Monday, August 27, 2007

Counting my blessings

I just HAVE to get something positive and happy on this blog before I'm going out of my mind and you get confirmation of the fact that I'm totally bonkers. So let me show you what my sister W gave me over the weekend. (She is the younger, thinner, more beautiful version of me!)

On Friday afternoon, she, my mom and I (me/I? Whatever - you know what I mean!) got together to buy some special yarn at a great knitting shop around the corner. She asked: "Pink or red?" with her hands behind her back, and since I'm feeling a bit more feminine than assertive these past few days, pink was the choice. And this was what she pulled from behind her back. Aren't they beautiful?

On Saturday afternoon our family got together at sister W's home to celebrate my brother's (C) birthday. He had it in June but this is the first time since then we got to see him. We had such a wonderful time. Maybe it's because I'm getting old(er), but every passing day I appreciate my family more. They all have their quirks and moods, but I definitely stood first in line the day families were handed out - they truly are the best!

After my brother opened his presents, we started laying the table for dinner, and there was this one lonely present - standing all on its own. I wanted to take it out to my brother, thinking that we forgot about it earlier, but W told me it was mine! Wow! Earlier that day, she and my mom went to the store to get some extra presents for C, and found these cups. She said she immediately thought of me, and bought them on the spot. Look how beautiful they are!

Its good to count one's blessings when you're down in the dumps - its a sure way to get a smile on your face and in your heart and before you know it, the dreary dumps are looking like a green pasture again. All my siblings are out of this world, but somehow W knew just how much I needed a pick-me-up, so she got me two in so many days. Sis, I've said so many times before, but once again: when I count my blessings, I count you twice!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

From blockage to mere obstacle

There has been a clump of hurt sitting like a stuck baseball in the middle of my chest for the past 2 weeks or so. It's not the first time in my life I have hurt stuck there. There was a time when it was bigger, and then times where it was much smaller. What bothers me is that I'm not used to it being stuck for longer than a day or two anymore.

The strength I've found during the past few years came with certain fringe benefits. One of them was the ability to distance myself from the hurt in such a way that I could see it for what it was: temporary. The knowledge that this too shall pass made the hurt bearable and made me more positive towards whatever caused it and how it affected me.

For more than 14 days now I've been trying to break through the wall like an obstinate child. The mental image of me ramming my shoulder into it, refusing to be sucked down into sorrow is a vivid one. It will NOT consume me, I will NOT surrender.

But I'm afraid I'm going to have to do something drastic to up my energy levels. Yes, I'm praying, and yes it works, but I strongly believe that you cannot just pray for something and sit waiting for it to fall into your lap. It's like keeping on trying to make a baby "the normal way" whilst knowing it will never work for you, forgetting the new possibilities of IVF/ICSI etc. It might work, then again maybe not, but I'm digressing a bit.

I've always known that I'm a bit more sensitive than I would like to be. Actually way more sensitive. Sometimes I've thought that I'm too sensitive for this world that is consumed with pain and sorrow. Then I just lowered my head, threw my shoulder forward and charged the wall. And it worked.

Today I'm just sitting here watching the wall, no energy or inclination to charge forward, and I'm irritated with myself for typing the first part of this sentence. I'm stronger than that, I can beat this episode, because that's all it is: an episode of pain and that means it's going to be short lived (relatively!) and it will end.

And then I remembered a post I wrote a few months ago. Here is the quote I used there:

"Do not turn and run, for there is nowhere worthwhile for you to go. Do not attempt to push ahead into the danger ... emulate the example of the water: Pause and build up your strength until the obstacle no longer represents a blockage." Marsha Sinetar

So that is what I will do. I will wait. Build up my strength. And then I will once again flow around the obstacle into the future...

PS: And update on my car.

Since writing the previous post I found out a few things about the Ford Ka that enlightened me to why the bumper didn't have any permanent damage to it after the accident. It (the bumper) is injection moulded in a plastic that has only just been developed within the last 2 years for the motor car industry. I didn't know that, and thinking about it, even plastic breaks and cracks when subjected to abnormal circumstances.

