Finally.......Paula's party!

Friday's Feast

What is the weather like today where you live?
Well it started out a beautiful balmy, Winters day on the South Coast of Kwa-Zulu Natal BUT we are going on the (very belated and much anticipated!) ocean safari for Paula's birthday at 12 noon, so guess what?? It's getting greyer by the minute!!!

On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest, how career-minded are you?
4. I would love to be a housewife, but there are aspects of my job that I enjoy too. I would hate to be a corporate climber though.

What type of window coverings do you have in your home? Blinds, curtains, shutters, etc.?
Main Course
Name something that instantly cheers you up.
My dog and recently my cat too. Food!!!

How many times do you hit the snooze button on a typical morning?
Honestly? About 3. In Summer I sometimes get up before my alarm goes off though, it's Winter that makes me want to snuggle for longer.

I think I might be getting......O.L.D!

I pride myself on being quite in touch with popular music. I wouldn't know Beethoven's 1st symphony if it bit me on the bum; but ask me what that song is playing on the radio and I can probably tell you. Reason being that I generally like that song that's currently playing on the radio. I enjoy pop music.

I also like it that my kids can say to me "Mom who sings this song?" and I can nonchalantly, but with just a touch of self-pride, say "Oh, that's the latest one by Duffy"

I get a kick out of the fact that I can roll my eyes with the girls when we are chatting about Timbaland and Grant says "It's strange, but for some reason I thought his surname was Timberlake" Truly, that poor husband of mine hasn't got a clue!

So imagine my distress when Paula comes hurtling into my room, clutching her iPod and asks me to listen to this cool new song she has downloaded...... and I HATE it! So she plays me another one and I HATE it even more...... and then I find myself saying "Paula turn that off, it's not music, it's noise!"

Oh my word! What happened to the Gill that I knew and had come to love?? She has been replaced with an OLD BAG!

Sharing the Love

Regina of Regina's Family Seasons was kind enough to pass on the "Sharing The Love "Award to me a little while ago, this award has a very special story attached to it, it was created by Crystal of "Memoirs Of A Mommy", in honor of the donor who saved her son's life. Her son Noah had to have a heart transplant when he was just over a month old. This award is intended to help raise awareness of the importance of organ donation.

So, here are the rules Crystal gave: “The rules of this award are: SHARE THE LOVE!!! Share this award with all those blogs out there that you love. All the people who make you smile. All those that make you laugh. All those that make your day. All those that leave uplifting comments on your blog. **All I ask, is that you include a link to this post with the award and ask your recipient to do the same**As you may have recently seen on my side bar, I have finally created a custom blog award!! I have wanted to do this for a long time but never came up with something that “fit”. I didn’t want just anything. It had to be something that meant something to me. And what could mean more than Sharing the Love by giving you pieces of my heart??
So I created this award in
Honor Of The Donor That Saved Noah’s Life. I share this award with those of you whose love and friendship have enriched my life and made my world a better place.I hope by passing this award around the blogging world we can all help raise awareness of the need for Organ Donation.”

If you are on my blog roll (i.e. "Favourite South African blogs" and "Blogs I visit"), I'd really like you to accept this award and share the love!

Six Question meme

I was tagged by baby~amore for the Six Question Meme

The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.Each player answers the questions about themselves.At the end of the post, the player then tags 6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog.Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

What was I doing 10 years ago?
Working part time and being mom to a 3 yo and an 8 yo the rest of the time

What are 6 things on my to-do list for today (tomorrow)?
1. Lots of housework (yeuch!).
2. Catch up on some blog reading
3. Go to the library
4. Go grocery shopping
5. Help Rox to set up a realistic budget for herself, i.e. one that doesn’t involve her spending her entire salary on ONLY clothing and shoes! (This could be tough people, wish me luck!!)
6. Try yet again, to set a date for Paula’s ill-fated birthday party (rain, floods….is this thing ever going to happen?? It's my fault for saying "I love it when a plan comes together")

Snacks I enjoy?
Way too many, judging by my ever-expanding waist-line!
Chocolate, crisps, pretzels, biltong …..

Things I would do if I were a billionaire?
Confession: I’m one of those sad monkeys who often fantasises about winning the lottery, so I pretty much have this whole thing worked out.

(Assuming I came into this obscene amount of money unexpectedly) First and foremost I would pack my family up, rent…oh of course I’d be stinking rich, so forget renting, I would BUY… a great big villa in Tuscany and spend at least 6 months loafing around, plotting and planning our way forward.

