Thursday, June 24, 2004

MY THOUGHTS ON BILL

I have no political agenda at all. I am not a political thinker and I don’t pretend to be. I am however really enjoying all the Clinton interviews at the moment as part of his book promotion.

I think he has faced the music with serious style and he is just so much more real than Bush. When I do find myself watching Bush on TV, I always think it seems like he hasn’t even bothered to read the speech in advance. It lacks so much sincerity for me. Clinton on the other hand really seems to be coming from source and like with any individual, you can tell the difference.

Firefighters are a particularly patriotic group of the population. At a recent function, I spent most the evening speaking with a retired firefighter and his lady friend of some 20 years. They were the most adorable couple. He was approaching 80, I am not sure of her age, and they had met all those years ago at a ‘Parents without Partners” event.

She said something to me that rings so true. She said “no matter what Bill Clinton did, he never made America look bad. George Bush though makes America look bad. I get very upset as well because since Bush has been President, if I say I don’t like something about the government, I am seen to be unpatriotic. I am not unpatriotic. I love this country and I love its people. I just don’t like the President”.

For me, that says it in a nutshell.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004


Beautiful Frangipani. Posted by Hello

GONE CRUISING

The last holiday Daniel and I went on, we made Ross. Ross will be turning seven next month. By March this year, we were more than ready for a vacation. We decided to take Ross out of school for a week (the week before Spring Break) ~ they really did all look at us as if we were crazed foreigners ~ and indulged ourselves in the luxury of a cruise. Travel tip: much lower rates week before Spring Break.

I had wanted to go on a cruise for the longest time. For a physically challenged person, it is an ideal way to travel and I just knew it would be fantastic. Daniel pulled one of those “I’m not a cruise person” points of view. How do you know you are not a THAT kind of person until you have done THAT? Oddly enough I had a similar conversation with Ross earlier today. How do you know you don’t like this food item if you have NEVER tasted it in your whole entire life? You have an idea of what it tastes like and you think you won’t like that. How can you be so adamant THAT YOU DON’T LIKE IT?

It came as quite a surprise to me then, that in the time it took my physiotherapist to give me a back massage, he managed to achieve what I had been working on for years with Daniel. By the time we left his office, he had sold Daniel on a cruise based on the fantastic time he and his family had enjoyed at Thanksgiving the previous year. So great it was, that the first thing he did was book the exact same cruise again for Spring Break. Yes, he was leaving again in a couple of weeks.

Two days later, we were booked and were leaving in a few weeks. I love not having to wait a long time for exciting things that are planned in advance.

The crew was from all over the world. We got a wonderful surprise when we met our South African waitress in the main dining room. She was equally thrilled to be serving us and in the absurd way us English speaking South Africans do, we suddenly lapse into the [old] mother tongue of Afrikaans when we bump into each other abroad. It is too funny for words because believe me, in South Africa, I don’t think I had an Afrikaans conversation outside of a classroom. It really was fun.

A day in a Spa is quite a challenge for me. Let me put it this way ~ when I win the lottery, one of the many things I will do is have a spa designed for people who can’t ease their way into a mud bath, but want one. I will have a massage table designed for people who want to be on a massage bed but have difficulty lying flat. I will have a pedicure station designed for people who can’t climb into the existing ones but want something a little more luxuriating than a foot spa. Oh yes, the pedicure station I have designed will cater for people who can’t raise their legs and hold them there as well.

I was most fortunate therefore to be greeted by a whole bunch of very willing South African and Australian spa therapists. What a bevy of beauties they were. All young, vibrant, gorgeous, professionals, clearly there to give you the best treatment they could. It was really a treat.

When I regained consciousness from the totally incredible head, neck and shoulder massage I inhaled the Frangipani oil and prayed that I had not drooled through this heavenly experience. Once I could negotiate my tongue and voice at the same time, I booked a replay of this massage for the next day. So relaxed was I that they suggested I just go back to our suite in the gown and not even bother to dress.

The most amazing thing about a cruise is that the crew are willingly there to give you the best possible cruise experience and they make it known that they will do anything to enhance your stay on the ship. I have never experienced service like this anywhere before.

It was fantastic being at sea. I now know what is meant when people refer to “getting your sea legs”. Fortunately none of us had any kind of motion sickness, other than that of total over indulgence with food. You eat non-stop. There is no escaping it and it seems that it is expected to be that way. I noticed in the weeks leading up to our departure, when I told someone I was going on a cruise, there was a standard two possible responses I would get. The one was that they also wanted to go on a cruise so badly, or they had been on one or several, and loved it. I did not hear a single negative from anyone. Ultimately the conversation went to the food and eating. Ross ate so much shrimp one night that he threw up later in the bathroom and vowed the next morning he would never eat another piece of shrimp ever in his whole entire life. I came home and went straight to Jenny Craig.

