Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Visit to uShaka Marine World in Durban

We took the toddler to uShaka Marine World in Durban on Friday. She had an absolute ball! We did not think that she would enjoy it as much, but she enjoyed everything.

At 18 months there is response and reaction to especially all animals! Now it is an absolute delight for us to show her how nature works. It is quite amazing at how they respond to all kinds of animals (or fishes)!

My teen can’t remember the places we took her to when she was small. Before the age of five years! We were joking and saying that maybe we are wasting our time, money and effort showing them the stuff! But of course it is not true. The more we expose them to nature and how it works, the more they will be interested in it and the more they will have empathy towards it. My thinking, but I am sure it is correct in saying this?

The dolphin show went down very well, and the toddler was clapping each time a dolphin jumped out of the water. When they played the World Cup song of Shakira Waka Waka with the dolphins, she was dancing and singing along, and we had to pull her back from the railing a couple of times.

She loved looking at the fishes and sharks and turtles in the big tanks!

uShaka Marine World is a great place to take the kids! A bit expensive, but well worth it! We enjoyed it just as much!

Monday, 28 June 2010

Cheating the rat race

Going on holiday in the middle of the year feels like cheating! We skipped a week of rushing around, working AND the cold weather. We skipped winter!

I definitely recommend it! From now on it’s going to be on our list of yearly to-dos!

It was very depressing to drive back into the smog and the winter grey after the green and warmth of the coast!

We eventually got Mieka to put her toe in the sand on the last day... BIG milestone for our little girl. Notice that her feet were firmly planted on the sheet of the tent. 7 days. She is a cautious little one! Smile!

Now back to work! I am sitting at my desk again. Thinking of the beach....
Enjoy your Monday, you all!

Friday, 25 June 2010

The joys of breastfeeding a toddler

Dionna at Code Name Mama asked me to write a guest post about the joys of breastfeeding a toddler. Please check it out.
She is “publishing a series of posts dedicated to the beauty of nursing toddlers in an effort to normalize this healthy and beneficial nursing relationship.”

She and Paige of Baby Dust Diaries are now running a Carnival of Breastfeeding in Public. The closing date is the 30th of June 2010, next week. The requirements are very easy. I will be taking part in some way! (I have to now! Thanks, Dionna! Wink smile)

The past week we have been on holiday and the toddler was not as impressed with the beach as we hoped she would be! She got comfort from breastfeeding right there on the beach, and fell asleep each time. I have noticed that when I do not make a big deal about it, and just latch her, nobody even noticed. But I did try to keep a blanket ready to cover up if necessary. It is actually so unnecessary to have to feel a bit apprehensive about feeding and comforting your own child...

Related posts:

Breastfeeding and Booby traps
Breastfeeding the toddler: positives and negatives
Breastfeeding blues
Expressions and lactations

FlogYoBlog Friday

Working with the toddler and her distrust of the sea and sand... Getting there!
Brenda at Mummy-time is doing it again, of course!
Thanks, Brenda. You are totally awesome! Please go and check out her rules. Please play along, if you dare!

We have signed off from life for a whole week (sand and sea and beach holiday). We are lucky, I know!

Enjoy your Friday! (Big smile!)

Thursday, 24 June 2010

The toddler and the beach

The place - safe in moms arms!

Safe in Dad's arms

The Face! (not impressed at all!)

Monday, 21 June 2010

The toddler is a year and a half

Mieka & Arnia at Ballito - the nearest she wants to be at the beach
18 months! Time is flying by!


She is not speaking as much as I think she should. Just a few words here and there. The rest is still done with the pointy finger and a grunt. She’s learnt the negative uh-huh, and uses it very strategically.

We are not worried. Yet! We are also not known for our verbal proficiencies! Tracing it back to both sides of her gene pool; especially mine. Uhmmm... Mom is the guilty party! (Tongue-in-cheek)

She is a very cautious little girl. We see it now with the great experience of beach and sand. It was her second day today at the beach, and she did not want to put one little toe on the sand. Forget about going near the crashing waves! Apparently the beach is a very scary place! We left after half an hour after she dived for my breasts (for comfort), and fell asleep!

She loves her granddad and grandmother (my parents), and enjoys spending time with them. She gets them to get up by taking them by the hand. As soon as they are up and moving, she turns around, and wants to be picked up. From there she directs where she wants to go. Very smart! (She does it with us as well.)