Knowing this helps me understand what happened, but it doesn't take anything away from my astonishment at what I saw. And there still isn't a single scratch on that part of the bumper. My brother suggested that I should get the shards of the broken light and use silicon glue to put it back and make the light waterproof again, since it's such a small part of the light that got smashed. Please cross your fingers that those pieces of glass will still be lying there next to the pole when I go look for them tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I saw a miracle happen today!

Yup. A real life honest to goodness miracle. And I was the lucky girl! This is how it happened.

Today was a HECTIC day, the 2nd to last day of a worse than hectic week. Our ex-principal had her retirement function at school this morning, and we worked like maniacs to get everything perfect for her big day. Got to school at half past 6 and when I walked into the principal's office he said he wanted to see me, not right then, but alone please. The fact that he said the "alone please" part without saying good morning meant I was in trouble. Bad start to a day that kept getting worse by leaps and bounds.

If I gave a passing thought in the past to the fact that teachers need an extra pair of hands and a clone of herself, I'm totally convinced of it now. I'll gladly leave the clone at school since the moment the bell rings and it's time to go home, things somehow calm down.

Not today though.

Seeing that all the guests had to get VIP parking, the teachers' cars were "banned" to the netball field for the day. That's the best excuse I can come up with for the fact that everything came to a crashing halt when I reversed into a netball pole. I got out of my car in total shock, and when I saw the bumper curled backward around the pole and forward around the right rear wheel, I burst into tears. This girl experienced her first hysterical fit. (That's when I realized that I can stay calm in a crisis, as long as it's someone else's!)

Let me tell you a little bit about my car first. For 13 years I drove an old, dilapidated Opel Monza. It was on my ex-husband's name, and it never really felt like mine. The car desperately needed new brakes, shocks and just about anything else that were on the brink of breaking down. In January 2006 when I was permanently appointed as teacher again (after an absence from teaching of about 4 years) I juggled with my budget and decided I'd be able to afford a small car. I bought a brand new Ford Ka. It's bottom of the range, only the second cheapest car available, but I wanted 1 luxury only: aircon. And I got it! It was love at first sight - my first car and I felt like a queen!

This is what it looks like. The color is Tonic: an icy shade of blue.

Back to the accident. While I was standing there with my face in my hands, tear ducts working overtime, looking at my poor little Ka that was wrapped around the pole, the principal, secretary and caretaker of the school came running to me. The wheel was literally flat against the pole, and my mind was working overtime as to where I'd put the number for my insurance tow-in service. There was no way I would be able to drive this car of mine home.

The principal asked me in a stern voice if I have insurance and the secretary kept patting my back. I was crying as if it's the end of the world or worse and only managed a nod. The caretaker got into my car and drove forward a bit, away from the pole.

And that's when it happened.

The crumpled up bumper started popping out, back into shape! It was totally surreal watching it happen. Within seconds it was back to its original shape. No bump or dent at ALL. We looked at each other incredulously - if we didn't SEE the bumper curled around the pole, if we didn't HEAR the crashing into it part, and if it wasn't for the few shards of red glass from the rear light laying on the grass, it would've been like it didn't happen at all.

The secretary looked at me open mouthed: "Wow! That was a powerful prayer!"

The truth is that God looked out for me when I was too shocked to even think of praying. I was way too deep into the crying part - it was just about impossible to stop immediately, but I think I cried for a somewhat different reason by that time.

Just to show you how my car looks after the accident:

Can you see how far the bumper sticks out past the light part? Imagine that pole being right up against the wheel. And there is not a single scratch in sight. None. Nada. Niks.

It's going to cost me about R750 ($100) to repair the light and since that is less than half my standard insurance excess, it's not even necessary to put in a claim.

Now isn't that just the most amazing and wonderful miracle?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

A Lost Penguin

This blog was started to get the jumbled words in my soul organized. It worked. For a while that is. But the past week brought new emotions and feelings that prove to be untameable. So far at least.

Do you know that helpless feeling rising up from the pit of your stomach, threatening to grab you by the throat and strangle all sanity from you?

I’m a strong woman, I overcame so many really difficult situations, and I know this current storm will die down and the sea would look like a big, peaceful lake again. But right now the waves are tsunami size and there is nowhere to run.

There are so many words I can pin down to try and explain what is going on. My sister is in the middle of the storm, unfortunately not in the eye thereof – so you see it’s not my place to blab out all details of her private life on the internet.

