Thursday, 27 December 2012

Day 1 and 2 of our Garden route holiday

Apologies for the long delay in updating my blog. I know I promised to try to keep you updated with posts of our Sedgefield adventure, but honestly, I really didn't feel like it. Mainly because I was too busy living in the moment and savouring every precious second of our time away.

Firstly, let me correct something from my previous post - Sedgefield is not an 8-hour drive from Cape Town. We were only able to leave (after all our car drama) at about 15:30 and we arrived in Sedgefield at 21:30. Surprisingly the drive was not too bad. The kids did not complain too much. Aisha (3) only really started to moan during the last 90 minutes. As stressful as that was, it really could have been worse.

The kids slept part of the way and we stopped off regularly to keep Mo awake and the kids happy.

The plan for the holiday was to obtain cheap/affordable accommodation, which would merely be used as a base while we explored the surrounding areas like George, Knysna, Wilderness etc. As far as the accommodation went, let's just say that we got what we paid for and leave it at that. However, the backyard and surrounding scenery more than made up for what the inside of the house lacked.

Since the following day was Friday, we were not really able to do anything during the early part of the day, as Mo and Shakeel (13) had to go to Jumuah. Since the nearest mosque is in George, we went along for the drive (as we'd arrived at night and had not seen much of the place until then).

Now, have you ever driven with someone who forgets that he is, in fact, the driver of the car? I mean someone who does sightseeing whilst driving - to the extent that he forgets to look at the road in front of him. Well, that is what Mo did for a moment and, while admiring a stadium in George, he drove straight into the pavement. Which caused this

Fortunately we were early, so there was still time for him to change the tyre (using the spare) and make it to mosque on time.

The next few hours were however spent at a tyre fitment centre fitting a new tyre while the kids and I roasted away in the scorching unbearable sun.

When we arrived back at the house, Nuha (7) and Aisha could not resist cooling off in the sprinklers while we got ready for a swim (the house also has a pool).

Mo was very disappointed when it started to rain on the Saturday morning. We had already wasted the previous day due to the busted tyre debacle and there was so much he still wanted to show us (since he's been to the Garden route many times before and has always wanted to take us). At that point it seemed that the holiday was going to be a bust - until......

The kids playing in the rain

Since they were already drenched to the bone, the kids then hopped into the pool for a morning swim.

Shakeel and Tharaa (11) - competitive as ever

Combining their passion for karate and swimming :)

Since by midday, the weather seemed to show no sign of improvement, we decided to head to the movies to watch Rise of the Guardians at Garden Route mall. I was really surprised at the size of this mall which seemed to house every shop I'd ever heard of.

Later we headed back to the house where Mo braaied for supper (as he so enjoys doing).

Despite the hiccups and unexpected obstacles, the first two days of our holiday were actually really enjoyable.

And, little did we know-  it would only get better....

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Holiday departure hiccups

We were meant to leave for our holiday to Sedgefield at 05:00 am. It is now 12:38pm and we are still waiting for our car to return from the mechanic.

On Monday Mo dropped it off for clutch- and other minor -repairs . To make a long frustrating story short, problems with manufacturers of the various parts which had to be replaced, meant that the car, which was supposed to be done some time yesterday afternoon, is still at the workshop.

The owner of the spares shop, who sold Mo the faulty part in the first place, had to make a few calls to get the correct part. When it became apparent that he would not be able to find one, Mo said he would try to get the part elsewhere. The guy could just refund him for the amount he had paid for the faulty one. The shop owner then asked Mo how much he would be reimbursed for making the effort to get the right part, i.e. for all the calls he'd made. He suggested an amount of R150.

Is it just me, or is that guy insane?

Anyway, moving along - we have just been told that the car will be ready by 13:00.

The kids are driving me insane with their incessant whining (''When are we leaving? Why is daddy taking so long?'')

I shudder at the thought of spending 8 hours in the car with them - with nowhere for me to run and lock myself away.

Mo is now at the mechanic trying to hurry them along. But my mum cautioned him against pissing off the guy who is checking our brakes.

I won't be taking my laptop along, but will try to post some pics using Mo's Galaxy tab.

I pray that everyone travelling this holiday arrives safely at their respective destinations.

[Please excuse the clumsily-written post - right now I'm supposed to be making the kids lunch so that they don't moan and grumble too much on the road].

Happy holidays everyone!!!

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Just give me a moment to mourn before I embrace the change

Today is Shakeel (13)'s last day of primary school.

The atmosphere this morning was sombre. Unfortunately my kids seem to take after me; focussing on the end of an era instead of the beginning of a new one.

I know that the time will come when I'll start getting excited about all the change we're about to experience. Right now I just want to mourn the end of an era.

I wish I was the type of positive person who could embrace change. Change scares me. I bitch and moan about my life at times, but I really love the status quo. I fear what lies ahead.

