Wednesday, May 26, 2010

In sickness and in health

On Monday morning the dear husband woke up with a blocked nose (perfect end to a long weekend, hmph - a long trip back home with a sick man and a teething baby, grrrr, I need another mini-break) and, after inspecting the contents of his man-size tissue, declared his sinuses infected. I made the sign of the cross with my fingers and told him to stay the hell away from me and the kiddo until he was well again. Four hours in an enclosed space (read: motor vehicle) put paid to that idea. By Monday night Ezra was sniffly and snotty too and yesterday morning I just added to his already red-lining grumpiness by whipping him off to the clinic for another bout of vaccinations. In the fraction of a second between the needle going in and him beginning to scream, I could swear he looked at me like I was responsible for every bit of pain he was enduring.

Fortunately for my sanity, my very dear friend Catastrophe (not her real name) had popped out from Germany on a whirlwind visit and the couple of hours I got to spend with her were enough to prevent me from drowning in my son's slimey sorrows. (I really do feel sorry for him, poor thing still gives me brave, watery smiles whilst coughing and spluttering and choking. Ag shame. Is this where the maternal guilt starts? Not being able to wave a magic wand and make him all better?) Conversation turned to illness and I admitted to C that, not being a sickly person myself, I find it hard to be sympathetic to those who are. Particularly when it appears (to me) that a lot of 'sickness' is just attention-seeking behaviour. She laughed as only she can and told me how she lived in guilt for feeling the same way about a friend of hers who, as it turns out, just has a really shoddy immune system. Food for thought.

It's amazing how you can take a thing like a healthy body for granted. I sit here lumped on the couch in perfect health judging those who are less fortunate, while out there are people like Mrs Catastrophe (the friend's mom) who are living in imperfect bodies - fighting diseases they will not be cured of - and doing more with them than I have ever asked of my own. I think I'm a hero for carrying and giving birth to a baby in the prime of my life, Mrs C is close to twice my age, has done the childbirth thing at least twice more than I have, can carry a 50kg bag of animal feed on her shoulders and is running the bloody Comrades marathon this weekend. And every day of her life she has to make a conscious effort to preserve her health, through diet, exercise, medication and sheer force of will. Who the hell do I think I am judging people like that?

I get mad when I have to acknowledge how wasteful I have been with my health, and how abusive I have been with my body. How many times I have forced it to keep going on little or no sleep, on lousy food choices, on binges of alcohol, caffiene and nicotine (and even a few mind-altering drugs when I was younger). I wonder what the catalyst for taking better care of myself will be? A horrible illness to scare the bejeesus out of me? And why am I waiting for a catalyst of that nature? Do I really not have the motivation to act now in the hopes of preventing that kind of thing? It surely is better to be proactive than reactive.

I don't really know how this post morphed into self-flagellation, and I don't really know what I'm going to do to make myself feel better about the way I treat myself. But they say if it's worth talking about it's worth doing something about. So maybe I am my own catalyst.

Aargh. Rant over.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Wordless weekend #4

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Wordless weekend #3

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Wordless weekend #2

Friday, May 21, 2010

Wordless weekend #1

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I've got baggage...

...and lordy me, do I have a lot of it! We're going up to Zululand tomorrow for a long weekend with the in-laws. I don't mean long as in 'five minutes with my mother-in-law takes ten years off my life' (we actually get along well as long as no wedding planning is involved), I mean long as in Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday. Count them people, four days. No cooking, no cleaning, no washing, no ironing, no dishes, no grocery shopping, not even lifting a finger to make myself a cup of tea. Nope, this is old school farming country we're talking about. Tea is served on a tray, in the lounge, by a white-aproned housemaid who has worked for the family since my husband was my son's age or thereabouts. I kid you not.

