Click over to my Reviews blog to read about my shiny new toy - the very sexy new Spindel. http://www.tertia.org/reviews/2014/09/the-new-spindel-even-sexier-than-before.html
Click over to my Reviews blog to read about my shiny new toy - the very sexy new Spindel. http://www.tertia.org/reviews/2014/09/the-new-spindel-even-sexier-than-before.html
*Updated: At the request of a few people, I have created a fund raising page here: http://www.gofundme.com/ekkoro. Thanks to those who suggested it**
I have been feeling particularly sorry for myself lately. Life is a little challenging for one of my children, which finishes me. It is really hard to see your child struggle with certain issues. Not for yourself, but for your child. As a parent, your heart aches for your child. For their today, and for their tomorrow. No parent wants their child to struggle any more than they have to, life is hard enough as it is without having to deal with additional challenges that aren’t easily or quickly resolved.
And then recently I got a giant dose of perspective. A massive big slap on the side of the head that made me realize that our ‘challenges’ are nothing in comparison to what so many other face. That we have so much to be grateful for.
We have a new domestic worker at home. Her name is Happiness and she brings us much happiness. Happiness is quite shy and doesn’t talk much. Jayde asked her last week why she wasn’t eating anything and Happiness told her that she was fasting for three days. Apparently Happiness and the members of her church were fasting for her 18 month old son Lwando, who is unable to walk.
Aside: As I have mentioned before, there are two health care systems in South Africa. One that is free, sponsored by the Government. The other is the private healthcare system for those who can afford it. While both healthcare systems are staffed by incredibly competent, skilled medical professionals, they are two completely different worlds. I am generalizing here, but in general the government healthcare system is severely overloaded and in some cases tragically under-resourced. The private healthcare system is world class in terms of service etc. When I go to the doctor, I have an appointment (which I can get within a day or so, hardly any waiting), I sit in a plush waiting room and I get treated with five star service. When Happiness goes to the doctor, she has to be in the waiting room by 8am. There are no appointments. It doesn’t matter if you are supposed to be at work, you have to sit there and wait. You all sit in a waiting room that is the opposite of plush. You could wait there all day sometimes. The staff there work extremely hard, it is very difficult for them to give 5 star service to the 100s of patients that line the waiting room.
Happiness had taken Lwando to be assessed by the doctors at the government hospital because he wasn’t achieving any milestones. At 14 months he was unable to sit, and certainly unable to stand. He was also very small. At 18 months he weighs 7,4 kgs (16 pounds). The size of a 6 month old baby.
I asked Happiness what the doctors said the issue was with her son, but she said she didn’t know. She wasn’t sure what the doctors had said, they hadn’t told her much. They gave her a whole lot of letters (referral letters) and told her to take him to see other doctors and professionals. She said she asked the doctor whether her son would ever walk, and the doctor shrugged and said “maybe”. And so she fasted. And prayed. And hoped. And had no idea what was going on
I asked Happiness to bring the letters to me to read so I could perhaps see what I could make out from the letters. The letters were unopened, unread. I opened them and what I read made my heart sink: “Evolving spastic and dystonic cerebral palsy affecting all four limbs (quad) due to perinatal asphyxia, Pulmonary Hypoplasia, congenital diaphragmatic hernia (repaired after birth), global development delays”.
Oh no! My heart broke for Happiness and Lwando. I read up like mad on the diagnoses and emailed the CP support groups in SA for more information. I downloaded various booklets in Xhosa and then I steeled myself to have the conversation with Happiness. I said to her “Happiness, I am going to tell you what I understand from these letters. It is not going to be easy to hear but I am going to tell you what I believe the truth is, because there is no other way to say it”. And she said “yes please, please tell me the truth. No one is telling me what is going on”.
And so I told her, in as simple a way as I understood the truth to be, about CP and about how it might affect her and her son. I explained about brain damage. I explained to her the difference between an OT and a PT and why it was so important for her to take him to the sessions. I explained about feeding, about wheel chairs, about support.
