Tuesday, June 29, 2010

the one about home schooling

Some weeks ago the girls and I went to the library, arriving a little early. We sat on the steps with a couple of other people, waiting for the Children's Section to open.

A thin and nervous looking woman arrived with her daughter, the girl quite tall but probably eight or nine years old.

The librarian must've been delayed, it was a few minutes after 1, and with some theatrical sighing the woman asked me if she could leave her daughter in my care until the doors opened.

The girl happily came and sat next to us and started chatting to Frieda.
The mum stayed a few more moments, glancing twitchily at the other people standing around, then she left, sharply telling her daughter to stay close to me and not to talk to anyone else, pointedly looking at a lone man standing nearby.

By this point I was judging, obviously.
I understand the importance of wising your kids up to the world, but I felt like don't leave your daughter at the library with strangers if you're so hung up.
Then I berated myself. You don't know anyone's history, this woman may have had real reason to be so apprehensive. But then again, if she's so worried, why leave her daughter there?

The library opened, we went inside, the girl asked if she could leave her bag near me while she went to choose books.
She was chatty and friendly, even sat in on some of the stories I was reading to Frieda. She was taking out an enormous stack of books and had a little moan that her mother always made her take out some Afrikaans books too.
Her mother took a long time coming back. I was starting to wonder what I'd do if she'd not made an appearance by the time we were ready to leave ...

Eventually she appeared, just as twitchy as when she'd left. Asked me if her daughter had 'been any trouble'.

And that's when she uttered those loathsome words: 'I'm home-schooling her.'

Ah yes, of course you are.

I know there are some really great people out there who home-school. I read their blogs and often find inspiration in some of the activities they do with their children. And I totally understand how you'd chose to home-school rather than send your kids to boarding school if you live deep rural. But ...
Really? To choose to do it in an urban environment, to spend all day and everyday together, to be your kid's parent, teacher, life-coach, guidance counsellor, disciplinarian, bum-wiper, playground buddy to infinity and beyond?
Say what you like I think it's just. not. healthy.
For anyone.
Twitch twitch.

Monday, June 28, 2010

in her head

Last week we spent a morning at Kirstenbosch Gardens, one of our favourite places.

We did some balloon modelling (thank you Kirstenbosch for your kiddie's holiday programme - we love you) and then trundled around the Gardens for a few hours.

Frieda explored, I trailed behind zombie-esque, Stella soundly asleep in the pouch.

We watched some guinea fowl with unseasonal chicks, some older boys climbing trees. Frieda had her snack sitting on the giant low branches of an old oak tree, a stranger touched my heart by offering me a much appreciated cup of tea, without even expecting a chat in return.

Kirstenbosch has a new project, a temporary pavilion housing a sculpture exhibition and an amazing wall of vertical vegetation. The structure is mollusc-like, drawing you in to the centre where most of the sculptures are housed. Read more about it here.
We went in to explore.
Frieda loved the circular structure and, predictably, how the circular passages carried her voice shouting 'Sculpture sculpture sculpture' as she ran around and around.
In one side, out the other and off we went in search of new adventures.

It was only that evening, in the warm confessional dark of her bed as I tucked her in, that she said, 'I don't like that new house at the Gardens Mummy.'
Silence for a while and then, 'I don't want to see those sculptures again.'

I can understand how she may have found the work disturbing. Big bronze sculptures of human figures with horns and weird-shaped heads. Supposed to represent the wilderness in humankind or some such. I'm not a big fan myself.
But what interested me was how she showed no signs of discomfort when we were there. In fact I'd have said she hardly stood still long enough to really notice anything about the pieces.
Something stuck however, and she didn't like it.

I remember that strange headspace of childhood. How your responses to things, people, places are determined by the feeling you get from them. Not always able to articulate the exact source of your disturbance, you go with your gut.
It's an invaluable trait, one which I'd like to encourage in my kids. I decided not to try and work out with Frieda why she didn't like those sculptures. It's enough that she's that sure that she didn't.

Luckily, Kirstenbosch is filled with a lot of work she does like.

And we'll be back to visit those.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

daddy moose

Last weekend Father's Day was rather over-shadowed by The Birthday. Compensation felt in order.

Spicy with a hint of lemon zest, Big Daddy Moose biscuits seemed a worthy cookie with which to celebrate the father in our household.

