Wrestling

January 30, 2012

I’m really struggling with an issue at the moment. So much so that it’s keeping me awake at night. 99% of me is done with having more children but the other 1% is currently driving me nuts.

Chris has pretty much said no and that should naturally mean that is the end of that. There are so many reasons against trying – we are getting older (both 36 this year,although the embryos in the freezer are from 2008 when we’d just turned 32)

life is busier as the girls get older and I’m starting to do a lot of driving around

we are loving being so fit and the freedom that having a 4 and 2-year-old gives one

we do have enough bedrooms technically but 1 bedroom is right on the other side of the house

Chris’s car is only big enough for 4 (does that even count as a reason)

my folks look after the girls a lot and while I know they had 3 themselves, 3 is a lot to expect them to take on a few times a week so we can go off training or racing or whatever

I could seriously go on and on.

I also don’t do pregnancy or newborns very well at all. I was very sick while pregnant with Ava and I swore I’d never do it again – almost 9 months of all-day sickness is not great, the birth was a breeze, that I’d do again in a heartbeat. I also don’t like what pregnancy does to my body. I love running and being fit and I really need to do it. Having said that, there is a girl we know who had twin girls (they’re turning 6 this year) and she’s now having another girl. She’s 20 weeks pregnant and ran the marathon on Saturday. I think she took a bit of strain but she honestly doesn’t look pregnant AT ALL. I’m not just saying that, she is very skinny at the best of times and even in her skimpy running vest she still has a flat tummy. Incredible – she’s a doctor, as is her husband and the gynae said it was fine but not really something I’d consider doing. I ran up until 28 weeks with Zoe but not marathons. I came second in the marathon on Saturday. Amazing I know. I really didn’t feel like I’d run that well and I’m honestly not the competitive type but there’s no way I’d ever get back to where I am right now. I do think that pregnancy is more of a strain and takes more out of you the older you are and every time you do it. I am a control freak and babies are a control freak’s worst nightmare because even the most angelic baby hasn’t read all the books and so doesn’t tend to do things when they’re supposed to.

Getting back to my dilemna. Not sure why it’s hit me so hard. I have had  a few friends that have just had babies and for all of them it’s their third (for one her third and fourth – the most beautiful identical twin girls). Ava is now 2 and a half and I always said I didn’t want a big gap as Chris is 5 years younger than his youngest sister and I think that’s too big a gap. The clinic will keep our embryos frozen for 5 years (till April 2013) so we need to either use them or donate them and that’s where the other big issue comes in. Chris is happy to donate them and I’m having second thoughts. If the cycle was to be successful I honestly worry about the family “my” child would grow up in. The rational, sane part of me tells me not to be ridiculous but the “worrier” in me says otherwise. What if the child could somehow track us down and ask why we’d not had them ourselves? It is not like we cannot afford another baby. Is this not part of the IVF package? We chose had to use medical science to have children and now that we have extra embryos that don’t necessarily fit into our perfect plan, we give them away. Chris sees those embryos as a potential gift to another couple that ordinarily wouldn’t be able to have children. He is a glass half-full kind of guy. I know that I would think about the child/children constantly just as I think about the embryos all the time. At the end of the day the chances of the cycle working aren’t high (think it’s 20%) and they might not even survive the thaw. I also don’t think it’s right hoping that it won’t work, when I know there are so many couples desperate to have a baby. Using the embryos will be a mission – I would have to have my Mirena removed and then have to take a truck load of med’s/injections as I don’t respond to clomid, then I’d have to fly to Cape Town for the transfer and and and.

My girls are gorgeous. They drive me nuts sometimes but they can both speak and tell me what they need, they can feed themselves, dress themselves, go to the toilet themselves and they play beautifully together, it is so easy to go away/out these days. They sleep over at least once a week at my folks and all we pack are clothes and their stuffed animals – no bottles, cots, dummies, baby monitors, nappies, nothing. I don’t need to worry about nap times, snack times, making baby food or that we must be home by a certain time because we need to start the bath/bed routine. Just writing all this down makes me realise even more that I don’t want another baby and yet why do I feel like I do? This is an awful thing to say/think but I wish we didn’t have those embryos and yet Ava was at one time one of the frozen embryos. It is frightening to think that she might never have been if I hadn’t had the second miscarriage or we’d chosen not to freeze the embryos. I know that I shouldn’t think like that but I do. I wish I knew the answer. I know I need to pray about it more and try to work out what God’s plan is. I keep thinking and wondering whether it isn’t God that’s making me think about the embryos all the time. Is He trying to tell me something? I wish I knew the answer. I wish I could make it stop, it’s driving me nuts right now.

My thinking right now is to go and see my gynae (which I need to do anyway). Email the clinic in Cape Town and find out the procedure, then maybe get all the meds in April when we go down and plan everything for May because now that I know what I know I certainly don’t want a baby born at the end of the year.

How do I get all this past Chris? No chance I think. This year he is planning – Two Oceans, Addo 50 mile trail run, full Iron Man and Comrades marathon as well as going fully private…

Just wanted to say again, our life is busy but impossibly easy right now. I’m sure it couldn’t possibly get any better(but it hopefully/probably will), why mess with that?

Hopefully getting all this off my chest will let me switch off a bit so I’m off to bed (again).

Irritated

January 10, 2012

Back to work for me today. This morning I had to get an authorisation for a patient to have a breast reconstruction. She is a member of my favourite medical aid, Dico.very. I think I’ve explained this all before but cancer is what is known as a PMB condition and the medical aids have to pay for any procedures related to the cancer. Chris is contracted to Disc.overy which means he has to charge the rates they prescribe and the patients don’t have to pay any additional costs (such a nice guy). Anyway, I give the call centre lady all the codes and details and then can hear her discussing the case with whom I presume was her supervisor. The lady had her mastectomy last year and the plan is to do a muscle flap, an implant and then later on one does symmetrising surgery for the other breast and a nipple reconstruction. They are obviously querying the muscle flap part of the operation and going on about doctors charging for extra unnecessary things and not doing the op within 3 months, etc., etc. Now I’m clearly not a plastic surgeon but neither are they. The reconstruction is not always done within 3 months because often the patient is still having radiation and radiation can be catastrophic for wound healing so one needs to wait for the radiation to be completed. When they do the mastectomy (I’m sure you’ve all seen photos) they remove the breast with the skin and then stitch it closed. If you now come along and try to put in an implant, in a few patients with small breasts the skin can stretch, but for most women there is not enough skin and so they need to do a flap in order to get enough skin so that the implant can be put in. You need to take the skin with some underlying muscle tissue or else the skin will die and it all helps to give a more natural result. Bear in mind the other side doesn’t get an implant so even I can imagine how unnatural it would look if your one breast was just entirely implant and the other was a normal, middle-aged breast.