And she thanked me afterwards (which made me feel terrible :( ), she said she was just so glad that someone was open with her. She said that everyone was berating her for not having enough faith. That he WOULD walk one day if she just prayed more / fasted more etc. I said that we don’t know whether he will or wont walk, but it had nothing to do with whether she was ‘faithful’ enough, and that the best thing for him would be for him to get as much help as he can right now.
And then I checked the rest of her hospital letters and read that Lwando had a MRI booked for two days’ time, thank goodness I checked. Happiness knew nothing about it. I phoned the hospital and they said that Happiness had to admit her son the next day and then stay overnight with him so that the child was nil per mouth the next morning. Happiness told me that there are no beds for the moms to stay overnight. They all have to sleep on the ground or a plastic chair.
(Unfortunately Lwando got ill the night before the MRI and so was not healthy enough to undergo sedation. She has to wait until 4pm the next day to get medication for him. She had to wait around the WHOLE day just to get the meds. The MRI has been postponed to January)
Happiness has only been working for me for two months, she was working only a few days a week before then, when she was able to get work. I know times were very tough for her. She said that she was scared to ask for time off previously to take him to the doctor or therapy because she was scared to lose her job. I told her that she HAS to take him to therapy / the doctor and if it meant she has to take time off each week, then so be it. She will not lose her job because of it, certainly not from me.
It made me so sad. Not just because of the little boy’s diagnosis, but it was a stark reminder how little so many South Africans have. And how the legacy of poverty is so hard to escape. The lack of education, of information. The access to care, to knowledge. That someone needs a job so badly that she would be too scared to ask for time off to take her child to the doctor. And yet, this is the reality for so many people. Therapy can seem like a luxury when you have no food for your children. And here I am, taking my child to OT and speech and all the other therapies without even realizing how fortunate I am that I am (a) able to afford it and (b) have the luxury of time to be able to take my child. As a mother, my heart aches for her.
I am going to do what I can to help Happiness and Lwando. There are things I am doing already (like paying her as well as I can, and giving her all the time off she needs), I have donated a whole lot of furniture to her as well, but I would like to do more. Help her with knowledge and also with practical things. I have already gathered as much information as I can from the internet. She is Xhosa speaking and her English is limited.
If anyone has any advice or contacts for us to help her to help her child, please let me know. If there are support groups (especially Xhosa speaking support!) we would love to know about it.
Those who have experience with CP, what is the most important thing she needs to know right now? Any suggestions re exercises, treatment, feeding etc. Lwando is 18m now.
Then on a practical level, I would like to do for her now is get a pram / stroller for her son so that they can take him out (she doesn’t have one as she couldn’t afford it previously) and eventually I would like to get a wheelchair for her child once he is older.
Are there any other things that she could use to make it easier for her and for him? Any equipment / aids / seating things?
If anyone has a pram / stroller to donate to Happiness, we would be eternally grateful. I think it would make life a lot easier for both of them if she could take him out in a pram. **Updated - we have a pram, thank you so much to the kind soul who donated one to Happiness and Lwando**
And any other donations of gently used clothes for a little boy would be great. Or anything else that might help her. As I mentioned, he is only 7.4kgs, so I guess he would fit into age 6-12 month or 12 – 18 month clothes. I had unfortunately donated all Max’s stuff before Happiness joined us.
My heart aches for Happiness and Lwando. Happiness and Lwando could have been Ben and I in another world, in another lifetime. If Ben had lived, he would very likely have had some sort of CP as well, as he had a fairly significant brain bleed. I can’t help thinking that this could have been me, and that somehow it is part of my destiny that I have to help Happiness help her son. Because I would hope that if Ben had lived and had a disability, someone would have reached out to help us, especially if we didn’t have very many resources ourselves.
Any advice or support would be appreciated.
It seems impossible to me, in this day and age, that there are conditions / illnesses that have no cure. How can it be that there can be something 'wrong' with you and there is no medical expert or medicine that can, if not cure it, manage it. How can this be the case? Surely somewhere, someone must be able to fix it and / or make it better?
