Friday, September 29, 2006

IF...

I was clearing out my email folders today and found these items which I had received at different times. I enjoyed them so much that I thought I would share them.
If you want to see what happens when you let the dogs out, turn up your sound and CLICK HERE.
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If you have seen the movie 'Room with a view' or not, - CLICK HERE for the ultimate 'Poo with a view.' (No sound required for this one.)
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If you want to enjoy the beauty of creative thinking, check that your speakers are still turned up and CLICK HERE.
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If only this mural could be painted on ceilings above young people who start smoking.

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"If you hear a voice within you saying, 'You are not a painter',
then by all means paint ... and that voice will be silenced."
~ Vincent Van Gogh
If you are fasting, I wish you a meaningful Fast.
If you haven't already made other plans, have a fantastic weekend!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

WHO KNOWS BEST ...

Thank you to everyone for your warm and much appreciated wishes on the occasion of the New Year which we just celebrated with family and friends. The days since then have been busy and there are lots of distractions taking my time and attention.

We are going through a scenario that is common to every household with children. The challenge of getting a child to hear what you are saying in a situation and not turning it into something you are not saying, simply because you disagree with them. This adds a whole new meaning to the word ‘frustration.’ I know all the obvious things; that it is not unique to our family, that everyone with young and almost grown children go through this, yet I find it saps my life force and it is very hard for me to stay on top of it. Even though I am a step parent to two of the three children in our family, I approach my step children and the role I play in their lives as if they were my own children. Nothing is less important to me in their lives then it would be if it were happening to Ross. I don’t know if they feel, know and believe that, but I have always thought that it is important for me to stay in touch with that even if they don’t. If they get it, great, if they don’t, my input is consistent. I have never tried to be a substitute for their mother who lives in South Africa; I have tried to be their next best option. I gave her an undertaking when they moved from South Africa to come live with Dan and me in London, and when I look back on that, I do so knowing I have delivered and that I have stood by my commitment – and will always continue to.

My natural child is still young enough where our differences in opinion are on matters that will not exactly mould the rest of his life, so the challenges are easier to deal with. With the older children, it is now different. What amazes me more than anything is the fact that they/he/she don’t open themselves to our opinions, suggestions, guidance and thoughts simply based on the fact that their father and I would only ever express what we believe to be is the absolute best option for them in any given situation. If you are not going to trust your parents as a reliable resource, who are you going to trust? Again, I know this is not unique to us, but as I always say to them, my concern is with them and us, not anyone else. Perhaps you have to be 46 before you realize that never ever will your parent want to see you go down a path that offers any possibility other than there being a pot of gold or rainbow, or both at the end of it for you.

I was watching OPRAH interview America Ferrera. During the interview they showed the actresses mom in the audience and OPRAH asked America what her mom had taught her. After the show I asked myself how I will answer that question when I am interviewed on OPRAH one day.

These are the first three things that came into my head:

The first thing my mom has always taught me for as long as I can remember is, “To save for a rainy day.” From the first buck I ever earned, my mother has always encouraged me to save part of what I earn. I admit to having never been a good saver. I totally believe in the concept and I never rejected it but I have never mastered it. As a parent myself now, I will most certainly encourage my children to do this. The only thing I would do differently is to not narrow it down to doing it for a ‘rainy day,’ but rather for any day. I have enough life time under my belt now to know how often it would have been fantastic to have a reserve to draw on when needed. Good advice, Mommy!

The second thing I thought of, and could totally hear my Mom saying is, “Dawn, always be a mench.” Translated from Yiddish to English, this means to be an honorable and decent person. This is so entrenched in who I am that it has become my conscious with a voice. I am not exaggerating when I say that I literally hear my mother’s voice in my head guiding me this way. It is the basis of my deeds and when I am faced with a dilemma of what to do or how to do something in any given situation, I hear that voice of conscience in my head – it can be quite funny at times. I hope I enrich my children’s lives in this kind of way – where something so profoundly good becomes a thread in the fiber of their being. Thank you Mommy, this has been invaluable to me.

