Thursday, 28 June 2012

Advice for my teen (and pre-teen)

For Shakeel and Tharaa, my two smarty pants...

[ I got this from Facebook- have no idea who the original owner is, so don't know whom to credit]

Monday, 25 June 2012

Monday morning playdate and Mouille Point outing

This morning Nuha had a playdate near the city at about 9:00. Shakeel (13) stayed home with his buddy who slept over, while Tharaa (10) and Aisha (2) went with to drop our reluctant little social butterfly at her playdate. (She spent the night tossing and turning, stressing about today - no prizes for guessing after whom she takes).

After dropping her off, we headed down to Mouille Point for a few minutes to enjoy the fresh ocean air. I can't think of a better way to have started the day.

Nuha arrived home a half hour ago, announcing what a wonderful time she had had with her little friend. And now she's in tears - because her sisters had had fun without her. So typical.

[pls excuse the picture quality - once again I'd forgotten my camera at home (useless blogger that I am) and had to take these with hubby's phone (because I'd forgotten my own phone at home as well) ]

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Baby steps toward healthy eating

A few months back Mo and I were attending gym regularly, I started to eat more healthily and actually saw the results. I lost a kilo or two and felt amazing - so energetic and chirpy. Then the kids' blasted formal assessments started and gym ceased. Since then we've been really lazy - unable to get back into the swing of things. This led to a downward spiral - both of us have gained back that kilo or two ( a conservative estimate based on wishful thinking) and I became really lethargic, grumpy, lumpy and gross.

Since Ramadaan will be starting soon (in July) we realised that it was time to stop our gluttony and focus on our health. We wanted to ensure that we would fast more easily - I've noticed that fasting becomes difficult when I've been eating unhealthily - instead of feeling normal hunger pangs, I feel this horrible burning sensation in my stomach when I get hungry. Also, being at optimal health will (hopefully) ensure that we have sufficient energy to get through the days ahead.

So, a few days ago I dragged my wobbly butt back to gym. I hadn't anticipated how difficult it would be to restart my workout programme. It was so much easier when I'd started for the first time a few months ago. Anyway, after grunting and sweating my way through 25 minutes of anguish, a voice (which at that moment seemed like the sweetest voice in the world) released me from my torment by announcing that the gym was now closed.

I have also been reading up on improving one's health. While standing in the Pick 'n Pay checkout queue, I even put down the copy of Cosmopolitan and chose the Natural Medicine magazine instead (that, in itself, felt like an achievement). But I'm glad I chose it - while many people still view homeopaths and natural medicine practitioners as kooks, I can't help but feel like they might have a point - maybe Western medicine doesn't have all the answers. Maybe we should focus on ways to prevent disease through healthy living rather than simply popping pills when disease strikes.

An article by Dr Elson M Haas on ''The Purification Process'' explains how one can improve health and prevent disease by balancing the need to

(i) treat deficiency (where the body lacks sufficient nutrients to meet its needs) on the one hand, and

(ii) treat congestion (where the body is unable to get rid of all the toxins with which we fill our bodies).

I tend to focus on the first part - deficiency, always convinced that every niggling ache or pain can be healed by taking some or other nutritional supplement. This article makes it clear that this is only part of the equation, the other being ridding the body of the toxins congesting it.

For me the first part of the process described is easy - eat healthy balanced meals and take a nutritional supplement (since food nutrient levels are lower because of lack of soil minerals). The second step - purifying the body - is a bit tricky for me. It involves 'clearing the body of habits or abuses and even addictions' by staying a way from caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, food chemicals, etc. The two toxins I will struggle to eliminate would be the sugar in food and the toxins in beauty products/cosmetics.

I honestly don't know how to cut out sugar, even for a short time. I have tried on numerous occasions, but always end up succumbing to the craving. (Thank goodness, I'm not allowed (by my religion) to consume alcohol / drugs - with my total lack of willpower, I would most likely end up the talentless middle-aged version of Amy Winehouse).

As for the toxins in beauty products, I'm not too despondent yet, since I haven't tried natural products yet. For all I know there is an amazing product out there that can keep my dry ageing leathery skin from fossilizing completely, the way my tried and tested Clinique Superdefense cream seems to do .

