Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Assignment - The Last Time I Laughed Really Hard - Vuvuzela

This may seem like a very strange title for a post, but keep reading and I will explain. The Vuvuzela is a type of trumpet that is used by our ardent sports fans in this country. It was originally a traditional instrument, whose origins date back to ancient Africa when a Kudu horn was used to summon villagers to important events. It has been converted to bright coloured plastic, and is sold all over the place. It now appears at rugby matches, cricket matches and especially soccer matches. In fact, they became such a problem at rugby matches that they were banned in one of the biggest stadiums in the country for a while. Can you imagine sitting next to someone wielding one of these things ..... not? Let me elaborate. The call of the vuvuzela sounds much like the trumpeting of an enraged elephant with a sore throat. It is LOUD, and after about 30 seconds, it is ANNOYING!

Anyway, I digress. In a moment of madness about 2 years ago, I bought my husband one of these instruments of torture as a joke - a blue one. To be honest, I didn't expect that he would really use it. I thought he'd blow it a couple of times and then it would be discarded to the back of the cupboard. I obviously didn't know him very well! David's vuvuzela gets hauled out of the cupboard regularly. The kids think it's wonderful fun, and he blasts it at the TV during rugby matches, at the dogs, at the kids, at me ....

Every now and again David takes it into his head to wake the kids in the morning with the dreaded vuvuzela. He marches down the passage and into each kid's room blowing it violently. Even Michael who is 18 still thinks it's funny. Last week he decided to do the wake-up drill again - but now of course we have Simmi. I wasn't sure how she would react to this awful noise, so I followed behind them (Simmi was crawling behind David as he walked down the passage). David blew the vuvuzela, and Simmi wasn't phased at all. In fact, she carried on following him and crawled into each kid's bedroom shouting her latest word which is "Hey!" over and over again in this giant voice. It was so cute and funny I felt weak with laughter. She made sure she went into each room and shouted at each child before crawling back down the passage after David and the vuvuzela.

So here's to keeping with South African tradition (no matter how annoying) - and having a good laugh into the bargin!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Simmi is Leaving

This is a horrible post to write. I'm not sure how to start to be honest. As per my previous post, the Child Welfare committee met last week to decide on Simmi's fate. They decided that she has to be placed into permanent care - in a children's home whilst waiting for the outcome of her mother's case.

As a registered Place of Safety, we are unable to keep her indefinitely - we are for short-term care only. If she stayed, we would then not have place for the next baby that needs our care. My heart is broken. That is the only way I can describe this. We were expecting to have her up until the middle of next year, and suddenly she's being yanked away when we weren't expecting it. I understand the logic behind putting her in a home, but to me, logic has nothing to do with it. Welfare doesn't want her to bond with another family, or bond any further with me, and then have to be removed and given back to a mother she no longer knows. My head understands, my heart does not. Devastation......

The good news is that the Welfare are engaging a Human Rights Lawyer to assist Simmi's mom in getting asylum in this country. If successful, she and Simmi will some day be reunited - and that is my prayer for both of them.

I'm still hoping desperately that circumstances change and she can stay - but aside from a miracle, there is just no way.
I have requested that Welfare allow her to stay with us as long as possible before they remove her, and they have agreed, but if there is an opening at the home now, she has to go almost immediately. I know that my intention right from the start was to help as many babies as possible, even if for a short time each, but I lost sight of that the first time Simmi smiled at me.
I feel as though I've had a hole in my heart for the past 11 years, ever since I lost my precious baby Robin to miscarriage. For the first time I've felt fulfilled and complete. It's agony to have to part with her so soon. When I rock her to sleep, I don't want to put her down. I just want to hold onto her forever. I waited for her for so long. I yearned and longed and prayed for a baby girl to care for. I don't know how I'm going to let her go - God will have to give me the strength, I don't have it.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Saga of Simmi

Assignment for Mama Kat is the post below this one

It’s almost 7 weeks now since Simmi came into our lives. Today we meet once more with Child Welfare to hear what they have decided about Simmi’s future. There was a committee meeting held on Tuesday to discuss Simmi because her case is so complicated. They have investigated the possibility of Simmi’s mom being granted asylum in South Africa, but because she now has a criminal record this is not going to happen. She will definitely be deported to Zimbabwe to serve out whatever prison sentence is handed down. Apparently Welfare’s options are as follows:

1. When the mother is deported, to deport Simmi as well. Not with her mother, but separately to a children’s home or orphanage as her mother will still be incarcerated. They would try to find a home close to the jail so that the mother would be able to find her easily when she is released, and there would be a possibility of visitation.