Chris had written a letter of motivation which I had to fax through but it just made me so irritated thinking that these people were chatting about whether the procedure was necessary or not. As soon as one hears the reasons or sees the photos it becomes blindingly obvious. Breast cancer is unfortunately very common so this can’t be the first breast reconstruction they are dealing with. Why are they always looking for reasons to say no?

Last Day

January 8, 2012

Chris is back to work tomorrow. He hasn’t really been off too much but that’s always the case this time of the year. We have lots of holiday to look forward to this year, starting with a week in Nature’s Valley in February. We leave on the 11th, my birthday, so another month. EEK almost 36!! Need to think of what I’m doing for my birthday this year. Last year we had just started renovating so I didn’t do anything except go out for dinner so this year it’ll have to be something special. Just not sure if it should be girls only during the day or an evening thing with all the husbands as well. I’m leaning towards getting people to come in and do sushi so should really get cracking and book them ASAP.

Chris and I have worked out a training schedule so that we hopefully both get all our training in every week. It is roughly as follows:

Monday: Chris rest, Katherine run am

Tuesday: Chris cycle am, K and C run pm (my parents have the kids as it’s running club night)

Wednesday: Chris cycle am, K run once I drop Ava at school, Chris swim lunchtime

Thursday: Chris cycle/run, K run (Joyce sleeps over so we can both do something)

Friday: K run am, Chris swim and run pm

Saturday: K long run, C long run or long cycle and run (Kids sleep over at my parents)

Sunday: K rest, Chris long run or cycle

Chris had planned to make side tables for our braai/sun room in the holidays but with all the visitors, socialising and stunning weather he never managed to. We need more seating in the sun room as we only have 2 single chairs and a 2 seater couch in there and that’s definitely not enough. Weylandt.s have the furniture that’s in there on special at the moment so think I need to order another 2 seater couch at least and possibly some side tables if I can persuade Chris to rather make something else with his garage full of wood and tools.

Our diningroom table is also on the endangered list at the moment. It is a small 8 seater and although when we have lots of friends over these days we get the kids to eat on a smaller table in the sun room, we really need a bigger table. We had the table made for our first house which had quite a small diningroom but now our diningroom is quite big. The diningroom is open plan to the kitchen and braai room so we gave our big outdoor table and chairs to my folks as it didn’t make any sense to have an outdoor table inside, right next to our diningroom table. Chris doesn’t like our current chairs at all as he prefers modern stuff and although the table is a fairly modern design (we got the guy who made it to copy a design we saw in a Habitat catalogue) the chairs aren’t really modern enough for him. The other issue is which wood to use. The current one is oak but we have beech floors so perhaps a slightly darker wood would be better. Also not sure of the exact size and shape. We eat at the table for every meal so don’t want it to feel too big when it’s just the 4 of us most and the room is rectangular so that would be a good option but my folks have an oval one and that’s much more sociable I think although not as modern.While we’re on the subject of endangered furniture.

We have a wooden sleeper couch that used to be in our kitchen in Pinelands. It had a futon mattress on which I never liked as it always sagged and looked a bit scruffy but was very comfy and both my mom and Chris love it. Earlier this year I had the futon changed to foam cushions which looks better but isn’t as comfortable. The couch is currently in Zoe’s room. She has a huge bedroom and it’s quite nice to have a couch there as the children like to read stories and play with their dolls, etc. on it. The wood bit is not a great colour – pine stained to a dark, reddy colour. Chris would like it to move to the braai room but I absolutely refuse. I think it would be perfect for Joyce’s house, then I could get two big poofs covered in some divine funky fabric for Zoe and Ava to use. Zoe has bunk beds in her room and Ava just has a lovely single bed that Chris made. Ava ‘needs’ another bed for her room so that we can have 2 kids sleeping in both rooms (as is necessary when people with children come to stay). Just ignore for a moment the double bed sleeper couch in Zoe’s room – it is too difficult to move from one room to another. I know technically I could put it in Ava’s room but that just isn’t going to happen. Zoe’s room is nicely decorated in Treehouse stuff but last year I had Ava’s room done properly by a proper kiddies decor company/shop and it’s just soo much nicer. I find one gets tired of Treehouse stuff very quickly as it’s all too much of the same. I can’t wait to have Zoe’s room done but think I’ll wait till she’s a little older and ready for something a bit more grown-up (if I can hold out that long). So, at the end of the day I’m not going to put the awful red/brown sleeper couch with neutral beige foam cushions in Ava’s beautiful room. Or maybe I can sand the couch down, oil it (or have it sprayed white), get some gorgeous scatters and problem solved. Have chatted with the minister of finance and I will be painting it white, getting scatters, moving it to Ava’s room and then getting poofs for Zoe’s room (to start the de-Treehousing process).

We have another problem. I don’t get hot easily. I hardly sweat while running and sleep under a duvet 365 nights a year. Chris sleeps under a duvet about 50 nights year and his feet stick out 365 nights a year. Mozzies bite Chris (and buzz around his head) but leave me alone completely. He likes to sleep with the ceiling fan on in summer and I don’t. I hate the feeling of a cold breeze on me. Usually I insist on the fan being turned off once we go to bed. It’s been quite hot lately, not February/March hot but still hot without any natural breeze. Chris was moaning about being hot and the mozzies and, and, and so the real reason I couldn’t get to sleep the other night was because the fan was on. Chris was waking up at about 4.50am to go cycling and so I felt too bad to turn the fan off. I eventually went to sleep in Zoe’s room as the spare room is quite far away from the other bedrooms. I think I was so tired last night that I didn’t have trouble falling asleep but I did keep waking up in the night feeling cold. We talked about getting air-con in all the bedrooms last year but by the time all the renovations were done it was winter and we rather decided to do the garden and the wall in front. We really need to organise some aircon. I’m okay with aircon as it won’t be blowing directly on me. No idea how we’re going to decide on what temperature to set it at though. Why does it always feel when one thing is done there are still another hundred that need doing and then there are always the unexpected curve-balls like a new washing machine and dishwasher which we had last year.