She loves singing to us. No words yet, but wonderful mermaid songs. We can’t help but smile at the “melodies”. All made up!

She had a bit of a stomach bug yesterday, but today all was sorted. I am very glad I am still breastfeeding. I know it is one of the best remedies to keep her hydrated and get a bit of nourishment in. It really helps while we are on holiday.

It is such a wonderful time to spend it with a toddler. We are very lucky!

Sunday, 20 June 2010

The toddler is not impressed with the sand and the sea

The toddler was not impressed with her first visit to the beach. She did not want to stand on the sand. She screamed when we brought her near the sea and the waves. She did not want to play with her buckets and spades... We had to pick her up and carry her on the beach. Nothing else!

We were so excited to show her the big blue and the endless sand...

The curse of urban dwelling! She prefers a sand pit at the crèche, or a swimming pool. (Sigh)

Tomorrow we will try again. We will try to get her to get used to nature. It is a bit overwhelming for a little one.

In the meantime: It is lovely here at the coast near Durban. We are walking around with summer clothes. We know it is freezing in Johannesburg. Best place to be at the moment!

Friday, 18 June 2010

Winter groans

Finally, the winter has arrived in all its cold splendour. (Ha-ha. The sarcasm can’t even warm my cold hands!)

We are a sorry bunch here! We complain and groan! Our standard greeting includes something about the cold!

“It is cold!” “It is freezing!”

Very lame and boring! As if it is the only thing happening here in South Africa...

No, wait! There is the minute detail of a World Cup happening on our soil! We are lamenting our sorry loss in the World Cup soccer as well.

“We lost!”

“Our Boys were pathetic!”

“It’s the referee!”

“It’s the coach!”

“It’s our Boys!”

We are a bit deflated and a bit cold here...

BUT, we still have a lot to be proud of. We actually pulled off the World Cup where everybody said it couldn’t be done. That is a lot being done on this side of the World!

I am proud of us! I really am! (I am tuning out all the negative comments, on purpose!)

And it is nearing the 21st of June. The middle of winter. Very soon it is turning, and summer is around the corner!

It is holiday time here as well! We are starting to pack for a seaside holiday. What is better than that?

A lot to be thankful for!

(Photo: Mieka with her nephew, Gideon, who is five months younger)

Thursday, 17 June 2010

First movie

We took our toddler to her first movie yesterday. She is nearly 18 months, and it went very well.

She did not understand the dark, and as soon as the lights were dimmed, she ducked for my breasts. She must have thought it is nap time. By the time the movie, Marmaduke, started to roll, she was fast asleep.

She woke up half way through. It seems as if she enjoyed watching the very large dog prancing around on the screen. She was pointing with her finger a couple of times, and for most of the time she sat on our laps, looking intently at the screen. We are very lucky! We CAN take her places!

Slowly but surely, we are getting our live/s back. Sure, we are going to watch more kiddie movies now for a couple of years, but we are able to see movies on the big screen again. Something which we really enjoy... Yay for little ones growing up!

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

SMILES FOR KINSHASA, by Karin d’Orville

Operation Smile in DRC - 21 to 30 May 2010

I asked my friend Karin d’Orville to write an account of her volunteer work for Operation Smile in the Congo. Operation Smile changes smiles and lives for the people they help. As a mother I can just imagine how heart-wrenching and difficult it must be to have a baby with a cleft lip, cleft palate or other facial deformities.

The long wait
Karin: "French and Lingala are foreign to me. I don’t understand a word. But the emotions on the sea of faces under the canopy are universal: hope, anxiety – and fear. Fear of having hopes dashed. Fear of the unknown. Any medical procedure is a daunting prospect. But the prospect of being selected for an operation that could make you fit in instead of being an outcast – that’s a valid apprehension.

Kinshasa is a sprawling city of some 9 million residents. The lawn of the Clinique Ngaliema is jam-packed. Parents of babies as young as 4 days and grown men of 84 years old – they all hope to get the thumbs-up for facial surgery. Their fates lie in the hands of a group of some 60 foreigners, assembled from 8 countries, including South Africa, Namibia, the USA and Belgium.

Like every member of the group, I’ve volunteered to be here. It was as a journalist in November 2008, that I got first hand knowledge of Operation Smile, an international NGO that changes the lives of mainly children with cleft lips and palates. When I recently had to decide what to do with my weeks of accumulated leave, I thought back to my Madagascan experience with Operation Smile – and that not all their volunteers are medical professionals. It wasn’t a difficult decision to offer my services for a mission in the DRC.