2. Keep Simmi here in South Africa in foster care where at least she is safe and well-cared for. However, there is then the probability that she will never see her mother again.

3. Convince the mother to allow Simmi to be adopted.

4. Grant the father (who doesn't want her) custody. Simmi is the product of an extra-marital affair and her father’s wife doesn’t know she exists. This would mean that the wife would then have to bring up the product of her husband’s unfaithfulness, and the chances are that she will resent Simmi and mistreat her as a result.

Now I am very nervous. At 15h00 today I will find out what they have decided to recommend. What huge controversy surrounds this precious little person. She doesn’t even have a birth certificate because her mother couldn’t register her as she is here illegally. I can’t bear the thought of her being sent to an orphanage. The situation in Zimbabwe is grim, and I can’t imagine her being well cared for, or even fed if they send her there.

On the other hand, what about her mother? How will she feel about never being able to see her baby girl again? I can imagine the heartache because now I’m facing it too. How will she feel if her baby is sent to Zimbabwe, knowing what is waiting for her there – why did she come to South Africa illegally in the first place – desperation to get away from there. Apparently, the mother has no rights here at all because of the circumstances.

As I write this post, I am listening to Simmi playing outside with the other children, screeching with delight and clapping her little hands. She loves school, and she’s so happy here. I’m praying & holding my breath ……….

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Assignment - The First Time I......

The first time I saw my daughter dance she was 4 years old.
There were ballet classes at the nursery school that she attended. I remember the ballet concert at the end of the year. My then husband leaned over and whispered to me - "Oh my goodness (well probably not those exact words knowing him), she's like a baby elephant!"

I remember pink leotards and tiny ballet socks and shoes, and practise, practise, practise. She wanted to be a ballerina.

Now it's pointe shoes and Royal Academy of Dance membership, and teacher exams. As the most senior girl in her ballet studio, my Sherae is the dancer all the little girls in thier pink leotards and tiny ballet socks and shoes look up to. They all want to be like her. She's a ballerina.

This coming Saturday is the year-end ballet concert. I know that as usual I will cry when I watch her float effortlessly across the floor. I know that the applause for her dances will sound louder to me than for any of the other dancers.

I'll be standing there clutching the camera and the video camera, trying to watch, take photos and record at the same time, whilst battling my emotions. It seems like yesterday that my "baby elephant" was prancing across the stage - thump, thump, thump. Trying to point her toes, and twirling in front of the mirror.

The first time I saw my daughter dance, I never imagined I'd still be watching 12 years later.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

My 10 Pet Peeves - Assignment

Once again it's been a long time since I last blogged. I'm living in baby land. Anyway, my ten pet peeves - I chose this assigment because it sounded so easy.

1. This is a new peeve, but it definitely ranks as number 0ne: People staring at me in the shops because I have a black baby. Everytime I go out I have to steel myself against this and stop myself from yelling "Hey, what are you looking at - you got a problem - you want a problem?!?"
Madonna, Angelina (embarassed cough), um, I'm not sure how to break this to you, er....... I know you think everyone stares at you because you're famous......... Sorry, that's not it. It's because you each have a black baby!

2. Anybody who is always late and doesn't bother to let me know.

3. Bad table manners.

4. People who smoke - especially when around children, when pregnant or breastfeeding.

5. Rude, badly behaved, nasty, tantrum-throwing children. Let me clarify, all children try all these things from time to time, but they have to be taught from the outset that it's not acceptable behaviour. I managed to teach mine from when they were small - it is possible!

6. Speedo swimming costumes (the ones that look like tiny underpants) on any male older than 5 years old.

7. Kids' inability to put ANYTHING into the dishwasher which is right next to the sink which is the dumping ground.

8. Human Airbags. IE: people who allow small children and babies to sit on their lap in the front seat of the car, or people who just don't bother to strap their children into a car seat.

9. Irresponsible fathers. My ex used to be my prime example, however, upon meeting with Simmi's father, I've a new perspective on this. In court last week he informed the magistrate that he doesn't want Simmi because he has 3 other children from various women, and Simmi is not a boy! This is Africa...

