Friday, 30 October 2009

First tooth

Great joy! The first tooth has arrived at ten months! Mieka was taking a bite from Dries’s ice-cream when he said he felt something last night. It feels like an accomplishment, although it is something in baby’s development that we have no control over. Congratulations! Very cute! The first of firsts!
Photo: Mieka this morning, hitting the xylophone!

I have been checking Margot’s blog about her “successful” sleep training, but the inactivity makes me wonder? I hope she got it nailed, but I have a nasty suspicion that it is not as easy as that. Or else I am jealous as hell! I have had a couple of bad nights as well, with Mieka not falling off the breast as usual into a deep sleep, but battling when I put her into her bed. With hindsight, the blocked nose and most recent sleep battles most probably were linked to the first tooth.
The breast feeding is still going well, and while it is the easiest and best for the baby, I will continue. My goal is to reach the one year mark, and that is within two months already. When she is awake, it is a battle to keep her interest focused on drinking, because she wants to look everywhere, and starts to slide down to “walk”. I have to wear a necklace each day to keep her occupied. Sometimes she turns her head while she is still latched very tightly, and that is something I try to avoid! Ouch!
Petite Peu, the little bit of a dog, has been banned to stay outside. We have failed completely in our house training. She thinks she is supposed to pee and poop in the house. And she chooses the best spots, such as our bedroom carpet, or even a cushion on the floor, to make her mark! We have had enough! Two babies are too much to handle at this stage! I hope it does not signal potty training difficulties in the future?

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Teen in love


Red alert! My teen daughter of 16 is in love!
There are the Facebook status updates (yes, I spy every now and again) which makes you smile and worry:
You lift my feet off the ground, you spin me around. You make me crazier! K 4 S
I love the fact that my teenage daughter of 16 has found a nice guy, and that they are happy – a few days ago it was two weeks. What a record! (Smile)
But it is also a BIG CONCERN to me. (Who does he think he is? Good enough for my daughter? I don’t think so!)
The guy looks very well-mannered, clean and friendly – but that’s just on face value.
One of our friends told us that that is exactly the type of guy you should not trust, because he knows! He was one of those clean-cut guys, but he was not trustworthy at all!
I love the fact that my daughter is socially well-adapted. Not like me. When I was her age, I was a nerdish book freak who loved riding around on my bike. But now I realize how much more easily I had been on my parents. I was in my room, reading, most of the times. Perfect daughter! Bliss for the parents!
Arnia wants to go out, she wants to be with her peer group and apparently she loses her head about a guy every now and again. Up until now she has been very strict with regards to them, and the previous one was “fired” when he said a few misplaced words one lunch-time at school.
I hope this one also slips up! (Evil smile!) She is much too young to get too seriously involved. What do you think?

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Choosing happiness

I was helping to dish out cards at work yesterday at the entrance of our building. We noticed how people came in with a positive or negative energy. Now I know what the security guards experience every day. Poor guys! I definitely have more respect for what they do, and have decided that I will put on my happy face, no matter what! Some were huff-and-puff, most probable because they are late. Some were grumpy, and some were downright rude. “I don’t do cards!”
But the ones with the sunny dispositions and the friendly hellos all made it worthwhile. It’s a decision to be happy and friendly. I will definitely teach my daughter to make a decision for her own happiness, and not wait for the weather to influence how you are going to feel!

