Monday, 30 April 2012

Girls afternoon out - special moments at Pepperazzi

As the parents of four kids, we sometimes find ourselves failing miserably in our attempt to balance the time and attention we spend on each respective child. Unfortunately it is often the child who is being the most difficult, or creating the most problems who ends up getting the most attention.
In our family, little Aisha (2) is most often the recipient of our energies and attention. While Shakeel (13) and Tharaa (10) are able to forcefully claim our attention by screaming or moaning loudly enough, it is 7 year old Nuha who fades into the background, unnoticed and unheard. We therefore have to make a conscious effort to set aside time for her whenever possible.
We realised that we had to consciously carve out time for each child. We’d do this by arranging for one of us to have one-on-one time with each one of them, while the other looks after the remaining three. We hoped to do this as often as possible.

A few months ago I took Tharaa out for a sushi lunch. We had fully intended this to be the first of many, once her siblings had had their turns. We do not include Aisha in this queue- for- attention because, as centre of the universe, she already owns all our time.

Since learning that the Avengers (2012) would be hitting the movie circuit this year, their dad, Mo has been using Shakeel as an excuse  planning to spend his one-on-one time with Shakeel by sharing this amazing movie experience with him. (Imagine, all these Marvel superheroes in one movie! I’m on the edge of my seat with barely-contained excitement *dripping with sarcasm* ). They planned to attend this life –changing event this past weekend.

As usual, Nuha has thus far been the one to fall through the cracks. So, this weekend I was to take her to lunch. But cowards that we are, Mo and I could not bear Tharaa’s nagging, so (I’m ashamed to say) we decided to include her in Nuha’s one-on-one lunch.

We headed to Pepperazzi in Canal Walk. There was a slight wait for our orders to arrive, because the place was absolutely packed. The girls passed the time playing games and bickering.

I ordered an avocado and pineapple steak burger. Either I was really hungry by the time the food arrived, or this was one of the most satisfying restaurant meals I’ve had in a long time.

 Nuha ordered a simple kiddies beef burger and chips

Tharaa ordered the kiddies ribs and chips. 

Tharaa had us wishing that we'd ordered the ribs too

A picture's worth a thousand words
Although they enjoyed our little outing, I cannot in good conscience count this as Nuha's one-on-one time with me. I am really looking forward to spending some 'alone-time' with my deserving little daughter.

Despite their bickering during our outing, I will always cherish the wonderful moments we shared on our outing and am looking forward to doing it again.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Hip hip hooray - she's back!

My joyful, cute, smiling, adorable baby (2) has returned after weeks of hour-long tantrums, grumpiness and misery. I am experiencing all the relief of a person realising that the huge terrifying bear , which had been chasing her for miles, had been temporarily distracted by a jar of honey. Nervous joy. Knowing that the respite will most likely be short-lived. But so grateful for the fleeting relief.

Yesterday morning, as I heard her gradually awaken from her surprisingly sound restful sleep, my stomach did its usual nervous flip. What would she cry about? Would it be my hair? The fact that she didn't like what I was wearing? I held my breath.

''Mommy?'' she inquired, checking if I was nearby. I peered over the mountain of blankets which she had kicked off,  nervously checking her expression. I was greeted by a huge smile - her increasingly- rare, nearly-forgotten beautiful smile. I choked back tears of relief and joy.
''Mommeeee!!!!'' she shrieked happily. Yes, happily! I prayed silently that her mood would last a while longer.

And it did. In fact it lasted for the whole day. And for the whole of this morning. There've been smiles, laughter, dancing and singing. So much joy. Mine and hers.

I've been planting dozens of kisses all over her chubby little face. I've missed her so much.
''I yuv you sooo muts'' (She still hasn't mastered saying the 'ch' sound, which makes her accent sound very Cape Flats), she said a million times, hugging me.
I loved it when she took my face in her hands, stared deeply into my eyes and said, ''You're a good girl, Mommy, '' echoing the words I'd been saying to her for the whole day. My desperate attempt at positive reinforcement - in the hopes that she'd remember those words when her next tantrum was about to hit. Hoping that she'd remember that she was a good girl - and that that realisation would magically defuse the explosion.

But thankfully it hasn't come to that yet. She has just finished breakfast, chatting away happily - after having spent a few minutes shaking her hips shamelessly to the neighbours' blaring ''I'm sexy and I know it''.

