Sunday, February 26, 2012

Being nice is an effort.

I tell Mr Husband I am frustrated, because I don't see real commitment - or real re-commitment from his side. I don't sense it, I don't feel it, I am not satisfied that it's there. I don't feel he is making an effort.

"You have no idea what an effort I am making." He tells me.
"Could you give me an example?" And I'm not being a bitch asking this, I am saying this kindly, because I can accept that maybe I am at times blinded (and deafened) by my Fed-Up-Ness that I could have overlooked the Good Effort he's making.

"Well, you know it doesn't come naturally to me to be nice...So, every time I'm nice to you I'm making a huge effort."

Friday, February 24, 2012

Ingredients Lacking

I have this wonderful, truly amazing chocolate recipe. This is what it looks like:

It tastes like pure, unadulterated heaven!
The interesting ingredient in this cake is sour cream.
Today I thought let's make that delicious cake (diet is dead for the week anyway) and got the ingredients together. I didn't have sour cream, but did have normal cream, so used that instead. What I love about this recipe is that you put all the ingredients in one bowl and use a blender. No separating eggs, sifting flour, or any of that kind of stuff. When the ingredients are well mixed, you divide it between 2 sandwich pans and there you go. It's so simple and yet so incredible.

So, there I was - ingredients in the bowl, blender out, mixing away.
It wasn't working. The mixture was getting stuck to the blender arms (what do you call those things? The mixer part...) and when I lifted the blender, bits of chocolate dough flew off, landing on every surface in the kitchen. And the walls, the kettle, me...
I kept thinking - can the fact that I've used normal cream instead of sour cream make such a difference? So I added a bit more cream, then after not seeing a great difference, added a bit of milk. It was awhile before the mixture vaguely resembled what it should and I thought - oh, well, how bad can it be? and started spooning the mixture into the baking pans. It was then that it hit me. I had forgotten the eggs!

So, I scooped out the mixture, back in the mixing bowl, added the eggs, beat it all up (again) and back into the baking pans it went.
The time meant to take to bake this cake is 25 min. The time it did take? 1 hour and 5 minutes.
Was it good?
And then I thought. It's like a relationship - if there is a basic, but very necessary ingredient missing, it won't matter what else you add, what you put in instead or how much of a different ingredient you use, if you don't have one of the basic ingredients you need, it's just not gonna be good, is it?
And sometimes, even when you do eventually add that ingredient, it could be too late. And it will no longer mean what it would have, had you added it right in the beginning, when you needed to.
The cake is still sitting on the table where it has been the whole day. Every one tried a small piece, no one finished their slice and no one asked for more.
I'm not suprised.
On the outside it might look good, but that's about it.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


It would be a Down today. Down. Down. Down.

This is how it went... I woke up at the crack of dawn, to be at work at 6.
Youngest was already up, with diarrhea. Poor child hasn't been very well of late.
So, I wake Mr Husband, telling him that Youngest is ill and to see how it goes. At this point I'm thinking it could just be a once off and he might be fine to go to school. But, who knows?
I go off to work and later send Mr Husband a text to find out how Youngest is. I tell him to phone me  if things are not looking well, so I can make arrangements to go home when he needs to go to work.

Seems he leaves home before he gets this text, because I look up and there he is. (We work for the same company.) I'm suprised.
"Oh, Youngest off to school then?"
"No, he's home. But I'm sure he'll be fine until you get home."

(Cue sound of screeching car brakes, because that's what it sounded like in my head. Include smoke. Coming out of my ears.)

You see - there are a number of reasons why I could explode at this point.
1. Youngest can safely be left on his own for a short period of time. But not when he is ill! He now has diarrhea. Last week he was vomiting, so how does Mr Husband think it would feel for this young boy if he should start doing both - at the same time - without Mom or Dad being around???????

2. Why does he think that him being at work is more important than me being at work? Don't get me wrong - I would rather be at home with my child/children than anywhere else right now - sick or not, but that's not my point. Why does Mr Husband just automatically think that he can rush through the doors at work, smiling and waving as he breezes by, leaving me to go and organise time off and making sure there is someone to pick up the loose ends when I go home? Why does it not occur to him that perhaps he could have phoned in first, made his department aware that he would be late while I got things organised in my department before coming home?

