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Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Smiley Faces 2014


Well would you look at that 2013 has come to a close all of a sardine like! Bang! So begins a new year.

As I look back and reflect on the year that was it is apparent that it truly was my year to "just be." My time this year has gone into routines and day-to-day chores. No extras, nothing special and no reflections to blog about. I actually managed to achieve nothing, which, when you think about it, means I achieved exactly what I set out to achieve! 2013 was my year to float and I did it with aplomb!

On reflection I believe I did myself a favour because I am really looking forward to the New Year and am ready to face any challenge and to challenge myself, I have a long list of goals to squash into the next three hundred and sixty four and a quarter days! I am gonna take this bull by the horns and throw it out the window of the china shop! 2014 is going to be our positive year, I am going to spend the New Year looking only at the positive with the help from an awesome idea I found on the ever-present “Facebook.” As I type this instead of making dinner, my girls are drawing, or scribbling, bright happy pictures to stick onto an ice-cream box. This box will be our positive box and we as a family will, at the end of each day write down all the positives from our day and put them in the box. Then at the end of 2014, we will open it and read about what an awesome year we had. Now ain't that something to look forward to?

Today, yet again on “Facebook” a friend shared an inspirational moment at the end he wrote: “Rise above it, your energy is better spent on the good things in your life!” I am taking that with me into 2014 because, well, because there will be many small things and even people we all need to rise above in order to move forward. This year I only intend to move forward, I refuse to look back and indulge in the “if only” game, I shall remain in the now and deal with things as they are not as I wish they were.

I think the reason I am so amped for this New Year and the way I want to approach it is because of the way the Mauritian has responded to my ideas. This past year has been a hard one for him at work, even taking into account his ability to dramatise and exaggerate he has not had a positive year at all. As a result, he is determined that things will be different this year and he has been spending these past few days on leave planning how to achieve that. So when I suggested the “positive box” he was more than agreeable to the idea. This along with a number of other plans or resolutions we have agreed to has filled us both with a lot of enthusiasm for the New Year. In all our years together this is the first time we have combined our goals and agreed on a way to achieve them together.

So in all I am leaving 2013 behind with no regrets taking only the happy memories with me. I shall be surging forward towards fresh new positive goals. This year will be a year of smiles!

So to all of you out there here’s wishing you all a happy, positive and smiling 2014!

Amour, la lumière et le bonheur.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Living History


My parents are celebrating their 70th birthdays this November. They have been alive for almost three quarters of a century, born during a time when the world was at war and in total chaos; they have seen and experienced many changes to their way of life.
They will endure many a remark about their advancing age good-naturedly and  I am sure they have the odd retort ready to reply when the time is right.
 
I paused here for a moment to answer the request of a two year old and while I was attending to her needs, I thought "Seventy! Wow!” These two remarkable individuals have a living history, a history that is both unique to each individually and a common history. These two people can relate a lesson, a memory or a time in history of which they themselves were a part. They could regale their grandchildren with stories of their youth, back before there was even television never mind “Smart phones” and IBM. I think my Lollipop would be horrified at the thought considering how attached she is to my iPod.
 
I remember sitting and listening to my Oupa talking about his experiences during the Second World War or to my Marnie recall her childhood shenanigans with a smile. It was fascinating and to my young mind ancient history, almost as ancient as the pyramids. How precious those moments were, those memories, more so now that they are gone. 

My children will never get to sit at their granddad’s feet and listen to him reminisce while puffing on his pipe. We live to far away now for one and my dad does not smoke a pipe. My girl’s will never get to sit next to my mum and talk about random things and laugh with her when she recalls the nonsense of her youth. In a way, I feel bad about taking that option away from my children and my parents; I did secretly hope my children would have many of the same experiences growing up as I did. However, that is not possible is it? My children are not me, their grandparents did not have the same experiences mine did we live in different countries in a different age. Their experiences, their memories will be vastly different from mine. They are finding a way, my parents and my children, with the help of technology, aeroplanes and even snail mail. In their own way, without any help from me these four individuals are creating their own moments, their own memories. 

When I look back at my life, at my childhood, I suddenly realise just how remarkable my parents are. Our friends talk about their childhood and the way they were raised and I realise how incredibly lucky my brother’s and I were. My parents were strict, had certain expectations and standards and we were expected to meet them all. They drew on their experiences and mistakes and those of their parents and tried to show us how not to make the same mistakes. But, they embraced the wisdom gained through their lives and allowed us to make our own mistakes and learn from them. Yet, they never held their council, nor berated us with “I told you so.” I know I would not cope with my children if I did not have my mother’s knowledge gained over the past forty-six years she has spent raising her own children. I know there are very few decisions I would make without first seeking out my father’s advice or counsel. I know that in times of hardship or happiness it is to these two remarkable people that I turn first. Why wouldn’t I? Between them, they have accumulated one hundred and forty years of wisdom I would be a fool not to take advantage of it. 