She is on her way to the doctor with her dad, where her liver will be examined to see if it has reduced in size (It had been a bit enlarged at last week's visit). I'm praying that everything is normal in that regard.

I'm so relieved and happy right now. Although this past week has been difficult I have never stopped counting and appreciating my blessings. Just now, with Aisha's return to her normal happy self, this has been so much easier to do.

Let's hope and pray that this light, joy and positive energy are here to stay.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Preventing colds and flu - here's how I hope to do it

It's colds and flu season again. In the past, in my long-enduring stoic manner, I had accepted this as being a terrifying period - faced with these infections which my family could not avoid. This winter, however, I am determined to at least try to combat these / diminish their effects as far as possible.

Sitting in the doctor's waiting rooms on Saturday morning, while flipping through the O Magazine, I came upon an article on colds and flu prevention written by Dr Mehmet Oz. Given that information, it was not surprising that I have two sick children so early in the season.

Filled with hope, I did some further reading on the topic and learned the following:

- Replace echinachea with Vitamin D

This took me completely by surprise. In the O Magazine article, Dr Oz states that there is no conclusive research proving the effectiveness of echinachea against common colds. He suggested that one should take Vitamin D instead.
'' Studies have found that D can stimulate the production of a virus-killing protein, and taking D supplements (aim for 2,000 IU a day) can lead to fewer viral infections''.

Upon doing further reading, I came across an
article in the Huffington Post which states that having higher than normal levels of Vitamin D could make one less vulnerable to colds and flu. This study attributed the increasing rates of "acute respiratory tract infections" in the autumn and winter to the seasonal drop in blood levels of vitamin D (since this nutrient is produced most abundantly in the body when the skin is exposed to the strong, direct sunlight of summer).

Get plenty of exercise
According to Dr Oz, exercise boosts the circulation of immune cells throughout the body. Walking 30 to 45 minutes a day, five days a week in winter can cut your sick days in half.

- Drink Tea
The antioxidant quercetin (abundant in black and green teas) may protect against infection by preventing viruses from replicating.

- Avoid Antibiotics
Antibiotics are ineffective against viral infections (like flu).

In addition they can lead to stomach upsets, diarrhoea, and even yeast infections. I can attest to this fact - in 2009 Aisha (who was less than a year old at the time) was hospitalised for dehydration after suffering from acute diarrhoea (which resulted from taking the antibiotic Augmentin for an ear infection).

Dr Oz recommends that a person suffering from flu could use an antiviral drug such as Tamiflu instead. Note: these drugs work best within 48 hours of the first symptoms.

- Avoid Germs
Research shows that - in the home - refrigerator handles, remote controls, and doorknobs are the most likely to harbour large quantities of germs. Flu viruses can survive on surfaces for over two hours.

The website recommends the use of a sanitizing gel or keeping alcohol-based hand wipes on you at all times. It identifies other potential sources of germs, which we may be exposed to each day. These include handbags, under one's nails, shaking other people's hands, touching one's own eyes and nose. When sneezing it is better to do so into the crook of one's elbow and not into one's hands, which will prevent germs from spreading.

In addition, it is best to stay away from people who are displaying symptoms of colds or flu. (This one is more easily said than done)

New York University Student Health Centre website adds that one should throw away used tissues in a waste basket. Clean your hands after coughing or sneezing, using either soap and water or an alcohol-based hand cleaner.

- Chicken soup
According to Dr Oz, c
hicken soup really can treat a cold. The hot vapour expands your airways, which helps to clear mucus from the nasal cavity. Research has also shown that chicken soup has an anti-inflammatory effect that may soothe a sore throat.

- Smile and be happy

The website states that new research has found that happiness (in the form of sex, positive thinking, playing with a pet, and other pleasurable behaviors, for example) will boost your immune system.

(With two sick children, smiling has been a bit more difficult to do for the past few days. I shall have to make more effort).

- Get sufficient sleep

- Get your flu shot

- Eat healthily on a regular basis

- Take probiotics
According to the
website natural, studies have shown that probiotics also help the immune response by both preventing colds and flu and speeding recovery time.

Although I am not medically qualified at all, many of these points were quite commonsensical (like avoiding germs). I have already started to make changes by insisting that the kids wash their hands after using the equipment at the gym or playing in the gym childcare area. No more succumbing to exhaustion and pretending not to see Aisha wiping her snot away using her sleeve.

