Merry Christmas!

Wishing all my blogging buddies a very Merry Christmas. I hope Santa brings you exactly what you are wishing for :-)


As you know, it was Rox's 18th birthday on Thursday. The poor girl had to work on the actual day, but we organised a family dinner at a local restaurant for her on Thursday evening and she honestly believed that, that was the sum total of her birthday celebrations.....

In her words, she was "very bleak" that she would not get to celebrate with her friends. Little did she know that for the last couple of weeks her best friend (thanks Carl!) and Grant and I had been organising a surprise party for her and her friends at an Italian restaurant.
How we managed to keep it a secret I will never know, but we did and she was SURPRISED!

What made it even more special was that she passed her driver's licence (you have to be 18 to get your licence in South Africa) that morning, so there was even more reason to celebrate. By all accounts she had a wonderful time. I love it when a plan comes together ;-)

She's all growed up!

My baby girl is 18 today! How did that happen???

I can't believe that my tiny, little premature baby is now a grown up 18 year old woman.

Having said that, I am so proud of the lovely young woman that Rox has grown into, she is a very special girl and has many amazing qualities.

I am truly blessed to be her mum.

Happy Birthday, Roxels! I love you!

A Christmas Meme

Hello to all of my Blogging Buddies!

In keeping with the general Holiday theme I want to know a little bit more about you and your Christmas habits! So I am passing along this cute, quick Christmas Meme that I found on Regina’s blog. So I am tagging EVERYBODY!! If you post on your blog drop me a comment so I can come by and check out your answers!

Here goes:
1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping Paper
2. Real or artificial Tree? Artificial
3. When do you put Christmas tree up? First week in December - it used to be on the 16th, but I was accused of being a Grinch, so I have relented ;-)
4. When do you take the tree down? First week in January
5. Like egg nog? Never tried it!
6. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes
7. Favorite gift received as a child? A huge (I mean huge, it was bigger than me at the time... okay I was only five!) teddy bear
8. Hardest person to buy for? Men in general!
9. Easiest person to buy for? My youngest daughter
10. Worst Christmas gift? Don't think I ever had a bad one.
11. Mail or email a Christmas Card? Mail
12. Favorite Christmas movie? The Holiday
13. Favorite food to eat at Christmas? Everything!
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Once
16. Favorite lights? Multicoloured
17. Favorite Christmas Song? “Last Christmas” by Wham (I know, I’m lame that way!) 18. Travel during Christmas or Stay Home? Stay Home
19. Can you name Santa's reindeer? Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen & Rudolph. (I now have a certain song on my brain......)
20. Angel or Star on Tree top? Star
21. Least favorite thing about this time of year? The holiday-makers – you have to live where I live to truly comprehend how bad they are, honestly – it’s BAD!
22. Which one person do you really want to see blessed this Christmas and why. My Uncle Ian. I have never known a couple as devoted to each other as my aunt and uncle. They were unable to have children and for so many years it was just the two of them. My aunt died a few years ago and my uncle is just lost without her. Christmas time is not easy for him, but we do what we can to make it as happy as possible

Ok, Tag you are it!!

25 Days to Make a Difference

25 Days to Make a Difference
Today while catching up on blog reading, I discovered this wonderful project - "25 Days to Make a Difference". A young girl by the name of Laura has put out a challenge to the world at large (in memory of her grandfather) to do something every day of December to make a small difference in your everyday world. Ideas given on the site include: volunteering at your local SPCA, donating books to a library and picking up litter.

Hop on over there and have a look and then let's all try to do our little bit to make the world a better place this December!

A Day to Read

While catching up on some blog reading, I came across this post at Something to Say: About Life in The Netherlands. What a simply brilliant idea! After the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, a day set aside for my very favourite thing.....reading!

To quote directly from Jenn's post:

The campaign is this:
January 10, 2008 has been designated as the DAY TO READ.On that day we join the collective challenge to spend some time with our noses stuck in it. A book that is. If you are a blogger, join us by stepping away from the keyboard for all or part of the day and spend that time reading something you enjoy.

Next, report to us and others what you've read. You can do this in a dedicated post or a comment at Allison's blog--Soccer Mom in Denial--after the DAY TO READ has passed.

If you are so inclined, please post the DAY TO READ button at your blog. Pass it on! The button, the news about the day, the challenge to others to read, read, read, read, read!

Not a blogger? Then you know just what I expect from you. Leave me a comment here with the results of your DAY TO READ experience.

That's it. No challenge could be easier to meet. Please join us. We can make DAY TO READ a Happily Ever After kind of event.

So, let's do it, people!! If you would like the text for the "Day to Read" button, leave me a comment or drop me an email and I will get it to you. Please also let Allison at "Soccer Mom in Denial" know that you are joining in, by commenting on this post. She is writing a weekly "Who is reading" post and would like to include the names of all bloggers who are participating.

A Day to Read

Happy reading :-)

I did it!