It is with awe and pride that I celebrate the past seventy years of these two remarkable people. I will forever be grateful that they are my parents. It is with great sadness that the distance between us makes it impossible for me to be with them on their birthdays. I will be forever grateful that it was their love, support and wisdom that gave me the strength to make the decision to move to World’s end. For the rest of my life I will honour these two remarkable people. I will honour their legacy, their love, their lives, the lessons; I will honour them as individuals and as my parents.  

While the cake melts under the heat of seventy candles, and age carves the lines of time on their faces, let us all raise our glasses to two remarkable people as they begin a new journey into their Wisdom Years. 

And so

A TOAST
 

Here’s to the Wisdom years

To the infancy that was

The adolescence all but forgotten

Here’s to the memory of youth

 

Here’s to the Wisdom years

To the lessons masquerading as mistakes

The memories all but overflowing

Here’s to the recollection of love

 

Here’s to the Wisdom years

To the legacy that is

The descendants of the future

Here’s to the fellowship of life

 

Here’s to You

To the life you have lead

The memories you treasure

Here’s to living and how you live it

 

Here’s to the wisdom of your years!

Samantha Braum

 

Happy seventieth birthdays Mum and Dad! Love light and happiness! I love you!

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Lesson Learnt


There is one lesson I believe is very important to teach my children and that is the importance of seeing something through to the end.  When the Butterfly asks to do something that will take time and dedication I always make a point of telling her she has to finish what she begins. I do not believe that she will learn anything if she does not follow through to the end. Which is not to say she doesn’t try to get out of things, like mopping the kitchen floor, once she starts and realises it’s a lot harder than it looks.  When she was little, I was happy to help her finish, but now with her at school  whatever she starts she has no choice but to finish on her own.
Last cricket season the Butterfly was very eager to play cricket but half way through the season she began to make noises about not playing. Now as much as I would have been very happy to have my Saturday mornings back I dug in my heels and told her she had to see the season through. My main point was that she was part of a team and by not playing she was letting her team and her coach down. She begrudgingly agreed to see it through and I am sure every Friday night she prayed it would rain on Saturday morning and the game cancelled. So imagine my surprise when at the end of last term she brought home the registration papers for this cricket season. Two weeks of holiday, many discussions and warnings later I reluctantly signed the papers and paid the fee convinced I would eventually be telling my child “I told you...”
So, the first practise day rolls around and both the Butterfly and I are pleased to see that she has the same enthusiastic, humorous and involved coach she had last season. I have a feeling that Coach was the reason Butterfly enjoyed practise because he has a way of keeping the kids interested and running.  We were off to a good start, practise was fun, and she was looking forward to the Saturday match.  However, Saturday dawned and it was plain to see the lack of enthusiasm in the Butterfly as she employed delaying tactics in the hopes of getting out of it. Some sharp words from her Papa got her moving at least even though she was a little slow. To add insult to injury her team fielded first, she does not like to field and she was the closing bowler so she had to wait until right to the end that, she claimed, was not cool. So, she chased a few balls got mad because she didn’t get to them before another teammate, started crying and ignored the next two balls. But, a few quiet words from her coach and she pulled herself together and focused on the game, except now the ball didn’t go in her direction.  She did however bowl straight for two over’s and managed to get a wicket too and she hit all the balls that reached her when she batted. Her relief when the game was over was obvious when she asked me if she could add a star to her chart for “getting the job done.”
I was pleased when Butterfly said she was okay if I didn’t go watch her at practise this past Thursday and even more pleased when this morning the Lollipop decided to sleep in so that I had an excuse not to go with to today’s match. I think the Butterfly liked the idea of having her father to herself because she was rather keen to get going this morning. The Lollipop and I had a pleasant morning doing the housework and playing hide and seek. I did spare a thought for the Mauritian sitting there on the cricket field and wondering how he was coping with the Butterfly and if she was trying to get away with not fielding.  We were half way through a game of “catch the monster” when Lollipop started running to the front door yelling “Hello Sarah!”  I braced myself for angry faces and a bad mood, what I got was “Mum can I have two stars today!”
Apparently our Butterfly not only captained her team to their first victory ever, but she also got two wickets, ten runs and player of the day.
Lesson learnt I believe!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

