Saturday, 31 December 2011

At the close of 2011

What an emotional rollercoaster this year has been.

The pregnancy wasn't just hormonal; it was the sudden realisation that this time round I was completely on my own. That for me was the scariest thing about this pregnancy, if the new arrival was anything like the Butterfly for the first three months I was in a lot of trouble. So I had just gathered myself towards myself and gotten over my neurosis of the first trimester and we began planning for 2011. We had big plans for this year; we were going to make some big changes in keeping with our newest addition. Bring it on we yelled, we are ready for you 2011 and our third year at World’s end.

Then my Grumpy Father-in-law fell ill and landed up in hospital. It broke my heart watching the Mauritian sway back and forth between going back home or not. I watched him pace up and down as he spoke to his God Father, the family doctor and friends of the family. I could do nothing to ease his pain as he tried again and again to contact my Brother –in-law and just try and talk to him. I listened as he tossed and turned at night trying to figure out what he should do. It brought me to tears watching him hug his Butterfly goodnight with tears of indecision welling up in the corner of his eyes. I had no clue how he was feeling or how to help him. So I did what I always do when I didn’t have the answers, I turned to my clever Dad and talented Mum. My parents have always connected well with the Mauritian; they have taken him into the family and treated him like their own from the moment they met. The Mauritian in turn has learnt to appreciate my clever dad’s wisdom and logic and my talented Mum’s sense of humour and fun. He has over the years grown to respect and seek out their opinions and advice and much as I do. On visiting my Grumpy Father-in-Law in hospital my father said to the Mauritian: “You need to decide if you want to go home one more time to see your dad or go to his funeral!” The Mauritian’s mind was made up and we were running about getting things in line to get him home to see his dad one last time.

I have blogged about what an emotional wreck I was when he left, I still cannot get over how horrid I felt the day he left. I am at a loss to describe how much I missed his moans, groans and dirty socks for those three weeks. I am not sure who was happier that he was home, him, Butterfly or me. I sure am glad those three weeks are well and truly behind us.

The months of February and March were happy ones. My Grumpy Father-in-Law was doing well and had decided to sell his house and move back to Mauritius where he would have his family and old friends around him to help look after him and keep him company for what time he had left. We were unaware then just how little time he had. Even my Brother –in-law looked to be thinking of others before him for a change that did not last long. We began looking for a new house to rent, our first home had served us well the first two years but it was time to move on. I spend hours on the internet and on the phone looking for our perfect affordable spot, what a mission it was. Here at the end of the world you have to make an appointment to view the house through the agent. All viewings happen during working hours and an open house is only for an hour on a Saturday afternoon. It’s painful, but that’s the way things roll here so we just had to adjust. I cannot tell you how many homes we looked at, some were ideal but way out of our price range, some were in our price range but far from liveable, a few were awesome but the landlords were shits. It was in pure desperation that I contacted the agents for our home with very little hope. It was in an ideal area, within our price range and looked about the size we wanted, but there was no garage and the kitchen looked smaller than the one we had. Because the Mauritian worked five minutes drive away he arranged to meet the agent one day after work, while I sat at home watching eagerly for his arrival. I knew as soon as I saw him walking down the path way that this house may be almost perfect. I was right, he beamed at me as he said: “You’ll like it Manth, its way bigger than here, well insulated and it has a really good positive vibe!” He was almost right, it’s not a perfect spot but when I walked into the house it had such a happy vibe about it that it was hard to not like it. Of course the advantage of been so close to town, doctors, dentists and schools played a huge part in our choice, but it was the unusual design and the happy vibe we both got that made up our minds.

So by my 38th birthday we had moved into our new home, discovered we lived a five minute drive away from our favourite Kiwi’s and a two minutes walk from our very first friend’s here. By the end of March the Butterfly was enrolled in Kindy and we were awaiting the notification that she could start, the Mauritian was starting to get a grip on his job as “Service Advisor,” we found out our new addition was a girl and as winter approached we looked forward to warm nights in front of a roaring fire and cosy nights on new electric blankets. Life was good!

But come the Easter my grumpy Father-in-Law was in hospital again and the Mauritian was experiencing the same feelings he was three months before, except this time there was no money to send him home and I was feeling just as helpless. He was back on the phone again talking to anyone he could to get some idea how his dad was. He was never quite satisfied, the one person he wanted to speak to the most he could never get hold of, his brother. But, yet again against all odds my grumpy Father-in-law rallied and recovered and here at World’s end one very worried son breathed a huge sigh of relief. Up went our spirits it seemed the old man would be okay and would soon be in Mauritius and we could relax knowing there would always be people around him he could rely on.

After three rather uneventful months I suddenly became aware that within the next three months we would have a new born I was completely unprepared for. With all the emotional things going on with the Mauritian I had put the pending birth aside and concentrated on him, but now it was time to realise that no matter what happened we were about to bring a new life into the world and I had to prepare us for that. I also started to doubt my choice of a natural birth, it ate at me, and I was almost convinced I wouldn’t be able to go through with it. Though I had admitted to myself that I was very scared I told no one, I think I thought the less others knew the easier it’ll be. The problem was, keeping it to myself made me defensive and snappy so the Mauritian and I exchanged many a heated word over that time. At this time the Butterfly started Kindy, her excitement was electric and I was so happy she was finally going and was so keen to start. But then I said goodbye to her and watched as she ran out into the playground and I suddenly realise that my little Butterfly didn’t need me as much anymore. She was more ready for Kindy then I was, and that hurt like hell. I’m sitting here now and I’m wondering how all the changes that happened this year have affected her. In one year she moved from what was essentially the first home she remembered into a new strange place, she started “school” and she got a sibling! Those are some major changes for the adults in her life; they must’ve been astronomical for her. I know I keep replaying so many things that happened this year over and over in my mind and reliving those emotions. What is it that goes through her active young mind? Watching her now, running about popping party streamers and screeching at the loud bang they make it would seem that she was completely unaffected by these changes, but her pensive quiet moments say otherwise.

May was cold, so very, very cold. The kind of cold that has you wanting to stay in bed all day, drinking hot chocolate and eating soup and this was just the beginning of the cold season. Winter is a very depressing time of year, the clouds are low and black and the wind howls and the rain freezes on contact with the ground. People only venture out because they have to go to work or school and the friendly smiling Kiwis disappear inside layers of clothing and thick woollen scarves and beanies. Heads are tucked down in to their jackets and gloved hands are thrust deep inside jacket pockets and no one takes the time to stop and chat their only goal to get back inside where it’s warmer as quick as. I kept moving as much as my heavily pregnant body would let me during the day to keep the cold and misery at bay, the Butterfly’s sunny smile helped a little, she is unaffected by the cold. But it was those roaring hot fires that brought the cheerfulness back into our home in the evenings that made this past winter bearable. Then my grumpy Father-in-law finally arrived safely in Mauritius and the relief at World’s end was palpable, for the first time since January the Mauritian relaxed, secure in the knowledge that whatever happened his dad would be okay.
June began on a high note, the Butterfly was loving school, the Mauritian was feeling good about everything and in less than a month we would be welcoming the Lollipop home.
June was also the beginning of six very long weeks. As you know from previous blogs I decided one night to become a human see-saw and took a tumble at around 38weeks pregnant. Though nothing happened that was any cause for alarm it did scare both me and the Mauritian enough to leave us both on edge for those last weeks. I am now convinced that the fall jolted the Lollipop enough to move her back up and out of the so called “engaged” position. I also believe it was the reason why she was in the posterior position and not the ideal anterior position. All this I believe was the reason why she was born two weeks post date and why I was in labour for four days. So there we were reeling from the fright of my fall and trying to get over what was ultimately nothing serious when we were again told that my grumpy Father-in-law was back in hospital and things were not looking good at all. So now on top of everything I was again watching the Mauritian struggle with the fact that he could not be with his dad and wrestling with his anger at not been able to get in contact with his brother. Here we were nervous and excited about the delayed but eminent arrival of our Lollipop and grateful beyond words that the old man was in Mauritius where he had his family and friends with him and keeping us informed. We were happy, sad, angry, nervous, excited and everything else all at once all the time, there was never a moment when we were able to just sit back and for one moment and just not feel anything.

Things did not improve in July. By now I was post date and on edge thinking every twinge was the beginning of something, only to realise I was wrong and be very disappointed. The Mauritian was on that marvellous invention called Skype every night to his aunt hoping for good news about his dad and every morning on the phone trying desperately to contact his brother. At the same time he was trying to be my support and stay positive, something he struggles with under “normal” circumstances. By the time I finally went into labour he was scrapping at the bottom of his barrel of positiveness. Thinking back over those four days now I realise that he put every other feeling to one side and put all his energy in to helping me through what was to be four of the most confusing, frightening and painful days of my life. Everything he did or said over that time was in support and encouragement for me, his entire focus was on me and trying to make things easier for me. As always when I needed him the most he was there right beside me holding me up.

Hollies’ birth is indescribable, but admittedly I can remember very little of that day, what stands out for me was the immense sense of achievement. I had actually pulled it off, this time things went according to plan, well almost! The pride the Mauritian felt about his new daughter was written all over his face as he carried her out the hospital the following day, every person he passed on the way had their spirits lifted just from seeing his smile and the tender way he carried the Lollipop. I remember so clearly the sense of relief I felt as we arrived home and I sat down to a good old fashion English fry up, man I was hungry and the hospital breakfast just didn’t cut it. We spent that Tuesday floating on a cloud of happiness and pride, the Butterfly was fascinated by her baby sister and spent her time singing softly to her while she slept and watching everything that happened when she was awake. Our bubble of happiness was shattered that night by the news that my grumpy Father-in-law and finally given up the fight and died. I wrapped my arms around my husband and held him while he cried, there was nothing I could say to ease his pain. I had no idea what he was feeling at that moment and I was unable to give him the attention and support he so desperately needed and deserved in that time the Lollipop woke up I was needed somewhere else.