My sister has Dystonia. I am heartbroken for her. She got dystonia two years ago by taking some ordinary, common, widely prescribed medication. It triggered something in her system and just like that, she had dystonia. She has dystonia in her mouth - her tongue, palate and jaw. Which means that all day, all the time, her tongue, jaw and palate spasm involuntarily. Hard, repetitive, uncontrollable, involuntary, painful spasms. Can you imagine living like that every day, all day? Trying to talk while your tongue is going crazy? It is devastating. I am devastated for her. She doesn't want pity, she doesn't even want sympathy. What she wants is a cure. And SURELY there must be a cure?! If the dystonia started with medication, why can't we find medication to control it?
I have readers from all over the world - do any of you know anyone or any expert or anything that might help my sister? She has seen someone about Deep Brain Stimulation but apparently isn't a candidate for it. She was originally refused Botox treatment for it, for fear of her choking, but she is going to try some Botox in her jaw and palate soon. She has also tried lots of medication, but nothing seems to work.
I refuse to believe that this is how it will be forever. Yes, she has dystonia, and maybe the dystonia will always be there, but there MUST be a way to make it easier / better for her to function on a daily basis. There has to be a solution. There just has to be.
Please read her blog post about living with dystonia, it is very raw and very real. It might give you an insight into what it is like living this this terrible disease. http://singaporefling-mel.blogspot.com/2014/09/life-with-dilbert.html
September is Dystonia Awareness Month. We have done the pink ribbons (and silly FB bra posts) for breast cancer, we have done ice-bucket challenges for ALS. Please can you just spend 5 minutes of your time reading my sister's blog post and learning just a little bit more about this terrible disease. Wikipedia article on dystonia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dystonia
To my dear sister, I know you don't want people to feel sorry for you. And I know you don't want to be considered a hero or an inspiration (because you would FAR rather not have the kak to deal with. Please can someone else be the hero). But I will say I am firstly really sorry that you are having to deal with this really, really difficult challenge, and secondly I am very proud of you. Not for being brave; you are brave because you have to be, you don't have a choice. I understand that. I am proud of you for still finding joy in your every day life, living life as fully and completely as you can, even when there is so much pain and struggle to deal with. Because THAT is being brave. I love you.
You know how sometimes you get the urge to do the “right thing” and then you lose your mind completely by deciding to act on those urges? As in “tomorrow morning I am going to get up at 5am and go to gym” or “As of today, I will go on a wine detox for 4 weeks” or something stupid like that. And then your alarm goes off at 5am or 5pm rolls around and the only thing standing between you and insanity is a glass of Chardonnay and you think W.T.actual.F was I thinking, I must have been drunk when I came up with that idea.
Today I decided that I was going to cook supper for the family. As in a real supper involving the use of BOTH the stove AND the oven, involving only minimal use of the microwave. With actual pots and pans and stuff. And we were all going to sit down at the dining room table and act like a normal family.
I told my family about it and their reaction was slightly less than enthusiastic.
Twins: GROAN! WHY mom, why! Why do you hate us so!
Husband: I think your mother is drunk.
I cheerily put on my apron and told my family that not only WILL they eat the supper I am about to cook, but they will LIKE it too.
I then poured myself a lovely glass of wine and sent a text message to my mother who is selfishly gallivanting across the globe leaving me alone to figure out how to cook all by myself, to ask her how to cook the carrots that taste like sweets. You know, when there is lots of butter and sugar in it. Because I figured the only way my children would eat the carrots I made is if I disguised them with butter and sugar. She was not available. (Selfish.) I then phoned my sister to ask her. She was of no use at all. She even laughed at me. Horrible sister, am thinking of unfriending her. She told me to ask someone Afrikaans. So I Skyped my mother-in-law in Holland who very kindly explained EXACTLY how to cook carrots. Because she is Afrikaans. And because she loves me. She knows me well enough to tell me step by step (example: you have to peel the carrots first.) I poured another smidgen of wine and spent 20 minutes catching up with my MIL.
