Wednesday, 26 November 2008

2008 and 2009 New Year's Eves

2009 New Year's Eve will be hubby and I and a bottle of wine.... Christmas Day is with his sister and hubby in Kent, England. New Year's Eve will be an early one this year as we fly out early on the 1st Jan to South Africa for nearly a month!

We will have belated sunny Christmas and mum's 60th in the mountains and Kruger National park - absolute bliss.

Kruger National Park by you.

South Africa wildlife photos

2008 New Year's Eve we arrived in New York City ON the evening (madness!), really struggled to get to our hotel (btwn Times Square and Central park), and it was a tad noisier than it will be this year ;)

NYC-Empire State-0009 by you.

Central Park, New York by you.

New York-0236 by you.

New York-0349 by you.

Our New York photos

What were you up to 2008 and what will you be up to 2009 Christmas and New Year's Eve?

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Christmas giving

It's 1 month till Christmas - this got me thinking about what we, as kids, did on Christmas Day.

Growing up we would go to an inner city hospital after church on Christmas Day, to take pressies for those who had no family visit them on Christmas Day. They were too sick to go home.

We especially used to go to the terminal ward for children - there's nothing more special than seeing a child give a broad smile and hold your hand, even though they don't know you. How special is that? We sang with the kids and helped make their Christmas special.

I was a child myself at the time... and this meant the world to me!

My friends at school thought it weird and felt sorry for me, saying ''You must have had a horrible Christmas Jenny'' - where the reverse was actually true.

Anyway, the true gift at Christmas is Jesus - not pressies... and so to bring a bit of joy and laughter into a hospital ward on a bright Christmas Day is probably the best present we could have brought them.

I am so glad I have a mum who brought us up this way as this view of people and their needs has gone with me into adulthood in a huge way.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Anyone seen my 30 quid?

Were you walking down the lane by the park today? Did you happen to see the gorgeous lass with a bright red buggy at the cash machine? Did you see her having a blonde (she is a redhead!) moment and walking away from the machine, CASHLESS???

If so, you saw ME!

My next question to you then is... ''Did you take my money??''

Gosh, how ditzy (thick!!!) can one get? I'll tell you what swayed my attention away from what I was doing though.. I saw a friend of mine with her child a little way off.. yelled... ''Sian!'' and then hurriedly yanked my bank card out the machine (thank goodness I remembered to do this!), grabbed the baby (thank goodness I remembered to do THIS too!), and walked over to her, well, galloped really. I haven't seen her for a while and wanted a natter!

An expensive natter it turned out to be!

We chatted about this and that, upcoming Christmas parties etc...

''Jen, I am making fairycakes for the toddler group Christmas party on the 17th, what are you making?''

''Hmmm Sian, I hadn't given it much thought to be honest (small things like asthma attacks and hospitalisations being on my mind more!!!), but maybe I should make a healthy platter of carrot batons - julian style - with tomato and cucumber, with dips''

''Oh yes Jen, that is a good idea! And if the kids don't eat them (and we all know that most won't...), we can!''

So there it was. Christmas party goodies sorted.

I still hadn't realised I had £30 missing from my wallet!

I say my goodbyes and saunter into the fruit and veg shop. I did not have my two little helpers (2 and 3 year old mindees that LOVE helping me shop), so had to carry everything to the counter.

I wave hello to the lil one in the buggy. Big smiles.

I chat amicably with the fruit and veg lady ''Where is your hubby today?''

''Here I am!'' comes the gruff reply from behind the semi-closed door. ''Where are your helpers today?'

''With nana and grandad'' I reply. ''They'll be back tomorrow.''

All the while, fruit and veg lady is totting up my goodies. ''£22.80 please.''

I take out my wallet, calmly open the zip, wave to the lil one again, then look in the side pocket, then look in my handbag... maybe I put it there??? My movements are becoming a tad more frantic.

There is no money. I freeze. Where? How? Oh!!!!

''I think I left themoney in the cash machine, I will be back in 2 minutes!''