The next six weeks went by in a blur of hormones, breast feeds, nappy changes and midwife visits; I was numb, exhausted, cold and working on autopilot. I looked up and suddenly August was over and the Lollipop was six weeks old.

September brought the promise of summer as colour began to appear in the garden and the sun stayed in the sky longer. The Lollipop was growing well and things were getting a little easier as the routine began to settle. The Butterfly started morning Kindy, the Mauritian was finally beginning to come to terms with his father’s death and we had decided that we would be heading back home for a visit: Something to aim towards and look forward to making the year so far bearable and the year ahead exciting.

October saw the arrival of my lifelong friend and her family to our small town here in Taranaki. It is so awesome having her here, just knowing she’s in the same town as me makes a huge difference. I know now when I need a hand with something, a punching bag or a complete lack of sympathy she is only a few minutes away. Just knowing she is there has made things easier, having her pop in for coffee when she’s in the area has put a dent in the coffee supplies but man it feels so good to just be able to say what’s on my mind without fear of offending anyone. Just knowing that there is someone nearby that I can trust and rely on completely has made my life so much easier. I can only hope that I am able to be for her what she is for me.

Life has taken on a familiar and easy routine now, the emotion and upheaval of the first six months are merely a memory. Both the Mauritian and I are glad to see the back of 2011 and look forward to a challenging but happy 2012. On reflection now with all that seemed to be wrong with 2011 there was so much that was positive. We have met a wonderful couple we affectionately call Uncle B and Aunty Shell. Their generosity, helpfulness, unconditional friendship and kindness leave's us speechless with appreciation and amazement. They have officially become my favourite Kiwis, especially because they have gone out of their way to make us feel at home here at the end of the world and they have never expected anything in return. My hope is that despite the fact that they are half our age we will remain good friends through the years, but even if we don’t we will forever be grateful to them both for making us feel welcome. The friendship between our very first friends here has grown deeper and more natural now that we live down the road from one another. The friendship between their daughter and the Butterfly has grown to a point where they are swopping toys and making play dates regardless of what other plans there may be. We are entertaining again, having people in our home sharing our food and company was something we both missed. Hearing the laughter of children as they run about and the laughter of grownups at some dirty joke has a surprisingly cathartic feel to it. Preparing for those times and the clean up afterwards is so worth those moments of pure bliss when you feel like you have been a part of the system all your life and not just recently new to it all. The Kiwi accent and slang is no longer foreign to our ears, we still don’t sound like them but at least now we understand them. The Butterfly has grown into a happy, confident child who takes life head on and looks forward to growing up and learning. The Lollipop is absorbing the world around her with eagerness and a beautiful smile. The Mauritian is becoming more and more relaxed with each passing day and is accepting that to be happy here at the end of the world means becoming more tolerant of the way people are.

As for me, I am embracing the role of “stay at home mum.” I am blessed with two beautiful and intelligent daughters who will keep me on my toes and thinking out the box. I am blessed with a husband who manages to make me mad and happy all at once just because he can. I am blessed with a big and happy family that is scattered all over the world. I am blessed with old friends who will be there no matter what and new friends who will teach me amazing new things. Yes I am ready to kick 2011 really hard in the butt and send it flying into the past and welcome 2012 with all its unknowns, it possibilities and its changes, but I will never regret the lessons learnt or the memories made over the past year.

So to all of you who have been with us throughout 2011 thank you for your love, support and friendship you will be remembered always. To those who will become a part of our lives in 2012 I say welcome. To those who have been a part of our lives from our very beginnings I say thank you for being a part of our evolution, for being our influence, for being our history our present and our future.

To all of you, may 2012 be a blessed, peaceful and happy year. May the challenges you face with the dawning of a new year be made easy by the generosity and love of friend s and family and may you meet new friends that make you feel as special and unique as our new friends have made us feel in our new home.

Happy New Year and God’s blessings on you all as we welcome 2012.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Money Wise

Three weeks after my grumpy father in law died the Mauritian received his inheritance; we were both so stunned by the amount that we invested the entire amount immediately before we were able to spend a cent. Afterward we both kept saying that we should have kept some aside to buy this or that or whatever, of course if we hadn’t acted so quickly we would’ve spent most of it with ease. In hind sight investing it all was a good thing it’s given us time to get used to having the money and really think about how we are going to use it or work it. It also got us thinking about providing for our children financially and teaching them the value of money. So we did what most parents do, we opened savings accounts for both the girls and we put a small amount in every payday. We also began to discuss when it was the right time to start giving the Butterfly pocket money and how much. The Mauritian was all for giving her a small amount every week regardless, I believed the only way she would appreciate the money was if she worked for it. We also disagreed on the amount, I thought the Mauritian was being far too generous he thought I was just being a meanie; he even took to calling me “Scrooge McDucklit.” So we couldn’t agree on how to approach the issue and therefore nothing was done about it. Leave it to the Butterfly to solve our problem for us!

About 3 months ago the Butterfly asked us if she could have a watch, I was rather taken aback by the request as I had no idea what had prompted it. My first response was that she was a bit young for a watch, but I was vetoed by the Mauritian who said he would get her one but first he would teach her how to tell the time. I’m not sure, but I think he thought he could teach her right then and there, now the Butterfly is an intelligent child but I think that’s expecting a little too much. The Mauritian is so enthusiastic about his daughter and her eagerness to learn and understand all sorts of things that he sometimes gets way ahead of himself and her. So there I was watching the Butterfly’s eyes glaze over and her mind begin to wonder while the Mauritian got more and more involved in his lesson when suddenly I had a light bulb moment. The moment the Mauritian paused for breath I told the Butterfly that she could have a watch but she would have to buy it with her own money. The Mauritian knew where I was going and told her we would give her “pocket money” which she would have to save up, but, I chimed in, she would have to work for it. Yes, agreed the Mauritian, she would have to listen to us all the time and not be naughty, no, I said, you have to make your bed every morning. The Mauritian says she’ll get an amount every day she makes her bed; I whipped out a star chart and told her she’d get a star every day and at the end of the week she would get a dollar which she can put into her piggy bank. The Mauritian told her he’d give her two dollars and then looked at me and said that one dollar was too little. I stubbornly continued to tell her that she would receive a dollar a week until her star chart was full then she could count the money in her piggy bank and buy whatever she wanted with that money.

Too my complete surprise the Butterfly took to the idea very easily, she liked the idea of the star chart and was quite happy to make her bed. The fact that I had to remake her bed while she was at school was completely lost to her, she just liked the idea of been rewarded for a job done. She understood from the start what was expected of her and what the reward was at the end. I of course was very impressed with myself for having thought about the start chart method and that I had “won” the argument and she was earning her “pocket money” not just getting it. Needless to say I was brought down a peg or six when I asked her if she understood what we were saying and she answered: “Yes Mum, I must make my bed every day and you will give me a star and when that line is full I get money for my piggy bank. When the whole chart is full I can buy my watch!” I then asked her if she remembered how much we would give her at the end of the week, she answered saying “Two dollars mum cos one dollar is too little!” as always just when I think I am one step ahead I end up ten steps behind.

The Butterfly’s enthusiasm for her star chart never waned, every morning she climbed out of bed and pulled up the duvet before coming to find me to give her a star. She did so well that after three weeks I added tiding her room every night before bedtime, no problem. All I had to do was remind her about getting a star and she was off to tidy up as best a four year old can. Another three weeks pass and she hasn’t missed a day, I was toying with the idea of adding another task to the list but decided against it, she was doing so well I really didn’t want to jinx it. What amazed me was that she never questioned why some weeks she got one “gold” coin and other times a mix of “gold” and “silver” coins, she just accepted that the amount I gave her was two dollars and took great delight in dropping it in her piggy bank. Every week she would count how many more weeks till she could buy her watch that never changed though I was sure once she was able to spend it she would change her mind and buy something else. I was to be proved wrong once again.

This Sunday just past we were as usual running late for church so all normal routine was thrown out the window. During mass the Butterfly suddenly realised she hadn’t made her bed, she was devastated: “But mum, now I won’t get my watch!” she cried. It took a bit of convincing but eventually she realised that she had all day to make her bed and she’d still get her star. Needless to say we were pulled out of church and not given a chance to stop and greet some people, the last star was very important. Strangely enough once she had her star and her money she was quite happy to be told we couldn’t go and buy her watch that day. Fast forward to Wednesday, the Mauritian has taken a day off work and it is therefore his job to fetch her from school. She was home maybe five minutes when she did her usual of going to the fridge to see if there were any “treats” for her when she noticed her star chart. She stood looking at it for a bit then said “Hey Mum, my star chart is full I can get my watch! Can we go now?” So off we went to “The Warehouse” we were taken straight to the watches where she reached up and took one: “This one Papa I love it!” After making sure that’s what she wanted we headed for the check out where she proudly told the cashier that she bought it all by herself then she opened her purse and tipped out $20 in small change. Not for a moment did she waiver from the purchase of that watch, she seemed to fully understand that to get the watch she had to give all her money and she was amazed that she even got some of her money back. Though I have not allowed her to wear her watch to school or to bed at night she has proudly worn it every moment she can and we have begun to teach her how to tell the time.