3. The school sick line needs to be phoned when your child is off. If you do not do this, at about 9h15, the school will ring you to find out where your child is. So, imagine this: It is 9h15, I am still at work trying to get things organised while Mr Husband breezes through smiling and waving and the school phones our home.
"Hello, is your Mom there?"
"No, she's at work."
"Is your Dad there?
"No, he's at work."

(Cue police sirens, screeching brakes, smoke....)
In a place where 10 year olds can be seen roaming the dark streets at ungodly hours, it is still considered child neglect leaving a young child at home alone. You know - health and safety - kettles, irons, gas on hand. The fact that Youngest is probably not even aware we have an iron, let alone where to find it, plug it in and set the house alight is beside the point.

And then I realise that this - this incident that happened this morning, may seem so small, but it is in fact a symptom of a very large - in fact - the entire problem in this marriage.

So, I am just fed-up. Really, really fed-up, because it feels that there is no consideration given to myself and in this case, Youngest too.
Maybe I need to put the barbed wire back.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Parent Trap

My day off.
My Wonderful Wednesday Writing Day was interrupted by a phone call from the school to say that Eldest Son had punched a child in the face and thrown him to the ground and the child had hit his head rather hard.
I don't know how to handle shit like this, I really don't. My creative parenting juices so don't seem to flow that way.

I don't know what to think. Why the heck would he do that? There are a couple of thoughts going through my mind. He's almost 14, he's hormonal, he's a boy, he started boxing lessons last night... Now - it's the boxing lessons that stick out most in my mind at the moment.
Was he trying out some of the moves he's seen, imitating what he was doing with the boxing bag last night?
And for the record - the boxing lessons were supposed to be for fitness, not actually for boxing!
I don't know what to think right now. But I know this, if the school had phoned me to tell me that my child had been punched in the face and thrown to the ground, I would have been down to the school faster than a flash of lightening. In fact, I have had to deal with this kind of thing before, when Middle Child was being bullied by a rather big boy, who had a rather large mother, who actually chased my kids down the road (another story that was!) And when I felt that it was not being dealt with by the school, I went roaring down there like a smoky, diesel truck!

And now? Now it's my child doing what is totally unacceptable. Apparently he thumped this boy because he took his seat. Really? Is it possible that he can think that he can attack someone because of something like that? I can't think of a good enough reason to attack anyone, but for taking your seat?? Was he trying to show off, is there a history between him and this boy?
I have so many thoughts whirling around in my head. What is the best approach? Which are the right words? What kind of punishment? What do I do that will make the right impact?

What to do, what to do, what to do...?
Help me, somebody!!!!
I want my Mommeeeeeeeeeee.............!!!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

This week. So far.

Did you see I made some changes to my blog? I like this look better. I had to take the barbed wire away, I was beginning to feel like I might jump on it, see - face first. Or maybe neck first - hit the jugular. Yes, yes, happy, happy me. And the picture of the pebbles in the background? I took that pic on holiday in Spain at Mojacar. It was a little bit of a taste of hell, that holiday, but I'll save that story for another day. Mojacar beach is good anyway.

So - I had my eyes tested & was given a pair of glasses. Actually 2 pairs. I was extravagant - nope, not actually, it was a buy-one-get-one-free offer, so I took advantage and got a pair of reading glasses and a pair of Gok Wan sunglasses - prescription kind. The excitement of being able to see again - at least while reading, was overshadowed ever so slightly by the bill of £142 and a few pennies. I am still trying not to think about it. The lady assisting me very happily told me that I had just saved £158! I could not even have said put the Gok Wan's away, because it would have made no difference. Gok or no Gok, £142 it is.

You see - my budget is rather tight at the moment. I am not talking about the Tighten Your Belt kind of tight - till your breathing becomes slightly laboured, no. I'm talking about putting on a pair of pantihose that are too small for you and you realise just how small when they start tearing right at the ankles. Just when you're starting to put them on. Yes - that kind of tight. So, I have no money, but thankfully I can see. Now I know without a shadow of a doubt that that really is a big fat zero at the bottom of my bank balance. Or is it a minus? Sigh.