The Little Catastrophe


As one daughter leaves her baby years behind the other hurtles through the terrible twos with the speed and force of a tropical cyclone. What a handful of nonsense our beautiful calm little Lollipop has become
In company she retreats into herself and climbs onto my lap to bury her head in my neck in the hopes of not been seen by strangers. Or, with some coaxing, she will sit with her sister in her bedroom and play. But alone with her family she is almost unstoppable.
The neighbour’s cat has begrudgingly given up his sunning spot on our trampoline because the Lollipop has trapped him in there a few too many times. In her delight and eagerness to touch the cat, I think she has almost dislocated his tail or maybe dug an eye out. Fortunately for her he is a placid old boy who never retaliates, just tried to run away.
She had figured out that to get into her sister's room where all the fun stuff, like felt tip pens and paints are, she just has to pull down the door handle. To reach the handle she had to stand on something. Mom was a step ahead this time and hid the stool! No worries for the Lollipop: By a process of elimination she discovered that, standing on a ball deflates the ball or standing on a pile of pillows gave you a sore head when you fell off, but empting mum's bedroom rubbish bin and standing on it you can just reach the handle and "Voila!" Of course now she doesn’t need the step up any more because suddenly she can reach.
To save my precious books from being ravaged by the Lollipop I locked them away in storage boxes and slid the boxes behind the sofa. At first the Lollipop thought they made awesome things to stand on and climb over the back of the sofa. However, now that she has figured out how the box opens it’s a treasure trove of forbidden goodies.
My clowns are off limits to everyone, nobody touches my clowns! The Lollipop doesn’t care; she reaches up as high on the tip of her toes as she can and shouts “Look Mum! Calown!” and smiles as her fingers stretch and grab for the closest one. I of course yell, “Don’t even think about it!” and land a firm smack on her butt. The Lollipop screams in horror and deathly pain, gives me a dirty look crumbles her face into a forlorn cry and stomps off to her room to hide behind her rocking chair and wail! Ignore her long enough and she'll come out her room looking for me, and, once she has found me she will look for something else illegal to do.

In these first official three months of the “terrible twos” Lollipop has managed to paint the bathroom floor with a brand new tube of toothpaste, filled the bath with washing powder and covered herself in my “Avon” eye shadow!
She refuses to play with her toys in her room, she will huff, puff and grunt as she drags her toy box into the lounge and topples the toys onto the floor.
She has emptied my bedside draw and refilled it with her sister’s toys. I have gone to bed only to discover all the Lollipop’s stuffed toys asleep in my bed. So I clear away the toys climb into bed and am singed by my electric blanket that is on the hottest setting.
I have looked out the bathroom window and seen her picking flowers in the garden, made my way into the kitchen to find her dragging in the hosepipe.
She can’t reach the pedals on her sister’s bike but she can stand on the saddle and sing about a “teddy bear’s picnic.”
Lollipop has discovered that soap makes the bath slippery and a slippery bath makes an awesome slide. I was picking my heart up off the floor when I heard a horrendous splash coming from the bathroom.
Sunday breakfast, I take a step back from the stove collide with a Lollipop recover from an almost fall only to lose my footing on the banana that she has mashed into the floor.
 
I am continually putting CDs back into the racks, books onto the bookshelves, glassware into the cupboards and bottles of alcohol back into the bar. I have given up packing her clothes neatly or putting her shoes back into the closet. I bought water based felt pens and leave her to draw on the fridge door, it’s amazing there is any paint left on it for the number of times I’ve had to remove marker pen drawings.
She hides in my cupboard, behind the television, under my desk or the dining room table; I’ve even found her between the washing machine and the sink. She’s been stuck between the fridge and the grocery cupboard, trying to climb onto the bar from the arm of the couch and climbing off a dining room chair onto my desk to reach a pair of scissors.
My darling child is always walking into walls and doors, tripping over her feet and she always tries to take off the corners of tables. I am constantly required to stop the bleeding, band-aid a scrape or kiss it all better. I am beginning to think she needs bubble wrapping and tying down!
 
It’s no wonder I’m now completely grey and leaving her in her pram in front of an ATM!