She asked me this morning if she could have another star chart, I asked her what she wanted to buy next and she said: “I think my Papa needs a watch too!”

Friday, 18 November 2011

The "R" Word

So it’s October 24th and I’m grateful for three things, today’s a public holiday, tomorrow the Butterfly goes back to school and the Rugby World Cup 2011 is finally over and the AB’s actually managed to pull off a win. It has been the focus of the sports news here from the time we arrived at the end of the world and it grew in intensity until the brilliant opening ceremony seemed to justify all the hype. Now I’m not averse to watching a game of rugby but I don’t spend the length of the game screaming at the television or cursing the ref. In fact if I’m not watching it with a group of enthusiasts I get bored after ten minutes and either change the channel or go do something else. Here at the end of the world Rugby is not a game it’s a religion. The AB’s are the gods and while it is accepted that even these gods are human sometimes, their captain is infallible. The captain, it must be said is also very nice to look at, even when he’s battered and scowling after losing a game. In fact there are a number of pieces of eye candy on the AB team, a ploy I believe to keep the woman interested, some woman at least.

Every sports news segment on TV or radio, in every local or national news paper there is always news about a rugby game, team, player, coach or club. Every day something to do with rugby is been done or said. I’ve gotten quite used to it now and don’t even notice it anymore, but the closer we got to the RWC2011 opening ceremony the more “in your face” it got. The CBD of our little town is comprised of one main street and every second store was displaying some sort of RWC2011 decor. People decorated their houses and their cars, I saw a few dogs wearing AB colours and once the Butterfly arrived home from “Kindy” sporting a face painted “silver fern” on her cheek! I retaliated by sending her back the next day wearing her S.A. cap and a green and yellow t shirt. We did get caught up in the hype a bit ourselves, the Mauritian would tell anyone who asked that he was supporting the “Springblacks” and I said I was neutral but my daughters weren’t. We sat down eagerly to watch the opening ceremony and were suitably impressed by the display. Our little town was hosting three matches and as a result was bursting at the seams with tourists from Ireland, Russia, USA and Wales. Most of the towns and villages across World’s End had a “Party Central,” somewhere everyone who wanted to could gather together watch a game and celebrate or commiserate a win or loss. For us living almost in the centre of town “party central” was walking distance away and on a game night never out of earshot. There was a festive atmosphere that surrounded you wherever you went during those weeks; it seemed to me that everyone was always happy and smiling. It would’ve been hard not to get caught up in the fever of the RWC2011 but after a two year build up to it and three weeks of actual rugby I was saturated and was looking forward to the final, final whistle. I did switch over to the sports channel so I could at least know firsthand who won and by what points. I also enjoy watching the “Hakka” I think it is very powerful as well as entertaining, it’s an integral part of the AB’s game plan and in my opinion the best part of the match. The rest of the game I watched while “chatting” to my mum on that marvellous invention called SKYPE. She of course was openly supporting the French, while the Mauritian who was watching at a mate's was quietly cheering for them when he thought no “Kiwi’s were looking. But the ABs managed to win by just one point and World’s end erupted! The Mauritian, very wisely decided at the end of the match to head home, he said if he had stayed he wouldnt have come home.

A month on and the hype is gone and things are “normal” again, I even switch the TV over to the 6pm news at 6pm and not just before the weather report. The tourists are gone, the decor is down and the coffee shop prices are back to normal. There are tables available at the “Tea House” in the park and there is parking near the library. The locals are back to their regular routines and conversations are about politics, religion, school and how to get wine stains out of carpets and not about rugby or associated subject matter.

Yep now that the RWC2011 is over we can get back to the mundane and boring and maybe go a day without mention of the word “rugby?”

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

My Moment of Truth

I have come to realise that there is no sense worrying about my children:
I have learnt that they are going to catch colds and flu and all sorts of viruses and bacteria
I have learnt that they are going to fall over, trip up and walk into stationery objects
I have learnt that they are going to scrap knees, bump heads, chip teeth and break bones
I have learnt that they are going to feel intimidated, bullied, left out and ignored
I have learnt that they will make their own choices no matter the warning
I have learnt that they will learn the same lesson I did by making their own mistakes

I have come to realise that I cannot protect mychildren from everything life throws at them

But I can wrap my arms around them and comfort them
I can be their sounding board and punching bag
I can be their shoulder to cry on and ear to listen
I can point out the life lesson in the experience
I can be their doctor and nurse at any time day or night
I can try to catch them when they fall
I can give advice knowing that one day they just may listen

I have come to realise that or though these are my children they are not me.
I cannot fix in them what I deem wrong with me.
I can only marvel at their perfection and love them as I am!

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Two Sick Kids, an Eye infection and Cabin Fever

The October holidays begin and so does the rain, top that off with both daughters coughing and you’ve got a great start to what you hoped would be a good busy holiday for all of you. I was looking forward to not having to rush in the mornings and taking time changing out of my pj's and mini sleep in mornings. I was looking forward to picnic lunches in the park and walks to the library for story time and craft workshops for littlies. What I got was snot nosed children who kept me awake with their coughing and sneezing. What I got was woken up in the early hours of the morning by the Butterfly sobbing with fever. What I got was a Lollipop who had a hard time drinking because she couldn’t breathe at all. What I got was cold rainy and windy days that kept us locked indoors. What I got was rubbish bags full of used wet tissues. We took the girls to the doctors three times and though I knew there was little they could do for the Lollipop I was hoping for something to at least help ease the Butterfly’s cough. What we got was a pat on the back, a generic smile and a “Give it time for her immune system to do its job.” And more panadol!

So the first few days were spent with me on the sofa feet up, the Butterfly’s head on my lap tucked under blankets refusing to eat or drink and staring blankly at the television. The Lollipop resting with her head on my shoulder sometimes staring out of the lounge window at the rain other times sleeping, all the time her breathe rattling in her throat. The Mauritian would come home very concerned about his family feeling bad about not been at home to help out. Then they both showed signs of improvement but the weather got worse and there is only so much kid’s television one can stand. So now I have to find things to do with the Butterfly, not easy with the Lollipop attached to me in her “Kangaroo” carrier. Eventually the day comes when the Butterfly is well enough to not need me with her all the time and she wonders off after breakfast to entertain herself and the sun appears from behind the grey. Hope springs eternal indeed, perhaps the second week of holidays will be pleasant. No chance chicken!

Just when things were looking like improving the Butterfly wakes up with an eye infection that has glued one eye tightly shut. So it’s off to the doctors we go again! What a performance to get the Butterfly to sit still while I rub ointment on her lower eyelid. Why don’t these doctors listen when one asks for drops rather than ointment? The next morning at around four o’clock the entire household was woken by the panicked screams of the littlest. The poor little mite had been afflicted with the same eye infection and both eyes were well and truly glued shut. So there I was trying to un glue a Lollipop’s eyes while trying to shake off the last remnants of sleepiness, and the Mauritian was left with the excruciating task of placating a Butterfly with one glued eye who wanted her sister to be quiet and her mum to make her feel better. Not the best beginnings to what was to be a wicked day. A day I’m sure the Mauritian was very happy to have to go to work!
Five days later it was still raining and I was still fighting to apply eye ointment on the “twisting sisters” after struggling to unglue their eyelashes. So I just gave up! I stopped medicating them completely! Stopped the careful cleaning of each eye with boiled water and cotton balls. Stopped the battle of the eye ointment. Stopped rubbing “Vicks” on the Butterfly’s chest. Stopped the immune boosters and the panadol, stopped bothering to wash and disinfect my hands after every nose blow and stopped putting the Butterfly’s jackets back on every time she took them off. Stopped ensuring the Butterfly ate all the correct foods at the correct times. What I did do was grab a clean facecloth every morning and clean their eyes as best I could without a constant struggle. What I did do was throw open all the doors and windows and left them open for the day regardless of the rain, the wind or the temperature. What I did do was allow the Butterfly to eat junk all and drink Pepsi all day. What I did do was crack open two Karvol capsule and pour them onto the Lollipops pillow case so she could breathe at night and sleep through at least. What I did do was put some Vicks in boiling water and told the Butterfly to breathe deep and that would get rid of the sinus headache. What I did do was allow the Butterfly to go naked and barefooted because she claimed she was hot. What I did do was relinquish control of the situation and let chaos reign for a day. By six o’clock that night both girls were fed, bathed, wrapped up warm and tucked up in their beds on their way to fast asleep and we all got a full night’s sleep that night. By the start of the new school term there was no longer any sneezing, coughing or snotting going on and the tail end of an eye infection clearing up.

Just goes to show, sometimes the best way to fix a problem is to ignore it.

Friday, 4 November 2011

What Do You Blog About Anyways

So over the last fifteen weeks I have started, stopped, deleted, lost and restarted numerous blogs and even some rather awful poetry. I try, between a Lollipop, a Butterfly a Mauritian and chores, to find time each day to sit and type at least one inspired line. As always it never goes to plan. This past week with the Butterfly back at “Kindy” and the Lollipop co-operating I have managed to get on top of the daily chores and have some guilty free time I can take to sit and write. All I have done for the past week is sit, my muse got tired of waiting and went on holiday! In desperation last night I chased the Mauritian away from the computer and whatever he was researching to try again. To his credit he graciously gave way, stating that he would never get in the way of my “creative need.”