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Belly dancing

Zahara, my belly dancing teacher, sent me a sms today: “Hope you are well? We all miss you at dancing! Will we be seeing you soon?”
I am ignoring it, but I’ll have to phone today to ask if I can postpone the classes until next year. I am trying to sidestep a sense of loss, but it seems I have to throw in the towel for now. The loss of a wild side, that exotic belly dancer I used to be. In your dreams, sister! But it was nice to hang on to the vision! I have a feeling that my days as a “belly dancer” (not that I am a great belly dancer - sigh) is coming to an end. Doing the belly dancing thing has made me feel different and challenging to get outside of the box. In the past two months I have been promising to go to the belly classes. I have even paid upfront for the classes. But I find it very difficult to leave Mieka for two hours a night, especially during the crunch hour when she gets her bath and goes to sleep. I am constantly reminding myself of my age, and when I stop doing something, it feels as if it is the last time I will be able to do it. Being over 40 makes you more aware of time and your own limitations. (I feel aged when reading the last sentence. Maybe I should delete it as a way of using the ostrich tactic?). But having a baby also feels as if the world has come to focus on only the one source of energy, the baby.
Luckily I know from past experience (15 years back), that I will get through the focus-on-baby phase, and that life will be there, waiting for me to rejoin. For now, I will put my belly dancing costumes back in the cupboard, but I promise myself I will shimmy again…

Photo: Last year, October 2008 at the Belly show, when I was 8 months pregnant with Mieka

Monday, 26 October 2009

Poop phase


How nice to be able to enjoy going home at the end of each day. We were discussing women being in bad relationships, and not wanting to be at home anymore. I used to be in a BAD relationship – long time ago (previous life) – where I dragged my feet to go home. And I am not a workaholic who lives for my work... The only thing that kept me going home was my daughter, Arnia. Phew! Nice to be able to talk about a different lifetime, and laugh about it…
Now it is nice (for the lack of a better word) to go home to our small little townhouse. We look forward just being together. So boring, but so nice…
Mieka had her first swim in a small inflatable swimming pool on the lawn on Saturday. Petite Peu was trying to eat our feet. The fun stopped very suddenly when Mieka became red in the face. It became a whole operation to extract her from the water, and to clean her and the pool. The dog is also keeping us busy with picking up her poop. The thing with babies - children and dogs – is that poop is part of the deal… We are in the poop-phase, trying to maintain a poop-free house. (Sheepish grin) But we don’t mind, because it is our home, and our family, and we love being in each other’s company! The poop phase is a bonus, compared to trying to survive in a bad relationship.

Friday, 23 October 2009

The hubby

The world is populated with them: the adorable husbands. Somewhere, between us going off and becoming our own, they have evolved as well and we have a new breed of men. I call them the millennium men.
Dries is definitely one of the new men. I have made a better second choice in life – with regards to men. (Smile)
A while ago Dries told me that one of the first things I told him on our blind date how much I hate the X, and how I would not have cared if he was taken off the face of the earth. Oops! Not something you say on your first date with a new man. Another social rule, but it must be written up somewhere already. The fact that he is still here, is a good indication that he does not scare easily. Because it was not only me, but Arnia (aged 9 at that stage) as well, that he had to take on.
One of Dries’ favourite stories is that I did not marry him for his money, but for his body! Dries was a teacher, and we all know that they are not rewarded with a salary that is life sustaining. I definitely did marry him because he is responsible. Not something that I was used to, although it is supposed to be a given. The X did not work, or got himself fired or resigned on a whim.
Dries is a great cook, better than me. He usually comes up with the most wonderful combinations, without having to look at a recipe. He helps with all the mundane household chores, and in the evenings he helps with the bathing of Mieka and getting up to fetch her when she cries. And there are lots of these men around - I get feedback from all of my friends as well. My grandmother used to tell us that we must be ready with the tea when the husband arrives at home, and even then we knew it was something that we could never do… “What’s wrong with their hands, grandma? We are going to come home from work as well!”
Now I have a husband who is a wonderful friend, with whom I can share my life with. We have fun at home and on holiday. We love going out to restaurants, to the movies, on picnics, and camping. Somewhere in the near future, when Mieka is a bit older, we are going to hike again in the mountains…
Yeah for the millennium man who can make his own tea!