My mother-in-law is one hell of a hostess. To start, you couldn't go hungry in her house if you tried. Breakfast is fruit, yoghurt, cereals, toast and more often than not a side of the ol' bacon & eggs. Lunches are usually hot, dinners are meat and three veg, salads are varied and different and crisp and colourful, no limp iceberg lettuce or soggy tomatoes in sight. Tea-times are mid-morning and mid-afternoon, there are always biscuits, cakes or nibbles of some sort to go with it. I swear I gain at least a kilo a day when we're there. Linen is freshly washed and ironed, towels are fluffy, nobody wakes you up unless you ask them to. There are bowls and vases of flowers everywhere, current magazines on the coffee tables, comfy couches, up-to-date decor and lots of places to curl up with a book or nurse a hangover. It's a damned fine house to visit. We haven't been up there since Ezra was born. In fact, we haven't been anywhere. At least, not for an overnight visit. And as I pack the fourteenth set of clothes into an already bulging bag, I'm beginning to see why.

Shane and I travel light. A pair of jeans, a couple of shirts and some underwear are enough to keep us going for a week or two. Add a tent, a towel and swimming costumes and you've got the contents of the backpacks we travelled around the UK with for six weeks in the summer of 2006. Although neither of us have the habit of puking all over our clothes at inopportune times (actually, Shane did that once in a pub lock-in in Croatia but that's a story for another day...) so we can get realistically assume that we will only need one set of clothes per day. Not so the case with my little man. And even though he's not a sickly child I find myself packing things I've never used 'just in case'. Nasal aspirator, thermometer, Panado, syringe / dropper / medicine spoon for administering Panado, bum cream, four types of shampoo / body lotion /  powder - I'm on my third suitcase and I haven't even got to the nappies yet. Aargh.

So wish me a happy weekend, if I stay up all night I may just be packed in time to fetch Shane from his exam and head for the rolling, sugarcane-covered hills. And since I'll be out of comms until Monday enjoy having a squizz at some new pics of my boy that I've set to pop up at regular intervals over the next few days.

Peace out.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

How to waste time

At some point in the first half of last year, some self-important civil servant decided that our water and electricity bills should be separated. And that, since they were going separated, they should be handled by different entities. So, our electricity bill comes from our local municipality as it always has and the water bill now comes from the district municipality. All fine and dandy, we’re paying two bills now instead of one but the tariffs are the same so it’s not actually costing any extra money. In fact, it’s costing us a bit less, since the district municipality have never actually billed us.

I don’t have a problem with paying for services (barely) rendered, but I’m not going to fight them to bill me. So every month I just stash away a hundred bucks in anticipation of the day they catch on and send me an account. Responsible aren’t I? Anyhoo, it’s now May, and I haven’t paid for water since last June. And I reckon things would have gone on this way indefinitely if it hadn’t been for one detail.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Frogs and snails and puppy dogs tails....

Most days I like living in my bubble. I am a sentimental, poetical, somewhat naive little wretch most of the time and find that cooing over a sweet-faced little boy generally suits me well. Especially since nobody is around to see it. And then I have days like today where my son pulled a bodily-fluid hat-trick on me at lunchtime, starting with him shitting not only in his nappy, but out the leg holes, up the back and all over his clothes. Charming.

I stripped him off and wiped him down and as I sat him up to wipe the last remnants off his back he threw up all over himself. I sighed and reached for another handful of wipes while talking soothingly to him and saying cutesy things like 'Oh dear, you had an oopsy my little man'. I lay him back down while I reached for a clean nappy and was promptly soaked by a jet of warm urine. 'You little SHIT!' was out of my mouth before I knew what I was saying. And the monster just grinned at me while his high-pressure bladder continued to wreak its havoc.

On days like this I'm glad I had a boy. He reminds me that the Sta-Softing, baby powdering, wet-wipe wielding, lameass version of myself that I currently portray is not all that I am. That wicked sense of humour I just saw in his eyes, that comes straight from yours truly. So Ezra, enjoy the sweetness while you can my boy, because one of these days it'll be gone and I'll be hiding behind a tree with a loaded water cannon waiting to teach you a thing or two about retribution.

Marvellous Monday

I don't generally acknowledge Mondays. I like to put on my blinkers on Sunday nights and take them off again on Tuesday mornings, so that there's no possibility of me allowing what happens in between to set the tone for rest of my week. By that you can deduce that Mondays are normally not the most fun day of the week for me. Today was different.