At first I tried to distance myself from this situation, while being there for her, reasoning that even though it touches my life too because she’s my sister and I love her lots, it’s her life, and it won’t affect mine so much. That’s where I made the BIG mistake. Or maybe it showed me that I’m depending way too much on life going on like it is for ever and a day.

It was an extremely rude awakening when I realized that so much of my security was invested in life around me.

My parents living close-by, being relatively healthy, and then my mom got sick and almost died. My brother having an incredibly well-paid job after working for peanuts for 15 years, and then the worries when his colleagues got fired one after the other. (He survived the resizing of the company) My sisters and their families living close-by, enabling me to visit with them often, seeing my nephews grow up from beautiful babies into pre-teenagers, and now this new horror story.

So you see: a big part of my little world was kept safe through the stability of things in a situation I saw as perfect enough for now. (Read – it can be better but please don’t let it change too much, and pleasepleaseplease let it go on till forever!)

The whole card house is about to come tumbling down and I feel like a lost penguin on a piece of ice in the middle of the North Sea.

Life in my family as I know and love it, is about to change drastically. I’m so scared of what’s lying ahead, but it’s no use trying to hope that it will go away. Some things just don’t.

I’m sorry that I’m so vague about the whole situation. I need to leave most things unsaid where I so need to talk about them: the internet is a weird place, and oh so small.


On a lighter note, I’ve had time to update my previous post with more photos from my class.

I missed all your blogs during the past week, didn’t have any time to come visit you. Have I told you about the project I’m working on with my cousin? Well, it’s going crazy – we worked till past midnight on Friday to get the first module finished – but we’re a mean team! The coming week is our ex-principal’s retirement function, and I’m on the social committee organizing it – no sleep and no rest for the stupid sheep who said yes when they asked for help!

And now I’m off to visit you –let me just get some coffee first :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Teacher's heaven

I'm the luckiest and happiest teacher in the world at this moment. It took more than a year to get to this point, but at last I can say we've arrived! There will always be a list of a few small things I want to add or upgrade or change, but this is as close as I can get to my dream for this classroom.

In September 2005 our school received 20 ready for recycling-dump old computers from a very well-meaning local police department that adopted our school. Since I was the only one at our school with computer literacy background, I was the "unlucky" one and got handed the task of setting up our school's computer center.

This classroom started out as a Science laboratory, changed into a normal classroom later, with plain desks combined with 3 different sized laboratory chairs. Three electricity sockets and two one working neon light - how on earth would we be able to get 20 pc's to work? It seemed like a mammoth task. Getting the 20 pc's switched on proofed to be impossible. None of them had CD ROMS, hard drive capacity was less than 4 gig, and the RAM was fixed at 64 MB. Not even worth upgrading!

To understand our lack of funds in the school better, you need a bit of background information. Many of the children in our school come from Soshanguve and Mamelodi, black townships around Pretoria. Many of the children come from single parent families, and even more parents are unemployed. We do however have a few children whose parents are working in the police force and government departments around or school - which is situated in the CBD of Pretoria. We do not receive half the school fees we're supposed to, so we're very much dependant on donations and fund-raisings.

In 2006 the school organized a gholf day with the help of my mom. She is just incredible when it comes to asking for and getting donations. One of these "asking for" meetings turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to the school: Telkom Foundation undertook to donate a state of the art computer center to our school!

By the end of 2006 I was the proud teacher in control of a brand spanking new computer center, with 20 work stations and a server. We also received custom made tables that enhanced the security set-up, DSL, a laser printer AND airconditioning in our classroom! That year also saw the electricity being upgraded to accommodate all the new installations and security gates at all the doors.

We were very happy with our incredible gift, but a few practical problems cropped up: classes range from 38 to 40, and sharing a computer is not the favorite passtime of any child! The police department that adopted us, heard our plea and donated 10 more pc's, the school ordered 10 more custom made desks to fit in with the rest and the children were happier than ever.

After all the installations were done, the walls (a pinkish orangy color) didn't look all that good anymore and the these-walls-have-to-be-painted itch started. And then I thought, why not new blinds too? These old/beige/green/brown curtains need a new home! So we got busy. The children donated R20 ($3) if they could afford it, and got a CD with funny video clips from the internet on them as a thank you gift. We collected enough money to be able to buy new color posters, paint, mouse-pads (we didn't have those either!) and plants. Great friends of mine decided to donate the money for the blinds and we were set.