We spent one entire day at sea. It was totally incredible. I sat on our balcony and the water joined the huge sky all around me. It was the most amazing sight. I really felt like I was the only person on the planet. I have never had such a sense of space, ever! It is really hard for me to articulate what this felt like. It is different to being in the air. On this ship I was still on the earth, but felt so distanced from my life. It was fantastic. That is what I had hoped to achieve, the proverbial getting away from it all. I sat for hours taking deep breaths, I slept in the breeze and the sky and the water seemed never ending. It was awesome.

Ross had a dream vacation. I was concerned that there would be a shortage of kids for him to play with given that we were traveling the week before the school break. There were 400 kids on board and they all participated in the Kids Club. He couldn’t wait to get there in the mornings. We spent afternoons with him and took all our meals together. For the rest though, he wanted to be partying with the kids. He makes friends very easily and other kids take to him with ease. I remember when I had his astrological chart done when he was born; this came up very strongly in the chart, the fact that other kids would like him. He was also a huge hit in the dining room with the crew.

There is a nautical tradition at the final dinner, referred to as the Baked Alaska parade. I had never seen a Baked Alaska and had no idea it had its own parade. It is an opportunity for the dining and kitchen staff to be applauded for their incredible efforts. They march through the two level 900 seater dining room carrying Baked Alaska’s in the air. The passengers shout and scream, twirl their napkins in the air and bang on the tables. It is one of those moments where adults are made to feel so secure that they behave like kids, even if it is fleetingly. The energy in the room was fantastic. The crew moves through the tables clapping their hands in the air and then all line up on the dramatic staircase and allow the audience to give them a most deserving round of huge applause. The dress code for the evening is formal.

The most phenomenal thing happened to Ross as he slid the tux jacket on. His back turned into concrete. Even sitting here writing I am giggling to myself remembering him that night. He loves dressing up like his Dad. The tux was the ultimate for him. It even had cuff links. If he polished the patent leather shoes once, he did it 500 times. I challenge anyone to show me a person with a straighter posture than Ross had that night. Needless to say, the fans among the staff awaiting his arrival in the dining room just swooned all over him. He was so proud of himself and he knew how gorgeous he looked. He was both gracious and humble about it.

As the Baked Alaska parade made its way past our table, the Sommelier scooped Ross up into her arms – not hard to do, he weighs 40lbs – and he was carried on various sets of shoulders to the stair case. Oh my God, I watched our child, in all his magnificent beauty get swept up and off, and he just went with the flow. There was not a moment’s hesitation on his part. His looking back at us was only to check that we were watching and seeing what was going on. There was Ross, smack bang center stage, clapping, cheering and having this incredible moment in his life that I know he will remember forever.

It was the perfect way to end what had been a week of celebrating food. It was a week of indulgence, of throwing caution to the wind in some ways, and it was about reaching an age and stage in our lives of being able to celebrate what we deserve.

I wish you a safe, happy and restful summer!


Large Ship. Posted by Hello


Docked in St Thomas. Posted by Hello


How could I not take it? Posted by Hello


All partied out.  Posted by Hello


A chillin' firefighter. Posted by Hello


This is what a Baked Alaska looks like, served by Rika.  Posted by Hello


Shrimp Fest. Note the tower of bread crusts. Posted by Hello


Friends who fed us! Rika, the South African waitress is on the right.  Posted by Hello


Day view from the other side.  Posted by Hello


Night View of Dining Room Posted by Hello


If that was a Baked Alaska Parade, then I just did it.  Posted by Hello


Center Stage! Posted by Hello


This is for the cover of the next "HOW TO MELT YOUR MOTHER'S HEART MANUAL". Posted by Hello

GRATITUDE

I went to bed last night having written this, and not feeling sure if I wanted to post it. I left it on my screen. When I sat down at my desk today, without thinking about it, I decided to press Enter.

It is 1am on Wednesday morning. Daniel is in Chicago, the two older children are sleeping out at friends, and Ross is asleep in Daniel’s bed. In an attempt to avoid going to the kitchen and demolishing an entire loaf of toast with thick butter, then layered with peanut butter, I have decided to do something constructive, rather than destructive.