10. Good grief, I'm on number 10 already! I could go on all day... Well at number 10 we have Bad Service. No matter from what source, restaurants, shops, builders, plumbers - whatever. I hate to receive bad service and can get extremely vocal about it. Clear the room if you ever see me storming into a shop!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

My Sweet Baby

Oh dear I'm now so attached to this baby! She has become part of our family, and we all love her. When she smiles at me in the morning when she wakes up, my heart overflows. When I see her during the day at school she screeches and waves her arms about and gives me this huge gummy smile - it makes me feel like the most important person in the world. She hardly ever cries, she sleeps through most nights, and she's happy and friendly.

Sherae calls her "my little sister-friend". I don't know what I'd do without Sherae. She helps entertain my little person when I need to do things like shower! Simmi doesn't like anybody feeding her except me, but when I'm desperate then Sherae manages to get some food or milk in for me.

Michael calls her his "little chick magnet" because when we go to church and she sits on his lap, all the girls stop to say how cute she is (of course), and he's getting the benefit. He's so good with her as well. She puts her arms out to him and he picks her up and holds her and chats to her.

Tyler is now a big brother. He's been the baby in the house for 12 years. It's so sweet to see him telling Simmi, "No, don't touch that!", "You mustn't do that!" in his big brother voice.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Michael is 18

On 9th October Michael turned 18. Wow, I can't believe that he's already 18 years old. Old enough to vote, get a driver's license and drink (although he doesn't). I can hardly believe this is the same little boy I became mother to almost ten years ago. He's almost finished school, and is probably off to the USA next year to be a Camp Councellor for Camp America....

Happy 18th Birthday Michael! We went out to dinner to celebrate:

Tyler & "Ouma" ("Granny" in Afrikaans)

Sherae & Michael

David, Simmi & Me

Monday, October 13, 2008

Life with Simmi

I was looking through photographs for inspiration for a blog when I came across this one. It may not look very inspiring, but it made me stop and think of how drastically my life has changed in
the last 2 weeks. This picture was taken at a coffee shop where David & I were enjoying a leisurely breakfast date. Then came Simmi.

No more leisurely anything. I'm lucky if I get to shave my legs once a week, nevermind put on more than a dash of mascara in the mornings. Afternoon naps are a thing of the past, and meals are left half-eaten. I've lost 4kg (8.81 pounds) in 2 weeks from running around after my little crawler. I've dicovered a new meaning for the word "tired", and I've been reminded of the meaning of the word "love" because love her I do! She is the sweetest baby in the whole world.

Think of me on Thursday morning. I'm going to court with Simmi to find out what her uncertain future holds. Her mother will probably be there, and I am not looking forward to meeting her under such nasty circumstances. I've had no success in trying to arrange to visit her before court. I was hoping to build some sort of relationship with her so I could visit regularly and Simmi wouldn't forget her. Our welfare system leaves a lot to be desired!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A Holiday & My New Baby

First, some pictures of our holiday.....

My goodness it's been a long time since I last blogged! I was just getting into it, and life happened. First, it was school holidays and my family and I went away for a few days to a lovely resort called Klein Kariba where there are hot water pools and tons of stuff to do. We had a wonderful time.
THEN in the 2nd week of the holidays ............... More than a year ago I registered with the Child Welfare Department as a place of safety for abandoned babies. I have been waiting all this time for them to call me, and eventually, last Monday, the call came. Simmi (Simphiwe) is a 7 month old baby girl. Her mom is a Zimbabwean national who is in SA illegally. She was caught stealing food for Simmi, and was put in jail. Simmi couldn't stay in jail with her, and was removed and has come to live with me while the children's court investigate everything. She is the most beautiful little girl. She's settled into our family perfectly, and we love her. I feel terribly sorry for her mom. I've been trying to arrange to visit her with Simmi, but the court is not very interested in arranging a visit.

Please note how in this picture I look about 100 years old! My youngest child is 12 years old, and having a 7 month old baby has been an incredible shock to my system! But it's so worth it - isn't she adorable! It will be so hard when I have to give her back. :-(

Friday, September 19, 2008

Hip Hip Horaay!