Monday, 7 October 2013

StumbleBum.com


It’s the beginning of the October school holidays; I should be relaxed and looking forward to stress-free mornings and no packed lunches. But I’m tense and in limbo I am expecting rain and cabin fever, lots of fighting and far too much children’s television. In my desire to put off opening the curtains and see the rain I began to unpack the dishes from a dishwasher I had forgotten to switch on the night before.
“Here please take your juice.” I said to the Butterfly while I tried to disengage my leg from a Lollipop who was insisting on a chocolate at six in the morning! To which she calmly replied “Actually mum I am guessing that’s actually Papa’s coffee you’re giving me!”
I put the kettle in the fridge, who hasn’t? I filled the sugar bowl with rice, tried to dress the Lollipop in the Butterfly’s clothes and even put my underwear in the Butterfly’s draw.
I took the wrong trolley babies and all while their mother happily filled my trolley with her shopping. I gave the Mauritian a lecture about being late for work after he’d left already and woken the Butterfly up in a panic because she’ll be late for school on a Sunday.
I went into a complete panic because my Tumble Dryer would not switch on, of course it won’t turn on when the dials you are turning are on the washing machine. I’ve switch on the washing machine and taken the dirty washing to hang on the line.
I went charging out the house with the Lollipop in tow ready to do my weekly shopping only to remember half way down the road that it was holidays and I should have a Butterfly with me too. Honestly holidays are over rated; they truly throw my routine out and muddy up the clear waters of my mind.
It is the start of the second week of the holidays. I’m all set; I have a plan of action! I have my list of things to do with the children and a timetable of what I need to do when so that there are no mishaps. I threw open the curtains to a cloudy but dry day and sat down to drink a cup of wake up coffee, then the Lollipop insisted on a cup of juice.  So I proceeded to fulfil her request by pouring her watered down orange juice into my half drunk coffee.
I am now going back to bed

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Happiness Is


It is a lazy Sunday morning; it is a warm spring day. The girls are squealing at each other as they run through the sprinkler enjoying the feel of icy water on sun warmed skin. The kettle is boiling, the dishwasher is thumping, and the washing machine is hissing the housework never stops. The Mauritian is slouched on the sofa listening to “Ole Blue Eyes” as he beseeches “Come Fly with Me” through custom-built loudspeakers. I should be attending to the mountain of unsorted laundry that has accumulated this past week but such gorgeous weather finds me outside in the sun reflecting on life and living. I should be playing mother and satisfying the hunger of my two children but I am too content to move. I would not have believed it if I had been told that one day I would be this happy, that life, as complicated as it is, would ever be this good.

Now don’t get me wrong there are days when I could quite easily chuck it all in and become a hermit. There are times when things are just too hard to cope with or I feel like a hamster going nowhere fast.  Then today happens and I realise for all its hardships, negatives and let downs my life is darn near perfect. I mean look at me, I’ve been married for fifteen years to the man I’ve known for more than half my life and I love him more with every passing moment. We have a Butterfly and a Lollipop who are reflections of us and yet completely new people. I never knew I had the capacity to love like I love my children. I’m a housewife and proud to be it even though I’m a useless cook and I absolutely detest ironing. We live in an awesome part of a beautiful country even if it is miles away from family and old friends and rains most of the time. I don’t have everything I want but I want for nothing and sure there are things we can improve but if there wasn't we wouldn’t be perfection in progress.
 
I just have to say it; I truly do love my life!
I love the fact that while I am trying to concentrate and come up with something profound and thought provoking to “blog” my Butterfly looks over my shoulder and starts reading what I’ve typed out loud without hesitation or mispronunciation.
I love the way the Lollipop puts her “Sega” top down the drain and then tries to hide behind me while her Papa lectures her about why she shouldn’t do it then tells me to smack him because he was naughty.
I love how every Sunday afternoon my house is permeated with the sickly smell of curry spices as the Mauritian experiments with yet another curry recipe.
I love the short hot summers and the long cold winters that World’s End endures year after year.
I love the monotonous predictability of our weeks that are topped off by the spontaneity and originality of the weekends.
I love knowing that every time we get into the car for a Sunday drive we’ll see something new and every new person we meet has the potential to be a new friend.
If that’s not perfection then I don’t know what could be.
 
It’s a lazy Sunday afternoon; it’s a warm and breezy spring day. The girls have made beds out of the garden chairs and are basking in the sunshine. The kettle is still boiling for yet another pot of tea, the housework is still not complete. The Mauritian is at his post in the kitchen and Melissa has begun where “Ole blue eyes” ended. It’s now time to leave the reflection for another day. It’s now time to conquer Mt. Laundry and be a mother to my children. It’s time to continue living the life I love.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Cross-Country, The Butterfly and High School Boys!


The children of Central School ushered in the spring with their annual school cross-country event today. The Lollipop and I strolled up to the park to support the not-so-keen-to-run Butterfly. We were well equipped with juice, snacks, and a picnic blanket to relax on while we waited. Boy did we wait! Against the norm for the school, they were running horribly behind schedule and things seemed a little disorganised. This did not suit our Lollipop, who had sat happily on the blanket chomping on her picnic brunch but an hour of waiting was enough. Eventually the Butterfly and her class got their turn to do their cross-country run and true to form, our Butterfly was the slow and steady tortoise who brought in the rear. Her little cheeks were glowing red and her forehead was shiny with sweat but she still managed to crack a smile and waved enthusiastically at her sister who was jumping about squealing with delight at having seen her. I was doubly proud of her today because she really was not keen to do the run and had even asked me if I would be mad at her if she did not run. However, despite how she was feeling she put her head down, got on with it, and smiled through it.