After about half an hour of muttering at the screen and swearing at my absent muse I gave up and told the Mauritian he could have his turn back. “Cool,” he says “I was reading this blog...” Ah, excuse me but did you just say you were reading a blog? I asked with what must’ve been a horrified look on my face. Sheepishly he confessed yes, he was reading someone else’s blog. So what is this blog you’re reading about? “Custom built speakers!” he grins back at me. Stupid question I tell myself! So seen as you can find all these blogs have you ever read any of mine? I asked this knowing full well what he’s reply would be, so it was no surprise when he said: “No!” What the hell I’d come this far may as well ask: Why not? The Mauritian takes a moment to consider his answer and weigh up the consequences of his reply then his eyes light up as he smiles at me and says: “Cos you don’t blog about speakers?”

So in an effort to convince the Mauritian that my blogs are worth reading, this blog shall be about speakers.
According to the online “Oxford English Dictionary” the definition of a speaker is as follows:
A person who speaks.
A person who speaks formally before an audience; lecturer; orator.
(Usually initial capital letter ) the presiding officer of the U.S. House of Representatives, the British House of Commons, or other such legislative assembly.
So I guess even though almost all of us will never preside over the “House of Representatives” or “The House of Commons” we are all speakers as we all speak at some point or other. It’s also not the subject that would convince the Mauritian to read my blogs because what he really means is “Loudspeakers.” you know, those things attached to your Hi-Fi system or “ electro acoustic device, often housed in a cabinet, that is connected as a component in an audio system, its function being to make speech or music audible...” and the Mauritian is obsessed! It’s also all I confess to know about the subject, when the Mauritian talks about it I watch it all flying up over my head and out the window all I do is smile and nod.

When I told the Mauritian what I intended to blog about he looked rather contrite and promised faithfully to check my blogs over the weekend. Oh dear, I have succeeded in making the poor man feel guilty, now I feel guilty for making him feel guilty. What to do? Do I tell him not to worry about it or apologise and say I wasn't pulling a guilt trip on him? Bit of a dilemma this one! In the end I chose to say nothing and just continue packing the dishwasher. In the silence he must have continued the conversation in his head because suddenly he said. “You know Manth I really don’t need to read your blogs. I am your blogs!”

Never a truer word spoken!

In My Opinion

So I joined this page on Facebook called Momalicious Mamas or something. My intention was to stir the pot and get moms talking or disagreeing, but it seems I decided to behave myself. What I did do was ask the question “Caeserian or Natural birth?” While some of the answers were just plain dull there were some interesting opinions. What I did notice was that most all responses ended or started with something similar to: “In the end its your choice, but if you’re asking me...”

It reminded me of when pregnant with the Butterfly. Whenever I spoke to my lifelong friend about her impending arrival she would say something along the lines of: “When you have the Caesar...” to which I would say: “If, you mean...” I think she jinx me! Needless to say in hindsight, I would’ve held out and tried harder to have a natural birth but there is nothing to be done about it now.

What I do know for sure is that both procedures have a place in this modern world and every mum to be is entitled to her choice. What I have realised is that there are lifestyles, expectations and circumstances that dictate the choices we make and it’s a triumph of modern medicine that woman have a choice. But I am also of the opinion that child birth has been modernised too much! From the beginning of time woman have borne children and millions of babies were born successfully without the option of a Caesar when things got a little too rough or epidural when the pain became somewhat unbearable. I ask people this question over and over, how is it that the woman of our ancestry coped with child birth, multiple times in most cases yet today with all the options we have we think we can’t do it without medical intervention? Now I know some of you are thinking I should just shut up about this because you’ve heard it all before and some of you will disagree but I really do feel that in this modern age woman have lost the birthing instinct and relying too much on medicine!

Nothing prepares you for the pain of labour; I have yet to meet anyone who can adequately describe the pain because there is nothing that you can compare it to. My “Gynae” told me it was the worst pain in my life, that meant nothing to me at the time because the most pain I’d been in was when I cracked my spine but child birth feels nothing like that. According to some research that I’ve read the “practise” or “Braxton-Hicks” contractions that happen all through pregnancy are as intense as actual labour. Also the post birth contraction that shrinks the uterus is even more intense than actual labour, but neither is as painful! Why is that? It’s the body’s way of signalling that gestation has ended and birthing begins. It’s the bodies way of telling the woman to go where its “safe.” Somewhere warm and comfortable and preferably sound proof so she can scream her head off and not worry about the neighbours. It’s the body’s way of letting her know, she’s done her bit for the last forty or so weeks now it’s time for her to switch off her mind and let instinct take over.

I believe that if women began to follow their instincts and listen to their bodies fewer of us would be afraid of the pain of labour and even fewer would actually feel as much of the pain. I believe that if we learn to embrace those first twinges of pain that indicate the start of labour the end becomes bearable. I believe that if we learn to focus on the end result and not on the process the pain is worth it. I believe that it’s the belief or lack thereof in our own abilities that affects our attitude and choices we make. I believe that every mum to be should, if able to, experience labour and childbirth and the empowering sense of achievement that comes with it.

But most importantly I believe, my body, my baby, my choice!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

"And the Nobel goes to..."

Not long after the Lollipop was born I was sent an appraisal form from the midwifery council here asking me to answer some questions about my experience with my midwife. It was the easiest and quickest questionnaire I’ve ever completed. I have nothing but praise for my midwife and admiration for all women for whom midwifery is a chosen profession. I don’t know about anywhere else but here at the end of the world, midwifery is not a high paying profession, these women do this work because they believe they make a difference. If I had to do it all again I’d chose a midwife over an obstetrician without a moment’s hesitation. The midwives I met varied considerably in age and experience, but all of them had the empathy and understanding that comes with shared experience, something a male obstetrician will never have.

My principal midwife was young and almost bursting at the seams with enthusiasm, something I found to be oddly reassuring. I found myself relaxing almost instantly in her company and completely letting down my guard, I liked that I was allowed to have bad days and she remained completely neutral. The interest and time she took to accommodate us and get to know us made me feel like I was her only patient, while in truth she is was very busy. I appreciated her honesty, which was never brutal or “sugar coated.” It was refreshing to ask a question and not feel like I’d asked a stupid one; it was even more refreshing to have an answer that I understood the first time round. I’m sure I was not her most laid back or easy patient, it’s not in my nature to be so but she never lost her patience or her smile. She oozed positive energy which made the appointments worthwhile especially near the end when just getting out of bed was a lot of effort.

Apart from having to deal with characters like myself midwives also have the added pressure of hormone imbalances, ignorance, unrealistic expectations and complete character changes during labour. These women put up with some rather colourful abuse, my midwife said she had a lot of stories to tell the grandchildren. After a conversation with one midwife I was left with impression that midwives are not taken seriously by the medical profession. I am sure as a generalisation that is not entirely true, but one GP I consulted did refer to them as “just a midwife.” Not something you say to someone like me who happily puts midwives on a pedestal, though I didn’t have the energy at the time to tear a strip off him I did give him a dirty look. So it seems to me that on top of everything else these women also have to defend their profession to some degree.

Like everywhere else, I’m sure, having children at the end of the world is costly, but unlike home here you have options which make things a little less heavy on the pocket. I could chose to have a midwife as my “lead maternity care” or I could chose to go to a private obstetrician. I could choose to have free care or pay in the region of $3000 or so. I’m sure the cost varies depending where I went but that was the first and only quote I got. I didn’t look any further because I had made up my mind beforehand that I wanted this second pregnancy to be very different from my first and I didn’t trust an obstetrician to see things my way. It is a decision and experience I will always be grateful for! There are medical reasons for using an obstetrician, I had one but I was determined to avoid them if I could and thanks to my awesome midwife I did. Back home if someone uses a midwife or has a home birth, among the people I knew anyway, they were seen as unusual or labelled “strange.” Throw in birthing in water and you’d really be considered slightly odd. Having said that though it does seem to be a trend that is catching on and I think that’s bloody marvellous. Here it is so common for woman to have home births, hospital births seem unusual. I have no doubt that if pregnancy was not government funded here it would be just as expensive as anywhere else and the ratio of woman who have caesareans and bottle feed would be much higher than it is.
It is precisely because it is government funded that the more natural processes of pregnancy and birth are encouraged. As I have mentioned, midwives are not paid exceptionally high salaries, and giving birth at home doesn’t cost the government anything so encouraging woman to make these choices costs the government less. A winning situation in my book because giving the mum to be so many options empowers her to make choices that fit her best and in the end have a very positive birth experience, no mum wants to come through that thinking “if only.”
Back home a mum to be has to rely on her “medical aid” to help cover the costs of monthly “gynae” visits and hospital costs. Though I never came across it I know that alternative options like midwifery are available but they are expensive and not covered by “medical aid,” making it out of reach for someone like me. You end up going where the “money” dictates and, certainly in my case come away from the experience feeling rather vacant.

I know there are women out there who will completely disagree with me and that’s okay by me. I stand by my conviction that midwives do an awesome job and the role they play is seriously undervalued.

If there was a “Nobel” prize for midwifery, I’d nominate my midwife!

Musical Memories

So with all the craziness that seems to be afflicting us here at the end of the world I have stopped and started a few blogs over the last month or so. I am now attempting to finish the others; in the meantime I’ll leave this rather delayed thought for your perusal.