Queueing for surgery
Medical records are probably the most “un-medical” job during an Op Smile mission. After a few days of writing and filing, my back ached, ink levels were low and my hand cramped. But it brought me up close and personal with every patient who so desperately needed life-changing intervention. And when my spirits were on the low side, a team member would so magically appear and offer a back rub or cold drink in the sweltering Kinshasa heat.

Queuing for surgery

Of the 377 patients the team screened, 155 were operated on. I needed no translator to understand the warm handshake from a grateful parent – the shy and painful but oh so perfect smile of a young patient taken to post-op in a wheelchair.

Queuing for surgery
Operation Smile turns no patients away. Those who did not receive surgeries in May, have been asked to return – when Operation Smile visits Kinshasa again. Will I be back? Yes, cramping hands and all. Individuals are so often powerless to affect change – but my experience in Kinshasa has taught me the power of the collective – and has made me so grateful for what is my perfect imperfect life in South Africa."
 Karin d'Orville

Monday, 14 June 2010

The toddler – shoes and fluff of hair

No 2 shoes
I am busy going through the toddler’s cupboard. I am amazed at how much clothes we have accumulated since birth. And now I have to throw it out again... (I am a bit of a hoarder, and struggle to get rid of things.)

There are so many beautiful, cute, pretty clothes for a little girl. And she’s outgrown them already. I absolutely love the little shoes. The photo is of all her number two shoes. She is wearing number three shoes at the moment.

The fluffs of hair
Mieka’s hair is growing. At long last! She was a little "Kojak" for very long. But now we struggle with the fluff of hair at the back of her head. Most of the time it is tangled and looks like a nest made by a mouse or something! Even if you comb it, if you look again, it is all fluffed up again. Luckily it is growing very fast!

Our Cutie!

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Soccer fever and… we missed it!

Even if you don’t like soccer, you can’t help being caught up in World Cup fever! As a host nation there is an electrifying air of goodwill and optimism here! Especially after we got a goal yesterday and played to a draw against Mexico!

LADUUUMA! You, go Tshabalala! You go, Bafana Bafana!

I had a bit of a strange afternoon. We missed most of the game! (Horrors!) Luckily there are the highlights…

We could leave from work at 12 already. I was waiting for Hubby who went to watch the game at his boss’s house. He phoned me just before the game to tell me that he was going to watch it on his own, because the wife was not feeling well. She just had her last chemo treatment the day before!

I resigned myself to watch the game on my own with my two daughters (feeling sorry for myself), when Hubby phoned again and told me that the wife was feeling better. He came to fetch us, and the first part of the game we listened to in the car. Tshabalala scored his goal while we were on the road! Mieka even caught on to our excitement, and she was screaming her Mieka babble to us. (Very cute!)

Boss was dressed in yellow soccer gear. But there was no television screen or plans to watch it in the house. When I asked about it, I was told that he is not in the mood for the soccer! (What? No kidding!) So we missed the last part of the game… How strange is that?! (But we still love you, Boss!)

Luckily there is another game coming up on Wednesday. South Africa against Uruguay!
[I love Cat’s post with her family dressed to the teeth! Nice!]

Friday, 11 June 2010

Keeping our children safe during the World Cup 2010

It is finally here! The World Cup! We are all caught up in the excitement! This afternoon we are all going to vuvuzela South Africa against Mexico!

You go, Bafana Bafana!!

My sister made me aware of the Mr Price Safe Place Project, one of our chain stores, who has started a safe place campaign for our children. On the site it states that during the last World Cup in Germany, 30 000 children were reported missing. That’s very scary!

I am impressed that Mr Price has “Go To” people wearing “Safe Place” badges. Children should be made aware that every Mr Price will have designated people who will help them. They can look out for the badges or the “Safe Place” t-shirts that the store managers will be wearing.

Unicef has also made a card “Give the red card for child exploitation” with important telephone numbers who has dedicated special resources for our children. As soon as a child is missing, it should be reported to one of these numbers to put the wheels in motion:

Police 0860 010 111

Childline 0800 055 555

Child Welfare SA 0861 424 453 (08614-CHILD)

As a mother I DO hope that our children will not be part of the worst-of-the-worst statistics of these exciting times!

Please keep an eye on your children! Please keep them safe!