To help and encourage the kids during the run boys from the local high school cross-country teams join them on the course. These boys go around the course again and again with each age group not just to show the kids the way round but as encouragement and help as well. I watched them today as they took turns to help the front-runners set the pace and keep it going, encourage the middle ones not to fall back and to keep the ones at the back going with constant words of encouragement. This is a group of hormone enriched teenage boys, running, working and engaging with children from the ages of 5 to 11 years old. I find it rather heart warming watching them partake so willingly and happily. One such young man had the privilege of running at the back with the Butterfly and it seems they struck up a friendship. I could not see the entire course but a few of the mum’s along the course mentioned that he was talking to the Butterfly constantly and was encouraging her the entire way. As they came towards the finish line, I noticed that she had moved up the field a bit and was no longer last and there was this young man running right next to her. When the kids come on to the final 100 metres before the end the boys usual peel off and shout at their charges to “run like crazy” but not this young man,  he  put his hand on the Butterfly’s shoulder and he managed to squeeze a last ditch sprint out of the Butterfly to the finish. I watched with a lump in my throat at this young man beaming as he congratulated and “High fived” my Butterfly while she jumped up and down with obvious delight.

From what I can gather from the Butterfly, she had said she did not want to run and this young man had convinced her to join in by saying he would stay with her for the entire “race.” He was as good as his word and never left her side. According to the Butterfly, he was nice to everyone and even carried one of the “special needs” students around the course so that he could partake in the day. I have to admit I am really impressed, not just because this teenager single out and helped my daughter accomplish something she was beginning think was unachievable but with all these boys. They not only gave the impression that they were enjoying themselves but also that they wanted to be there, that they wanted to help!

As the Lollipop and I made our way slowly out of the park at the end of the day the high school boys and their coach walked up behind us, on passing the Butterfly’s “friend,” after confirming I was the Butterfly’s mum, said: “I enjoyed running with her, she tried really hard!” I wasn't able to get much more than astammered thank you out before he was swallowed up by the crowd and the Lollipop decided she wanted to go somewhere other than the way we were going. I wasn't able to ask him any questions or even find out his name, the Butterfly was no help when I asked her because she said she forgot.

The Lollipop eventually agreed to go my way and we walked past these boys getting into their school transport. I overheard one of them saying that he would do it all again next year because he really enjoyed himself and it sounded to me like his schoolmates agreed.

Hats off to you boys, both the Butterfly and I think you boys did an awesome job today and we look forward to seeing you all again next year.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Easter Memories


Easter this year was shaping up to be bright and warm and cheerful but true to Easter weekends of memory Sunday it rained. Still Easter Sunday has been warm and cheerful despite the rain. Very different from most Easter weekends I remember. I've never found Easter memorable here it’s always been a bit heavy and dull. While I was charging around the house on Saturday morning, trying to do housework around the family I was reflecting on why Easter holds little meaning to me now. Just to clarify I am not talking from a religious perspective but merely from my own human perspective.

I think now that I can look back with no emotion I realise that our first Easter here was rather horrid. Though physically we had moved countries and into our new home and for the Mauritian a new job, emotionally we were still way behind. We were lonely that Easter, it was cold, raining and damp. We were very unprepared for how cold it would be, we were expecting to be cold we just had no idea how cold. We didn’t have a lot of money spare that year so we weren’t even sure we could afford to buy Easter eggs for the Butterfly. I remember telling the Mauritian that it didn’t matter; she was still so young she wouldn’t really understand anyway. I also remember feeling so guilty for saying that too. We did eventually manage to buy a few small chocolates and hide them on the veranda. There we were, wrapped in layers against the early morning cold braving the pouring freezing rain while our precious Butterfly charged up and down finding little treasures and wanting to open and eat them all at once. She was in her element, I felt terrible!
I remember so many Easter weekends surrounded by cousins and Aunts and Uncles. Everyone talking and laughing at once lots of business all round. I remember been dragged off to so many church services and having to be quiet and well behaved for so much longer than usual. I remember charging around the garden with my cousins as we all competed to see who could collect the most chocolates. I remember after all that hard work having to beg a chocolate from my mum for the rest of the holiday. Such blessed happy memories even with the grey clouds rain and cool mornings. Now as I watched my child get stuck into her first Easter “egg” hunt I felt terrible that she was all on her own. I was beginning to think perhaps we had be too hasty in our decision to move, my doubts were as black as the skies that Sunday.  We curled up on the couch under a duvet drinking cup after cup of tea and just watched the Butterfly flutter about playing without a care in the world oblivious to the turmoil going on within us.
The following year we were in the final steps towards permanent residency and because of the cost still a little strapped for cash that Easter. In a stroke of genius, or so I thought, I decided to make the Easter chocolates that year. That morning was again grey and cold but at least this time it wasn't raining and the hunt took place in the front yard. But the magic had gone out of Easter for me there was still so much guilt about the Butterfly doing a solo egg hunt.
The past two years it’s been up to the Mauritian. I felt no interest or anticipation for Easter, for me it was just another cold, dark, wet day with memories I didn’t want to keep. The Mauritian complained bitterly about the rain while he tip toed around the house hiding chocolates. The Butterfly squealed with delight at the thought of a rabbit hopping about the house hiding Easter eggs while she was sleeping. I was grateful for the distraction of the Lollipop last year I was too busy with her to stop and worry about what my Butterfly was missing. 