I then laid the table and cooked the food. Everything came out perfectly. I called my delightful family to the dinner table and we all sat down. I said we were now going to talk about our day, like normal families do. Adam said that he thought he might vomit if he ate the carrots. Marko said he has to have three bites at least. Kate gagged a few times and so in order to preserve my peaceful illusion of happy family dining, I told her she only had to eat two more bites. Which made Adam very upset because why did he have to eat three bites and Kate only had to eat two and then Adam teased Max and Max got upset and so I shouted at Adam and he sulked and then I thought W.T.actual.F was I thinking. I made the decision never to do that again. I hate cooking. I really, really hate cooking. I suck at it. And my children don’t like eating anything other than the simple meals they are used to. Cooking (anything other than the plain, simple meals my family are used to) = a terrible idea.
Next time I get the idea to pretend to be some kind of suburban housewife just give me a short sharp smack on the side of the head. Pour me another glass of wine and point me in the direction of the microwave. Let’s stick to what we know.
Last week I received the best customer service I have ever received in my life. I was so blown away that I thought I had to share it with as many people I could.
One of the prescription medications we use has been out of stock across the whole country. I tried my usual pharmacy and was told that they hadn't had it in stock for a while. I then tried the other pharmacies in the area, nothing. I started phoning wider - nothing. I eventually called the manufacturer in JHB and was told that there hadn't been stock in a while, it was a country wide shortage. I panicked! I suspected that some tiny pharmacy in some one horse town might have it, but how on earth would I find where that was?! And then I had a brainwave, why don't I try Clicks Pharmacy head office and see if by some miracle, they would be able to tell me where some stock was. I called the pharmacy head office and a really lovely woman answered to say that they were all on a course that day, but the person I should speak to was the chap called Waheed Aburahman who was in charge of the purchasing department for schedule-whatever medication and that she would leave a message for him to call me.
At the end of the day, after five, I got a call from Waheed himself asking how he could help me. He was super helpful on the phone and said that he would immediately pull a report and email it to me with a list of all the pharmacies in country who had stock. Which he did, PLUS he highlighted on the report which pharmacies were close to me, what stock they had AND a list of their telephone numbers. I was blown away. Just unbelievable. He didn't pass it off to anyone else, he took the time at the end of his day after a full day on training, to not only call me back, but also email me all the information (and more than I had even asked for) straight away. I have since googled him and I see he has a fairly senior position at Clicks Pharmacy group, and I think he is a pharmacist by profession. And yet he took the time to follow up and help one ordinary person who was looking for her medication. Just fantastic. So, so impressed. I was actually quite emotional afterwards at how kind he was (not in front of him, luckily). Medication is quite a serious thing and the thought of not having any made me feel incredibly anxious.
I told him how grateful I was and how impressed I was with his service and he was so humble about it. He shrugged it off and said he was happy to help. I said I was going to send a letter to his boss to tell him how fantastic he is. Which I am going to do right now.
(BTW, I found some medication in a next door town, thanks to the list Waheed gave me)
In addition: It appears that Clicks Pharmacy have some great staff in general. Another story to share....
The DAY before Marko and I were due to go overseas, Max was diagnosed with flu, the bad kind. We had to get Tamiflu (the swine flu medication) for the whole family as a preventative measure. The problem was that there was a bit of an outbreak in Durbanville so Clicks Durbanville was out of stock. But they kindly called all the Clicks in the area and found stock at three different pharmacies. The pharmacist then offered to drive to the other pharmacy on her way home and pick up the meds for me so that I could collect it from her the next day, which was the day we left for overseas. Which she did. Sorted. Awesome.
Loving Clicks Pharmacy right now. A lot.
Having a child that is different / special needs / developmentally delayed / non-typical is challenging. Not so much because of the extra work required, but mostly because your heart aches for your child when they struggle more than most. No parent wants their child to struggle any more than they have to. Life is hard enough without having to deal with additional challenges.
(And our 'issues' are minor, absolutely minuscule, in comparison to others. My deepest admiration and respect goes out to parents who have to deal with significant issues with their children. Parents of special needs / developmentally delayed children are Super Heroes)
However, the one good thing about having a child that isn't typical, is that you appreciate the milestones and achievements so much more because you know how precious and hard fought for they are. As you might know, Max is significantly speech delayed. He gets speech therapy twice a week and is making great progress. I love seeing how his speech is improving all the time and how this has such a positive influence on the rest of his life.