Today has, for reasons beyond me, been rather hectic so it was with much relief that we put the girls to bed and settle down on the sofa with a glass of wine to relax. I know what you’re all thinking and no, we didn’t watch the SA vs. Fiji game we were otherwise occupied with children and dinner at the time and I forgot about the delayed coverage. Anyway, so there we were on the sofa missing the rugby and listening to music. The Mauritian’s taste in music is eclectic so we have a music collection that ranges from opera’s like “Carmen” to “dance” music and everything in between. Somewhere among the mound of CDs we have collected over the years is music that I enjoy. Sometimes I get lucky and the Mauritian will play something I enjoy, this night was not one of those times, I was subjected to Elvis. Now I like a few of his songs, but I am certainly no fan and the Mauritian knew I would roll my eyes as the first notes of “Blue Suede Shoes” played. Grinning he sat down next to me and told me he liked to listen to Elvis because it reminded him of the parties his parents used to have in Mauritius. Odd as it may seem the songs of Elvis also spark a memory for me, well one song really: I have vivid memories of my Uncle, the family comedian, doing his drunken version of “Jail House Rock.” I have to admit I like my Uncle’s version better, it was much more entertaining. Thus started our evening of trips down memory lane aided by music, we both discovered that night just how many of our memories are surrounded by music. We shared memories from our childhoods and spent a lot of time saying: “Remember when...”

I was struck by just how many shared memories the Mauritian and I have. We are still so busy getting to know one another that we forget just how long we have known each other. The Mauritian has met most of my family and all of my friends past and present, in fact we no longer have “his” and “her” friends they are all “our” friends. The same is true of me and his family, though there are many more we still have to meet. So many of these memories are associated with music, it is amazing to me how the first note of a song sparks a memory.
Sadly I was also struck by how much music reminds us of loved ones that have died. I have classic music cds that belonged to my “Oupa” and cannot listen to them without recalling the smell of his pipe tobacco. When I hear a song from Nana Mouskouri I remember my grumpy father in law stomping about the house with a whiskey glass in one hand, cigarette in the other and a scowl on his face. Whenever he played her music it was at a volume that the entire neighbourhood could share. My mum in law would tap her foot to The Beatles, Elvis, Billy Joel and even some of the more bazaar music to come out of the 80’s. There are so many songs that spark a memory of Marnie and her “joie de vivre” and it always makes me smile, even if a little sadly.

I confess I am a very sentimental person. I have learnt to let go of most of those physical reminders that end up cluttering up your draws and shelves. You know those things I mean: the little souvenirs from all those weddings you’ve attended, the ticket stubs from your first subway ride in London perhaps even your diaries you kept in high school. I moved so many times after leaving school that I grew tired of packing and unpacking all these useless yet sentimental pieces of my past. There are some things that I will never part with, like my photo albums, my scrapbooks and all the letters I got from the Mauritian during our matric year but my many moves slowly whittled down the useless clutter. Moving to the end of the world required a huge clean out which at times was like peeling off a layer of my skin but now I don’t remember what it was that was so hard to part with or why. In the end I still have what’s most important, my memories.

My musical memories!

Friday, 16 September 2011

A Moment of Reflection

It’s Friday afternoon, the wind is howling but the sky is blue and the sun is shining. The “Lollipop” is asleep in her rocking chair. My lifelong friend, visiting from Auckland has left her son with me for an hour or two and he and the Butterfly are happily playing in her room. My house is tidy, the washing is sorted and the need to cook supper is hours away. After a hectic nine weeks of settling into a routine with a new born, helping the Butterfly adjust to all the changes that a sibling brings and being a shoulder to lean on while the Mauritian processed and dealt with his father’s death I finally have time for a hot mug of coffee and a decent sandwich for lunch. So I make my coffee and sandwich and find myself relishing that first sip of hot steaming coffee. I take a large slow bite of my sandwich and it dawns on me that I haven’t written a blog in months. So I settle down at my lap top and start to reflect over the last few months and weeks to find a story to tell.

The weather today reminds me of one lazy Sunday afternoon at “World’s End” the sky is a cobalt blue not a single white cloud to be seen in any direction. The skeletal trees are standing forlorn and motionless on this windless afternoon and there is the smell of ice in the air. It’s mid winter at World’s end and its freezing!
Having tried desperately to sleep in past the sunrise both the Mauritian and I decided to brave the cold and emerge from under the covers. While I made the coffee and the Butterfly slept on the Mauritian relit the fire to take the chill out of the pre sunrise air. So our day started with our Butterfly sleeping peacefully and the Mauritian and I snuggled on the sofa sipping hot coffee and watching the flames in the predawn darkness. So began what has become a very mellow family day.
The Butterfly surprised us both by sleeping in till way past nine o’clock, I guess there is a first time for everything. I have spent some of the day engaging my muse and trying my hand at some poetry again, something I haven’t done for a while and feel rather rusty. The Mauritian has been the model husband and waiting on his family hand and foot. He has kept the home fire burning through the day keeping us comfortable and not in need of layers of clothing to keep the cold out. There is a constant supply of tea, coffee or hot chocolate with the odd glass of juice thrown in to ensure no one dehydrates. He has made sure the Butterfly is constantly entertained and I’ve been allowed to just wallow in a hot bath without disturbance for as long as the hot water lasts. Complete and utter bliss!
The Mauritian has also managed to indulge in his two favourite pass times listening to music and cooking. He started the morning off with a breakfast fit for, well for a family of three on a cold world’s end winters morning. The Mauritian prides himself on his ability to crisp the bacon without burning it and frying eggs without breaking the yolk. He can always be counted on to make some sort of onion and mushroom mix and throw in a fried banana if there are any in the fruit bowl. Satisfied we all retired to the lounge to bask in front of the fire and then get roped into a round of “bowling” with the Butterfly who proceeds to a convincing win over her Papa because her Mum forgot she was supposed to keep score. Two rounds of bowling, numerous colouring activities and three pots of tea later the Mauritian decided it was time to roast lunch. Soon the house smelt rather edible and the sounds of sizzling pork fat filled up the silence.
After lunch the Mauritian retires to the sofa for a well deserved afternoon snooze, the Butterfly settles down beside him to watch her TV programs and I waddle about the kitchen cleaning up the remnants of a delicious roast lunch. I contemplate a cup of coffee and joining my family on the sofa but its Sunday afternoon and the reality of Monday morning was looming. Being around eight and a half months pregnant I wasn't always guaranteed bondless amounts of energy when I needed them or a good night’s sleep on a Sunday. So I forego the desire to slouch on the sofa and tend to the tasks of preparing for Monday morning.
Satisfied that I have used my time wisely and can do no more I make coffee wake up the Mauritian turn off the TV and settle on the sofa with my family and a game of “Ludo.” The Butterfly is a horrendous cheat and wins the game. So we move onto a memory game after extracting from the Butterfly, a promise not to cheat. She doesn’t keep her promise and her parents are, among lots of laughter, yet again beaten squarely. Though she tried to make us we did not agree to another game and instead sent her off for a bath where she happily splashed until the water went cold.
What a wonderfully laid back and stress free Sunday that was,the three of us together for an entire day in one room, warmed by a roaring wood fire, good food and hot beverages while life past us by and the winter cold remained at bay. We past the time playing games or listening to music, we had discussions about important or random things and we laughed because we could. We spent quality time together as a family of three for what was to be the last time.
The Butterfly summed up our day when we put her to bed that night when she said “I had a great day thanks guys!”
Two weeks later we welcomed our little Lollipop into the family as slowly we begin a new journey into the future together, a future that hopefully has a few more lazy family Sundays in store for us.

The Lollipop is stirring, the Butterfly and her play mate are making their way down the passage bringing their play into my quiet place, my time for reflection is at its end and I must return to reality.

And as I prepare to upload this to my blog site I realise that my coffee has gone cold and my sandwich lies untouched.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

My Life Coach

With the imminent arrival of our little “Petal” looming it has become clear to me just how “unlittle” our Little Butterfly is. With her very short practical “preschool” haircut, sporting self chosen lime green winter pjs she looks every part the “Miss Independent” she thinks she is. Upon waking one very wet and windy World’s End morning she established herself on our bed next to her favourite parent demanding cereal (without milk) and juice from her mum. She brought supplies with her too, her “puzzle and paint bag.” She had emptied onto the bed her felt tip pens and colouring books and was busily colouring in and chatting to her favourite parent who was buried somewhere under a mountain of duvets and snoring quietly.
I stood quietly at the door listening to her natter away oblivious to the fact that she was getting no response from her favourite parent. Then it dawned on me, this wasn't baby talk any more, these were coherent sentences that made perfect sense and expressed her intentions or made her point. She was explaining exactly what she was doing and why with confidence and allowing for the odd grammatical error or mispronunciation there was no misunderstanding her intention. I have always been fascinated by the little growths and improvements to the Butterfly’s ability to communicate vocally. I think I’ve always judged her maturity and growth on how well she communicates with words. The Mauritian on the other hand judges her growth by her motor skills and her creativity.