To start, when I woke up I was still basking in the afterglow of a glorious weekend with some very special people. On Saturday we loaded up a car - two husbands, two wives, two little people and their fourteen tons of luggage, a cooler box, a heap of warm clothing and a sausage dog - and we headed out to Fort Nottingham for the annual Highland Games. The weather cooperated beautifully and standing on the side of a field in the mist and rain with an icy wind blowing and hairy men running around in kilts, you could almost believe you were in Scotland. A couple of hours later we loaded everyone back in the car and came back home to defrost our Durbanite friends in front of our fireplace, a job made easier with the addition of strong coffee and lots of warm, spicy pancakes. Mmmmm.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The 'R' word

I set my alarm to wake up at 6:30 every morning. Erm, every weekday morning. I hit snooze until about 7:15, grunt something about waking up at the husband, get out of bed, stumble through to the kitchen, flick on the kettle and totter off to the bathroom. I have a piddle, wash my face, brush my teeth and traipse back into the bedroom where I grumble out another half-assed wake-up call and climb back into bed to doze until Shane brings me coffee. The dear husband plods through his morning routine in much the same way I do, fumbling, stumbling, grunting and muttering. We're not morning people. Obviously.

The thing with waking up is that you have to do it at least once a day (the second time is usually better). Much like you have to attend to personal hygiene, eat a couple of meals and go to sleep again before starting it all over. You do these things at every age of your life, irrespective of whether you are a student who can sleep through morning lectures, a working person who has to fit it in around your daily grind, or a pensioner with your social calender wired around your eat / sleep / clean routine. So why is it such a big deal to get your babies into the swing of it when they're little?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Getting back to the blog

Vodacom has been pretty good to me over the years. I haven't had any strange billing issues or random bits of nonsense of the service provider type that others often complain about. They have done what they set out to do, provide me with a service. Until recently, I can honestly say that I have been getting what I pay for. I have taken for granted that when I click the little 'connect' button on my 3G card, I am instantly and continuously part of the great wide world of the interweb until I click the little button which says 'disconnect'. What is that saying? "You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone" - too true.

Frustration is a stay-at-home-mom with a whole lot to say and no platform to say it from. Frustration is discovering that Blogger's autosave function fails completely when your internet connection is dropped. Frustration is typing the same bloody story for the third time in Wordpad (why did I not use Word instead??) and then discovering it doesn't have an autosave function when your laptop's battery runs flat whilst you soothe your little boy back to sleep. Frustration is finally getting your connectivity sorted out and then having nothing to say because you're so sick of trying to remember how you best said what you wanted to say. It has been a frustrating week.

For the purpose of closure I should tell you that I got my sentimental mush on Sunday. Flowers, chocolate, a card 'written' by my boy. And since I happen to love flowers, chocolate and my husband's attempts at impersonating an 11-week-old, I was pretty chuffed. We spent the day at Inanda dam with some of our favourite people, mucking about on jetskis and lying around in the shade of a thorn tree while watching our children and wondering who they'll become as they grow up. It's exciting having so many friends with babies at the same time, a constant reminder of how far you've come and how far you still have to go. Lovely stuff.

The rest of the week has been business as usual. I'm learning every day, Ezra's growing every day, the wheels of life turn. Autumn is in full swing in the Midlands, the trees are reds and golds and browns and getting barer by the minute, the wind won't stop blowing and winter creeps closer every night. It is by far my most favourite time of year. And yes, I know that 'by far my most favourite' is grammatically ridiculous, but it's my blog and anyway I claim poetic license.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Everyone's a comedian these days

My husband is a fabulous creature. He is good, kind, damned fine-looking and he can make me laugh even when I'm sure my sense of humour has abandoned me forever. If I asked him to grow peanuts out of his ears and he thought it was important to me he would find a way to do it. Because I know this and because he's so good at the little things (making me coffee, dealing with our paperwork, laughing at my pathetic jokes), I don't expect grand gestures from him. If there is something I really, really, REALLY want, I tell him and he makes it happen.

