Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Childbirth the Google way

A few hours before the event - Trust me to take a selfie!

It was a quiet Friday afternoon at the office & I was preparing for a meeting.

J walks into my office and says, "I think my water just broke"
Never having a child before, I asked her a few questions (Got to love Google) & confirmed the diagnosis: She was in labour.

Off we go to the hospital... how ironic that the 1 friend who doesn't like kids is the driving her to the hospital!

I am very calm in most situations - so while waiting to see the doc I happily read to J about everything she could expect to happen in the ensuing hours. 
The receptionist insisted that J was not in labour - I disagreed and spent the next hour helping J with the aid of Google.
When the doc finally saw her, he confirmed she was in labour and off we went to admissions. 

Hospital staff and Post Office staff seem to have a running competition to see who can assist you in the slowest manner possible. 

Eventually J was settled into her bed & the fun part started. Contractions, closer and closer....

I told her about a sentence I had recently read in a book - Giving birth is like the petals of a flower gently opening to allow the baby out. (Clearly written by a man not experiencing the uterus-splitting pain) 
It made her laugh when things got really sore though. 

There isn't much you can do when a contraction strikes, but after 3.5 hours experience, I can suggest the following:
  1. Have a towel handy for her to sit on while waiting to be admitted - when water breaks... it isn't a once off thing, it keeps coming every now and then.
  2. Bring an energy drink for her to sip between contractions, she needs every bit of energy she has. (& maybe even a snack if she feels like eating)
  3. Have something soft like a stress ball that she can grab or squeeze when the pain gets bad.
  4. Have a soft cloth or towel to wet with cool water for her forehead or back of her neck.  
Childbirth isn't very glamorous at all - perhaps schools should let young girls spend the afternoon amongst the women writhing in pain for hours - it might help put them off & make them go out and immediately buy contraception!

6 hours or so later, little Levi popped out & it was over. 

Regardless of her sleepless nights, she is still looking great - motherhood agrees with her.
Now the hard part starts... 
Raising a little person to be a good & kind person. To enjoy all that life has to offer and not be affected by the bad things in the world.

I drove home and thought about my mom and her 23 hours of labour and loved her even more just for going through all that to bring me into this world...

Mothers (the good ones) truly are special blessings on this earth.


Thursday, 2 October 2014

Financial Planning

Something many of us don't think about until it is too late.

My dad recently had a stroke. Luckily they caught it in time, because apparently strokes come in pairs and the 2nd one is usually the killer.
I was unaware that Diabetics had a 80% higher chance of having a stroke than usual. Scary statistics!

My dad is 71 and he is unfortunately not in a position to retire. I am terrified that his health worsens soon (at his age it is inevitable) and what does he do then?

His retirement savings were stolen a few years back when Zimbabwe worsened and my dad was so disillusioned that he never took out a new policy. Something I only just discovered.
He pretty much dug his head in the sand and pulled it out now when it is too late. His reason - he has no money for policies.
I get that.
I get that feeling of counting every penny and wondering how it is going to last long enough to buy food at the end of the month.
My brother is in that exact same situation now. He and my sister-in-law live in a cottage on my parent's plot. Thanks goodness for lots of land. But that means nothing when you have ZERO money when you aren't able to work anymore.
How do you support your children?
How do you support yourself without becoming a burden on your children/family?

This situation with my dad has prompted me to force my brother to at least apply for an Income Protection  case of disability etc, at least he has something.
It is too late for my dad.
No companies will underwrite any policyholder older than 70.

The reason I am telling this story?
To hopefully help at least 1 person plan for their future. Please don't underestimate the importance of this!
Something, anything is better than nothing.

Contact a financial adviser and tell him what you can afford.
A great financial adviser will not make you feel guilty. They will advise you of what you should do, but they will work around what you have.
If they chastise you or try to strong-arm you - call someone else. Just don't give up and leave it.

I have a great adviser - he works for Liberty in and around JHB and Pretoria - let me know if you want his details.

For as little as R200 monthly you can protect your income and for a R500 monthly moderate risk investment, you can receive a lump sum back in 5 years time. At the end of the day - you are
investing in yourself and a better future - please love yourself enough to do this so that you can live a long life without added stress.


Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Family - Animals Included

Last week, I spent Heritage Day with my family. I said goodbye to our 12 year old Rottweiler, Tyson. He had arthritis in his back legs and eventually was unable to walk. He spent his last days lying under an umbrella with his head on a comfy pillow with water and food nearby. His entire body moved with the wagging of his tail when he saw me, but he couldn't get up to greet me. My heart broke.

He was euthanized the next day.

This sweet doggy went for walks with my dad every morning and wagged his tail profusely whenever he saw me. When I handed him a treat, he gently took it in his mouth so as not to hurt me.
I wish I had digital photos to put up here, but in those days I still had a film camera.

RIP Tyson - you were a lovely doggy.

Onto happier topics...


My nephew Noah .

He is now 3.5 years old, He is a proper handful. He is a sweet child, but full of boundless energy.

I played Hide & Go Seek, Catch and all sorts of other games with this happy little boy.

I even managed to get him to pose for a photo or 2, before he ran off to find something else to do.

With Grandad
I am happy that my parents have a grandchild - they are wonderful grandparents - they deserve to have a little boy to spoil and make feel loved. There is nothing like a grandparent's love to make one feel special.
With Nanna

With Mom & Dad
In between photos, we walked around the lovely garden & fed the 2 new additions - 2 big Tortoises (Don't you just love Spring?)
My dad discovered that a rose he had transplanted had not survived, Noah pushed the dead shoot back into the ground and proclaimed: "There! I fixed it!"