Chris just completed his first 1km sea swim and managed really well. Now the biggest test is going to be to fit in all this training AND working full-time.

He is now busy making fairy wings with the girls. They drew the shapes on really big, thick cardboard which he then cut with his jigsaw. In the garage they sit up on the bonnet of the Disco so they can watch what he’s doing, too gorgeous. They painted Ava’s wings the other day and are now doing Zoe’s and then he’s got some elastic rope to tie them on with. They are all 3 in their element. Both girls are craft/drawing/colouring-in obsessed but the stuff they came up with is quite incredible. They definitely get their creative side from their dad.

So ends another Christmas holiday. By far the best one ever. A bit gutted we’re not about to get on a plane to go skiing in Austria like this time last year but then again there’s always next year.

Just to explain

January 7, 2012

Really wish we took a camera/phone to the beach this morning. It was stunning – the most amazing turquoise blue/green water, dolphins swimming amongst the paddlers (I promise) and just divine. We had a ball and didn’t want to leave but by 11.45 it really was getting rather hot and even with an umbrella just being in the sea for so long one needs to be so careful. Wow, and this weather is set to continue for the whole of next week as well, yay. Zoe only starts school on Thursday and while Ava can start on Wednesday I definitely think we’ll be holidaying an extra day as I can’t bear for it to be over already.

Now just in case I offended anyone yesterday. I have no issue with overweight or fat people, I am glad I am not one of them and that I’ve never had any issues with food or my weight but I have no problem with them. They actually make me feel better about myself and even help to keep me motivated when I’m lazy to go and run. I do have a problem with people who allow themselves to get so morbidly obese that they can’t stand up for longer than a minute and need full-time care and cannot work because of their weight. I realise there are many factors at play but I do wonder if you knew that if you kept getting bigger you would lose your job and as a result your home and then would be unable to feed and provide for your family, would you still continue to eat so much? I honestly think the answer is no. I do not think one can liken a food addiction to a drug addiction where I think people are quite prepared to sell themselves or worse, their children, to get their next fix. Eating food is a normal thing which we all do. We do not all take drugs as they are chemically addictive. I accept one can liken a food addiction to a drug addiction or smoking but I do believe cigarettes and drugs (because they are chemically/physically addictive) are different. One of the less invasive op’s they do is to insert a balloon into the patient’s stomach. This only lasts 6 months as it is eaten by the stomach acid but they said that this is often enough for a lifestyle change in terms of diet and starting to exercise, as the weight loss allows, and this is enough to get the whole process going and no further surgery is required. It just shows that one can make lasting , significant changes in a relatively short space of time.

A whole other issue is one that I was considering while lying on the beach today. Amongst all our friends I can only think of 1/2 that don’t exercise. Quite good I think and at least 8 out of 10 of our friends exercise quite a bit and most are in very good shape considering we are pretty much all in our mid-thirties. We once had a discussion at a dinner party and every single one of the husbands did not want their wives to be any thinner. I do admit all the wives at the dinner were thin anyway (1 had just had a baby and another was pregnant at the time). I only know of one friend that openly admits to his wife (and friends) that having an out-of-shape wife is his worst nightmare. His wife is about to have twins but looks incredible and is such a fitness fanatic that I’m sure she’ll be back to normal very quickly. But getting back to what the husbands had to say. Chris often gets comments from friends that would like their wives to have bigger boobs and they make jokes about getting group discounts. They say it in a joking fashion but the fact that they mention it so often must mean they’re thinking about it. As I said most of our friends are thin and having kids does take its toll on one’s breasts, especially if one is thin. It is ironic that women are always dreaming of thinner thighs and flatter tummies and yet most men aren’t in the least bit bothered. Chris will never do cosmetic surgery for someone unless they themselves want it, not their partner and the vast majority of his cosmetic patients are women which means they are wanting the surgery for themselves and not because their partner wants them to have it done. There is that classic ad of the 3 models depicting what most women aspire to be like (size 10), what most men would like their woman to be (size 12) and what the vast majority of women actually are (size 14).

Can’t sleep

January 7, 2012

I suffered from terrible insomnia in high school which got way better at University and pretty much disappeared once I had children. Tonight though I just can’t get to sleep so I’ll most likely ramble a lot.

I just can’t get over what incredible weather we are having. Usually Feb, March, April and even May and June are pretty good in PE, then we get a little bit of winter (with lots of nice days in between) and in September or October the wind starts. This year the wind started later (winter lingered) but boy did the wind howl. Then all of a sudden it was like someone flicked a switch on 15 December and it’s been pretty darn incredible since then. We’ve had 3 lots of out-of-town visitors and they have all been blown away (ha ha) by how gorgeous it’s been. Mid-twenties or a bit higher, so not too hot with a gentle breeze and often completely windless early morning and evening and the best of all has been the warm sea water. It’s so warm you don’t even catch your breath going in. Our pool is 34 degrees which is ridiculously warm and we should probably turn the heating off but it’s just so glorious, especially for night-time and early morning swims that we haven’t. So, that’s what we’re used to at home now and yet the sea is so warm it doesn’t feel cold. Zoe is absolutely loving swimming in the sea and she’s getting really good at it. She can boogie-board (with a little push to help her catch the wave) but then with the actual  swimming in the waves she has started to dive under the big ones and jump to get over the smaller ones and is happy to swim in the surf. She is only 4 years old. I am astonished. This evening Chris went for a proper swim in the sea in his brand new R2000(!!) Iron Man wetsuit and we went along.

I should quickly add, PE is Iron Man country and if you’re not doing it yourself, with each year that you live here you will know increasing numbers of people who are doing it and you will eventually do it, except me of course I’m adamant that I won’t be sucked in. Anyway, starting in about December every Friday afternoon from about 4pm everyone goes for a training swim in the sea. They are like ants all with their wetsuits on but it is rather festive particularly on a gorgeous day like today. They swim anything from 600m-2,4km or even further (the swim is 3,8km in Iron Man). Because this is PE, no one is working on a Friday afternoon anyway and although there are organised sea swimming races on Sundays this is just a very casual but extremely popular occurrence.