I run out the store, veer to the right and head straight for the cashpoint, eyeing out everyone with suspision.

I arrive at the cash machine. It is empty. No surprise there!

My first thought is ''What do I tell hubby? Last night I told him we had a phone bill for £127 for phoning my mum abroad last month... and now this... aaaaaahhh!!!''

I might as well just donate all my salary to charity... at least then something worthwhile is being done with it.. and it is being handled responsibly!

The walk back to the fruit and veg shop was slower. I am not a happy bunny. I take out my card (yes, the card), and pay with it.

''Do I tell my husband?'' I ask the fruit and veg lady.

''No, don't. I never tell mine about my parking fines''. She grins.

What is the first thing I do when I get home? I phone my husband...

Did I tell him?

Sunday, 23 November 2008


Sorry, here with unhappy news again re ttc... hubby and I have been trying for 5 years to have a child, and the last year and a half have been having test after test, his final *test* was last month when he had a little operation. We found out on Thursday that it was not successful. So we will never have a biological child together.

We have always wanted a BIG family, a couple of our own and then adopt a couple of kids too, and now science has told us we have no choice... been crying loads, keen to adopt at some stage (far too stressful to go through all that now though), will check out the donor route in the meanwhile too... just feel all upside down and angry and fed up.

My hubby was reading stories to my 3 x 1 year olds (kids I mind) on Thursday afternoon when he got back from the hospital, and it was so hard to sit there watching him, I was fighting back the tears... he is a born daddy, an amazing man... and this has been denied him. Denied us.

Why do so many people have kids so easily and don't care for them properly and others battle SO much??? We have a solid marriage and a loving home. I have always longed to have a child, and when I met my husband, that longing only increased, knowing what a dad he would be. I don't have words anymore, just tears.

I know it'll get better with time, but right now I cannot see past tomorrow. I also have a husband who is dealing with much guilt, and I am trying to be strong for him and have told him over and over it's not his problem, it's ours, and that we will be parents one day. But it won't have curls and specs... like ours invariably would. Right now, we cannot get past that.

I am a firm Christian and do know God performs miracles, and am praying for one, but at this stage I am just seeing red and cannot stop crying. Adoption is also a miracle in itself, I know how very very special it is... but at the moment we are both grieving for our children that will never be.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

''Spud and beans ma'am?''

I have to say I LOVE travelling, but the novelty and excitement of airports is long gone!!!

We always fly with Virgin for our longhaul flights and on our very first flight with them they ran out of food!!!! We were on a direct overnight flight from London to South Africa (11 hours!) and we could hear the steward telling those in front of us ''sorry ma'am, we only have 2 of the 3 choices left now...'' and didn't think much of it tbh.

But, when they got to us they said ''we have run out of food, we are so sorry! But we can offer you a spud with beans, the steward food. Plus you can have free food from the snack counter all night (twas a night flight)''. (!!!)

We were NOT happy! I was dieting (no carbs!!!) and beans on a flight are a big no no for me haha. And I didn't want crisps and chocolate and *crap* to eat for 11 hours! So we were starving by the time we reached Joburg.

We were not charmed and thankfully every flight since with Virgin has been a good one. But seriously Richard (Branson), you do need to ensure your fridge is stocked properly dear lad!!!

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Mistlefingers and Farmer Christmas...

As a woman who has tried to have a child of my own for many years, my mindees fill a special gap in my life that I cannot fully explain.

The kids literally fall through the (open!) door when they arrive and dive into my arms, do they never tire of me??? Their love is overwhelming... I love the tickles, the hugs, the knackered head on my shoulder, the little hand reaching for mine, watching them take their little starting steps and the pride when they have made their first poo in the potty at my place! Mums at my toddler group thought I was the kids' mum at first, till we got to chatting and they realised I wasn't... I do treat them as if they were my own, so easy mistake ;)

''What is mistlefingers used for?'' asks my inquisitive three year old...


''Farmer Christmas is going to bring you a Stanley train if you are good!''

hehe I got the hint! I chuckle so often over the funny little things they say when they start to talk, with mispronuniciation or not understanding the meaning... never a dull moment when you are dealing with adorable little sponges.