Patience was one of the things we had to have lots and LOTS of, since nothing happened quickly, but at long last our blinds was installed yesterday. The faces and comments of the children coming into the class seeing the new look the first time is priceless. They are so excited and so happy with their computer lab that has finally been dressed the way we've dreamed about.

Enough talk - here is my classroom: isn't it beautiful? (And yes, I cleaned up my desk before taking the picture - it's filled with books and school stuff most of the time!)

The computers are hidden below the desktops: they are lifted up when the computers are in use and closed again when we have to do classwork or whenever

a subject is taught that doesn't make use of the computers. You can see the keyboard peeping out in the table just to the left of the overhead projector. I'll download more pictures from my phone tonight, and show you what the rest of the class looks like.

Now I just have to find the time to put the posters back up! I'm in teacher's heaven - and the fun has only started!

***************UPDATED PHOTOS***************

Anti-clockwise, taken from the doors into my class.

All the pictures were taken with my new Sony Ericsson K810i phone - but seeing that I'm still learning how to use it, I forgot to switch on the flash a few times!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the incredibly wonderful comments in this post. I know my own limitations and short-comings as a teacher, thanks so much for thinking and saying what you did despite that!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Do it Now!

This post is mainly directed at myself: I'm standing in front of my mirror and talking to the person I see there, because the topic of this post is something I need reminding of time and again, more than once a day.

I read this quote somewhere in the numerous emails I receive from various quote-places. (My name is Karen and I've got a thing about quotes!) I read it, and even though I've been trying really hard to ignore the impact it had on me, it didn't work all that well to postpone something yet again.

"There are those of us who are always about to live. We are waiting until things change, until there is more time, until we are less tired, until we get a promotion, until we settle down -- until, until, until. It always seems as if there is some major event that must occur in our lives before we begin living." George Sheehan

All that quote needs is the following sentence: "until I have a child of my own".

I waited so long for my life to start in the way I imagined it to be, I forgot to live the life I had. And I wasted one of the most precious things imaginable: TIME.

This realization shook me awake a few months ago already, but the problem I have is this: I forgot how to live while I was waiting. You see, I'm really good at waiting, I've practiced my patience to perfection and by now I'm a champion at facing those demons I never dreamed I'd had to encounter in my lifetime.

Waiting and patience does NOT equal living. I know I have to kick-start my life in this new direction I know I WANT to take, the longer I wait the more time I'll waste. But it's super easy to slide back into hibernation, and play the waiting game again. It's safe doing that, being in that "I'm patient and calm"-zone. And I'm only fooling myself by going there again AND trying to justify it.

It's a mind-thing, I know that, but it's so incredibly hard to unlearn something you've been doing for many, many years. So right now I'm searching for that spark I need to get going with this "To-do" list in my mind. It need not start a bonfire, but it has to be strong enough to get things going.

I've got a few ideas I'm contemplating, but I'd love to hear what you guys think would do the "spark"-trick!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

To Celebrate YOU

Today is a public holiday in South Africa. We're celebrating National Women's Day and honoring the women that made a special impact in our lives. It also commemorates 9 August 1956 when women participating in a national march petitioned against pass laws (legislation that required African persons to carry a document on them to ‘prove’ that they were allowed to enter a ‘white area’).

You all know what impact my mom has on my life, and one of these days I'll tell you more about my super special sisters. So I decided to celebrate a few other incredible women I know.

YOU are one of them. Yes you, the woman reading this. (If you're a man, oops! Thanks for reading here anyway :) )

Many of you have commented on my previous posts: some often, some once in a while, and some of you feel more comfortable just lurking. Each and every one of you made an impact on my life.

To those of you that left comments - you play such a big part in my healing process, in my journey from here into the future. I cannot begin to tell you how much each and every word has meant to me (and continue to do!), even if you thought it to be ordinary. Thanks for being there, thanks for replying to what I've said, thanks for not thinking me silly and self-indulgent or just plain weird. And even more thanks for the warm, loving, inspiring encouragement you give. It means more to me than you would ever know.

