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.
9. RETRACTED
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.


Saturday, January 10, 2015

fri(e)da

I'm done with this piece.


I'm so happy with the eye, the hair, the whole face actually. But those damn flowers.
I'm done with them.

I've revisited this piece over and over for months now, I've redone those flowers 3 times, but I think it's time to walk away.
Be happy with what it is or move on (or back to) another project and apply the lessons learned.


Interesting for me is that going into this, I didn't expect the flowers to be the hard part. I was apprehensive of how to do her skin (it is so overwhelmingly smooth and flawless in the photo), her eye took me nearly 3 hours work (and I do love it), but I thought the flowers would be the easy part.

Clearly you stick 'n learn.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

nature wins! every. time.

My parents held out on buying me a Barbie until I was kind of over them. I suspect I'd not really ever been that 'into' them - all my friends had them so I should probably want one too right?

I now wonder whether that was part of my parents reluctance to buy one, along with the fact that they clearly disapproved and were probably not thrilled at spending cash on plastic crap.

We cracked and bought Frieda a Monster High Freaky Fusion doll for Christmas.

I think she's kind of over them, she's actually not ever really been that 'into' MH at all (she still calls the main character Jackie Laura - it's Draculaura - and she never watches it at home - not because it's banned per se, but I refuse to have that crap on in my house), but all her friends have them so she imagines she should too right?
I'd been reluctant to buy one because I sensed her lack of inherent desire, because I clearly disapprove (Monster High dolls make Barbie look like a wholesome girl-next-door type) and because really? I must spend cash on this plastic CRAP?


But at least she chose (from a toy catalogue which came in the post), the one who wears actual pants, and the childhood record will show that a Christmas wish was granted.
(Her sister, of course, chose a Spiderman figure who, in the interests of fairness and let this always be remembered as the Christmas of plastic tat, was also procured.)

Aaaand guess which Christmas present has been all but ignored?
Yeah, take that you freakish bat-eared large-headed marketing-driven twat.

Instead Frieda's spent the holidays ....


Excavating geodes.


Listening to 10 Phizz-Whizzing Audiobooks.


While endlessly, and meditatively, playing with Kinetic Sand.


Listening and sand.


Oh, and collecting rocks.


And foraging for wild herbs and flowers to bake into scones.

See more pics of the Good Hope Nursery Kids Foraging Morning here
Ugly, badly-made, profit-driven, largely plastic crap will continue to tempt her throughout her life - it still tempts me - but I'm so grateful that her true passions still lie in the real, the natural, the imaginative, the tactile.
And boy, she sure seems to love that pink top!

Monday, January 05, 2015

friends like these

We spent New Year's Eve with a bunch of very special friends.

This gang know how to party.

Piles of crayfish and crisp Pinot-Noir Chardonnay; late night shenanigans; the Brownie Stack before The Ganache; dancing homage to dessert.
And even better than that, they know what to do with a hangover.


Or at least, where to take a hangover.


All of them childless, they've been infinitely forgiving of our baby-rearing years of absence and have seamlessly welcomed our kids as part of the tribe.
They're warm and generous with our children, and gently and naturally they support us as parents when we're with them - carrying an extra bag, buckling one of the girls into the car, putting some sausage on the braai early on to feed the kids, self-initiated gestures of love to us all.


They like our dogs too!


Husband has personal friendships with most of them tracking back to junior school.

Slightly older than me they weren't my besties at school, but they were all there at the beginning of US, they created the context in which we found each other, and spending time with them takes us back there.


We might not see them as much as we'd like (and possibly if we saw them more often we'd not be as fond of each other - we all live very different lives these days), but when we're with them they remind us of the very essence of us.
They were in the front row when we began, they're still happily in the audience today, it's good to start the new year with their claps of encouragement and cheer ringing in our ears.
Good people.


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

books: 2014

Slipping in just ahead of the new year - my reading list for 2014!

I'm so pleased with myself for sticking with this since last year, and for updating and completing it in time for 2015 ... less pleased that it's been in drafts for months but hey ... it's been a busy year!

Fewer books than 2013 but none-the-less, I'm pleased with myself and spent the year in some very fine company indeed.

Ah reading, where would I be without you?


summer holidaze

I've taken so few photos, most of these are repeats from Facebook. It's a short holiday for me, just two weeks and then I jump straight into utter maniacal craziness until mid-Feb. 
It's been a busy, busy time - but full of beautiful moments.


A girl and her puppy - can you see his smile?


Sisters at play - a self-initiated game that went on until dark fell and the snails were begging for bed.


Special friends being silly.


These two mad things.


The salad selection at our Christmas party earlier this month. Not pictured, the mountain of meat coming in off the braai and the two massive pavlova's for dessert.


Christmas fairies.
Also not pictured:

- many, many swims in various bodies of water.
- me, restarting Serial (I tried just after the Oscar Pistorius trial but I think I was suffering from crime-intrigue-fatigue then) one morning while folding laundry and not stopping until it was DONE, much later that night.
- us, watching Homeland in bed every evening.
- so, so much food.
- so many good friends.
- the inside of my brain, calm and still.

'Til next year!