But for now I'm trying sl-o-w-l-y to focus on the healthy eating. I have not managed to cut out sugar or other additives completely yet, but I'm focusing rather on including more fresh fruit, vegetables, water and herbal teas (which I love).

Here's proof of my dedication. I started to change my all my lunches to include salad or pan-roasted veggies (whatever I can find in the fridge).

Here I happened to find green beans and carrots which I pan-roasted in olive oil and flavoured with salt (just a pinch), pepper, a sprig of rosemary and my new ( well, new to me), favourite culinary discovery - Garlic Addict by Cape Herb & Spice. This fragrant seasoning consists of roasted garlic, onion, red pepper, sea salt, black peppercorns, green pepper and parsley - and none of the unpronouncable ingredients which make other seasonings so unhealthy. I had this with boiled eggs. Oh, and a slice of brown toast (because I'd starve without my carbs).

Here I pan-roasted green beans, green peppers and tomatoes in olive oil, again seasoned with salt, pepper and Garlic Addict seasoning. I also added a few avo slices - my absolute favourite part of any salad. I had this with a few sardines (now don't be snobbish - I know there are people who believe that sardines are only for cats and poor people, but they are really really nutritious. Yes, okay - and cheap).

Now this is going to sound like a tall tale, but I had a KFC salad for lunch today, while everyone else ordered rounders and Streetwise meals. I even took a picture of it to add to my healthy list of lunches to show you. Then I accidentally deleted it. I know it sounds unbelievable, but I swear it's true. This was definitely my least favourite healthy lunch for the week - not because there was anything wrong with the meal itself, but because I really do not enjoy raw lettuce. For me, the flavour (or lack of it) just does not justify me having to chew and chew and chew with my remaining four molars. Again, I must add, there was nothing wrong with this salad - let's just blame it on my lack of chewing teeth.

I have to admit that my suppers are a bit more difficult to amend, because I am cooking for four kids and a husband, who - although he should be eating more healthily- just does not seem to want to do so. A plate of veggies on the dinner table evokes varying reactions from my kids. Aisha (2) and Nuha (7) respond with excitement - even exhiliration, Shakeel (13) consumes it resignedly, while Tharaa (10) bursts into tears of panicked horror. Whether creamed, steamed or stir-fried, her reaction to veggies is always the same.

So, as you can see, I really am just taking baby steps. Nothing too dramatic. But I am starting to feel better. Less bloated. More positive - at least I'm doing something to address my expanding waistline instead of just glaring at myself in the mirror.

I'll keep you updated if I manage to keep this up and improve on it. If I relapse, I'll just delete this post and pretend I'd never written it.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

What a big girl!!

Aisha (2) hates having her unruly hair tied. Recently she allowed me to plait her hair, which made her look like such a big girl. She was keen to model for a few pics first before ripping her clips and pom poms out of her hair five minutes later.

[Please excuse the picture quality - these were taken with my phone as I, once again, misplaced my camera charger].

Monday, 18 June 2012

Fathers Day goes up in flames...almost

Do you know those Father's Day surprises arranged by the kids - the ones where the kids bring dad breakfast in bed, then wait with bated breath while he opens his present - all without setting your premises alight?

Well, that would be the exact OPPOSITE of the father's day surprise my kids planned for Mo. Shakeel (13) had a friend sleep over, which could account for him (as chief organiser and co-ordinator) being more daring and over-the-top than usual.


Like with Mother's Day, they set the breakfast table outside. Unlike Mother's Day, Fathers Day fell on a flippin freezing day. Anyway, a singular table was set in the backyard. Underneath the table, in stones, they spelled the word D A D, which I thought was really cool. What I didn't know was that Shakeel had made his way into Mo's workshop, acquired a bottle of thinners and carefully poured the highly flammable liquid onto the stones. While I was inside calling Mo out to his surprise breakfast, they set the word alight. Upon hearing the excited shrieks I looked through the window and witnessed the word D A D, ablaze in all it's glory. My horrified ear-piercing shriek got Mo running and by the time both of us had made it outside, the fire was starting to spread. Shakeel was standing with the hosepipe hosing down the flames. A few flames moved onto the stone pathway. In response to my shrieking, Shakeel, in his attempt to maintain some semblance of coolness in front of his friend, proceeded to extinguish it the cool way - by stepping on it. I could have throttled him there and then.