We have been doing lots of swimming in the sea this holiday. What we tend to do is go to the beach early, 8.30amish and stay for a few hours and then go again at about 4.30/5pm for more swimming. The amazing thing about Zoe is that I spent a month here when she was almost a year old and Chris was studying for his final exams. At first she refused to put her feet on the sand and the only way to get her to play in the sand was for her to be sitting on a towel. Eventually by the end of the month (and almost daily trips to the beach – it was Feb) she started to like the sand and the rock pools,etc a bit. I never would’ve believed you if you’d told me she’d be diving under the waves and lying in the sand making sand angels or burying herself a mere 4 years later.

We got back from the beach just before 6 this evening and I went for a run (because the Iron Manner is cycling tomorrow morning) and couldn’t get over the number of people still swimming in the sea when I was getting back about 7pm. There is also such a lovely atmosphere at the beach. We usually go swimming at the beach just down the road from us (Pollock Beach) and every evening you meet the same families/people down there when it’s not holiday time, although we’ve been most evenings this week and it’s been a case of all the usual suspects with lots of extras. We usually take the dogs with to Pollock and they have just as much fun. The sea swims happen at Hobie Beach which is usually much busier (no dogs) and Zoe prefers boogie boarding there – the waves are a little less dumpy- and so that’s where we went this evening (for Chris to swim). We knew a few of the wetsuit swimmers but the rest of the people on the beach were all just such a good mixture and everyone was having loads of fun. It had been a gorgeous day and the beach was packed all day and yet there wasn’t even much litter around.

I know I’m going on and on but I need to because of what our visitors had to say. It’s so easy to get caught up in one’s busy life and dwell on the negative. We need to remember every day how blessed and lucky we are and it would be criminal to waste these perfect days because all too soon Chris will be back at work and the girls will be at school and we won’t be able to walk down for a play in the morning. Hopefully we can still do lots of evening swimming this summer but Chris won’t always be able to join us and how blessed we are again to live in a place where I can walk down to the beach on my own with the girls and have a swim and build a few castles and know without a doubt that we’ll bump into friends and people we know all doing the same thing – walking, cycling, swimming and playing.

And now for something completely different…

I’ve been watching Fat Doctor on Channel 125 I think. It is shocking. Chris is rather sympathetic to these people. Some do seem to try while others don’t at all and I just want to slap them. These people are so fat that most don’t work and they need other people to do absolutely everything for them. There was this guy last night of 30 who had a 23-year-old wife and 3(!!) young children. I’m still not sure how he got her pregnant in the first place and he was so fat she had to wash him and wipe his bum (and bring him all his food of course). They showed her grocery shopping. He sometimes ate 24 small packets of chips A DAY and then tries to tell us he can’t help being so fat and he just keeps putting on more and more weight, well no s#$t sherlock. He cannot even stand up for longer than a minute. I could go on and on. Some of their BMI’s are 60/70. Mine was 23 when I was 9 months pregnant. I also look longingly at the buy 5 get 1 free doughnuts that tempt me in the aisle at Woolies but I don’t buy them (often). We ran 30km yesterday morning and my very clever watch tells me how far we ran exactly, how fast and how many calories I burned (1800 I think), so that probably entitles me to eat a packet of chips (which I did) but only 1 not 24.

Something is wrong in the UK if you can sit at home, because you are too fat to work, have 3 children and a wife at home but then somehow still afford to buy hundreds of packets of chips a week and drink coke all day long. I know our tax money gets wasted disgracefully and I try not to think about it, but that also seems wrong, surely rather give food coupons and make it healthy food. Yes, I know that healthy food is expensive but surely one can think of something. Okay, getting back to the program.

The people all then have gastric bypass surgery and lose loads of weight and feel great and start exercising and the 30-year-old with the 23-year-old wife even started bringing his wife tea in bed and could wash himself and wipe his bum, so really great except the one poor chap died and that was pretty heartbreaking. Chris and the doctor who does the surgery both argue that it’s a lot of factors at play in these people’s lives which results in them getting so obese that they get to the point that they will never be able to lose the weight as they are too big to exercise (and will die pretty soon) but I still DO NOT understand it at all. I do not have an addictive personality (although I do start to get a bit edgy if I don’t run for a few days) and have pretty strong willpower and motivation so I really can’t get my head around it all. It’s quite entertaining though and it does make me want to send some of them to Chile and put them in a mine shaft for a few weeks. The chap this evening was too embarrassed to eat in public so goes to the KFC drive-in and ordered a zinger meal, a rounder meal, a side order of onions and then tried to get an ice-cream but they didn’t have. He told the doctor quite proudly that he ate quite healthily as he had lots of fish and chips!! You all know how healthy English fish and chips are. We once got it and I got halfway through and was nauseous the rest of the day. I do have to admit that tonight for supper we had pork sausages and chips and I didn’t even have any of the sweetcorn Chris made to go with. Naughty, naughty. I felt so bad I just went and ate a bunch of grapes!

Better go to bed as the big cyclist is meeting a friend at 5.15am to go cycling. This friend has been training for the Half Iron Man for a good few months now and Chris was rather distraught when he heard this evening that he ran 15km this morning, swam 2,4km in the sea and will be cycling for 4 hours (so over 100km) tomorrow morning. He had a tummy bug last week and he’s Chris’s height (1,76m) and told Chris he weighs 66kg (after the bug and with all the training). That’s a BMI of  21 and he’s from the UK!!

 

2011

January 1, 2012

2011 has been a busy but awesome year for us. Don’t really want to bore you but a quick recap-

We renovated and survived. Took longer than planned, did more than planned and obviously spent more than planned but we are beyond pleased with the results and it has made a massive differenece to our home and lifestyle. We have spent the summer holiday here in PE this year and it couldn’t have been better. Our pool is warm, we live 200m from the sea so have swum in the sea lots and at home even more, the kids have had a blast (we’ve done McArthur baths and ice skating and hours and hours and hours of swimming and playing with friends), Zoe is a brilliant boogie-boarder and just loves catching waves, we’ve had superb weather and lots of friends over for braais as well as a lot that have come to stay for 1 night or 3. Catching up with old friends has made us realise just how lucky we are to live the life we do. We are very blessed.