This weekend we went out for a milkshake and he said "This is AWESOME, it is the best thing I have never tasted!!" It was such a cute moment. Firstly because OMG how cute - the best thing he has never tasted - and also because he is speaking intelligibly in long sentences, yay!!! Makes my heart so happy to see how he is progressing. So proud of him. And it is not just me who thinks so, I got this from his speech therapist yesterday (after school holidays so she hasn't seen him for a month):
"Saw Max today and he is really making significant progress!"
Sweet boy. Am v fond of him.
Every night I lie next to Max while he falls asleep*. (Top bed of double bunk, single mattress. Tiny!) After he falls asleep I gently excavate myself from under the duvet as not to wake him, carefully climb down from the top bunk and quietly leave his room. (Which sounds a lot more graceful than it is. I am more gangly giraffe than elegant elf. Picture a giraffe trying to quietly climb down from a top bunk without waking anyone. Awkward. Amusing. Gangly.) I know you are not supposed to do this (not sure why not?!), I know I ‘baby’ him too much especially seeing as he is five whole years old, but he is my last 'baby'. There are no more babies after this**. It is such a wonderful feeling when your busy little boy’s body goes limp with sleep next to yours. The love you feel for your child in that moment is almost indescribable. It is unspectacular, unseen moments like these that make realize how lucky I am to be a mother. And how fleeting these times are when our children are little and we can protect them from the world by holding them in our arms, literally and figuratively. I am feeling especially blessed tonight***
*This is what you miss out when you have twins. Having twins is wonderful and special and fantastic when they are older, but I really do believe that twin babies (especially twin newborns) is not ideal for either the mom or the babies. You miss out on that very special time when it is just you and the (one) baby. Holding your baby in your arms, staring into each other eyes. Intense, uninterrupted connection. They miss out on that too. Because there is always someone who is waiting to be fed / picked up / held etc. Maybe other twin moms did it better than I did, but I couldn’t manage that special one on one time when I had twin newborns. Whenever I had one in my arms, I felt guilty about the other one that wasn’t in my arms. I have really treasured these moments with Max. (Although, I LOVE having twins now as they have a 24/7 built in playdate. I wish Max had a twin to play with so that the playdate duty wouldn’t be mine!)
**As loving as I am feeling tonight, may I just say HALLELUJAH and praisethelord for that fact. NO MORE CHILDREN FOR ME. Three is my number. I am full up. Done. Neither my head nor my heart (or my bank balance / sanity / life) could cope with any more children.
***The loving feeling I am feeling right now might or might not have something to do with the two glasses of wine I have had + the fact that all my children are asleep + knowing it is Monday tomorrow and said children plus 1x husband will be at school and work tomorrow thereby allowing me to spend some quality time with myself. Yay!
Late update: Slight amendment to loving feeling. 1. One of aforementioned children got out of bed as they needed a number two. Which shouldn’t affect me and yet it does, because GO TO SLEEP! 2. Also, husband asleep already and SNORING. Loudly. Both of which have slight dampening effect on loving feeling. Will soldier on regardless.
Edited to add: It has been harder than we anticipated to get a visa for Rose to work overseas, so she is looking for a nanny job in Joburg instead. She is originally from JHB and is moving back home this weekend. Anyone know of someone who is looking for a Super Nanny in JHB?
Those of you who have been reading my blog for the past 10 years or so will know that my kids and I have been incredibly privileged to have a very special person in our lives to help raise my children. Rose joined our family a week before the twins were born to help me take care of them. (It was supposed to be a month and a bit before they were born but they decided to come early.)
I have often said that Rose is my special gift that I got after going through all the shit I did to have my children. It was as if the universe said “right, you have had an extra shitty time up until now, but here you go – I am sending you Rose to make up for all of that”. I am not sure what I would have done without Rose. Rose helped me so, so much, especially in the first year after the twins were born. Rose loved and cared for my children as if they were her own. In fact, my children believed that Rose’s surname was Albertyn for a long while because they totally thought she was part of our family. They have a mom, a dad and a Rose. If you look back at their family drawings, you will see Rose in all of them.