Anyway, to cut a long traumatic story short, the fire was doused. Although it hadn't grown beyond a few flames, I cannot stop thinking how close we came to disaster. What if it had spread uncontrollably?

Mo and I decided to leave 'the talk' with Shakeel until later. After thanking a despondent-looking Shakeel for his efforts, Mo moved the breakfast indoors.

I was really surprised at my son's lapse in judgement. We knew that he knew where the workshop key was, but didn't think he would do something like that. He is usually so sensible. It was just a reminder to us that he is just a child and we should take the same precautions with him that we do with his younger sisters. What an eye-opener!

Later the afternoon we headed out for a drive. Instead of heading for a pre-determined destination, one of Mo and my favourite things to do, is to drive to a neighbouring dorpie (town). Despite the fact that we usually do this on Sundays when everything is closed, this allows one to appreciate the town for its beauty without the distractions of large amounts of people.

Yesterday we headed off to Paarl. We drove up the Main Road admiring the beauty of this little town. Oh and how beautiful this place is! I wished I could stop to snap pictures of every beautiful sight and every historical landmark. But the kids would have none of it. They kept reminding me that it was Father's Day, not Mother's Day - implying that the day should not be spent doing what I want - but what they want instead.

Die Afrikaanse Taalmuseum

Up to the Paarl Mountain Reserve

After stopping off for lunch and exploring the sights, we ended up at a park where the kids played soccer and ran around to their hearts' content.


Mo's tendency to always be prepared came in handy - when Aisha's nappy failed to hold her pee, he had a 5 liter can of warm water ready to give her a quick wash.

When the older kids all complained about needing to pee before we left, we headed to McDonalds to buy ice-cream so that we could use their toilets.

On our way home driving down the N1, both Mo and I became a bit teary listening to the radio, thinking of our own fathers. Josh Groban's ''To where you are'' transported me right back to the intense grief I experienced immediately after my dad's death.

Those emotional few moments also made me realise how lucky my kids are to have such an amazing hands-on dad. He is so thoughtful, always anticipating and addressing the needs of each of his kids (even if it means working two jobs, which he does without complaining). His silly sense of humour and clever wit never fail to bring a smile to their faces. My kids truly are blessed to have Super-Mo for a dad.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Ever wonder what happened to Katjie (our domestic worker from hell?)

Remember Katjie? - our domineering, insulting and constantly-complaining domestic worker (described here)?

Initially her stay had been every bit as traumatic for me as I'd expected. She was constantly threatening to leave. This, in itself, had not bothered me - it was the inevitable unpleasantness surrounding her possible departure that I'd been dreading. So each time Nuha (7) threw down her socks instead of taking them straight to the washing machine, Katjie would reprimand Nuha, which I did not mind at all - in fact I'd wanted her to make them pick up after themselves - just maybe she'd have better luck accomplishing that which I couldn't. The problem was that she'd then storm down the passage in a huff, grunting that she did not want to work here any longer.

Then one day she awoke grumpier than usual. I could no longer bear being in the same room with her when she was so miserable. If, dear reader, you had any doubts about my cowardice, to which I so often refer, this little account should dispel them immediately.

I have no idea why she was so p!ssed off that morning. She came into the kitchen, mumbled a grumpy greeting in response to my nervously cheerful one, and proceeded to wash the previous night's dishes. If I'd ever wondered how hard one could throw a glass plate before it broke, I would have received my answer that morning, as she hurled dishes from dish water into rinsing water and onto the draining board. My stomach was in knots because, well, angry people can be scary. But this time, however, my anxiety was interspersed with mounting irritation and fury.

Then Shakeel (13) entered the kitchen, looking a bit annoyed (or he could just have been sleepy), but I jumped at the opportunity to get my message across to that beastly woman in the safest possible way. I turned to him. ''Oh no! I shall no longer tolerate grumpiness in this house. If you have a problem, say so. But this nonsense will no longer be tolerated. Keep this up and there'll be serious consequences.'' I ranted, slamming closed the cupboard door for added effect.

Poor Shakeel looked at me speechless, his expression saying, ''Huh?''

I stormed out of the kitchen before either one of them could confront me. I avoided her for the next few hours, until she cautiously crept up behind me. No, not to smother me with a pillow, but to say, '' You know, I don't think Shakeel was angry about anything in particular. Sometimes one just gets up on the wrong side of the bed. I'm like that too.''