What a difference a year makes! Suddenly Easter’s magic has returned. Thanks to the security that comes with the realisation that our choice to move was the right one. Thanks to the companionship of new and close friends. Thanks to warm blue skies and bird song. Winter is taking her time leaving the north so summer is holding on here a while longer so this year Easter has been warm and bright despite the compulsory Easter Sunday rain. In the early morning dark, the Mauritian and I ran about the back yard hiding chocolates anticipating the look of our children’s faces. When the time came the Butterfly took the Lollipop by the hand and off they went on an egg hunt. How lovely it was to watch them tearing about the garden finding treasures everywhere. For the Lollipop it was pure magic, she still pops out into the garden to check if something else has magically appeared. This afternoon we joined friends for a lunch time barbeque. This couple have no children of their own but the house was filled to bursting with their nieces and nephews and children of the other guests. The Butterfly was delighted, especially as there was a classmate of hers there too. Even the Lollipop was easily detached from my leg and swept along by the rampage that only children can make. Come to think about it, for the first time since our arrival in our corner of World’s end we were at a barbeque where we knew everyone. No introductions required! But I digress, after lunch today the kids were told that there was another egg hunt to be had. Off they went tripping and falling over each other to find the huge quantity of chocolates that had been hidden around the house. The Lollipop was not left out and even though she found some herself the other children happily past on one or two of their finds to her, she had quite a stash at the end. The noise level was great with every child speaking or shouting at once, the adults just sat in the dining room leaving the children to their own devices! No worries cos that’s just how we roll!
Today I said goodbye to my Easter guilt as it dissipated with the squeals and yells of children having fun together. While the adults cooked and cleaned laughed and talked, storing new memories safely away. My how the times have changed! 

The stubborn summer sun is slowly setting on this peaceful Easter Sunday evening. Neil Diamond is softly serenading “Holly Holy” the Mauritian is dozing on the couch. Our sweaty chocolate covered daughters are splashing quietly in the bath before bed. And here I am once again reflecting on what was another perfect day and feeling just a little sentimental.

 

The Job at Hand


Like her mother before her the Butterfly is not the most agile or athletic child. Unlike her mother, however she is enthusiastic and game for almost anything. The Butterfly will give it a go if everyone else is. 