I shall however run the point about echinacea not being effective against flu, past our paediatrician. Other than that, I think the other tips are quite easy to implement.

Here's to a healthy 'flu-free' winter ahead!

Monday, 23 April 2012

A cold, flu and a severe case of googlitis

What a challenging few days these have been.

On Wednesday afternoon we took Aisha (2) to the doctor, who diagnosed a viral flu. Since the cause of her illness was not bacterial, we were not to treat it with antibiotics, but had to focus, instead, on treating the symptoms (fever, nasal congestion and slight phlegmy cough).

The doctor also noted, while doing a routine exam of her abdomen (pressing down with her fingers), that Aisha's liver was still quite prominent, i.e. it could still be felt with the hands when pressing down. According to her, this was unusual for a child older than 2, since the liver moves upward behind the ribcage at that age.

She said that we should come back in two weeks to see if it had reduced in size, as the enlarged liver could be a result of the viral infection. If it is still enlarged by then, we would be referred to a paediatrician who would do scans and the necessary tests for liver disease. She pointed out that Aisha was, in fact showing no obvious signs of liver problems, like yellow eyes, vomiting; which did very little to appease the panicked voices screaming in my head while I tried to maintain a semblance of calm.

But for the next few days Aisha's persistent fever and new symptoms (lethargy, diminished appetite, crabbiness, worsening phlemy cough) kept me from dwelling on that scary bit of information for too long. When we noticed that, despite receiving her regular dose of paracetamol (in the form of Stopayne), alternated with mefenamic acid ( in the form of Ponstel), her fever failed to break even momentarily by Saturday morning, we took her back to the doctor. 

The doctor, upon doing another check-up, noted that she had now developed an ear infection (in both ears) and bronchitis. At this point she was satisfied that an antibiotic would be appropriate. (I appreciate her reluctance to prescribe antibiotics because I have heard of doctors who prescribe antibiotics at the drop of a hat)

Trying to appear calm and not as if I was about to burst into tears, I asked for more information on the enlarged liver. She said that it was already less prominent than it had been a few days earlier. I wanted more detail on what her concerns were - what was the worst case scenario? I informed her that I had googled 'enlarged liver in two year olds' and had burst into tears at the results.

She warned against using the internet to diagnose diseases. A few years ago people had been joking that the internet would be putting many doctors out of business, since people could diagnose and treat their own diseases using the net. Ironically, she said, doctors' businesses have boomed as a result of the internet, as people are terrified into thinking they have dangerous life-threatening diseases when they enter their symptoms into the search engines. Harmless heartburn often is escalated to become terrifying heart-attacks to the poor patient. 'Googlitis' can be harmful, as one's state of mind (believing one is sick) can end up influencing one's reality (one's physical state).

For now though, I'm setting those fears aside to focus on dealing with Aisha's flu /bronchitis /ear infections and their accompanying tantrums. And the fact that Shakeel too seems to have a bug, but I have absolutely no time or energy to deal with him. My response to his painful pitiful groaning is to point him to the medicine cabinet with the instruction to take 1 panado and 1 lactovita probiotic capsule. My poor poor darling. I wish I was a bit better at this balancing act.

Thankfully Aisha's fever has broken; I'm praying that her chest and nose will clear - hopefully the ear infection will clear soon too. My passionate prayer is that her liver is normal and that she is restored to health completely. I pray that that her terrifying tantrums will vanish and that my delightful darling will re-emerge. Insha-Allah. 


Thursday, 19 April 2012

Finding the silver lining

Aisha (2) has a viral infection - which is making her even grumpier than usual.

She has a fever, a slight phlegmy cough, congested nose - and yesterday had diarrhoea while Mo and I were in the middle of our scheduled parent-teacher meeting with Nuha (7)'s teacher. Needless to say, within seconds we had swept Aisha out of the classroom mid-meeting with promises to keep in touch with the teacher - the odour of slightly sour poo trailing behind us (Thank goodness that was all that was trailing behind us).

We changed her nappy with her standing next to the car on the pavement in front of the school.

At the doctor's surgery she was uncharacteristically charming. (Okay, to be fair, she is really sweet and funny when she's in a good mood). She smiled at the doctor, obeyed instructions to open and say 'aaah' and breathed deeply when told to do so. I couldn't believe she was the same child who'd been ordering me about the whole day.

