Sunday, February 21, 2016

Meeting Dr Aron - A Dream Come True

For over a year we have used a medication on our young child, from a Dermatologist whom we had never met. Crazy huh? To be honest, when we started this treatment on our daughter, my husband and I told very few people. We only told our "inner circle." These are the people who had walked the long road of severe Atopic Dermatitis with us and had seen the way it destroyed relationships, family cohesion and eroded our child's self-esteem. The non-judgemental people who realised that we were desperate, sleep-deprived and had tried everything possible to save our little girl from her life of hell and understood why we were reluctantly putting our trust in a specialist who we had discovered on the Internet. Well it wasn't long before I was shouting it from the rooftops! We had found relief! It wasn't a cure but it was the start of the first "normal" year of my family's life! "Quality of life" now has new meaning to our family.

My mom passed away in September and as Christmas drew closer, I knew that I couldn't stay home and have Christmas in the same way I had done since my childhood, it would be too sad without my mom. I kept thinking of a song she liked from Joseph and His Technicolour Dream Coat with the lyrics "There's one less place at our table, there's one more tear in my eye" and I knew I couldn't handle that empty chair. So we decided on the spur of the moment to go away. Hubby and I asked the kids where they wanted to go on holiday and they all agreed on one place. Since her skin had healed many months before,Tomato had asked begged almost daily, to fly to Cape Town to meet the doctor who had helped her. After being put through the trauma of visiting doctor after doctor and applying cream after burning cream for five and a half years, it was amazing that this invisible doctor on the other side of an email, had achieved what no other could. It just didn't seem real. Tomato and I loved this man whom we had never met and only seen on an Internet video. I agreed with her, we had to go meet and thank this man.
Tomato with her hero

We compromised on the flying, borrowed Grampa's car (with TVs in the back - thanks Grampa!) and drove down to Cape Town. The trip was pretty amazing with 3 little noses glued to a screen! Our family has a "no screens during the week" policy, so they couldn't believe their luck at being able to watch movie after movie on an eighteen hour trip.

"What did you just say?"
Before we left I contacted Dr Aron's lovely wife Kate and asked if we could pop in for a visit. The Arons were on holiday but went out of their way to make a plan for Tomato to meet her hero at their holiday home, three days before Christmas. We drove the extra distance and all five of us descended on the Aron family! Tomato is a very sensitive child, so she began getting nervous as we got closer and I was reminded of how she used to tear her skin apart when she was nervous before. I have always watched TV shows with interest as people eventually meet their hero, usually a pop icon or actor. I have never been star-struck with any star, even my favourites, so I could imagine the excitement but I never felt it, until that day! Even I had started to become a bit nervous and excited as I was about to meet the man who had put his hand out to pull us all out of the black hole, where many others had purely dangled the carrot of hope without follow-through. 
Sharing a joke with Dr A

The poor man was attacked by us as he walked out his front door! After a year, we eventually got to meet, hug and thank the man who gave us back our daughter and allowed our lives to have some semblance of normality! It was surreal. He was human, with a great sense of humour too. We had a lovely afternoon with Dr A and Kate and the kids loved playing with the dogs and meeting Dr A's daughters and grandson. I think I was a bit gushy so eventually Dr A dryly stated that he would be at their holiday home for a few weeks and proposed that I come through each day between 2 and 4pm for hug-time haha! Little did he know that if he had been closer to where we were staying, I would have taken him up on that offer!!

Many patients had travelled to meet Dr Aron in Chicago where he presented his Aron Regime, and I think Tomato felt a bit left out that other children were meeting her hero but she hadn't. As we were leaving Tomato whispered to me "I think I'm the only special one who has been to Dr Aron's holiday house" and she was on cloud nine! After having one two more hugs and thanking the Arons for their hospitality, we started the two hour drive back to where we were staying, along the beautiful Cape coastline. It slowly dawned on me that both Tomato and I could tick one more item off our bucket lists. 

Thank you Dr Aron and Kate.

Tomato, Me, Kate and Dr Aron

Links to other blogs I have written about the Aron Regime and our journey with Atopic Eczema:

Skin Deep
The Eczema Chronicles
Is Avene the miracle we've been waiting for?
The Day I Found Dr Richard Aron and our Healing Journey Began
What is TSA and RSS?
Three Months After Starting with Dr Richard Aron
Nine Months Later with Dr Richard Aron


Friday, February 19, 2016

Moulding the Young Minds of the Future Generations

I've said it before and I'll say it again, one of THE most boring parts of my job as a marketing and business lecturer, is having to invigilate exams. Yes I get a lot of steps on my pedometer, but I would prefer to be lecturing. One of the most fascinating things about exams though, is how students react to them. First they are panicked and then they turn to their "good luck" charms and paraphernalia. I have dedicated a blog post to this in the past called Testing testing 1-2-3 which goes into how I have kept myself amused during exam times and a few more posts relating to things my students have said and done.You can find them here: Pearls of WisdomWe Digress..... and We Don't Need No Education if you haven't seen them yet.