On our return from our extended holiday, I would write out a couple of huge, big cheques to our favourite charities (we would have had brain-storming sessions in Tuscany to work all this stuff out) – these would mainly be charities that work with children, the homeless and animals. I would then anonymously give a helping hand to a couple of friends and family members that could do with a lucky break.

Then I would devote the rest of my life to doing just as I please. Can you imagine the bliss! I wouldn’t laze around all day…. I’d blog (a lot!), I’d write, I’d read (a lot!) I’d cook stupendously gorgeous meals and then I would have to spend quite a bit of time in my very own gym with my personal trainer to help me rid myself of my great big couch potato bum! And in between all of this I’d have to take frequent holidays to recover from the strain ;-)

Places I have lived?
Springs in Gauteng
The Bluff in Durban (yes….. I’m rough and I’m tough and I come from the Bluff)
Greytown in the KZN Midlands
South Coast of KZN

How did you name your blog?
My late Aunt Pam was the loveliest lady. As a child I would every now and then receive a letter from her, written on beautiful writing paper that was headed “Pennings from Pam”. I loved receiving letters from her and thought her writing paper was the berries! So when I was searching for a blog name I was thinking along those lines…..sort of.

As per usual I am not going to tag anyone, but please feel free to do this meme and drop me a comment if you do.

Happy Endings

When I think back to my wedding day and realise how hopelessly naive I was, I am horrified. Somehow in my romantic little mind, the wedding ceremony was some sort of metaphorical door to "happily ever after". I really don't understand why I felt like this, after all, neither of my parents were ever any good at matrimonial bliss. So exactly what I based my firm belief in love and marriage and "happily ever after" on, I truly don't know. But there I was, all young and silly, determined to show the world that true love does exist beyond the confines of a cinema.

Fast forward just over 10 months: happily ever after is not looking so very rosy anymore! Grant has on one notable occasion come home from a work function a tad more than tiddly....shock, horror ;-) I have realised that having to cook a meal every night, after a long day on my feet at work, is not much fun at all; particularly when the sight of red meat turns my stomach! I am pregnant and to say things are not going well, would be something of an understatement. We also just happen to be as poor as a couple of scrawny church mice. Read between the lines...... no fancy meals in romantic restaurants, gazing into one another's eyes. Oh dear!

The truth of the matter is that love, marriage and my "happy ending" turned out nothing like I expected. Life threw some very unexpected curve balls at Grant and I, we have never been particularly well off financially, we have dealt with a premature baby, job loss, infertility, two traumatic ectopic precnancies, the loss of my brother and for nearly 3 years we actually lived on separate continents. Things like this put strain on a marriage. We have not lived happily ever after, truly, we haven't.

But out of all of this we have crafted a life for ourselves that we feel comfortable with. It has taken many years and at times I have felt sadly disillusioned, but I am not that naive little girl anymore, I have matured and with that has come the understanding that we are the authors of our own happy endings.

Life is not all roses and bliss. Life frequently sucks, to be frank. What matters is how we deal with the bad times. Do we allow them to shape us into something better than what we were before, or do we crumple under the pressure and stay down. Believe me there have been times when I have stayed down for a while! But eventually I have pulled myself up from rock bottom and determinedly carried on. The bottom line is I am striving to make my life something good. I am seeking out happiness every single day. Who cares about the ending, I'm not looking for a happy ending! I want to be happy today and tomorrow and for the forseeable future and only I have the power to make that happen.

Friday's Feast

If you could live on another continent for 1 year, which one would you choose?
Europe. I love the history, the beautiful old buildings, but I think the weather would drive me insane.

Which browser do you use to surf the Internet?
Internet Explorer

On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being highest), how much do you know about the history of your country?
6. Being educated during the apartheid years, I think we were given a very "skewed" picture of the history of our country, happily is seems that my children are getting a much broader view of the true history of this complicated land.

Main Course
Finish this sentence: Love is… bedtime kisses, comforting hugs, chats over tea, shared giggles, looks that speak volumes....countless moments that encapsulate what being a family is all about.

Have you ever been in or near a tornado? Thankfully, no!

Best and worst feelings

I’ve been tagged by Tamara of Doodles of a Journo , who started this interesting meme:

The deal is you have to list your five best and five worst feelings:

Nausea. Fortunately I hardly ever suffer from nausea, but when I do I am such a baby. It is quite ridiculous, I actually cry when I vomit – okay waaay too much information eh?