My older brother and his family were out in SA on holiday and we got to spend lots of time with them and my younger brother is now a Paediatric surgeon and he comes up to PE to do op’s about once a month/fortnight so we get to see lots of him as well. Having my folks around the corner continues to be a massive bonus, the girls are crazy about them and love spending time with them (and sleeping over at nana and grandpa’s) which is great for us and all our running.

Running has gone incredibly well – we both did the Two Oceans and the Knysna Marathon, Chris did Rhodes and Baviaans and we survived and got our medal for the Otter Run. I’ve realised I’m not a natural trail runner but we’ve both bettered every single one of our PB’s over all distances from 5km to 42km and beyond. Chris also bought a road bike and there’s a possibility he might be doing the Half Iron Man in 3 weeks!!! Cycling and running should be okay but a 1,9km sea swim when he last swam the Midmar mile in 2000 might be the tricky one. He is still off this week so I think there might be lots of swimming in the sea being done this week. Thank goodness the forecast is great. He has been swimming a bit in our pool with an elastic system that he made but sea swimming is completely different to swimming in a pool.

We bought a new car after much deliberation and are 100% thrilled with the Discovery. It is awesome and has definitely exceeded our expectations.

Chris’s work has been really busy which isn’t always great for us as a family but I guess when so many aren’t doing so well financially it is a huge blessing not to have to worry about money at all. By saying he is busy I must add that he doesn’t work weekends except a quick pop-in on a Saturday morning sometimes and the very occasional call-out at night. He is home before 5pm 4 days out of 5, 50 weeks a year and by medical specialist standards that’s pretty good going. He is flat-out all the hours he is at work and often works on admin stuff in the evenings but we really can’t complain. There are big changes on the horizon which scare me but ultimately it should make Chris even happier at work and that’s what is most important after all.

We have had some great holidays and weekends away. Our ski trip in January was incredible and I can’t believe it’s almost a year since we went. I would go again tomorrow if we could so we’ll definitely have to plan one for next year and hopefully the girls can join us. We also went to Zuurberg for a weekend, Cape Town for 2 weeks, Knysna a few times, Katberg with friends, a freezing cold trip to Rhodes near Lesotho, with other friends to their farm and a great 2 week family (Chris’s family) holiday to Sabie River bungalows and Tshukudu private game reserve (just the 4 of us). Wow, we have been very lucky indeed and it’s just getting better and better now that the girls are bigger and can have so much fun as well.

Zoe and Ava continue to bring us so much joy. I am really enjoying them more and more and finding motherhood easier and easier. They really do play beautifully together for hours on end and are the best of friends. They very rarely fight and argue and for that I am extremely grateful – they get that from their dad, not me but I’m not complaining. Ava started play school with Zoe 2 mornings a week in the 3rd term and didn’t blink an eye. She absolutely loves going and has done really well and her report is very complimentary as she is managing to do all she should and more which is great. A 2nd child definitely has huge advantages in terms of learning – what they lose out on individual attention they definitely score in all other areas. She has everyone (mostly me) wrapped around her finger but never ceases to amaze me. She is 100% out of nappies since July (day and night) and she only turned 2 in June so I think that is brilliant and just like her sister she is never, ever sick. They both get colds occasionally but neither has ever had anything more than a cold, ever.

Zoe continues to be our angel. She talks non-stop and asks millions of questions which do drive me to drink on occasions but she really is the sweetest, most well-behaved child I know and is the kindest big sister ever. Again, I have to say she gets that from her dad becasue I’m nowhere near as kind and forgiving and gentle as she is. She has also excelled at school and loved learning letterland and is desperately trying to read and write everything she can. I am rather apprehansive about her starting in Grade 0 and going to a new school but she is old (born at the end of Feb), quite mature for her age and very brave and eager to try new things so sure she’ll be just fine. This year she has learnt to ride a bike without training wheels, rides her scooter well, swims all strokes beautifully and has started to swim confidently in the sea and boogie board. There’s probably loads more but she never ceases to amaze me with what she is willing to attempt and usually master. This week it was ice skating. Chris is definitely the most daring out of the two of us and he and Zoe are starting to get closer and closer which is great to see. Both girls have always been more attached to me but he is such a wonderful, hands-on dad and they are becoming such a special little team and love doing little projects together (building/making stuff, doing the veggie garden, playing lego,etc.)

I can’t say for sure (and I’m biased of course) but I do think the fact that both our girls are so easy and adaptable and so happy and healthy is because they have such a happy home and 2 parents around a lot. I know not everyone can afford it or even want it but for us it works well. Me being at home allows Chris to concentrate on work and when he’s home there’s never stuff/jobs that must be done and so we can enjoy our time together. I will be busier with his practice next year but Ava will be at school 3 mornings a week so it still shouldn’t impact our life too much as I should still have the time to get all the mundane admin and boring shopping done (as well as any new extra work) while the rest are at work/school. Zoe starting at Collegiate will mean more driving around but thankfully we stay in PE so 15/20 minutes at the absolute most and Chris can do the morning shift. Her starting earlier might also impact my training time a bit as now I get back at 7am but they’ll have to leave at 7.15am so I’ll have to get back at about 6.30pm. Chris and I will have to figure out our training schedules a bit as the triathlon bug has definitely bitten him and so he will need more time to train but I don’t want to train less. We will both have to start going to bed earlier, no more 11-12pm lights out but rather 9.30pm.

I’ve joined a new bookclub which I love and we continue to make lots of lovely new friends in PE as a family through church, running, schools and other friends. We had a great New Years Eve party with both old and new friends last night and it was such a lot of fun. There is no place I’d rather be.

I can’t even think of any negatives for this year except all the drama with my old car but now that I have the new one that is all forgotten.

They must have jumped a hundred times.

Goals for 2012:

House: Extend garage, bigger diningroom table and chairs and a million and one other things as usual.

Running: Do Two Oceans in under 4h50. Run 5km in under 20 minutes.

Holidays: Not sure but definitely a few trips with the Disco, visit my cousin’s farm. We have a holiday booked to Nature’s Valley with friends from CT in February and then Cape Town is already organised for March/April but as many weekends away as possible in the second half of the year when there are less running events. Start planning ski/overseas holiday for 2013 to celebrate our 10 year anniversary.