The Butterfly loves themed days at school and has happily dressed up as a pirate, a Christmas elf, or a Butterfly Princess and worn a bazaar wig to a disco.
Her first month at primary school she took part in the school cross country with boundless enthusiasm. The Mauritian was instructed that she needed new trainers and I was told she needed comfortable clothes to run in. The Mauritian bought her a brand new pair of trainers; I just dressed her in her same clothes. In the days before the event, the children trained daily with their class and we were given a daily report of her progress.  My heart almost burst with pride on the day, she put her head down and just ran. Two circuits of the cricket field at Pukakura Park and not once did she stop to walk or get distracted by the other children around she just got on with the job at hand! When she came home that afternoon, she said, “Did you see me mum, I just got on with it and I didn’t give up. I made it all the way to the end!” What an immense sense of achievement she must have felt that day.
The one thing she has is rhythm, she loves to dance and as with all else she does it with great enthusiasm. The school dance saw her dancing her little legs of and smiling broadly all the while. Again, I noticed the immense concentration; she repeated the steps over and over with great precision. She would be concentrating so hard on getting the steps right she would lose time then she would scramble to get back in time. Five songs they danced to of varying lengths and not once did she turn to look for me or stop dancing she just got on with the job at hand!
I asked her afterwards if she'd had fun: “Yes mum,” she said jumping about “dancing is super fun but it makes me tired sometimes!”
Then she started playing cricket, and apart from the first game when she complained bitterly that she did not like fielding, she attacked it as enthusiastically as everything else. She never missed a practise or a game and showed improvement and increased enthusiasm each time. Her proudest moment came the game she was chosen as the captain; she hasn’t let us forget it. I love watching her play she misses more balls then she catches or hits but she goes after every ball. She loves to bowl and does it really well. The thing I’m most proud of is how she just gets on with the job on hand. She makes a point of always watching the ball even if sometimes it takes her a while to realise the ball is heading towards her.  I asked her after a game once if she enjoyed fielding now and was told “No not really but I just get on with it.”
After struggling, together to teach her to swim the Mauritian and I were floored at how much she learnt during her swimming lessons at school. From not letting her face get wet to holding her breath and sitting on the floor of the pool in five short weeks. At her swimming demonstration she had a look of determination on her face, her Papa was watching she had to show him how good she was.
Then came the Central School Junior Triathlon! The Butterfly was so excited she could hardly sleep the night before. Yet again, her enthusiasm and determination shone through as she got down to the job at hand. Off they went running once around their school field then grabbing scooters or bikes and riding to and around the Quadrangle. Back they came dropping off the bikes and scooters running half a circuit of the field to the swimming pool. At the pool, they were told to climb in and run along the bottom for the width of the pool then a final run to the finish line, except the Butterfly she swam it. The Butterfly did it all head down, biting her lower lip in concentration and never once faltered or stopped. Except when she was almost at the end, she looked up and saw me and Hollie she smiled broadly waved and yelled “Hello Hollie!” She had a “high five” for everyone at the end and I heard her saying to her teacher “Can we do it again tomorrow?”

No my precious Butterfly will never be an Olympic athlete but she sure knows the value of doing her best and having fun trying!

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Hakka Beauty


Those among us who do not have a Kiwi upbringing think the Hakka is just a silly thing the All Blacks do before the start of a rugby match. Now we all know it is of pacific origin and most assume it is some kind of war dance.
Living here at world's end I have learnt very little else about the Hakka or its origins, but I have learnt this: There is a lot of power and emotion in a Hakka and with every movement there is a story. I am learning slowly to appreciate its beauty.
The uniqueness of the Hakka unites Kiwis worldwide when it matters most. Even during the Rugby world cup it has the power to draw in even those who have no interest in rugby, everyone sits down to watch the All Blacks perform a Hakka! 

Last year at Central School’s final assemble boys aged eleven and twelve stood up proud and performed a Hakka loudly and with joy in their faces they had made it through another year of school, they were well and truly ready for their holiday and it showed in every movement and shout.
Recently a family member of a friend died somewhat tragically, I don’t have the details of her death suffice to say that it was not from natural causes and it is obvious that she was loved.
I know this from a video taken at her funeral posted on Facebook: When her coffin was been carried from the service to the hearse the parking lot resounded with the cries of the Hakka performed by High School Students. Even over the internet the emotions were palpable, the respect phenomenal it sent shivers running up my spine. These boys were fare welling someone, they were feeling their loss very deeply, and it showed it every deliberate movement every loud resounding word of the chant. How can such incredible beauty not move you? 

At any important festival, at the arrival of dignitaries or celebrities the Hakka booms through the air and people stop and watch in fascination or pride. The Hakka sets or reflects the mood or says what people are thinking or feeling.  The Hakka is a part of Kiwi society, tradition and identification it will always be.
It has survived centuries of changes, oppression and modernisation yet it has managed to retain its primal value. It is a call to battle, a cry of welcome, it is a celebration, a sign of respect, it is an opening, a closing, and a sad farewell. 

The Hakka, in its own uniquely Kiwi tradition is a thing of pure beauty.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Looking Forward


