the other day on the beach

We were sitting on the beach on Tuesday, soaking up the sun and sea air, when it was time to give Caris her milk. So I started getting her formula ready.

Alex: “What are you doing Mommy?”
Me: “Making milk for Caris, my love”
Alex: “Why?”
Me: “‘Cos she’s hungry and thirsty”
Alex: “Why?”
Me: “Because she has been sleeping, and it’s hot, and it is time for her milk now” (trying to cover all angles here…)
Alex: “Ok”
Me: (only two “why’s” !)

I proceed to give Caris her bottle.
Alex: “Mommy …”
Me: “Yes my boy?”
Alex: “Why is Caris drinking from a bottle and not from your nipple?”

My mother in law just about wet herself laughing!


I hate travelling. I like being on holiday, but I just don’t like the travelling involved to get there. The thing is, I am afraid of travelling. I can’t say that I have always had this phobia, but I think it has grown over time, mainly based on a few recent events:

 1. Many years ago, we were travelling down to San Lameer one December, it was us, the two boys (long before the babies arrived), and in another car, Gary’s brother and his family. Somewhere just before Marian Hill, a guy in front of us, who had way too much stuff tied onto the roof of a tiny venter trailer, the likes of which you only see in Africa, decided to lose the spare wheel that was nestled on top of the pile of stuff. Thankfully, Gary saw it, and slammed on brakes and swerved out of the way as the tyre bounced on the road in front of the car and literally missed us by an inch. His brother, who was a few metres behind us, did the same, and I am still to this day surprised that there was no accident in the early morning traffic heading in to Durban. The boys were asleep in the back of the car, and woke up when the car jerked violently into the adjacent lane. Let’s just say we all needed an extra strong cup of coffee when we stopped for breakfast a few moments later. (I am now officially a nervous passenger in cars.)

2. On a flight to New York, we experienced the most terrible turbulence. Somewhere over Africa, we hit an air-pocket that caused the plane to drop what felt like a few hundred metres. It was so unexpected that the captain had barely switched on the seat-belt signs, when the plane felt like it was literally falling out of the sky. The air-hostesses were halfway through the dinner service, and everyone had plates of food and full glasses on their trays, everything went flying. We happened to be in business class, and they had a drinks trolley with bottles of wine and champagne on it, which literally lifted into the air and everything on it went crashing on to the floor. I have never been so scared in my life. (I am not a big fan of flying since then)

3. A girl I used to work with was killed in a car accident. She and her husband and their 8 week old baby boy were on their way to see family in Bloemfontein, when a truck failed to stop for a road-works “stop and go” sign on the highway. According to the newspaper, it drove right over their 4×4 bakkie. They were all killed on impact. I still get cold chills every time I think about it. She was not a close friend, but we had been chatting so much during the last few weeks of her pregnancy, I was devastated when I heard the news. I had just had Alex, and she had been picking my brains for tips and advice on being a new mom, and we had been sharing pregnancy experiences. I sobbed like a little girl at her funeral, so sad that these young lives were ended so abruptly, and sad that the baby boy hadn’t even had a chance to experience anything yet. A part of me was relieved that they had all been killed in the crash, because I would not have wanted any of them to feel the pain of perhaps only the baby, or one parent, being killed. As a mother, I cannot begin to imagine the pain of losing a child. Another part of me was angry that the truck driver’s neglect had caused the death of this beautiful family. He was unharmed. Life is unfair.

Having had children has made my fears even worse. I wouldn’t say that I am a complete nervous wreck when I am travelling by car or plane, but I get that heavy feeling in the pit of my stomach. It is even worse when I travel without my family. Or when Gary travels alone, which he has been doing a lot of lately for work. I pray that we will all be safe, always, but that if it is our time, please take all of us, as I cannot bear that thought of my children growing up without parents, or of us growing old without our babies.

Travel safely, dear reader, and may your guardian angels watch over you and your family always.

Damn you, dummy!

About a month before going back to work, I decided to give Caris a dummy.

So what is wrong with that you may be wondering? Most moms give their little darlings a dummy from the moment they first arrive in the world. The problem is, I hate dummies. I don’t think they are cute, and I certainly don’t think that 4 or 5 year olds with dummies permanently in their mouths are cute. But before you judge me, I do believe that if they work for you and your baby, then that’s awesome, but I’m still not a fan. (They are called “pacifiers” for a reason, right?)

I tried to give Alex a dummy when he was a wee one, ‘cos that’s what everyone does, right? But he was not interested. He also wasn’t interested in drinking milk out of anything other than a boob, but that is an entirely different story. He wasn’t a fussy baby, so not having a dummy to pacify him wasn’t a problem, he was happy to be cuddled or rocked. And I was a happy camper; no nasty dummy to get rid of later. (One of my friends is still trying to get rid of her son’s dummy habit, and he’s four.)