The third thing, which surprised me, but this is what came up was the importance of wiping the salad bowl (or any dish you are serving) clean around the rim once you have plated it from the container you prepared it in. My mother would never allow a bowl to be presented without a perfectly straight line around it. There dare not be the slightest smudge of mayonnaise above the line in a bowl of potato salad, a splash of soup above where the contents of a soup bowl comes to rest when placed on the table, etc. I thought about this a little further and realized how this in itself relates to number two. It’s about respect and pride. Respect for the people you are serving and pride in what you do – even if you are eating alone! I thought back to the compliments I received on how awesome my table looked on Friday night for the holiday and I smiled, because truly, this comes from the heart and soul of the clean rim that my Mommy taught me to make. Thank you Mommy, and I hope I live long enough to see my children reach an age where they can see that little bit deeper into what we are teaching them.



Love begins by taking care of the closest ones -

the ones at home. ~ Mother Teresa

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

WORDS ...

This weekend we will celebrate our New Year.
In the spirit of this holiday, my family join me
in extending the same wishes to EVERYONE:
that in the days ahead
you feel healthy and strong,
proud of your accomplishments,
at peace with yourself.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

BEGINNINGS ...

On September 6th it was first day back at school for Ross. Marti drives him to school in the morning and I get him in the afternoon. We live outside of the area that the school bus services. Being first day back at school, Daniel and I decided we would take him.

The school is small. There are only about 175 kids. When we pulled up to the drop-off point, the principal of the school was waiting to meet and greet each child. As Ross climbed out the van, he walked toward him saying, “Welcome back Ross!” He hugged him and they gave each other a high five. I was so touched by this welcome and thought how cool it was that Ross must have walked into school with his spirit lifted.

On Sunday Dan Dan headed off to Scottsdale, Arizona for a conference and was due back late Thursday night. In addition to all the usual reasons that bum me out when he is away, Scottsdale is one of my most favorite places on the planet. I spent a year there when I was 21 and have not had the opportunity to go back. I would so love to re-visit there, especially with Dan Dan the Fireman. In the rush of his departure I forgot to give him the digital camera. He went out and bought a disposable and I directed him over the phone to the apartment complex where I lived. He walked through the grounds and took pics for me. I can’t wait to see them. It will be a walk down very happy memory lane for me.

While he was away I had to attend BACK TO SCHOOL night. This is an event the school holds for parents to meet the teachers and to hear a detailed outline of the program for the year ahead. I was a little anxious about going to this alone. It involves a lot of standing around, visiting different classrooms and generally walking the length and breadth of the school. For such outings, I usually make us of my wheelchair which, at this point in time, Dan Dan is the only person I am comfortable with to assist in lifting me out of the chair. I really did not want to miss the evening so I initiated PLAN B which you can read more about here.

When I translated Fourth Grade into the terminology I grew up with in South Africa, I realized that Ross is now in Standard 2. I know it sounds really clichĂ© but I couldn’t believe it. When I thought of it in this context it just had more of an impact on me. In the car on the way to school I told Ross that his first day of First Grade is so clear in my memory that I even remember what I wore.
ABOUT TO GO INTO SCHOOL - ROSS , FIRST DAY 1ST GRADE

LEAVING FOR SCHOOL - FIRST DAY 4TH GRADE



It reminded me of how my sister told me that when she watched my nephew, Shaun walk across the stage at his high school graduation, it felt like his whole school experience had gone by in an instant.

I felt much the same way when Shaun recently announced his engagement. My sister’s kids hold very special places in my heart as I literally saw both of them on the days they were born. I have memories of baby sitting Shaun who was one of those babies that would cry, a lot, for a very long time and it was almost impossible to pacify him. My sister still jokes about a particular incident when I was looking after him and she came home to find me carrying him on my back in the uniquely South African way our nanny’s used to do so. Somehow, they would manage to throw us over their shoulder with one arm and then tie a large towel or blanket around us and we would happily sleep on their backs while they went about their daily cleaning and chores in the home. I honestly don’t remember how I got Shaun on to my back that day – I know for sure I didn’t fling him over my shoulder like my nanny did. When my sister walked in, I was literally pacing the floor in a bouncing type motion trying to quiet the crying baby.

It is all as clear as yesterday in my memory, and now we are planning a wedding a year from now where my son will be the ring bearer. I just love the story of Shaun’s proposal to his fiancĂ© Megan.
MY GOD SON SHAUN - KIND OF MUNCHKINISH, ISN'T HE?