Ordering me about is what she does lately. Impatiently. Grumpily. But for a while now, I'd stopped yielding to her demands. This means more tantrums. Long exhausting tantrums which continue until she is hoarse. I remember Nuha being like this as a toddler. I keep wondering if that is the reason for her raspy voice. Aisha, too is developing a husky voice, which I swear is a result of her constant shrieking which continues until her voice is gone.

Every morning she orders me to take off my rather ugly spectacles, with a disgusted, '' 'Pecs off mommy! 'pecs off now!''
Her other irritant is my tendency to tuck my hair in the back of my pyjama top to keep it out of my way. ''Hair out!'' she'll order.
Since I used to comply (or even pre-empt and then address her annoyances before she raised them), she had become quite accustomed to getting her way.

Recently she has added to her list of demands. Yesterday, as I was getting ready to pray, she insisted that I take off my prayer clothes. She didn't want me to pray, as it would take my attention off from her.

Later she cried when I slipped on my warm fluffy winter gown, insisting that I put on other clothes (which she regarded as being prettier). This applies to any other clothes which she regards as being unattractive.

Half glasses of milk I pour her are shoved back at me with an instruction to replace it with ''Big milk'' (meaning a full glass, which I know she will never finish). The same applies to half slices of bread, half of apples etc etc.

This morning, after realising that I had taken off my spectacles to placate her, she insisted that I take out my contact lenses too. At which point, I just walked away laughing - the child had clearly lost her mind.

She had awoken before the other kids left for school (which never happens). To prevent her from crying after them I told her we could accompany Mo when he dropped them off - he could then bring us back home before dashing off to work. She refused the offer, insisting that she wanted to stay home and wave goodbye from the porch. They had just backed out of the driveway when (as I'd expected she would) she started to scream. I locked the gate out front (to ensure her safety)and came inside - leaving her to torment the neighbourhood the way she does me.

I sat down (watching her) with a cup of tea trying to salvage the remaining shreds of my rapidly dwindling sanity. I nibbled on a peanut butter and fig jam sandwich (fig jam for the much needed, stress-beating soothing sweetness). She cried, made demands and screamed. I sat staring at her numbly.

And then she stopped.

Exhausted she waddled over to me, climbed onto my lap and lifted my top. Boobies save the day, once again. Still latched she looked up at me - and smiled. I melted - just a bit.  I was still furious at her for having had such an impact on me. She smiled again. Broadly - nipple still in mouth.

I melted. Completely.

Feelings of love, protectiveness and sadness wash over me. I wish I could make her happy. I wish I knew what to do to to prevent her from feeling the frustration and unhappiness she so obviously experiences during her tirades. I wish I could strike the balance - making her happy without spoiling her. I wish I knew which battles to pick so that we don't spend the entire day at war.

Though I must admit, having her so grumpy these days has made her happy moments so much sweeter. I appreciate and savour every little smile, joke or giggle which I'd ordinarily just take for granted. And I'm grateful that although she is going through a difficult time right now, she is healthy (Alhamdulillah!!!) and generally a really clever, happy girl with a remarkable sense of humour.

I love and appreciate the complicated little girl that she is.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Boobie love

So after my first unsuccessful attempt at weaning (described here), Aisha (2.5 years!!) is pretty much back on the breast. More frequently and for longer periods than before the weaning attempt, during which she was off the breast for all of 12 hours.

She has since been attached to them with all the passion of someone who had just been reunited with her long-lost love - refusing to let them out of her grip.

A few days ago I sat breastfeeding her (filled with shame). Feeling frustrated at my failure at weaning, I started to scold and nag at her about how unacceptable it was that she was still breastfeeding at her age. (I have no idea what it was meant to accomplish - as if she'd unlatch, thoughtfully nod her head, jump off my lap and consider herself weaned).

''You are a big girl now. You shouldn't be drinking from mommy's boobies. No more boobies for Aisha!''

Without unlatching she shook her head profusely, indicating her disagreement - then gave me the thumbs-up sign which she uses while breastfeeding to say ''Is everything okay? / Are we good?''

But I refused to give up.

''Boobies are yucky. No more boobies for Aisha. Yucky boobies'', I persisted.

At which point she unlatched rapidly, cupping one of the boobies in her hand (as if to protect it from being exposed to my insulting words) and said, ''Not yucky boobies. Nice boobies''. Then tilting her head, staring at the object of her affection with an endearing smile, she said, ''Aah, my cutie-pie'', before latching on again, as if happy that she had been able to reassure them of her undying love.