Which is why I don't understand how my desire for him to throw me a surprise birthday party has never quite hit his plane of consciousness. Every year around this time I start hinting at a surprise party. Who am I kidding? I hint at it all year round. And the hints get less subtle as September draws closer until the day before my actual birthday when, having watched my friends and husband with growing suspicion, I finally realise that there is no party planned and it's up to me to get everyone together. Again.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Frustration Friday

Apparently my boy is teething. Or at least I hope that's what it is because the alternative is that he is just a moody, grumpy little shit and I'm justified in thinking I should give him away. Yes he's young for teeth, but I had four by the time I was his age so I'm hardly surprised. Irritated, but not surprised.

I get a bit riled by the phrase 'ah shame, he's probably teething'. It's like 'shame, he's probably a bit colicky'. Teething and colic. The universal parental explanations for grumpy children. And how come when you're an adult and you're being a grumpy arse people don't say things like 'ah shame'. They say things like 'take your PMS elsewhere biaaatch'. Sympathy ain't for grown-ups it seems.

So back to these supposed teeth. Why don't animal babies turn into whining monsters when they're teething? I've had my fair share of puppies and I don't recall any of them writhing around in self-pity and clutching at their mouths. They just find a suitable table-leg or shoe to take it out on. I've offered Ezra a slipper but he's not that interested. I suspect he's having me on.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Money - the root of all confusion

Crikey. Am I a bit slow in noticing how expensive everything got all of a sudden? Today, I filled up my car, grabbed a few groceries and got my boytjie's nappies for the month. And I came home two frikkin' grand poorer. Not so kiff when you're spending the dregs of your maternity savings (now highly diluted by your husband's hard earned cash). Or am I just feeling a bit more sensitive to cost because I'm not the one who worked for the money?

It's a weird thing to be 'kept'. Perhaps it's just my upbringing, but I feel quite strongly about earning my keep. As a kid I didn't get pocket money unless my allotted chores were done. As an adult in the working world, the same. But as a mom, well, I'm not sure what my chores are and what constitutes me having earned my time at home.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

2 days and... stall

Okay. I'm a coper. As in, I cope when things are crazy. If your house is burning down, I'm the person you want there to bring out the hoses. I'm the one who can help when you've had a puncture on the highway and discovered you don't have a spare. I'm the one who phones the police and the insurance company when your house has been burgled. I can stop a dogfight, I can strap a broken limb and I make a mean cup of tea when it's needed.

So why am I not coping right now? My life is fairly simple. I look after my son. I look after my husband. I look after myself. I occasionally clean my house and most nights I manage to cook dinner. I even remember to feed my rabbits sometimes. But throw one extra thing (let's say, an exam, for example) into the mix and my house of cards collapses. Spectacularly.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

3 days and counting...

My two favourite men catching a few zzzzs this last weekend...

Monday, May 3, 2010

4 days and counting...

Right, I have an exam first thing Friday morning and need every spare second to study so this is going to be a wordless week. First up, Ezra and his great-gran, the one who gave him his surname.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Go South Africa :-)

So we headed up the coast today to escape the first twinges of winter and to spend some time with the in-laws. And look what we spotted:

Finally up and running, who can believe it? I wanted to stop in and have a good look around but the long-suffering husband said we weren't those kind of tourists thank you very much. Whatever. I'm damned proud of us, by which I mean this country and its peoples. I want to see our successes, I hear enough of our failures in the media. And it has been the most stunning of days, the kind where you just want to sing. I didn't, but I wanted to.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Another parental milestone

I woke up this morning and felt seriously happy and alive and vital. I rolled over, fumbled for my cell to check the time and nearly had a heartattack. 8:07am. And I had woken myself up.

Me: Shane!
Sleepy Husband: Mmmph?
Me: Wake up - is the monitor still on?
SH: Hurmph?
Me: The baby monitor! Is it ON??
SH: (yawns and rolls over) Mmmph. Why?
Me: It's after 8 - in the morning!
SH: Ja, it's on. Maybe he's having a lie-in.