Friday, 21 December 2012

We are all in Granny Heaven!

Granny is bloody amazing! The kids adore her and my house is cleaner and more organised than ever.

We have all have the lurgy and Christmas is looming, so I haven't felt like posting, but it is all awesome.

And Princess hasn't had a wee accident since the day she realised there was no reward for wetting herself.... sticker charts and chocolate rule!

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Meh

So, the sticker chart worked like a charm yesterday! All day Princess happily tinkled on the toilet and chose her stickers.

At bathtime Princess did one final wee and got her mini box of smarties and ate them while I ran the bath. Then she played happily with King in the bubbly bath while I sat close by and read my book and occasionally fished King out from under the water and set him spluttering upright again. (What is it with babies trying to kill themselves all the time, anyway?)

Princess read books happily with Milord while I sorted King out, and they both went happily to bed. And I sat down happily next to Milord and said "That was the nicest day I've had with Princess in ages."

...

Today I woke up tired after doing some programming work for Milord last night. Princess wouldn't sit on the toilet, didn't want to take off her nappy, didn't want her hair brushed, and did a huge wee on my couch before 7:30am in spite of me asking "Want to come do a tinkle and get a sticker?!" every 10 minutes.

Oh for fuck sake.

I'm losing my mummy mojo. It just isn't fun right now. Today is a Kindy day, and when I have King alone I try to give him some quality mummy time. He is sweet and cheerful and loving and I lasted 15 minutes playing on the floor before I turned on the TV for him to watch instead and walked away.

Meh. I need a holiday.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Toilet Training

We do not have a great track record with toilet training Princess. I cannot believe my Mom started potty training her when King was born... 15 months ago!

In general Princess has gotten with the program. She does every poo and many wees on the toilet every day, and wears nappies only to sleep. She had started calling for wees in the night, and I figured we were on the downhill run.

But...

Lately, she's been wetting herself a lot in spite of being asked if she needs a wee shortly beforehand. At Kindy, on my bed, on my couch - and not just a bit of dampness before she alerts me to needing a tinkle, but a ginormous full bladder release! She doesn't want to get up at night to wee, and literally fights going to the toilet.

It is driving me mental!

Milord suggested getting cross with her, and maybe taking away privileges. I dunno. My life has enough toddler bickering and whining in it right now without adding more! Plus I'm pretty sure Princess is using her weeing as a power play.

So, time for a positive spin on the toilet training and added incentives. Today we started: a sticker chart! Princess loves these stickers - she has done double her usual wees in order to get stickers on her chart.



If Princess gets to bathtime with no accidents then she can have a mini box of smarties. We were rewarding her with smarties for doing a poo on the loo, but now she's going to have to go all day without an accident to get her reward.

Bizarrely, Princess seems to be in a better mood today too - maybe the piddle power play was doing her head in too!

2 hours to go. Wish me luck!

Monday, 3 December 2012

A Day in the Life of Saffa Chick

6am: Dawn. King awakes. Some initial grumbles and then goo-gahs and so on as he plays with the toys in his cot. Thank god we have daylight saving in my state - otherwise this would be 5am!

6:30am. Princess joins in the singing with her version of nursery rhymes. I send a mental apology-in-advance to my Mom who is going to be moving into their room in a week!

6:45am. More grumbles than singing: time to get up. Milord and I roll out of bed, tidy the covers, throw on some clothes and stumble out of our room. I heat a bottle of milk, fill the kettle, tune in the news channel and intercept Princess on her way to join me.

"Let's take off your soggy nappy and put on some dry pants. Do you need a tinkle?"
"I don't want to take my nappy off! It isn't soggy! I don't need a tinkle! I want to go to the lounge room! I want to play on the iPad!"

She runs away from me - arguing ensues - Milord passes me carrying King and starts feeding him milk - I finally drag Princess into the bathroom and place her on the loo - she does a wee while I take away her sodden night-nappy.

"I don't want you to brush my hair! I want to go to the lounge room!"

I brush her hair with lots of detangler - dry pants on - we emerge into the lounge room and I get the iPad set up next to a bottle of water - make 2 cups of coffee - King has finished his milk and is roaming the floor, trying to reach the iPad - I barricade Princess with a few boxes of toys so he can't get to it.

