Sunday, March 29, 2015

old and tired

Two rounds of antibiotics for pharyngitis, a Vit B shot in the ass which had no affect, a barrage of inconclusive blood tests.
Turns out I'm just old and fatigued.

The last 6 months have been FULL ON - it's kind of no wonder I've slumped right? But also, really?
Can I not work and play like that without a pay-off? I was loving it, ready for a bit of a break sure, but finding the busyness inspiring and stimulating.
I was coping, we all were, and life was feeling richer for it all.

But as soon as the pressure stopped, the jobs finished and the birthday party done, I just crashed.

I've been reading.
I've been resting.
I've been doing slow, laborious tasks like finally getting some photo albums sorted out (helped in large part to some albums I picked up on sale many months ago and this post from SouleMama).
I've been desperate to collage but while sitting for long stretches has been too taxing (yes, I've been that weak and ridiculous), I started an embroidery project while lying on the couch.

I've finally started using Instagram. Uh oh.
I haven't gotten to even half of the gazillion things I'd planned to do before my next contract.
I've been feeling very silly.

And did I mention old? Ack.

Monday, March 16, 2015

the 5th!

Yesterday we got back from my baby brother's epic wedding weekend, and I've so many images and thoughts swirling around my head, so much after-glowy happiness - it was magical.
I'm still sorting through photos, and not yet ready to find all the right words and besides, some other things have been happening recently too.

Stella turned 5!

Early on she declared she was going to decorate her own cake - a startlingly moment for me, who has always maintained full creative control over birthday cakes!
But we deferred to her bidding, as always, and presented her with a yellow iced rectangle to do with as she pleased.
The favourite plastic animals were assembled, I was asked to cut some green grass for the front and sides, and her big sister was allowed to place the birthday candles.

But obviously her father and I couldn't leave it entirely without surprise ...

Leopard print cake!

She's got a thing about big cats this girl. And we've got a thing about birthday parties - they're good for us.

Happy birthday Little Star.

Friday, March 06, 2015

free gift

A few weeks back I noticed on Facebook that a friend of a friend was appealing to her friends to enter a competition she was running on her blog's Facebook page. (Facebook is weird).

The writer was concerned that she wasn't getting enough entries. The prize was a cookbook.

So naturally I entered.
And I won!

Aptly titled hey?

For the Love of Baking arrived on our grey Wednesday and so naturally ... I had to bake something.

This was going to be Frieda's choice, a Blueberry and Mascarpone Sponge Cake (pg 83), until I pointed out to her that she doesn't actually like blueberries in things ... so we combined a couple of recipes from the book (the gudda gudda gudda of the beaters in the bowl echoing the helicopters passing overhead) and made a Victoria Sponge, in a bundt (I finally got a bundt!), and topped it with whipped cream and a Blueberry Coulis (which I made following instructions from the book of course).

It was divine.

Anyhoo, this morning I spotted the author, Sarah, in the supermarket. She was chatting to a friend who had a teeny-weeny baby strapped to her chest.
I drifted closer, pretending to examine lettuce, to ascertain that this was indeed Sarah - I only knew her from photos on her website - and couldn't help but overhear the conversation.
Sarah's mate was describing, in utter minutia, her nights with a newborn ('And then she feeds at around 2, and has to be burped for a while, and settled, and then if I'm lucky I get about two and half hours .... yada yada yada') and Sarah's eyes were getting as glazed as her Doughnut Cake (pg 150).

I had to save the poor girl.

'Excuse me, I hope this isn't too stalker-ish but I just wanted to tell you I recently won a copy of your lovely book and I've been baking from it already! Well done, it's lovely.'

Sorry girl with baby, it's only once you've been an obsessed new mother yourself that you realise how tedious you are to anyone who isn't there yet, and I also know how painful it can be to have a non-mothers professional successes cast in your over-tired face, but Sarah needed that, and considering the hours of joy she has and will provide for me - I had to return the favour.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

ash wednesday

We woke this morning to the Great Greyness. A world of smoke and ash, bad smells and scratchy eyeballs.
Schools were closed due to excessive smoke or fire risk, Stella had a temperature, we were all tired.

It was an apt choice of reading material Stella pulled from the bookcase, my ancient childhood copy of The Great Blueness.
And reading it inspired us to try a colour 'speriment I've had bookmarked for a while.

