilty partner as a “friend” to spy on them for the other party? (I would think it is also a social no-no, but girlfriends would gladly do it for one another. Wicked smile)
- It is totally unacceptable to conduct an extramarital affair on Facebook, especially on your Wall for everybody to see. Duh! (But I know of such a case. Or maybe that’s what they tried to achieve – to make it known…)

I am sure there are many more rules to consider. Do you have any ideas, and what do you think of mine? Or am I just too anal...


Wednesday, 25 November 2009

The baby is sick

Mieka is sick! The fever kept us up all night. Between 12 and 1 last night we were bathing her to get the fever down. At 3 I thought I finally won the battle when I could put her down in her cot. No, not so! It wasn’t long before she was back in our bed. The recollection of a night like this the following day feels like trying to recollect a bad dream. It is all bleary and broken bits of deprived sleep torture.
She got her first course of antibiotics at the doctor and after the first suppository she was a happy baby again. Phew! We are lucky that we don’t have much of these.
Dries and I look like the zombies we feel today!
Photo: At Doppio Zero on Saturday when she turned 11 months. A fav restaurant! She was sleeping on the couch in the restaurant.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Cellular miscommunication and relationship problems

I am not great in the verbal department. Hand me a telephone, and you get the shortest of grunts, and mostly a very brief encounter of matter-of-factness. I try my utmost to put on the smile and to recite the list: 1) identification; 2) place of work; and, 3) hello. But most of the time it is stripped to a short “Karen!” (I am busy, thank you very much!)
I know – it is on my list of things to change for the New Year.
Add a cellular phone and the signal problems in Jozy, and the Hubby gets it even worse. He has given me numerous lectures on how not to do it. And he has called me back a good number of times, after I have put down the phone on him and he still wanted to talk to me.
In my previous life (BD – Before Dries) my telephone skills were once blamed as one of the reasons the guy was not that impressed. It says a lot about Dries, for sticking around! Thanks, Dries!
I can’t even blame the bubble brain, although it has been worse in the recent year. (Yeah, right, Karen! We’ll stick with that!) I don’t enjoy talking over a telephone, especially one that jumps around with signal strengths and losses…
Me: “Hello.”
Dries: “Hello.”
Me: “What’s up?”
Dries: crackles… “plans…” sshhhhhhh…
Me: “I can’t hear you?”
Dries: “Sh&t!”
Me: “Talk to you later.” (In the hope that he will hear it)
Put phone down.
Our conversations boil down to this, most of the time…
I blame the cell phone companies.
I am sure there are many relationship problems because of the bad network coverage? Is there anyone else who can relate? Horrors if it is only us experiencing these problems…

Monday, 23 November 2009

Manipulating the parents

The baby starts screaming, all of a sudden, at the top of her lungs. It is the scream of being hurt. A scream that makes you jump up immediately to grab the baby to see what is wrong. It is not the Shriek that Margot or LK spoke about.
Stop everything! The baby is hurt!
Rush and pick up the baby.
The baby stops her screaming. The baby smiles!
What the ….? We are being taken for a ride already. The baby is eleven months old, and she fakes a hurt scream to get us to pick her up, or to change her scenery when she is not satisfied with it anymore.
But we can’t ignore the scream, even if it is “Wolf, Wolf”, because the possibility exists that it could be a hurt cream. For real!
The little manipulator! What do we do with this type of behaviour?

Friday, 20 November 2009


How easily the baby laughs! We play peek-a-boo (her favourite), and she laughs her head off. When it becomes difficult to push out another laugh, she fakes it by starting to scream louder and louder. And then she laughs again when we fake being frightened at the loud screams.
While she is breastfeeding, Mieka pushes my chin, and giggles when I make my head go in the direction of the push. She especially laughs at her sister when she pulls faces or hides around a corner or make frightened moves when Mieka laugh-screams at her.
We laugh at her laughs. She laughs at the silliest or the most normal of stuff! It makes you look at everything in a new way. Mieka laughed tonight when I opened and closed a book, again and again!
I am going to try and laugh more! The baby taught me something. There is a reason why they have laugh therapy classes…
I will laugh at the following:
- The traffic piled up in the mornings;
- Taxis;
- Road-works;
- To-do-lists at work;
- Colleagues (with them, of course);
- Bosses (with them, of course); (Of Course!)
- Work;
- Email;
- Any more ideas?

