Sunday, July 31, 2011

Making changes

I have made quite a few changes to my online life. 

I don't do Forums anymore.  Okay, I lie, I sometimes go onto the local forum for parents / families of kids with cancer.  I'm not very active on it, but if there was a particular topic I felt I could add something to then I might respond.  I also have a few good friends / contacts on there from the time we walked the leukemia journey.  So I do visit this forum at times, but no other forums. 

Twitter is something I tried before, but I really and truly don't see the point in sharing with the online world every thing about me and where I might be and what I might be doing every 5 minutes in 140 characters or less. Some thrive on it, but I find it odd that somebody would write something like "just had lunch at XYZ - how amazing"  "At ABC getting my hair done"  "my kid just said poop in the middle of the XXX store - I'm so embarrassed"  And so I can't remember when last I accessed my Twitter account.  Sure, at some point I'll have to do it for our business, but then it will have a business focus.

Facebook.  Ahhh, Facebook.  Facebook was something I was incredibly reluctant to even start using, but then slowly but surely got dragged into this world.  And for a while it was a very valuable thing in my life.  It connected me to others during a time when we were so isolated and cut off from the world.  It put us in touch with others going through the same journey as we were walking.  So it wasn't all bad.  But lately I have noticed more and more how some people simply use Facebook to spread their negativity.  Or their hatred for others.  Or their political agendas.  Or even their attempt to spite others.  I've even had a "friend" actually replying to a status update I wrote and in no uncertain terms telling me off.  I simply wrote that it felt like summer was close to coming to an end.  So I got told off virtually within 2 minutes of putting up this status update.  This particular person felt very strongly that I was completely and utterly wrong and that even though technically summer was going to be over in less than a month, she simply didn't look at things that way and that as far as she was concerned summer was definitely NOT nearly over.  Sigh!  Really?  It was an innocent remark.  It didn't even ask for a response.  It certainly wasn't asking to start a debate over who was right and who was wrong.  But whatever.  So yes, I started getting really really irritated with Facebook.  So now I have completely stopped using it.  I have simply not been back.  The profile is still there, but I have no real interest to spend any time on it at the moment. I might change my mind at some point, but for now, this is good!

Blogging will always be something I enjoy even if I don't do it all that often.  And I enjoy reading other blogs.  There are a few cancer blogs I still follow and I love blogs that just deals with life.  Or topics that are so incredibly funny that when you try to read it to your husband you laugh so much he just looks at you like there is something seriously wrong with you.  Blogs that just deals with interesting things people get up to.  I don't like blogs that constantly deal with negativity.  I'm not talking about blogs where people are truly dealing with challenges like cancer or another illness or even something as traumatic as a divorce.  I'm talking about people who simply complain for the sake of complaining.  They seem to have a comfortable life.  They are not dealing with any major illnesses or other traumatic experiences, they have a good job, domestic help at home, they enjoy a range of luxuries, but despite all these things for them life is never good.  Life always suck.  They hate their life.  They simply can never see anything positive.  I don't deny the fact that they might not cope with living life, but I find it so draining to constantly be exposed to that.  So I choose to rather distance myself from that.  And it annoys me when every single topic is about comments.  Or the lack of comments.  Or how badly they want to have comments.  Sure comments are nice, but does it really matter when there are times when people don't comment?  When I look at my statcounter I can see people visited.  I can see they stopped by.  And that is the nice thing.  And after all, blogging for me is very much also a place to share snippets of our life journey also, so somewhere to look back one day and say "wow, just look at all the things we experienced, look at how we simply lived life".  And so yes, I have become rather selective with the blogs I enjoy following.  And I guess it just shows that we are all different.  We all have different ideas and interests and the beauty of the blogging world is that it can put you in touch with others who have similar interests and ideas.

I love how my kids:

  • Giggle at their own silly little jokes and games
  • I love how their faces light up when they see you
  • I love how they ask for the sleepy time song I made up when Bianca was only a few weeks old
  • I love how they say I'm the best mum in the whole wide world
  • I love how they don't throw temper tantrums. Ever. Not even when we go to the park and we have to leave.  Or go past the toy shop.  Or when they want something.
  • I love how they have become independent little girls.
  • I love how excited they get to help out at home.  They like to pack the shoes neatly, tidy the DVDs and even help clean the bathroom mirror and cabinet.
  • And I love how they will quietly close the door on a weekend morning and play and keep themselves busy until we get up.  And then to go one step further - and this morning Bianca made scrambled eggs all by herself (from the recipe she wrote in her recipe book) and she made Terence and I toast and scrambled eggs for breakfast.  All by herself.  And it tasted good!  Yum!

