Monday, June 26, 2006

SCHOOL'S OUT ...

When Ross started school here in the USA, I was introduced to the custom of a ‘Room Mother.’ This is a Mom of one of the pupils in the class who takes on the responsibility that the title suggests. She organizes all parties and special events that the class hosts. The Room Mom will arrange for other parents to volunteer their help but she is ultimately responsible for bringing it all together. The class were fortunate enough to have a R.M. who delivered way beyond the call of duty.

To put the cherry on top of all her efforts, she decided at short notice to host a swimming party at her home to celebrate school closing on Friday. The weather forecast was rain, thunder storms, rain and more storms. Fortunately for everyone though – as we were driving from school to the house, the sun broke through the clouds and the kids had a straight three hours in the pool with no rain. As we were leaving the party, the rain started.

It didn’t stop raining all through Friday night, with the exception of a few hours while we were out enjoying a BBQ at friends in the evening. By the time we got home, the rain started again and continued all through the night.

Ross’ birthday is on July 14th but as most people are away on vacation by then, I always have it on the first Sunday after school closes. On Saturday afternoon I phoned the outdoor venue where his ‘Games and Sports Party’ was due to take place and asked if I should perhaps consider re-scheduling. I said to them that while the invitation had said the party goes on rain or shine – there is rain and then there is torrential downpour which is what we were experiencing. They assured me the party could go on regardless of the weather. It was scheduled to take place from 12 noon to 1.30 pm.

At 11am on Sunday morning, I called Daniel and Ross into my office. I asked them for us to all join hands and if they would repeat after me as follows:

“I'm calling on my Parking Angel. [I really do have one.] PLEASE will you speak to Dawn’s/Mommy’s Rain Angel and ask her to arrange for the rain to stop from 11am to 2pm. This will allow for everyone to come to Ross’ party and will make it so much easier for Mommy/Dawn to get in and out of the car. Everyone will enjoy the party much more without rain. Please, Please, Please – from 11 to 2, hold the rain. Thanks. Love, Daniel, Dawn and Ross.”

You could barely hear our voices over the rain it was pouring down so hard at the time.

At 11.15am when we pulled out of our garage, the rain stopped. As we were leaving the camp grounds at around 1.40pm to head home, the heavens opened and it did not stop raining for about an hour after that.

I am realistic – I expect miracles.
~ Wayne Dyer

Perfect School Pool Party - look to the front for head in green goggles bobbing on the water.


Signage says it all.

Idyllic party setting.

This happened so fast ...

... our beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, Ross?

"HAAAAPY birthday ...

... TOOOO YOOOUUU."

"Will you stand still FOR ONE minute?!"

Party on, dudes!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

BUSTED ...

A few weeks ago I said to Daniel that Ross suddenly seems really grown up. The change from 8 to 9 years of age is proving to be quite profound. He is saying things like, “Are you interested in my opinion?” and, “That’s your point of view, can I tell you mine now?” I totally encourage that but it has taken me somewhat by surprise. My signature tune as a child was, “Will someone please acknowledge me?!” There are times when I walk away from a conversation with Ross and I feel like he might have been a step ahead of me. I am not intimidated by this at all but it did get me to think, which I told Daniel, that I need to get down to the library and take out a few books on the subject of “What 9 year old boys are thinking and doing.” It is really the first age where I often feel like I have been stumped by the kid. Last night was no exception.

My neighbors were coming over and bringing dinner with them. I told Ross that I wanted his homework done (I mean really, homework three days before school closes – give us a break!) and for him to be showered before they got here.

As you can see in pics here, Ross is skinny like a tooth-pick. He is turning 9 in a couple of weeks and weighs 48 lbs/about 21 kilograms. This combined with his endless energy, makes him move and do things at high speed. I listened to him go into the shower last night, and when he shouted, “I’m done!” I thought to myself that this was a record speed shower, even for Ross.

I went into the bathroom to find him wrapped in a towel, drying off.

“Did you really shower, Ross? It sounded so quick.”