Christ, it's only 7am!

7:30am. Milord finishes his second coffee, showers, and heads off for work by bicycle. I make the kids raisin toast (well, raisin bread for King actually as he's not quite up for toast yet) and feed King his cube by cube in the highchair while Princess eats hers on the fly in front of the TV.

8:30am. Clean kitchen, empty and reload dishwasher, set a load of laundry going.

9am. Put King to bed for a nap. Set out a snack of dried fruit for Princess. Take a shower and dress for the day. Nothing fits - this stay-at-home-mum gig does nothing for my waistline! Drag Princess protesting to the toilet and dress her in day clothes too. Hang out the washing.

10am. King wakes. Change his nappy, dress him in day clothes, put him in the pram with a biscuit and head for the door.

10:30am. We finally reach the main road having looked at all the house numbers, picked flowers, jumped in puddles and stomped in crunchy leaf litter. This distance takes me 2 minutes alone! We continue to the supermarket, stopping to talk about the fish in the fishmonger's window and the meat in the butcher's window. Luckily the brothel is no more than a lurid neon-lit stairway!

11:30am. Having had "help" shopping for groceries and having said "No. Stop. Leave it. Put it back. I'm not getting that. No. No. No." a million times we are finally out of the shop. Princess has a lollipop as this is the only way to get her past the sodding sweets at checkout. Every supermarket manager should be made to shop with their toddler for a week straight and then get asked about sweets at the checkout!

Noon. We check the PO Box at the post office and go for a snack at a nearby coffee shop. I order a huge pasta as I have forgotten to eat today, and both kids share it with me. I do manage one bite in about 5! Then we head home again...

1pm. King is in bed for a nap but Princess sadly no longer needs an afternoon nap. We do a bit of painting and some play-doh and a snack of cheese and biscuits, then I fill the paddling pool outside and Princess has a splash about while I sit close by reading my book. Not actually on my stunning daybed though, as that is an invitation for being leaped upon! I'm a bit fed up with being constantly clambered, jumped and leaped on.

3pm. King is awake. He has a biscuit or two and tries to take away or interfere with anything his sister is into. Thank goodness he isn't walking yet - Princess can escape by climbing onto the couch!

3:10pm. Princess wets the couch copiously in spite of being asked repeated if she needs a wee. WTF!? I am seriously annoyed but hopefully keep my demeanor no worse than just disappointed. Wash Princess and change her clothes. Wash the couch cushions. Pour a glass of wine.

4:30pm. The kid's dinner of crumbed chicken, oven chips and roast pumpkin is in the oven. Broccoli florets are ready to steam in the microwave. Both of them are hungry and grumpy but if they snack now they will not eat dinner. Pour more wine.

5pm. We all sit at the dining table and I feed King his dinner bit by bit (if he has more than one morsel in front of him he will fling it across the room) while coaxing Princess to eat hers. She tries to climb on the table and under the table and to run off... "I'm full!" "You are not! Come back here and eat your broccoli or you will go to your room!".

5:30pm. I give up, eat Princess' leftovers and let both kids get down. Bring in the washing.

6pm. Bathtime. King can't wait to get in but I have to catch Princess and strip her screaming into the bath. Pour more wine.

6:15pm. Milord arrives home to kids squabbling in the bath and his lush of a wife nearly a bottle of wine down. He has a large glass of water and chats about his day in the bathroom doorway and pours me more wine.

6:30pm. Milord takes King out of the bath and dries and dresses him and gives him some milk. By now he has a glass of wine too.

6:45pm. Princess does not want to get out of the bath. I have to use the threat of no books and straight to bed before she reluctantly gets out. We join Milord and King in the lounge room and read a couple of books. Princess is constantly trying to jump on me or run off and only the real threat of immediate bed keeps her next to me!

7pm. Teeth cleaning and bed for them both. Oh. Thank. God. Collapse next to Milord and listen to the kids singing while we watch the evening news.

7:30pm. Go into the kid's room and turn out the lights and tuck Princess in (she is usually asleep now, while King is often still playing). Cook the grownup's dinner. Pour more wine.

