Friday, December 30, 2016

Attitude of Gratitude for 2016

It's been a looong time since my last blog post and a lot has happened in this time - some good, some really bad. This year has brought a lot of changes, challenges and new experiences. I have been on my own (with my BLT of course) for eight months and I think I've pretty much got it waxed, apart from the occasional repair that I need around the house, but all in all I I'm doing pretty well. To be honest the kids did mention that the house is getting darker as light bulbs are needing replacing, but nothing that an impromptu candle-lit dinner can't solve! Soon I'll have to tell them we're camping haha.

Even with all the challenges, there is so much to be grateful for. This little blog that you're reading, that I started a couple of years ago to document our lives has also become an outlet for me to write, vent and process. I started blogging to ensure that the details of our journey aren't lost and even though I haven't posted very often, it's now had over 51 000 views!! How crazy is that? So not only is it here for me to look back on and laugh, ponder or cry, it has also touched the lives of others, so that has made me very happy.

More gratitude and happiness - Tomato has been struggling at school this year and it has been heartbreaking to watch as her confidence took another dive and she truly believed she was stupid no matter how often I told her differently. After having her assessed and a few changes made, Tomato proudly handed me her final report with A's in 5 subjects!! She was beaming from ear to ear!! I am grateful to the grade head, who was also one of her teachers. She took a special interest in Tomato and made her feel special and two other teachers who really tried to help her with extra lessons and strategies to help her catch up when she fell behind. Teachers, not schools are important to childrens' education and "write on the slate of who they are." I am grateful that Lettuce and Bacon also had wonderful nurturing teachers this year.  Tomato FINALLY managed to get full attendance at school! After weeks away from school because of her skin, this was the first year she was at school every day and is so proud of her certificate - thank you Dr Aron! With her skin being managed beautifully and her marks improving, yesterday when we bought her stationery for 2017 Tomato said "I'm gonna nail grade 5!" ~ music to my ears. Tomato loves crafts and sings happily to herself and loves music and dancing.

Bacon has grown in leaps and bounds both physically (geez she's getting tall) and in confidence. At the beginning of the year I had to send an email to her teacher asking her to please look out for the children squashing Bacon into her seat because she got stuck between the child behind her desk and the one in front of her and was too shy to put up her hand for help so she missed getting a new reader and was devastated. I felt so sorry for her and the teacher was mortified. Bacon is very quiet but misses nothing, she's methodical and loves school, especially if she loves her teacher, which fortunately she has for grade 1 and 2. I'm hoping she gets a similar teacher in grade 3. Bacon is always excited to get homework, unlike her sister who rolls her eyes and laments the unfairness of homework! Bacon is known as Huggy Bear as she cannot give enough hugs.
Playing on the iPad on the counter

Lettuce has been attending a fantastic play school where he has thrived. He is more than ready for grade R. I haven't quite got myself round to getting his uniform (sob) he's growing up so fast and learning so much from his sisters. He spends lots of time practising his letters and numbers on his own and I leave him to it, trying not to encourage or dissuade him. The girls couldn't care less about learning letters at his age. Mema would be so proud of him, she loved teaching him and he can already read a few simple words! He is fascinated by anything that moves and always wants to know how it works. Looks like he's going to take after his dad and become an engineer. He's so proud to be a whole hand old and is quick with little maths sums. Of course he is a bit of a terror and is often booted unceremoniously out of Tomato's room. Lettuce saw his first real show this year and loved it - Joseph and his Technicolour Dreamcoat. He sang along to all the songs with mom. Lettuce has a great sense of humour and he keeps us entertained.

In September the doctor informed me that I needed abdominal surgery. I wasn't convinced but after the doctors started with their fear-mongering, I gave up and booked myself in for the simple procedure - 2 nights in hospital and 7-10 days recovery. Perfect, I'd just book myself in during the school mid-term break and all would be done by the time the kids needed to be back at school and I needed to be back at work right? Wrong!