I really enjoyed doing NaBloPoMo. It was quite a stretch to post every single day as November was a particularly hectic month for my family.....Rox finished her matric, Paula had exams/prizegiving/end of school year madness, we had house guests a couple of times, my BFF Lisa came all the way from Surrey in the UK for a *quick* but lovely visit, work was crazy, my ADSL connection went AWOL etc etc. So I am proud of myself for doing NaBloPoMo, but less than proud of some of the lamer posts I created!

I really enjoyed connecting with a couple of my favourite bloggers and making some new blogging buddies. I wish I had, had the time to read more blogs and leave more comments, maybe next year.

I unfortunately didn't manage to complete the 30 Days of Thanks, which was a pity!

Thanks to Eden for running the whole NaBloPoMo show and to all my NaBloPoMo friends for their support and comments during the month. I am already looking forward to next year!

And now that NaBloPoMo is over I am going to do 31 Days of Nothing!

31 Days of Nothing

December is going to rival November for sheer family craziness in my home. The girls are on their long Summer break and we are gearing up for Christmas, as well as for Rox moving to Durban in the new year. So I will only be posting sporadically for the next few weeks and visiting blogs when I can grab a few moments of peace and quiet. But trust, in January I will be back with a vengeance!

Friday's Feast

What is your favorite carnival/amusement park ride?
I am hopeless when it comes to amusement park rides - they ALL scare me! If I was forced to go on one it would probably be the big wheel.

How do you react in uncomfortable social situations?
I go silent and pretend to be very interested in something else

On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest, how much do you enjoy discussing deep, philosophical topics?
4. It depends on my mood and probably how much red wine I've had to drink!

Main Course
Did you get a flu shot this year? If not, do you plan to?
Nope - don't believe in them

Approximately how many hours per week do you spend watching television?
3 at most. The only program I usually watch is Grey's Anatomy and at the moment SA Idols

What happens when you google your name?

I googled my name and discovered that:

  • there is a Gillian Richardson who is a children’s author

  • there’s a Gillian Richardson who is a social worker

  • a Gillian Richardson works as a swim coach

  • there’s a Gillian Richardson who is a landscape photographer (and who takes some pretty amazing photographs!)

  • there is a Gillian Richardson who is a film producer

So what happens when you google your name??

I got this idea from Rachelle at Seek First His Kingdom

Wordless Wednesday: Paula has some face mask fun!

10 things...

10 Things I liked as a teenager that I really don’t care for now:
1. very loud music
2. motorbikes (not that I ever rode one you understand!)
3. hair gel
4. neon coloured clothes
5. Tequila
6. smoking
7. coffee
8. sunburn
9. talking on the phone – I hate it!! (except when it’s my friend Gerda on the other end….)
10. late nights

10 things I didn’t like as a teenager that I do like now:
1. silence
2. cross-stitching
3. cooking
4. relaxing holidays
5. bird-watching
6. maturity
7. scrapbooking
8. early nights
9. early mornings
10. dark chocolate

10 things that I didn’t like as a teen and still don’t like:
1. discriminatory behaviour
2. sport
3. steak and kidney pie
4. violence
5. ironing
6. Prince Charles
7. public speaking
8. blasphemy
9. Campari
10. country music

10 things I liked as a teen and still do:
1. The Bee-Gees (truly, I did and I do!)
2. dogs
3. Grant!!!
4. reading
5. chocolate
6. The movie “Ghost”
7. romantic comedies
8. the sea
9. ice cream
10. shopping

This idea was stolen from Sara (with her permission!) feel free to steal the idea - if you do, please leave a comment so that I can read your post.

Happiness is.......

Happiness is….. an early morning cuddle from a darling daughter

Happiness is….. waking up on a Saturday morning with a full day in front of me, to fill doing just what I please

Happiness is…… coming home from the library with a bag of books, bulging with promise

Happiness is… sitting back to watch Grey’s anatomy with a piece of dark chocolate and a glass of red wine by my side

Happiness is...... the arrival of a favourite magazine in the post

Happiness is….. watching a movie and sharing a pizza with my husband

Happiness is..... the anticipation of a family vacation

Happiness is...... watching my daughters unwrap their Christmas presents

Happiness is..... the arrival of a newsy email from a friend

Happiness is..... lying in a bubble bath, chatting to my daughter

I got this idea from Carrie, see her “Happiness Is …” post here

Today I am thankful that I have my internet connection back! I have been without internet since Friday (gulp, gulp) It was not fun! I managed to do my daily post, as required by NaBloPoMo, by going over to my parent's home and using their dial-up, but it was so painfully slow that I gave up on my 30 days of thanks post, today I am back and thankful :-)

To tattoo or not to tattoo?

Now I know this is going to come as a shock to those of you who see me as a middle aged, conservative, wife and mom; but I have always sort of lusted after a tattoo. No seriously, I have! Rox will attest to the fact that she has a hard time dragging me past tattoo parlours. I know! It’s so weird!!

Any of you who have read my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days
(which by the way I am thinking of revising, I wonder if I’m allowed to do that?) will perhaps have noticed No. 59 “Decide if I really, truly DO want a tattoo” and No 60 “If I decide I do want a tattoo, go out and get one”. So this isn’t some new mid-life crisis thing I’ve got going on.

