Monday, 28 October 2013

Sugar and Spice

A little girl.

I have come to realise that this means all sorts of things to a mommy and daddy who are receiving a first-rate education every day in all things little. And girly.

On Sunday we went to the Lego fair. We dodged hundreds of people milling around, and fought our way into the toy shop - where Immy stopped dead in her tracks.


She was spellbound. Row after row of Barbie dolls, and Barbie hairdryers and watches and mermaids with colour-changing tails. I tried to lure her over to the Sylvanian Families section, with leading questions like wouldn't you LOVE a house like this for your birthday? Look at the cute furniture! And the baby room!

She wavered on baby room, and I almost thought I had her. She nodded absently, but her gaze was magnetically pulled back to all that pink, again and again. So I gave up and we headed back. And then I heard her awed whisper. Oh mama. She literally breathed the words. I looked to where she was pointing, stars dancing in those blue blue eyes. A Barbie makeup kit. And in that instant, I knew: no matter how much I am dying to get her a Sylvanian Families house for her birthday, with all that cute furniture and this hedgehog family, that makeup kit makes my little girl's heart sing. I see many hours of inexpertly applied makeup in our future. On me, by her.

I am so grateful that all my pre-conceived notions about the right way to raise a girl - which never included nail polish, or Barbie makeup, or Barbie in general for that matter - have long ago dried up in the sunshine of her smile, because these things make her happy.

Also - she will outgrow Barbie eventually. And when that day comes, I'll be entering stage left with my Sylvanian Families house.

Even if she's sixteen.


Weekend snaps, and other things we're enjoying.

A Lego hobbit-hole, complete with mini-Gandalf and mini-Frodo.

Playing in a water fountain. Fully clothed.


An old childhood favourite. Because every child deserves to dream about Moonface, and Silky, and the Slippery Slip.

This weekend, I couldn't shake the feeling that a whole two days were passing me by, and somehow I just wasn't doing enough with them. But then on Sunday afternoon, it was overcast and rainy. And while her daddy got some much-needed rest on the couch, we crawled under the covers and read books. And played tickle tickle. And Go Fish - about a zillion times.

Which turned out to be the perfect remedy for sweeping those blah cobwebs away, and giving me a big nudge in the direction of a better and brighter week.

Happy Monday.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

On Writing

Well, I've done it. After literally 6 months of procrastinating, I have at last signed up for an online writing course. I'm not sure what took me so long. But now it's done, and I've received my first module and I feel twitchy and nervous. Mostly because I don't want somebody telling me not to start my sentences with the word and. And mostly.

For me, writing is the therapy that allows me take a jumbled, messy heap of feelings, unravel them, and string them one by one into words, and then sentences. Surprisingly, I've never kept a journal. Way too stressy. Writing by hand is so slow, and I am always getting distracted by how my handwriting looks or whether the pen is leaving ink splotches on the page which I just know will inevitably smudge when I'm not looking. The end result of these endeavours is that the book normally ends up getting tossed aside, because it all just seems too much, somehow. Sad but true.

Module one of my course expects me to actually write for a fixed time period each day - in a book -  without censoring myself or even thinking about what I write. And then submitting a paragraph from those ramblings, for review. I asked Rob if I couldn't skip the physical writing part and just submit something cute from my blog?  He gave me that look. The one that says I'm not going to say anything out loud at this point but that is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard in all my born days. Or something like that. I slunk off to consider my shortcomings and decorate my moleskin notebook with some washi tape and write 'Notes' on the cover. Off to a cracking start, methinks.

Some weekend highlights and odds and ends. We stayed with my folks for a change of scenery while Rob was away on a team-building weekend. I didn't pack my camera, thinking that I would take photos with my phone if I really needed to, because we didn't have much planned and we were only going five minutes down the road.

I snapped away during the weekend with my brand new iPhone, and even roped my brother into taking a really cute picture of us girls. I was feeling quite pleased with myself when I handed the phone to Rob on Sunday night for him to take a look. He casually swiped through the photos, and then handed me back the phone - along with this bombshell: You should really get a cover for your phone. Because until you take off the plastic phone protector that's COVERING YOUR LENS, your photos are going to keep coming out really grainy.

