Holiday adventures … and one very grumpy baby

While Gary was away on his golf-trip-extraordinaire, I decided to brave a trip down to Ballito with the kids and my mom in tow. We left Joburg on (a rather chilly) Saturday morning, just after eight, with the car packed to the brim, the DVD players in place, Cars 2 queued and ready, and a forecast for better weather ahead.

In theory, Caris should have had her morning nap along the way, so we were all set to make it past Harrismith with my sanity in-tact, and we could stop somewhere for lunch around 12. The thing about theories, is that they seldom apply in actual reality, and Caris decided NOT to sleep, and was pretty grumpy by 10 o’clock. She whinged and whined and cried for the better part of an hour, refusing to take her beloved dummy or a toy or watch teletubbies on the in-car-entertainment-system. (Might I just add that this was completely out of character behaviour for her…) I could feel my blood pressure rising, and a dull headache had seated itself nicely behind my right eye.  At one point, I pulled over on the side of the road, decelerating from 130 to zero in what felt like a millisecond, to put her dummy back in her mouth (which she had thrown onto the floor in frustration, out of reach, a few moments earlier) and shout at her give her a stern talking to. I think she got such a fright, that she was stunned into being quiet for the next half an hour until we stopped for lunch. The second part of the journey was a little better, as she had a short nap, but she woke up about an hour before we got there (damn those noisy rumble strips on the roads at the toll gates) and the crying resumed for the last 45 minutes of the journey. I have never felt so stressed and freaked out in my life. I could see the newspaper headline in my mind’s eye: “SCREAMING BABY CAUSES WOMAN TO CRASH INTO BARRIER ON N3. 4 DEAD.”

Little did I know that this was just the start of a few NIGHTMARE days, as she was transformed from her usual chilled, happy-go-lucky, smiley self,  into a whiney, clingy, cries-every-time-I-put-her down, non-napping disaster. To say that Caris has been an easy baby from the word go, would be an under statement. She has been an incredibly easy baby. She eats well, sleeps well, and is generally of a happy disposition. I am that  mother who, somewhat smugly, says things like “my baby is the easiest baby on the planet”. So this little episode caught me completely off guard. I still do not know what was actually wrong with her, but I can say that the delightful (NOT) screeches and screams every time she did not want to be put down, went through my head like a jack-hammer. (Actually, a jack-hammer is probably a lot more pleasant.) I think my biceps have expanded by a few centimetres from constantly lifting her little 10KG body up. At one point, I even took her to the local GP, to see if she maybe had an ear infection or something nasty brewing that was making her so unhappy. There was nothing medically wrong, so I left the doctor’s rooms a few hundred Rand poorer, with my (still VERY) grumpy baby glued to my hip. Perhaps it was a combination of missing her daddy, her nanny, being out of her usual routine, and the very nasty molar that surfaced when we got back home; or perhaps it is the inevitable transition from a contented baby to a more demanding toddler. But thankfully she is mostly back to her usual self. (Although she does seem to be getting A LOT more vocal and frustrated if she doesn’t get her own way, and stomps her little feet and kicks her legs if you take something away from her. *SIGH* It seems that I may in fact have a TODDLER on my hands again… and just when Alex seems to be growing out of that crap nonsense. )

In between the clinginess and unsolicited crying, we did at least manage to go to the beach when the weather was nice, played on the jungle gyms in the afternoons, visited the Flag animal farm, and took a trip to the aquarium. Obviously. (Our usual holiday routine.) In typical Holiday Weather fashion, our last day was spent in a shopping centre due to heavy, unrelenting rain. We saw Madagascar 3, which was brilliant. Alex loved it, and Caris slept though it (!) so all was good with the world on our last day!

(… And despite the rather frustrating few days, Little Miss is just a bundle of cuteness at the moment. She is becoming more interactive and vocal by the day, and will point and gesticulate furiously at something she wants, particularly FOOD! She loves her new “Y-bike”, and was thrilled to have Alex push her around the house (VERY fast I may add!) She loves playing with cars and says “Brrrrrrrrr” as she crawls along pushing it as fast as her fingers will allow. The cutest, is when said car disappears under the table, bed or couch, and she gets down on her hands and knees, with her bum in the air, to have a look under the furniture to see where it went! I just love her to bits!)