The biscuit cutter was a gift from our favourite Heather. When I drooled over her haul from IKEA in NYC I did particularly like the look of the cookie cutter set. And when she got home, she gave it to us.
Thanks Heather!

And thanks babe, for being a wonderful Dad.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

3 butt dawg

so-so stephanie, posted this yesterday which reminded me of this picture:

We call it her 'police badge' stance.

Too much birthday/school holidays/soccer - this is all I got in me for now!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

oh, and ...

If you're a pro-lifer and believe a person's a person from the moment of conception then ... Happy 1st birthday Stella (for some time this week).

But let's not do that again this year ok?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

a happy time

Frieda spent last Thursday evening at Granny's. Something she's not done since I was in hospital having Stella.

Parenting truly does ruin your life. You spend so much time wishing for some peace and quiet, but when you do get a little break, and come home to the prospect of no manic supper and bath-time with your lively child, you find the house boringly empty. You don't know what to do with yourself. You miss the little blighter.

Stella however became extraordinarily loud that evening. Squeals and yelps of delight. Was she ...
a) filling the void
b) taking the gap, or
c) always so loud but we don't notice when her much louder big sister's around?

Not that there was time to relax or anything. Oh no, there was cake to be baked, fridge tart to make, pink squishy meringues to remake (seems I may have compromised my baking mojo with this post). There were balloons to be blown up and lots more preparation for The Third Birthday Party on Friday.

Funny story: ages ago Frieda requested a Fish cake and I duly started working on designs. In fact, she and I had a fun afternoon with an A3 sheet of paper and her crayons, conceptualising the whole event (I'll make an event coordinator of her yet). Imagine my horror when 3 days before the big day she started talking about the dog cake she was having for her party. Wtf?
She was mentioning it often enough that I was getting a bit nervous that we might be heading for some kind of disappointed breakdown should it not materialise. But like hell was I going to change the plans for THIS beauty ...

Hey? Hey? God, I'm proud.

I decided the success would be in the billing and, when revealing this work of cake wonder, I pronounced it a Dogfish Cake.
I think she was pleased, do you?

(Please note outfit from when she was a flower-girl at a cousin's wedding recently. Pearls on a 3 yr old are really not my style. But secretly I think they're kinda cute ...)

Kiddie party on Friday was followed by family do on Sunday (the actual day). More cake, more presents, more delicious celebrations.

And just like that, I have a 3 year old.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

three is ...

... the number of hours a week I've started doing some low-key work for a friend. Three hours in which I drive fast by myself in my car, listen to my iPod, wear dangly earrings, earn some pocket money and am Not A Mum.

... the number of mornings a week which Frieda spends at pre-school. Three mornings a week in which I only parent one child, don't have to answer incessant questions, can eat chocolate without having to share.

... the number of weeks Frieda's school will be closed for the holidays. Three weeks of parenting two children, answering incessant questions, eating illicit chocolate in the loo.

... the number of months we've had our Stella. Three months of baby delight.

... how old Frieda will be in a week's time. My baby will be three. And three is light years away from two.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

the fearless baker

If I had a food blog that's what I'd call myself. The Fearless Baker.

It perfectly describes the gung-ho approach I have to baking, and food preparation in general. I'm not bragging here, this um ... style ... of cooking and baking regularly backfires. I have a history of some godawful kitchen disasters.
No, my fearlessness is based on two things.
1. I'm lazy.
2. I'm inadequately kitted out.
For people who like to cook and eat as much as we do in this house we're woefully under-applianced.

Case in point: we have nothing with which to measure grams. Can you cope? How do you bake without being able to measure things in grams?
By guessing - not good for baking. And by using the ml/gram convertor on the last page of the Huisgenoot Wen Resepte circa 1977. Not ideal.
Also, we don't have a food processor. Nope. A stick blender and a hand-held mixer are our some-what primitive tools.

This, coupled with the laziness makes for some interesting recipe adjustments and leaps of faith. The laziness is how I come to make 'intricate' custards (read: from scratch, no instant powder involved) in the microwave. The lack of a food processor is why I made crumble with the stick-blender this evening. Surprisingly (check how I spelt that correctly), it worked.
Necessity being the mother of all fuck-ups invention and all that.