Last night Aisha and I reunited after having been apart for about four hours (during which I had dropped and fetched the older kids at madrassah, cooked, helped the older kids with homework and served supper). I reached out to hug her and kiss her chubby cheeks, when she pushed me back slightly - to lift up my t-shirt. ''Oh, my babies!'' she said before attacking one while holding the other in her loving embrace.

How on earth am I going to end this love affair?

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Braving icy weather and blue bottles

I think Mo and I are realising that we won't be spending the weekends/ holidays during the upcoming winter season holed up indoors, slowly sipping hot cocoa and watching action movies/comedies. After one hour indoors we would already have refereed six arguments (which might or might not have turned physical) and meted out punishment so often that it would be impossible to keep track of.

This became evident on Easter Monday. So, instead of subjecting ourselves to that torture, we decided to spend the freezing day outside at the beach. I know - the beach would not ordinarily be the first place one thinks of visiting in icy winter, but I try to avoid malls as much as possible. I really prefer to pile on layers of clothes and have them run around outside - snot frozen to their faces - than to have them walk around mindlessly - hypnotised by the bright lights - in a mall.

So off we headed to Hout Bay. We decided to have lunch at Snoekies. But so did the rest of Cape Town, it seemed. After waiting for our food for what seemed like forever (not because of poor service, but because of the mass of like-minded people who had descended upon the place), we headed off to the beach to enjoy our meals in the car.

The tide was low - revealing all the sea life which the previous high tide had spat up onto the shore. Among the masses of sea weed, numerous blue bottles could be found. I'd been stung by these buggers numerous times during my childhood, so I was on the alert all the time to ensure that the kids stayed far from them.

After satisfying their hunger the kids leaped out of the car to search for the best place (meaning - far away from the scary dogs) to build their sandcastle. The spot they chose was up on a tiny hill about 14 meters from the water's edge.

Because their sandcastle required the use of wet sand as well, the kids trekked to and from the water's edge carrying handsful of sand. Not the best place to build a castle, but at least they felt safe from scary dogs and I felt safe from blue bottles (although the previous high tide had washed some about 12 meters onto the shore).

Shakeel (12) on one of his journeys from the water's edge to collect wet sand for the castle

Since the kids had taken off their shoes, their protective resourceful dad cleared and marked a path for them, removing all blue bottles from within its area. Whenever a wave brought in more blue bottles, he made sure that he cleared these from the path of his little builders.

Mo clearing a blue bottle -free path for the kids

Nuha (7) hard at work, while Tharaa (10) takes a well-deserved break

Shakeel (12) and Nuha (7) collecting wet sand from the water's edge for their castle

Me- too cold to move

Bossy-boots Aisha (2) probably barking orders at her sisters

 A freezing day at the beach- will definitely do it again!

Monday, 16 April 2012

Challenging the waves on a rainy day

On Sunday last week Mo and I were planning to spend the lovely rainy day indoors with the family. By lunch time however, the kids' arguments and nagging were driving us nuts.

Mo suggested that we take the kids to Sea Point, taking along our home-made lunch to be enjoyed in the car while watching the waves.  I had made mince curry and bought roti, which was easy to convert into a lunch 'to go' by simply rolling the steaming fragrant curry in the roti's -  forming a curry wrap called a salomie.

When we arrived in the car park overlooking the sea, the kids could barely contain their excitement, as the roar of the huge ferocious waves filled one with awe and exhiliration. So after managing to take a few obligatory bites of their carefully-prepared lunches, they dashed out of the car and onto the promenade, where some families were enjoying lazy icy walks, while trying to stay out of the way of the hard-core fitness junkies out for their daily run.

Shakeel (12 at the time) and Tharaa (10) took a few tentative steps toward the railings, before realising that the section beneath the railings was extremely slippery. The thunderous terrifying roar of the ocean was sufficient to cause them to come to their senses and step back a meter or two. They were beside themselves with excitement.

The rapidity with which these gigantic waves approached the land caused them to crash over onto the promenade and sometimes even onto the parked cars! 

I couldn't resist stepping out of the car and into the rain. The thrill, the excitement, the inexplicable allure of perceived danger - absolutely irresistable.

A calmer moment of the sea- capture from the safety of the car

I carefully peered over the edge at the swirling frothy waters beneath. Fascinating. Beautiful. And for some reason - mouthwatering.