I accepted her sort-of explanation and patted myself on the back. Cowardly I may be, but my sneaky deviousness had certainly paid off, as she not grumpy again....

Until an incident which sent everything downhill. One morning I received a knock at the door from a strange woman asking for money for food, electricity and her kids' school necessities. She was expecting a pay-out within a few weeks and was prepared to repay me. For some inexplicable reason I believed her. I wanted to help her. So I gave her what I had in my purse and asked her to come back when Mo could spare some more money. She popped in every day over the next few days to check if we had the money available. Each time Katjie stood around, hovering angrily, passing comments about what a liar the woman was. She was starting to make me really uncomfortable.

On the day Mo got paid, the woman returned as I'd asked. This time Katjie was more furious. She angrily and continuously paced past where I was sitting with the woman. I heard her commenting loudly about what fools / chumps hubby and I were. When the woman left she approached me and asked if I'd given the woman money. Without waiting for me to answer she said that if we could give this other woman money, we could give her as well. In fact, she yelled, if my hubby had electricity money to spare for this stranger, why couldn't he give it to her instead?

I was completely unnerved. I had no idea how to deal with this woman's audaciousness. We'd paid her a salary, with which she had indicated she'd been really pleased. It was market-related and much more than she'd earned before. So what made her think she had the RIGHT to any 'spare' money we might have, so much so that we should not be allowed to share it with anyone else? From that incident onward, she became quiet and withdrawn. She only stayed for another few weeks after that, citing personal problems as her reason for leaving.

Last month, unexpectedly, a relative of hubby's received a call from Katjie. She told the woman how much she is missing us all and how much she loves me (!!!)

Although we had not been 100% certain about the new woman we had just employed at that time, there was no way we'd venture down that weird and scary path with Katjie again. Thankfully, I think we've finally closed the chapter on Katjie this time.

Is it time to send Aisha to playschool/ creche? *sob*

It has always been my plan to send Aisha (2) to creche/playschool after the age of three. She is my last baby, so I wanted to do everything with her that I regret not having done with the other three (like breastfeed for longer than four months, spend copious amounts of time playing, kissing, hugging and bonding before playschool began.

And that's exactly what I've done. Enjoyed hugs, kisses and playtime in abundance; breastfed for so long that I don't know how to stop (but that's another story altogether) and just enjoyed showering her with all the attention I regret not having had the opportunity to do with the others.

Aisha, while being the most loving and cuddly little thing, has become so accustomed to everyone in our home giving her way, that she launches into tirades which last for hours upon having her requests denied. Usually when I am alone with her, I am able to cope with these outbursts - I usually distract her or just simply walk away, leaving her to scream. However, when other people (outside my immediate family) are around, I usually succumb to her demands, as I don't want her to upset them or cause them to have a negative opinion of her. [Which, according to comments overheard by my other kids, have people saying that I don't discipline her. So much for my attempts at people-pleasing ]. When the other kids come home from school, I am able to ignore her tantrums and demands until Nuha (7) starts to beg, '' Mommy, please just give her what she wants''. That means I usually end up with two kids nagging at me until I comply. The older two will just go over my head and grant her requests - just to shut her up. Her father is no better. The mere sound of unhappiness in his baby's voice has him scurrying around to find whatever it is that she's demanding.

These outbursts are becoming more frequent. I cannot help but wonder if she won't be happier in creche/playschool. Is she bored of our usual routine? I have tried to stimulate her mind by reading, writing and drawing with her. We play with the pets and sit in the garden. She's developed a renewed interest in Barney. Is there something I'm missing? Something else I should be doing?

She often talks to me about 'her school', '' Mommy, I play with my friends at school. I draw and play in the sand (she'd seen children play in the sandpit in Nuha's school playground). There's my teacher'', she'd say, pointing at one of her stuffed animals. She often approaches me, crayon and paper in hand, saying, '' Mommy, teach me please''.

However, the thought of yanking my poor baby (who just loves her morning lie-in) out of bed and into the icy weather just seems so cruel. She'll be getting up early and leaving the comfort of her warm home for the rest of her life. Why should she start doing it at 2 years old already?

I'm just so confused about what to do.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Mommy-daughter time....special moments with my mother

For a while now I've been grumpy about the fact that I don't get to spend alone-time with my mother. There are always other distractions in the form of kids or visitors - my mum is quite a popular lady.