Work: Keep physio on hold till girls a bit bigger so definitely help Chris more so his evenings are free to go to bed earlier.

Monday

December 1, 2011

Zoe is going to a new school for Grade 0 next year. She’s been at a play school in Summerstrand but will be going to Collegiate (my old school) next year. It is a girls school and is about 15 minutes away from Summerstrand, which in PE means it quite far away. She has to be there by 7.45am and I’m trying to block that fact out of my mind till 12 January 2012. At the moment she usually only wakes up at 7am and we only start eating breakfast just before 8am. I am a morning person and am instantly awake as soon as my alarm goes off and can be up, dressed and ready to go in minutes. Both girls seem to take after their father and although they thankfully don’t wake up grumpy, they do take forever to get up and going – all they want to do is snuggle in bed (their words).

None of the other 6 girls in her current class are going to Collegiate but I know other moms whose daughters are and so we organised 2 get-togethers just for the moms and the new Collegiate girls (no siblings). We recently found out which classes they’ll be in and a few of the other little girls we met will be in Zoe’s class as well as a girl she swims with whose mom we know through running as well. It’s not easy having a playdate with siblings not invited and so I decided to organise a playdate with all the girls going to Mrs Church but include the siblings, thinking some wouldn’t be able to make it. There are 5 moms coming with a total of 12 children between them, so 14 including mine!!! Oh boy, I just hope the weather co-operates. At the 1st get-together the mom had gone to loads of trouble with party games,etc. I think I’ll just bake cupcakes and do a big bowl of popcorn/flings for the kids and do a milk tart and lemon meringue for the moms. Then what do I do about the pool. Our pool water is divine despite the fact that we’ve had hardly any hot weather and it’s been raining all the time (I’ve lived in PE for 21 of my 35 years and have never known PE to have this much rain). Yesterday we swam for ages. It’s so lovely that you can just walk straight any, you don’t even catch your breath as you get it, it’s that warm. Absolutely ideal entertainment but there are some little kids coming and all are little boys. Ava is fine around a pool, if I’m not in then she’ll play on the step but boys aren’t like that. Think I’ll just sms the moms and check. We also have steps leading out onto the garden which are a bit of a nightmare with crawling babies. It’s going to be an interesting afternoon. At the moment Windguru says it’s going to be 27 with not much wind so perfect swimming weather. But there’s more…

All was set for the gates and panels to be done today (with our wall) but typical they’re behind schedule. I’d especially organised for the gardener to come on Sunday to help fix up the trashed bits and he is getting all our old palisade so then Chris could take him home with the palisade (probably be a few trips). Now, in between having 17 people here on Monday afternoon I will have builders and gate builders here installing stuff and probably needing my input all the time. It’s Chris’s most hectic, long day at work. I am so mad. Part of the reason for the delay is that the gate guy wants the builder to be finished with as much of the painting as possible so they don’t bugger up the new wood/metal. They still need to remove the palisade with an angle grinder and patch those places with plaster, then prime and paint. They weren’t even here yesterday, at all and now today it’s raining. Thing is that the builder is a friend of a friend that’s now become more of a friend and as his wife runs with us. I understand it’s a tricky time of the year as the builders all close on 15 December and there are lots of jobs that need finishing off. He wasn’t to know I’d invited the world and his wife on Monday. I am now secretly hoping that it rains so much that everyone is delayed till Tuesday BUT then we start creeping ever closer to the 15 December and there is no way I want an unfinished wall for Christmas, which may happen anyway because…

Our neighbours started renovating when we did in February and are STILL busy. They have pretty much gutted their house. I think the inside is almost done but they are now cladding the outside (in that Vermont-style) and it’s a big double-storey. I think it looks nice but Chris isn’t keen on the look. At the moment they’re just doing the upstairs so not sure if they’re doing the whole house (that might be a bit much). They raised the wall next to our garage without even saying a word to us and are now putting up pillars along the boundary wall we share. It’s not a wall that really affects us as it is down the side and we don’t really look onto it at all whereas their living areas do. It is fairly low in parts and looks fairly dodgy (as in not strong enough to be raised). Chris saw the cladding guy this morning and he said they’re planning to raise it. Thanks for telling us. I’m sure it will fall down even if they build new pillars and that is seriously the last thing that I need – no garden wall during the builders holiday. Their property is still open to the street in one section which means our dogs will then be able to get out (nevermind the girls but thankfully they’re not the wandering type). At this stage the threat of leaving them behind when it’s time to go and they don’t want to leave still works.

We vaguely know the people as the husband did athletics with my older brother at school and the wife is a good friend of a friend of ours from church. Surely it’s common courtesy to chat to us about it. We raised parts of our boundary walls and chatted with both sets of neighbours long beforehand. If they just raise a bit then it means we have to paint the new section which basically means we must paint the whole wall and we’ve just had our garden done so I don’t even want to think of the mess and carnage if the whole wall falls down or needs to be replaced. I am just not strong enough for that, I am through with builders for 2011. We briefly talked about doing our garage and the study/family room next year but even with this little bit now I know that I am certainly not ready for that now.

It is absolutely pouring right now and there’s thunder around. Olive is terrified of thunder so she’s lying at my feet and following me around panting if I go anywhere. Bear is completely oblivious of thunder but he can’t understand why Olive is panting and keeps ‘attacking’ her and getting over-excited because he thinks that she thinks I’m about to take them for a walk. I actually need to pop to the shops but there is no way I’m going out in this.

Progress

November 29, 2011

I will still put up some photos from our weekend in Knysna but must first download them and Chris has that camera at work today. Weekend was lovely, just way too short. Saturday was the most gorgeous day and the girls all had a ball playing in the lagoon and on the beach that’s created during low tide. Thankfully the tide was perfect while we were there so there was a lovely big beach in the morning. There were also some very stable canoe/surf ski’s and Chris and Richard took them for lots of trips in the shallow water. Chris’s folks were on their way to the Beacon Isle for a week and so had lunch with us on the Saturday. We popped in to visit them on our way back on Sunday and had the most divine tea and cake at the Beacon Isle.

