´╗┐Reflections on a puddle.

The other evening I was a bit late in leaving for my walk but decided to go anyway. Walks are wonderful things.

We could get all scientific and discuss the health and mental benefits of a bit of exercise everyday (and I really do mean those things too when I say walks are wonderful) but going for a walk never disappoints.

Well there was that time I decided to go with the boys and had to carry two boys and their bikes for the last kilometer, so let’s be reasonable and say that every now and then they backfire, but mostly walks are wonderful.

So as I set out my breath was taken away….by the wind that was obvioulsy blowing straight off a snow covered mountain. But it reminded me of Spring and Autumn in Korea. Fresh, invigorating and with a promise of life.

But then I saw this….

Reflections

Reflections

And my breath was gone again. As I walked I reflected on how much like that puddle I was. Just a muddy puddle full of sin and mistakes. But if God sees fit to place me in the right angle to reflect His glory, I will be truly magnificent. Because He is magnificent. Full of grace and truth and love. And I am really just a muddy puddle. Of very little use to do much at all but in the right hands a tool to reflect wonder and love and light.

By the time I got back the sun was gone, the puddle was just something to be dodged and the wind was bone chilling and reminded me of nothing but my great fortune to have a warm roof over my head and a bed to snuggle up in.

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Harry the Superhero

If you have never heard of this particular superhero, then stick around and read about his adventures here.

It was a very innocent Tuesday afternoon. A bright day, fresh with Spring and clean farm air. We were back from town early after a very successful swimming lesson and I (the mother of the superhero) was feeling just a little chuffed with myself as I was so ahead of the curve on the laundry, cooking, cleaning banalities of life that I had time to work in the garden. 

After a very effective lesson in Sunday School on helpfulness, I had two helpful cherubs close at hand. So um, yes, what to do with helpful boys in a garden? (Let’s admit here that although we want to encourage helpfulness, it is just so much more helpful to actually have plants in your garden, so I don’t really want to turn them loose on pruning yet!)

Which was when I spotted the clover, growing in large profuse clumps in the lawn and remembered my brother-in-law, rebuking me for wanting to turn it into manure when his horses considered it pure dessert. So in a flash of inspiration, (way to go mom!) I grabbed a large kitchen knife (oh the excitement for a four year old, brandishing this dangerous tool!) and started hacking up the clover. My four year old and the superhero were totally into helping me, by watching my activity and cheering me on. Four year old didn’t think that knife was safe and superhero had too many cars in his hand to be able to do anything useful.

Four year old did offer to carry the bag of clover and off we went to feed the horsies. Wow, can you just feel the Brownie points oozing out all over the place?? 

How sweet and innocent?! (I really must stop here and just remind my readers that I still am 100% blonde, and it really slays me that at age 41 I can still be so plain…….well, naive, for want of a better word). The horses names are Twister and Biddy the B#%*<! There is a major clue right there. But even more of a clue was that the last time I rode a horse, which was also the last time I got a mild concussion from a horse, was one of my brother-in-laws horses. No, I am not knocking you Duncs. Just me! 

Let’s pick up the story again. We all casually entered the field where the horses lived and I happily shook some clover into a bucket. One horse eagerly trotted up and started munching gleefully on her clover, while I set about making another pile for the other horsey. My boys are happily helping mom and also wanting to touch horsies, as young boys do.

 Now I start to realize that we are in close confines to two rather large horses, by no means little ponies, and that the said horses are a bit agitated. Ears are back, hooves are stamping but they are not fleeing because we are providing delicious dessert. So as calmly and as firmly as I could, I told the boys to go stand outside. And. They. Listened….. Immediately! (Yes, I can hear the gasps from all my fellow moms!)

Four year old immediately turned to walk to the gate and as he did so his jacket flapped open. Biddy the Bi\<#*! shied, spinning around and took off, kicking out as she went. Directly at Harry’s head! Harry who had turned to follow his big brother.

You know in those movies when the bad stuff happens they slow the whole sequence down? Well this was NOTHING like that. One split second my boys are walking away to safety and the next instance a sharp crack fills the air as my baby boy goes flying at the end of a hoof. He goes down screaming and I’m picking him up and holding him in my arms before I am even thinking. Then I look and there is mud and his eyes are looking in two different directions. 