To those of you that just visited, read my posts, and left silently: I thank you too. You took the time to come here, to read my thoughts and feelings, and even though you didn't leave words behind, you left your presence. The fact that you took the time to read my posts, that so many of you are returning day after day - that is special to me too!

I don't know any of you personally, but you're worth so much to me. You might think it of little consequence to me, but I can assure you, your friendship makes my world a brighter and happier place. And yes, I'm calling it friendship. It's far more than just acts of kindness, or good neighborliness. You're giving of yourself, and I hope that I would never disappoint any of you in the way I react towards your gifts of time, advice, encouragement and warmth.

So here's to you my blog friends - go pour yourself a glass of wine or water or juice, and know that you're appreciated a LOT!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Acceptance & Change

Those of you following my blog the past few months will know about my decision to change my mind map. I strongly believe that positive thoughts makes us stronger in the end, and that it is absolutely essential that we do not let go of Hope, no matter how beaten and crushed we are by our struggles.

No matter how hard I try to be positive and upbeat and strong, some days it's just so much more difficult to keep the smile on my face and in my heart. So many times I've felt guilty about feeling it, thinking it, and eventually saying that I'm really sad. I came to the conclusion that it's not wrong to feel, think or talk about being sad. If you ignore it there will come a day when it jumps up and bites you in the a... uhm where you least expect it!

And yes, wallowing in sadness for a while is OK too, but it's when you're making it a habit that the red lights should start flickering like a crazy mono-colored 70's disco.

When he was a young boy, a certain Dr. Post's mother would say to him: "Well, Stevie, why don't you go out and help somebody." It always worked - he felt better after doing something for someone. (Read more about it here) That's what I'd like to do too, but I'm working towards it.

Why do I have to work towards it? Am I so wrapped up in myself that I can't do a simple random act of kindness? That bothered me too, but then I realized something important: I cannot give of myself to others as much and as freely as I want if I don't have the necessary direction in my life. Other people might be able to, I need to get my life in order so I'd be able to give more than just random acts.

And just as it happened so often in the past when I'm looking for a certain answer, there was this email in my inbox. Now I know that sounds just a little bit wacky, but bear with me and read this:

Making life our own

“Life is not lost by dying; life is lost minute by minute, day by dragging day, in all the thousand small uncaring ways.” Stephen Vincent Benet

What’s needed for a new relationship with time and life?

  • Intention -- Get really clear about what you want.
  • Desire -- How much do you want something new for yourself? Know your motivation. Desire brings the energy for change.
  • Belief and/or willingness to trust you can have what you want. If belief is lacking, can you believe in the possibility that you can find a new way of living?
  • Perseverance, discipline -- It takes time and effort to change attitudes and habits. We can’t expect a new life overnight.
  • Acceptance, both of what’s happening now and of who we are. Until we honestly and openly accept our present situation, we cannot change it.
  • A willingness to try something new.

“It is so easy to waste our lives: our days, our hours, our minutes. ... It is so easy to exist instead of live. Unless you know there is a clock ticking. So many of us changed our lives when we heard a biological clock and decided to have kids. But that sound is a murmur compared to the tolling of mortality.” Anna Quindlen

(From this site)

This statement made me stop in my tracks: Until we honestly and openly accept our present situation, we cannot change it.

Isn't that just too painfully true? I don't want to stay in this stage of my life forever. But before I can make the changes I want, I have to acknowledge the situation I want to change, and it's not as easy as it sounds...

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

How do you say thanks?

It's going to snow tonight. Not just a flake or two, but inches.

That doesn't seem strange if you're living in a country where snow is something you see every single winter. But if you're living in a city that hasn't seen snow since June 1968, it sure is going to be something extraordinary!

Why do I say this? Because today is the first day in almost 6 years that I made a doctor's appointment and went. Should tell you something about how sick I felt huh? But before I go on, let me just add this disclaimer: I'm not trying to win your sympathy - that would just make me run away. I drank my medicine and I'm better now. My brain doesn't want to burst out my eyes anymore when I cough and my teeth aren't being pounded into my jaws either. The two little men with super sharp needles who took turns to prick my inner ears all the way into the center part of my brain has also disappeared.