Bon Voyage…

A golf trip that has been on the drawing board for almost two years, is finally a reality!

On Thursday night, Gary, his two brothers and a few friends leave for Scotland to indulge in a 10 day golfing adventure. No wives, no kids, no work or household duties.  Just eight guys, their golf clubs, a dedicated driver and a stash of Essentiale (for the non-golfing activities). They will be playing at the following courses: Carnoustie Championship, St Andrews Jubilee Course, St Andrews Old Course, Kingsbarns Course, Royal Troon Old Course and Turnberry Ailsa Course. In between the hectic golf schedule, they will be sleeping late, sight-seeing, eating at nice restaurants and no-doubt drinking lots of beer and scotch whisky!

Gary has been overseas more than twenty times in the eleven years that I have known him, so I am used to him travelling. But it is never without a lump in my throat as I wave goodbye through the departure gates.  I always spend the hours that he is out of contact with a knot in my stomach, waiting with bated breath for the sms from him to say that he has landed safely on the other side. I am sure that tomorrow will be no different. (To offer myself suitable distraction from the fact that he will be away for ten days, I am taking the kids to Ballito for a week. Provided the N3 has been re-opened by Saturday, given the heavy snowfall of late!)

Travel safely my love, and come home quickly, ‘cos I am missing you already! xx

Lazy Summer Days

We just got back from a short 5 day break at the coast. March, in my opinion, is one of the best times to go to KZN. The weather is still warm enough to swim and go to the beach, and the evenings are still warm enough to sit outside, but cool enough to sleep comfortably without the aircon blasting.

We had such amazing weather, sunshine all day, and little wind, barring one afternoon of rain, and one windy day. Alex had an absolute ball. He spent most of each day either on the beach, in the swimming pool, or playing (i.e. jumping around like a lunatic) in the jacuzzi. His swimming has improved hugely, and he can now swim 3 to 4 lengths of the big pool in the complex by himself, with water wings of course. (we are not quite ready to ditch those yet!) He has always hated getting his face wet, or putting his head under the water, but seems to be over that now. He had a little accident riding his “lightning mcqueen fast” little red motor-bike on the patio / balcony, by panelling head first into the balustrade. He split his head open, and there was lots of blood, as head wounds are wont to do, but luckily the bleeding stopped easily and he didn’t need any stitches. And it’s under his hair, which he has a lot of, so the scar won’t matter. An ice lolly (his new favourite thing) helped cool the bump on his head down, and cooled him down too.  (I spent most of my time in the flat, waiting for Caris to wake up from her naps, but that is par for the course being a mom… but on the plus side, Alex had some great bonding time with Daddy. But we did at least get to go to the beach) Don’t you love the ponytail?

We bought the flat in Ballito when Alex was a year old, so this place will always be filled with memories for us, of Alex (and Caris) growing up. The first time we saw the place with the estate agent, was a few day’s after Alex’s first birthday, and he was toddling along the side of the couches on the patio, his head not yet tall enough to look over the top.

As much as we love the flat, it can get a little noisy over the festive season and other holiday periods, which is when we are typically there, so when we were there in December / January just past, we looked at a piece of land, with the intention of building a stand alone house.  Our offer was accepted, and the transfer should be going through in the next few days. We met with our prospective architect and builder while we were there this week, and are excited to start building our dream holiday home in a few months time. Although the prospect is also somewhat scary …. building a house 600 odd kilometers away, and Gary and I are both control freaks … it is going to be an adventure of note! (and no doubt, a test of patience)

So this was probably the last holiday we will spend there, as the flat is now for sale. Both Gary and I felt as if we were packing up for the last time, as we made the flat look it’s best before we came home on Wednesday. We left with feelings of sadness and excitement at the same time. But by Easter next year (hopefully) we will have a brand-spanking-new house to look forward to, where we can continue building memories!

Travelling

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.