I’m shouting for Gogo, my sisters amazing and wonderful maid, and running and swearing and praying at the same time. I wish I could say that my first thought was “Jesus, I declare healing!” But it was more something like, “sh!%t! Sh!%t! Sh!%t!, Jesus! Sh!%t! Please Jesus!” And I ran. I called my mum! I locked the house. I got in the car and I drove. Met mum and dad on the road. Put Peter (ah, that would be the four year old!) in granny’s car and dad got in mine and we sped off to Howick. 

We arrived in Casualty a mere 25 minutes later. (Dad can move it if he needs to!!) And Harry? He wanted me to turn the TV on. That would be the one that monitors your vital signs.

He is jumping on the bed and talking to everyone. Making friends and finding new toys to play with. A Superhero named Zac. Which the doctor gives to Harry to take home.  The doctor checks him and he says all is fine. He sends me home with his phone number. And we get to go home. Well not quite so easily. There were forms to fill in. Money to pay. And the wait for the doctor. 

Oh and while I am about rectifying Hollywood damage, the doc also told me that it’s a myth that you have to keep the patient awake while you do said crazy drive to hospital. If they are concussed it’s okay to let them sleep. (That would have saved Harry from my singing!!) So bear that in mind moms! 

When we got home, it was now my job to get all that mud off his face so into the bath they hopped. And as I am undressing him I find a huge hoof print on his tummy. So I spent the night monitoring a concussion and possible internal bleeding. But I had his number. And I never had to use it. So this is the biggest injury on my superheroes body.

Which he is very proud of.

In closing I would like to take a moment to give honour to Jesus for hearing my very raw, but heartfelt prayers. I was there, I saw the hoof hit his head, I heard the crack. If the doctor says that young boys bounce, I just want to thank You Jesus for making them like that. I want to thank You for hearing this mothers prayer. And ask that the guardian angel You sent be given an extra high five, but NO leave please for the next seventy odd years. Please and Thank You.

The culprits.

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Relocation

My story here started in a tiny corner on the border with Mpumalanga and Gauteng but life happened and I am now in a small corner in KwaZulu Natal. Never fear though because I am still living in the sticks. And more importantly I still have my two biggest treasures with me.

This is the view from my new location. Well technically this was taken a few weeks back, when the frost was still thick in the morning. Spring has arrived and although still desperately dry, things are greening up fast.
I took this one yesterday afternoon because it’s so beautifully green and it makes me exquisitely happy.


So where is this little corner? In a place called Boston.

Yes, you’ve heard me talk about Boston before. Because it’s home. It’s my roots. And it is so very good for the soul.

Yes it’s beautiful here. Yes it’s green.  Yes it’s the country. That’s not what makes it special to me. It’s the people here that make it special. The community that raised me. The community who are already raising my boys. The community that have stepped around me like a mother hen fluffs itself around her chicks.

So, to new adventures. New beginnings. And family. 

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´╗┐Chicken

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Fresh lettuce for tea.

Fresh lettuce for tea.

This year marks the 5th year I have lived on the farm. We are still building and fixing and our cows stay with the neighbour, so it doesn’t feel like a farm.

But that all changed this week.

I got chickens. The people who live up the road are moving on and selling off their stock. So I grabbed up a few chooks.

Pretty ladies with black and white feathers. Some plain black with green iridescence. Some more white. And two proud roosters.

It doesn’t seem like a lot, but for me it marks the beginning of something real. Having chickens means the next step to becoming self sufficient. Although I am learning fast that, that is no mean feat.

When you need food, most of you go to the grocery store. Fill up a trolley, pay and head home to unpack.

I am learning that food is a whole world of work. Growing veggies takes more than popping seeds in the ground, throwing on some water and waiting for harvest. There are all sorts of things. Bugs, diseases, moulds, birds etc that want a piece of your crop too. And boy do they need a lot of water to thrive. And of course, too much water and their roots rot. They are fussy about the soil, it needs to be nutrient rich. They are not mad about wind and of course one hail storm can render your crop useless in less than five minutes.

Too hot and the bugs go mad. Too cold and they don’t grow. No earthworms and the soil becomes too water logged. Cutworms mean that your seedlings are food to a nunu in no time.

Trying to be organic adds a whole new aspect. Plants grow better next to plants they like. Some don’t like onions. Some love them. Tomatoes like basil growing near by. But not radish. Some plants attract bugs others repel them.

Then there is crop rotation. Winter compost crops. Making compost.