9pm. Raid the cupboards and snack on Princess' dried fruit, chips and chocolate! Finish the wine.

9:30pm. Bed time! I will be checking on the kids at least once in the night, and dawn comes so very early...

Yes, I chose this life. Yes, I could pay someone else to do most of it. No, I wouldn't miss it for the world! (most of the time)

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

Text of an sms sent to Milord this afternoon:

Princess has pissed in our bed and then shut King in a dark room. Please get wine on your way home!?!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Posers

Show myself or Princess a camera and we are ready to perform!



My best angle is from on high. What a pity that I'm taller than most people [outside South Africa]!



Whatcha doing Mummy?



Me too! Me too!



Wednesday, 21 November 2012

New Teeth!

King's top molars are finally breaking through. I think they and the bottom bumps still hurt a lot though, as he still can't "chew" on his food. Plus he is starting a new cold.

*ugh*

The good news is that he is now so hungry that he has come to terms with food off a spoon! I opened a jar of babyfood chicken risotto in desperation last night (I stocked up before I realised he wouldn't eat off a spoon) and he scoffed the lot! Plus Princess' roasted pumpkin and roasted zucchini. And today at the shops I tried him on one of those squeezy packs of yogurt and he slurped it in.

It is a little difficult to backtrack from finger food to soft food - I keep getting caught out with only chewy snacks on hand!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Granny's Coming!

In just under 3 weeks my Mom is moving in with us!

She has retired from her job on the Isle of Man, left her rented apartment, sold her car and shipped a few boxes. It seems to be something she and I do every so often - uproot and take only the essentials to a new country!

I am very excited to have Mom moving in. She is going to be such a help with the kids, and will free me up to be able to get out and exercise a few times a week. One of us will be able to take Princess out when King is napping. With another pair of hands I could contemplate taking the kids to the beach...

Also, Mom can't stop herself cleaning and gardening and loves DIY! Milord is compiling a list of light jobs around the house which cannot be done with kids underfoot, so one of us can amuse the kids while the other does some sanding or painting or whatever. I know what I'd rather be doing - we'll have to take turns!

Plus of course, Mom and I get along famously. Milord likes her enormously and doesn't seem at all concerned that we will be 5 people in a 2-bedroom house! Mom is also an awesome Granny - the kids are so lucky.

Mom will probably be looking for part time work for a bit of sanity and pocket money after a couple of months of holiday. Once King is old enough to start school I will go back to full time work and we can look into buying Mom an apartment, and ourselves a bigger house, or maybe a house big enough for all of us. In the meantime we are going to be cosy!

With Mom here I could of course go back to work now (Mom did offer to take over the kids) but I don't want to. I have only one chance to be a stay-at-home-mum while my kids are small, and as appealing as the office might be some days I know I'd regret giving this up prematurely.

I am having fun with the kid's/Mom's room. Until recently we didn't know if we'd be moving to a bigger place (we can't afford to) so I have never decorated it. Now I can! This is the kid's side:



Those are oversize cot/beds, so should fit the kids for a couple more years. By then our circumstances will have changed or I shall get bunkbeds! The star wall lamps are new and Princess loves them.

And this is Mom's side:



It needs some work!

Monday, 19 November 2012

Squint Surgery - 1 Week Later





The doctor says she has rarely seen so little redness!

Milord and I got worried over the weekend that Princess' eyes were getting redder, so I took Princess in for a checkup today. It seems that perhaps she is opening her eyes more and we are just seeing more red (there is quite a lot of red under the lower lids you can't see here)! Plus she had a snotty cold and that can make eyes go a bit reddish too. All is perfect.

We also thought maybe Princess' eyes were drifting too far apart, but that's an optical illusion caused by the redness too. As you can see the dots of light are still perfectly aligned.

Princess has been very tired and clingy and off her food for a few days. The doctor thinks that's a combination of the headcold plus sharing a bedroom with a teething baby!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

After Eye Surgery

Before: See how the dots of light on the pupils are not identically placed? This means Princess' eyes are not straight.