The Disco was great – my parents drove with us and we all fitted in perfectly. We took the trailer with as with all 7 seats up there isn’t much of a boot plus we had food with us. Our average fuel consumption was just over 10 litres/100km which isn’t too bad and is actually brilliant when you consider that it saved my parents from taking an extra car (my brother and his family drove in my dad’s car).

The progress I’m talking about is firstly with our wall which is coming along well although the gates arrived yesterday and they seem massive so will take a bit of getting used to. Builders remain a law unto themselves though. The job entails – taking off the ‘tops’ of the pillars and raising the pillars a bit. There was palisade between the pillars (on top of a low wall) and this low wall they just need to square off as it is rounded and we wanted it square. Adjacent to the pedestrian gate there was curved palisade which needed to be removed and then bricked up. All the new brickwork must be plastered and then the new gates and wooden/metal framed in-between bits will be fitted into place. In the new curved bit adjacent to the front gate, there are going to be lights. Now instead of finishing all the squaring off and tops of the pillars, they chose to plaster the new curved brickwork. The electrician hadn’t yet finished with all the wiring for the lights which was blatantly obvious as the holes were in the brickwork and the conduits on the ground but nothing joining the two. Why plaster when it will just mean that the electrician’s must chase in the wires and angle grind the new plaster? I could vaguely understand if all the other work was done and that was the only thing left but there was still lots else to do. Yesterday we were out most of the day and that’s what happened, so today I’m here to try to keep an eye on them a bit. So far so good, electrician’s arrived before 8 to finish off there stuff and builders are almost finished. The gate guy is coming on Thursday to fit everything and then it’s just the intercom people and painting left. Garden is holding up but let’s not get too excited yet, there’s still an awful lot of plastering to do and let’s not forget their love of cleaning their paint brushes on my beautiful green grass.

Other progress is in terms of cars. My first car had no air-con (white Toyota corolla sprinter) and I had to share it with my younger brother. Not good. Chris and I were already together and he had a car so Richard just thought that meant he could have “our” car as much as he wanted. Our relationship took years to recover from that. Once I’d finished studying I bought my older brother’s Conquest when he left to go to the UK. I then went to the UK and when I got back I borrowed Chris’s old citi golf as he’d been given a jumbo golf. I went back to the UK for a bit and then bought a Ford Fiesta on my return and for the first time I had a car with air-con and it even had an alarm if you left your lights on. We went to the UK together and on our return we bought a Polo Classic diesel. It was silver and I loved it. It was phenomenally economical but not practical for when Zoe arrived as we had 2 dogs and so no where for them to sit as they always sat in  the back with the seats down. I then got the Scenic which I’d been wanting for ages. It was probably on about the same level as the Polo but just more practical. It drove beautifully and had awesome ‘mom’ features like an automatic parking brake and a little mirror for seeing into the back so that I could watch the kids without actually turning around. I’d wanted one with leather seats but the one I got was a really good deal and Chris is a sucker for a good deal. As I said it drove very well and up until this year and needing a new clutch it hadn’t given us any trouble at all.

When I got the Polo Chris got his Citi Golf back (it had been sitting at his sister’s house unused) and he kept that for 5 years until he finished specialising. That car had been bought new for his older sister in her 1st year (she’s 9 years older than Chris) so it was in his family for a toatl of 23 years and had never, ever given a moment’s trouble. It was bullet proof. You could go on holiday for 2 weeks (leaving its lights on – no prizes for guessing who did that) and it would start first time every time. It was a slightly orangey red citi golf as it had spent so many years of its life baking in the hot sun outside Tygerberg and Chris would arrive home with a seatbelt sweat mark on his shirt as it definitely had no aircon. We once caught guys trying to steal it when Chris lived in Boston and I collected a wall during the time I used it in Maritzburg, so it had seen a lot in its time. My aunt and uncle have a farm in the Karoo outside Graaff Reinet and when Chris was still a student he stopped off there on his way home to Joburg. The farm labourers were convinced it wouldn’t get to the farm gate, let alone Joburg. He still had it for at least another 10 years and I’m sure whoever bought it is still driving it, incident free. The cutest site was when Chris and Rolo used to go off to dog training on a Saturday afternoon and Rolo would sit in the seat next to Chris.

Rolo with Chris and Zoe

It was very noisy and whenever Chris was called out at night I could hear him arriving back when he was still about a block away. Our house in Pinelands had a lovely big lawn in front with a huge big tree and Zoe and I would usually play outside with the dogs waiting for Chris to get home and again we could always hear him coming! Because my car had an automatic parking brake I used to often forget to take off the hand brake whenever I had to drive it. I once drove all the way from our house in Pinelands to Cavendish with the hand brake on. I couldn’t understand what the terrible smell was when I got out of the car!!! Fortunately I’m married to the most forgiving husband ever who never gets upset about anything. When we lived in the UK we had a red Mini (old shape) and Chris loved that car. It’s name was Noddy and although it was cute it cost a fortune and was extremely impractical. As soon as Chris had finished specialising he bought himself a Mini Cooper S. Our fanciest car probably but definitely not the most comfortable. It is a sporty type of car so the suspension is very hard and it’s really low on the ground. It’s loads of fun to drive and very fast but not actually what I would call luxurious. The Discovery is just on a whole new level for us. I’ve not even had it a week and I love it already. It’s great to drive and has so many little nifty functions that I’m sure it’ll take me years to figure them all out. We put in a system which connects with the iPod and my phone so even if my phone is in my bag, as long as it’s in the car I can answer and make calls without touching my phone. It has access to my phonebook with voice recognition etc, etc. The sound system is some fancy Herman Kardon thing with who knows how many speakers. There are 3 different memory settings for the seats in front,etc.,etc. You can raise or lower the entire car (with the touch of a button) if needed which is great as it’s not an easy car for the girls to climb into. The list is pretty endless. I’m afraid at this point in time I am definitely on team land rover. Last night we had a meeting at Zoe’s new school and my folks came to look after the girls and so parked behind Chris’s side of the garage meaning that his car was out but I still wanted to rather drive in the Disco – getting in and out of a Mini with high heels is not the easiest thing in the world. Slightly easier than getting in and out of a Mini after you’ve just run a tough marathon though!!! Think we’ll be taking Disco to the race on Saturday.