The last time we went to the movies or out shopping together was probably just after Tharaa's birth ten years ago. Since then we only really get to speak to each other in company or while dealing with kids demanding food or nappy changes.

Which is why Friday night was so very special to me. Mo went to watch a movie by himself, while my mother and I were to watch what he assumed would be a girlie movie. I think he was just relieved not to be forced to sit through a movie of my choosing. So, spitefully I chose to watch the thriller ''Gone'' instead.

I so enjoyed being alone with my mother. The movie, though not fraught with the most memorable intrigue and mystery, provided sufficient suspense and stress to my delicate disposition to cause me a stress-headache. I could relate easily to the annoying neurotic nature of the heroine, but not to her stupid bravery. Her audaciousness, as she ventured into the obvious trap set by the villain, had me swearing at her - under my breath though, since I am far too respectful to expose my mum to the vile utterances that sometimes emanate from my foul mouth in times of stress. But once the climactic (albeit predictable) moment of the movie arrived, my efforts to contain my vulgarity, resulted instead in me grasping my mum's poor arm in a vicious grip, which tightened progressively as the suspense increased.

I cannot wait to have another such mother-daughter evening. However she feels that, should we watch another suspense thriller, we need only pay for one seat, since I spent the entire movie practically on her lap. Always so thrifty and clever, this mother of mine.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Wanted to have a bit of a moan, but on second thought....

As a reader of this blog, you will have noticed that I am all about gratitude, living in the moment and appreciating the here and now. I even changed my blog name to reflect the savouring and appreciation of the moment.

That having been said, I have to admit - I don't think I can handle this cold weather for one more minute. I just don't think I'm built for it. On days that other people are wearing flimsy T-shirts, I need a jersey. So just try to imagine how I'm feeling today - it's a mere 15 degrees Celsius. Whether outside or indoors, I experience no relief from the cold. I've been sipping on green tea and coffee all morning - I'm shaking from what I assume is a combination of caffeine and coldness.

I go to bed wearing 3 long-sleeved tops underneath the thickest pyjamas I can find in my cupboard. Very sexy. (I guess I can take a break from contraception this winter).

I know I shouldn't be such a baby - there are people living very nearby - in poorly constructed shacks. I do think about them all the time - if I'm feeling like this, I just cannot imagine how they are able to tolerate the cold.

Which again brings me to - gratitude. I started this post just wanting to have a moan, but now I realise I really really shouldn't - I have way too much for which I can be grateful.

In fact I think it would be a good idea to head off to Pep Stores some time to find out the price of blankets. I'm certain it will help them - even just a bit. It is heartbreaking to think about all the kids who are forced to live in those flimsy structures, which provide very little protection from the elements.

So I guess it's time to man up, stop being such a wuss and start walking the walk.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Tired, frustrated and just plain g^tvol

Finally the end of the kids' exams and formal assessments are in sight. Tomorrow afternoon life returns to normal.

I cannot describe how happy I'll be when it is all over. With Shakeel (13) writing his first full-scale exam (as opposed to formal assessments comprising of class tests and projects), my stress levels have been through the ceiling. Combine that with the drama/ trauma of his high school applications and you'll realise why I feel like downing an entire bottle of Rescue Remedy right now.

I have been explaining, drafting questions, studying and memorising alongside them, trying all the while to keep them motivated and prevent them from being distracted. I've screamed, threatened, begged and bribed. I've pinched and punched and threatened to inflict serious bodily harm. I'm exhausted.

It would be easier for me to write all their tests/ exams myself, instead of trying to persuade them to study. Really, it would.

Tharaa (10) has surprised me with her ability to grasp difficult concepts and memorise them. However her playfulness is making me feel like I need to separate myself from her for a bit - before I give her a kick in the arse. Earlier I watched her fake-sobbing while answering the Economic and Management Sciences revision sheet I drafted for her. Before that I caused her to burst into heartbroken tears when I interrupted the game she invented - tipping her chair upside-down and then letting her stationery (pens and erasers) slide down its back one by one. Then, while we read through her notes on " The iron and steel industry in SA" she tensed her body and writhed in frustration because she could not join in the game Nuha (7) and Aisha (2) were playing. I cannot wait for her bedtime.