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Sign language for the baby

I have voiced my concern about Mieka who screams and hits at other babies when they come near her. Tasneem, an occupational therapist, suggested that “some children develop conceptual language faster than they develop language ability “. They get frustrated, and that’s why they start to hit. Some throw tantrums. She suggested we could try sign language. It has made me think that it is worth a try. I googled some of information on the Internet, but I am not sure how to learn the signs to the baby. Last night I tried to learn her about the sign for a ball, holding my hand in a round form, and twisting it. I did not get any response.
Mieka waves at us, and she claps her hands when we sing “Handjies klap” (clap the hands), but we are still trying to teach her how to blow kisses to us. She starts to make the b-r-r-r sound while pulling her hand over her mouth when we blow kisses to her.
Do we create our own sign language, or is there a good site out there which could help me? I am not very creative coming up with signs.
(Another photo by grandfather James on Sunday)

Soap box tirades

Emotional abuse is not on! I think it is the worst kind of abuse! Because you can’t show the wounds! I have been stewing now for days with a bad aftertaste in my mouth. It was part of my previous life, and today I go into full battle mode when there is even the slightest breeze of emotional manipulation in the air!
Why do we keep quiet when we are caught up in the game? Do we need to play out the drama until we finally realize that it is not on? Or are we too proud or too ashamed to admit we are not being treated as we should be? I think that has been my reason for putting up with it for so long! Ten years, but ten years has passed since then as well. (Wow! It shows my age.) When I hear of a friend who has been subjected to it as well, I am amazed at how much the modus operandi shows similarities.
Partners that tell you and make you feel crap, AND tell you that you’re thinking are wrong. Partners who do not do their share, but make you feel guilty when you try to hold everything together. Partners who prevent you from being with your friends and family and wants to have 100% of you all of the time…
Enough of the bad stories! I am kicking the soap box back underneath the bed. Powerwoman do not dwell on the past for too long. Everybody has to make their own decisions about how long they want to play in their dramas! Thank goodness for friends and family who help you through the bad times! (I support you too, friend!)
Now my drama is about babies and dogs and teenagers and trying to cope with being a working mother and wife! Peanuts for Powerwoman! (Wink-wink, smile)
I wonder what type of dramas we keep playing that we could have stopped long ago?

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Barriers and gates and safety locks for the babies

We had two months of grace. Because Mieka only started to move last week, we could postpone organizing and safeguarding our house until now. In the beginning you still have the grandiose thought that your house would not turn into a playpen… (Stupid smile) Now we have toys and safety stuff in all of the rooms!
(This too will pass! This too will pass! Mantras to me – we will get our house back in the future.)
Dries installed the gate at the top of the stairs this past weekend. It makes me want to utter a swearword every time I try to open it. A baby will definitely not manage to ever figure it out, because I have a hard time trying to open it. Press in, lift up, and remember to lift up your feet high enough when stepping over it… Real pain in the ….!
The locks are on the cupboards, dishwasher and washing machine. We still need to put the ugly corner guards on the tables. Now we must also remember to always keep it locked. There is a baby in the house!
Dries also had to put up a wire mesh at the security gates for our other baby, Petite Peu, the little dog. Now she can’t slip through the gates when we don’t want her to come in. She had her third injection on Saturday. With the drive to the vet she made a poop in the car, and coming back she threw up in the car. She is a high maintenance little bit of a dog, but when you look at the brown eyes, you can’t stay mad at her for longer than five minutes.
(Look at the photo taken by my Dad, James.)

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

The baby is hitting now

We saw a disturbing thing this weekend. Mieka has learnt a behaviour that we do not know where it is coming from. She starts screaming when another baby touches her or her toys. I asked at the crèche, and apparently she is the one who also starts hitting at the other babies when they come too close. She is apparently also the only one exhibiting this behaviour.
Where did she learn to do something like this? She has never seen such behaviour at home. She does not get upset when we play with her toys. There is also no hitting or slapping involved. It must be something that she learnt at the crèche? Some sort of survival thing between the other babies? There are six of them at the crèche. But we are horrified that we have an eleven month old bully in the making. Or is this the result of the woman at the crèche who has been fired for giving a baby a hiding? Maybe she gave Mieka a hiding as well?
How do we unlearn this behaviour? I did not think that she would start with this sort of thing at such an early age.
Or is she a small Joan of Arc in the making, fighting for her rights? Maybe it is only our perspective on the behaviour – a child should be able to fend for herself? Needless to say, we are really worried…
Photo: Mieka on Sunday (taken by her grandfather James)

Monday, 16 November 2009

The Red Beardy Man

We are in this time of the year again. It is Mieka’s first Christmas coming up. They had a Father Christmas at the crèche last Friday. We missed it, of course, one of the many firsts we missed already… (Stop the whining, Karen.) She was not impressed and cried when she saw the Red Beardy Man. There are a lot of children who are not impressed with the Red Beardy Man. We suspected beforehand that she would not be impressed, because she cried when we showed her Ronald McDonald at McD’s.
These Red Men are scary! Babies do not like them! Now we have to desensitize our children to start liking them? But we all do it!
Why do we bother? Maybe it is the connection with presents which do it in the end? Somewhere they start to react with glee and anticipation when they see the Red Beardy Man. Maybe because we remember how much we used to enjoy Christmas time with a Father Christmas and presents. In the time before our bubbles got burst and we learnt that it is actually our parents who gave us the presents. Why can’t we say from the beginning the presents are coming from us? We lie for years about things like Father Christmas and the tooth fairy.
I’m a sucker for traditions and fun, so I know we will also be doing the tree and the presents for Mieka. Strange the things we learn our children… Am I just being neurotic and over thinking, or is the X-mas gloom of the period getting to me already?