My kids attend a school in the city centre, so they don't really get to hang out with their school friends outside of school. They therefore spend all their time with one another - playing, laughing, fighting, arguing, competing etc. They put on plays and shows to perform for us. They choreograph dance sequences.

As much as they fight, they are really really close. I am so afraid that that is about to change.

This is the last time all three older kids will be at the same school. The last time they'll share their common experiences at the end of the day; the last time they'll be able to relate as closely to one another's experiences at school. Mention the name of a certain teacher and they all shudder. Mention the name of the school clown and they all giggle. No more afternoon banter about kids and teachers who form part of all their lives.

Next year Shakeel will have his own friends, his own teachers and his own experiences. He will no longer care as much about what happens at his sisters' school - his focus will be on his own experiences. Gone is that common experience further cementing the bond between the 3 of them. I'm so afraid of how that will affect their relationship.

Shakeel will, for the first time, have school friends in our neighbourhood. Does this mean that he will now be spending time with them that he would previously have spent with his sisters (and me)? I know that it's way past time that my son should be enjoying his own relationships outside school. But I worry about what that means for his relationship with his sisters. And with me.

Tharaa (11) will probably join her brother at the same high school in a few years time, but Shakeel and Nuha (7) will never again be at the same school. Despite the 6 year age gap between them, they are really close. Does this mean that is about to change?

This morning I'm sad for Shakeel; for the fact that he is saying goodbye to the teachers and friends and the life he's had for the past seven years.

I'm also afraid of how this change will affect the close bonds within this family.

And, as if that is not enough, this is the last school day I spend with my baby - my darling little angel - Aisha (3), since she will be starting creche at the beginning of next year. And just as I'd anticipated, the tears started pouring as soon as I wrote that sentence. I'll deal with this issue another day - I just don't have the strength for that intensity of emotion this morning.

As I waved goodbye to my older 3 kids this morning before heading back inside for my breakfast, I realised that it is the last time I'll be doing that. Next year, I'll probably be dashing out the door dragging along a screaming Aisha (or maybe I'll just lock us both in a room where nobody can reach us to separate us - but, like I said, more on that another day). I'll probably first drop Shakeel at his new high school while trying to placate my darling baby babies. I wonder how well I'll navigate the traffic on the Koeberg interchange through my own blinding tears.

Did I mention how much I hate change?

And now for the rational part of this post. I realise that out of these endings, many new beginnings will be born. I realise that children are resilient and will adapt to their new circumstances (probably better than I will). I realise that these changing circumstances will probably affect the dynamic of the relationships within this family, but that that is not necessarily a bad thing. And that the loving bonds that exist between my kids are strong - that changing the dynamic of their relationships will not necessarily mean that they will no longer be close.

I realise all this. I understand that change, though uncomfortable (and sometimes even painful) is necessary for new opportunities and positive growth.


And I will embrace this positivity (and inspire my kids to do the same). But not just now. Now I just want to pause, remember and reflect through my tears. I want to mourn the passing of the way things were.


And then when this moment has passed, I'll spend the rest of the day savouring every precious second with my baby; doing all the things she loved doing while we were at home alone together for the past three years.


 ''Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore." -Andre Gide.

"Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together." -Marilyn Monroe.

'' Fear, uncertainty and discomfort are your compasses toward growth." - Unknown

Quotes obtained here



Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Go fly a kite

Cape Town has recently been experiencing the most frightening gale force winds.

One morning a few days ago, inspired by the movie Mary Poppins, Nuha (7) decided to put these winds to good use and fly kites.

Being the DIY type of child (as opposed to the type who nags her parents for expensive toys - like her siblings are) she decided to make kites for her little sister, Aisha (3) and herself.

So, equipped with a scissors, paper and crayons, she set out to make her kites.

Her kites simply entailed cutting the pieces of paper into a diamond/kite shape. And, of course, colouring it in.

Then, realising that she needed a type of string by which to hold onto her kite, she approached me for some ideas as to what she could use.

''I dunno,'' I grunted irritably. I hated being reminded of my lack of creativity - something which gives me uncomfortable flashbacks to the insults from my primary school Art teacher for my pathetic attempts at creating art.

Wandering around the house, she looked for any suitable materials. I racked my brains for ideas, but alas, none were forthcoming.

And then she came running to me.

''We're all done!'' she cried excitedly. She had ripped the party streamers (which, for some reason, we never remove after our parties) from the walls and used it for her kite.

Convinced that the streamer would be ripped off mercilessly by the cruel wind, I tried to warn her that the wind was strong and her kite might be torn apart (while secretly relieved that she had not managed to come up with a better idea than I could).

Concerned, her silly dad muttered to me, ''That won't fly - it is not a real kite''.

Which was foolish, since these papers manage to fly about effortlessly before landing in our garden

[Annoyingly, the garden looks like this a mere hour after its last clean-up]

Anyway, so off the kids headed into the chilly wind. Much to their delight - and my own surprise - they had barely stepped outdoors when their kites were swept up into the air. They shrieked with glee, as their kites danced playfully - dipping, fluttering and frolicking; these pieces of paper attached to party streamers seemed to acquire a life of their own.