So, to get back to the issue at hand, I gave Caris a dummy in an attempt to make the life of my child-minder easier when I went back to work. Just a little something to help her fall asleep etc. She was a very happy thumb-sucker. From tiny, she would put her little thumb in her mouth, and fall into sweet pleasant dreams, no rocking, no fussing. I would sometimes hear her stir in the middle of the night, and before I could even get out of bed to go to her, she would pop her thumb in her mouth and go back to sleep.

She didn’t want a dummy either in the early days, so I never pushed it. Up until a month ago. My little cherub has decided that she quite likes the dummy now: she smiles at it when she sees it, and grabs it and pops it into her mouth when it is within reach, and most importantly falls asleep with it. Mission accomplished. So you are probably still wondering what the problem is with that, other than my inherent dislike for the horrible things? But sadly my “sleep-easy” plan has backfired. IN A BIG WAY. She is waking up about 4 or 5 times at night wanting the blasted dummy. Gone are the days of my sweet thumb-sucking, self soothing baby. I am such a dumb(my)ass! (And I can just see myself having bargaining sessions with her at 3 or 4, to please give the dummy to the fairies in exchange for a Barbie / Dora / whatever flavour-of-the-month toy her little heart would desire. )

The evolution of the birthday cake


I have great memories of magical birthday cakes from my childhood that my mother used to bake for my brother and I. Pumpkin carriages pulled by marzipan mice, humpty dumpty sitting on his wall before he met his scrambled fate, a dolly with a cake dress and a menagerie of animals… When I had Alex, my mom passed her “birthday cakes for children” recipe book onto me saying I was going to need this more than she did right now! I was quite excited at the prospect of baking a special cake for my little guy. I have always loved to cook, and during my school years I baked many cupcakes and cakes for afternoon teas with the family. Over the years I have become known amongst my circle of friends for making yummy deserts. My swansong is definitely my “summer berry pavlova”, which is always a win with everyone!

When Alex turned one, I decided to make him a Tiger cake, courtesy of the “birthday cakes for children” book that I will perhaps, one day, hand down to my daughter (provided it hasn’t fallen apart by then!)

So, this was my first attempt at making a “fancy” birthday cake. I scoured the shops for ages to find liquorice shoe-laces to make the whiskers, and eventually had to cut liquorice straps into thin strips as I couldn’t find any anywhere. (And now I see them in the Dischem queue, of all places, all the time, go figure!). Considering I had only ever baked cakes in normal shaped tins, and iced them, cutting out a tiger from a few square and rectangular cakes wasn’t too difficult, but icing the crumbly cakes however, was quite, umm, interesting. Can you say “crumb-coating”?!?

By birthday number two, Alex had an “old Macdonald” obsession, and loved listening to and singing along to the nursery rhyme, over and over and over … So with the help of trusted old google, I found a barn cake, surrounded by animal cupcakes to complete the farmyard scene.  This one was fun to make, especially finding all the different toppings to complete the animals (such as guava roll for the pigs’ ears and tiny marshmallows for the sheep’s woolly coats!) Lesson learnt: 2 bottles of red food colouring later, the barn was still not as red as I would have liked, but it was too late to go and buy another bottle. I have since discovered gel food-colouring which is much more concentrated.

His third birthday, was accompanied by a love affair with “Lightning McQueen”. A few weeks before Caris was born, my mom (who looked after Alex for me) got ill with pneumonia, and ended up in hospital. So I had to work from home to take care of Alex, who was not at school yet. We all know it is just about impossible to get any work done with a toddler around, and I was desperately trying to wrap up work stuff before going on maternity leave. So the one day, at my wits end, I told him to come and watch a movie. He had never watched a movie at this point, only CBeebies in small doses, so I wasn’t even sure he would watch it. Queue “CARS” … wow, it was love at first sight. And Lightning McQueen become his best friend and hero. (We have probably watched it about a thousand times since then, well it feels like that anyway, thank goodness the second one was released on DVD for a bit of variety!)

It is amazing what you can find on the internet, so after googling “how to make a Lightning McQueen 3D birthday cake” and reading a few “how-to’s”, I attempted to make a Lightning McQueen 3D birthday cake. I was expecting it to be a disaster, as I had never attempted plastic icing before. My mom gave me some pointers (she also used to make wedding cakes as a hobby many moons ago). And perhaps I should mention that I watched quite a few episodes of “CAKE-BOSS” while on maternity leave!!!

First I had to carve a car out of a few rectangular cakes stuck together and “dirty ice” or crumb-coat it. Then came the task of draping it in the very red plastic icing. I was not brave enough to make the plastic icing myself, so I bought some at a great baking supplies shop called “Kadies” in fourways.

So once it looked sort of like a racing car, I set about adding all the details: logos, headlamps, exhaust pipes, windows, etc. I had baked the cakes the night before (I found an absolutely awesome chocolate cake recipe during my “Lightning McQueen” search!) so that I would have the whole day to decorate. Alex was at school in the morning, and my mom popped in to help, and give me a hand with the baby. I started at about 9AM, and finally finished it at about 9PM. (I had to hide it in the pantry when Alex came home from school, and add details with the door closed). A whole day to make a cake! My back was broken from standing, but I was really pleased by the way it turned out.