After: Identical! Straight eyes ta-dah!



Princess seems to be in surprisingly little discomfort, although I'm keeping her dosed with paracetamol anyway. She is very tired and has had naps in the day for the last couple of days, much to her disgust! On the whole she is quite cheerful and almost her normal self.

Her eyes are a little bloodshot and puffy, but not as much as I had been expecting.

Awesome!

In other news King is growing molars, poor baby. He's clingy and off his food. He has big bumps on his gums where they are coming through, and he finds chewing very difficult. As he still dislikes soft food off a spoon he's a bit hungry! He just gets down enough to take the edge off his hunger, and then spits everything else back out.

They are both a bit clingy right now. Yesterday I was carrying Princess when King grabbed me around the knee. She wouldn't let me put her down and he wouldn't let go. I felt like a caricature of a stay-at-home-mom!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Home and doing fine

Princess' eye operation went very well, the surgeon is thrilled.

It was pretty hard making Princess fast until 2pm (!), but we did get her up early for chocolate and juice which she was totally ok with. From 9am Princess was asking for more food, but at least at 3 you can sort of explain why she can't eat or drink for a while.

"Not until the doctors fix your eyes, sweetie."
"Can we go to the doctor now? Right now?"
"No, they're not open yet. I'm sorry."
"I'm hungry Mummy! I'm really hungry!"
"I am so, so sorry darling."

Poor Princess has never been hungry in her life before! She was quite good about it though, I was very impressed. There was a 2-year-old in the next cubicle who wasn't happy with the same situation and he screamed the place down until his turn in theatre came around!

We have private health insurance, and so went to a lovely private hospital. It's still a large expense, but at least the hospital and staff were awesome.

Princess woke up miserable after the op. I've been under general a couple of times myself and can totally understand the confusion and discomfort. We cuddled a lot and finally she drank some juice and ate a sandwich and felt a lot better. By the time we came home it was just about bedtime, so she had a snack and a cuddle and went off to bed with very little complaining.

I hope she has a good night. I hope we all have a good night - I am shattered!

Monday, 12 November 2012

But she's 3!

This afternoon the hospital we are going to tomorrow for Princess' eye surgery finally called to tell me when to come. I'd been assuming that as she is only 3 we'd be at the top of the list and was bracing myself for a very early start.

They want us there at noon. Noon!

With fasting from 6 hours beforehand and Princess rarely awake before 6:30am, this means I cannot give her food at all until mid afternoon after the op. Holy crap.

"You do know she's only 3?" I said disbelievingly.

Princess is fairly indifferent about breakfast before 8am anyway, so my chances of waking her at 6am for a proper meal are zero. And then I'll be giving King food all morning in front of her... aaaaaah!

I'm thinking I load her up on chocolate and juice at 6am. I'm pretty sure she will eat that even if she isn't hungry!

As if this isn't going to be hard enough. growl

That could have been so much worse

A couple of days ago Milord was assembling a couple of new Ikea bookshelves for the kid's/Granny's room. They weigh a ton (33kg) each, and I had a devil of a time just getting them home from the shop!

Princess and I went into my bedroom to visit/help Milord where he was assembling the first bookcase on our bed. King was asleep in the next room. I stepped out to fetch something and there was an almighty crash followed by a scream... I burst back in to find Milord holding a distraught Princess. The second bookcase, still in its flatpack box, had been propped against the wall and had toppled over right at Princess and Milord. Milord says he sensed it falling and pushed it away from Princess, but it still caught her a glancing blow to her left heel.

After we calmed her down and dressed her wound and gave her paracetamol and a lollipop and she was happily watching tv we shakily poured a couple of glasses of wine and sat down on the bed. "That could have been so much worse!" we said.

2 days later we are still talking about how if the box had fallen directly on Princess she would have been maimed, or if it had fallen on King he might be dead.

Princess is fine. She has a bruised achilles and heel but doesn't mention it unless you accidentally press on it while putting her shoes on (oops).

Oh and the bookcases look awesome!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Things that go bump in the night

On Monday night at 3am Milord and I startled awake. Something was thumping and clawing its way down the side passage of the house... All our sensor lights activated and then everything went quiet.