Finding new uses for old party streamers

Singing ''Let's go fly a kite'' from Mary Poppins, they spent the next 45 minutes being delighted and entertained by their new toys.

Who would have thought I'd ever consider the Cape doctor to be a blessing.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Hectic weekend - karate camp, madrassah children's day and a birthday party

On Friday night the kids left for karate camp. This was the second time they had the opportunity to participate in the club's annual gusuku.

Last year they returned from the camp, thrilled and exhausted. This year, before the camp, they were a bit anxious about the prospect of enduring the physical trials which they knew they'd be facing.

Training started at 19:00 Friday evening and continued until 21:00. Needless to say, they did not go to bed immediately afterward as they were supposed to, since the inevitable excitement of spending the night with their friends was just too overwhelming. They were not prepared to waste a second of this precious time by sleeping.

From what I've been told, many of them only settled down by 1:00 am and were up again at 5:00 am to resume training soon after. After their breakfast break, they headed off to the lawns along the Liesbeek river to resume their training. (Their plans to train on the beach were unfortunately foiled, as the strong winds would have made conditions on the beach unpleasant)..

Mo, Aisha (3) and I caught up with them at the river. I was really sad to have missed the actual training session, as we arrived a few minutes before they were to head back to the dojo for lunch.

Aisha was so excited to see her sibs again, as she had been asking for them since she'd awoken that morning.

When we arrived, Shakeel (13) was in an intense training session with sempai Eugene, learning how to do a kata using a  'weapon'. (Okay I shall not elaborate too much since I am completely ignorant as to what this stick/baton they were using, is called).


I always watch in awe as the sempai's display their amazing skill under the watchful eye of the sensei.

Sensei Reggie Lincoln

In the meantime the kids (and I) enjoyed the sunshine and beautiful surroundings.


Once the kids had finished lunch, training resumed. I was so disappointed to have missed Shakeel displaying his newly acquired skills when he and a few others were asked to do the kata (using the 'stick' [please excuse my ignorance]) in front of the class.

Unlike last year, we pretty much left the kids to experience their weekend by themselves. Mo only popped in once on Friday night and I sat around for an hour on Saturday afternoon. Last year, we had hovered about much more, which turned out to be quite distracting for Nuha (7) and Tharaa (11), who kept looking in our direction while they were supposed to be training.

My mother, niece, nephew, Aisha and I watched the last hour of training on Saturday afternoon. It was obvious that, although the kids were utterly spent, they still were enjoying themselves immensely.

Tharaa (in front) visibly drained, but still concentrating

Nuha, exhausted but enjoying every second

At the end of the afternoon, the official grading ceremony took place, where the students were awarded their new stripes or belts. Shakeel, Tharaa and Nuha received their Junior yellow belts.
(They currently have their white belt with one green and 4 red vertical stripes. Students receive a stripe at each grading. The yellow stripe is now pinned horizontally along their white belts, while the vertical stripes will be removed and have to be earned once again - until they finally receive their yellow belt. It takes about two years to earn a new belt).

The yellow stripe about to be awarded to Shakeel

Shakeel receives his Junior yellow belt

Tharaa receives her Junior yellow belt


Nuha receives her Junior yellow belt



After karate the kids were utterly exhausted, and despite the fact that my nephew and niece were spending the night, Tharaa and Nuha collapsed into bed and fell asleep early.

Despite their continued exhaustion on Sunday morning, they were up early to participate in their Madrassah (Islamic school)' s Children's Day (unfortunately I forgot my memory card at home, so could not take any pictures).

The kids did well in their performances and Shakeel, in particular, had the audience in stitches with his spur-of-the-moment wit (while still getting the message across). Due to time constraints, Tharaa's performance - a poem, which she had written and was supposed to recite - was cancelled. The poor child wept with disappointment, as she'd spent so much time committing the poem to memory.

Her sadness was, however, shortlived as we had to head off to Mo's niece's birthday party after lunch. I have absolutely no idea where the kids got the energy to leap about on the jumping castle and chase one another with water pistols. As they ran about drenched to the bone and beaming from ear to ear, one would never have guessed that they'd spent the previous 24 hours in rigorous training - especially when, after their Maama (Mo's mum) and cousins started dancing to Gangnam Style and Everyday I'm Shuffling, they leapt up and joined them!

Maama shuffling
Maama and grandchildren
Shakeel, Tharaa and Aisha joining Maama - can you believe these kids still had energy to dance after training the whole of Saturday?

And then, when we got home, they experienced the inevitable crash. They woke up this morning feeling drained and unwell, so none of them went to school today (which is okay since formal assessments are done and it is the last week of the school term).

What a busy, yet fulfilling weekend. But I really am looking forward to my last few days of peace before the school holiday begins.