“I did Mom, I’m done, really.”

“Wow that was insanely quick.”

With that, he presents a FREQUENTLY used piece of ‘I’ve-showered-evidence.’ Stretching his arm right up to my nose he says, “Here – smell.”

As he said that, a light went on in my head and I did a quick eye-scan of the bathroom. The only items of clothing on the floor were his t-shirt and shorts and it suddenly all fell into place.

“Open your towel – now – I bet you have underwear on.”

“Moooom?”

Stifling my laugh, “O-P-E-N your towel.”

He had the nerve to burst out laughing, flashes me, and of course, proof!

“You’re so busted kiddo – off with the towel and underwear, and go shower!”

By this time we were both really laughing and for the rest of the evening, regardless of what it was he was saying, every time he spoke to me I yelled, “Smell my arm!”

I’m off to the library this weekend.


Monday, June 19, 2006

YESTERDAY ...

I thought long and hard about what I could post about Father’s Day as a daughter rather than a wife.

I loaned some albums from my Mom. As I paged through them, I found myself thinking the same thoughts that I shared with a friend the other day when I read her blog post about her Daddy. It was only in my adult years, long after my Dad died that I came to terms with my relationship with him. It was always distant and as far as I can recall, somewhere in another family album, there is one photo of me sitting next to my Dad when I was about ten years old.

He was not a man who was able to show his emotions easily unless it was anger or discontent. However, the older I get and the longer I myself am a parent, I understand that he probably did the best he knew how. I was in my early teens when my older siblings made my parents grandparents. It was only then that I saw a side of my father I realized I had always longed for. As the grandchildren were very young when he died, I hope that they have been able to hold on to some of their memories of him. I would imagine that the joy he experienced and expressed as a grandparent must have brought something quite amazing into his experience of life.

While I do believe he is aware of my thoughts and feelings for him now, I really wish I could have one more opportunity to tell him how I feel, face to face. It would make a lot in my life feel very complete. My beautiful little family celebrated a great Father’s Day which you can read more about here.

In terms of my own Father's Day, I sent a lot of love out to my Dad. In some strange way, I felt proud of myself for being in a space where I was able to do just that.

Michael Blumberg 1914 ~ 1980

My Dad at age 21 with his mother, Rachel.

My Dad served in the Air Intelligence Division of the South African Air Force. The following two pics were taken in 1940 while he was serving in North Africa during the Second World War. He held the rank of Sergeant by the end of the war.


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

BRIDGES ...

I received this postcard from my friend Vicki who lives in London. She has recently been on a trip to Brugge, in Belgium. 'Brugge' means bridges which describes the old city of Brugge perfectly. No cars are allowed in this area and as you travel the canals, you can see the beautiful bridges serving as links between the roads for pedestrians only. It adds new meaning to the word ‘quaint.’ While living in Holland, we went on a week’s vacation to Belgium. We drove from the North to the South with the main focus of the trip being on food. Daniel researched the area and put together a gastronomic tour.

The interesting thing about this trip is that I had serious concerns about whether to go on it or not. I had been working with a guy from England who had a brilliant business concept. There were so many English ex-pats living in Holland, that he started a business of delivering the English Sunday papers to the door. What made this such a good proposition was the fact that English newspapers were in very small supply in Holland. If they were available in your area, you would have to get to the store really early on a Sunday morning in the hope of finding any left on the shelf.

With the close proximity of the two countries, Dave would pick up the papers on Saturday night, (and English magazines), take the ferry from England to Holland and from there, we had a network of delivery people who would pick up the orders which had been packed in the back of the van while crossing the channel. Lots of very happy English people would wake up on Sunday morning and find their newspapers and magazines waiting on their doorsteps.

I’d heard about his business, started using the service and saw a great opportunity to enhance the service he was providing. I contacted him and asked him if he would be interested in letting me work with him to get this business into ship shape.