It’s an idea I often toy with. I really think I might like a tasteful little tattoo in a spot that will be easy to cover up, should I feel the need to do so. BUT what if I get the thing and then have regrets?? Imagine Grant’s face if I said “Hun, I got this jolly tattoo and now I don’t like it, so can we cough up for some laser surgery to get it removed?” He wouldn’t be a happy chappy!

So while I am toying with the idea, I did a little quiz (just for fun, you understand) to see what tattoo I should get IF I decide I want a tattoo.
You Should Get an Abstract Tattoo

Artistic and unique
You're the most likely type to personally design your tattoo

Shelly Beach Clean-Up

Today we went to the first ever (that I know of!) Shelly Beach Clean-up. It was such fun! Okay the wind blew a bit, which we could have done without, but other than that, I have no complaints ;-) We met up with some friends and made an outing of it and the bonus was that we all did our bit to clean up our local beach.

On arrival all helpers (even the very small ones!) were given T-Shirts, black bin bags, a cool-drink and a surgical glove and then off we went. It was so encouraging to see the number of youngsters who pitched in and did their bit to make our beach more user-friendly for the holiday makers who arrive in their droves at this time of year.

5 Post Meme

I was tagged by Sognatrice of Bleeding Espresso to do the following:

1. Post 5 links to 5 of your previously written posts. The posts have to relate to the 5 key words given below (family, friend, yourself, your love, anything you like).
2. Tag 5 other friends to do this meme. Try to tag at least 2 new acquaintances (if not, your current blog buddies will do) so that you get to know them each a little bit better.
3. Don’t forget to read the archived post and leave comments.

This is a really nice meme! I think every blogger has favourite posts that they like to revisit, these are some of mine:

I chose this post because I think that it describes the moment that we actually became a family.

When I was browsing through my blog to pick a post for this key word, I realised that I don’t really blog about my friends much. I promise you it’s not because I don’t have friends, I do ;-) I just don’t think that my friends would take too kindly to being discussed in a public forum, so I don’t blog about them! The post I have chosen is about a very special young lady who is the daughter of one of my close friends – so she counts as a friend too!

While choosing this post I discovered that I blog about myself - a lot!

Nothing soppy or romantic here – we don’t seem to DO romance..... which is quite sad really!

It was quite difficult to pick a post for this one, but eventually I narrowed it down to this post.

I tag:
Baby Amore

Today I am thankful for my work. I don't always love my job (I often dislike it quite intensely!) and I am by no means a career oriented person - I'd give up work to be a stay-at-home mom in a heartbeat; but I am well aware that I am very lucky to have the flexible job that I have, with a "boss" who happens to be my dad.

Obscene wealth takes on new meaning

You might recall that a while back I ranted a little about the extremely wealthy and how little they do for the poorest of the poor in South Africa ?

My blogging friend Redness recently sent me a link to a blog post and related newspaper article that left me gobsmacked. It would appear that the South African Krok brothers have bought the most expensive house in Australia and are planning to knock it down and build a brand new house on the site – they effectively paid 29.5 million Australian Dollars for a piece of land! The mind boggles!

According to sources, the Krok brothers began life as the twin sons of poor European emigrants. They made their fortune by, amongst other things, patenting and marketing a skin lightening cream, which was eventually found to be carcinogenic and taken off the market. They were also the creators of Gold Reef City, a combination of museum of the history of gold in South Africa and amusement park. When they wanted to open a casino at Gold Reef City the Gaming Board agreed to legitimise the casino, provided the brothers undertook a social development project of some sort, hence the development of the Apartheid Museum.

Nice for some!!

Wordless Wednesday - Fuel tank burns

Today I am thankful for my computer. I am sitting here trying to picture life without it and truth be told..... I can't! How I would do my job everyday without a computer is completely incomprehensible to me and imagine not being able to blog and email?? I don't even want to think about it!

Today I am thankful for my car. I know how lucky I am to have a comfortable, nippy little car to get me from A to B each day!

South African Taxis

The mere mention of South African minibus taxis is enough to cause the most adventurous driver to quake behind the wheel. In my experience, most local taxi drivers have no regard whatsoever for the rules of the road, or for common courtesy. I am enormously thankful that I don’t have to rely on this mode of transport to get me from A to B. The sad fact is that millions of South Africans have no option but to rely on taxis for their daily transport.

Let me share with you a few facts about this frightening, complex and yet fairly efficient transport system, which I have gleaned from unfortunate souls who rely on this form of transport:

The taxi system is much like a bus system, except that although there are various established routes that taxis follow they do not run on a fixed time schedule as a bus would.

The routes that the taxis follow are not publicised in any way, but can be established only by word of mouth.

If you are beginning your trip from a taxi rank, you will need to stand in the queue for the particular route you wish to embark on. Taxi marshalls are there to ensure that the commuters are in the right queues and that each taxi is filled to capacity before leaving the rank. The taxi marshalls decide where the passengers are going to sit in the taxi and take no nonsense from the passengers.

