Monday, 28 October 2013

A quick catch-up .... and we awaken from our winter lethargy and GET ACTIVE

It's been a while, I know, but life has been really busy for the past few weeks - 'busy' in a good way (mostly), but we've also been dealing with our usual routine of fielding children's project deadlines, tests, homework and daily drama.

In between my responsibilities, I have - for the past few months - been immersing myself in some or other obsession. A few months ago I rejoined the public library and ended up devouring the books I borrowed at such a rate that I'd return to the library every few days to find others to appease my addiction. I read late into the night after the kids were asleep and just after dropping off Aisha (3) at creche in the morning, I'd grab another few minutes of reading time for myself. I'd even leave home early to fetch the kids to give myself 30 minutes of delicious self-indulgent reading time in the car outside their school.

But when my lower back started aching about the month ago, I started going to the gym more regularly as advised by my doctor. That 1 hour and 30 minutes of gym per day effectively put paid to my obsessive reading streak as I now have to squeeze in my commitments. But, on the upside, after a few yoga classes and other strengthening exercise sessions, my aches and pains have subsided and I once again feel like a spring chicken. Okay, maybe not a spring chicken - but at least like the fairly fitter, ever-so-slightly leaner, 1.5 kgs lighter version of my old self.

But, as I've become more active, I've started to feel guilty about the fact that my kids get so little exercise - especially since they broke my heart by quitting karate about 2 months ago (after 2 and a half years of classes). As a result I've been trying to get them outdoors to open spaces during the week whenever possible, since we do not have much space at home. Fortunately my girls attend school in the City Bowl area, which means we are able to take time out by going to Green Point Urban Park after school.

Here the younger two are enjoying some after-school  fun while we waited for Tharaa (11).

Since Shakeel (14)'s school is not in the city, but closer to our home, he does not get the opportunity to join us. One Friday I felt really bad seeing him come home from school looking so drained and lethargic, so I convinced Mo to take us to Green Point before sunset. Even though it was icy, I loved seeing how a few minutes outdoors, jumping on the park equipment, transformed my son from a lethargic drained-looking grumpy teen to the little active boy I've so been missing.

[Please excuse the awful picture quality - these were taken with my phone in fading daylight without a flash (since a flash apparently will not work if the phone battery is on its last legs. Who knew) ]

Not to sound like an old granny or anything, but isn't it sad how, in much of South Africa today, parents no longer feel comfortable letting their kids run about freely (the way we did way back when) for fear of something awful happening to them? And since most people here don't have massive backyards, it leaves children with limited options for free outdoor play.

I hope to take the girls to spend some time on one of the little beaches in Mouille Point after school one day this week. Perhaps they can finish their homework there if need be. Suddenly I'm really looking forward to the week ahead.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

We welcome spring with an afternoon of braai'ing, books and basking in the sun

On Sunday last week we, Capetonians experienced a welcome and long-overdue reprieve from a seemingly never-ending winter. And like so many other Capetonians, I'm sure, we chose to hail in the eagerly-awaited change of seasons with a braai (barbeque) in our little garden.

My mum (who spent most of the one-week long school holiday with us), Koleka (our domestic helper), the girls and I lazed on the grass, reading, while Mo and Shakeel (14) did the braaing. 

Purely by coincidence, my mum and I were both reading novels by one of my favourite authors, Afghan-born American novelist and physicist, Khaled Hosseini. While I was completely gripped by The Kite Runner (which my mum had been insisting I should read for such a long time) she was engrossed in A Thousand Splendid Suns - despite the fact that this was the second time that she was reading this book. 

Later, when Shakeel joined us, I read to the kids from A Long Walk to Lavender Street: A Story from South Africa (Survivors) by Belinder Hollyer, since they were reluctant to read it by themselves, insisting that it was "not our kind of book". As I'd expected, Tharaa (11) was gripped by the story and the sadness surrounding that part of our dark past - and chose to finish the book by herself. Shakeel however, chose to settle down with Bruce Lee's Fighting Method - Skill in Techniques by Bruce Lee and M. Uyehara. 