Monday, July 25, 2011

A chilly update...

This morning we woke to this:

These are the mountains / ranges / hills (whatever you want to call it) that we see when we look out our kitchen window (the brown house at the bottom of the bottom photo is our neighbours just across from our house, the middle one people on the corner about 2 houses away and the top one a little further down the street).  Up to now it has not been THAT cold.  I mean it's been chilly and we've had some rubbish weather with rain and hail and even a tornado, but today was freeze-your-fingers-off cold.  Brrrrr!!!!  So we had the fire going all day pretty much.

This morning the kids had friends over and after they left the girls were watching a DVD and I was looking out of the glass sliding door by our lounge and saw this:

I believe they are Eastern Rosellas.  A type of parrot that is really native to Australia, but was introduced a long time ago to New Zealand.  They are actually considered a pest as far as I can find out because they compete with our native birds for food.  But they are so beautiful.  And no they are not tame.  I've seen them before, but they are usually too quick for me to actually take photos of them, but today they were taking their time in our one tree.

Not long after, our rain suddenly changed.  We could actually see snowflakes.  It didn't settle on the ground, but for about 10 minutes or so it actually snowed.  The kids were totally excited and fascinated and couldn't believe their eyes.  I think the only disappointment was that it didn't snow enough so they could actually have snow on the ground to make a snowman :-)

Here is a small video clip of the girls' reaction:

Friday, July 22, 2011

A netball cake

Yesterday was Bianca's last holiday netball session.  She absolutely loved the netball sessions and I'm hopeful she's learned a few things that will help her with the remaining matches next term.  So for the session yesterday they decided to have a shared afternoon tea.

Bianca insisted that she was going to make a cake to take.  And it had to be a netball kind of cake.  So we consulted our trusty friend Google to get some ideas and some inspiration.  In the end Bianca decided that we would do a netball court cake.  And it had to be pink.  And so we made a rectangular cake and made some pink butter icing.  Bianca then used pink sugar paste icing and made the lines on the court.  For the poles we got some red liquorice sticks with round circle bits cut from left-over cake and for the people Bianca stuck lollipops.  Red ones and yellow ones for the two teams of players.  Oh and Bianca added little marshmallows all around the side.

I think it looked really cool.  When we got to the netball everybody was so impressed and all we heard was "oh wow!  It is a netball court!  I have to take a photo!" Bianca felt so proud.  And there wasn't even a tiny bit left when I picked Bianca up at the end of the session. 

Photo taken by the holiday programme netball coordinator

Thursday, July 21, 2011

If you are Afrikaans

Then you will likely appreciate this.  I have to thank Cat from Juggling Act of Life - she commented on my post yesterday asking me if I knew the story from Dana Snyman about Anneli van Rooyen's Neem my op vlerke.  So I consulted "trusty friend Google" and stumbled upon this story.  It has been a long time since I laughed this much!!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ahh, the memories...

I can't actually remember what I was looking for on Youtube.  But suddenly it was like a trip down memory lane.  Songs that were popular when I was very young still popped up in the suggestions on the side.  There are actually quite a few songs that when I hear them they instantly bring back memories and I can instantly remember that moment as if it was yesterday.  Except it wasn't yesterday.  It was a lifetime ago...

The moment I hear this song, I remember 1989.  I was in Std 5 (or year 7) (oh wow!  That's 22 years ago!!!!!!).  One of the subjects we had was needlework and that year our project was to make a top and a skirt which we then had to tie and dye.  And I chose this bright yellow.  I thought it looked stunning.  And of course didn't realise that it should be washed separately and so washed it with my brother's brand new white Bart Simpson shirt.  The moment I took it out of the washing machine and realised that thanks to my beautifully tie-dyed outfit, my brother's brand new shirt now sort of looked a very faded yellow.  Or rather white with these yellow splotches.  Panic!!  Big time!!  We had a block of sunlight soap and boy did I scrub that shirt of my brother's and thankfully it worked.  Phew!  But back to the memory.  That year we had a fashion parade at the end of the year to show off our sewing to our parents and this was the song that played:


1990 / 1991 (can't actually remember but it was one of these two years) I was very much into Roxette.  Like in big time.  Especially this one (but actually all of them) -

And my cousin made me this mixed tape (oh wow, when last did you see a tape?) and it had amongst others also this song:

1992 -

In 1992 at my high school we also had singing competitions where each class chose a song to perform on stage in front of the whole school and then at the end of it one class won.  Can't actually remember what the prize was, but our class did not win.  One class did an amazing version of Grease - Summer Nights.  My class did this one (apologies to the English readers it is an Afrikaans song):

And then still in 1992 one of my best friends really liked these two songs.  She could actually play it on her guitar and she often sang / hummed it.  What I remember from that time was that her and our other best friend and I were going to start a band.  We actually started trying to work out a band name and everything.  And that's a great goal to work towards...  except this particular friend was the only one who could actually sing or play a musical instrument.  So not sure how well our band ambitions would have worked out :-)

Ahh, and this one (well this one must have been way back in 1987 or 1988), but for some reason I really liked this song and so promised my brother I would sing it at his next birthday (I'm not sure he was very impressed with me, but anyway) -

Oh those were the days...  Of course now I simply feel old!

And this one deserves a mention (even if Terence will cringe at the thought), 1997 was the year that Terence and I met and started dating.  And of course in those days he was very much still trying to impress and I really liked Coleske and so he actually booked tickets for us to go to their show in Durban that year.  He actually went with me to their concert :-)  And he actually bought me their CD at the time. And he actually allowed me to play it in his car (now if I want to listen to something that I like - I have to either listen to it when he is not around or on my ipod) :-).  This song in particular played a lot on the radio prior to their show -

What songs bring back memories for you?

Having A talk

Last night Bianca and I had A talk (not yet THE talk).  Not sure when we are supposed to have THE talk, but so far we've not really had any kind of real questions.  Like she knows babies grow inside mummies' tummies and only once did she ask "so how does the baby get out of the mummy's tummy?"  We were in the car driving to the city at the time and told her that we would discuss this when we got home.  We didn't really feel ready to go into all of that with a 4 year old present.  But Bianca didn't ask again, so we haven't discussed it yet.  It's a tricky one because 8 feels so young, but then she's growing up so fast even if we desperately want her to stay little.  Before we know it it will be boys and make-up and wanting to go to the mall with friends and buying fancy clothes and all things teenager...

But back to last night.

Bianca likes Justin Bieber.  She's liked him for a while now.  She really likes his music and so for her birthday last year we gave her one of his CDs and a poster for her wall.  And so the poster has been on her wall ever since we moved here.  Last night as I was about to go and switch off her light I noticed the poster was missing.  Asked her where it was and she said "I don't really want it on my wall anymore".  "Really?  Why not".  "I don't know, I just don't"  And so after pushing a little bit it came out - her friends who sometimes come and visit said that Justin Bieber is gay. Sigh!  So here it starts.  The way friends can influence your decisions...

I explained that Justin Bieber has a girlfriend.  And Bianca said "yes he does".  And then I explained that that means he can't be gay because if he was gay he would have a boyfriend.  Not a girlfriend.  And that whatever his decisions - whether he was gay or not, it really didn't matter.  What mattered was that Bianca likes him and likes his music and that it didn't matter what her friends thought.  We then discussed how we can't judge others and how sometimes people might choose things or like things that are different than what we choose or like but it didn't matter because what mattered was that we like the person.  I then explained that she really likes her teacher's songs.  But other than that we really don't know that much about him.  But that didn't change the fact that she likes her teacher and that she likes his songs... 

I really don't think her friends fully understand what "gay" means.  Which is not surprising considering they are only 7 and it just shows how kids hear things from adults and don't always put it in the right context and then could potentially use it in a way that is not very respectful and potentially hurtful.  But it is tricky because no doubt Bianca will hear things and unless she tells me about it I won't know and I won't know if she understands the context of whatever is said or able to realise the context might be wrong.  I certainly don't want her to judge others or to use phrases to - I guess one might say - insult others.  Sigh! Parenting is hard!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Why did the bee get married?

Because he met his honey!
(A Caitlyn joke in the car today :-) )

Saying goodbye

It is never easy!  Especially when it is somebody extremely close to your heart.