Rose has been my backup, my children’s other mother for 10 years. I am eternally grateful to her. But it is time for Rose to do something new; she is itching to take on a new chapter in her life. And as sad as that makes me, I fully support her in this. She wants to broaden her horizons and taken on new challenges. Plus her true love is newborns and little babies. She is just unbelievable with babies, and that is what makes her happiest. My children are getting bigger now and although she loves them very much, she needs a bit of a change. And she wants to travel overseas to experience new countries and cultures before she is old like me :)
So, I am putting it out there – Rose would like to be a nanny to a family overseas who need help to take care of a baby or two. Any time from the next month or two or three. I know that many South Africans Au Pair overseas for families abroad. It would be great for her to live overseas for a while, and any family who has Rose as their nanny will be getting the best person they could ever have dreamed of!! She is brilliant brilliant brilliant with kids, she is so hard working, reliable, honest, decent, clever. In return, you would have to accommodate her, pay her an appropriate salary and mostly, treat her with the respect she deserves. You would obviously have to find out what your country’s requirements are in terms of work visas etc. She doesn’t really mind where she goes. She is English speaking.
Please pass the word along to your friends or family if you know they could do with a Rose. I think everyone would love to have a Rose! Please email me to tertiaa @ gmail . com if you are keen.
Some older pics of Rose and the twins
I am writing this from 2937329732 miles above sea level, hopefully on my way home. It has been a great two weeks away, but I am so incredibly glad to be going home. I have missed my kids terribly.
I am too tired to spell check this blog post. Grammar police, this is going to be painful. If you are feeling stabby, I suggest you look away immediately.
I have a love-hate relationship with travel. Going away from home and my kids makes me anxious (surprise! XYZ makes me anxious, how novel), and yet it is such an honour and a privilege to be able to see more of the world. It really is such a gift to visit other countries and cultures. I love and hate going abroad.
I always learn a lot when I travel, some of it is old lessons, some are new. Things I learnt / observed:
Travelling overseas when you are a South African is PAINFUL. OMG things are expensive in Europe. People (Marko! Melany!) say you mustn’t convert but I can’t help myself. Sixty forking Ront for a cappuccino!! It costs R20 in South Africa. R40 for a coke. It costs a third of that in SA. Basically everything is 3x more expensive. I ordered a glass of wine at a not-terribly-posh place, it was 14 farking pounds. Two hundred and eighty ront (give or take a million) for a glass of wine!!!! I can buy three bottles of really, really nice wine for that price. I just couldn’t. In the end, I felt physically ill at how much things cost. I drove Marko mad. Poor guy. I really am a pain in the arse.
Germans are scary! Some really friendly people but also some really strict people! The customer service people were unfriendly and even shouted at people who knowingly or unknowing broke the rules (stepped over the line / went in the wrong queue). Shouted! Marko and I were too scared to ask for help in case someone shouted at us. Plus there was that whole jaywalking incident. So no, Munich is not my favourite place. (Of course, we have only seen a tiny part of Germany and I am sure the rest of Germany is lovely etc. Looked really pretty from the air).
I love London. It is dull and dreary sometimes, overcrowded, busy, frenetic, dirty and full of non-residents, but I love it. I love how small and big it is at the same time. I just hate the bloody exchange rate, but that is not London’s fault.
Priceline is a win! I have used Priceline a few times in a few cities across the world and you can get some good rates on accommodation. It suits me perfectly as there is nothing I love more than a bargain. Even if I don’t need it or want it, if it is a bargain, I am happy. I use Priceline to book 5 star accommodation (so I am never surprised by crappy hotels in crappy areas) which I get for 3 or 4 star pricing. Love it. We stayed in a lovely hotel in London which I would NEVER, EVER have paid full price for – are they mad!! Beautiful but expensive. I refused to eat breakfast there (breakfast for £35 for two on ‘special’. What!) We went downstairs to a coffee shop and had a perfectly good breakfast for two for £22. Also, I forbade Marko to even look at the mini bar. Marko unsupervised can be detrimental to the wallet.