Noah & his Aunty
Now I know why everybody tells you not to wait too long to have kids - because boy do you need endless reserves of energy to keep up!


Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Diner en Blanc - with an extra serving of Hail

Gone are the days of elegant sophistication and refined dinners where smartly dressed guests participated in inane conversation. 
Woman yawned politely behind their hand and men downed their scotch - each waiting for the time when it would be polite to leave.

Forward to 2014. 

Setting Up
Diner en Blanc - a concept that began 25 years ago in Paris. 
Read more about it here

People dressed head to toe in their white finery. Shoes so new, they blind you.
Armed with picnic baskets and flowers, the excited attendees alight the bus and walk to their secret destination - the Library Lawns on the WITS University Campus.

Elegance amongst the majestic buildings

The view that awaited us was beautiful. Imagine a flurry of activity in a sea of white. It was a beautiful sight - if I hadn't been so darn excited I would have focused my camera and actually taken a photo that was clear enough to show you!

My sunglasses are definitely not a part of the theme!

10 minutes were allowed for us to set up a table with as much decor (all in white) as we were able to carry. (I don't think the Team Leader was actually clock watching - as she was quite busy running around herding her team in)

A couple next to us had brought a little tree, complete with bubbles to insert some baby's breath and flameless votives - the effect was gorgeous.

Left: Our decor | Middle: Neighbour
The finished result
Feathers & Pearls are an easy way to add luxury to table decor without spending a lot of money. To add some ambiance, Candles or Fairy Lights are always a winner.
We opted to forego candles as the wind is bound to cause some mischief with the candles.
Feathers & Pearls
We fell in love with a little white orchid (Orchids are my favourite flower) and thought it would be a lovely reminder of the event.
How cute is my T behind all the feathers & flowers?

The balloons tied to our chairs were bobbing up and down and ruining my photos, so I pretended to be a model:
"Staring at Nothing"pose

The obligatory "DuckFace"
The "Oh look, casually drinking wine"pose

We had just gotten through our starter when a light drizzle began to fall.
This was expected - with 1 hand covering our wine (diluted wine is a big no-no) we donned our clear/white ponchos.
The mood was festive and the rain added to that extra bit of excited atmosphere that enveloped us.

Romance in the rain
Without any warning, there was a clap of thunder & hail began to pelt down. Imagine a scene in a disaster movie - this is pretty much the scene that unfolded before us.
I grabbed the precious orchid to hide it under the table, and reached for the camera, handbag and our glass of wine and we fled.
Hail stones were beating don on our heads and my exposed legs as we ran through puddles and fallen leaves.
We unsuccessfully tried to huddle up in an alcove, but there were too many people. We heard someone exclaim"The Great Hall"!"and we dashed after them into the warm protection of a building.

Settling down we realised that we had successfully salvaged our wine - running full speed I had not messed a drop - and T had only a teeny little splash on the leg of his pants.

Grinning at our foresight, we happily drank our wine as we watched the drenched people around us trying to get dry.
Apart from the water dripping from our hair, the top half of our bodies were relatively dry.

Drowned Rats - but at least we have wine
With some time to kill while the storm raged outside, we explored the eery corridors of the university.
Isn't it funny how all universities and old hospitals have that creepy echo in the corridors?

Despite the rain & being stranded by our bus or the discovery that our basket had been ransacked by looters, we had still laughed hard and had so much fun - this will definitely go down in the memory banks as a wonderful and special memory for the 2 of us.

Lasting memories

If this event happens in your part of the world, I suggest you start saving for it now.
It is a bit on the expensive side, but if you watch the videos of what to expect (lighting sparklers and dancing) & what we experienced in an hour - I think it will be well worth it.

And in case you are wondering - the orchid survived it all & now has a place of pride in my loft.


Monday, 22 September 2014

{Bookless Club} Breakfast at Tiffany's

What a gorgeous day for Champagne & OJ
I don't entertain nearly enough as what I should.

I debated for hours over the perfect table and chairs and now I never seem to be home in order to entertain!

Luckily with Bookless Club taking place every 6 weeks, I know I will entertain on every 3rd rotation.

The girls go all out with themes (it used to be simple things like "Feather Boas"or "Comfortable Shoes") and they have been inadvertently been challenging me to Up My Game.
The purpose of having a theme is to get us to think creatively and use what we have without buying costumes or props if we can help it.
So far, we have all managed to do a really good job!

This is a theme I have wanted to do for a while and as per usual, I remembered on a Friday afternoon and scrambled to prepare (what can I say - I work well under pressure)

The theme for this event was Breakfast at Tiffany's

I had ordered cupcakes to be baked especially for the event from The Cupcake Boutique. Usually delicious, I was let down by the taste.
At least they looked pretty!
Special Order
I printed some cute props to use for photos and used a kebab stick as a handle.
Surprisingly, the girls didn't complain too much for photos! Our biggest challenge was remembering to smile behind the glasses!

Faking it with Prop Sunglasses
Now we know how to smile!
Once again my grandmother's possessions came in very handy, I wish she were around to see how many times I use he stuff for events & decor. (Pearls in the foreground and a diamante bracelet I was wearing)

Table Decor
Tips and Tricks:

  1. Never throw items away that could be used to decorate a table. Something small like a feather boa can take your table from ordinary to extra-ordinary.
  2. Linen napkins immediately improve the classiness of an event- Mr Price Home have a beautiful and very affordable range
  3. Using easy printable and a bit of tape and imagination will save you a lot of money.