But as I embark on my 5th year of lecturing, I have decided to document some memorable moments that I have encountered during the dreaded invigilating as well as exam answers. Please show these to your children and explain why spelling is so important!!!

I don't have photographic proof for them all, but these actually did happen:

Give 2 examples of a stereotype and explain why each would be considered stereotypical.

Answer 1
White people can't dance and keep rhythm. [yes 1 mark, because some white people can dance]
This stereotype is usually promoted by black people because ALL black people are born with a NATURAL rhythm for music and white people aren't. [and there you go losing this mark and the previous one]

Answer 2 (same student)
Rugby supporters are aggressive.
It will be very dumb to walk in Pretoria and tell a group of Blue Bull supporters that the Bulls team are a bunch of gay queens [um, well yes that would make most sport supporter aggressive, but how do I mark this?]


50% chance of getting this answer right, but hey, let's just leave it out because I'm not sure.

Seriously??  No we do not have negative marking.


Within the first 30 minutes of a final exam, a student called me over to discuss how the allocated marks for each question did not total the 100 marks as indicated. Good thing she wasn't doing a maths exam because sure enough, when all added together, they did in fact equal 100. Nothing like using your allocated writing time wisely!


At the varsity where I lecture, it is customary, to put up the times in half hour increments, on the board so that students are able to immediately check how long they have left to finish the exam. Students may not have their cell phones with them during the exam, so this assists students who use their phones as a time-piece. I kid you not when I tell you that a student called me over to the back of the class to tell me that I should wipe the next time off the board. When I checked the time, I still had 1 minute before the time was up! (sigh)


A student wrote me a note on the exam paper. It simply read "this is hard." lol sorry.

Then I get other notes:

Why do I need to know this??


Another student left a blank space for a specific question. If that wasn't enough to let me know that he didn't know the answer, he then added into the blank space "sorry I didn't think we'd be tested on this."  Yes, I understood that you didn't know the answer, when you left a HUGE BLANK SPACE. Thanks for confirming that you spotted for the exam!!


Sunlight Dish washing Liquid - "the major benefit of Sunlight is the many flavours"  I am not sure who is eating / drinking Sunlight Dish washing liquid that the taste would make an impact to increase purchase?

Sucking up:

My all-time favourite "below the belt" and spelling errors:

How did we get to an example of tampons on a VAT question?
Oh yes, apparently they are an essential item alongside bread!
Took me a while to realise he meant Coke!

I must admit I have no experience of the Israeli vibrator market

The last 3 lines are an example of a single mother!

Remuneration is important to your staff stuff members

Sleasy Slizzy Italians!
Beef pettis had me for a while.... ~ Ahhh beef PATTIES!

 Polite messages:
Yes I can see that you don't know!

I'm not confused. If it states 4b then I mark it as 4b.

All students finished before the last 15 minutes
Don't be sorry, write neater!!
Some make me smile:

Love the slang in this example and of course GODLY!

As you can see, lecturing is very interesting. My students keep me entertained and we have some really good laughs! These young people truly are the future, as Whitney Houston sang "I believe that children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way." Here's to another fun-filled year of teaching and learning.

Friday, February 5, 2016

50 Shades of Grey

When the book 50 Shades of Gray was all the rage, hubby kindly purchased me a copy so that I could see what all the fuss was about.  I even wrote a blog post about it. 50 Shades of Gray Book Review. In a nutshell, I thought it was ridiculous and it really didn't appeal to me but I understand that sex sells and that E.V.E.R.Y.B.O.D.Y knew about the book after the marketing machine had swung into action and everybody wanted to read it to see why it was so popular.

I've often mentioned that I am a frustrated author and I would love to write a novel but don't know where to start, so I think of topics and ideas all the time. When my mom was alive, I regularly used to pop in to visit her at the Retirement Village. It was perfectly located on the way to school and we literally drove right past it, shouting out "hi Mema" every day. When I fetched the kids they would beg to stop in to see Mema and we would often just arrive for a quick pop-in. Other days I would drop in to take her somewhere or we'd just chat over tea and frooty tooties (her homemade speciality). On the many times that I drove through that village, the title of the book 50 Shades of Gray always came to mind because I think it would be the perfect title of a story set in a retirement village. 50 Shades of Grey - get it? Their hair is grey! Ok now that you're with me......