Needing the loo when there is no loo available. I reckon I have one of the smallest bladders in the universe and have been known to wee on the side of the road in an emergency! (I'm really letting it all hang out today, aren't I?)

That stone in the stomach feeling as you wake up in the morning after a terrible event and the memory of that event comes back to you, when you wish you could just go back to sleep and not have to deal with it. It is a horrible, horrible feeling.

Panic. I went through a period of having panic attacks. Until you have been there you just don’t know how awful it is, believe me!

When you have done something really, really embarrassing and you then have to face the person who saw you make a total twit of yourself. Cringe-making.

Anticipation – any kind of pleasurable anticipation: settling down to watch a movie I have looked forward to seeing, snuggling down with a good book, staring into the foam on top of a red cappuccino (too, too delish), browsing through the menu at a good Italian restaurant….

Looking at my daughters – that indescribable feeling of pride, joy and love

Snuggling with a pet (human, canine or feline, I’m not fussy) – cuddling up on my bed with my dog and cat is one of my favourite things

Falling in love – nothing compares with that tummy turning, heart pumping, exhilarating feeling of being in love (okay it’s been something like….gosh, 24 years!!?? since I last felt it, but I remember it well!)

Slipping into a warm, scented bath in Winter

Anyone who would like to jump in and do this meme, please feel free – leave a comment for me (and perhaps one for Tamara too) so that I can pop by and see what you’re feeling ;-)

Floods are happening down here!

Our weekend in the Southern Drakensberg

Click to enlarge

Clueless about feed readers?

For a while now I have been reading most of my favourite blogs via feed readers. I haven’t quite got my head around the technical aspects of how feed readers work, but they are very handy if, like me, you are trying to follow the content of a whole bunch of blogs.

Basically, what a feed reader does is check the content of your favourite sites and let you know when there are new posts up. It is such a time-consuming schlep to click on to a blog you enjoy, only to find that there are no new posts. With a feed reader, that part is done for you!

My favourite feed reader is the one that comes built in with Internet Explorer 7 – that works for most of the blogs I read (*I’ll get to why I think it doesn’t work on all the blogs later) and for the rest I use Google Reader.

If you have Internet Explorer 7 (and I believe it is the same in Firefox?) – the feed reader is located using a little orange icon – on the toolbar, between “Home” and “Print”.

It’s really simple to use: If I am reading a blog I enjoy and I want to add it to my list of feeds, I simply click on that little orange icon – I am then taken to a page where I can confirm that I want to subscribe to the feed, I click on “subscribe to this feed” - a little box comes up with the name of the feed, I click “subscribe” and I am done.

Now when I want to check if there are new posts on this blog, all I need to do is click on my Favourites Centre ( the star on the very left of my IE7 toolbar), click “Feeds” and the list of feeds I follow will come up, the ones in bold have new content and I can click to read the content. Easy Peasy!

*There are a few blogs where this does not work – I have often wondered why. As far as I can gather, in order for your blog to be read by this feed reader, if you are in Blogger you need to do the following: Go to your dashboard, click on “settings”, click on “site feed” and where it says Allow Blog Feeds choose either “full” or “short” – if your selection is set on “none” your blog feed will not be picked up by IE7.

Some bloggers have a short cut on their blogs which you can click in order to subscribe to their blog feed (mine is over there on the left) in this case, you click on that shortcut and are taken to a page where you can choose your feed reader - it can be quite mindboggling as there are many Feed Readers to choose from! - I usually choose View Feed XML and then follow the steps as listed above, or to subscribe in Google Reader, click +Google.

So that is my (very simplistic) take on Feed Readers – be warned I am technologically challenged, so there are probably way better explanations for all of this and if someone can enlighten me further, please leave a comment!

Off to the berg

We are off to the mountains for the long weekend. The weather looks like it is going to be very kind to us (why couldn't it have been like this for Paula's party, mutter.. mutter), so I am hoping for a lovely relaxing weekend. Thinking about gluhwein in front of a roaring log fire, lots of reading, gazing at the berg ...... Nice!

Sardine Run fever

The South Coast of Kwa-Zulu Natal is in the grips of "sardine fever". Every year in June or July, millions of sardines gather in shoals along the shores of the eastern Cape and then move up in a northerly direction, along the coast of Kwa-Zulu Natal. Depending on water temperatures and various other unpredicatable factors, they often come very close to the shore and sometimes even "beach".