On any particular route there are hand signals which are used to convey your desired destination – for example, you may stand on the side of the road with your arm extended and one finger pointing down, in my area, this would mean that you want to go to Port Shepstone, in which case a taxi travelling on that route would stop and pick you up (probably at great speed, without indicating his intention to pull over and stop to the vehicle travelling behind him!!)

The unfortunate passenger who lands up sitting in front next to the driver often has the unenviable task of counting up the taxi fares, which are passed to her by other passengers en-route. Taxi drivers are exceedingly good at mental arithmetic and woebetide the passenger who attempts to cheat him!

Taxis hoot, a lot. The hoots can sometimes indicate where they are going to, but can also simply indicate that one taxi driver has acknowledged another.

There are taxi associations. The taxi drivers belonging to one association are not generally fond of the taxi drivers from another association. Should a driver of one association solicit for customers on a route belonging to another association, blood will sometimes be shed.

Taxis are frequently overloaded - the marshalls will try to squeeze as many people into a taxi as possible, to maximise profits. Want to read about how 23 people and one goat fitted into a taxi? Click here

'Fessing up!

I have a couple of really annoying bad habits, well to be honest I am sure there are more than a couple, but here are two bad habits I am willing to confess to.

By far the worst is the habit I have of finishing other people’s sentences for them. It is such an irritating habit and I am working extremely hard to stop myself from doing it. I would be more than a little annoyed if someone kept on finishing my sentences for me, so who do I do it to other people? Who knows? But it’s got to stop!

Another habit is something I picked up from my aunt. My Aunt Pam was an absolute sweetheart and I loved her to bits, she was the epitome of a gentlewoman, but she had this one funny quirk – if I was staying over at her house, in the morning she would come into the bedroom with a cup of coffee for me and then she would sit at the dressing table and investigate my toiletries – she’d have a sample of my face cream, a squirt of my perfume, rub on a little of my hand cream. This would happen whenever I visited her without fail. I gather this little ritual was not reserved only for my cosmetics, it happened with almost any female houseguest. Personally I found it very endearing, and I came to look forward to those early morning chats and “toiletry sessions”, but Pam thought that this fascination with other people’s toiletries was quite embarrassing and would always apologise for it (not that it stopped her ;-)).

Not long ago, I stayed over at my parent’s house and as I was showering I realised that I was using my mom’s shower gel, not mine which was right there next to me. Then it dawned on me, I hadn’t used my toiletries at all, I’d been sampling my mother’s shampoo, conditioner, face wash and body scrub to my heart’s content and loving every minute of it! Casting my mind back I realise I do this to my daughter too, if I wander into Rox's bedroom for a chat I will often investigate her cosmetics while I am there. We’ve got strong genes in this family!!

Over to you, what annoying habits and crazy quirks are you willing to own up to?

The Colors of Friendship

Regina who blogs at Regina's Family Seasons has awarded me the Colors of Friendship Award. I am so honoured that such a gracious lady considers me her friend! Thanks so much Regina :-)

The originator of this award had this to say about it:
I want to nominate my following blogfriends for the Colors of Friendship Award. They color my life with the beautiful hues of friendship. Although we come from different backgrounds and cultures we share the same spirit of friendship.

I will be passing this award on in the next week or two.

I am so thankful for books, I could not imagine my life without them. It is a grey, drizzly day today and I am heading off to the library this morning. This afternoon I will be curled up on my bed with a good book! Bliss!

Books that we have loved

I love books, I really, really love them and I have spent many happy hours reading to my girls. I have passed on my love of reading to my youngest daughter Paula, but unfortunately Rox is not a reader (sob, sob) – I think she inherited more of her Dad’s genes than mine and tends more towards hair-raising sports than curling up with a book!

Although we have read countless wonderful books over the years, some stand out head and shoulders above the rest; these are the books my children never tired of, even though we read them again and again; they are the books that they have fond memories of, the books that I am sure they will read to their own children one day. What follows is a list of these books that we have loved:

When my girls were little:

“Jesse Bear, what will you wear?” by N.W Carlstrom

“The very hungry caterpillar” by Eric Carle

“Corduroy” by Don Freeman

The Poky Little Puppy” by Janette Sebring Lowrey

The “Angus” books by Marjorie Flack

“Make way for ducklings” by Robert McCloskey

“The Big Green Pocketbook” by Candice Ransom

“Katie No-Pocket” by Emmy Payne

“Blueberries for Sal” by Robert McCloskey

When they were a little bigger:

The “Madeleine” books by Ludwig Bemelmans

The ‘Amelia Bedelia’ books by Peggy Parish

“The Faraway Tree” series by Enid Blyton

“Pippi Longstocking” by Astrid Lindgren

“Papa Piccolo” by Carol Talley and Itoko Maeno

As they got older:

The “Little House on the Prairie” series by Laura Ingalls Wilder

“The Boxcar Children” by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The “Anne of Green Gables” books by L M Montgomery

“The Tender Years” series by Janette Oke

I am sure there are some books I have forgotten to put on this list, I will probably edit this post as I think of them. In the meantime, I would love to hear about the books that have been special to your families – please leave a comment about them!