I worked like a slave for him for a good few months and things started coming together really well. Unfortunately for me, Dave chose to forget to tell me the truth about his illegal status in the country, the fact that he was living off government income therefore was not meant to be generating his own income. Needless to say, I walked away very quickly which brings me back to the reason why I felt we maybe should not have been going on this trip. I had decided that the payment due to me from Dave was going to fund this trip. We had not had a honeymoon because we had left South Africa a month after we got married in 1993. It was now 1996 and time for a vacation – a 5 star one at that.

My Mom was staying with us at the time and she convinced me that we needed this break and that we really should go. Daniel was adamant that we went as well. I eventually agreed and set out on the trip with my heart and soul in it.

We got into the luxury car we rented and off we went – headed for Belgium. Our first stop was in Brugge. We parked in a public parking area and then walked the short distance to our hotel. As we left the parking area, a lamp in a store window caught my eye.

We went in and I fell in love with this lamp. I loved the feel of it and there was just something very compelling that drew me to it. When the guy told us what it cost, I gulped and said that as much as I loved it, it was a little steep at this early stage of our trip. We left the store.

Our hotel was gorgeous with all the ancient charm you only experience in Europe. The open window shows our exact room. The food we ate everywhere was spectacular and there are something like 400 Beers in the Belgian range. Daniel was a happy tourist.

We were on top of the world. For some reason, a month or two prior to this trip, I had lost a whole lot of weight without even trying. At that stage of my life, I did not have a weight problem. It was pre my MD diagnosis, so I went from a pretty good figure to feeling really skinny, and it felt nice. I had lost enough weight to the extent of needing to buy a whole lot of news clothes for this trip. Every day was a real treat from the start. Getting up and dressed into new clothes, feeling good about myself, very much in love – life felt real good. Everywhere we went interesting and fun little things happened to us.

On our first morning, Daniel went to the window which overlooked a canal. As can be seen in the pic, the water is literally on the other side of your bedroom wall. He drew back the curtains, opened the windows wide and was greeted by a boat full of tourists just under the window. He waved to them, and in response, they all jumped up in the boat and started clapping and singing Eh Macarena. It was hilarious. The next thing, there was Daniel and me dancing away in the window for the tourists doing our pathetic interpretation of Eh Macarena.

All throughout the day, I kept thinking of the lamp and telling Daniel every time I did. I really felt as if this lamp was calling me, like it was meant to be mine. When it was time to leave, Daniel told me to stay in the hotel while he took the luggage to the car. I waited in the room, soaking up the magical time we had shared in this little space on the planet. Our time in this hotel had been just so very special.

I heard Daniel coming up the stairs and he came into the room carrying a box. “You didn’t!” I said.

“I did. Who knows if we will ever see anything like this again and I think it will be a special reminder of the amazing time we have had here.”

I was overwhelmed and started crying. “Thank you, thank you, and thank you!” I said.

Daniel unpacked the lamp and asked me if I noticed anything in particular about it. I studied it but said that nothing stood out other than the fact that I just love it. He went on to show me that the base, made from pewter was in fact a tree. When he had gone back to buy it, the man in the store pointed this out to Daniel and explained that it was symbolic of a fertility tree and as he packed it up, he jokingly wished Daniel good luck in that department.

Our last visit in Brugge was to a church where among a host of very interesting displays, stood Michelangelo’s Madonna. It had ropes around it preventing viewers from getting too close. Even at a distance, this masterpiece took my breath away. It is truly hard to describe its magnificence. The look on the Madonna’s face reflects serenity like I had never seen before and have not seen since. I stood for the longest time taking in all this beauty and really felt like I had been touched by an angel. I walked away feeling quite emotional and all my sadness that I carried around with me at that time of my life came to the surface. I longed to have a child but had been told this was unlikely due to a whole lot of stuff that I don’t feel like going into the details of in this story. I left the church thinking that by not having a child, I might never know the emotions and bliss depicted in this piece of art that I had been fortunate enough to have seen. I said a prayer on the way out of the curch.