From a *high flying* and thankless corporate job, to being home as a childminder has meant the world to me. Wouldn't change it for anything... not for all the t in china.

Some refreshing Goodwill

'A charity shop in the US has returned £5,000 to a man who mistakenly donated the money with a pair of old shoes'

The story goes on to say how a new assistant found the money in the shoebox the shoes came with, turned it into Goodwill Charity management... they then had to track the owner down! Which they did! What a breath of fresh air to see that there ARE honest people in the world.. would you have turned the money in? ;)

Photo from article below

Monday, 17 November 2008

For all the childminders out there...


Pride & Prejudice: My all-time favourite!!!!!!!

Oh gosh, but isnt Colin Firth the MOST delectable Mr Darcy? I am a huge Pride and Prejudice fan, I really enjoy Jane Austen as an author generally, but think P&P was her masterpiece. Lance got me this poignant movie on our 1st year wedding anniversary, from Jane Austen's own home (now a museum) in Bath. The BBC version in 1995 is long but just fabulous, and I try and watch it every 3 months or so. Colin Firth is an amzaing Darcy, and Jennifer Ehle plays a becoming Elizabeth.

Blog of the day on!

Today I am back at work! Will take it easy with the kids as am not 100% yet, but am feeling so much better! Delighted. I also got another lovely surprise.... my blog is 'blog of the day' on! It's exciting (albeit a tad unnerving) knowing other people are reading about my life.. my thoughts, my photos etc. But I do love writing and sharing, and am grateful for this award today.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Buying *fat clothes*

As a well rounded, curvaceous woman, I used to always try and hide myself in *too big* clothes, shapeless tops etc. and I now buy from Simply Be and Evans... pay a bit (okay, a lot in some cases!) more but the cuts are more flattering and I actually feel quite fashionable again! (check out the ethnic style top in the photo). The only downside is that most of the shopping is done online, so you cannot try anything on... but it's worth it.

I hate shopping for clothes as most shops just wouldn't have my size, so it isn't much fun. Why even bother? When my sister would say 'let's go shopping'.. I was just not interested - still aren't to be honest - as she would be able to browse AND try on... me, I would just browse. It is disheartening... plus, even when I was much slimmer, I wasn't into shopping anyhow, so that hasn't changed.

It doesn't help that my hubby - bless him, loves me how I am no matter what - would think me sexy in a sack even... but I now try harder with clothes for ME. And I feel sexier and more confident.

Having said that, it is a breath of fresh air to know there are some blokes out there who love you for who you are, and aren't after 'the perfect model' for partners. Shows an inner depth and character, whether male or female I believe.
God has truly blessed me with my man.

Many overweight people are a lot healthier (exercise more and eat more healthily) than people who weigh less. Not always the case though, of course not... but in my experience, it has been so. It's a great shame (and a fallacy) that all large people are thought to be unhealthy!

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Doctor 'cures' HIV with bone marrow transplant...?

'A German doctor claims to have "cured" HIV in a patient by giving him a bone marrow transplant.'

Well if this is so, I hope they get to it and quick!!! 50% of all babies born in Kwazulu Natal in South Africa (and higher rates elsewhere in Africa!) are born HIV positive... basic education like not giving birth naturally etc. is not given to these women and would help so much in preventing the didease spreading. There is MUCH work being done in South Africa for HIV AIDS but it just never seems enough... Unfortunately they say that if this is a 'cure', it'll take decades to be made use of... as the disease does lie dormant for years in some patients.

We may have British ancestry, but we have been born and bred in Africa, and are Africans in mind, soul and spirit. Yes, you do get 'white' Africans ;) When Africa is in your blood it's tough not to yearn for her soil (especially as there are so many people in need)... and, whilst we are living on this little island of Britain, we will continue to be vocal advocates of the majesty that is South Africa, Africa's southern-most tip.