Shakeel (13) is writing Natural Science and Economic and Management Sciences tomorrow. He is complaining about being bored of studying the same work over and over, since he had finished studying for these subjects a while back. I'm concerned that his over-confidence could result in him making stupid mistakes. But I'm washing my hands of this problem and (perhaps stupidly) trusting in his judgement.

Tharaa still has to complete an entire section of work - and then revise. But she's on her own with that - there is no way I'm missing Isidingo (a popular local soapie) tonight - [what with Calvin being exonerated tonight and Rodney very likely being exposed as being Charlie's rapist. I'm soooo excited!!!] Don't judge - I've been trying to get her to study and revise all day - it's not my fault that she's only waking up to the urgency of her situation now.

Tomorrow this time exams/ formal assessments will be over. The mere thought has me giddy with joy.

[Later edited to add: Isidingo turned out to be a total anti-climax]

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Drama around Shakeel's high school applications

I don't know if you've noticed - my posts have been rather light and trivial of late. I think I've been trying to keep my mind off what has really been causing me headaches - Shakeel (13)'s high school application process.

So we submitted his applications to three of the better public high schools in our region. I'm talking - schools with 98 -100% matric pass rate, excellent academic facilities, very impressive extra-mural facilities (including massive swimming pools, sports fields) etc.

I was confident. Academically he does well, so I was not worried about the fact that his report card would be accompanying his application. In fact, I was happy about it - I thought that would guarantee him acceptance into any school.

The school closest to our home was my first choice (let's call it Option 1). Impressive facilities, a happy vibe - and less than five minutes drive away from our home!!!! The problem is that this school's policy is to accept learners from the suburb in which the school is located, and the suburb on its immediate right (both very affluent suburbs). Unfortunately, we live in the suburb on the left of the suburb in which the school is situated, which places us outside that school's catchment area. Nevermind the fact that the school is nearer to the border of our suburb (and our home) than that of the other approved suburb.

My panic started when we received news that Shakeel's friends had received feedback from Option 1. They were receiving dates for interviews. We waited- and waited- and waited. I carried the phone with me everywhere - in the car, to bed, to the toilet. I was desperate to receive that call. But alas, it did not come.

Then we received a call from Option 3. Shakeel had an appointment for Monday (last week). He was ecstatic - that had been his first choice because many of his friends were applying to that school. But I was not keen - despite the fact that the school boasts state of the art facilities (as do all 3 of them) and a most impressive view over the Atlantic - this school was even more out of the way than his current (primary) school is.

But still no call came from either Options 1 or 2. I was grumpy and upset. Shakeel was reduced to tears - it was a major blow to his self-esteem. He started to doubt himself - maybe he was not as academically-strong as we'd thought?

Mo phoned Option 2 - just to find out if they had any news for us. To our immense relief they said that they had been meaning to call to set up an interview. His interview was for Saturday (two days before his appointment at Option 3!!)

So off he and Mo headed on Saturday morning. The school requested the attendance of the child (in school uniform) accompanied by a parent. Since Mo is much more likeable than what I am, there was no question as to who would go with Shakeel.

They returned an hour later - Shakeel was beaming. He had been accepted - there and then - in the interview! The principal had been extremely impressed with him. Upon hearing that Shakeel had not received an interview at Option 1, the principal said that there was absolutely no reason that ANY school should refuse his application. His academic results were excellent, and overall, he was a really impressive candidate, he was told. I was so relieved. But not as relieved as Shakeel himself was - his confidence in himself had been restored.

The pressure was off. So although he was to attend the interview at Option 3, he didn't really feel nervous since he had already been accepted at a high school. Again, his more sociable, popular parent accompanied him, while the socio-phobic hermit    I stayed home with Aisha (2).

He returned from that interview acting all cocky and super-confident. The principal, who had come across as really intimidating on the school's Open Day, had been really taken with my son. Upon hearing that he had been accepted at Option 2, he acknowledged that that was a good school, but jokingly urged Shakeel to choose his school instead. In fact he said that he would love to have Shakeel at their school and accepted him there and then. Woo- hooo!! Shakeel was indeed as excellent a candidate as we'd initially thought. Vindicated, at last!

The principal of Option 3, like his counterpart at Option 2, also stated that there was absolutely no grounds upon which Option 1 could refuse Shakeel's application (despite us falling outside their catchment area), because of our proximity to the school and the fact that Shakeel was an impressive candidate. He too could not understand their decision.