<<<< 3 May 2012 – Post edited – check out my party on the Rattle and Mum blog …    >>>>

The next morning, we showed Alex his cake, just before all his friends arrived for the party. His eyes nearly popped out of his head, “wow, it’s Lightning McQueen”. I had tears in my eyes. He kept telling everyone to come and see his Lightning McQueen cake! His friends were so impressed! He still talks about it now, so even though it wasn’t perfect, I know that my little guy loved it and thought it was super cool. Priceless!

Out of the mouths of babes

The other day, Alex was cuddled up on the couch with one of his older brothers reading a story. The weather was gearing up for a storm, the kind you only get on a hot summer’s afternoon in Joey’s, and the wind was howling, whistling through the trees.

We all like to encourage Alex’s imagination, so Stuart says to him: “Can you hear the wind”. Alex answers back in his best whispery voice “Yessss”. So Stuart, now playing along in his best whispery voice, says “What is it saying?”, to which Alex replies very matter-of-factly: “I don’t know, I don’t speak wind!”.

We both nearly fell off our chair laughing.

My funny little guy xx

The other night at the emergency room

 “The decision to have a child is to accept that your heart will forever walk about outside your body.” Katherine Hadley

 A few Saturday’s ago, we were watching TV, when we heard Alex scream from his bedroom. We both went bolting upstairs to see what was wrong. He has been having some “age-appropriate” nightmares of late, so we assumed that this was the case. Alex slept through the night from about 8 weeks old, and has never really given us any trouble in the sleep department (other than when his sister was born, but that is a different story entirely!), so these nightmares have been a real shock to the system for us.

He was hot and sweaty, and absolutely frantic when we got upstairs. After about half an hour of trying to get him back to sleep, and with him point-blank refusing to stay in his room, using all the excuses in the book, from complaining that there was a bee in his room, to heartbreaking complaints that his tummy is sore, along with hyper-ventilating, we decided to let him fall asleep with us, and then take him back to his room later.

After about 20 minutes of him rolling around like he had insects under his skin, and some myprodol for the slight fever and some telement drops for the tummy ache later, we decide we better take him to casualty. At this point, he is telling us his tummy is sore, doubled over and crying big whimpering tears. And as much as we know most three year olds are hypochondriacs, these were real tears. I finally managed to convince him to let me touch his tummy, and it was hard and bloated. Gary and I got out of our pyjamas and into clothes suitable for rushing to the hospital, (I may have even gone out wearing my slipper crocs, which really are strictly for “at home” use!)  strapped Alex into the car seat, and headed towards the hospital. As I was closing the buckle on the car seat, I had a moment of real panic. How would I live without this boy if something were to happen to him. Every speed bump we went over on our drive, made Alex whimper in pain. I think my heart nearly stopped a few times.

At about 1030PM, we arrived at the hospital, and being a child, they rushed us though, and sent a nurse in to do a preliminary diagnosis. All the while Alex is crying and saying his tummy is sore. People in the rooms around us are giving us that terribly pained look of sympathy and fear that is reserved for the parents of sick children. The nurse asked us for a urine sample, and I carried Alex, still whimpering, into the bathroom, telling him that he had to make a wee in to a very special little cup. Alex has been fully potty trained since he turned 3, and stays dry at night. He started to wee into the cup, and it was like a flood gate on a dam opening up! The wee went everywhere, the cup was full in a nanosecond, and what seemed like 2 litres of wee went spilling onto the floor. Stupid me thought a 3 year old would be able to *stop* weeing once they started. Umm, nope! Note to self, hold the boy over the toilet next time. So half the paper towel supply later cleaning up the floor, I embarrassedly tell the nurse about our little “accident”. Then we headed back to the examination booth to wait for the doctor.

Alex was suddenly a new child, asking us what all the medical equipment does, peeping through the curtains at the other casualty visitors, doing bunny hops up and down the passage, and all the while we are realising that he is fine. Not dying, not in any pain. And then the penny dropped. Alex’s sore tummy was in fact a VERY full bladder. Neither of us thought to ask the boy if he needed a wee, and he didn’t make the connection that the pain he was feeling was his bladder.

We discussed slipping out quietly, so that we wouldn’t have to face the doctor and explain that our boy was right as rain. When the doctor came in a few moments later we explained the situation with rather red faces. She examined him for good measure, and everywhere she pressed, he of course said was sore, even his knee and little toe. The doctor laughed with us, and said it happens … it wasn’t the first time she had examined a toddler who was dying the one minute and 100% fine as soon as they were examined. Who would have thought that emergency room doctors have a sense of humour at 11 o clock on a Saturday night. So she sent us on our merry way, and our little guy was fast asleep by the time we pulled into the driveway. So all’s well that ends well, but my standard question to any complaint he makes now is “do you need to wee?”. *Breathe*