 

Drama

November 23, 2011

Chris’s work situation is a little unsure at the moment. There is a very good chance that he will go fully private next year and that move will cost a bit of money initially. We aren’t keen to tie up all our spare cash/money that’s in the bond and retained in his practice in a new car as we might need it for a little while next year. We therefore decided to finance part of the car, something we’ve never had to do and not something we want to do.

Land Rover have a deal/relationship with Wes.b.ank and just to get a comparison, we asked Investec to give us a rate as well. At first I was more keen to go with Land Rover as I know they all get something out of it and thought it might make the whole buying process easier. We also needed to get some stuff from the accountant for Investec and to be honest I was a bit lazy to do that. The Land Rover lady (Belinda)phoned me on Saturday morning (while we were in the bike shop getting Chris’s new bike) and asked a whole lot of questions. Our plan is to pay off the car asap, well before the 36 months are up. I specifically asked her if there were any penalties if one did so and she said she would check that and make sure there weren’t. Initially We.sbank came back with a worse rate than Investec which meant I had to rush around on Monday getting the stuff to them while the Belinda went back to Wesb.ank to try to get them to match Investec’s rate. I know Investec have certain restrictions on who can bank with them, but my word, if you can you are crazy if you don’t. They are truly phenomenal.

I popped in unannounced on Monday and asked to see our personal banker (Karyn) who came immediately, checked through all the documents and told me what else I needed to email through to her. I did that once I’d got home and she emailed back immediately to say she’d have confirmation in the morning. She emailed and sms’ed the confirmation at 9am the next day but by then Wesbank had agreed to match their offer and I was still leaning towards them so I phoned Karyn and said thanks but no thanks. She emailed a bit later to tell me to check if there were any monthly fees as she said that often the dealers do that whereas through Investec it would be included in our monthly fee which we pay. Think it’s R295 and that’s for everything – our bond, internet banking, any ATM withdrawals, debit orders, you name it, that is our total monthly bank charge fee.

I then tried to phone Wesba.nk and was put through to about 6 different people only to be told eventually that the account was in my husband’s name and so they couldn’t give me any information. All I wanted to know was whether there’d be a monthly fee charged or not.

Chris then goes off to fetch my car and do all the paperwork. Unfortunately the lady who I’d dealt with was not there because as he’s reading through the contract it states that if one is to pay the amount off before the 36 months are up, they can charge you a penalty fee (no indication of what it is) and even if they decide to waver this penalty fee they will charge you 3 months interest. While he was there he phoned Karyn at Investec and she assured him that the Investec finance account is like an access bond and you can pay in and take out money as you please and there is no penalty whatsoever for paying it off sooner.

Here is another incredible fact. Perhaps Investec’s landline phones have caller ID I’m not sure but when he phoned her, he said “Hi there Karyn” and she immediately said, “Hi Chris”, he didn’t even have to tell her who he was. Now you might think we phone the her all the time but we really don’t and yet when I popped in unannounced she knew exactly who I was (I’ve only actually met her once 2 years ago) and all the necessary stuff about us. We have her direct number as well as her cellphone number. Nothing has ever been too much trouble for her, whether it be when we were sorting out our bond, getting our foreign exchange or when Chris has needed to change stuff for his business, nothing. You just have to phone her and it is done or she answers your question immediately.

Back to the car – there and then, Chris refused to take the Wesbank finance and so we’re now going with Investec, thankfully Land Rover still gave him the car. Karyn will get everything sorted with the insurance and the dealership and they’ll then take the papers to Chris for him to sign and the new account will be linked to all the rest – bond, his business one, private one and my account.

So, two issues here, it’s amazing how buying a car is always full of c%$p and while car salesman aren’t quite as bad as estate agents, they aren’t a whole lot better either and I’m glad that I’m hopefully finished dealing with them for a while. One or two small cosmetic things need to be replaced on the car and they have said they’d do that when it goes for a service (in maintenance plan) in December, fingers crossed that will be done.

The other issue is that I can’t praise Investec enough. Their customer service is amazing. We used to bank with A.bsa where we also had a personal banker and I can’t even tell you who they were. Firstly, they kept changing, one could never get hold of them and they were always so useless that even if you went to see them (which was a whole process in itself) they couldn’t seem to get stuff done. Each time I have any dealings with Investec I am blown away by just how good they are.

The car is divine by the way.

What a week

November 22, 2011

It’s going to be a busy one. Chris had his marathon day yesterday and arrived home just before midnight. He has another full day in theatre today, shame poor thing.

I am getting my new car today or tomorrow, yay, can’t wait. I was rushing around a bit yesterday trying to get everything sorted so yesterday was a busy day for both of us. Just quickly before I carry on – there was a time (just after Ava was born) when I would phone my mom to come and help me with the supper/bath/bedtime routine, it almost makes me laugh when I think about it, although a 4 year old and a 2 year old are a whole lot easier than a 2 year old and a newborn – they helped me make the supper (okay that would’ve been quicker on my own but they just love helping), they eat the supper themselves, they pretty much bath themselves (well, play in the bath together and then we help with hair,teeth,etc.), get dressed themselves and then it’s a story or 2 together, prayers together and off to bed, a complete non-event to be honest. So, just trying to say that there was a time when the fact that Chris was going to be home so late would’ve stressed me out but now it just makes me sad that he misses the girls and I don’t get to spend any time with him and I feel sorry for him working so hard.

This afternoon I’m helping set up the church, foyer and church hall for the girls’ school concert tomorrow evening and if Chris finishes early he’ll be going to pick up my car and then this evening is the club run. Tomorrow is the concert and Joyce’s birthday so I need to make her cake and do her card (she wanted money as a present so at least that’s easy). Thursday morning my brother and his family arrive from CT so the girls won’t go to schoolbut rather spend time playing with their cousins. We’re off to Knysna for the weekend at lunchtime on Friday so I need to shop and pack for that, bake cupcakes and get my mom’s present as it’s her birthday on Saturday (the reason we’re going) and I think that’s it for now. Busy time of the year but all such lovely and exciting things going on.

Zoe has just hurt her foot standing on one of the dogs’ hooves. According to her it’s bleeding and really burning and she sounds as if she’s busy dying. There is a minute drop of blood which you can’t actually see but her eyesight is almost as good as her hearing – she hears EVERYTHING no matter where you are in the house, she hears and wants to know all the details – so she can see microscopic amounts of blood. I better go…


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