Visiting the doctor is NOT my favorite thing in this world. Most of you who have been through the mill of IF or any other condition that requires lots and lots of doctor appointments will understand my adversity to them. I don't hate doctors, but I certainly don't like visiting them either. You buy over the counter medicine, use it for a week or 7 days and after the 2nd day in bed you're OK again. It always worked in the past for me, just not this time.

Long story short, I have major inflammation in my ears, sinuses and throat. The 2nd time the doc told me to say "Aaaahh" she actually said: "Oh my". It's NOT what you want your doctor to say. She should just say that it's not so bad and that the first dose of medicine will make you want to feel like dancing again.

I'm almost dancing, because something wonderful happened today.

Lady Macleod, if the above doesn't convince you that I have a perfectly watertight alibi for not reading your blog yesterday, I give up! But I'll try my utmost best to be ready for any future happenings, promise.

This is the award Lady M gave me:

Dear Lady M, thank you SO MUCH! This means a whole bunch and more to me. :) Please take a minute or so to read what she said about this award on her blog, and visit Pamela Jeanne who received the same award too (Congrats PJ!)

I still have that feeling of wanting to turn around, thinking it's someone behind me you're talking to. I don't feel courageous, but it is so special being thought of as someone with courage. This blog of mine got started as a venting place, somewhere to sort out my mixed up feelings about ending up in an empty place, so different from what I envisioned my life to be.

Through your encouragement and motivation, and that of all the warm and wonderful friends I've made through a blog I never thought would live longer than a month or two, I've discovered that the "empty place" is not so empty after all. It's filled with warmth and love and caring and not a single ounce of it is in the least virtual!

You guys rock!!

Feeling a lot better, thanks to all your well-wishes - it helped get rid of those ugly lil' men inside my ears and the rest of the malaise too. :)

Monday, August 6, 2007

I'm an INTP

I got curious to see how my test would work out, and lo and behold, curiosity is an important trait of my personality! Now who would've guessed that. *grin*

Click to view my Personality Profile page

It's strange thinking of myself being described as an Engineer, but the traits they describe below is SO me, and it's comfortable wearing those trade marks.

This is what they say about INTP's:

"INTPs are logical, individualistic, reserved, and very curious individuals. They focus on ideas, theories and the explanation of how things work. They are especially adept at discussions and debate. They have the ability to focus intently on a subject. They appreciate and respect intelligence in others."

"INTPs live in the world of theoretical possibilities. They see everything in terms of how it could be improved, or what it could be turned into. They live primarily inside their own minds, having the ability to analyze difficult problems, identify patterns, and come up with logical explanations. They seek clarity in everything, and are therefore driven to build knowledge. They are the "absent-minded professors", who highly value intelligence and the ability to apply logic to theories to find solutions."
- Portrait of an INTP (The Personality Page)

"INTPs are relatively easy-going and amenable to most anything until their principles are violated, about which they may become outspoken and inflexible. They prefer to return, however, to a reserved albeit benign ambiance, not wishing to make spectacles of themselves."
- INTP Profile (TypeLogic)

And it seems that I'm in a fitting career too. They just need to find an alternative for marking books - that is the one thing about teaching that cannot be called one of my pet peeves - it's a MAJOR peeve of mine!

What was really interesting to see was how I fit in with the rest of the world.

INTP Population
Total: 2.5%
Male: 4%
Female: 1%

No wonder I often feel like a stranger in paradise!

It's an eye opener to see myself described so accurately. Some of the things I like a lot, some I feel like deleting and hiding somewhere it can't be found. But it all fits kind of comfortably. In the end it is just a test, and it doesn't prescribe who I have to be.

I'm just me, trying to make sense of this life I'm living.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

The little general with the big heart

The little guy in this photo is my youngest nephew, De Wet. He is 5 (almost 6!) and known as "the wild one" in our family. In a very nice way that is.

Don't let that sweet smile fool you for too long: he is fearless, and despite being the youngest, he doesn't take any nonsense from the other 4 boys, 2 of them his older brothers.

He is wearing his maternal grandfather's middle name proudly. The name De Wet belonged to a well known general from one of the many wars in our country's history during the 1800's. In some intricate way he is part of our family tree, hence the name being handed down to the new generations.