Not wanting to put a damper on the rest of the day, I quickly let go of the space I was in and we headed for the car. Time to move on. We drove and ate and slept and walked and laughed and saw beautiful things wherever we went. I can honestly say that the only unpleasant experience for me the whole week was having to endure Daniel’s passion for Alanis Morissette’s ‘You ought to know.’ It got to the point where I held the tape out the window and threatened him that if I had to endure one more mile of an angry, screeching woman, I would throw it out the window. I concede that ‘Thank you’ eventually redeemed her for me.

Another highlight of the trip was our stay at the Chateau de Hassonville. We arrived just before lunch and when we walked into the hotel we were not made to feel very welcome. We realized very quickly that we were inappropriately dressed, as this location did not attract jeans, t-shirts and sandals. We did however go on to enjoy a superb lunch and we knew everyone who was looking down their noses at us would eat their attitudes when we would return later for dinner dressed up to the nines. Daniel’s research had given us enough information to know that dinner was a serious occasion at this hotel and we pulled out all the stops. The sommelier was particularly snooty and irritating and we planned our revenge for this dude, big time!

When we walked into the dining room that evening, Monsieur Snooty de la Max did a double take. All of a sudden he treated us like real hotel guests who had passed the dress code test. While enjoying the complimentary horse d’oeuvres Daniel asked Monsieur Snooty if we could have a bottle of Louis Roederer Cristal Brut Rose. Off he shuffled in his long black apron to the deep cellars of the chateau. When he returned, Monsieur Snooty all but leopard crawled his way back to us. Daniel had stumped him. The Monsieur was devastated about the fact that they did not have any of this world renowned champagne. With a renewed friendly approach, he offered in its place a Louis Roederer Rose. Daniel graciously accepted and assured him that this was not a problem for us and that he had full confidence in Monsieur’s recommendation. For the remainder of the evening, Monsieur Snooty became Monsieur tres Friendly and pretty much loosened up enough to hang out at our table with us. Although I do not drink, I enjoyed the Rose immensely and this was the meal that made me understand the commentary of connoisseurs who speak of the blending and subtleties and fragrances and textures and the sheer delights of superb food and wine.

Fairly soon after this trip, I traveled to the States with my Mom to visit my sister and to celebrate my niece’s 21st birthday. While enjoying lunch at her apartment the day after Thanksgiving 1996, I had to rush to the bathroom to throw up. This had been happening quite frequently since we got back from Belgium and as my sister and niece both run very strict no-smoking zone households, I decided that this would be the perfect time to kick the habit which I was convinced had made me ill.

My niece however suggested that I do a pregnancy test. I looked at her as if she was crazy but said, OK. When it showed up as positive, I insisted on them going out to buy another one because this was crazy. They came back with two and within a very short space of time; I was looking at three positive results. I had done enough of these tests over the years to know that this was the real deal.

On my return to Holland I went for a scan and a viable pregnancy was confirmed. It was calculated that without a doubt, conception had taken place in the week we had been in Belgium.

Although I would never do it, I have always wanted to have ‘MADE IN BELGIUM’ tattooed under Ross’ foot.

Added later: I have no clue as to why the spacing, alignment and other technical aspects of blogging seem to go crazy half way through my posting. If you are reading this, then I really thank you for visiting or perhaps even coming back in spite of the fact that I am technologically challenged!

Monday, June 12, 2006

SUPER COOL ...

We all know who the gorgeous female is. What you don’t know is that the handsome dude is my cousin Jamie. The Black Eyed Peas recently performed at Sun City in Southern Africa.

Apparently Fergie was amazing about making herself available to her younger fans which resulted in this pic of her and Jamie taken at the luxurious resort.

Maybe if I was 12 years young I would stand a better chance of getting this close up and personal with Sir Mick. This will make a super cool poster for any teenagers room!


Thursday, June 08, 2006

HUMBLING ...

My physical therapy sessions are becoming quite grueling. I think it helps tremendously that my therapist is to faint for handsome and has eyes like the man from Atlantis. By his own admission, he refers to his hands as, “the thumbs of death!” While he was working the muscles in my shoulder on Tuesday, he mentioned to me that I was going to be sore the next two days.