Upon further investigation we have discovered that the sifting process of the 600 or so applicants at Option 1, is not done in a fool-proof infallible manner by a super-efficient panel (as we'd assumed), but by a woman who has been doing it for years - and whose decisions are very often overturned since they often cannot be justified. Should we receive a letter of refusal, we definitely plan to appeal that decision - although, I must admit that this whole business has left behind a bitter taste for Shakeel and myself - and I feel less enthusiastic about sending him to Option 1 now. Mo, however, being the more practical and less emotional one, insists that this school remains the best option for Shakeel and the most practical one for all of us because of its proximity.

It might be evident to you, dear reader, how I have managed to take the issue of my son's high school application - and make it all about me. My feelings of rejection. My hurt. My anger. I hope I didn't mess with his sense of self-worth too much. Which brings me to my next point - this issue has in fact had a major impact on Shakeel's confidence and belief in himself. He insists that it is only because I made it so - he had not doubted himself until he saw me looking all petrified and devastated, which in turn made him feel like a failure.

Let's hope that whatever school he ends up attending, equips him well for an amazing career - necessary to pay for the long-term therapy he will need resulting from having me as a mother this experience.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Enjoying the calm - however short-lived it may be

Each morning Mo interrupts his pressurized work day to call home, checking if all is well - probaby ensuring that I had not succumbed to the temptation to flee to some faraway place, leaving Aisha (2) alone mid-tantrum; or checking if his princess was well and still uninjured (by her frustrated mother).

On Monday morning, instead of him being greeted by my usual frustrated/ annoyed/ irritated/ stressed out/ cautious/ anxious response (depending on Aisha's mood at the time of the call), I immediately answered his inquiry by providing him with an uncharacteristically animated account of what the budgie (our newest pet) had for breakfast, how much the guinea pigs had enjoyed the celery I'd picked for them from the garden and how Titan, our quaker parrot, was adjusting to sharing his turf (and our affections) with all our newly-acquired pets.

Only then did I realise that his question, ''So, how's everything at home?'' had been about Aisha. But he did not interrupt - probably so relieved at the pleasant voice on the other end of the line (for a change). He proceeded to ask questions and offer tips as to how to how to get the budgie to adapt more easily to its new environment.

But even in answering the question he had actually been asking, I was delighted to report that Aisha's usual morning tantrum had been averted when I'd taken her to hand-feed the guinea-pigs their celery. Within minutes she was giggling and shrieking with delight at the adorable happy sounds they were making.

It seems that having young dependent pets around is bringing out the caring, loving and nurturing side of my tantrum-throwing daughter. It seems to be diverting her focus from her own self-centredness (of which, I admit, I am the cause), to their needs. Let's hope the novelty doesn't wear off too soon.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Have you met Poseidon / Smurfie?

On Saturday night Mo surprised the kids by bringing home yet another pet - a budgie. Initially I was a bit miffed at not having been consulted, but after holding it in my hands, I melted. Feeling its little heart racing with fear, evoked my protective instinct and I couldn't help but try my utmost to make it feel safe and protected. After a few minutes it was nestling cosily in my hand, and while I stroked its head, its eyes closed sleepily.
It was so precious.                                                             

Immediately we named him/her Smurfie because of its pretty blue colour. But its colour made Shakeel (13) feel that s/he should be named Poseidon because the name denotes strength (of the ocean). He insisted that the reason for our quaker parrot's strong personality is that he is simply living up to his name - Titan. So we played around with  the name Poseidon for a few hours but this was later shortened to Possie.  (However with Aisha (2)'s mispronunciations of this word, it soon became apparent that we'd be facing many horrified gasps at our baby's vulgarity should we stick with this nickname).

For now, Smurfie / Poseidon is settling in well and is claiming his/her place in the backyard.

Introducing Hayley and Riley

Have you met the latest additions to our family? In addition to to the quaker parrot + two (no longer 4) goldfish + one painter + the 6 of us (described here), our family now also comprises of two guinea pigs, named Riley and Hayley.

They are so incredibly cute - even Aisha (2), in one of her foulest moods, is unable to resist these sweet adorable balls of fur. They make the cutest sounds, each of which has a very specific meaning. You just cannot help but love them.