These fish are followed up the coast by in excess of 20 000 dolphins, roughly 100 000 Cape Gannets and thousands upon thousands of sharks and game fish. It is a spectacle to behold!

The arrival of the "sards" sends our area into a frenzy. Commercial fishermen net the sardines and sell them by the crater load. Recreational fishermen gather them for bait. Many holidaymakers come to the South Coast at this time of year, on the off-chance that they will be here to watch and enjoy some of the fun and the hype.

If the sardines happen to beach it is a free-for-all, normally sensible, sedate people have been known to head to the beach with buckets and any other likely receptacle they can lay their hands on and wade into the water to grab their share of the elusive little fish.

At this time of year there is a "Sardine Hotline" (082-284-9495) you can dial, for a daily update on the progress of the fish, the local radio news station provides regular updates and the tourism association organises various events in honour of the arrival of these special visitors. Of course this all falls a little flat if the sardines don't put in an appearance, as has happened for the last couple of years! This year they seem to be co-operating though, so here's hoping for some spectacular sightings!

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons by Rockyeda

Come As You Are

I saw this on eLuckypacket and Sweetney and for some unknown reason, felt inclined to humiliate myself by taking part...... (I think I am in serious need of therapy!)

So here I am, unmade-up, badly in need of a haircut and some highlights, battle scarred and weather-beaten:

Your mission, should you choose to accept it is to post a photo of yourself taken right now.

No running to the dressing table for a touch up! Just grab your camera and snap. Then post your photo on your blog and share the link in comments here. .

If you're a flickr member also add your photo to the Come As You Are pool here: Come As You Are

Go for it! You know you want to!

Mosaic-maker meme

I saw this over at Miscellaneous Adventures of an Aussie Mum and thought it was a fun meme to do (and a brilliant way to while away a cold, wet Sunday!)
This is what you have to do:
1. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
2. Using only the first page of results, and pick one image.
3. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into Big Huge Lab’s Mosaic Maker to create a mosaic of the picture answers.

The questions:
1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food? right now?
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. What is your favourite drink?
7. What is your dream vacation?
8. What is your favourite dessert?
9. What do you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. What is one word that describes you?
12. What is your flickr name?

It's a cold wet Sunday and you know what that means......

The weather gods weren't listening. We woke up to cold, wet weather and Paula's party has had to be postponed. Aaaaarggh!

Let's just say I am in a foul state of mind! And then I read this post over at my friend Redness' blog - you have to go over and take a look - it got me smiling :-)

Photos of my girlies

Talk to the weather gods!

When you have planned an ocean safari for your daughter's birthday this

is not what you want to see when you consult your online weather report!

If any of you are in direct contact with the weather gods, please consult them now and appeal for a better outlook than is currently predicted for Sunday!!

Dona Nobis Pacem

I can't believe it - I missed the blog blast for peace! My excuse (and I'm sticking with it!) is that it happened on Paula's 13th birthday. But still, I feel horrible about missing the blog blast event as the need for peace is something I feel really strongly about. Any event that can remind us to find peace in our lives gets my vote for sure. This world needs peace, we as individuals need peace.

And then today my blogging buddy Sanni (who created my gorgeous blog design, isn't she the cleverest!) sent me this beautiful Peace Globe:

peace globe

So I may be late, but I haven't totally missed the bus!

My message to anyone who reads this post is to find a little oasis of peace in your life today - if we all did that the ripples of peace would spread and wouldn't the world be a better place for it?

Introducing Zip

I just realised that I have neglected to introduce the newest member of our family to you.

Allow me to introduce my darling boy, Zip:

Isn't he splendid?
Zip could not have arrived in our lives at a worse possible moment. Rox phoned me from work a couple of weeks back (when my life was completely insane!) and asked if she could bring home a little kitten...... I was at a very weak point and didn't have it in me to put up a fight, Grant was less of a pushover, but ultimately Rox arrived home bearing the cute little ball of fluff and assorted kitty paraphernalia.
Now bear in mind that our dogs had never ever met a kitty at all, ever. To put you in the picture: we have two "outside dogs", Chloe and Nala - they are our watch dogs (well that's the theory!) and they don't come inside and then we have Jax who is as close to a princess as something with 4 legs can get. Jax lives inside, on whichever lap or bed is available!
To prepare ourselves for the task of introducing Princess Jax to the feline addition to the family, I turned to the acknowledged expert in these situations...... the internet. From what I could gather, the best approach would be to shower Jax with love and attention (what's new?) and assure her that she was under no threat whatsoever. We had to convince her that this cat entering the bosom of her family was a very positive thing! Okaaay. What to do when said kitty cat does nothing but spit and hiss everytime Jax comes near? What to do when Jax looks at the cat and positively droools (I kid you not)???
Let's just say that 3 days later we were no nearer to introducing these two in a positive and warm-hearted manner! We were living in an atmosphere that can only be described as a war-zone! It was awful. We couldn't allow the four-legged duo in sight of each other unless they were both being forcibly restrained.
At this point I threw my own hissy-fit and declared the experiment a failure, in fact a fiasco, and instructed Rox to return said Kitty-cat to his previous owner. Grant got home to hysterics all round. At which point he told us to stop being ridiculous, he would solve the problem in no time at all if we would just leave it to him. So we dried our tears and did just that!
Grant did everything that we had deliberately tried to avoid - he shouted at Jax and told her she was being a right little bitch! He smacked her hard on the bottom when she tried to eat the kitten for lunch. He spoke to her in a deep and threatening voice everytime she came near to the cat and told her he was watching her. With in 3 hours we had this scene happening on my bed (notice: no drool!)

By the end of day one, these two were firm friends! We were utterly gobsmacked! I sat and watched them gambolling about on the bed playfully, with my mouth hanging open. Grant was of course overcome at his own cleverness and has yet to let us live it down! Men!

My baby is a teenager!

My Paula turns 13 today. I can scarcely believe that my baby girl is now a teenager and that it is 13 long years since she was born.

Paula on her birthday (a sleepy 13 year old at 6am)

Paula is such a very special girl! She is at once gentle and soft-hearted and strong willed and feisty. She has faced some difficult issues over the last couple of years and she has handled these issues with a strength of character that has really surprised me and made me very proud. She is one tough cookie, this girl of mine!
I know that parenting this particular teenager is not always going to be easy! When Paula makes up her mind about something, she really makes her mind up and she can be very determined and as stubborn as a mule, which frequently has this mom tearing her hair out. But I know that these character traits are also going to stand my girl in good stead - this is one teenager that is not going to be easily swayed, I can vouch for that ;-)

One thing's for sure, the next few years are not going to be boring! So I say bring on these teenage years babe, bring them on!!

Happy Birthday my girlie! Love ya to bits

Birthday parties suck!

So, my youngest turns 13 on Wednesday and I am overcome with grief at the thought of my last-born becoming a teenager. And then, in the middle of this angstfest I am having, she hits me with the fact that she expects a "proper" birthday party to mark this milestone......

Aaaaarggh! I am SO not into birthday parties. Please tell me that this does not make me a bad mother!

I generally manage to wheedle my way out of the whole party thing by convincing my daughters that it makes far more financial sense for me to give them the money the party would have cost me. This way they get to buy something special and I avoid the inevitable headache of organising and hosting a birthday party. I have always thought this was an absolutely inspired idea, but apparently this time it is not going to cut it!

So for the last couple of weeks we have tossed around ideas for a party suitable for ushering my babe into teenagerdom: a disco in our garage - SO NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!....... movies and a pizza - boooorrrring...... a trip to the beauty parlour for her and her bosom buddies - have you seen the prices those places charge???........ a sleepover party with DVDs - the idea of waking up to 10 or more 13 year olds kills me (does this make me a bad mother???)

So finally we came up with a plan that made everyone happy - we (I use the term loosely) are taking Paula and a few friends on an ocean safari and then for pizzas. I'm sure it will be great fun! At this time of year they should definitely see dolphins and hopefully a whale or two and it is something different and special. Fortunately I have an airtight excuse not to go with them, I get horribly sea-sick, so Dad will be on duty in my absence...... and I'll meet them afterwards at the pizza place. You gotta love it when a plan comes together!!

My unevolved man

Now I know that some of you may have thought I was being unnecessarily harsh, calling my better half an "unevolved male" in my previous post. In support of that theory I give you a short snippet of conversation from our weekend:

Background - Grant (the unevolved husband), Rox and I had been to see "What Happens in Vegas" and were now scoffing a pizza.

I said to Rox "Geez, Ashton Kutcher is SO, SO, SO gorgeous"
Rox replies in the affirmative.
Grant says "Who's SHE?"

I rest my case!!!