We are wanting to work with AIDS orphans when we return home to South Africa. So many children are orphaned not once, but twice. Two generations of people are being wiped out. They need our help. NOW. Just wish we could leave sooner. All in God's time.

A fresh g'morn to you!

It's early morning here in London... Wimbledon Common across the road is in thick mist and complete blackness, there is the odd car going past with late-night partiers... we are off the street though, so hardly hear anything which is good. I have been reading other people's blogs and am delighted to have found some really interesting and thoughtful ones.

I will write about my rather interesting 5 day hospital stay (7th-11th Nov 08) in the next day or two, when I feel a tad stronger. Being in the first ward was like being on a Fawlty Towers set half the time... with a certain cantancerous patient not wanting to wear her gown (not a pretty sight when the subject - bless her - is 79 in the shade...), a bulemic refusing to eat anything but chocolates and junk food and then only to 'rid' herself of it ugh, an old dear looking for her 'lost earring' in the middle of the night (whilst she is asleep...), a 101 year old (celebrated whilst I was there!) having hallucinations of missing children and shouting out all through the night... and this was just an ordinary medical ward... !!!

So it's off to bed for me now... my pillow calls. Chat soon x

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Fairest Cape creatures

Table Bay Harbour seal (sleeping!) by you.

We had just been for an enjoyable 2 hour sail
(Cape peninsula), and spotted this sleeping seal in the
harbour.. not at all concerned with all the flurry and noise
around him...

Boulders penguins by you.

Making a birthing nest... along Boulders beach in Cape Town (South Africa) there are hundreds of these 'nests'... many under shrub and vegetation, these in the open. Yes... some penguins enjoy the heat too!!!

Boulders penguins by you.

Pilansberg wildlife... a few shots...

Here are some of our wildlife shots - I cannot wait for our holiday to sunny South Africa in January - taking in the sun, the air, the smiles. More photos are found at this flickr link!

Wildlife in South Africa photos

This gorgeous hornbill was in the tree right next to our bungalow, in Pilansberg Game Reserve.

Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill (Tockus leucomelas) by you.

A lone elephant bull... not too phased by us. We are always wary around lone bulls, they might be in musk! This one was... and we kept a safe distance away...

Elephant by you.

Pilansberg Game Reserve is a neighbour of Sun City
and the Lost City.
A good idea is to live in one, and visit
the other. Two vastly different experiences! The park has
over 200km of good dirt roads, so one feels confident as
a driver to self-drive. They have guided day and night
tours too.

The park is actually in the setting of an extinct volcano...
with many rare types of plant life and rocks structures, with
some minerals found too, it is studied by scientists and
geologists from all over the world.

In the park you will find a number of Iron and Stone Age sites...
very exciting! The whole park is bordered by 3 ridges/rings
of hills. This structure of the park is named the 'Pilanesberg
National Park Alkaline Ring Complex'. Its vegetation is
'bushveld', settled inbetween the dry Kalahari desert and the
more lush 'lowveld'.

There is a vast bird presence in the park. They have over 300
recorded species. There is a walk you can do where you learn
all about them and the environment you are in.
There is also an
aviary you can visit where you can see about 8 different species
of birds. Whatever you do, do not forget your binoculars, and its
always a good idea to have a South African bird book on hand.

Bird hide at the waterhole by you.

The hides are a wonderful way of viewing the birds. They are
hardly aware you are there as you are under cover, and it is
sheltered, with seating. The floors do creak alot though, so be
careful to walk as quietly as possible, so as not to frighten the
birds away.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

My triggers as an asthma sufferer... take note if you battle with asthma too!

Here are some of my worse triggers:

cigarette smoke
perfume/aftershave smell
cleaning detergent smell
cold weather
physical exertion
head colds/flu

I have been feeling rundown for a while, and stressed... my dads death, ongoing infertility tests and treatments, hubby's lil op last month etc. then I got bad head cold 2 weeks ago and the weather is really cold... so a combination of all this I think ... head cold, weather and rundown.