Why am I talking about veg when this post is about my new chickens? Well one of the first things I was reminded of was that you can’t just grab an egg and eat it up. Nope. Most chickens carry a disease called Salmonella, which us humans aren’t too partial too.

Home grown eggs must be eaten fresh. Store bought eggs are treated to reduce the risk of Salmonella. So fresh farm eggs must be just that, fresh! Using the eggs must be done carefully. Always break an egg into a cup before adding it to others and use something other than the shell to separate them. (Cups, your hands which are super clean and then super cleaned afterwards, anything else really).

Our chicks can’t just roam around the garden as we have a Great Dane that is fond of all things feathered. And not as a plaything. Also we have snakes and mongooses that are very fond of eggs and baby chicks. So our chooks have to live in a cage. Which means regular cleaning and lots of feeding with fresh food. Nice cosy spots to lay eggs and then separate little coops for the chicks to be raised in.

And that’s just the stuff I know!!

Any advice from seasoned chicken farmers would be greatly appreciated.

Will keep you posted though.

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Mud cakes and rainbow spaghetti.

I have started something new.

Our neighbor is bringing her son over to play, three mornings a week.

One extra boy. But I am exhausted. And busy. And inspired. And motivated.

Isn’t it silly how cleaning, washing, ironing and organizing can take up all your time, if you let it. The house will need cleaning again….really soon with three boys running around in it. The beds will need making again tomorrow and the dishes will need to be washed again in a few hours.

I had just gotten into a rut of cleaning and doing the minimum with the boys. But when we made a plan to have the neighbours son over to play, that all changed. I still clean the house. But at eight o’clock if it’s not done it gets left. And then we play.

We bounce. We dig in the sand. We ride bikes. We drive cars. We do home made obstacle courses. Make playdough worms. Build towers out of blocks and beads and sand and bricks. We play in water. We paint. We draw. We scribble. We squish rainbow spaghetti. We make mud cakes.

The boys collapse into bed in the afternoon and mom chugs down copious cups of tea as she rushes around doing all the cleaning, gardening, organizing, building chores that need doing. Still.

But they’ll always need doing. My boys won’t always want to make cupcakes out of mud.

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Banting: my journey so far.

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Before: taken August 2014

Last October I was visiting a special friend who introduced me to Banting. I was interested in the story of a guy who worked with her husband who had controlled his Type 2 Diabetes by Banting, but thought it was quite a strange idea. You know for really sick people. And desperately obese people.

At the time I weighed 84kg’s and as hard as I tried, the weight kept piling on. I had to buy new shorts and swimming gear as my old stuff was two sizes smaller. Even my preggie clothes hardly fitted anymore.
So I came home and started reading. My hubby got interested and slowly we started.

It is a really big thing to start. To change how you think about cooking and what goes into making a meal. I mean we learned this stuff from our parents and our grandparents. No potatoes? Really?!? And how do you eat breakfast without toast? But there were things I was doing that I never learned from my parents, shortcuts that modern living has introduced. A box of cereals. Small packets of snacks for kids lunch boxes. What about low fat yoghurt? In special little tubs for the nappy bag… Clever.

So starting out was hard. Every meal has to be planned and cooked from scratch. No breakfast on the run. (Although, how long does it really take to make a plate of scrambled eggs?)

No ready made snacks to fill kids up on. No fruit, except berries.

But slowly we started to see results. Firstly in our clothes and then on the scale. And there were other benefits. Like not getting light headed before lunch. Going until late afternoon without feeling hungry and drinking more water.

I’m not saying that Tim Noakes has all the answers. I have learned that my body really struggles with dairy products and I try to only have a bit of yoghurt, you know, for the probiotics. Cheese though is hard. It is so nice. It’s just lovely. And makes stuff taste great too. But my body is just not a fan. I think even Tim Noakes says that he doesn’t understand all of it.

A while ago I got sick. We are still not sure of what was wrong, but all my internal organs are fine. All my numbers are fine. Well all, except my cholesterol which my doc said was too high. So back to the drawing board we went and decided that we were eating too much red meat. We only eat red meat once or twice a week now and the rest is fish or chicken or just veg. We have cut down on using butter and increased our fats from foods like avo’s and olive oil instead. More green tea.

And today the scale said 64 kg’s. 20 kg’s down.

That is without exercise. But now that the weight is gone there is more energy to exercise. It is easier to get up off the floor and my joints don’t ache. Making exercise seem less daunting. And slowly we are getting more active.