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Bonus days

As a working mother I welcome every opportunity I get to be with my baby. I constantly feel as if I am not getting enough time with her. We get a monthly clinic day at work, and it is a bonus which I am very grateful for. But it strikes me that I also feel the same with regards to my teenager. So it never stops… the feeling that you do not spend enough time with them. The other day when my sister notified me of a status update on Arnia’s Facebook, I immediately felt guilty. Did I miss something I should have known? But it was about the death of their teacher, which she only found out about when she was at school. I only sometimes see her with breakfast, for about 10 minutes and then again at dinner in the evenings. Some days she spend all of her time behind a closed door, doing homework or reading or MXit-ing with friends, listening to music. The teen thing which they do… (Smile) So, yesterday on a bonus day, we did a McD’s (as McDonalds is known in our household) after I went to fetch Arnia from school. Always nice to do some catch-up about what is happening in Arnia’s life. That’s where the photo of Mieka was taken, with one of the McD’s toys on her head. She rocks up and down when she hears the music in her ears.
I did not mention anything about the great Tuesday night we had. Mieka went to sleep at eight, and only woke up at three during the night. That was utter bliss! I felt totally refreshed. So I did not jinx it by mentioning it. But last night was hectic again. (Not smiling) We will get there…
Mieka reached the ten month mark yesterday, and she weighed 8.1kg at the clinic.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

One step behind


I was reading the developmental manual Practica on Sunday night about month 9 in baby’s developmental phase. Mieka is already 10 months on Wednesday. I have three days to get everything of month 9 fitted in… Luckily there are a lot of things that she is doing by herself, which we did not attend to specifically. It is just the creeping-crawling phase, which she seems to not have any interest in at all.
I am constantly feeling that I am a step behind, since the pregnancy and the baby. I am beginning to wonder if it will stay this way. Maybe I should just surrender and take each day (even minute) on face value and cope with what it presents to me? That’s a coping mechanism which could work? But I have the nagging feeling that we can accomplish more, also because we hear of great women who find their balance with work and family and life. We have to challenge ourselves to BE more… What do you as the blog reader think?

Monday, 19 October 2009

Children and pets

Children and dogs are expensive. (Sic)
The dog turned out to be not a Miniature Pinscher, but a cross, most likely with a Dachshund. The vet confirmed Arnia’s suspicions on Friday. One of her friends told her that Miniature Pinchers have white triangles on their chests; they have pointy ears and brown faces. Our dog lacks all of these characteristics. But we still have to wait and see what she is going to look like. No wonder she was cheaper than expected at the pet shop. That was one of the factors that made us buy her, when we saw that she was R800, and not the expected over a R1000 as these types of dogs are advertised. Afterwards she costs us a pretty penny at the vet too and now she is too valuable (with regards to the money spent) not to invest in her. Petite Peu (little bit in French) is not so little, it seems, but she is still very cute, and very cheeky. When we want to discipline her, she barks at us. The little cheek of a thing!
Arnia had an accident with my laptop. She went to fetch it, and because I did not zip the bag, it fell out and off the stairs when Arnia picked it up. She had such a fright, and felt so miserable; she wanted to pay for fixing it. Yeah, right! Her pocket money is not going to cover it. It was my mistake in the first place, but it was really not a good thud to hear when it landed on the bottom of the stairs. Dries said that when he heard me scream, that he thought I could have been me going down the stairs with Mieka. Looking at the situation with that perspective, it could have been much worse!
Why do we have children and pets when we know they are going to cost us? Ouch!

Friday, 16 October 2009

Blank brain

The bubble brain has turned into the blank brain. It feels as if I have nothing more to contribute to life, never mind a blog. I am glad Margot got her sleep, and I will definitely start sleep training when I am able to. Just not now… I am too tired!
Mieka is still waking many times during the night. I suspect it is not as many times as I think, because sometimes I just stagger into her room, and stagger back again without looking at a watch. I must start writing it down every time she wakes us up. Maybe it will not look as bad as it feels on paper?