So I’m sitting here at home on a lovely warm autumn afternoon, Carter’s Window is crooning through the Mauritian’s custom  built loud speakers and I’m thinking life just doesn’t get any better than this!
We’re home from a busy, tiring, extremely sweaty and sometime stressful six-week tropical holiday. Our Little Lollipop is no longer a baby; she’s a walking talking screaming bundle of character and personality. The Butterfly is a smiling, intelligent if sometimes insolent growing child seemingly unfazed by life. The Mauritian is tearing along at his place of employment alternately loving and hating it but giving it all he’s got regardless. He’s home on the weekends and our time is our own and the girls demand every spare moment he has. Me, I couldn’t be more content, our struggles to settle into life at World’s End and to make a place for us is over. I no longer worry about the Butterfly fitting in or if we’ll be warm enough this winter. In fact things seems so right at the moment that I haven’t put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard rather since coming home, I haven’t needed to. That’s a good feeling!
So this is the first blog of the year and it’s just about April already, never mind I'll find a way to make up for the lack thereof I'm sure. Autumn is supposed to be here but the summer is clinging on vengefully and will not be persuaded to head north. Autumn it seems is only allowed in for a few hours after dark.  The long winter nights are beginning but we are still staggering about in the dark in our summer pjs. The best part about this year is that actually I have no stories to tell, no events to look forward to or work towards and as of yet no "light bulb" moments. I have managed to turn forty with a minimum of fuss, an awesome if a tad early birthday party and an “eReader” that I am exceptionally pleased with. We have made some new friends and once again, our weekends are busy and memorable. But I am still well on my way to having a year of just being; no major changes or situations that need attending are looming on the horizon of time. This year it’s all about the mundane. This year it’s all about the reply “Nothing much” to the question of “What are you doing...?”  Guess what, I'm actually enjoying it so far. Will it remain this way? Who knows? For now, I am quite happy with things the way they are.
However, next year is shaping up to be a busy one with lots of excitement in the mix.
Not too long ago that marvellous invention called SKYPE rang and I was talking to my wondering cousin from “Africa2Anywhere” who will be heading down to the end of the world and spending Christmas with us. I am so looking forward to seeing “Tin Bum” and “Teeny” and hearing their stories about their travels and experiences. But I think the prospect of again spending Christmas with family is what I am most looking forward too, even though it’s just a small part of a large family.  
About four days into the Mauritian part of our tropical holiday, my baby brother and my favourite Eeyore finally announced their engagement. I was so excited I didn’t think to ask why they waited until we’d left to make the announcement.  So began the discussions between the Mauritian and me about how we were going to save the money required to send us all back to South Africa for a wedding. Fortunately, a wedding date was set early so we have been able to make definite plans for our next holiday before even arriving home from our first holiday. Unfortunately, finances, employment and education have dictated that it will only be me going home next year; the Mauritian and the girls will be staying at world’s end to carry on as normal. I’ll confess I’m rather looking forward to travelling alone. I can hear it now, the sharp intake of breath and the look of horror on some faces. Doesn’t change a thing though, after the stress of getting two adults, a child and an infant through an airport thirteen times, a hotel twice, two flight delays, two extended stop over’s, issues with the infant ticket twice, over weight baggage for one domestic flight, two airport shuttle trips and two missing pieces of luggage travelling on my own sounds like heaven.

Then there is my eldest niece who is working towards a holiday at World’s end during her summer break next year. Why she would want to swop a northern winter for a southern one when she’s on a summer break may sound odd but I don’t care at least she’s coming to visit.
I shall digress here a moment if you will so indulge me and address my beautiful niece directly:    Now not only is it on Facebook but I have also stated it worldwide on my public blog! You have no choice now niece of mine you have to visit! (Insert smiley face)
I’m sure she knows I love her.
And now back to my ramblings!
That takes care of the first half of next year I wonder what else the fates have in store for us next year. Now, that thought brings me rudely back to the present and the realisation that even though I have been blessed with a year of calm rambling there are those around me in turmoil. I now realise that I have just one thing I really need to do this year, support a friend who is in the process of changing their circumstances and starting their life over. I’ll admit I am honoured to be one of the two people who are aware of our friend’s life changing decisions. But watching my friend struggle to get things into place in order to move on and forward is hard. There is little I can do but support the decisions, play “devil’s advocate” and try not say anything on Facebook that will give the game away. I’m not a very good secret keeper; thank goodness, I was allowed to tell the Mauritian!  I glad I am able to be there as support it gives me something to obsess over.                                                      When I sign off from most of my emails, messages and I think even some of my previous blogs, I say “Love, light and happiness!” Love because everyone deserves to be and to give love in return, love in all its forms is a basic human need. Light to illuminate this darkness we call life, even just a suggestion of positive light turns the shadows of negativity into a familiar shape. Happiness because it is something we all strive for and perhaps we need to be reminded sometimes that its right there in front of us we just have to reach out and take hold of it. At this point in my life, I feel only contentment and peace, my heartaches as I watch a good friend struggle against what must feel like indomitable hurdles and yet I know patience and perseverance is the key. I cannot provide either of these virtues nor can I fix the problems my friend must face. I do not like the fact that at times like these words completely escape me. Saying things like “Stay positive” or “Hang in there” and “Keep at it,” sound hollow they have been said too many times. Yet at times like these, what can I say that will have any meaning or encouragement? The truth is my friend has to go through the process alone all I can do is check in with them regularly, try to make light of a bad situation. All I can be is a sympathetic ear or someone who may see things from a different perspective. All I can be is a positive friend bringing only love, light and happiness where and when it’s needed.
I shall do this because I am truly grateful for this year to just be, and for the memories that are waiting to be made in 2014.