I do eat more fruit now, as a treat. And am not really tempted to cheat. A while back I ate a brownie. One. Brownie. And I regretted it. So, no, cheating is now not even a thought.

Our bodies were addicted to sugar. And carbs. Our brains were addicted to them too. Our pattern of living, our habits, our routines, our choices we make in the shop….all these things tug at you. But really, when your diet is mainly veg with a bit of protein and no junk you are feeding your body. And you don’t need as much fuel as carbs made you believe. Most days I eat two meals. A big hearty breakfast and dinner. Lunch is usually snacks while I feed the boys. A few nuts, some cucumber, seed crackers or sometimes just tea. And I’m not continually ravenous.

So do I miss cakes? And sweets? And chips? No. Not anymore. Not at all.

I still buy flour and rice but for my boys to play in. Makes a great medium for driving little cars through­čśÇ

After: July 2015

After: July 2015

It seems I have gotten used to avoiding the camera.

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Let’s talk about snakes

So, we live in the sticks. 

The perks? Peace and quiet. Space. Possibilities. Neighbour’s are further away. You hear the birds in the mornings and evenings, not the traffic. Gardens. We can make as much noise as we want to without worrying about bugging neighbours.  And of course, if our neighbours do have loud parties or like revving their car engines on a Sunday morning, we don’t get to hear it. Not bad.

The um….drawbacks? I have mentioned the flies before. Well they are still here. In their hordes. Life has been slightly more bearable this summer as we had some flyscreens installed. Fresh air, especially in the evenings and mornings really has been lovely. They don’t keep them all out. Every time the door is opened you let in maybe 20 or so at a time. But hey, that is the next problem to solve.

Besides the flies though, we have snakes. And they get busy every autumn. Looking for food before winter. And then a spot to hibernate. Unfortunately the toads know this so they seek refuge on the stoep. Well that can be the only reason why normally shy and retiring reptiles MUST seek out shelter and food ON MY STOEP!! Now the odd grass snake and other non venomous visitors can just get shooed off, in fact their presence means the frogs, mice and toads are taken care of. Not a bad situation. And although I will always jump out of my skin when I see a snake, I do know that there are benefits to having some predators around.

But I draw the line at Rhinkals. Well I don’t stick around to draw anything, I grab kids, usually shouting at them to get inside. (To which they may or may not respond but never with the speed that is required). 

We have had three this season. On the stoep, here outside the house where my children play. These snakes don’t naturally run away when faced by a threat. No, they stick around, play dead, waiting for a curious three year old to pick it up. Can you imagine what things this mom imagines?!!!! 

They also spit. They are in the cobra family. So there’s that too. Adults do stand a chance of surviving Rhinkals bites, not without serious treatment of course, but my little guys? 

So what do we do? Regular perimeter checks. (Call me paranoid, but I AM ALWAYS CHECKING the shadows! Which is why I missed the one in broad daylight last time!) Get dogs. Oh wait, we have two and two cats and although they took out the first one this season, they also let the other two totally walk slither past them. We are looking into getting two more Jack Russels, apparently they are good with them…but just the thought of two puppies at this season of our life (the season of no sleeping as Harry pushes out his teeth!) ……argh! Wait for winter. Oh winter with your cooler days and your frosty mornings and your hibernating snakes! 

Any snake collectors want some rhinkals’? 

Seriously though, anyone with other suggestions? 

** I started this blog in Autumn and of course we’ve had a peaceful few months of chilly snake hibernation, until this week. 

The first morning without the birdbath being frozen. We were in the veggie garden prepping for Spring planting. I walked from the garden out to the field. Stopped to take a photo. Then took a step. As I did the ground moved and then there in front of me was a black and white guy, head up, mouth open. I saw that as most of what I remember is the red of it’s tongue in contrast to all the other grey’s and whites and blended in of everything. 

I was screaming and running, (Respect for anyone who can hang around in the face of danger and get the shot, but that is a whole other post!) so the next part of the story get’s picked up by our trusty gardener who came to my rescue. The snake reared up and spat and then chased me. After which it turned and disappeared down the hole it had half been out of when I almost placed my foot on it’s head. Of course, according to said trusty gardener, it only retreated when it saw him running with the garden fork he had handy. 

I am most exceedingly grateful that I looked down when I did. Thank you Lord.