Playing FlogYoBlog Friday with Brenda: Please read her rules at MummyTime.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

The secret lives of teens

Patrick Pretorius Photography

I asked my teen to write something about the live of a teenager. This is what she wrote. I copied and pasted it as is. (What a wise person she is! Says the proud mother! Big smile!)

As teenagers we see life in a very different perspective than adults. We start to ask questions as to why things are the way they are like for instance: Why aren’t my parents perfect? Where are their capes and underwear over their clothes? Why is the sky blue? Okay I think you got the picture. When I was in primary school I used to think that I was on some sort of a stage and everyone was watching me, what I was wearing(was there a stain on my shirt?), how my hair looked, but only last year I realised that no one gives a damn! (Ha-ha) I guess all teens especially girls believes that they are on a stage, Making themselves beautiful before a date and as dumb some of the guys are, they don’t even notice... (This is very disappointing) We as teens like to hide out in our rooms, no not because we are mad at our parents or anything, we just like relaxing without our parents hovering over us (no offence mom! I still love you!) and I usually like to contemplate about what happened that day. Sometimes I want to get mad at my parents and the choices they make, but when I put myself in their shoes I would do exactly the same thing. School is a very strange place to be indeed: In primary school everyone tried to be the same, in high school we have so many different ‘cliques’, it will make your spin, from jocks(cool kids) to nerds to emo’s (kids with emotional problems) to washouts(kids with no future) to normal teens like me. It amuses me how fast some kids want to grow up. In my history class, every Monday, the teens will swap stories of how much they drank that weekend and how rough the parties were. Last year I had a girl in my class telling kids how great sex she had with her boyfriend?? Don’t they realise that they still have their WHOLE lives are still ahead of them? And that they must enjoy their freedom while they still can?? I’m very grateful that my parents raised me correctly. Thank you Mom, Stepdad and (absent dad)! I hope you got a better idea of how the minds of teens work, because sometimes I don’t understand myself. Please tell your teen you love them, which are all we sometimes need!

Related posts:

Stressful teen years

Teen suicide: Ané Vermoten

Teen update

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Petite Peu of a mistake

Little Bit of a Mistake! That’s what our little bit of a dog IS! The problem with dogs and with children: You can’t give them back. (You can!)

Noooo! You can’t!

Our Petite Peu dog got an eye infection after we washed her yesterday! Hubby had to take her to the vet today. R600 ZAR money later and armed with three bottles of eye drops he was back. And visibly upset! We took the toddler to the doctor as well yesterday. The same amount of ZAR money was spent. The only difference: the medical aid paid for it! Ouch! Vets ask the same as normal doctors for their consultation fees.

And now we have to get the eye drops into the dog’s eyes. It is as mission impossible as giving medicine to the toddler...

Our dog has calmed down since we allowed her more into the house. Or maybe it is because she is getting older? She sleeps with the teen in her room, and we do not hear a peep from her until the next morning. She still dashes out of the gate when she gets the opportunity. She also barks her very loud yaps at mostly unknowns, and the doves who try to steal her food...

We have to smile (sheepishly) at ourselves: we got a “little bit” more than we imagined our little dog would be!

Monday, 7 June 2010

Day care woes and first report card

The working mother has a daily nightmare. Worrying about the day care and leaving your child in the care of somebody else is a daily niggle at the back of your mind. Especially if you leave a crying child, or a very sad face, in the hands of somebody else.

Even more so when you pick your baby up from school (last Thursday), and see that she has not had anything to drink for the whole day. When you taste the “milk” bottle, you find that they have mixed the milk powder with the fruit juice. (Horrors!)

I have spoken to the people before about giving Mieka all her bottles during the day, and it really bugs me when I see that she as only offered the one bottle during the day. Apparently it is also problem to not heat up the bottle in the microwave... (One of my pet peeves - I do not heat food or anything else for Mieka in the microwave.)

I wrote a long letter to the school again on Friday, to ensure that there is no misunderstanding. I do hope it is the last time I have to ask them. Next time: Powerwoman to the rescue! (Determined face!) I will take it to the head of the school, or else! (You know what! Mothers do not keep quiet when their children are involved.)

Mieka got her first report card back from the day care:
  • It states that she is a “pleasure in class.” (That’s our little girl! Big smile by Mom!)

  • “She is too young for certain activities.” (Is she in the right class?)

  • Also that she has adapted well! (Big smile again!)