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Soap box musings

A dove flew into the front of my car this morning, and there was a thud and feathers. It was a very upsetting beginning for the day. It turned out to become worse, with the news that a teacher at Arnia’s school committee suicide. So sad! That’s was not the standing still (yesterday’s post) that I had in mind, but the choice of how to live your life.
I was speaking to a colleague of mine, Justice, about the women with the babies that they beg with on the street corners. The problem is rife in Gauteng. Because I just had a baby, it gets to me even more than before. I think about the quality of life of these children and the lack of stimulation while they spend their day on the pavement. We as a society have gone wrong when we see the symptoms of people living on the streets. But I don’t have the answers… How do we help?
Another person (I will not name the person) also mentioned how deeply dependent a child is on their parents. I made a comment about all these children that have to grow up in such harsh conditions, some also without their parents. The person said; “I do not have a feeling for these children, I only know about the specific child I am talking about and who are near to me.” That made me very sad. All our children are precious, and all of them deserve more in life! When you call yourself a religious person, but you do not show compassion for your fellow human beings, then you do not understand what your religion is all about. That was my soap box tirade for the month. Humph!

I am eagerly following Margot’s sleep training of her son, but until she succeeds I will keep on using my breasts as the best sleep soothers in our house. (Smile) But it was a lot much yesterday morning when I put Mieka down, again, and looked at the watch. It was 4:59am, 1 minute before the alarm went off. Very bloodsucking not funny demoralizing…tiredness! Maybe I should start reading the sleeping book again?


Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Standing still

One of our dear friends Juanita has just started with her first chemo treatment. She’s got Hodgkin’s disease, but it is the cancer with the best prognosis with regards to chemotherapy (says the doctor). She sent me a sms yesterday that it is affecting her very badly. She has sores in her mouth, her muscles hurt and it goes into spasms. When they went to see the doctor, he said that it is part of the symptoms, and its effects are different for each person. She asked me how it is going with us, and it felt strange to sms back about our ordinary lives where our biggest news is that Mieka is more interested in walking than in crawling. I feel guilty and grateful that our story is as boring as it is.
It is strange how we all go through different phases of living and dying in our lives. We have a new life in our lives. My mom on the other hand had an operation on Monday on a frozen shoulder, and she is also de-activated from normal living for a few weeks. The frozen shoulders had a huge impact on her quality of life before she went for the operation.
Life sometimes brings you to a standstill, and then you’re off speeding again. The secret is to enjoy the stops and the accelerations. (Before I start gagging on the clichéd expressions, let me stop!) The wisdom most probably rubbed of from one of my favourite authors, Neale Donald Walsh… (Smile). I have been reading two or three pages every night of “When everything changes, change everything” for the past three months. Having a baby in the house changes your reading habits dramatically (sigh). But I will get there again, reading until the early mornings…
Juanita, we hold thumbs that all goes well with getting healthy again! Mom, I hope you will be able to hold Mieka very soon again!

(It is Bandana Day in South Africa today, where funds are being generated for cancer patients).

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Fake healthy until you are

Now that I have a young one in the world, and I am an older parent, I have to give more attention to my health. My youngest is 9 and half months, and I am 42 years of age. I want to be here for her as long as possible. I know this, but why on earth do I struggle so much to get it right? I know all the health rules. I am an avid fan of Mary-Ann Shearer, Patrick Holford, Deepak Chopra and Mike Geary. Two years back I got it right by not eating wheat, drinking milk or eating junk food. I am still drinking a lot of supplements. I slipped a bit when a natural doctor told me that my body is very acidic. And then the pregnancies happened…Most of the healthy habits caved to all the cravings. Toasted cheese and tomato sandwiches and yogi sips were a daily indulgence. Luckily I did not have a lot of space, so I could not eat that much. I only gained 10 kilograms, but now I have my space back, and I struggle to get back into the healthy eating and exercising routine. I still have one excuse: I am breastfeeding and can’t go on a strict diet… (sigh, but I know it’s not a good enough excuse).
The question is – how to get motivated again? Maybe I should give less attention to motivation, and just start doing it. I love the saying: Fake it until you make it! I will start faking a healthier me, until I am the healthy person I am.