Thursday, 12 November 2009

The pointy finger and the crab creep

It is amazing how much a baby can accomplish with a finger. Mieka points it in a direction, and we GO in that direction!
Point to mirror.
Go to mirror.
Point… Go…!
She has mastered HER world with THE finger!
That’s one way of moving…
I was also voicing my concern about the not crawling. But Mieka has started to get onto the left knee from a sitting position, and then move forward on her bum. The right leg is used to drag her forward. And she MOVES at an amazing speed. Is that the creeping they are talking about?
It looks a bit like a crab movement. The crab creep! She also leopard crawls backwards when she is put on her stomach. I am wipe-my-brow relieved! Years of paying for extra math’s classes have just been cleared from our account. I hope so? Or is the crab creeping and backward leopard crawling still not helping the gray matter to fire and make enough connections?

Splits and children

Divorces have a devastating effect on the children. No new revelation!
Arnia believed and hoped for years that I and her dad would get back together again and that we would be a family again. We split up when she was 6 and got divorced the next year. Until she was 12 years of age I was blamed for making the move. But she did not know and understand the reasons for the move, and it was only when she herself was confronted with the reality of the situation that she started to make a mind shift. The reality of the situation was that the X was an emotional manipulator, which sometimes moved in the direction of violent aggression. The X was and is a leach that sucks the people dry around him, and do not positively contribute to any environment. The X also did not contribute financially towards his daughter’s upbringing.
That was our story, but we have moved on. We have a new family life, and that is what this blog is all about. New beginnings, every day!
Yes, sometimes it IS better for the children when the parents split!
Photo: One of our new beginnings!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Splitting of friends

The news of friends splitting up is very upsetting! We feel a sense of shock and loss for them, and for us! Our relationship with them has also been irrevocably changed. No more visits with the two of them together…
It makes us look at our relationship again, realizing that it is very easy to lose sight of “us” in the rush and hum-drum of daily life. I and Dries both pass out at about eight at night. He goes into a comatose state in front of the television, and me with Mieka on the bed. Then we are “done” for the day! We have to meet sometimes during the day for lunch to talk and connect. It works for us.
The realization: this is it! We are not going to get better than this! I know now with hindsight how wonderful it is to be in such a secure and predictable place! Some would call it boring! But it is the final measurement of a happy family life: To be able to look forward every day to go home just to be with the family. At one stage in my life I hated the idea of going home (yes, it was THAT bad), and I can say that it has changed 100% since the day I moved on. And it only got better with Dries in our lives. It is nice to be in such a boring place…
I hope our friends patch things up again. As the Prof of Yvonne’s story admitted – you only swap families when you move on…

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Powerwoman sleep mastering

Dries said this morning: “Take it easy, and go in a bit later.”
“It was a very rough night!”
“Oh! I did not notice! It was the same as all the other nights. Maybe you woke up a bit more during the night?”
I am actually getting used to these blurs of night and sleep and breastfeeding…
It was a special BLESSING this morning when I could get back into bed at quarter to 5 to snooze until 25 past 5 this morning. Mieka woke us at 4 the last time.
Not sleeping is not such a big deal anymore. 10 months of not-sleeping training has paid dividends! I can function and fake a life as well!
Go, Powerwoman, go!

Photo: Mieka this weekend when Dries got her to sleep on the coach.

Transporters Deluxe

Parents are transporters of teenagers. I am still on the transporting theme…
Our parents were luckier than us. We used to go around on our bicycles, and we used to walk a lot more than the children of today. (Wow that could have been my grandmother saying that! I AM getting old!)
Our parents did not have to drive us everywhere like we do with our children. Is this a global phenomenon, or is it more so in South Africa? With our crime problems and bad driving cited as some of the main reasons for not allowing our children to go by themselves - by bicycle or by walking. Getting the bus is also not an option, because we have such a bad public transport system. It does not cater for everybody – we don’t have buses going to our neighbourhood. It has become a daily grind for all parents to drive their children to school, including all the extra-mural activities.
I think our children are losing out on:
- not being active as much as we used to;
- not learning about traffic rules while being taxied;
- not smelling the crisp fresh air;
- not learning about independence;
- not enjoying the solitude of a walk or a bicycle ride.
Our children can’t even ride a bicycle in our townhouse complex, because all the dogs start barking. We have definitely lost something in our urban jungle!