SHAUN AND MEGAN ON THE BEACH SOON AFTER SHAUN PROPOSED



“…During the proposal – this dog (Bandit) came out of the ocean and sat next to us (just as Megs said ‘yes’) and left once we decided to go. It was SO bizarre, he came from the ocean, and once left – I swear by all that’s holy – that’s exactly where he returned. I didn’t see him ANYWHERE once we started to leave the beach.”

I love this story. I think it speaks of magic and miracles and that is what I wish for Shaun and Megs - a path together that will have nothing but the magic of friendship and the miracles of a soulful union.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

NINE / ELEVEN

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...

You may say
I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

~ John Lennon

Pic taken by Ross ~ the river which flows through our town.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

FRIDAY FUN ...


When was the last time you laughed to the point of exhaustion? (sound essential and wait a few seconds for it to start after you click on the arrow.)

ADDED LATER: Sheena emailed me to say: If you see two arrows, one in the center of the video screen and one at the bottom left under the screen, activate the bottom left one and you should be able to view without any problem. Sorry for those who have had difficulty and hope this tip helps.


> > > > Say 'goodbye' to your afternoon - click HERE < < < < <

(I have not been able to progress my highest score past 4!)

Monday, September 04, 2006

LONG SILENCE, LONG POST ...

The Labor Day weekend rings in the end of the summer. It’s a weekend that this household enjoys with lots of reasons to celebrate.

Saturday was the most awful weather we have experienced in a long time. I had to go to the mall for a haircut and manicure and I said to Dan Dan in the car, these were about the only two things I would ever venture out in this kind of weather for. The rain and wind were the result of the tail end of hurricane Ernesto. Of course it was nothing compared to the horrors that people in the thick of it experience, but my goodness, for the first time I REALLY stopped to think about what they must have gone through. As I stood waiting outside the mall for Dan to pick me up – I thought I was going to start crying. I was so nervous that I was going to get blown over and I am not kidding when I say that the rain was pelting down horizontally. It was freaky. I couldn’t wait to get off the road and out of the car. When I got into bed on Saturday night, I said a deeper prayer for all and anyone subjected to these hurricanes.

In spite of the forecast for Sunday being good, we decided it was probably a better idea to set up inside for our annual Labor Day BBQ. We always have it on the Sunday so that we still have a day off after the party before going back to the routine of the week. Marti got back from her trip home to Slovakia earlier in the week so she was on hand to help us on Saturday afternoon. We were expecting 17 people and the kitchen was pumping in preparation all of Saturday night. We had a really yummy menu of steak, lamb chops, chicken wings. There was smoked salmon for the people who didn’t eat meat, marinated veggie and pasta salad, corn on the cob, potato salad, and green salad. There was also garlic bread which is a recipe that Tammy gave me and I have decided to share it here because it is always so popular. I will list it right at the end of this post.

Our table looked gorgeous, the company was wonderful and the weather was fantastic, for our indoor BBQ! I was rather safe than sorry though and given that the weather can change at a moment’s notice everyone agreed it was not a problem eating indoors.

One of our friends is the dearest man who is a life member of the firehouse. Nick is in his late 70’s and recently underwent knee replacement surgery. He unfortunately suffered a stroke as a result of the surgery and is having difficulty regaining use of the right side of his body. Dan Dan went to get him and his lady friend Betty. They are the most adorable couple and I refer to them as my friends who have been happily unmarried for over 20 years. They were both divorced in their younger years. Nick gained custody of his three sons and Betty has children of her own. They met at a ‘Parents without Partners’ dance and the rest is history. We love having them over and what I find really interesting is that when they came over for lunch the first time, Betty commented how in all these years of their association with the firehouse, ours was the first home they had ever been invited into. As they got here well ahead of the other guests, Dan Dan and I were still busy putting the last minute finishing touches to the table and meal. Nick asked if he could watch the tennis and as we were all keen to see how Agassi would do, we were happy to turn the TV on.

As it was nearing the end of the match, we decided to leave it on even though we had taken our seats to eat. We weren’t distracted by it and we wanted to see the outcome of the game. One of the other guests is our friend Merle. She is also from South Africa, married to Richard who is American, and has lived here for well over 20 years. Her sister is the life partner of Billie Jean King so they were particularly interested in watching the outcome of the game as they know all the tennis players personally. It was most unfortunate that he lost as it would have been wonderful for him to retire on a win. The farewell he gave the crowd was something to behold. Merle, myself and even Dan Dan had tears rolling down our cheeks. It was the most moving thing to see him standing in the middle of the court SOBBING. I had goose bumps watching the crowd applaud this man and as I said to Merle, you could feel the love between Andre and his audience. I am so pleased we got to see it as it was history in the making.