“Really? I’m taking deep breaths and reminding myself that I have given birth, so I can survive this.” I told him sarcastically.

Yesterday I was literally aching from the session. While speaking to my Mom on the phone she asked me how I was feeling. I humbly share with you the conversation as it unfolded:

“I’m sore, Mom; but the ice packs are helping and I just have to endure it.” I told her.

“I know,” she said, “but I hate the fact that you are suffering this kind of pain.”

“Well, it’s really not the end of the world and I will get through it; I have to!”

Sounding very emotional and weepy she went on to say, “You are so amazing, my girl. I am so proud of you. You just have the most amazing attitude - the way you take all these challenges in your stride and you never complain. I am truly proud of you.”

“Thank you, Mamala,” I said. “I really appreciate you telling me that.”

After putting the phone down from her, I felt the most wonderful wave of love wash over me. I get this feedback from people quite often who praise my attitude to life and the way I handle the way I live it. I say this with deep appreciation and humility.

The truth of the matter is, it is not me that is amazing, it is this amazing life that God has given me to live and I am grateful for every minute I have to live it.

My son and my mom. "The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new." ~ Rajneesh

Sunday, June 04, 2006

HONORING

Every year Daniel and I sponsor an award at David’s Rugby Club. It is in honor of my late brother’s memory. Due to two events where we both needed to be at the same time, Daniel went to the rugby award ceremony and delivered the following speech on my behalf. I really hope my brother stood still long enough in heaven today to watch!

When the trophy was returned to us last week to arrange for this year’s recipient’s name to be engraved, I was shocked by the fact that this is the fourth year since our first presentation.

I thought to myself that in the confines of our own family, so very much has taken place in this time period. I started thinking about the previous three winners and wondered what might have happened in their lives in this time, and what might lie ahead for this year’s winner. I truly hope that everyone has gone on to, and will continue to enjoy bright and rewarding futures.

The reason for our making this contribution to the club was to perpetuate my late brother’s memory, to leave a mark, a sign that we were here. I wondered how many years down the line we would be represented at these events as a family. I think we all have a similar desire in mind. To be noticed. To be heard.

While I most certainly congratulate this year’s recipient, I acknowledge the whole team. By that, I include the coaches, the parents behind the players and of course the team members. Without each other, none of this would be possible. It’s a chain with links that keeps this all moving, growing and progressing. I urge this year’s recipient to take a quiet moment during today’s celebration, to really gloat in his achievement. To be acknowledged in this way by your team friends is a very special achievement indeed.

The energy my family puts behind this award is to give this team a voice with which to say, we saw you, we noticed you, and without you, we couldn’t have achieved our success, and for this, we as a team both honor and thank you.

Winning this award comes from committing to your team, to your club and everyone associated with it, and for giving of your best. As wise Winston Churchill once said “you make a living by what you get, but you make a life by what you give.”

On behalf of your club and team and the Levin-Blumberg family, I say thank you, to you, CONOR HYNES for reminding us what this award – THE WILLIE BLUMBERG PLAYER’S PLAYER OF THE YEAR TROPHY - is all about.



STRICTLY SOUTH AFRICAN

While looking for something in my digital photo album, I came upon this pic. It was taken this time last year at Ross’ school’s dance.

To put the rest of the story in context, for the benefit of the non South African readers I need to explain …

The South Afriacn equivalent of the American “How you doing?” is, “Howzit.” When we see someone, we greet each other with, “Howzit?” When we answer the phone, we say, “Hello.” If the caller is South African, they will answer with, “Howzit!”

That being said, I can now continue. What’s cool about this pic is that everyone in it is South African. My friend Merle, the brunette smiler in the black top, had her American husband take the pic. At the point where you would expect the photographer to say, “Say 'Cheese',” Richard said, “Say 'Hoooooooowzit'!” As can clearly be seen, we all just burst out laughing.

I think he captured the moment perfectly!
(click on pic to enlarge)


 
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