Drops of food colouring in a bowl of milk, add a couple of drips of washing up liquid and watch the colours swirl.

Later the smoke cleared and Frieda and I took the dogs for a much needed walk. The air was fresh, the clouds over the mountain mixing with the last wisps of smoke.
The world felt quiet and new.

4 days of fire

From Sunday afternoon, until tonight. 3000 ha of mountain, forest, national park and private land. Houses, infrastructure, habitats.

We've had front row seats, protected by our lake and as always awestruck by the extent of our view. I've seen so much flame - fields of flame, walls of flame, literally flame tornadoes, tsunamis of embers and flames in every colour imaginable.
We've heard the crackle while lying in bed, smelt the smoke and tasted the ash. We've had 3 broken nights of sleep as we feel the flickering reflections on our closed lids, and frequently wake to squint out the windows and marvel at the extent of it - growing and changing before our eyes, consuming the entire expense of the mountain range we're privileged to enjoy every day.
We've had helicopters fetching water from the lake in front of us and water-bomb planes droning overhead to and from their filling stations to the fire. We've had sirens all hours of the night and day.

But we've not had to evacuate. We've not lost a thing except some sleep and productivity (from watching and watching and watching). We've not been out there fighting this beast, we've not been inconvenienced much at all (some days off school for the girls, some worse-than-usual traffic). We've been very lucky.

It's been a wild few days.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

they really do

A few years back I was exiting a supermarket with two nutso little girls and a full shopping trolley. A full bladder too, but the thought of negotiating a public loo with two nutso little girls and a shopping trolley was too much to bear - adult diapers suddenly seemed like a really great idea.

It had been a painful excursion. Squabbling, whining, high jinks in the trolley and some of that awful exasperated-mother-in-public behaviour I am loathe to witness, let alone admit to.

The wind was howling, the car far away. One child was Not Listening, the other engrossed in collecting vile rubbish in a gutter.
A little old lady tottered over to us with a walking stick and smiled dreamily at the girls.

'Don't say it.' I thought, 'Do not fucking say it.'

But she did.

'Ah, enjoy it my dear, they grow up so fast.'

Really? Really? Not fast enough.

But they do.

Stella will be 5 next month. She has 4 loose teeth and long coltish legs. Her soft edges are sharpening up, her cheeks are getting more angular. Every now and then she says 'breakfast' instead of 'brekfik'.

Frieda got a Valentines rose last week. From a boy. A new swimming costume sized 9-10 is too small for her. She squeals when she sees a bug and this weekend, while romping with her on the couch, she cried out in pain and said her 'boobs hurt'.

They're growing up so fast. Not slow enough.

And I love it, I love the conversations and the explorations and the new realm of personhood they're both entering. But deep in my heart I'm also sad.

Does parenthood never stop with the dichotomous emotions?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

the other side

And just like that ... I'm here.

Back out the other side of a phenomenal week, a phenomenal job, a massively exhausting yet totally exhilarating experience.

300 delegates for 5 days in arguably the busiest week of the year in Cape Town.

(Truly, a few days before I tried to find 4 rooms in the city for some visiting guests (as a favour to one of our funders). I phoned THIRTY-EIGHT hotels, guesthouses, B'nB's - there wasn't a room to be had!)

The week was amazing. Filled with its share of challenges and near-fuck-ups and moments of glory.

We marched through the streets of Cape Town protesting unethical mining practises ...
... we went to great lengths to get the Group Photo ...

... we hosted one of the greatest women in Africa, Madam Graca Machel ...

... and we listened to the SONA chaos at what felt like the edge of the world.

There was the usual mix of divas and dramas, of scheduling crises and hysterical giggles. There was even a hilariously sad tale of a lost delegate, but I'm planning on doing a podcast about that.

And this past weekend there was a joyful return home - to two small girls who'd missed their mum, and a husband who was a total daddy hero, two mad dogs, two grumpy cats, a lake full of coots and a house full of laundry.
We're on the other side, and it's nice here.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

25 things about right now.

1. I spend all my days logged into the Other Google Account.
2. The one with The Work and The Questions and The People who need me all the time.
3. My life could not be more different to this time last year.
4. As the conference I'm working on draws near (9-13 Feb), I'm feeling The Thrill. It's a good feeling.
5. I'm working with such a diverse group of people.
6. And seriously have to watch my foul potty mouth - probably not a bad thing ...
7. Also, I was in a meeting this week with 5 other people who were all 5 - 10 years younger than me.
8. Just, wow.
10. Unrelated: if I want to send a Glitter Bomb I need only sweep my study (aka the Art Room) floor.