"What the hell was that?!" said Milord.
"A cat?" said I.
"A f*ing big cat!" he replied.

We pulled on clothes and crept to the back of the house. The back yard was brilliantly lit by the sensor light. All looked normal... except for the torchlight flashing in the neighbour's yard.

Milord stepped out onto the front porch. "It's the police!" he exclaimed in relief. "They've caught somebody."

We didn't fancy going up to the commotion, but we surmise that the cops must have been chasing at least one person through the neighbourhood. Perhaps he scaled our locked 6-foot sidegate and ran into the backyard and then jumped the fence into the neighbour's place and so on. Perhaps a police dog was sent over the gate after him!

We lay awake for hours. I'm still a bit jumpy. Nothing quite like waking up to Cujo scrabbling under your bedroom window. Luckily the kids slept through everything!

Monday, 5 November 2012

Squint Surgery

Princess has strabismus, or a squint, in both eyes. They both turn too hard inwards when she focuses on things, and as a result she has bad depth perception. You can see the issue without a flash in the reflections on her eyes. The reflections should be identical on the pupil. As you can see they are not quite right.





With a flash it is obvious, because one eye has redeye, and the other not the same.





It is getting worse, and something has to be done.

We have tried using glasses to get her eyes to align, but it hasn't helped at all.

The only other thing available to us is surgery. Seriously, there is nothing in between!

While the very idea of Princess undergoing major surgery gives me the heebie jeebies, the sooner we have it done the better her prognosis for good eyesight. So she is booked in for the procedure on Tuesday week - that's 8 days away.

Milord and I are not sleeping well. I lie awake for hours most nights from 2am... this morning I got back to sleep as the birds began chirping and woke at 6am feeling quite grotty!

In other news the kids are pretty awesome. King is desperate to get outside.



He is close to talking - we're pretty sure he says "car" on purpose. Also "uh-oh" for anything dropped. If I drop something in the kitchen I hear "uh-oh" from wherever King is!

King has a decent turn of speed in crawling now, and is considering pulling up to his feet. Then Princess will have to sit at the dining table to play iPad or watch movies on the laptop!

Speaking of the dining table, I have started giving the kids their meals there. It's a lot more comfy for me and Princess is strapped into a booster seat and can't wander off.



Both kids enjoy a whole peeled apple from time to time. It keeps King quiet for ages!



And they enjoy sharing a bath.



That's pretty much my life! It can be a little wearing, especially as Princess has dropped her afternoon nap and so I have no me-time except on her Kindy days. I wish we could afford to send her 3 times a week as she really loves it.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Your Royal Fix

It feels wrong posting these without Dad out there looking for them...







Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Summer Time

We went onto daylight savings time over the weekend. I love the later mornings and longer evenings this gives us, but it does mess with the kid's naps a bit. I'm trying to adjust their sleep times but they both have such strong body clocks this means they spend ages playing in bed and are then totally shattered when I force them to get up.

Today King struggled to nap during the morning and was unimpressed to be roused when I needed to go out. Then he and Princess mucked about in bed when they should have had their afternoon nap. I eventually let Princess get up, but am still trying to make King have a little nap because he looks so exhausted. I gave him a bottle of milk and put him back to bed and he is howling.

Princess is whining because she has skipped her nap. Ugh. I can't even send her to bed because he is in their room.

On the bright side King has started crawling! He is up on hands and knees and inching about the living room. Nothing is safe - he can reach everything on the coffee table, has worked out how to open cupboards, and is very interested in anything Princess is eating or playing with.

When in bed King can sit up and reach his mobile, so that has had to go. He also chucks each toy over the side one by one, then howls because he is stuck in a sitting position and can't work out how to lie down.

The little guy is a bit tired lately! I'd better go get him - he is still wailing. *sigh*

Friday, 5 October 2012

Summertime!

We had a little heatwave this week. Awesome. I am loving my backyard this summer!

Paddling pools rock.



This is us ready for company - you can't see the enormous leg of lamb on the spit in the bbq ;-). Friends came over with their young son (Princess' age) for lunch, and left 7 hours later when it was bedtime! What a glorious day.