The tube: Do Londoners even realize how lucky they are to have such excellent public transport?! What a total win to hop on and off as you need it. Sure it is hot and sweaty and full during peak times, but how fabulous that you have that as an option. Having said that, I am glad I don’t have to do it every day. Very useful for visitors though.
London is busy. OMG, it is busy. The tube stations were busy every single moment of every day. Crazy busy – there is always so much going on. People coming and going. Frenetic. Marko loved it, I started to get sensory overload after a while.
OPK (Other People’s Kids). As a parent to young children, you forget how annoying children can be. They are loud and busy (and my children are especially loud and busy) and I love children madly, but it is only when you are without your own kids that you realize what a pain (some, including my own I am sure) children can be. I actually feel sorry for those people who have to travel / eat out / catch public transport and are forced to deal with other people’s kids. I fully support having childfree sections on flights / areas / restaurants.
I miss my children very, very much and hate being apart from them. I never feel complete when I am without them.
Skype is great – I am not sure what travelling parents did before Skype. At least we could Skype several times a day. Which was mostly great and not so great when Adam would stalk me several times a day asking whether I had bought him any presents.
I am extremely grateful for my ‘village’ who look after my children while I am away. Rose, Jayde and my mom were awesome. I am so lucky.
I love my husband dearly, he is the most perfect husband for me in every way (and probably for many other people as well), but there is such a thing as too much quality time. Certainly for me. I desperately need alone time to reset my insides (head/heart/nerves/senses etc). Being together 24/7 in a hotel room can be a bit challenging for me. I wasn’t very nice to him sometimes. Luckily he loves me, in spite of me being a total over-sensitive, tight-arsed cow.
I have awesome friends. I went to stay with my beautiful, clever, class, generous friend Nicky for a night. She is a South African who lives in Bath in the UK. It was such a great experience, I am so glad I went. I got to experience a bit more of the UK besides London. So much history. I am glad I did it. I don’t usually like to stay over at anyone’s house (it makes me anxious – what if I don’t like it there? I will have to stay and then I will feel trapped and scared and sad and OMG am I five years old??!), but Nicky made it perfect for me. I am really, really glad I did it. I love Nicky.
I am an antisocial extrovert. I hate going out. I am not shy and I can chat to anyone, but I hate going out. I hate staying up late / going to clubs / going out / dressing up / wearing makeup / staying over. I LOVE staying home. I really love staying home. I think some people don’t believe me, but honestly – staying home is a 9/10, going out is a 1/10. The only reason why each option doesn’t have full marks is my fear that by not going out I am going to hurt someone’s feelings. If I didn’t think it would hurt someone’s feelings (by not going to that dinner party / visiting someone / going for a drink or coffee), I would choose staying home every time. I could stay home for the rest of my life.
Because our time in London was so short, I didn’t get to see any of my other friends. Which is a pity because I do love my friends. Kirsty, Juliette, Mandy, Lisa – sorry. At least I got to see my brother, albeit for a very short while.
Businesswise, the trip was a great success. I had two very good meetings, one in Germany and one in London that made the trip worthwhile from a financial point of view. Phew!! Can’t tell you how happy that makes me. I probably could have made the trip shorter by a week in terms of meetings / business, but unfortunately for me Marko booked the flights. Marko is the opposite of me when it comes to quality time / socializing / travelling / being away from home etc.
Funnily enough, at home Marko is the saver and I am the spender. He squirrels money away while I spend it all. On bills like the house bond, the school fees, salaries, food etc. So it is not like I am wasting it (a lot). But when we travel overseas, Marko likes to travel in style. I prefer to MOAN ABOUT HOW EXPENSIVE EVERYTHING IS.
Have I mentioned what a pain in the arse I am?
I love my home. I have missed home some much. I have missed my kids, my parents, my friends, my work, Woolies, salads, wine that doesn’t cost a forking fortune, biltong, my car, driving, I miss Cape Town. Cape Town is one of the best cities in the world, it certainly is one of the most beautiful. I know we have our problems, some of them are really big. But I love Cape Town. I love South Africa. And I love Africa. I can’t wait to touch down on African soil.