Dan Dan served an ace with his dessert. He added his own finishing touches to a recipe for Peach Melba and plated a poached peach with raspberry and blackberry coulis and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I couldn't help saying how this peach looked like a perky little tochas/bum that you felt you just had to bite.

My lovely neighbor Alyson is known as the Cupcake Queen and for good reason. I challenge anyone to produce a more delicious cupcake than her. We have become totally spoilt by her generosity and we know that a tray of these little pieces of heaven is a given at our parties.

At one point during the afternoon I realized that all my friends, aside from the neighbors and Betty and Nick are people I had met through Ross. It was either through school, gymnastics or setting up car pools that we had made our connections. I thought to myself as I watched Ross and Jodi and Denise’s kids playing together that it is getting to a point where we are soon going to be able to look back on our time as friends and feel like we have a history. I was happy to have all my friends together at one time and the room was filled with warmth and togetherness.

Monday ushered in Pingy’s 12th birthday. We treated her to a ride in the car when we went with my Mom to get ice creams in the afternoon and after taking my Mom home, we stopped off to get Ross a new school bag for 4th grade. Pingy is the love of all our lives and our household would not be the same without her. She is a constant source of adoration, fun, affection and cuddles. When my late friend Pam from South Africa once visited us in London, she gave Pingy her African name of Pingele – pronounced Ping-geh-le. So with that in mind, we wish you many more birthdays Pingele and we hope you will be with us for many years to come.

IT'S TOUGH BEING PINGY, REALLY TOUGH!

Finally, September 5th is our 13th wedding anniversary. I dedicate thissong, which is one of my favorite love songs to my husband who knows exactly how much I love him. The only difference between this song and our lives, is that not only when I awake, but when ever I look to my side, he is there. That is exactly where I want him to be. Not ahead of me and not behind me, but right by my side. I renew my commitment every single day to being right by his side too. I love you Daniel.

Firefly ~ Uriah Heep

My love lives at
The end of a rainbow
One day I'm gonna
Fly there on a firefly
High above white angry water
With a love song in my heart

Some day, somehow
I know I'm gonna get there
I've been patient for so long
All my daydreams
Seem so much nearer now
And I beg you hear my song

Firefly
On your glowing wings I'll ride
Till I sit beside
This dream of mine
Firefly, high on a risin' tide
Only wanna touch
The things I've seen

Steppin' lightly from star to star
Cross a wilderness of blue
Wonderin' how much
In love with me you are
'Cause I'm so much in love with you

Firefly, can you take me
I aint had no lovin' laterly
Firefly bring me love

To my new horizon
The one that I've still
Got my eyes on, my my Firefly
Firefly, Firefly, Firefly

In my deams you come to me
The answer to my prayer
As I begin to feel
You warm my heart
I awake and you're not there

Now and then I see your eyes
As the starts begin to shine
No rain to cool my passion
No! Not now! No now you're mine

The Rabbi has to ask the groom's permission to carry out the wedding ceremony. Prior to doing this, the Rabbi was jokingly telling Daniel that this would be his last moment to run and was checking with him that he was sure he wasn't going to. (To read about our very special wedding ceremony, please refer to the Archives column and click on September 2005 - once there, scroll down to post entitled 'VOWS'.)

At this point in the ceremony the Rabbi reminded me that this was serious and I needed to stop laughing. Perhaps it was nerves, but I got the giggles, then Daniel started laughing at me laughing and soon it was bordering on being out of control.

All smiles and happiness as a married couple, signing the marriage certificate.

That was then ... and this is now!

13 Years later preparing Sunday's meal.

Still smiling, and in spite of a lot less hair, even happier!

Garlic Bread Recipe

Mix softened butter, finely diced parsely, finely diced onions, crushed garlic, grated sharp cheddar cheese. Spread between thick slices of Italian bread. Wrap in foil and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 mins to half hour.

Have a delicious week everyone.



 
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