Today we said goodbye to Marg, the most wonderful and amazing family support worker at CCF.  We met Marg way back in 2007 just after Bianca was diagnosed with leukemia.  She was the one who came and dropped off this big bag with essentials - a toiletry bag, some vouchers, lots of reading material to help us understand this new world called child cancer (and leukemia).  She was the one who organised a pink bandanna for Bianca when we asked because we were so worried about her losing her hair and wanted her to get used to wearing a bandanna before that actually happened.  When Bianca was diagnosed it was around 2 weeks before her 4th birthday and so suddenly with hearing the words "she has leukemia" everything changed and we had to cancel her birthday party, the venue, the friends, the entertainment - everything.  But it was too late to cancel the cake.  Marg organised an impromptu birthday party right there in the hospital for Bianca - organising some of the other patients, nurses and doctors as guests, organising balloons and some snacks and all we had to worry about was bringing the cake (not that Bianca ate any of it, she was on steroids and had a firm craving for salt and vinegar pringles chips).

Marg was more than a family support worker.  She was a rock in a very uncertain and unknown time.  She was a constant when the world felt like it was collapsing. She was a presence when all you needed was somebody to be there, an ear when you needed somebody to listen, and a voice when we needed to fight a hospital system not very understanding.  Marg was and is like family.  And she truly understood the road we were walking - once, a long time ago, she too was a child cancer parent and that aspect made her an amazing family support worker.  Somebody who could anticipate your needs, your fears, your worries without you needing to say anything.

Now after dedicating nearly 15 years to CCF, it was time for Marg to leave CCF and do something just for her and for her family.  But oh boy!  We are so sad Marg is leaving.  We will miss her so much.  But we wish her all the very very best.

Go well Marg.  You will never truly realise just how much you meant to us, you changed our lives in such a great and positive way.  Marg, it was such a privilege to have met you.  May the road ahead of you be filled with amazing blessings!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

School Feedback

And it is school holiday!  Hard to believe that there are only 2 terms left.  These school holidays we are not really doing much.

Next week Terence will be flying to Melbourne where he will attend some or the other course for work.  So it will only be the girls and I.

Caitlyn will continue with daycare (except Mondays and Fridays when she is home with me) and in the first week of the holiday Bianca will have a netball holiday programme Monday to Thursday for 3 hours each day.  Hopefully she'll not only have fun, but learn some new skills and techniques.

Bianca really enjoys netball and this morning's match was really good to watch.  Bianca played GK and the teacher was really impressed - twice saying "I really like you in that position".  At this age though, they rotate every week, so every week she plays a different position until she is a bit older.

Earlier this week we had parent-teacher interviews.  There are a few small areas Bianca needs to work on (nothing too big or serious), but she got really great feedback.  In particular she is turning out to be a really good teacher assistant.  This meeting confirmed again what we have known since the start of this year - Bianca is with the right teacher.  A teacher that not only believes learning should be fun, but that kids should be challenged to help them reach their potential.  And Mr Forster has put a lot of focus on Glossary which really really helps with building vocabulary.  So much so that Bianca often points out when she hears a glossary word in conversation or in an advert and will often insist on using a different word to describe things.  Maths too.  Bianca absolutely loves maths - which I'm so pleased about because maths was really a weak point when I was at school.

One thing that I've noticed about this teacher is that he has so much passion for what he does and that feeds through to the kids and I have seen kids so excited about school and learning.  Even doing the weekly homework sheet is something that Bianca feels very very excited about. 

And so I'm starting to feel just a little bit anxious about what next year might bring for Bianca.  You see - Bianca is gifted.  Especially with things like reading and spelling and vocabulary.  When she started school in Auckland, Bianca was a new entrant for 6 months and then started Year 1 the start of the following year.  At the start of Year 1 (age 5.5) Bianca was already reading past orange level (which was approximately age 6.5) and so along with another child in her class they started with proper spelling homework.  Her teacher always knew she was ahead and insisted on providing additional challenges and making sure that Bianca was at a suitable reading level and so on.

Then we moved here.

We really like this school, but Bianca's year 2 teacher (here) was very young and straight-away put Bianca down 2 reading levels because that's where all the other kids were reading at.  She simply did not have any suitable books for Bianca's reading level at that stage.  Bianca was already reading at silver level (actually beyond that, but her comprehension was tested to silver level at that stage).  And so at the age of 7 Bianca was at a reading level for 8.5 - 9 year old kids.  At first I didn't think Bianca's teacher really understood and as far as she was concerned all the other kids read to purple level and as long as Bianca was reading then that was all that was important.  I felt strongly that Bianca needed to be challenged otherwise reading would become boring.  So at that stage we got Bianca tested and armed with the test results met with the teacher and insisted they allow Bianca to read at silver level and since then the teacher made a real effort and offered some extra challenges.