  • She apparently also has a problem with putting stuff away – she has to be “encouraged”. (We are working on that! Wink smile!)
I like getting feedback in the form of report cards. It helps us to focus on the areas where there is still a developmental need. I will focus more on teaching Mieka about the identification of her body. She could only identify a few of her body parts. (Does she need to know all of them by now? She is 17 and a half months old.)

Friday, 4 June 2010

Ship coming in (very soon)

This year I was already on a second boat cruise. This first one was the weekend on the ship, and three weeks back we were on a boat, The Spirit of Jen, on the Vaal River for a function of my hubby’s company.

I think that the universe is telling me something: Our Ship is coming in! ;-)

It was the first time I had the opportunity to visit Stonehaven on Vaal. Apparently it is the “largest Garden Restaurant in South Africa”. There is a large play area for children, with a jumping castle, a trampoline, a water slide, a swimming pool, a tree house and jungle gym. There is also an animal farm. It is a great place for the kids, and I will definitely bring my little one.

The function on the luxurious Vaal Cruiser, The Spirit of Jen, was a real blast. The boat had to leave an hour late because a contingent of the party goers was late. It got very cold on the deck as soon as the sun was beginning to go down, but inside it was warm, and the company and food was very agreeable! Very agreeable, indeed! There is a Jacuzzi on the deck, and I’m sure during the summer time it is a wonderful place to be!

Abbott and Crabb was the entertainment, with jokes and music. These guys are still very funny! They’ve been together for 20 years, and the audience enjoyed them thoroughly! Luckily no old stale jokes… The boat cruised around on the Vaal River for a couple of hours, and we enjoyed looking at all the “palaces” on the River’s edge!

Eish! That ship can dock very soon, please!

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Putting people on pedestals

I learnt a big lesson this past week. I am walking around with a bad aftertaste in my mouth. I need to cleanse myself with this blog post (thanks to the virtual blogosphere that's helping me to get rid of all the ill feelings!)

I loved listening to programmes by a certain controversial person here in South Africa. I religiously archived the programmes as well. I never met the person, but liked his out-of-the-box way of doing and saying things.

Last week he walked into my office. Not with a “hello, pleased to meet you, thanks for helping me...” But with bark, bark, bark: “I need the following things, and quick!” Not even a smile! I had to ask my colleagues to help me to complete the request the same afternoon. I did not even take my lunch break. And I had to put my normal work on the back-burner for the afternoon.

The programme went on air this week, and there was not even a thank you to the archive material that was supplied. It is also very old archive material that had to be recorded real-time from acetate record players. It implies as well that it is not an easy copy and paste process to make the sound available for re-use.

I was really let down in my opinion of this person. He is the most ill-mannered person I have encountered in a very long time! I am thinking of a lot of descriptive words to call him...

The lesson: Never put people on pedestals! It/they might come back to bite you...

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Sleep woes continue

I have been reading Tasneem at MumDrum's sleep woes. I was patting myself on the back, saying that we have it a little bit easier. Not so!

As soon as we start to think that the toddler has a sleeping routine and that she is sleeping right through, everything changes! Murphy’s Toddler’s Law?

Most recent sleep stories:

- I sit with little Missy Toddler in her room, reading a book, and then breastfeeding her until she falls asleep.

- I try to put her in her bed.

- The legs start kicking, and she arches her back. (Swear-worthy moments!)

- In the end she ends up in our bed – for the whole night!

- I am much smarter now. I start the bedtime routine in our bed, and as soon as she is asleep, I carry her to her bed. (I think I have a 10% success rate at the moment. Sigh!)

- Hubby usually takes over at nine when I struggle to get her to sleep (from half past seven or eight at night). I miss him terribly tonight – he is not here, and I was not able to do anything else! (How do the single moms cope? I know, I ask this on a regular basis. You rock, single moms!)

- I do not have a problem with our toddler sleeping with us. But it is extremely uncomfortable hanging for dear life on the side of the bed, usually with only half or a fraction of the blankets covering us. The rest she kicks off as soon as we place it over her!

- Last night was extremely taxing. At one in the morning we were taking her temperature. Yes, she had a bit of a fever, and we had to put in a suppository. The tenth day flu/fever after the MMR injection?

- My most favourite wish at the moment – to sleep, and sleep, and SLEEEEEP!

- I know we will experience this most wonderful, precious gift of sleep somewhere in the future! Hang in there, Powerwoman!

(Photo: Mieka at the hockey game on Saturday where the teen played at her school.)

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