Oh my goodness, I'm now officially hooked! I can't believe how excited I got to see that ten people had actually read my blog yesterday. Now I understand the importance of leaving comments. Thank you to everyone who visited and commented - I feel..... Popular!

Anyway, it's school holidays at last, and we are going away. I'm so excited, but I'm going to miss next week's writers' workshop. Just as I'm feeling like blogging every minute, I'm being seperated from my computer (don't think the family would appreciate my spending the holiday blogging)! Watch this space, hopefully I'll have lots of good photos and stories when I get back.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Writers' Workshop - My Thoughtless Teacher

Her name was Mrs Shepherd and she was my Afrikaans (one of South Africa's 11 official languages) teacher in grade 12. I hated Afrikaans. Although I got good grades for written work, my ability to speak it was somewhat lacking. It is a language similar to Dutch, with lots of rrrrr sounds and gutteral-sounding G's. I tried my best, but I always sounded English. One day in class each student was taking a turn to read a passage from our set book. When it came to my turn I was so nervous I felt ill. I haltingly started reading, only to be stopped in my tracks by the words forever burned into my phsyche "Alison, for heavan's sake stop, you're killing the story!". It scarred me for life. Although I married an Afrikaans man, I refuse to speak the language - unless absolutely necessary (that being if someone held a gun to my head). When I have to speak it I feel stupid and hysterically nervous and stumble over my words just like I did that day in class.

The strange thing is that Mrs Shepherd was a really good teacher, and one of my favourites - perhaps that's why her words cut so deep. I suppose she was just having one of those days... Anyway, Mrs Shepherd, you scarred me for life. 20 Years later and I still have nightmares about high school (note the recurring dream theme), and it's all your fault!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

This picture was taken a few years ago, but it's one of my favourites. It's my three children, their cousin Kirsten (front) with their Ouma (Afrikaans word meaning "Grandmother" - for my overseas viewers). It's such a lovely picture and all those in it make it into my "Top Twenty Most Important People in my Life" list.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Mentos Moments

The kids will now demonstrate:

This is the latest craze of my children. They saw it on TV, some science programme, and of course they had to try it!

First you take a few Mentos sweets - the more the better I believe.
Then you put all the Mentos in your mouth, and take a large swig of Coke...
.... And it explodes in your mouth and sprays everywhere.

When I think of some of the terrible things other mothers of 12, 15 & 18 year olds have to worry about, I'm so thankful that my biggest worry is how to get Coke stains out of a white sweatshirt!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Dear Me From Me at 56

Dear Alison,

You are still so young! Stop thinking you are old. Stop studying your teeny weeny wrinkles that nobody else can see - I'm looking back at pictures and I wish I looked as good now.

Stop wishing that the kids' teenage years would be over - what do you think comes next you idiot? They leave, that's what! They have families of their own, and move away to other countries. I promise you, you will wish for those years to be back again.

For heavan's sake stop obsessing about your weight! You may be a few kilos overweight, but in 20 years that won't matter. Your husband loves you and thinks you're sexy - there's nothing more important because in 20 years there'll only be him and you.

Lastly, and most importantly, stop wishing your ex-husband would get hit by a bus. When he does you will feel bad - NOT (cackle, cackle, cackle). Tip: Do Not go to his funeral! Drinking champagne and dancing on his grave will not go down well with the other mourners - some people actually do like him!

Love, Alison

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Assignment: The Last 3 People I E-mailed & Why

Because I am such a bad blogger I have decided to take some hints from my favourite blogger mamakatslosinit. The photo of my cat Misty has nothing to do with anything - she's just cute.

Person 1: My Favourite Cousin Catherine in the USA
Just like my blogging record, my e-mailing record is pretty tardy. I go through stages where I inundate the poor woman with mails, and then there's a drought. At the moment we are experiencing drought phase, and I sent her a quick mail to tell her that I'm still alive here in sunny South Africa and that even though I haven't mailed her, I am thinking of her.

Person (or not) 2: My ex-Husband Shaun
Oh dear, this is a tricky one. I mailed my ex to tell him of all the wonderful efforts my husband David & I are making in raising his children while he lives the high life, including our trying to raise funds to send HIS daughter to USA for a leadership conference she was invited to and to which he has contributed absolutely sweet NOTHING! Well success was mine because this morning I got a call saying that his wife would cover the next USD300 installment which is due at the end of September. Well, Praise the Lord! is all I can say. This is the first time that he and his wife have EVER done anything like this. Maybe I've been misjudging her for the past 9 years.....