Fearless I tell you.

But also a little bit skanky ...
My grandfather (the girl's great grandfather) and his somewhat exacting second wife came to tea yesterday. Firstly I cheated and whipped up a cake from a [gasp] packet for them, iced with [gasp] the last of the icing left-over from my birthday tea which I had stashed in the freezer
But where it all got a little murky was when, as my guests walked in the front door, I went into the kitchen to turn on the kettle and discovered to my horror that the cat had licked half the icing off the cake!
Options: cut half the cake away, confess, look like a skanky housewife and cast doubt as to the integrity of the rest of the cake OR,
be a skanky housewife, grab a knife, redistribute the remaining icing to cover up the disaster and serve it anyway ...

The Fearless Baker. That's me.

Monday, June 07, 2010

an hour

What does the busy, sleep-deprived Mum of two small children do with a stolen hour while enjoying an incredible spa pedicure (courtesy of a dear friend - thank you H!)?

Turns out the answer is: cry.

Yup, while a sweet Thai girl called Pitar pumiced and pounded my feet this morning, I lay back under a scented eye-mask and had a little weep.

Here's the thing about being a new mother and time. Firstly, I have none. Time that is. But secondly, and seemingly contradictory, I spend a lot of time doing very little. This is called breast feeding.
A lot of time doing very little. A lot of time rooted to one spot where, if you don't have your diary, book or TV remote handy (and you're not simultaneously trying to read a story, shovel some cereal, wipe a bum, update facebook - 'cos all of this also often happens), you can find yourself staring at the wall your baby and feeling pretty unproductive.
(and yes, yes, I know I'm sustaining a human life and all that but still ...)

And so the hour set aside for this morning's treatment became even more valuable than it would seem. An hour without a baby on the boob or a child requiring attention. An hour in which I would still be immobile but my brain could roam free. An hour of peace and tranquility through which it would be a crime to sleep. Tricky ...
I knew before I got there that I was definitely not going to spend it in inane chatter with whoever was doing my pedi. I considered zoning out on my iPod but the battery was flat. I thought as I parked my car that I might succumb to some trashy magazine reading, but turns out it wasn't that kind of spa.

It seems I was going to be forced to just relax. And it seems that when presented with a little quiet corner in which to let go and just be, what my body wanted to do more than anything was have a little cry.
And so I did.
If Pitar noticed (how could she not), she said nothing which earned her a fat tip right there, and after a little weep and a simply fabulous foot treatment, I came home feeling much refreshed, inside and out.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

for laughs

'Cos for the first time in months I've got a touch of the Sunday evening blues ....

Friday, June 04, 2010

heeeeeere's stella!

And so it's happened. Just suddenly, she's here.

I mean, clearly she's been here for 12 weeks. But now, at 12 weeks, she's arrived.

She is a person, a presence in the room. She contributes. She is to be factored in. She is impossible to ignore.

She has a look as if to say: 'Right, here I am. What have you got in store for me world?'. And we look at her and say: 'Hello. What have you got in store for us?'

Who are you lovely little Stella? We can't wait to find out.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

great happiness ...

... is mine. Hello my lovelies.

feeling the vibe ...

One week 'til kick-off and just suddenly, you can feel the vibe ...

Gone are the beaded flowers and animals usually sold at the traffic lights, now all the vendors are selling flags.
Big flags and small, flag 'socks' to fit rearview mirrors, small flags for car aerials, bigger ones to clip on your windows. Almost every car on the road has one of the above, many have all!
My favourite are the cars, especially black lux vehicles, with two flags fluttering on either side, a look formerly reserved for heads of state and VIP cars.

Houses are flying the flag, businesses have giant ones. Flagged caps, bags, I've even seen sparkly alice-bands with two small flags bouncing from them (want one) - South Africans are letting it all hang out, and it's fabulous.

Americans are probably completely used to this proud and prominent display of the national flag, the strange feeling of stopping at the lights next to a fellow citizen with whom one probably has nothing in common besides that you're both proudly displaying your country's flag.
You'd think we should be used to it, we were (mostly) all so proud of our New Flag in 1994.
But it's only now, and prompted by that great unifyer: sport, that it's become so prolific.

Here's hoping we keep the flags flying long after the World Cup. Let's try and keep the vibe, it's a good one.