Then she started “Kindy” and suddenly everything changed again, now we are having conversations about all sorts of things, including why she isn’t ready for bed or a bath. Now we also have to come up with logical reason why she can’t go to certain places, “it's raining” doesn’t work because we can put our raincoats on. She’s at the stage where she wants to do everything herself and she will stubbornly refuse help or advice while trying to put her pants on back to front or her shoes on the wrong feet. I am all for her trying until she gets it right or admit she needs help, but I cannot watch her struggle. At first I was always interfering and getting yelled at so now when she insists “I can do it I can do it!” I retreat gracefully telling her to call if she needs help. There are days when she gives in within minutes and comes looking for me to help her, there are other days when she ends up screaming with frustration but still stubbornly refuses any help. Then there are the times when it all just falls into place and she gets it right, those are the times she’ll come charging down the passage shouting “Look mummy I did it I did it!” Ah yes the simple pleasures of life, the sheer delight at managing to button up her pyjama top correctly all by herself. Would that life remained so simple! Along with the pride I feel that she got it right there is also for me, a sense of achievement that despite the many frustrated or abortive attempts before the triumph I was able to keep my distance and let her work it out for herself. That is the hardest part watching your child struggle with elementary tasks and not help; it’s taken me a long time to learn that. But now I’ve got the hang of it I am watching the Mauritian struggle with the same concept and I know that no matter how many times I tell him to just leave her to try he won’t. Like me he keeps wondering why she won’t let him help her especially because he wants to and he’ll do anything for her and like me he’s going to have to figure out that it’s all a part of her growing up and we can’t stop it. Like me he’s going to have to learn to back away gracefully and watch from the sidelines poised and ready to help only when asked. My telling him how to handle the situation only makes him feel like I doubt his abilities as a parent even though I’m only trying to help. Yet another lesson learnt!

I have come to the realisation that you spend your childhood absorbing life lessons and skills, your teenage years trying not to learn anything remotely akin to grown up behaviour and maturity and your twenties thinking you’ve learned all there is to learn about life. Then you have children of your own and suddenly you’re tumbling through a kaleidoscope of life lessons that throws you’re view of yourself, those around you and life into complete disarray. You begin to see things from completely different angles, the most telling of which is the view of the world through the eyes of your child. The world is a beautiful and fascinating place filled with simple joys and pleasures, colours are bright, sounds are intense, laughter and fun are priority and learning is a by product that you take in your stride and use it later when you need it. There’s no analysing the whys or how’s, things just are, the lack of logic makes things more interesting and the truth is the way things are not the way one wants it to seem.

On Tuesday our Butterfly turned four, her birth and those first sleepless screaming months a distant memory. Her baby years are over now, she skimmed over the toddler years with aplomb and has landed gracefully into the childhood years grabbing it head on and going full speed. All the Mauritian and I can do is hang on tight and enjoy the ride proudly sitting on the sidelines and learning along with her.

Friday, 1 July 2011

"Post Date" The Blue's and the Remedies

Forty weeks three days and still pregnant, the next two weeks or, hopefully, less will be the longest of my life. It seems that our little Petal is boycotting delivery due to the typical freezing end of the world winter. No amount of coxing, begging, pleading, demanding or even singing has made a difference. Even the Butterfly and her favourite parent have had a go at trying to convince her out. The Mauritian even went so far as to give a running commentary one Sunday night about how to build a fire and how warm and comfy it made the whole house. The Petal responded by kicking me in the ribs and head banging my bladder instead. Of course with the prospect of being overdue comes all the recommendations and remedy suggestions for this malady know as overdueness. There are of course the most common ones like; sex, long walks or castor oil! Then there are the herbal remedies like Raspberry leaf tea or black or blue cohosh, even nettles was suggested. Someone told me to jump on a trampoline; another suggested a tractor ride across a paddock or run up a flight of stairs. Then there is that famous pregnancy book and its author’s weird ideas; “...try singing Happy birthday.” But my favourite remedy so far comes from a friend we lovingly call “Beast,” who during our weekly text said “Drink a bottle of coke, hold your breath and jump up and down, it might work!” If laughter was a remedy I would have gone into labour there and then.

I have always had a suspicion that the Petal would be overdue, I’m guessing because the Butterfly was also born “post” date. I always hoped she would be born before the Butterfly’s birthday and not after. But right from the start I was of the opinion that it’ll happen when it happens and I was prepared to wait it out because the longer the baby is in utero the better for them in so many ways. Then, at around thirty eight and bit weeks I decided one wet cold Monday night to attempt a belly flop on our front lawn. I mean that literarily, I somehow managed to trip over my feet and landed belly button first on our front lawn. It was one of the scariest moments of my life. In hindsight though I am very glad our porch light was out and that it was cold and there was no one around to see, I must have looked a sight I’m convinced I see-sawed back and forth on my belly once or twice too. I know you’re trying not to giggle, go ahead; the pictures in your head can’t be any worse then what’s in mine. Anyway after making sure there was no external or internal damage and after reassuring myself, my husband and my Butterfly that both myself and the Petal were fine I retired to the bathroom for a shower and some alone time to gather myself together.

I don’t think I’ve succeeded this time! Since the fall I’ve been a bit of an emotional wreck and completely unable to relax. Before the fall the Petals head had moved into the pelvic area preparing to engage, when I fell the one sensation I clearly remember was of her moving up. I confirmed this when I saw my midwife that week, she was unconcerned and tried to convince me it would have no bearing on the delivery date. I’m not so sure! So now, since that “fateful” Monday night I have been on edge and wanting things to be over with, every twinge or cramp brings me up short wondering what it was and why. Then every time it’s nothing I’m disappointed and upset. I’m waking up in the early hours of the morning and just lying there waiting for something to happen. Every time I have to go to see the midwife or the obstetrician I find it such a chore and hope she makes her appearance before the next appointment. Of course so far nothing has gone my way! I think my midwife was sorry she asked how I was yesterday because I told her in much detail. It went something like this: “I am constantly dropping things yet I can’t bend over to pick things up off the floor. I can’t see my feet or reach them to put my socks on or scrub them so I have cold dirty feet. My arms have shrunk so I battle to reach the kitchen counter or the stove. I have to get into a comfortable sleeping position as soon as I get into bed because once I’m there it is impossible to move without asking for help, and the Mauritian is no help when he’s asleep. I can’t sit on the sofa anymore because I can’t get up without pulling some stomach muscle so I sit on our exercise ball, even when we have guests. Nothing fits anymore except for my pjs, but I can’t take the Butterfly to “Kindy” in them now can I. My belly reaches my destination before me and the Butterfly gets mad when she can’t just jump in my lap and cuddle before bed. I’m growing weary of all these appointments, I’ve rearranged the nursery far too many times to count and I keep packing and unpacking my hospital bag. So yeah, I’m all good thanks it’s just that right now I would willingly trade the discomfort, uncertainty, appointments and waiting for freezing midnight feeds, sleep deprivation and a screaming new born!”

So hurry up Petal or as your God Father says: “Wake up now sunshine is on your face, you need no more than the light of day... the time is now...the world is waiting come and play”

Sunday, 19 June 2011


Twice this month, via that marvellous invention called “Skype,” I’ve recieved a call from one of my many charming cousins. One call came from the shores of Lake Malawi and another from Big brother’s home on a coffee plantation in Tanzania. How cool is that!

Okay so a South African in Malawi or Tanzania is not an odd occurrence so why should I be so thrilled to hear from him? Well that’s simple, he’s family of course, and despite the age difference we’ve always had a good relationship. That and the fact that he and his girlfriend packed up or sold off their entire lives, left very promising and lucrative careers, loaded up a pair of motorbikes and headed up through Africa on a world tour! I remember thinking how different that approach to travelling was but have since discovered that it’s not as uncommon as I originally thought. It does, however, suit the type of people this couple are. This adventurous couple seem happy outdoors “roughing it” in a tent or doing some kind of adventure sport so a world tour on the back of a bike seemed natural.

But how does one come to a decision like this? This is how the adventurous couple explain it:

They were sitting at the bar in their flat looking out at their view of the Durban nightline discussing their future. They both like to travel and knew that the one thing they wanted to do before they settled into a life of responsibilities and “normalcy” was to see as much of the world as they possibly could. “The seed was planted,” and so began the discussions and decisions. Deciding that a trip through Africa was a good place to start was also the beginning of what would come to be known as “Africa2Anywhere.” So about two years on armed with a basic travel plan, a list of contacts all over the world, basic essential and a lap top they began their “epic adventure” and are now about Four months into their trip.

From the moment they told me of their plans I have followed the progress with enthusiasm. I have shared their excitement and disappointment and was thrilled when they were finally able to set a departure date and stick to it. The fact that they mark my birthday with their departure is something I’m sure that was completely lost on them, but not to me. I choose to attach significance to that fact just because I can. They also began their own “Blog” to enable them to keep some form of contact with friends and family and update everyone about the trip; I have read each entry over and over. I enjoy the way the way they write it like they are sitting across the dinner table sipping on a glass of red sharing a past experience. They spend the evenings writing in their own diaries and have already amassed an impressive number of photographs. All in preparation for that travel book they will publish at the end perhaps? I’ll be the first in line!

One cannot help but be impressed by a person’s decision to do something that is deemed outside of the ordinary. Everyone travels somewhere at some point in their lives, how many of you know someone who has done the usual in an unusual way? I can proudly say, “A cousin of mine is circumnavigating the globe on a motorbike!”

So it transpired that while I was sitting at my computer managing to hold three separate conversations with friends on “Face book” when my “SKYPE” rang. Annoyance at the interruption turning instantly to pure excitement when I notice who was calling, aandoning my friends to “Cyberspace” I eagerly clicked on “answer.” So egan what may be the only conversations I will have with my adventurous cousin for the next two or so years. I was thrilled, still am in fact!
What struck me about our conversations was how he struggled to put his experience into words that was written so clearly in the smile that radiated from him. He describes how while riding through Namibia he looked to the side and saw a Springbok gliding along beside him. The awe he felt from the experience written all over his face, it is something that will stay with him and shape him for the rest of his life. There is no doubt just how much they are cherishing every moment and experience, how unprepared they were for the intensity of emotions they are experiencing so early in their journey. I really am so proud of this adventurous couple, I think it’s marvellous what they have chosen to do with the next few years of their lives. Without any introspection or soul searching they will learn so much about themselves having willingly denied themselves any creature comforts and material influences. They have put themselves out there at the mercy of Mother Nature, reliant on the kindness of complete strangers, with the bare essential for survival and maintenance for no other reason than to be able to say, “We’ve done it!”