I have been having a very challenging few days. While I agree that parenting is one of the most difficult jobs in the world, from the perspective of no advance training being available, no “HOW TO” manual to refer to, nothing other than your truth and instinct to go on, there really is something just as hard, if not harder. That would be STEP PARENTING. I have been a hands-on stepparent for five years. In the last three days I have realized that this is truly the manifestation of the “between a rock and a hard place” concept. Try as I have, I surrender – I am unable to find the happy medium, the even keel, the middle of the road. I think what is important, as in any other situation, is to be honest to oneself. If I feel I have done the best I can, there is no more I can do. My stepchildren have taught me many things and I am sure will continue to. I have learnt a lot about life through my relationship with them, and on some levels, my lack of relationship with them. They are my husband’s children and I love him totally, therefore they form part of that love. I can only wait and see, as I am sure I will do with my natural child, that they will one day come to realize that everything was only ever done with their happiness, success and safety in mind.

In the silence of the night, surrounded by the darkness, which is truly how I have been feeling the last few days, I read this. I thank two Jen’s as I shift my thinking to focus on my blessings and the miracles in my life. Thank you to Jen Gray and thank you to my cousin Jen for letting me fume on Yahoo Messenger at this time of the morning. South Africa is a long way from where I sit, so the time difference is in my favor. While I know it is not how you might have intended to start your day cousin Jen, for me, you were in the perfect place at the perfect time and were the perfect listener. My legal beagle in Toronto, thank you to you too!

To Jen Gray, thank you for making me see that ~

I have the husband I always wished for.
I have a sister who would do anything for me.
I have a child who understands me.
I have my mother as a role model.
I have lived on a houseboat in Amsterdam, Holland.
I have seen the Rolling Stones live, twice!
I make lifelong friends wherever I go.

Before I close this, I want to send love out to this Mommy!

Saturday, June 19, 2004


HAPPY FATHER'S DAY.  Posted by Hello


Thank you for choosing Daddy to make you my Mama. Posted by Hello


Thank you for choosing Mama to make you my Daddy. Posted by Hello

MAKING THE SWITCH

One thing I have never been able to get used to is the September to June school year. In my childhood, we started school in January and ended in December to enjoy the South African summer.

Having Ross in the schooling system has successfully enabled me to make the switch. I felt the buzz all this week. School’s closing and it’s the end of the year. I feel as excited as the kids do that Monday is the last day and the general slowing down that this brings has made me feel happy in anticipation of the months ahead.

The totally cool thing about being a kid is that there are so many ‘firsts’. Doing things and seeing things for the first time is so thrilling and being able to share this through a young child is indeed a treat.

Ross went to the dentist for the fist time this morning and he had “the best time”. When I looked at this pic I just melted. He looks so big and I have to say that when he oozes self-confidence like this, the sense of pride and achievement I experience is truly awesome. It also reminded me of how much trust our kids put in us and I was pleased that I stopped for a moment to remember this!

The weeks ahead will give opportunity for rest, relaxation, and unhurried togetherness.

What are you doing this summer?


A lot of people asked why I would take a pic of Ross on his first visit to the dentist. It wasn't me, it was the dentist himself!  Posted by Hello

Thursday, June 17, 2004

GOD BLESS AFRICA, GOD BLESS US ALL

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?”

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.

There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure
around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do
the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."


Nelson Mandela: 1994 Inaugural Speech
(Attributed to Marianne Williamson in her book, A Return to Love)

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

TELL YOUR FRIENDS

The Animal Rescue Site is having trouble
getting enough people to click on it
daily to meet their quota of getting
free food donated every day to abused
and neglected animals.
Click on the link above. Then click on
the purple box that says
Feed an Animal for free. That's it!
Pass this along to ten friends, and ask
them to pass it on ten times again.



 Posted by Hello


 Posted by Hello

THE BIRTHDAY PARTY

It was everything a fun party should be.

F R I E N D S

F U N

F O O D

S H O U T I N G

R U N N I N G

J U M P I N G

A GRAND PARENT

AN AUNT

SIBLINGS

MOMMY & DADDY


· “Like an eagle who awakens the young in his nest, he will glide down to his young, so did He spread His wings and take him, bearing him along on his wings.” (Devarim 32:11)
In the nest are nestling the young birds that only recently have sprouted wings. But they do not yet know how to rise up and fly. And here comes the eagle and awakens the nest. He encourages the youngsters to fly, and glides above them with a light beating of the wings. Then he spreads his wings and sets one of the young birds on his wing and carries him skywards, throwing up and catching him: in this way, he teaches him to fly.
Martin Buber


Shining bright. Posted by Hello


Let's party! Posted by Hello


And the pit for you too!! Posted by Hello


Kids in motion. Posted by Hello


Into the foam pit with you! Posted by Hello

 
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