Thursday, 25 April 2013


I like to tell anyone who will listen that Immy and I have an 'annual tradition' of visiting my parents who are 'wintering in Knysna'. It makes us sound like bored, rich people without a care in the world. Actually, the truth is that my folks are already back from their brief sojourn in Knysna, well before winter sets in. Also, one can hardly call something an annual tradition when you have only done it twice. And it was only for four days. Since we aren't rich (alas!) or bored, after all.

In case you're wondering, we ARE still terribly fond of the Husband and Daddy in this family. He just never gets to come along because he can't get time off work.

We had a grand time. Gorgeous weather, and a full itinerary organised by Granny. Pony rides, trips to various beaches, lunch at various restaurants, daily presents, and a cupboard stocked full of all her favourite things. Drinks on the porch followed by afternoon naps (these two things may or may not be related).

Flowers at Sedgefield Market. Oh - and this hair. I just can't get enough of it.

The picture below was taken after she fell into the freezing cold sea while jumping over about 2 inches of water. To add insult to injury, the sea then ate her biscuit. A double injustice when you're 3 years old.

The pony ride. She stepped right out of herself for a bit. Timid and quiet as a mouse, just taking it all in.


Listening for animals in the forest...

Gnarly Knysna Forest trees. So beautiful.

Our family is finding a new dynamic, revolving around our sudden and unexpected entrance into the world of the Terrible Threes. This means meltdowns (with Immy also having tantrums every now and then) and a whole new path to be forged in the Way of Disciplining the Child. I know nothing about this really, except this: that nobody in this world loves her more than we do. That although friends and family may offer wise advice (sometimes better received than other times), we need to find our own way in this with our loving, willful, sunny, brave, defiant, angelic daughter. We are getting there. It is HARD. So we celebrate the good moments, and in the bad moments we remind each other that this will pass. That it's all part of this rough, rich, rewarding journey of raising a child - and while Rob passes the tissues because I am howling because Immy won't stop howling because she can't get a plaster, I am so grateful that I'm not alone in this. And that tomorrow she will wake up and snake her skinny arms around my neck and all will be well with the world.

 I like this quote by Bill Cosby on parenthood:

In spite of the six thousand manuals on child raising in the bookstores, child raising is still a dark continent and no-one really knows anything. You just need a lot of love and luck - and, of course, courage.

Off to New York tomorrow folks. See you on the other side.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Hope Springs

We are gearing up and are almost ready for our Big Trip. We spent the whole of Saturday shopping ('cos you know they don't have shops in New York), signing the debit card receipts with one hand while covering our eyes with the other. Passports are ready, dinner jackets procured and comfy walking shoes ticked off the list.

Side note. Men really don't get shopping. I was trying on these gorgeous (cheap-ish) sunglasses in one of the shops. Rob, very suprised, exclaims 'Sunglasses aren't on the list'. Ever the long-suffering wife, I had to explain the fundamentals of shopping to him yet again. That just because it's not on a list, doesn't mean we can't look at it, try it on as many times as necessary and then buy it if we like it.

Hunters vs. gatherers.


In the meantime, summer is slipping away with a sigh. The days are warm, no longer sweltering. Mornings and evenings are darker, earlier. Apart from a tree in our front yard which is seasonally-confused (it has just blossomed again for the third time since summer started - fresh tiny green leaves??), the leaves are starting to turn. And that pale, weak wintery sunlight is already starting. I'm not good with winter. Despite my best intentions, and layers of clothing and a roaring fire every night, I am always cold. The pale light gets me down. The bare trees and dry, dusty lawns aren't good for my soul.

I know, I know. I should focus on the good. So far I can only think of 3 things:

1. My electric blanket.
2. Our fireplace
3. Ahem. I'll get back to you when I think of a third.

So in an attempt to fend off winter a little longer, this post is our Last True Summer Day post. A day at the park. Picnic basket stocked, swimming cozzie packed and books for the grown-ups (hope springs eternal. We read in relays - one jumping up to play with Immy, checking that she didn't throw herself off the monkey bars or fall into the pool - while the other read for about 5 minutes before we exchanged places). Good times.