This is my chillout space during the kid's afternoon nap.



It is going to be a very good summer!

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Mini Me

Complete strangers stop me in the street to tell me how much King looks like me. I'm not sure I can see it myself, but he sure does resemble my own baby photos.







When Princess was very small she looked like Milord. Now she doesn't look like either of us...

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Friday, 14 September 2012

Thoughts about Dad

I wrote this sitting beside my Dad in the hospital one morning. He was barely conscious of my presence and I occupied myself reading, listening to my mp3 player, and writing the following:



As I write this I am sitting beside my father as he sleeps in his hospital bed in the hospice ward. He doesn’t have much longer to live. His level of discomfort has now reached the point that they are gently sedating him and his lucid moments are almost over. He says he feels wonderful and floaty. I am glad he is not suffering. In just a week or two he has gone from being able to walk to the lounge to watch TV to not being able to roll over in bed. He doesn’t even have the energy to read a book. It has been a very swift decline.

I am struck by the similarity between the end of life and the beginning of it. Bathing the body by applying moisturiser and then wiping it off, as I did with my newborn babies. A diet of liquid and mush. Nappies. Having very little control of gross and fine motor skills. Struggling to enunciate. Being pushed around in a wheeled chair. The way I keep checking that dad is breathing, like I did with my babies (and still sometimes do when they seem to be too asleep!).

The difference of course is that there is a perfectly aware adult mind stuck inside this helpless body, that there is pain, and that unlike a baby who thrives and gets stronger day by day my dad is getting weaker by the minute.

Dad keeps apologising to me because his demise is happening during my visit. In fact, I don’t mind – I would rather be here now keeping him company and helping my stepmom than to be on the other side of the world hearing about it. My husband, who has lost both his parents already and who missed attending both their deaths by mere hours, completely understands. I am probably going to have to delay my flight home, and my husband will have to take more time off work to look after the kids, but he is being extremely gracious about it.

The level of care required to make dad comfortable is amazing. Oxygen, special air mattress to prevent bedsores, high nutrient drinks, painkillers, sedation, being turned from side to side every few hours, catheter and nappies. I catch myself wondering how horrible it must have been to die in the olden days (or in 3rd world countries right now I suppose). Pain, breathlessness, bedsores, starvation, soiling oneself- the mind boggles. I am so glad we have access to modern medicine and that dad’s Navy medical plan covers all this.

Until just a few days ago Dad was still at home. My stepmom nursed him and did a brilliant job. In her youth she trained as a nurse, but I think any loving wife would have done the same.

Dad had a Project that he really wanted done, which was to gather all the information and photos he has of our ancestors, and to scan them to share with the family. My job over the past week has been to sift through heaps of paper from the past 40 years looking for nuggets of history. During my search Dad realised that I was also gathering anything to do with his life, from high school certificates to Naval commendations, to preserve for myself and my descendants. Someday my children and grandchildren may want to know more about my Dad, in the way I wish there was more info about my grandad. I think Dad was chuffed to know that I value his life history too.

We pretty much completed our Project. I’d emptied the cupboard which had been packed with paperwork, and Dad and I had looked at and discussed all the papers and photos I’d found. On the day we rushed to hospital I hadn’t yet scanned the last pile of stuff and there was a heap of old papers that Dad might have liked to have looked through, but really we were finished. I’ve packed a bundle of old photos to take home with me for scanning, so I shall finalise the Project later.

Whenever Dad has a lucid moment he asks me if we finished the Project and I tell him that we have. It must be worrying him that we might not have ticked that box. Once Dad learned his cancer was terminal he made a Bucket List of things he wanted to do before he was gone. I’d always thought of a Bucket List as a grand affair – hot air balloons and Paris and rides on a space rocket – but I guess you have to tailor these things to reality. Dad has been so ill this year that his list was far more prosaic: give the boat to a friend, buy my stepmom a new car, and dig out the family history. I am glad I was able to help him tick the last item off his Bucket List. I’m also glad I managed to get my hands on the family history, as my children are Dad’s only blood descendants.