The spray as it hits the wall

The kids were absolutely drenched. Even 7 year old Nuha put aside her fear of a potential tsunami long enough to participate in the game of chasey which her siblings were playing with the waves.

Shakeel, resourceful as ever, retrieved a towel (in which his resourceful mommy had rolled the salomies to keep them warm) from the car - using it to protect himself from the spray. Very soon the towel, too was sodden.

But soon Nuha injured her foot in the game of chasey and ended up sitting in the car weeping pitifully. Her unsympathetic siblings carried on playing unperturbed by their little sister's injury.

Soon after Nuha's injury we left for home. But not before stopping off at McDonalds for an ice-cream - the perfect medicine to assist Nuha to overcome the pain of her injury. As usual, it worked like a charm.

''And where was two-year old Aisha all this time?'' you might be wondering.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Exercise and writing - our first new winter indoor activities

One of my concerns this past holiday was how to limit my kids' screen time. They were limited to two hours of screen time (which included TV, Playstation and computer) per day. This allotted time was usually staggered throughout the day.

While they managed to sneak in extra time on some days, on others they would spend most of their allotted time playing outside / on family outings.

Before Mo took leave last week, the kids and I spent our mornings in gym - with the older two on the cardio circuit with me, while the younger two played in the gym's designated play area. Since 2 year old Aisha is not at school yet, the experience of being in a public play area with other children was a major source of excitement.

On Tuesday I bravely (and, as it turned out - stupidly) agreed to allow them to swim at the gym. So after I'd had my workout, we collected the younger two at the play area. While Shakeel (12) waited for us at the pool, Tharaa (10) helped me to get the younger two ready in the ladies' changing rooms. They giggled with much amusement as I tried to squeeze my darling Aisha (2)'s giant head into the tiny swimming cap.

The kids thoroughly enjoyed their time in the water. I readied myself to dive in at a moment's notice, should either of the younger two experience difficulty. Aisha stayed on the wide step at the edge of the pool, while 7 year old Nuha bravely swam a strange, but cute combination of doggy paddle and breast-stroke down the length of the pool. Since she is not a confident swimmer yet, I walked alongside her while Tharaa stayed with Aisha.

Shakeel and Tharaa, as usual, were competitive and noisy and I constantly had to remind them that this was not our local public pool. They swam laps - each trying to beat the other's time.

It was all going swimmingly - until Aisha started to cry, saying that she was getting cold. I panicked, because I knew what was to follow. I ordered the others of the pool, but as usual, they begged to be allowed one more lap. As I spoke, they dove underwater, pretending not to hear me. Until I said, ''Guys, Aisha is about to have a tantrum''. Which is when they swiftly leaped out of the water and into the changing rooms before she emitted her first piercing shriek.

I'd clearly not thought ahead when agreeing bring the kids swimming in cold weather all by myself. Although the indoor pool is heated, it was icy outside, so I could not leave until they had showered and dried their hair. Aisha became increasingly tired and agitated, moaning and then screaming all the while. I got stares from the other women in the locker room - not all of them understanding. A young lady flashed me a sympathetic smile as she, no doubt, witnessed the perspiration dripping from my forehead.

With a frozen smile I dragged screaming Aisha past the lounge area, in which the well-groomed toned bodies were enjoying their morning coffee (or more likely herbal teas). Never again, I promised myself.

At home we spent the cold days indoors. I gave the children writing exercises to do, having gotten the idea from a homeschooling mother of eight kids. This amazing mommy blogger (who blogs at this address ) gave this advice on how to tackle creative writing. So borrowing this idea, I decided to make writing a holiday activity. Admittedly, this was initially not received with overwhelming enthusiasm, but after a few minutes the noisiness died down and the only sound that could be heard, were those of fervent pencils scratching paper. What added to their excitement was the fact that I'd asked them to do a dramatic reading of their writing - and oh, how they love being dramatic!

Despite some of their initial complaints, I could not stop them once they'd started writing. Following the advice of amazing mommy blogger mentioned earlier, I did not focus on spelling and provided the correct spelling of words only when asked.

They were, themselves, surprised at how much they had to write (even on topics about which they had initally felt they had nothing to say). Very often one simply just has to start writing - and the ideas will flow.

The dramatic readings were just as I'd imagined them to be. Shakeel hid his discomfort and shyness with displays of over-the-top theatrics. Tharaa marvelled at how well her brother expressed himself in writing (and I too was really impressed).