My dad gave each of his grandsons a special nickname during the first few months after their birth, and De Wet became "Die Generaal" or "The General". The first grandson is called "Bossiekop" - he had a bunch of unruly black hair on his head when he was born. The second grandson grandpa calls "Priester" or "Priest". He had this unusual habit of holding his hands in front of his body - reminding you of a very serious priest. Then came "Bokkie", roughly translated little fawn, because his eyes were so big in comparison with the rest of his face - just not brown but a stunning shade of blue. The 4th grandson is called "Fielies" - an endearment that refers to "my little baboon".

Back to my story about the general. His mom (my sister) popped in for a visit yesterday, and told me how her youngest son surprised her that morning with his spontaneous show of love and wisdom towards a friend of his.

She went to pick him up after the friend's birthday party, and asked him if he thanked his playmate for everything. He rushed back with Trevor who was leaving at the same time, and the two little boys said "Thanks Louis, it was a great party!" upon which another boy said: "Thanks for nothing!"

Maybe he heard it from a grown-up and thought it funny, not quite knowing what it meant exactly, but Louis, the birthday boy, turned to look for his mom, burst out in tears, and started walking away.

De Wet ran after him and put his arms around his friend, trying to console him. Then this little general told his mate: "Please don't cry, all your friends enjoyed your party. Don't let just one person spoil this for you." He took his little friend by the hand and took him to his mother, explained what happened, hugged him and went back to my sister. She was standing close-by, watching her son in amazement.

Back in the car, on their way home, she praised him for his wonderful show of love and care, saying she was proud of him. He answered: "You know mom? It was such a wonderful party, and Louis is such a good friend, I'd do just anything not to see him unhappy!"

It's so special to see my sisters' boys grow up into wonderful young men, and it's even more special to hear heartwarming stories like this one. The knowledge that I am part of their lives, and that I have the wonderful privilege of living close enough to them to be able to be with them as often as possible is such a huge bonus. It really takes the edge of not having my own children.

My 5 nephews' love fill my heart to bursting sometimes, especially when they come running to me hugging the breath out of my lungs. It's even better when they curl up next to me when we watch a movie. I love them to bits, even on the bad days when their almost-teenage-moods (and the my-brother-who-is-almost-a-
teenager-does-it-so-let-me-try-it-too!) makes me sigh in relief that I only have to witness it, not sort it out!

To my two wonderful sisters: "You will never know just how much it means to me that you make me part of your children's' lives in such a loving, sincere way, without making it seem like a consolation prize. When I count my blessings, I count you all twice!"

Paying it forward

One of you wonderful people reading my blog referred it to Mike Thomas at Blog Interviewer. On their website it says the following: " is a website devoted to discovering the most interesting bloggers on the Internet and their reasons for sharing their thoughts with the world."

Thanks sooooooo much for thinking my blog was interesting enough to take the time and refer it. I paid it forward and referred 6 of my favorite blogs to Many of you with blogs of your own are on the site as well, so you know what it's all about.

They have a monthly competition in which you can vote for a blog displaying the following graphic:

I'm not into asking for votes AT ALL. I don't like it. The fact that you're coming here to read my blog is great enough for me, no extra favors needed. But then I thought : Maybe you guys would like to be part of contributing money to the Nelson Mandela's Children Fund. All you have to do is support BlogInterviewer and vote for my site. Easy as that!

Here is their mission statement:

In the pursuit of its vision, and in order to ensure that the legacy of its founder, Nelson Mandela, is secured in perpetuity, the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund will:
  • develop partnerships and initiate programs which empower and improve the well-being of children and youth;
  • promote the rights of children and youth through the influence of public policy and social awareness; and
  • sustain these initiatives through the development of a sound financial and knowledge support base.
Nelson Mandela is one of my heroes: he has meant so much to so many people in my country as well as in the rest of the world. His example is so worth following.

I pledge the following: if my blog should win anything on BlogInterviewer, (that would only be possible if you vote for me there!) every cent would be donated to the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund.

So, if you think it's a worthy cause, please look for the button and link in the column on the right, and vote for my site so a child somewhere in Africa can have his/her day and future brightened. I will leave the button up for the month of August, so please guys and gals, it's for a good cause!