Anyway - so that was Monday.
Oh, and - this is what else happened on Monday. Mr Middle was sent home from school because he had a headache. I was actually quite worried, because he may be The Eternal Pessimist and The Voice Of Doom, but he never pulls a sicky. Nope - this is a child that actually likes going to school. So, I sit on the bed next to him. "What's up?"
"I think I got a headache because I needed to poo. I went to the toilet, but there was no way I could poo because the toilets are so disgusting and someone had had a dump right on the floor next to the toilet and the doors were all off and I think that made my head even more sore."
"What? That's a health and safety issue!" Explodes Mr Husband.
"But when I got home I had a poo and now I feel much better." But he still sticks to the rule of no Xbox if you're off school.

And here we are on Tuesday.
I overslept this morning, didn't wash my hair and wore no make up to work. Yip. I did that.
Work. Well. You see - this is how it goes - some days I feel they don't pay me enough. Other days I feel they pay me too much for what I do. Today was a they-don't-pay-me-enough day.
Some people. Some colleagues. Some People's Stuff!
Anyway - I have a large glass of wine with me now. Great company I tell you. The French have a knack.
I am relaxing. I am off tomorrow. I am writing, writing, writing.....
And drinking. Just a little bit.

Friday, February 17, 2012

24 Days

I have the whole weekend off and only back to work on Monday.
The original plan for this weekend was that Mr Husband and I would go away.
Just the 2 of us.
But not anymore.
We will spend the weekend at home, doing odds and ends around the house and watching DVDs with the boys. They get to chose the DVDs. That could be disastrous. For me.
Mr Husband goes to Our Island next month. 24 days of seeing the ocean every morning when he wakes up. 24 days of dealing with builders who have different ideas to his.
24 days.
Our Island, flamingo flowers, pitanga, Captain Zarco...
Our Island. A volcano, quiet for millions of years, but the evidence still there in the black sand...
Our Island, where we would retire, where our grandchildren would visit us, their grandfather's skin growing dark in the sun while he toiled the land, their grandmother staring out to the ocean, waiting for words to make their way onto paper, stories to tell....
And now?
I don't know what now.
24 days to think, to ponder, to wonder. To. Sort. Out. My. Head.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My brother, Mr Valentine

This is what I remember about before my brother was born:

South Africa, 1977, was in the midst of a heat wave. We would watch the weather on T.V and then run giggling to my mother, who lay with her swollen belly while an old fan puffed some air at her, to break the news of what sweltering day lay ahead.

This is what I remember of the day my brother was born:

We stayed on a small holding with my paternal grandparents - especially having moved there from town so that my grandmother could help take care of my brother when my mother returned to work.  A calf was born the same day and we decided it should be called Valentino. I remember looking out the bedroom window thinking of my new brother and Valentino.
We stayed with my cousins while my mother was in hospital and were given white margarine on our bread.
It was bloody awful.

This is what I remember after my brother was born:

I was no longer the little darling. This bushy haired monster had come and taken all the attention away from me and I was not happy at all! I tormented and subtly tortured him on a regular basis, sneaking into my mom's room once, sucking his arm until the blood rose to the surface and pinching him so he woke screaming. The cat got the blame.

This is what I know now:

That I am honoured to have a brother like this. A man that I love, respect and look up to. I love him and I love that I can talk to him and that he gets me. I love the way  I can tell him anything and he does not judge me, but still loves me and always gives good, sound advice. I often forget that he is younger than me, by a good few years. He has a sound head on his shoulders, this special man.

When he proposed to his wife, his mother-in-law gave him some reasons as to why she was so pleased that her daughter was marrying him. One was; "I love the way you love your mother and sisters."
He's a very special man. There are of them still in this world. Believe it.

Happy Birthday, to a seriously awesome human being.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Hard day's night. Day. Every freaking minute.