I also should have gone to the doc/called an ambulance a lot quicker than I did - I tried to control it myself too long. The docs have given me a good talking to! I was coughing and wheezing so badly I wet myself.

Lance is back at work today, he took a few days off work to be with me, spent over 8 hours at hospital with me every day, he's so supportive, am so blessed to have a husband like him. Home is SPOTLESS, he bought new bed linen, did all the laundry etc.

Got to go, can't sit here for long, need to get back to bed.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Severe asthma attack!

I have just got back from hospital, having had a severe asthma attack, the worse in many years - 5 days in their nasty gowns and having a mask on your face, trying to breath, aint my idea of fun! Add to that 2 hallucinating women, one who enjoys taking her clothes off... and so NO sleep for the first 2 nights, only getting some sleep when they moved me to a quieter ward.

I am still not 100%, I had a severe attack on Friday which knocked me for six, a friend got me to the doc's, I then hitched a ride in an ambulance to A&E on Fri. I had a milder attack last week.. which should have sent off alarm bells!!!!

Am weak, achy, wheezy, but lungs are stronger. Had enough drugs to last me a bally lifetime! Arms are full of bruises.. I look like a junkie! My peak flows are still low, but hospital Doc let me come home on the provisio I continue with vigilant self care and REST. I will write about the ward antics in the next day or two, when stronger... it was like a Fawlty Towers ward!!!!

Debs, thanks for your neverending care girl, I love you loads. Hansi... thanks for not bringing your video camera into the ward... I didn't look very pretty with cannula, nebuliser, hospital gown et al ;)

It is amazing how texts and knowing people support you in trying times helps you get through them... thank you everyone xxx

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Last night

Boy, after a great time with the Early Years Advisor, I had an AWFUL time from 5pm on!

One of my parents said they would pick up lo's (sibs) an hour earlier than usual, as they were going to see fireworks. So I got them ready 10 mins before allotted time. The one child had looked a little peaky earlier, white face and a little clingy, just unlike her usual self. I took her temp, all fine. Then 2 mins after they were coated up and ready, she brought up all her tea!!!

I thought, well mum will be here in 2 mins so let me concentrate on changing lil one and not necessary to phone. Lil one bathed and changed (extra clothes were SUMMER clothes so I was going to dress her in some of her brother's clothes if need be..). No sign of mum. I phone her to ask how close she is when she is 15 mins late.. stuck in traffic FAR AWAY!!!

I really wish she's phoned to let me know this, as, aside from the fact the lo was ill, they were expecting her!!! And they get grizzly when she's late, she knows this!

The next HOUR was a nightmare of me having to carry the sick lo around (she wanted 'cuddles from Guggy' continually), whilst she was crying her heart out... that hard continual cry, you know? Asking for mummy all the time. Big brother decides he needs attention too and suddenly he has a sore tummy... and he starts irritating the 1 yr old in my care. She starts crying too, clinging to me, wanting me to carry her too.

So I have a 1 and 2 yr old, both crying on my lap, and a 3rd child asking to go on my lap too (trying to push the 1 yr old off!)... I have not been 100% myself, as I have a cold and no voice at the mo. So having to repeatedly ask him to behave himself was doing me no favours. My squeeky voice is getting squeekier by the minute!

1 year old goes home at proper time. Phew, only two left now.. lap can cope better now! Wondering all the time where the parents are...

Tried to distract with all kinds of things, even to the point of playing the Night Garden game on the compy, as I know they enjoy this at home (I have never played this with them till now). Works for all of 3 mins???

Then... finally.. only over an HOUR late... dad arrives (with a coat as I had told mum I had no winter clothes for sick child), he had been working from home (under 10 mins drive away!!!!!). Why couldn't he come earlier???? He knew about the outing and that she had been sick!?

And of course, the kids wanted mummy... not him... so renewed tears from 2 yr old and a tantrum from the 3 yr old!!!

I love those two.. but had never been happier to see the back of them I have to say!!! I was pooped. I have them for 11 hours and the final couple of hours just took it outta me. Sorry if this makes me sound horrible and thanks for letting me moan.