Those of you who homeschool and are familiar with Five in a Row, will notice that many of our favourite books for young children are those used in “Before Five in a Row”, I used this wonderful book to plan my daily reading and activities with Paula when she was 2-5 years old and I can’t recommend it highly enough, it has given her a lasting love of books and it is SO much fun to use. It is not only for homeschoolers, it can be used by any mom who enjoys reading to her little ones and doing craft type activities with them.

I am thankful for the wonderful soaking rain we have had falling all day today, my garden SO needed it!

Friday's Feast

What was your first “real” job?
My first real job was working in a bank, I started there when I was 19. I really loved it, but the long hours weren't conducive to being a mom, so when Rox was 6 months old I left to work somewhere with better hours.

Where would you go if you wanted to spark your creativity?
To an art gallery - I think there is a very creative atmosphere in an art gallery.

Complete this sentence: I am embarrassed when…
I am embarrassed when I discover I am walking around with a button undone!

Main Course
What values did your parents instill in you?
I learnt all the basics at home: honesty, respect for elders, hardwork pays off etc.

Name 3 fads from your teenage years.
  • I was quite into the "early Madonna look" - so I went through the messed up, gelled hair thing
  • Leg warmers were the in thing for a while and I confess I had a pair (hee, hee)
  • Neon - I remember wearing a number of violently neon coloured clothes (this was the 80s people!)

Today I saw a whale blowing out at sea, it's a sight that never ceases to amaze me. I am so thankful that I live near the sea, what a privilege!

What is your learning style?

I have 2 daughters who both have exactly the same parents, who grew up in exactly the same home and yet you could not find 2 girls more different. There is a lot of fodder for blogging here, so you are bound to hear more about this subject, but for today I will focus on their learning styles.

Rox is an energetic girl, she does not like “book learning” but enjoys active learning, such as experiments and field trips. She likes her learning experience to be “delight-directed”. If she finds something interesting she has no problem with concentrating on that subject, but if the subject matter is “dry and boring” in her opinion, you are going to have a hang of a time getting her to knuckle down and work! Believe me, I know! She loves Biology and I have had a hard time convincing her that doing Biology and only Biology every day does not constitute a balanced approach to learning….

Paula on the other hand enjoys book learning, workbooks, computer based learning. I plan on homeschooling Paula through high school and intend using a textbook-based approach with her. (For those South Africans who know about this stuff, I’m thinking TCE – any comments and advice would be greatly appreciated!) I know that Paula would find it quite alarming to “go with the flow” and learn about what interests us on any given day. She would be most unhappy if there was no structure to her learning experience, she’s the kind of girl who wants a timetable stuck on the wall above her desk and best we stick to it, or else!

I got my girls to do the free learning styles tests that can be found here and I found the results very interesting. The results are presented in the form of a graph, as well as the numeric values for the 7 learning styles (visual, aural, verbal, physical, logical, social and solitary). I plan to spend some time on the website reading about the various styles. I don't think it would hurt to incorporate ideas regarding her learning styles into my plans for her homeschooling.

Paula's results are below:

Today I am thankful for our swimming pool. I had my first swim of the Summer (I only get in when the water is very warm!) and I remember now why I love having a pool :-)

Wordless Wednesday: My girl and her dog

Rox and Chloe

Today we went to visit the private college that Rox will be attending next year. It appears to be a lovely place - we were happy with what we saw and Rox was happy with what is on offer. I am so thankful that she is content with her plans for next year and that Grant and I feel comfortable about the decisions that she has made for her first year out of school.

Tough times

A huge topic of discussion in our family and in our social circle at the moment is emigration. Grant and I have 4 couples that we are very close to, these are our “best friends”, our “inner circle”, people we can rely on in an emergency, people we love and confide in. Three of these couples are planning to emigrate to Australia.

This not only saddens me, and boy does it sadden me, but it scares me too. It is going to have a huge impact on our lives. How am I going to feel when one of my very best friends, someone I grew up with, the godfather to my children, gets on a plane with his wife, who has become so special to me, and my little godson and leaves us not knowing if, or when, we will ever see them again? What is Grant going to do without his cycling buddy, his confidant, his “mate”? How will we survive without the regular contact with these friends that we depend on now?

I also begin to wonder if our decision to stay in this country is the right one? We did make an aborted attempt at emigration a few years ago. It was a disaster, Grant ended up living in the UK for nearly 3 years and came home determined that South Africa was the only country he wanted to live in. We are South African through and through, we love this country, the outdoorsy life style and the people. This is home! The thing is, our friends all feel the same way; they are all being driven away by one thing and one thing only….crime.