Memories:

When I was little Dad smelled of coffee and cigarettes or pipe tobacco. He has always been very physically affectionate, happy to hold hands or have me sit in his lap or give big hugs. Even as a grown woman I’d hold hands with Dad walking down the street. I wonder if some people thought he had a very young wife!

My parents would often sit quietly in their respective armchairs reading books, drinking coffee and smoking. My favourite spot was in the corner of the room behind Mom’s chair. It was lit by her floorlamp, and I would curl up on the carpet with an Asterix graphic novel. They’d play classical LPs on the record player, and if I was lucky they’d let me turn the record over and ever so carefully drop the needle onto it again.

Once or twice a week we would need to stir our swimming pool so that all the debris would collect in the middle, ready for Mom to suck it out with the pool cleaner. I’d be doing my best, up to my neck in the water. Dad would lap me a few times and suddenly I’d be swept into his slipstream, bobbing along behind him in delight as he created a whirlpool.

In the pool Dad would swim underwater with me clinging to his shoulders until I couldn’t hold my breath any longer and would have to let go and surface. He would also submerge, get me to stand on his shoulders, then stand up and throw me into a dive from well above the water. I remember dad and his brothers all pretending to hold their wives underwater while the kids all went mental at the edge. Dad was into paddlesurfing and practiced Eskimo rolls in the pool. I don’t remember him ever succeeding!

We spent a great deal of time at the beach. Dad was a surfer and a paddlesurfer. Mom and I would bodyboard, and I’d build sandcastles and investigate rockpools and collect seasnails with Kelly. I’m surprised I never learned to surf. Maybe if we hadn’t moved inland when I was 12 I would have.

Dad was always working with wood. I loved the smell and texture of sawdust. Dad never taught me any carpentry, but I have a fair understanding of nails and woodglue picked up while helping him by holding things. Holding things waiting for glue to dry is very boring!

After my parents divorced Dad got himself a guitar and keyboard. Unfortunately he is literally tone deaf! When I’d visit I had to tune the guitar.

Dad taught me to drive. For a while anyway! I decided I’d rather not know how to drive than be taught by Dad… a year later he paid for lessons and I passed first time. I imagine that is why Mom taught me to ride a bicycle!



My Dad died later the same day.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Birthdays!

King turned 1 the day before I got home, and Princess turned 3 a couple of days later on the Saturday, so we gave them all the presents together on Saturday morning. A bit like Christmas!

A real digital camera! For kids!



Of course, she'd prefer an iPhone...





Chocolate sponge roll with 2 candles on it (1 and 3). Princess spent ages blowing these out and having them relit!



Later in the day, playing with Daddy on the daybed.



And a few more pics of my back-to-normality life: In the park



Wearing Mummy's slippers



Coffee shop chaos



Sunday, 9 September 2012

I'm Home

I've been home for over a week, and it almost feels as if I was never away and my Dad's passing was all a dream. Until one of my kids makes me laugh and I realise that it has been so very long since I last felt like laughing...

I'm ok. I'm just sort of generally a little bit sad. The week I spent in South Africa after Dad died was so hugely emotional that I think I have worked through a great deal of my grief already. Or else it is waiting to hit me later.

We held Dad's memorial on Tuesday 28th August in Saldanha, where he and StepMom live. Because of the short notice and long way to travel we only had about 100 people turn up, where we'd been expecting at least double that. It was nice to have a relatively small number though and they were all close friends and family. One of Dad's brothers and StepBrother flew in from London, a cousin flew from Jhb, and folk gathered from all over.

The memorial was held at the yacht club, of which Dad was a member. It was very suitable, right on the water, and we had glorious weather. Several people spoke, including Dad's doctor from the hospice who was a true angel of mercy. StepGranddaughter C sang Amazing Grace at Dad's request and we all cried. The flower arrangements were done in the colours of the desert spring flowers which are blooming right now in the Saldanha area, and which my Dad loved. There was lots of good food, plenty of wine, and at the end the remaining family gathered at home for a braai.

After Dad died I moved into the house with StepMom (I'd been staying around the corner with StepSister) so that she (and I) wouldn't be waking up alone. It was incredibly emotional and we took turns dissolving in tears until the day I left.