I am grateful the weather is still chilly enough to render said cold blooded slitherer, a little sluggish. Because I have seen them move in late summer and there is no way I would have gotten far enough away if his blood was thawed.

I am grateful the boys were in the garden on their bikes, far from me.

I am grateful that the gardener was there.

I am grateful that I wasn’t bitten.

And I am even more scared for my boys now.

We seem to have an unusual amount of rhinkals here. And the thing is, their backs are the same grey black colour of our dried out soil. Our soil is clayish, so in winter, when it’s so dry, the ground is a dark grey colour with cracks or lines….perfect for a rhinkals to blend into. And they are aggressive at certain times of the year. The smaller ones around are more “play dead, kind of leave me alone”…but this guy came at me. And it’s not the first time I’ve seen one do it.

Harry is sleeping better, so time for those Jack Russels. Anyone know of any for sale? 

Any other advice from my snake loving buddies would be appreciated. The conservationist in me knows that having them around keeps the rats, mice and moles at bay. But the mom in me would make Cecil the lion killer look like Mickey Mouse. 

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On Camping.

So this week, my hubby asked me to have a look and maybe book a spot in Badplaas for the long week-end in August. It’s our anniversary and we have left over champagne from my 40th and well we like being warm. 

So I went online to see what it would cost. The week-end at the resort would cost us R5400, just for the accommodation in self catering. That’s three nights. So I checked out the cost of camping. R300 for the same three nights. 

Bleak.

So bleak.

Not that I didn’t love my week at the beach camping. You see there was family there. The sun shone. And it was warm. The water restrictions were occasionally a problem when we wanted to bath the kids before 6pm. Because, well sometimes when you go to the beach with a toddler and a pre-schooler, you could quite easily refill your sandbox at home with how much sand they get on their body/in their body….basically everywhere. Most days you didn’t want to bath them too early as they’d just come back to the campsite and get all sandy again. So, as I was saying, water restrictions weren’t too much of a problem. Camping with lots of sand is okay if there is no rain. 

Sleeping close together in a tent has it’s positives as it meant I didn’t have to get out of bed to tend to Harry in the middle of the night. It was a little challenging to climb over Stu in the dark, unzip tents and get Peter out the tent for a nightly (or mostly, very early morning) pee, but we managed.

Keeping clothes organized and getting them washed and dry…..arghhh. Finding the matches in the trailer……finding all your cutlery after each meal…keeping the fruit and other tasties away from monkeys and huge marauding packs (what is the right collective pronoun?) of mongooses. (Right plural?) 

All these things were really just road bumps on the landscape of a really lovely holiday. But what has me so bleak is that in order to smooth out these road bumps there are ways and means of getting more organized as a camper. And my husband, ever the researcher, got stuck into investigating how much tents cost, what a gazebo would set us back and how to add roll out bins to the trailer to make finding things easier. Let’s just say that if we sold our farm we’d just have enough to get all the stuff we figured we need. 

We could, of course custom make things but when our house needs fencing and gardens need irrigation systems and our farm needs infrastructure, we just don’t have the time to spend on making camping equipment that we’ll only use a few times a year.

The wonderful thing about birthdays is that all your specials check in with you and I had a conversation with one of these lovelies, who has three boys, and a hubby who likes to camp. They have the stuff, they have done it often and are organized types. She started to tell me how it gets easier as the boys get older and can help more and how much they love it….and then said that what she would really like though was a trip to Thailand, staying in little villas, having other people clean for a week…ruined. 

So I went on a campaign to prove to hubby that camping wasn’t really cheap and that you had to have equipment etc etc etc….then I looked at staying at one place for three nights and it was just ridiculous to even compare. The savings we’d make on just two camping trips would pay for a decent tent.

So, so, so bleak. How many veggies would I have to sell to afford a week in Thailand? Or even three days at a resort in Badplaas? 

So it looks like we will be planning many more character building camping holidays, finding ways to get organized without breaking the bank and appreciating the small things in life more. 

But then isn’t that what raising kids is all about?

Thanks to my sister who lent us their tent or we would have had to already make that investment. 

(I have tried for a few days to load a pic to this blog post, but sadly WordPress crashes each time I try, so forgive me, but I’m going picture less or this will never get posted.)