Are we stupid to stay here? How will we feel if we stay and then fall victim to some horrendous crime? Because, let’s be honest, in this country life is cheap, you can be killed for a cell phone! Crime of this nature is getting closer to home – the girl who lives across the street was stabbed (fortunately, not very badly) in our road a few months ago, a couple of blocks away a couple were held at gunpoint in their driveway, a lady was repeatedly raped and beaten in her office down the road , I blogged about the couple killed in a hotel last week. You read about these types of crimes in the newspapers everyday, it screams at you from the radio and the T.V. It is probably only a matter of time before we are personally affected. I try to ignore it, I convince myself that “if it is your day, it’s your day”, I pray. So far we haven’t been affected and life is good, so we take our chances. Is it a chance worth taking?

The alternative seems too heart-wrenchingly hard. Imagine getting on a plane and leaving, saying good-bye to family and friends, to our dogs, to our home. Imagine leaving Impi, who feels like my own flesh and blood. Imagine starting all over again financially, at this stage of life. Our currency is not worth a lot, we would go from being fairly comfortably off, to being very poor, overnight – how do you explain that to your children? The days of having a part-time job and being around for my children would be over – how would I explain that to a twelve year old who has never known a day without her mom fetching her from school?

I don’t want to have to make these decisions, so I tuck the thoughts away inside my head and get up and face another day.

Snakes Alive!

My daughter, Rox, was recently playing paintball with a group of friends and a young, recently qualified, doctor from the UK. They had gone to a fairly bushy area to see whether it would be a good venue for their game. On seeing the wild, bushy terrain, the young doctor asked Rox whether they were likely to see buffalo roaming the hills in that area. Rox thought this was quite funny! The answer is of course “No”! The “big five” (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino) as well as large game such as giraffe and zebra, are all confined to national parks and game reserves nowadays. (Although there have been rare reports of the odd leopard being spotted in rural areas). You will still occasionally see buck and other small game running wild in the rural areas. You are NOT going to see elephant wandering down the roads, or lions roaming the streets, in South Africa!

The young doctor then asked Rox how frequently snakes were spotted in the wild, Rox explained to him that we get a lot of snakes in our area and we see them fairly frequently - he was none too happy about this information! The fact is that South Africa is home to around 138 snake species, with 8 of those species being highly venomous. The venomous species include adders, cobras, mambas, boomslang and vine snakes. Seventy percent of snake bites in South Africa are by puff adders. They are one of the fastest striking snakes and they often lie still and are therefore easily stepped on.
snake in my garden
On average I would say we have around 5 or 6 sightings of snakes in our garden each Summer. I really dislike snakes intensely and I have to force myself to adopt a common sense approach to them. My husband assures me that nearly all the snakes we see are harmless and should be left to go about their business. I have a hard time accepting this approach. (We had a “snake incident” on Sunday and I didn’t cope with it very well at all! LOL!)

Interestingly the young doctor told Rox he had seen more stabbings in the mission hospital he was working in (in the rural area inland from our town) in the few weeks that he was there, than he had in his entire career in the UK. Makes me think the danger doesn’t lie in the wildlife of Africa after all…


Today I am thankful for the wonderfully diverse wildlife in my country.

Today I am thankful for sunshine! We are having a lovely sunny day and it feels so good! I am thankful that I live in a country that has in excess of 300 sunny days every year :-)

10 Life Lessons

You know the old adage, "you can't teach an old dog new tricks"? Well I am trying to disprove that theory. I have decided that some of my old, deeply ingrained, notions need to be shaken up a little, so I present you with 10 “life lessons” I am trying to teach myself:

1. Be true to myself. For me this one is really important and probably the most difficult, as I am so inclined to be a “people pleaser

2. Don’t take life or myself too seriously. I can be very, very seriaaas ;-)

3. Have faith in my ability to do things my way.

4. Pamper myself. If you don’t take good care of yourself, no-one else is going to. I am trying to do at least one thing I really enjoy doing every day.

5. Take life one day at a time – when things get tough take it one hour at a time if necessary!

6. Seize the day. This saying has become so clich├ęd, but since the death of my brother, I have woken up to the fact that we really, truly should make the most of each day that we are given.

7. Bad things happen, get over it. I have the kind of personality that clings to old hurts. I kid you not, there are grievances that I have carried since I was 7 years old that I will still take out and polish every now and then unless I get a grip on myself – so this one is very much a work in progress!

8. Sometimes I have to grit my teeth and dive right in. I am not talking about swimming here, no, no, no, it’s relationships that I am wrestling with! I don’t believe that any relationship is going to flourish without some vulnerability and some work from both parties – for me the vulnerability part is the issue, I have some deep-seated hang-ups about being hurt and abandoned and I have a seriously hard time opening up.

9. No pain, no gain. Be it work, gardening, housekeeping, exercising, whatever

10. Even the best laid plans sometimes fall apart and it is not the end of the world, relax and enjoy the ride.

Seven Random And/Or Weird things about Me:

Karen at Miscellaneous Adventure of an Aussie Mum and Regina of Regina's Family Seasons both tagged me for this meme.