This year, Bianca has had a great teacher. The teacher last year was good too, but I think this year's teacher is much much more experienced.  A teacher with a lot of passion for what he does.  It is obvious that it is more than a job to him.  It is obvious that he does what he loves the most.  Bianca loves glossary, she loves math and she loves singing (Mr Forster is known as the singing teacher).  Mr Forster writes his own songs and have published a children's book with a CD (You're not eating me which you can find on this website).

I can't help wondering who Bianca's teacher in year 4 will be.  Not all teachers focus as much on glossary and not all teachers are doing homework sheets.  For us it is really really important that Bianca will continue to be challenged and extended in class, something we felt Mr Forster has been able to do really well with her.  I wonder if the school will consider moving Mr Forster to Year 4 next year...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Stupid Dora

Once upon a time Bianca loved Dora.  So much so she watched her Dora DVDs over and over and she even had a Dora duvet cover and pillow case.  And I didn't mind Dora so much.  Bianca used to like Teletubbies when she was 2.  Then we thought she liked Barney because she saw it from somewhere and got her 1 DVD which we started letting her watch and that was sooooo annoying that the DVD conveniently disappeared very quickly.  Teletubbies I could handle, Barney most definitely not!  And then after that it was Dora.  Caitlyn wasn't so much into Teletubbies, she liked the Wot Wots and In the Night Garden, but also likes Dora.

This morning I kept Bianca home from school.  She has a fairly bad cough and didn't sleep well last night and since today is a half day anyway I figured it wouldn't really matter anyway.  So we had the TV on for a little bit as she is busy with the colouring competition sheet she got from school yesterday and guess what comes on?  That's right - Dora the Explorer.  I couldn't help smiling:

Dora: "Can you see the nutty forrest?"
Bianca: "It's right there, stupid!"
Dora: "We had 3 wishes and we used one, how many wishes do we have left?"
Bianca: "2, stupid!"

She got so irritated by Dora and her "stupid" questions and I had to remind her that Dora was made for little kids not for 8 year olds :-).  And of course morning TV is aimed at little kids not 8 year olds normally in school.

So all the parents out there pulling their hair out at shows like Teletubbies, Barney, Dora, In the Night Garden and so on... Rest assured, it does get better.  When they are 8 they think those shows are thoroughly stupid :-)

Monday, July 11, 2011

I'm nuts!

Utterly nuts.  And obsessive. 

So recently we watched Rio.  What a cute movie!  And one of the voices is from one of my favourite actors - Jemaine Clement.  I think Rio is going to be one of those movies we'll probably watch quite a few times.  And you should have heard Caitlyn laughing throughout the movie.  She thoroughly enjoyed it and of course her laughing would just set us off.  Then as I watched the movie I started wondering about exotic birds.  Like macaws.  And Cockatoos.  And all sorts of colourful parrots.  And what do I do? I start reading up on them.  And reading some more.  And I found myself actually wanting one of these cool birds.  And not just wanting one, but maybe even breeding.  We once visited somebody who actually breeds birds like cockatiels and budgies and we got to see the tiny birds that she was handrearing.  So cute.  So yes - in my mind I have this all worked out you see.  I would have this cool, colourful bird.  It would be tame, sitting on my shoulder, possibly even talking.  And how rewarding to go into breeding...

And really only one small problem.  We have cats.  And I don't really fancy our cats eating a bird worth a few hundred dollars.  Oh and there is the issue of noise I guess.  It could potentially likely drive us nuts if it was like a macaw or a cockatoo.  And they mess.  And they are like kids wanting lots and lots of attention.  They say cockatoos can live up to 80 years (so for 80 years I'd have something that is like a 2 year old). 

So in my mind I know that sure maybe one day it would be nice to have an aviary of birds with some being handreared, but now - with cats, with very little garden space (for aviaries) and small kids who could get seriously hurt - not a great idea for now.  Apart from the fact that Terence most definitely has not been convinced...

So yes, I know it is not going to happen right now.  But what do I do?  I keep reading.  Like I said - I'm totally nuts!  At least with all the reading if this ever was to happen, then at least I can say I've done loads of research!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Wild weather

So I understand there was a tornado here in Waikanae this afternoon.  [Insert shocked expression here] and I understand it affected the very bottom of our street (at the more rural side).  Not too severely, but still...

And the thing is... I slept right through it.  I probably would not have seen anything, but the wind would have been wild and I believe there was hail at one point and lots of rain.  The only way we were affected was with a brief power outage, but all good now.

It seems this is the year of extreme situations everywhere.