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Aunty Sue

There is a place in my heart that grows dearer as the years fly past. It is a place of green pastures and dairy cows, rugged hills and winding streams. It is a place of blue skies or grey wet days. Pastel sunsets, frolicking lambs. Freezing cold buck counts, May Parrot counts, drinks round a roaring fire and children laughing and playing. 

Once, in that place, I was a child. Playing with my friends on the tennis courts, building forts in gardens, tubing down the Elands, watching gymkhanas, going to large family weddings. As each year whizzes by now, those memories are small compared to the people that are Boston. 

When you are young, you take for granted the people around you. The “aunties and uncles”, that are no blood relative but are now more family than some people with the same blood. I came from a relatively small family. My father had no siblings and my mother had one brother, who had two sons. Dads family is actually quite extensive but we only really know one small, but very special, branch of it. But despite our small family we never really felt bereft. In a place like Boston, everyone is an aunt or an uncle or a granny or a grandpa. 

This past week-end we had to say good-bye to one of these very special “aunts”. Taken too soon by that dreadful disease. Her leaving has left a large hole in lots of hearts. Her beloved family; Uncle Pad, Annie, Choppy and Pandy and all her very treasured grand children. Her dear sisters and brother. Blood relatives whom Aunty Sue watched over with love and care so fiercely. And then the rest of us Bostonites, who considered her family too. (And whom she felt responsible for too).

From afternoon tennis eats at the club, to catering at all and any event there too. Beach holidays at Kelso and further afield in Malawi. I remember Aunty Sue making us hug it out after an altercation with a sibling. Her beautiful garden. Netherby house, once so small, where I remember a herd of us kids crowding into the then lounge, while the adults sat around the large dining table. The kitchen. With it’s “safe”, Biggie Best curtains and the stove. We all had a wood stove but most families traded them in slowly over the years once we got electricity. But Aunty Sue’s is still there. It’s now Sarah-Jayne’s, but it’s still working. Still turning out amazing meals. Still the warm heart of a happy home. To me, always a piece of Aunty Sue.

I could carry on with these happy, childish memories for an age. But sadly the wheel turns and life goes on. If there is any comfort to be found I know where to look. Although Aunty Sue had many people who considered her an Aunt or even an extra mom. A granny or a sister. She left behind something very precious. Her legacy. She really did pass the baton on to the next generation. Her children. Her grand children. We find comfort in that we can still find pieces of Aunty Sue. In Gaenor, who hosts a party effortlessly and creates the most amazing deliciousness. In Gaenors house, just like Sue’s, you will find bulging book shelves. Graham, an upstanding, charming and caring member of a community. Andrea, still everyone’s little Pandy, now a mom and a successful business woman, who is grounded and sensible, while being stylish and upbeat at the same time. Her spunky grand children, who love life and embrace it. Who love books and stories. And who loved their “ganny Sue”.

Thank you Carrs, for sharing your mom with all of us, and for continuing her legacy. If you ever need a shoulder to cry on, a piece of Boston to talk to or just a walk down memory lane I’ll gladly volunteer. And if I’m not close enough you’ll find a Bostonite somewhere who will gladly comply. 

Good-bye Aunty Sue. May you be resting easy now. With a perfect temperature; not too hot, not too cold (above 20 degrees and below 25). With the others who have gone before us around you. May your heart be full as you watch over your children and grandchildren from above. And may we follow your example of love and care that you spread around so abundantly.  

 

This is the view from Harmony, across to Netherby. 

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On becoming a mom.

Yesterday I said that the main reason for not blogging was being busy. Well there is another reason too. You see I have had this blog rattling around in my head in one form or another and I have struggled to find the words. 

Enough procrastinating though, time to plunge in…

A year ago a good friend of mine said that she and her partner we’re going to start trying for a family. I wanted to reply with messages of encouragement and love but I just couldn’t write the email. I didn’t want to discourage her. I wanted to wish her well but I also wanted to warn her. 

People tell you it’s hard. People say your whole life will change. But they really don’t say, YOUR WHOLE LIFE WILL CHANGE! You kind of start to get the picture while pregnant. Your body gets invaded by another living being, that grows, pushing aside your organs, making it literally hard to breathe at times, walking becomes a challenge and bathing?… (Those stories of women who didn’t know they were pregnant til the baby popped out……there are no words. None. Zilch….nothing………no…….still nothing! Besides them though..) Even while you are pregnant you think to yourself that it’s okay, everything will go back to normal. And maybe, perhaps (okay it does seem to happen to some) your shape will return. But. You. Are. Never. The. Same.