Nuha (8) spent the afternoon stretched out on the picnic blanket soaking up the sun's rays while Aisha (3) tottered about the garden, enjoying playing outside after such a long and dreary winter - the evidence of which was still visible from our house in the form of snow-capped mountain-peaks (which thankfully did not affect the pleasant temperatures we were enjoying).

My mum (reluctantly taking a break from her book to have lunch) with Tharaa and Nuha

Snow-capped mountain-tops were still visible from our house on this beautiful sunny day

What an enjoyable way to (finally) welcome spring. Let's hope that the warmer weather is here to stay and that this delightful afternoon may be the first of many.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

My lovely (sometimes crazy) relatives gather to celebrate my baby brother's wedding

Yes, I know - my brother is well on his way to his one-month wedding anniversary already and I am just managing to draft a post on Part 2 of the wedding day celebrations, which I promised in my previous post. I know it is probably no longer of interest but a promise is a promise, so here goes...

Whereas in the previous post, I focused on the formalities and 'formal posing', here I just want to share pics of our family and friends at the reception - all of whom made the day so special.

Here I am - deep in conversation with my cousin whom I just do not see often enough. Growing up, we spent numerous splendid carefree holidays lazing about in the sun at Sonesta, while eyeing the cute lifeguard in the blue speedo. Isn't it sad that now, years later, we only get to see each other on special occasions?

My sis-in-law looking contemplative

My brother (the groom) though generally a happy chappy - was even happier than usual on their big day.

My brother receiving well wishes from my late father's brother

My late father's beautiful sister (brown scarf) chatting to Uncle Sonny (my dad's youngest brother)

My dad's brother and his wife

I love sis-in-law's Spanish-type snood - I should get myself one.

Now I cannot possibly write about that day - or any occasion at which this woman is present - without mentioning my insane  interesting cousin Yusraah. Now I was about to say that every family has a Yusraah, but that would be inaccurate, since I think she is undoubtedly one of a kind. You know - the person who shocks you, makes you cringe and inevitably laugh until your sides hurt with her outrageous comments and behaviour - the boisterous, fun-loving life of any party.

I remember 10 years ago at my other brother's wedding, she kept on calling the photographer to take pictures of her as she shook her shiny mane and pouted for the camera. This time around, there was no shaking of her luscious locks as she was donning her hijab, which is meant to cover her beauty, but in this case simply could not successfully restrain all this sexiness ( which is a bit much to expect from a piece of fabric in her case).

So for much of this day, I was Yusraah's main focus - since I was the one carrying the camera. Whenever she caught my eye, she automatically struck a pose - and I willingly obliged (it is, after all, not every day I get to photograph a subject of this calibre).

(excuse the poor quality of some of these pictures - they were taken hurriedly as I was starting to feel ridiculous taking pictures of the same person all the time (especially since that person wasn't the bride) - I had no idea what my brother's new in-laws were thinking of this spectacle!).

The wedding was but the side-show - we all knew who the real star of the day was

She's completely nuts, but we love her all the same

Yes, even as she was leaving - she caught my eye through the railings (which was my cue to take a photo) - ignoring my warning that she looked like a jailbird behind bars

And - one for the road - here she actually stepped into the middle of the road and waited until she caught my attention to take a pic. Pure unadulterated sexiness.

Now back to the more normal members of my family

My brother and his wife being all lovey dovey

Mo (my husband) with Aisha (3) attached to him

The new little family - such cuteness

 I love how my youngest brother always seems to look at the older one with such admiration/respect. He never looks at me that way *sniff*

With Uncle Sonny, my dad's brother

My dad's fun-loving family - even lining up to pose for a photo is a dramatic event - and who needs the bridal couple anyway?

With my mum looking lovely in black and turquoise

Looking back at these pictures, I'm reminded of what a joyous day this was. It was so wonderful having both sides of our extended family present. I must add, though, that I just focused on my dad's side, since my mother's family really values their privacy and I don't think they'd have appreciated  having their pictures splashed all over the internet. But EVERYONE present added to the beauty of the occasion in their own special way and we really loved having them celebrate the day with us.