Monday, 9 November 2009

Parents = Transporters

Parents of teenagers are transporters or taxi drivers of teenagers. It feels like our mission in life has been redirected to having to ensure our teens are driven to and fro.
I got a frantic sms from Arnia on Friday that they are going to be finished with exams at 9 o’clock. She needed to be fetched earlier. The original plans were that they were supposed to write until 11. It gave them an hour or more to learn, but then the teachers decided it would be better for them to write immediately and go home! Nice, teachers! Better for you, but definitely not for the children who could actually have learnt something. It is also definitely not better for the parents who have to leave their jobs and rush to go and fetch. Arnia had to wait for 2 hours at school before Dries could go and fetch her. She assured me that she was one of the last students to be fetched. (But I know she exaggerates sometimes!) How do all the others parents manage? Is it just me who struggles, or do other parents also find it difficult to rush to all the transporter demands?
And don’t forget all the social engagements a teenager has to attend. Going to the movies, parties, meeting with friends and the boyfriend… that’s what the weekends are for. Dries is very understanding with regards the social needs of a teen and he is always willing to transport Arnia. He struggled himself when he was young and were not always given the opportunity to go out. I am very grateful to him, because Arnia’s biological dad always had a problem to go and fetch her, even though he took her to a place, but then complained when he had to fetch her again. She was most of the times too scared to ask him, because he complained that she did not spend enough time with him. (Go figure that she is fed-up with him!)
My dad was also always willing to transport us. We only had to ask him, but never assume or order him to do it. Thanks, Dad! Now we have to be the transporters ourselves, and now we appreciate your and mom’s taxi driver roles even more!

Sunday, 8 November 2009

The first 3 teeth

Got it! The 1st 3 milk teeth! It is very difficult to get Mieka to open her mouth and sit still at the same time. This photo is an accomplishment of my photographic skills.... NOT!

Friday, 6 November 2009

MA stocktaking

(MA is mother in the Afrikaans language, but also an abbreviation for Magister Atrium)

Arnia has started with her exams – THAT time of the year already! The students have started even earlier. It made me think with a tinge of regret about my Master studies I had to give up on this year. I started with my MA in Information Science in 2006 already, but it went very slow. I am not the best student, especially when I am not bound to time-limits… Last year I struggled to complete it, because I was constantly tired during the pregnancy! I thought it would be a breeze when the baby was here, because then I could work while she was sleeping. Surprise! Mieka did not sleep the expected four-hourly breaks like her sister did 15 years back… We have not been sleeping since, although it is going much better than in the beginning!
When I read L K’s blog yesterday about the horse she had to let go, I came to the realization that we as parents all have to let go of something! I asked Dries as well, and he says it is the freedom of not having to plan - being routine less!
But we LOVE the little one, and don’t mind giving up some of our goals, or belly dancing, or horses, or hiking, or non-planning (Dries). We will do whatever (don’t think it will be studies for me) again and we will plan less again!
The students used to have a saying when a student got pregnant: “She got her MA-degree.” I got mine at 41!
Photo: Mieka last night with her doll. (I tried my utmost to get a photo of the first three teeth, but it’s impossible. Smile)

Thursday, 5 November 2009

I have fired Thursday

The week is too long, and Thursday feels like it’s one too many. Friday will be OK again, because it is the start of the weekend. But Thursday is no good. The nights are not long enough, especially with the broken sleep, and having to get up at five does not help either. Although we never get up at five, we are being woken by our alarms clock from five. I “snooze” the button at least until twenty past five, and this morning it was nearly half past. Then it’s a rush, with Dries helping to prepare the breakfast and me waking Mieka to get her dressed. I still hate waking her… But we had a lot of laughs this morning. While Mieka was breastfeeding, she was also rocking to a song on the radio. Multi-tasking already! Very cute!
Apparently she is moving around on her bottom at the day care, and yesterday she kept on moving until she was underneath a small table. We did not see the same shuffling around at home, because she was tired. One of the things you miss out on when you are working… But I’m not complaining today. Just stating facts!
Photo: Skilpadjie. We used to call Mieka "little tortoise" when she small. You can see why. (Smile) Photo taken a few months back.

By Thursday we are beginning to feel the effects of the week. I am complaining that everything is quickening, and from tomorrow I will ask for time to stand still again. I don’t know what I want… Do you also have the ambivalent feelings with regards to time? Wanting to spend more time with the family, but wishing the weeks with work to fly past?

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