I am honoured to be able to travel, but there is no place like home.
The husband and I are in Munich at the moment where I am attending a conference in a few days time.
(Someone asked whether we were on our second honeymoon - I replied that every day is like a second honeymoon with my husband. I was joking. Although it is quite nice to be alone together. Nice but weird. I miss my kids terribly and it has only been one day.)
Marko and I after our long flight, waiting to check in at the hotel. We were early but they very kindly allowed us to check in early. Hotel selfie!
I have never been to Germany before, even though my grandfather was from Germany. My grandfather and his family were German Jews who escaped the persecution during Hitler's reign of Germany. The family was split up, some ended up in America, some in South Africa. All the Loebenbergs in South Africa are family.
Today Marko and I visited Dachau, one of the first concentration camps established in Germany. It was an incredibly moving / painful / intense / overwhelming experience. But so important. Besides the personal connection I have through my father's family, I think it is very important not only to honour those who lost their lives in such a brutal way, but also to face up to man's inhumanity to man, to ensure that we never allow that to happen again. It is beyond comprehension how human beings can be so cruel. The suffering.... it is almost unbelievable. It was very painful to see that. I am still in disbelief. The executions were bad enough, but the suffering... the suffering was immense. Unspeakable. Appalling. I don't have the words.
I don't usually do tours because I hate being stuck somewhere I don't want to be. If I want to go home / back to the hotel, I want to go RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE. But it was a good tour, even if it was painful to see and hear. Excellent guide. Highly recommended: Radius Tours Munich
We were a smallish group who went on the tour. On the tour, a young woman started chatting to us. She said she recognized our accents. She was an American woman (probably around 20 years old?) who had extended family in South Africa. I was so impressed with this young woman! She was backpacking through Europe on her own. Going to several countries. Staying in hostels, meeting people. I was very impressed. How brave of her! All by herself. Her parents should be very proud of her. What a lovely, independent, brave young woman. (That makes me sound very old. Which I am.)
Munich is an interesting place. It isn't a pretty city (maybe I haven't seen enough of it yet) and it is bloody expensive!!! But then again, everything is expensive if you are South African. It is a friendly city though, interesting. So much history. People have been really helpful to us.
A tip to anyone visiting Munich / Germany - DO NOT JAYWALK! Marko and weren't even here for an hour when we were pulled over by the cops and fined for crossing the road before the green man came on. I thought Marko was going to have a heart attack! Eventually I had to tell him to go away because he was getting so cross. I didn't think it was a great idea to get into a fight with a German cop on day one. He was not a very warm, friendly person. But we were in the wrong and that is that. It was actually amusing, and made me realize how very different the culture is in South Africa compared to Germany. There is a strong regard for the rules / law here. In SA, not so much. Here in Germany you do not cross the road if the green man isn't on, even if there are no cars coming for miles. You vill not cross ze road!
Side note: Do other South African's also keep remarking "that would never work in South Africa" when they travel abroad? We keep seeing things and remarking how that would never work in South Africa. ('Honesty boxes' / Car2Go / leaving keys in the ignition / being fined for jaywalking... :) )
The thing I hate most about travelling (ok, second most - the thing I hate most is being away from my kids! I miss them terribly :( ) is that I can't eat my usual food. I am a creature of habit when it comes to food (and may I just say, that is a HUGE understatement. To the point of being decidedly odd) and so not being able to eat my usual food is a little concerning. I am sure if I had to travel far enough and spend enough, I could come close'ish to what I usually eat, but I have neither the time nor money to do so. So I am stuck eating a lot more carbs / processed food than I usually do. Which doesn't make me feel great. But anyway, let's not complain. (BTW, the Germans love their sausage! Especially a very scary looking white sausage that Marko and I are way too scared to try)
I miss my children terribly. I never feel complete if I am away from them. I miss them so much. Thank goodness for Skype! And thank goodness for so many people in my 'village' who are taking care of them while I am away.
But it's all good - I am getting to learn more about the world, about history, about other cultures and countries. And I am getting to spend quality time with the husband. Which is a good thing.
Auf Wiedersehen from Munich!