And then...a friend. Which just goes to show that Barney, although strange and purple and very annoying, is spot-on when he says: Everything's better with a friend...

Oh! I just thought of a third good thing about winter: eventually, it comes to an end. And then glorious summer starts all over again.  

Like I said, hope springs.


Thursday, 4 April 2013

Cathedral Peak: Part 2

Easter Sunday dawned overcast and cloudy. I took a walk, and wouldn't you know it? Stumbled upon the Easter Bunny's tracks.

Look! Footprints!

(which - okay. Were slightly curled up around the edges from the moisture. And maybe - MAYBE - looked more like the footprints of a small 4-toed human than a bunny...and - curiouser and curiouser - were in fact portable.) 

We read the instructions and followed the tracks.

She just loves these slippers. We could hardly get her out of them.

Happy Easter.


The resurrection of Jesus changes the face of death for all His people. Death is no longer a prison, but a passage into God’s presence. Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won’t stay there. 

Clarence W. Hall

Cathedral Peak: Part 1

A while back, Rob played me a song called Circle Drive, by Field Report. It's beautiful but sad. Haunting, in fact.

On our way to the Drakensberg on Thursday, we had the iPod plugged in and set to random. We had stopped to take some photos, eaten our snacks, Immy was refreshed after a 2-hour sleep and all was well. The song came on, and we all fell silent, listening. It's that kind of song. The kind where the words hang in the air, echoing, suspended.

I am still your man  /  Some days we do the best we can.

So we're listening. The fields and mountains are rolling by, clouds lit from within by the setting sun - and us, sharing a moment. I was quite teary-eyed and lumpy-throated.

Until Immy, from the back seat, belted out the chorus the way she had heard it.


Which later that evening (in the bath) turned into LET.I.STEAL.YOUR.LAMB. Pitch-perfect, we noted with pride.

There you have it, Field Report. Bet you never saw that one coming.


Easter in the mountains. This weekend has affirmed three things which I already knew to be true.

Truth #1
My soul breathes in the mountains. Mountains are my thing.

Truth #2
I am the worst over-packer. EVER. Rob calls me a bad mother packer, and I'm afraid he's right. I just can't argue.

Truth #3
The Armstrongs are not hikers. When you're heading into the mountains with only your Converse sneakers standing between you and the squelchy ground from an all-night rainfall - you're not geared for success.

The hotel was fabulous. Heated paddling pool with a tiny waterslide. Pony rides. All you can eat - all the time. Children's activities. Of course, the ubiquitous mountain chess. I hate chess. Rob and I started a game, and as soon as he said 'Check' I said I'm bored. Let's do something else. I find chess very stressy. All that thinking. I just move whichever chess piece happens to be closest to me at the time. Which is obviously why I never win.

She loved the paddling pool.

Oh. Those mountains.

Front-of-hotel view.

Lunch-on-the-terrace view.

Paddling-pool view.

Misty mountain walks. This sounds romantic. In reality, our socks got wet through our shoes and it started raining and we had to have our picnic back in our room. C'est la vie.

Pony rides. And the world's tiniest - and potentially cutest ever - jockey.

We slept. And read. And had long heart-to-hearts while she was playing with the other kids. Like Vlad. He was literally the boy next door, and somehow they hooked up. Next thing we saw, they looked like this. Apparently shower caps are essential when hunting for lizards.

She came running back in, Vlad forgotten, dragging me up by the hand. To show her mama the rainbow.

She's growing. Changing. Coming into her own. Which means, by default - so am I. This mothering thing, it pulls me, pushes me, changes me. Some days I'm better at it than others. Truth be told, I kind of fell off the horse this weekend. She acted out. Drove me mad. So yesterday I took a deep breath, and got down on the floor. 20 minutes of Play Doh, and a longer good night with more hugs than usual - and today she is transformed. She just needed a little extra love. Who doesn't, every now and then?

As for the Easter Bunny? He paid us a special visit. But that's a story for another day.