It was like taking a heel to the solar plexus. And yes, I know exactly how this feels because Immy demonstrated it to me on Friday night when we were sleeping next to each other in my mom's guestroom.

So here they are. A few highlights from the weekend, because a grainy picture is still better than no picture at all.

A long-overdue date with a friend that started off as a breakfast, meandered into lunch and cocktails, and finally ended up in a four-hour visit and a worried text from my mom checking that we were all right.

Our girls

The light just before our first real rainstorm of the season.

This picture of us.

Soul food.

A new pile of books - and this exquisite moth orchid that was a birthday gift from a friend.

The plastic cover? Removed.

The lesson? Never ever leave home without your camera. But if you do, make the most of it and don't sweat the grainy stuff.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Purple October

~ For Katy

Once a year, in October, the jacarandas bloom and our humble city bursts into a symphony of green and purple.

The song in our streets looks something like this.

My long-suffering husband drove me all around this area of Pretoria on Sunday morning, stopping the car and waiting patiently for me to take a million tree photos. After the first two stops, we unstrapped Immy and let her out of the car for a bit of leg-stretching and dress-twirling.

Recently, my father-in-law told me about the white jacarandas that only bloom in one street in the city. White jacarandas? Lived here all my life, and never knew about them. Never seen them.

Until now. Me - and the Chinese tourists. Those guys just know everything.

Snowflake explosions against a clear blue sky.

We drove past a public park. And Immy hung out the window, and said Are we having our picnic here?

And we said yes. And pulled over, and unpacked our stuff and spent the next few hours like this.

Making new friends.




And more chatting.

Those toes!

Also - if Rob didn't have a right ankle and foot, this is how he would look.

Playing Go Fish. Which requires very flexible (i.e. none at all) rules when your opponent is four. She just doesn't get the concept of don't show Daddy your cards.

We ate and drank, walked and talked, read and played.

Driving home, we passed a million more jacarandas.

Which just goes to show: Pretoria might not be as glamorous as Jozi, or as cosmopolitan as Cape Town - but she sure is pretty in the springtime.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

A birthday and a Big Reveal

This past weekend was a whirlwind of birthday celebrations and a long-anticipated visit from the fairies.

Which played out something like this.

A fairy letter, and a fairy gift.

Fairy dust. And the cutest fairy door knocker, which really knocks.

I'm sorry to say that during the making of this fairy door production, some animal decals were, in fact, harmed. Like this mama duck's third duckling which was murdered to make room for the door.

She had spent the night before with her Granny and Grampy, which is when the big reveal was assembled. 6 months of plotting, organising, hunting and gathering of all things fairy.

SO worth it.

Fairy-sized treasures.

Lip balm, Old Maid and this book, which makes me want to reach back in time to when she was a baby and I held her for hours, marvelling at her lashes and fingers and inhaling her sleepy warmth.

She is loving that door. Even though it's fallen down - twice. Right off the wall. This is potentially why dad should have installed the door rather than mom, who was definitely leading the race in the enthusiasm department but apparently never quite made it to the finish line when it came to the construction side of things.

Anyway. I told her the door fell down because two really round fairies tried to push through it at the same time. This made perfect sense to her. And, in the spirit of love and acceptance which we try to foster here, we have left our round fairy friends some chocolates in the fairy garden tonight.

I was secretly hoping that on the morning of my 35th birthday, I would wake up with profound thoughts on life knocking at my door.

Didn't happen.

Instead, I celebrated. For two days running, in fact. Opened gifts, answered phone calls, ate a fine French meal and spent the day at a spa with my lovely friends. Enjoyed a house full of birthday flowers - and chocolates! Which she surreptitiously sneaks out of the bowl when she thinks no-one is looking.

And at the end of the second day, as the celebrations eventually drew to a close, I was left with two thoughts. Not hugely profound, but persistent nonetheless.

That to be loved is the luckiest thing on earth.

And that to see the world through the eyes of a child is to experience life as fresh, new, sparkling.

This, I think, is the greatest gift of all.