My health plan: (Start with small steps):
The goal is to lose 1 kilogram a week, and getting fitter:
- Stop eating bread;
- Use Soya milk;
- Drinking only 1 cup of coffee a day;
- Only drink a glass of red wine over weekends;
- Exercise 3 times a week;
- Flossing every day – one health tip by The Doctors to live longer (that' not too difficult)

Do you have more easy tips for faking healthy?

Monday, 12 October 2009

Little bitty stories

Our little bit of a dog is still alive! Dries and Arnia are doing their fair share in looking after her. Dries go home during lunch-time to give her food. He said that he paid so much for her at the vet that he can’t afford her dying on us. Arnia feeds her, she sleeps in Arnia’s room at night, and Arnia also does most of the clean-ups when there is an accident in the house. Petite Peu is a very lucky dog! She has learnt to climb the stairs, but we have to rescue her, and bring her back down again.
On Friday evening she was gone after our guests left, and just when we were beginning to get frantic, one of our friends phoned and said she was with them. Apparently she climbed into one of their bags, and when they opened the bag, there she was, looking at them very innocently! She is also still very much a baby, chewing on everything, us included, and getting very excited when she hears her dog food bag being opened. To have a baby dog is very exhausting, and Dries said today we must get her sterilized as soon as possible. (Yeah! That’s what I was saying from the time we got the dog.) He concedes that having more of these babies would be too much – on our finances and our patience. Or is it peace?

New rules in the dating game


Arnia is going out with a boy. He asked her on Saturday night. I asked her when she is going to change her relationship status on Facebook. She said that as soon as he changes his status on his Facebook profile, she will do the same. But he must do it first! I think it is a very good rule! (Smile)
Image attributed to http://www.wordle.net/

Friday, 9 October 2009

Virtual kids


The technology has its advantages when you are trying to sleep. At half past 4 this morning, Mieka was sitting next to us in bed, bobbing on a video playing from my cell phone. It struck me that my daughter of 9 and half months is growing up in the virtual world. I am writing about her in the virtual world of the Internet. She is represented in the digital domain in a blog. My eldest daughter of 16 years has made her own digital footprint already, she uses MXit and Facebook. When Arnia was born, I did not have a cell phone or a computer. Since then, our lives have changed considerably with regards to technology. How are things going to change in the next 16 years? It feels like there is a quickening with regards to time, but also to the exponential quickening of the use of technology. Are we all going to tweet on each other’s tweets, playing mafia wars and building farms in a virtual reality? How are we going to talk to each other in a few year’s time? I find it very exciting.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Why go vertical when you can go horizontal?


Mieka has not started to crawl yet, and it seems she is not going to. All she wants to do at this stage is walk, with us having to walk with her. She also enjoys the walking ring, but her favourite way of moving around now is walking while being held. Whenever we put her down on her stomach, she freezes in the position, with her arms straight, and complains. She only stops when we pull her up again. How do you get a baby to crawl, when she wants to walk already? I can imagine years of extra maths classes because she has skipped the important crawling phase in her development… Why worry? We will deal with that later! Now we are the enablers in her horizontal quest! I think she is super intelligent, and does not need to go through all the phases.
(Says the proud mom wink-wink)

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Day care woes

A working mother’s day is influenced by how well it is going at the day care she leaves her child. When something is out of whack, you feel on edge the whole day long. We heard that Mieka’s day care person has been suspended. Immediately the worst scenarios are played off in your head, especially since I told Dries on Monday about a news article about a woman in our neighbourhood who has been arrested for abuse. The article did not name the person. I phoned our day care centre, but they could not tell us anything, because there is still a disciplinary hanging. They hinted that it has something to do with smoking and assured me that my child was not involved. I hate it when Mieka’s world is being uprooted, because now they had to get somebody else in to look after the children. And I feel guilty that I can’t be there for her… The working mother’s guilt! It gets to me when things like this happen.
But Mieka was fine yesterday when Dries went to fetch her, and she and the dog had a lot of fun.
Photo: Dries with Mieka and Petite Peu