Some people have tried to describe it by saying that a piece of you now walks around outside your body. And yes that does in essence describe how much you love them. But things don’t go back to normal in any way. Does it sound normal to have part of you separate from you??

Firstly your brain is different. Going through childbirth is traumatic for most people. Trauma changes you. Pain changes you. Lack of sleep totally changes you. 

Your memory is shot. (I never needed shopping lists, but now I dare not venture to the shop for milk, without writing it down. I will forget. I will buy stuff. The lights and all those people will overwhelm me. And I will forget the milk!) You cannot problem solve. Sometimes clearing the dishes after a meal can be a challenge, with all those decisions to be made. Those little challenges seem less daunting now, but I have been known to leave all the dirty dishes on the table and the food out….let’s just say that I often have happy dogs! When bigger problems come along they tend to be a tad tough to handle. 

At some point some one will tell you to stop waiting for things to go back to normal. Your normal has changed. Your normal is now dealing with nappies. (Have you got enough? Are they the right size? Are these the best kind? Is this poo okay? Too runny? Too hard? Too much? Not enough? When will he poo? Oh damn, has he pooed? Can I change him here? Where can I change him? Do I have spare nappies? Will I get home before he poo’s again? Do I have wipes? Do I have enough wipes? Why won’t these b*#>>! wipes come out? Do I have a packet for this stinky poo mess? Did the nappy leak? Do I have clean pants? Can I just wipe these ones? Is he ready for potty training? When will he ever potty train? Can I put him back in nappies? Do I have to watch you poo? Are you done yet? Can I wipe you? When will you wipe yourself? Why did I show you how to wipe? Did you put the toilet paper in the loo? How do you unblock a toilet paper filled loo? The list is endless)

Your normal is a. LOT. SLOWER. Than your old normal ever was. It can be considered an achievement to shower, dress and clear the dishwasher before 9am. A large achievement. In fact if these things are not considered achievements I can tell you now that it will be MANY years before you feel that you have achieved much at all.

Unless you have a ton of reliable babysitters,there are no more movie nights, dinner dates, spa outings, late nights. 

You can’t, or really shouldn’t, swear anymore. Even when you stand on a toy car in their room in the middle of the night and nearly kill yourself as it zooms your foot out from under you, and as you desperately search for sure footing and find the plastic dinosaur with your other foot (It will be stegosaurus and all this spiny parts will be facing up, if it was brontosaurus, the legs would face up) even then you shouldn’t swear. You will of course and you will be forgiven for swearing then, but your toddler will enjoy those words and learn them really fast.

The list of normal you will never have again is endless. Shopping, doctors visits, holidays, showering, driving, going to the loo, sex, reading a book, sleep (oh sleep)….. But if you embrace your new normal, if you slow down, chuck out the expectations then this new adventure is so very full. You will learn about yourself. You will grow. You will hurt. You will love. Your heart will be outside your body and you will adjust. Things will never be the same and it will be harder than anything you have ever done. Your life will utterly change and the normal you knew will be no more. You can’t prepare for it. Perhaps if you read this now you will find yourself one day saying to yourself, “oh, this is what she meant!” And know I could never have really described it accurately.

For my still single friends, don’t rush. Enjoy today. Enjoy your Sunday morning sleep-ins. Slow dinners with bottles of wine and good friends. Post your pics so I can remember. Look after yourself. 

For any friends who are struggling to fall pregnant, I am so sorry. I hope that I don’t seem ungrateful for my lot. I know you will come through and you will be okay.  Look after yourself.

To those new Mommy’s, hold your little one lots. Snuggle up. You can’t spoil your baby by holding them too much. Take help when it’s offered. Wash the dishes only if doing so will make you feel better. Sleep when you can. Know that life will never return to what it was. That is okay. Look after yourself.

To my brave friends who have chosen not to have children. I can send you enough poo stories to keep you satisfied with your choice. Enjoy your sleep. Look after yourself.

To all my other mom friends. I know you get it. If you are still waiting for things to go back to normal please know, they won’t. It took a while for me to learn that. Life is easier when you realize it. What normal things do you miss?

To my special friend whom I never replied to. I’m sorry. I love you. You will be a fantastic mom. You will miss aspects of your life now that you’ll never get back if you do start that family. But it’ll be okay. I hope you are looking after yourself.

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