Sarah gave me a SUPER idea with the comment she made, so I put together this little image for you. If you want, and ONLY if you want, you can add it to a post or to your site. A link back to my site is totally optional - just remember that it might help a child in need. Thanks so much in advance, and thanks to you too Sarah! :)

Thursday, August 2, 2007


Sometimes when you think you're OK, and you feel OK, and everything is going really OK, something happens and you wonder where all the OK's went. Today was such a day, but looking back I think I'm handling it quite, uhm well OK! :)

I was in this really great art shop, putting back some extra organza ribbon I didn't need after all, when the woman with the two teenage girls standing at the handmade paper display called out my name in surprise. It was B, my best friend from back when we were both in college. We haven't seen each other for about 10 years but spoke on the phone a few times since then. It was quite a surprise to see her here in my town. To make a long story short, we couldn't chat long since she had an appointment within the next 15 minutes, so after a quick hello-how-are-you?-you-look-fabulous, we hugged and said goodbye.

I paid for some handmade paper, got into my car and drove home. At the first red traffic light the tears burned my eyes and no amount of blinking could stop them from rolling down my cheeks. Oh how I miss having a beautiful teenage daughter of my own. My child would've turned 12 a month from now...

When I came home I searched in my inbox for the Daily Devotional that spoke to my heart a few days ago. Here it is, and if it speaks to just one of you as much as it did to me again today, this post would've exceeded my expectations far and beyond.

He stood at the window waiting. All day he waited. Three years old and the promise of Grandma and Grandpa arriving consumed him. He could not be distracted to play or to color or to ride his bike. He was waiting.

Sometimes when God's answer seems to take too long we can find ourselves beginning to lose heart. Trust in God can waver. ("Are they REALLY coming, Mommy?") Yet God's Word touches our hearts and He tells us what to do.

"Wait on the Lord. Be of good courage and He shall strengthen your heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord" ( Psalm 27:14).

Sometimes we realize that we are not waiting on the Lord... but we are simply waiting on an answer. Waiting on an answer is so empty. It can consume us to distraction from other things God would have us do or focus on. His Word tells us to be strong, to wait on Him for strength. Wait on Him...not simply on an answer.

Lean on Him to draw courage and strength. Ask Him to point you in the direction of what He wants you to do today...and your waiting will change. It will change from anxious, distracted worry to a more productive waiting. Waiting that says, "I can trust you with this, Lord. Help me to be renewed in my strength and to focus on accomplishing what is in front of me today."

As you wait for God's intervention, what step can you take to turn your eyes to God and not just the answer you are waiting for? Pinpoint what your specific anxiety is. What responsibility is this worry keeping you from? Think of a time in the past when God came through with His answer in your life. Let His track record of yesterday strengthen your faith today.

Ask God to help you pick up the task in front of you and draw strength from Him. Ask Him for courage and a focus on Him while you wait. Ask Him to show you what He would have you do in this time of waiting. How can you be His hands and feet today?**

When is it going to be my turn Lord? Is it ever? Please don't let it be the latter! Whatever you want me to be, please help me live my life to the fullest until then...

**Written by Gail Rodgers

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

We're not that different after all

Thanks to Daimyo Higham-Baka-Ohta (previously known as Lord Straf-Bollinger aka lots of other interesting names!) from Nourishing Obscurity, I'm walking a few inches taller this week! On Monday, Lady Macleod told me that I was featured on his site as the unsung blog for that day!

I discovered his blog through Lady Macleod, but only lurked. His blog is so worldwise and well-known, I was scared that my foot might end up in my mouth if I dared comment. And then the unimaginable happened and he actually said he loved my blog when he came to visit! I feel very honored. Thanks James - you inspire me to great hights. :)

In his comment he said that because he is a man, (and in my opinion perhaps because he had children of his own) he doesn't understand the pain of infertility. But: if you understand human pain, and we all do, then you would understand that of infertility as well. I changed the video clip I made for the International Infertility Film Festival in a very simple way, and now it can be applied to a much bigger audience too.

Click here to see the adapted video clip.

You will notice that only the first few words are different: "The pain of Infertility" was changed back to "Human Pain", as Robert Veninga wrote it in the first place.

Do yourself a favor and pop over to the IIFF blog to have a look at all the videos/films entered for this 2nd round. Don't forget to vote for your favorite! Voting ends on 10 August - and yours count too.