Tharaa's delivery of her reading was more understated, but dramatic. I was amazed at her language usage and the way her sensitivity reflected in her writing. As I had expected, she read out her piece with confidence.

Nuha, who is usually quite shy, surprised me with her willingness to stand in front and read her one-page essay (while often getting confused at her own unique spelling). I was amazed at how much detail she recorded in her writing - this tendency enabled her to flesh out a topic about which I'd thought she would not have much to say. She read her piece earnestly and seriously, but oh-so-adorably!

Then it was two-year old Aisha's turn. She stood in front of us, holding her page of scribbles and started to 'read'. Her delivery was dramatic - arms flailing wildly; facial expressions showing her passion. The random words, which she had strung together to form meaningless sentences, were spoken with expression - her voice deepening and lilting as required by the context of her gibberish.

This year I am determined to use the icy weather to its best advantage. Winter need not be a season of gloom. It can provide families with the opportunity to become creative, as they try to find stimulating and exciting ways to keep themselves occupied indoors. More importantly (for me), spending this time indoors (while creating indoor fun) can foster a feeling of closeness, togetherness and warmth - which is the perfect antidote to the chilly winter weather.

Monday, 9 April 2012

First day back at school blues (mine)

Once again, as many stay-at-home mums heave a collective sigh of relief, I sit here sniffing into my tissues; missing my babies.

I've brushed hair, handed out lunches, checked signed reports, given giant bear hugs, planted a million kisses on cheeks - and waved a sad dramatic good-bye.

I miss them so much.

Last night I brought up the topic of homeschooling with Mo. What if we hire a retired teacher to assist me with the classes? Wouldn't we still be saving money if taking into account school fees and transport costs (I was grasping at straws; trying to convince him). Why subject them to potential peer pressure, bullying and negative influences?

Why couldn't they just stay home with me?

I miss them. I miss them. I know it's pathetic, but I really miss them.

Despite the constant bickering during this holiday that had me pulling at my hair; despite the constant mess that had me yelling and screaming.

I'm a sad pathetic mommy - whose life is way too wrapped up in those of her kids.

Not to mention a scared mommy - as I wait for two- year old tantrum-throwing Aisha to awaken. No Shakeel (12) to rush into the room first thing in the morning to marvel at his little sister, no Nuha (7) cause her first morning giggles and no Tharaa (10) to help her and comfort her like a little mommy. But fear of dealing with Aisha's moods alone is not the reason I'm missing the other kids so much.
I swear its not. Okay, maybe it is - a bit.

I step into their rooms which they have tidied all by themselves this morning. (They had taken my growling and threatening of last night seriously). My sweethearts!

Okay, I know that this is probably the most annoying post to which I've ever subjected anyone - so I'll stop. While I chew on my nails waiting for Aisha to awaken.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Enjoying Deer Park serenity and side-stepping poo in Sea Point Park

On Thursday afternoon we took the kids to Deer Park . As always, I was in awe of the breathtaking scenery - not only of the Park itself, but even as we drove through the leafy suburb of Vredehoek, above which Deer Park is situated.

Since I'd been too lazy to pack a decent healthy lunch, our picnic lunch consisted of a lovely greasy meal purchased at the KFC in Gardens.

But we did not laze around for long after spotting this fellow crawling across the lawn. As cute as he was, I could not shake the feeling that he was crawling up my thigh.

The kids wasted no time before going off exploring.

It is remarkable that the serenity of this relatively unspoiled lush Park can (unbeknown to many) be found within such close proximity to the city centre.

Cape Town CBD in the background

The plush suburb of Tamboerskloof seen to the right

We made our way to the lazy little stream (the amount of water and flow usually depends on how much rain there had been). Despite the fact that there was not as much water as there usually is in the wetter months, the kids enjoyed themselves immensely (I have mentioned in previous posts how my kids really need little more than a puddle of water to keep themselves amused.

Aisha wasted no time before shedding her clothes.

Shakeel spent much of the time moaning at the fact that I would not let him bring home a tadpole to live with our goldfish in our little rock pond.

Soon Aisha could not resist dunking her head in the water.

And then the bigger girls too couldn't remain fully clothed

Once we left Deer Park, we headed to Sea Point park for some fun in the sun.

What a lovely day we had enjoying some of the gems our beautiful city has to offer.