After my mom died, I have felt a bit lost not going there, because it was an almost every day occurance. To make myself feel closer to her, I sometimes go back to the village to have some "oldie time" with my mom's friends. I know it sounds crazy but it really does make me feel closer to her somehow, even though these were "new" friends, as she had only lived there for 14 months before she passed.
Every time I go there, it hits home. There are so many lonely people, living seperately, together in a building in lovely surroundings. When I see the ladies my mom knew, their whole faces light up as they take my arm and invite me into their pristine apartments for a cup of tea. Each one takes so much pride in their little piece of privacy and I love looking at their photos and ornaments on display. Even the ladies with families, seldom see their children, the lucky ones get a visitor about once every two weeks (and that is considered a lot.) But when they wake up every morning, get dressed and sit in their little apartment, 14 days must feel like a lifetime. They sit and wait for an organised activity so that they have an excuse to get out and mingle. My life is so busy and yet their lives are so empty. It fascinates me how life works. When you are younger, you are manic, working, raising kids, cooking, cleaning, doing all the chores that are required. Extra murals, fetching and carrying kids and then....... nothing. I would rush in and rush out and my mom would always be grateful for a visit but I knew that she was lonely. She was considered lucky because some of these residents have no visitors, ever.

The elderly are often forgotten and as I grow older, I realise that I too will be their age one day (hopefully) and I'm still going to be me (with my sense of humour), just in an old body. If one of my elderly friends fall over, I'm still going to laugh when I'm 75, I know I am, that's just me! Often when we see the elderly, we only recognise a wrinkled person who has nothing in common with us, but if we stop to to ask and to listen, we realise there is a whole life that was led by that person. They were also young once. I like to imagine them when they were younger, what they did, how they acted. Where they kind or mean?  Were they outgoing or reserved? What mistakes did they make? What are they most proud of? Who were they "in their day?" I love hearing their stories and they love dusting them off and remembering them, their faces priceless as they relay the well-worn stories that they have re-told over the years, but they're new to me. I always listen to old people's stories, they are so interesting as I get a glimpse into who they were. Some people worked, some didn't, some married, some didn't, some devoted their lives to raising their children and some have lost their children and husbands. Some are friendly and some are downright grumpy. In each case, there is an entire lifetime of memories bottled up in their grey, perfectly- groomed heads and they truly are the product of their experiences. I think I like the fact that they all think I'm young haha! I feel so young when I'm there and they always say that my visits and my kids kept my mom going, she loved us. So maybe it's also a little boost for me to hear that. I think my 50 Shades of Grey a the Retirement Village could also be a best seller!

One of the great facilities at this retirement village, is that they have a library with a take-read-and-return policy. Simple and effective. There is no record of who takes out what book, it works on an honesty system, where you read the book and then bring it back for others to enjoy. Due to the size of the village, some people kindly (or lazily) leave books on the entrance table for others in their block to enjoy without having to walk to the library in the main building and the books are returned to the library by staff if they have been out for too long. The system works really well and in the past I would also leave old magazines on the entrance table and my mom would leave her newspaper for those who didn't get a daily delivery, like she did. Everyone benefits.

My mom used the library extensively as she was an avid reader and it helped pass the time. When she went into hospital I brought her book to her, but she was too weak to read it. (Thank goodness she didn't because I read it and it was really bad and it would have irritated my mom.) The book taunted me, because it sat on my desk for weeks and then months and I kept meaning to return it, but I kept forgetting. My mom would not be happy with me and the guilt was getting the better of me. I was going through my cupboard and found my almost pristine copy of 50 Shades of Gray hidden in the back. Tomato has started reading quite well so the book was not on my bookshelf with all the other books, as I didn't want her to have access to it. Hopefully she will read it when she is older and able to understand that domination and abuse do not equate to love and the book will seem ridiculous to her, as it was to me, but right now she's far too young and impressionable, so I needed to get rid of it. An idea was brewing.......

Yesterday I decided to pop in to see my mom's friend and I remembered to take along the book that my mom had borrowed. As I walked from my car I saw another lady who greeted me and invited me into her home. We chatted and when I left her, I put the borrowed book on the entrance table of the building, where I had often put my magazines in the past. But this time, I placed my copy of 50 Shades of Gray on top of it and went to find the lady who I had planned to visit. I walked up the flight of stairs, knocked twice on her door, she wasn't home. I walked back down the stairs to my car. I couldn't have been gone more than a minute. I chuckled to myself as I noticed, walking past the entrance table, that the novel my mom had borrowed was still there, but the 50 Shades book had already been borrowed! Throughout our youth body image is extremely important and few people honestly look beyond the shell (body) and see the soul inside. It takes getting old to realise that your body is just a vessel to move your soul around. I was reminded again, just because their bodies have changed, doesn't mean their minds have!