Since coming home I haven't cried much. The kids take a lot of attention and I caught a horrible cold within a couple of days which I can't seem to shake, so there isn't much time left over for grief (or blogging or anything else!)

Friday, 24 August 2012

My Dad is Gone

My Dad died on Wednesday 22 August 2012 at 9:40pm.

He passed quietly in his sleep with his wife by his side. I had kissed him goodnight and told him I loved him just a few hours before.

I did manage to have a lovely visit with Dad for a week before he had to go hospital. Although he couldn't get out of bed he was lucid and chatty and very happy to have me there.

I am glad his suffering is over, but oh how sad I am that he is no longer in my life.

I wrote this tribute for Dad a while ago, and I shared it with him during my visit. He was thrilled and very touched.

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Every child starts off thinking their Dad knows everything and can do anything.

When I was little Dad made me a ride-on tortoise, and a bit later a scooter. He has built shelves and furniture, brewed beer, pickled olives, cured biltong and renovated houses. Dad has surfed, paddle-skied, windsurfed, kite surfed, hanglided, played tennis, cycled the Argus and run marathons, including the Comrades several times. He has serviced his own cars, and mine once I owned one. All this while carving an exemplary career as a naval officer. There is nothing Dad can’t do.

Dad always feels other people should be able to do anything too, and encourages us to attempt everything we want to do. Milord often says “Why didn’t you wait for me to come home to do it for you?”, when it never occurs to me that I couldn’t do it myself! My Dad taught me to do anything.

Anything I ask Dad he can usually answer, and if not then he’ll find out. “I don’t know” is never a good enough answer for him, and so there is nothing Dad doesn’t know.

Once I learned to read Dad’s answers tended to become “Look it up” as he steered me towards the 3 sets of encyclopedias we owned. At the time it was a bit frustrating, but knowing how to find things out for myself is an invaluable skill. “I don’t know” is not good enough for me either! One of the best professional compliments I have ever received was from a colleague who said he was always happy to explain something to me, because he knew I’d already looked everywhere else for the answer first. My Dad taught me to know everything.

Not many independent adults can say that their Dad has never fallen off the All-knowing All-doing pedestal!

I’ve been hearing stories about Dad from family recently. The recurring themes are “Hero”, “Mentor”, “Leader” and “Larger than Life”. Dad was just “Dad” to me, and I thought all his fabulous attributes were normal. Maybe that’s why I’ve always been so disappointed in the various boyfriends I tested over the years, and why it took me until my mid-thirties to finally find a man who measures up!

Family has always been very important to Dad, and he has been the centre of our enormous clan from the beginning. As the eldest and the first to settle down, Dad’s house was usually the venue for any family gatherings and I grew up surrounded by a swarm of aunties, uncles and cousins. I am really sad that Dad is not going to be able to be Grandad to my kids. Grace and James won’t remember their Grandad, or know what it’s like to be tickled and teased into a complete meltdown by him as a little kid, or be able to draw on his vast wisdom as confused teenagers, or be able to merrily share a few beers and tall tales as young adults.

Somewhere over the past few decades my Dad and I became friends rather than just father and daughter. He now trusts me to choose the right job, the right country and the right husband. Dad always says: “If you know what you want, you can achieve it. Believe in yourself. Be happy.”

I think Dad’s proud of me. I’m certainly proud of him!

Plus, of course, I love him to bits. I love my Dad like a flower follows the sun, like water flows downhill and like night follows day. He has always been there in the background no matter how far I roam or how rarely we make contact, and I can't imagine the void his absence is going to create.

Friday, 10 August 2012

I'm Fine

I'm getting worried emails from around the world!

I'm fine, really. Nothing a slab of chocolate and some wine can't fix! I don't get depressed, but I do get sad, worried, frustrated and cross. Sometimes all at once and I then I feel the need to complain.

Princess will be fine. The heart murmur can't be that bad if they've only just found it, I'm not really concerned about her balance, and the glasses are cooooool.



I have the sweetest boy in the world.



Dad's blood results were so good this week he didn't need to be admitted.

So, on the whole, things are as good as they can be ;-)