Person 3: The Manager of a Computer Shop

SCREEEEEEECH! I just deleted half my post by accident and now I have to do it over.

As I was saying...

Person 3: The Manager of a Computer Shop
To try to convince him to sponsor a prize for a raffle our school is running to raise funds for Sherae's trip. I went to see him in person yesterday, and he was decidedly unimpressed by my plea, and was actually quite sarcastic and obnoxious. All the others I've approached have been so friendly and willing to help that his attitude was quite a shock as by the time I got to him I was floating on the rosy cloud of success. I found myself tangling up my words and feeling flustered, so I decided to mail him my proposal as a back-up to my poor performance. No response from him yet - surprise, surprise. But perhaps I have misjudged him too.... I can only hope.

Now in case he gets jealous, or feels left out, here is a picture of my other cat, James. Also nothing at all to do with my blog, but he's also so cute sleeping with his teddy bear. Oh boy, I really do need to have another baby don't I?!?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I Know I Have Toes in my Boots - I Saw Them This Morning

Christmas 2007 - My kids think they are much too old for this sort of thing, but I made them do it anyway! Mom's still got the power....

What made me think of Christmas is today's weather and the state of my feet. As you can see from the picture above, a white Christmas is certainly not what we experience in this country. There the kids are in their summer gear, it's about 21h00 and the temperature has probably dropped from around 35 degrees (95 F) to around 18 degrees (64 F). Watching the Olympics on TV, with people sweating in the heat makes me wonder whether or not we are on the same planet, because of course it's now winter here. I started work this morning in a office that with two heaters on was a balmy 8 degrees (46.4 F), and if I'm lucky it will warm up to about 14 degrees (57.2 F) by midday (did I mention the two heaters we have on....).

For those who live in other, more developed countries, these temperatures may not seem like anything to complain about. But you all probably have airconditioning and central heating in your homes and offices. In this country, there is no such thing as central heating (unless it's a national secret that I'm not privy to), & airconditioners are only found in the more affluent homes (and then perhaps only in one or two rooms - not in the whole house).

Spare a thought for those of us who sit in our homes & offices wearing so many layers that we look like the Michelin man!

I suppose I shouldn't complain. At least it doesn't rain all winter like it does in some parts of the world - even in some parts of South Africa. We have beautiful winter days & even though it's cold the sun still shines most days. We don't have to shovel snow, which I imagine can get rather tedious even though it looks really pretty, and of course summer is just around the corner and soon I'll be seeing how high the thermometer will go instead of how low - But in the meantime, has anyone seen my toes?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

When Bullying Becomes Murder

I work as a secretary at a Christian School. Today we received the most terrible news. One of our pupils left our school last year to attend a special needs school as he had learning difficulties. Yesterday he was found dead on the train tracks. Why? Because he was bullied into doing something he didn't want to do. This was a shy, quiet, good boy. He was placed in a school with very little discipline, and many problem children. He told his mother recently that the bigger boys at school were trying to force him to "train surf". They were bullying him, and threatening him. Train surfing is a popular passtime of delinquent teenage boys in this country. It involves climbing on the roof of the train and standing there whilst the train is in motion. It is extremely dangerous, and many children have been killed as a result, including this boy.

One of the saddest things about this is that the bullies will never be brought to justice. The police will deem this to just be a horrible accident, and the children at the school will never tell anyone who was responsible because of fear. Another senseless death in South Africa - the death of a little boy who just wanted an education. A mother has lost her son because she couldn't afford a better school. When I contemplate the fear that little boy must have felt before he was killed I feel a rage inside me against every bully out there. You killed Solly Dikgale - and one day you will have to face his Father in heavan.
This is me, and over my right shoulder is Tyler.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Well this is it........finally I've decided to blog. I've never done anything like this before, so I'm not exactly sure what to write.
To the right is my family (minus me because somebody had to be behind the camera), my wonderful husband David, and my 3 gifts from God - my children Michael (17 - almost 18), Sherae (15) and Tyler (12). This picture is a little dated, January 2007 to be exact, but it's one of my favourites taken on holiday in Engelberg, Switzerland. This is certainly not scenery we see in South Africa!