Sunday, 1 May 2011

"I'm getting too old for this shit!" and here's the proof

While attempting to stuff fibrefill into he’s new custom home built loudspeakers the morning after a night out with work colleagues the Mauritian declared: “Manth, I am getting to old to do these things anymore!” When asked why he would say that when by his own admission he only had two glasses of wine and a beer he put his tools on the floor and sat on the coffee table and said: “Exactly, and I feel like sh..!” He then went on to explain that the simple task of making tea for the Butterfly and coffee for her parents turned into a series of comical errors, which I find far too comical not to share.

For the first time in many weeks I have not been plagued by 5am backache which forces me out of bed and denies me much desired sleep ins on the weekends, so I made the most of it and refused to emerge from under the winter stack of duvets. The Butterfly is up and demanding tea and the Mauritian can no longer deny his need for a strong cup of caffeine filled filter coffee so he staggers out of bed into the kitchen. I went back to sleep to be woken up by a gleeful Butterfly wanting to share her last Easter egg with her mum an hour later. What happened in the interim was this:

Staggering into the kitchen the Mauritian filled the kettle and searched feverishly for our regular mugs forgetting to check the dishwasher, which has become the permanent storage space for them. Five minutes later the “penny” dropped and he found them all clean and gleaming where he had put them the night before. While waiting for the kettle to boil he then realised we had run out of tea bags and would have to make the Butterfly’s tea with tea leaves in a pot, you wouldn’t think that would be too hard to do would you? It is, if you are the Mauritian apparently! Into the tea pot went the filter coffee, which I’m sure caused a little mild cursing and not feeling up to the task of correcting the mistake he put the tea leaves into the “French press.” With one “problem” solved he successfully found the sugar bowl, which was fortunately full, only to realise that he had mistakenly put sugar in my mug and not his. Again, unwilling to compromise the amount of coffee he’d get to drink from his cup he decided he’d just not stir my coffee and I won’t taste the sugar. Now that works to a certain point, until I get to the last sip which I, as always, glug down and got a mouthful of half dissolved sugar! Not the most pleasant of wakeup calls, three hours and two cups of sugarless coffee later I can still taste the sugar. It was at this point in the now ill fated coffee/tea making mission that the Mauritian realised he had not actually turned the kettle on. By now this little slip up would have elicited a few more choice phrases from him. Switching on the kettle he reaches out to his left to take the milk out of the fridge. Searching a little desperately for the handle and puzzled why he couldn’t find it he glanced to his left to discover that he had not moved far enough to his left and was trying to open the grocery cupboard. By now those choice phrases muttered under his breath would be in French and the air around him would be tinged a little blue! Pulling himself towards himself and giving himself a little shake to wake up the Mauritian manages to negotiate the actual pouring of the water and milk into their respective pots and mugs and then tops off his morning by attempting to put the kettle in the fridge!

Are you laughing? I am!

Perhaps the Mauritian is right, if this is the after affects of a tame night out, then perhaps he is getting to old for that shit!

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Time Marches On

Week 28, 12 weeks to go! Holy crap! Father Time is just plain wicked, when you need him to move along with some speed he sits down on a park bench and feeds the ducks but when you could benefit from as much time as possible he hops on his scooter and puts his foot down. This is me thumbing my nose at Father Time, I will complete my “to do” list by the time the little “Petal” arrives so bully to you! This despite the fact that the list is the length of a dress makers measuring tape and I’m hoping the little Petal takes her time. Last weekend was spend washing all of the Butterfly’s baby blankets, toys and clothes I had kept as well as some hand me down blankets and toys I have received from friends here. The Butterfly and I also got stuck into the cot and gave it a really good clean, the paint work my clever Dad did on it is still good, thank goodness! I have also found some lovely bright pictures for the walls of the nursery; those went up during the week. Scratch those off the list and then add, storage, changing table and feeding chair! Hmmm...

Its times like these when I really miss my folks, my very talented mum has a mind that is drowning in ideas just dying to be used and my clever dad always seems to come up with a way to make mum’s ideas reality. That’s not to say the Mauritian and I are lacking in imagination, ideas or ability it’s just nice to have someone else to go to and say “HEEEEEEELP!!!” Of course most of the friends we have made here are so willing to lend a hand and we have on numerous occasions called on their generosity and have been helped greatly. But, been able to go to someone and tell them what we need or want knowing that no matter how badly I explain myself they’ll understand, is just so much easier sometimes.

On the scale of things 12 weeks is plenty of time, all we need to do is set aside a weekend and dedicate it entirely to completing the nursery, starting with prioritising the “to do” list. I’m sitting here typing this while the list runs around and around in my head and I’ve suddenly realised that so much of what I want doesn’t have to happen before the little Petal arrives. It would be nice to get it all before hand, but it does ease the load a bit. In reality twelve weeks is more than enough time to get it all done yet I am in a constant state of urgency about it, constantly fearing I’m not going to have it done in time. It must be that nesting instinct has to be that, right? I don’t remember having such intense feelings of urgency with the Butterfly, but the circumstances then where so different. The only person here I can turn to for help is the Mauritian and he has no clue what I’m going on about when I get all freaky about running out of time. As far as he’s concerned there are plenty of weekends available to get things done and no point trying to get it all done now! Before the Butterfly was born I turned to my very talented mum who just went with it and what I needed built or painted she enlisted my clever dad to do, the Mauritian got off scot free. No such luck this time round, poor guy, I think his poor head is spinning; he appears to be walking around with a bemused expression on his face all the time at the moment. Perhaps I should ease up on him a little.

Of course twelve weeks is plenty of time to get everything done but it’s scary to think that in just a short twelve weeks time our lives will change irreversibly once again. The truth is I am absolutely terrified and not looking forward to the birth. I’m not entirely sure why, but I think I can attribute it to being more aware of how things work and that they never turn out as planned. When it comes to pregnancy, birth and motherhood ignorance is pure bliss, in my case at least! Having been through an augmentation and induction followed by an “emergency” epidural caesarean section and not been able to breast feed I have stubbornly stood my ground that this time around I will deliver naturally minus the pain killers! I am fully aware that because of my previous caesarean I may not be able to deliver naturally, but I don’t believe that will be the case. My midwife has told me over and over that I am allowed to change my mind; no one will tell me I’m wrong. The Mauritian keeps telling me he doesn’t care what I chose as long as both the Petal and I are fine at the end of it all. I’ve had so many different reactions from friends and family and different levels of support for my decision and that has helped to keep me steadfast in my decision. On the outside at least, introspectively though is a different matter. I find myself thinking that maybe I should just go the Caesar route it allows me more control and from past experience, less pain and it’s the method of childbirth I am familiar with. But then I argue back, that’s just taking the easy way out and besides no matter how painful or difficult it may prove to be all I have to do is not change my mind until I can’t and by then it’ll all be over. But, argues my timorous self, you may go through all this anxiety and pain only to have to undergo the caesarean anyway, is it really worth it then. My stubborn, determined self hesitates for just a moment, and then it dawns on me! You know what; nobody knows what’s going to happen on the day. My midwife can only speculate, the obstetrician can only be informative and explore options and the Mauritian, the little Petal and I have no say in the end. In the end, how and when the little Petal makes her way into the world is known only to God Himself. I will do what needs to be done to ensure the safe arrival of my child and I will do it by putting my faith and trust in the same God who has directed my entire life with or without my approval. Doubt be damned I can do this!

So with my resolve strengthened and my confidence restored I shall face my midwife at my next appointment stubbornly refusing to consider changing my mind!

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Pregnancy Joys... or maybe not

So I am officially 23 weeks pregnant! According to one pregnancy manual the Miniature is about the size of a box of sugar or a bag of coffee beans. Now I’m damned if I know whether the authors are referring to a small 250g box of sugar cubes or a 5kg sack of coffee beans. So basically I’m still in the dark as to how big the miniature actually should be. Referring to another manual she is apparently about 20cm long, now that makes more sense. But is that from head to toe or crown to rump? If I “Google” it I’ll get another answer or rather another thousand or so answers if I choose to read them all. So I settle on she is somewhere between the length of a box of sugar cubes and a thousand answers on “Goggle.” With no fat layers under the skin yet she looks like a thin wrinkled new born, she has fully formed but colourless eyes and “tooth buds” in her gums.

I am, apparently gaining weight steadily as baby grows, may experience backache, water retention and a myriad of other undignified consequences of pregnancy. Let’s not forget that curse known as “porridge” brain or “nappy” brain according to my midwife. Not only do I find myself having to write everything down that has to be done for the day, I also lose track of what I’m saying midway through a sentence. Add to that the frequency of getting tongue tied on simple every day words and you’ve got yourself a really bizaar conversation. I don’t even understand myself when I talk to myself these days either. Then there is the endless heartburn and the ineffective tablets available at World’s End. From the beginning I have suffered from heartburn almost every day, the Mauritian went back and forth to pharmacy and supermarket for remedy after remedy and nothing helped, I would’ve killed for a “Rennies” or a “Tums.” Fortunately that wish was granted when the Mauritian arrived back at the end of the world bearing gifts of “Tums.” Sheer bliss!