11. A Glitter & Dog Hair Bomb that is.
12. Seriously, our dogs have the worst life.

13. And on the subject of Lego, there's been a bit of building around here - it's a great work distraction.

(I only noticed the cat/eye thing when I downloaded this.)

14. LEGO building is also fun by lamplight, during load-shedding, which is back.

15. I'm extremely lucky to have a LEGO Fairy Godmother. She's been keeping us in steady supply.
16. Oh wait, there's more LEGO...
17. Somebody has started meticulously planning her birthday party in March.

18. These are all the items which will appear on her cake .... apparently.
19. Not pictured: a fluffy leopard (which I said would have to stand alongside because icing) and a ninja (because invisible).
20. I sense I'm going to have to relinquish control over this one. And that's okay.
21. There's nothing wrong with a LEGO-Leopard-Dinosaur-Ninja 5th Birthday Party at all. We welcome diversity in this house.
22. My brother and sister-in-law are moving into their new house (much closer to us - yay!) RIGHT NOW. We're standing by with supper ...
23. My other brother is getting married NEXT MONTH!
24. Family for the win.
25. Now what the hell am I going to wear for 5 days of formal conferencing??

Sunday, January 18, 2015

her tender heart

She comes running through the party, dodging platters of watermelon, grown ups happily drinking wine, balloon animals littered about the lawn.
Her face already crumpling, her feet silently hurrying her pain towards me as quickly as she can, she's not making a sound. Yet.

She tumbles onto my lap, her body rigid with the exertion of keeping it all in. Her face buries into my neck, her hands in my hair, her feet pull up and only then, only once she's in her safest space does she allow the first wail to escape.

I know now not to ask just straight off. I hold her as she sobs, her little frame slowly softening as she lets it all out.

I know that this wound is of the heart. Some slight, humiliation or bruised ego too sore to manage in front of her playmates.

A pain that, for now, only Mum's lap can soothe.

Her self-control astounds me, and concerns me. That I am still her refuge touches me, and makes me feel vulnerable.

The tenderness of this young heart is pure, beautiful, painful and terrifying. I hold her close and the knowledge that I'll not always be there at the right time to do so breaks my tender mothering heart as I feel hers starting to heal.

She is small, but she is fierce. She is brave, but she is just little. My little complicated girl.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

not toadally, but nearly ...

I've spoken about my bufonophobia before (possibly at length), and I posted about finally taking matters in hand and seeking professional help.

That was in September last year, but I only managed a couple of sessions with him until he went on leave, and then it was the Christmas holidays and then I tore that ankle ligament and couldn't drive for a number of weeks and then, then it was autumn again and the toads went back into hibernation and the issue became less pressing.

So it was with some apprehension this last spring that I approached Toad Season.

First we heard them - the little fuckers were literally at it all night. Mating, spawning, fighting for new territories.
We didn't see them really, but my goodness they made a lot of noise.
Husband would glance apprehensively at me across the room.
'They're really going for it this year,' he'd say.
'Verging on extinction my ass.' I'd retort. Nervously.

Then one day, in the middle of the afternoon, the puppy dug one out of its daytime slumber and BEHEADED it on the lawn.
Yup, headless toad on my lawn in broad daylight.
The phobia walls came closing in, and I'm not proud, but I had to get my 4 year old to go out there and put a bucket over it while I cowered in the doorway battling to sound calm and encouraging.

Back to the shrink I wondered?

But then I started thinking about what he'd said about that switch in my brain. The one that instantly links the sight of toads to heightened adrenalin and anxiety.
I decided that instead of focusing on the toad, I'd try and manage that switch.

And get this you guys, I think it's working.

I've gotten so that I can see one without breaking out in a sweat. I can be on the stoop and see one on the lawn and just stand still while Husband removes it - not rush away through the house slamming doors behind me as I go.

Last evening I saw one on the lawn and later, while seeing my brother and his wife out I saw another under their car.
I closed the gate, glanced left and saw a third in the shadows.

No nausea, no sweats, no racing heart.
I'm not going to pick one up and test the prince theory or anything, but I think I'm starting to flip that switch. I think I'm starting to beat this thing.

No pictures with this post for um, obvious reasons.