Here are the rules:

Link to the person that tagged you, and post the rules on your blog.
Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself.
Tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.
Let each person know that they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

7 Random And/Or Weird Facts About Me:

1. I do not ride a bicycle. I live with a "mountain biking mad" family and the only bike I will get onto is my stationary bike. I have a very valid reason for not cycling: when I was 11 years old I fell off my bike in spectacular fashion and have not been on a bike since. My fall was impressive, I flew over the handle bars and glided ungracefully to a halt, face first, on a gravel driveway at the feet of a group of people. Apart from some spectacular grazes, I broke my heel and severed some tendons. I spent about a month in a cast, but that was nothing compared to the humiliation and damaged pride LOL!

2. I have not seen my "birth father" since I was 11 years old. (Seems like the year I was 11 was quite a significant one for me!) I used to go to him for holidays quite regularly and I loved him, but once he re-married (and I acquired some step-siblings who hated me) the holidays became very unpleasant, one year I refused to go and I have not seen him since. It does bother me a bit.

3. I went down a really steep water slide called the "Temple of Courage" at Sun City. The description on the website goes like this: The speed slide begins at the aptly named ruins of the Temple of Courage. Here swimmers drop a heart stopping 17 meters, equal to the height of a four-story building. They slide down a 70-meter long chute, hurtle under a bridge and gradually come to gentle halt, in the chute.... Now I know that this might seem like a very minor, arbitary thing to you; but for me it was HUGE. I am a terrible, terrible naff - really, I epitomise the words "scaredy cat". One day, about 15 years ago we were standing watching people come down this slide and in a moment of sheer madness (I still marvel at it) I said something along the lines of "I'd like to do that" - of course the family all fell about laughing. My pride was then at stake, so I said something along the lines of "Watch me!" and I headed up that steep hillside thinking "What possessed me to say that?" "Oh grief, what was I thinking?!" etc etc. I got to the top and I was completely freaking out and down t h e r e was my family, canning themselves laughing, not for one minute did they believe I would actually do it. I got on that slide, gritted my teeth, shut my eyes and down I went, to emerge at the bottom with the worst wedgie, having had some unexpected colonic irrigation (!!!) but exceedingly proud of myself. The family still talk about it every year when we go there - it's become something of a family legend LOL.

4. I have a phobia about travelling in cars. I am fine in and around town, but travelling on the open road is a nightmare for me. Grant, Paula and I were involved in quite a serious car accident in 1995 and 4 months (to the day) later my brother was killed in a car accident. After the accidents I used to sometimes have full-blown panic attacks when we were driving long distances, I have more or less got it under control now, but I still have my "moments".

5. I collect sea glass - you know the little bits of broken glass that have been rubbed smooth by the sea sand and ocean, I have a jar full of bits of glass that we have collected over the years.

6. My most embarrassing moment: I was pregnant with Paula and had this big belly and huge boobs. One morning I had showered and was sitting at the dressing table in nothing but an unlovely pair of knickers, creaming my face, when the elderly handyman who was busy fixing our louvre windows (in the lounge!) at the time, opened the bedroom door and walked into the bedroom. I don't know who got the bigger shock! I leapt off the chair and stood there completely speechless, the poor old man stood there transfixed at the sight of my large belly and spectacular bosom, apologising profusely (instead of just getting out of there!) Apparently he had not realised there was anyone at home and came to check on the condition of the bedroom windows, which were next on his list. To make matters worse, he became one of my clients at work a couple of years later - I couldn't see him without blushing, while his eyes would inevitably wander to my now rather depleted, sad-looking chest!!

7. As a young child I had not one, but 3 imaginary friends, "Hyacinth", "Tinkerbell" and my nearest and dearest, "Podgy". It apparently made life quite difficult for my family as they were perpetually sitting on imaginary people, unleashing floods of tears and hysterics. This rather bizarre childhood episode meant that I was very well prepared for the arrival of Paula's imaginary friend "Minstaya". Grant and Rox were baffled, bemused and at a complete loss as to how to deal with this "invisible friend", I sailed through it and earned myself numerous brownie points by enquiring as to Minstaya's well being, her dietary requirements etc. etc.

I am tagging:
Jen at Jen's Humble Opinion
Rox at Roxel's Rumbles
Linda at {this and that}
Melli at Insanity Prevails
Kerri at My name is mommy
Redness at I'm Over it
Wendy at The Adventures of MomLady
...please don't do it if you don't want to, and if anyone who I haven't tagged would like to do it, consider yourself tagged and leave me a comment so that I can read you answers.

Today I am thankful for my garden. Now don't get me wrong, my garden is nothing fancy and is very much a work-in-progress, but as I walk around it, I am so thankful that I have a garden to take a stroll in.

Friday's Feast 168

Which snack do you like to get when you go to the movies?
A bottle of water and wine gums. I would love to have popcorn, but it makes me cough - which is very annoying for the other movie goers ;-)

What year did you start using the internet?

What is your first name in Pig Latin? (Here’s how to speak it if you don’t already know!)
(Hee hee!) Illiangay Onnaday Ichardsonray

Main Course
Name something you are picky about.
Loud noise. I get very grumpy when there are a whole bunch of kids around making way too much noise.

Fill in the blanks: I _was ___ __sad(see post below)__ yesterday and I _feel___ _better___ today.