Unlike when pregnant with the Butterfly I have also experienced those annoying cravings. Having not experienced them the first time round I was convinced it is a state of mind or a fallacy made up as an excuse to eat for the sake of eating. I was to be proved incorrect in this conviction. I have not had odd cravings like sardines and syrup on cabbage or a desire to eat grass but I have annoyingly had cravings for dessert pastries. Why, when one of the things that gives me violent heartburn is pastry, is far beyond my comprehension. The threat of heartburn and the fact that these cravings attack late in the evening has enabled me to resist them, but damn it’s not easy. The Mauritian, bless him, has said over and over that he will go out and get me something if it helps. But how can I allow him to do that when he is in his pj's, relaxing on the sofa with a cup of coffee listening to music? It just doesn’t seem right to expect that of him, beside I’ll just end up chewing a handful of “Tums” afterwards. I was complaining to my neighbour about the cravings and not knowing what to do about it. She laughed at me, which was rather perplexing until she reminded me of the tip I gave her when she had the same complaint; to kill a craving spread some peanut butter on a slice of apple and eat. Quit squinting at the computer like that, and wipe that look of disbelief off your face! It’s true and it works, I don’t know why or how but it does! Needless to say if we do run out of apples or peanut butter I will send the Mauritian out to buy some regardless of the late hour. What a wicked cow I am!

Going back to those pregnancy manuals, I should at this stage be feeling “some” light movement. Are you kidding me? Where do the words “light” and “some” apply to a miniature the approximate size of a coffee bean bag? This is not just movement this is a well aimed kick in the rib cage, a game of soccer with that organ called the bladder which doubles as an awesome pillow in times of rest. This is not just movement it’s a skip-a-thon using the umbilical cord, a gymnastic dance from one end of the uterus to the other and hey let’s see what happens when I jump maybe I can touch a lung. Just last week I was telling the Mauritian how much more gentle and calm the Miniature’s movements are compared to what I remember the Butterfly’s being. She made me eat my words this week, punctuation and all! But despite all the discomfort it causes it is the most fascinating sensation especially when it seems like she is responding to her family’s voices or when I press on my belly.

There is much speculation about whether or not a baby in utero can hear and later recognise certain voices and sounds, specifically music. There are still those that steadfastly believe it’s impossible. I am not one of those people. I am certain beyond any doubt that while in utero the Butterfly responded to both mine and her Papa’s voice. I say this because whenever she had been still for a while, if I pushed on my belly she always pushed back as if she was letting me know she was okay and when she was moving around a lot if the Mauritian spoke she would suddenly keep very still like she was listening. Then when he stopped talking she started moving again. There are certain pieces of classical music and songs that she still responds to today that I played over and over while pregnant with her. But the most convincing thing for me was when she was a screaming, colicky new born at the sound of her Papa’s voice she would stop screaming and lift her head looking for him. The pregnancy manuals say that a new born will only recognise the father from around 4 weeks or so, the Butterfly knew her father from birth because she recognised him by his voice. There is no mistaking the Mauritians rich deep textured voice and she knew it beyond any doubt.

So with this conviction I have made sure that the Butterfly speaks to her baby sister every day and at bed time she sings to her, because when the Miniature is born the moment she hears her big sister sing she will know exactly who she is. It is a moment I look forward too.

M.E. Rocks!

As most of you are aware I am a diehard Melissa Etheridge fan. I am enthralled by the emotional power of her lyrics and captivated by her music. I have all of her CDs and some DVDs and I will make the opportunity and time to play something of hers at some point during the day. I find myself identifying with so much of her music; I have a song for almost all occasions, from a bad day to doing the ironing. There are certain songs that remind me of friends and family as well as songs that have become a part of many memories. I simply cannot get enough. Her music for me is inspirational; I have written many poems with her voice crooning in the background.

Do I identify or even like her as a person? That would be hard for me to say either way. She is the type of celebrity who lives in the public eye. She is unafraid to put her personal life out there for all to see, considering of course how much of what the media reports one can actually believe. From all the interviews with Melissa that I have seen, she is not afraid to speak from a very personal level, and that is evident in her music too. But it all gets too much in the end! I’ll admit to being curious about her life, upbringing and inspiration behind her music, but now I just find the hype boring. I don’t really care about her sexuality, her relationships or her politics. How many times she marries or how many kids she has means little or nothing to me. There are so many rumours going around about her latest divorce and recent relationship that is painting her in a very bad light and giving the impression that she is a dishonest person. I say, who cares, and she’s the one that has to live with her conscience.

Melissa Etheridge is first and foremost an artist and entertainer. Her life revolves around her music and her fans, without which she would not be the “Best Female Rock Artist.” Like so many other artists and entertainers she has her eccentricities and oddities that have helped make her into the success that she is. Like all other celebrities she thrives on public recognition, and has to take the good with the bad to continue being a success. Like most song writers and poets she draws on her own life experiences to write her songs and make her music, it is this that gives so much of her music the raw emotion that wraps around you when you hear her sing. It just wouldn’t be an M.E. song if there wasn't that deep seated feelings of anger, love, confusion or joy in every note sung.

But unlike her first albums where the emotion was real and raw I am finding now that it has become a little bit forced and her songs a bit too autobiographical to be universal. I think she has begun to rely too heavily on her own experiences and is no longer writing from the heart. I think she is succumbing to the pressure to continuously perform and perhaps it’s time for her to go into hiding for a while and just breathe.

But even though her latest album is not, in my opinion, her best she has still managed to win me over. Despite her eccentricities and oddities and all the negative and over the top press she gets I still like the message she puts out there to “Speak True.” I will continue to do my housework with M.E. belting it out on my Mauritians Hi-Fi; I will turn her on when I need inspiration or to cure a case of the blues or bad mood. I will continue to buy her albums, pay my fan club membership fees and read all the gossip and news even though I don’t believe half of it.

I will continue to contribute to her success because, well, I’m just a diehard M.E. fan who cannot get enough. So in the words of one of my favourites from my youth, Michelle Shocked: “...Keep on rocking girl...”

Quietly Heroic

Christchurch is in the middle of a living nightmare having just barely started to recover from the last earthquake they are now reeling from the devastation of another. It is estimated that there are at least two hundred and forty people who died as a result, with scores more injured and even more homeless and jobless. It is a tragedy that has left World’s End reeling from the shock and horror. Not one single person has been left unaffected by this; even the Mauritian and I have been glued to the television or radio waiting for updates, hoping for some good news. There were lots of stories of “close escapes” and survival in the first two days after the “quake” but since then only heartache as the death toll slowly climbs higher with each passing day. Within hours of the “quake” Urban Search and Rescue teams (USAR) were despatched from all over Worlds End to help in the search for survivors, by the following morning there were teams from Australia arriving and still more from the States and Japan on their way. Add to that the police and fire service here and there is now nearly seven hundred men and women from around the world performing the daunting task of sifting through the rubble to find people who are trapped.

For just over a week now these selfless people have put their lives on the line for the sake of others, those from Christchurch putting the safety of strangers first before their own families. In an interview on the evening following the quake a paramedic said that he was just doing what he was trained to do and that keeping busy helped him to cope. How does one put aside the concern for one’s family and show compassion and empathy to those strangers around him? I for one think that is an awesome sacrifice. I heard about one man who had managed to get into a rather tight squeeze just to make eye contact with a survivor and while his team mates dug around them he stayed with her holding her hand and just being with her for nearly two hours. WOW! During an interview he was shifting from foot to foot and looking back towards the work site all the while trying to be courteous and answer the questions and tell his story. The interviewer eventually remarked that it was obvious the rescuer wanted to get back on the job. The rescuer responded that there is nothing more motivating then a successful rescue, the adrenaline is pumping and the only aim is to find and rescue someone else. What was most remarkable was this man had already been at it for twelve hours and all he wanted to do was get back in there and do more. That’s dedication! The common thread throughout when listening to interviews with these phenomenal people is that they are there because they want to be there. These people want to help those that are in need, they don’t see themselves as heroes, and to these people they are just doing what they are paid to do. As tiring, as “backbreaking” or as risky and their job is these people put their lives on the line for strangers not just because they want to but because of the immense satisfaction and sense of achievement they get from a rescue.

It takes a very special kind of character to do that kind of job. I imagine there is a need for “adventure” in these people that is fulfilled in a way, for sure none of these people could successfully hold down a regular office job. I’m sure they are “adrenaline junkies” in some way or another, and they would have to have a lot of self confidence in their own ability you can’t go into a dangerous situation without it. Watching all these interviews it is obvious that these men and women are very proud to do their job. The obvious satisfaction they are feeling and the empathy that shows on their faces while they are working is touching. I know I keep repeating myself but I do find it truly remarkable!

Seeing all of this going on I am reminded every day of my middle brother, he’s a fireman. Well actually he’s now also a paramedic with the fire department, I think. Let’s just stick with fireman in case I get it wrong. My brother the fireman! I love the sound of that I really do, because him being in this line of work is exactly where he should be. He is not somebody who could pull off a regular office job, he’s confident, and certainly a bit of an adrenaline junkie. But most importantly he has unlimited empathy and a willingness to help anyone if he can, even if it means taking a calculated risk himself. I know that were he here in Christchurch now he would give everything he’s got to help those trapped, I know that he would be saddened by the mounting death toll and I know that he would never give up hope of finding someone alive even now.

Watching the tragedy that is Christchurch unfold and hearing the heroic stories told has brought home to me exactly why my brother chose to be a fireman and I am very proud of him for doing so.

So here’s to you brother mine, it is an honour being your sister!