Today has been One Of Those Days.
I am now at the point of falling to my knees to thank Mother Nature, The Universe, The Entire Planet and whatever else is out there that might have had an influence on getting my children to bed. Finally. At Long Last.
It's been One Of Those Days: "You always let him do it, but never me!", "Why don't you ever punish him? You only ever punish me?", "He got a pair of jeans, why can't I?, "He gets everything he wants, I never get anything!"
I am tired.
I am tired of trying to explain, negotiate, stand strong when I just want them to stop fighting, stop arguing, stop competing with each other, stop going on and on and on about crap!
And you know what? All those damn child rearing books I've read? I could make a bonfire with them all - that would be more useful than any purpose they have served, I can assure you.
There is no manual! Stop trying to make it up!
Being a parent is the hardest thing you will ever do and I believe that no matter how successful I am at anything in my life, it will be meaningless if I am not successful at being a mother.
And some days I don't care about being a mother, a writer, wife, sister, friend.... anything!
Some days I just want to be me. Damnit.
I think I'll go to bed now.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Check. Checkmate.

Today was a good day for me. No great shakes (a phrase often used by my sister - you know the one that some people even think is my twin?), but it was just a good, Normal Day.
Got the kids off to school, without me killing them or them killing each other, Mr Husband and I spent a bit of time together in Conversation (this is a relevant term), I got to do a bit of shopping in peace and even bake a cake.
I think back to when we first came to Scotland. Mr Husband came kicking and screaming. Okay, I lie - he came tripping over his lip with smoke billowing out of his eyes and ears.
I was a bit taken aback by this quite frankly, I mean, we had spoken about living abroad for years! And here we were and he kept whining about wanting to go back to South Africa. Eventually I got so fed-up, I said, "Fine! Go back them, but I'm staying!"
He also stayed (happily, by the way, as it turned out) and six years later, here we still are.

But, where are we exactly? I mean I know where we are on the Map. Google will tell me exactly where, the Sat Nav will too.
But where are we?
I don't know that we are any place other than we were before, albeit with a few fractures in between.
The dance has not changed. And I am tired of this dance. Actually it feels like check. Not quite checkmate, but definitely check.
Okay - I haven't played chess for ages. Like a decade or two. Two more like it, but I remember this: You're at the end of the game. There are still pieces on the board. Many pieces even, but you're in check. You move your king and the opponent moves their piece. Check. You move your king again. The opponent moves. Check. No matter where you move, or how many times, it's still check. You look around and see all these pieces and it might appear that there is still a game going on, but the game, in fact, is over. No matter how many pieces there still are.

Sometimes it's the same thing.

My favourite part of today:

Friday, February 3, 2012

Is it just me?

Is it just me or do others also battle with the noise level in their house?
My 3 children (all boys) are 13 going on 14, 12 going on 112 and 9 going on 3 years. They make enough noise of 20 hyenas and 10 buffalo combined. I am tired. And I am sick. Really, I have had this damn cold now for about a week, my head feels like it has a percussion concert going on inside and the children and Mister Husband are not helping.
The noise.
It's Oldest being silly, counting his pubic hairs and Middle and Youngest shouting at him to "put that disgusting thing away!",  it's Middle teasing Youngest about what he eats, it's Youngest shouting "Leave me alone!",  it's Husband reprimanding and dishing out punishment, it's all three of them begging and pleading to have said punishment removed, it's Husband shouting for everyone to be quiet. And this all with the T.V on in the background!
The noise!
I feel like I am being assaulted by it all. I want to put my sinus-sore head down and weep with the pain of it all! I can't bear it and I just wish they would all SHUT UP!
I fantasise of having my own place. A small hideaway at a place like Pittenweem or Anstruther. A place that no one knows about except me. A place so quiet you can hear yourself think. Actually I would take a place just about anywhere if I could just have some quiet!
I remember watching Date Night and in this one part the husband asks the wife if she ever fantasised about running away with someone else and she says all she fantasises about is being in a hotel room on her own drinking a diet Coke in peace. I so relate. Although I would skip the diet coke and go straight to the wine. Or something stronger.

Anyway - on the up side - I am reading a great book. Rainbow's End by Lauren St John. It's an African memoir, loaned to me by Eldest's lovely English teacher that I met at parent evening. I am loving the book! I love stories of Africa.
I miss Africa. There was a time I was afraid to say that out loud.
I miss Africa and I miss the African people.
Once Africa is in your blood and your bones, your heart, no matter where you are in the world, will always pine for the red soil, the smell of the air, the majestic sunsets, the chaos...

Being from Africa is the best thing that could have ever, ever happened to me. I cannot see it any other way. All of my fundamental principles that were instilled in me in my home, from my childhood, are still with me. Hakeem Olajuwon