Today I am thankful for my blogging buddies. It's amazing how a friendly comment left on my blog can make my day feel a whole lot better! Thanks to all those bloggers who take the trouble to leave a comment and also to my friends who don't blog, but tell me that they enjoy reading my blog - it means a lot to me.

I am sad today

I grew up in a small town, called Greytown, in the Kwa-Zulu Natal Midlands. There is a strong German community in the area, which added something special to my childhood.

Near to the town I grew up in, is a lovely country hotel called the Wartburger Hof. It is a wonderful, small, traditionally German hotel. We frequently had Sunday lunches at this hotel and many family events, special birthdays and the like, were celebrated over lunch at the hotel. In Winter you would be greeted at the door with a glass of gluhwein and the warmth of a roaring log fire. In Summer we would sit outside on the verandah and my daughters would be entertained by the ducks on the duck pond. The proprietor of this hotel was a gracious gentleman, called Siggy and he and his wife, Ingrid, cared for the guests of the hotel in a quiet, unflappable and friendly way.

Last night, Siggy and Ingrid were gunned down inside their hotel. I just cannot get my head around the fact that these two gentle people were murdered in cold blood, in that beautiful hotel, that holds so many special memories for me. When will this spiral of violent crime in the country that I love ever end and how many more innocent people must die before it does?

Today I cry over what is happening in my beautiful country...

I am having a very hard time being thankful today, in light of:
- the bad news I heard this morning

- the fact that I picked up our local newspaper, only to read that an elderly couple who live just down the road from us woke up in the early hours of the morning recently to find an armed intruder in their house, who attacked their little dog and had a go at the elderly man before making off

- a local policeman and his beautiful dog are in stable but serious condition in hospital after being shot at while apprehending suspects who had killed 3 people in a cash in transit heist near my home this week

To be perfectly honest I am feeling so down today that the only thing I can think of to be thankful for is that none of those nearest and dearest to me have been personally affected by the crime wave that is sweeping this country and that seems to be getting nearer and nearer to home. I know in my heart that I have an awful lot to be thankful for, and I am quite ashamed of myself but today has just been full of bad news! Sorry!

Wordless Wednesday

Pondoland pedal

Today I am thankful for our pets, who bring our family so much joy and laughter.

Our gentle old lady, Nala

Grant with Chloe when she was a pup

Chloe when she was a "teenager" - what a life!

Jax and Chloe

Jax - queen of all she surveys!

Out of the mouths of babes.....

From day one, I have worked hard at teaching my daughters that discrimination is not acceptable. I buy into "the world according to Scatman" - where it is the "colour of the soul" that counts. It doesn’t matter whether it is based on differences in race, gender, sexual preference, religion, or anything else for that matter, I don't tolerate discrimination.

Fortunately, my children haven’t come face to face with very many overt incidences of discrimination. Because of our unique situation with Impi, as a “racially blended family” we attract the odd stare, the odd double take and the occasional comical reaction, it doesn’t bug us, or Impi, and we often have a good laugh about it.

For the first time ever, Paula came face to face with an incident of racism that really “rattled her cage” a couple of weeks ago. She had been taken to someone’s house to watch rugby, while staying over at a friend’s home and apparently one of the adults made a horrible racially derogatory remark about a South African rugby player (J P Pietersen) who happens to be Paula’s favourite and who happens to be a black man. In her own words, Paula “was furious and actually felt like calling the man something very ugly, but knew that, that wouldn’t be right” (whew, thankfully!!) so instead she announced to the group in general that she really loved J P Pietersen and that she thought he was a fantastic rugby player. I can just imagine the look on her face and the tone of voice as she said this! LOL!

I have no doubt that Paula got her message across and I can only hope that the adult in question felt rather shame-faced at being rapped over the knuckles by a 12 year old. I am really proud of Paula for standing up for what she believed in, for having the courage of her convictions and for being bold enough to retaliate in the only way she felt she could as a young girl in a group of adults.

SCATMAN lyrics

5 Good Things

Hsien over at Cotton-Pickin' Days did this brilliant post on 5 good things and I have shamelessly stolen her good idea!

So here are 5 items that I could not live without:

My memory stick. Every person in our house has their own memory stick. My life is pretty much on my memory stick!

My cell phone. I could not live without my phone – okay I probably could, but I would be verrry miserable!

The digital camera, to be precise, Rox’s digital camera. The funny thing is I have a digital camera, but I'm just a little bit scared of it, so I generally yell for Rox to come and take photos for me. What will I do when my girl leaves home?

My new tin opener. Is it just me or does every one battle to find a decent tin opener? I have bought no less than 3 tin openers this year and finally, finally I have found one that works!

The water filter. Grant and I treated ourselves to a counter top water filter machine for Christmas last year. It was an exceedingly good buy. Water tastes so much better coming from the machine and I have peace of mind, knowing that all the nasties have been removed! It has a water heater as well as a water cooler, which means that making my mug of herbal tea is easy-peasy. None of us are great water drinkers, but since the arrival of the water filter we are all drinking a lot more water than we used to.