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Bubble brain strikes again

I’ve done it again. It is not funny anymore. I dropped my blind colleague off in the wrong street this afternoon. I must get my brain cells back (it’s been long enough after the baby), or I am going to do some serious damage. Johann asked me to drop him off in the afternoons. His wife started to work half-days, and she is at home already when we go home. I pick Mieka up at the crèche, and then I only have to make a slight detour to drop him off at the corner of the street where he stays in a townhouse complex. We were chatting on the way home, and it was only the second time I drove the new route. In my defense, I am terrible with roads. It was a bit strange that I drove into a dead-end street after I dropped him(Johann’s street, duh!), but it was only ten minutes later when it still bothered me that I phoned him. He was laughing and saying that his wife was on her way to pick him up. It seems nothing fazes him, ever… He realized quite soon he was in the wrong street! I feel terrible! I am sorry, Johann!

Monday, 5 October 2009

Scrapping

I am proud of myself of being able to do a lot of things with Mieka on my hip. I even tried scrap booking on Saturday, and I could actually show something for the day. My friend Deirdre is a very innovative scrap booker, and she invited me to one of her regular scrap book classes. Arnia, my daughter, came with me. She was not impressed by being told what to do, and set out to do things differently from the start. I got a lot of “I-know-better” comments from her. I was thinking that we should try and learn something new. Especially since it was our first time! But a teenager always knows better! Arnia was pleased with her end result, although the “Sun, sea and sand” theme changed to a “Friendship” theme (sigh). Deirdre must have been horrified, but she handled it very gracefully. I was cutting and pasting with Mieka on the hip, sometimes sitting in the middle of the table, and sometimes walking with her. I was worried that the baby wails and crying and screaming (depending on her needs), would upset the fellow scrap bookers, but they all took in their stride. Thank you, guys! I have a teething biscuit stain to show on my page, but it fits, because it is about the first twelve months of a baby’s development… (Smile)

Awake stories

I should not have jinxed it, by saying that it is going better with the sleeping. Since then, we have been getting up more at night… (Smile) I’ll just zip it!
Mieka is getting busier and busier. Today we went in search of a jolly jumper. I am not sure if it is also bad for babies (such as the walking ring, which we are guilty of), but we are in desperate need for some free hands. Mieka is interested in E-V-E-R-Y-thing, but because she is not crawling yet, she complains and moans and throws herself in the direction she wants to go. When she is on your lap, she wiggles down, until her feet touches the ground. And then she wants you to walk her to where she wants to go. It is very cute, but it is also very exhausting. And we struggle to get time to do anything else. The jolly jumper is a real lifesaver and it was a joy to watch her today laughing and jump-swinging in it. She has not mastered the jumping yet, but it is worth it in time and free hands!

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Cancelled psychopath

I listened yesterday to a radio program about anti-social personality disorders, and saw my X (the cancelled one) fit perfectly into all of the characteristics of a psychopath. The parasitic lifestyle, failure to accept responsibility and lack of emotional intelligence are just a few of the characteristics they spoke about. I was speaking to Debbie (my mother’s sister), who also listened to the program, who voiced her concern about Arnia and his impact on her. Debbie also does not want Arnia to feel guilty about her decision. Luckily Arnia made the choice a few months back to limit her access to him. She had made a list which she read to him the previous year. That was after he grabbed his present wife around the neck in a violent outburst. The list asked him to go for therapy for conflict handling, to be a dad to her, and to give her space to be able to see her friends. She also did not want to feel on edge when she is in his presence. I try to limit my access to toxic people as far as possible, and that’s why I try to help Arnia to feel safe in her dealings with her dad. I will never force her to see him, and because I have first-hand experience of his manipulative behaviour, I try to point to the negative characteristics. She has made a very adult decision already at 15 years of age, and I am proud of her. It is such a blessing to be in a safe and loving relationship where there is peace! Thank you, Dries, for making it possible a second time around.