The surgery was a success (apparently) but I just wasn't healing. Time and time again I needed to go back to the surgeon as I wasn't able to sit or move without it being incredibly painful. Eventually I was re-hospitalized for infection for "just one night" of intravenous antibiotics, which became 5 nights, a CT scan, MRI and a lot of other painful procedures which I am hoping to forget. My brother and his wife took over my life. Not taking 'no' for an answer when I phoned in tears to say I had to be re-admitted, my SIL fetched me, took me to the hospital, got me settled in, came back later to light some fires under the nursing staff to get me pethidine and looked after my children like they were her own. I never had to give a thought to their well-being. That is possibly the greatest gift that anyone can give a mother in hospital.

Even though my recovery took, what seemed like forever, I have so much to be grateful for as friends and family all rushed to pitch in. I was fortunate to have so many concerned friends visit me in hospital and my brother brought the kids to visit twice so that I could have a bit of family time. I was relieved that they were so content to visit and then go without too much fuss because this year has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster for them. When I was discharged I was given a stern talking to by my brother, telling me that I would, under his direct orders, stay in bed until I was completely healed. I was in no shape to do anything anyway, but I probably would have tried like I did before and cause more damage. Sending my BLT to school with Uber was getting a little bit costly anyway! So I was stuck, flat on my back for 5 weeks while everyone ran around taking over my "to-do" list. 

My brother became Mr Mom, taking the kids to school, fetching them, bringing them to me for homework and studying, collecting them later, bathing, giving them dinner, putting them to bed, waking them up, making breakfast and then doing it all again and again for 5 weeks. It was ridiculously busy for him and his whole family. When Lettuce needed a battery for his toy, bro would go to the shop and get him one and fix his toy, when Tomato needed money for school, SIL provided, when Halloween came, my brother and nephew took the kids trick-or-treating while my SIL kept me company. When it was bakerman and Lettuce needed goodies to sell, my SIL made sure he made something. I cannot begin to explain how grateful I am to my brother, SIL and nephew who made it look so easy even though I knew it wasn't, especially during exam time and they were constantly juggling their schedules to include mine. 

Huge thanks to granny and grandpa who brought groceries, took up the slack when my brother and SIL couldn't fetch and carry and granny taking me to the homeopath which was what eventually pushed me over the healing edge, thank goodness! 
My friends were also phenomenal. Although I have thanked these people in person, I don't think they really realise how grateful I am. To the friend that took me to hospital at 5am and got me settled in; to the friend who was there when I woke up from surgery; to the friends that fetched and carried me to the doctor over and over again; to the friends who visited me in hospital; to the friend that came to visit me in hospital only to be told I was being discharged and she had to take me home; to the friends who stopped to buy me meds; to the friends who brought me groceries and prepared meals; to the friend that took me shopping when I was eventually able; to the friend who took my children to her house, fed them and took them to school and who offered for me to convalesce at her house; to the friend who dropped off flowers and chocolates and sent a voucher for reflexology; for my sister's friend who came to visit me to cheer me up and brought treats for the kids; to the amazing friend who made delicious home-cooked meals for all of us; to the friends that came to visit to allow me to not feel so isolated from the world; to the friend that heard that Lettuce wouldn't have a cake for his birthday and bought him one and came over with goodies to decorate it with him and the girls and make his birthday a lot of fun; to the same friend who took over my lecturing duties and helped me out of a tricky situation; to the friend who allowed us to gate crash her daughter's birthday party, so Lettuce could celebrate his first birthday with his friends; to the friends who phoned to check on me; to the friends who sent wonderful messages and the outpouring of love I received and to everyone else who helped, even in a small way and for those who offered, I am so very grateful.

Granny's cake
Party cake made by me 
Lettuce, who wasn't going to have any cake ended up having 3! One for school, one for his party and one at granny and grampa. The one I made with my BLT and it was so much fun to make a cake, ice it and dig pieces out!
Cake to take for school
Pizza from the boma
My partner and I made this - YUM!
One great thing that I have in common with all my friends is that we all love food..... and this year  awesome food was indeed consumed! To be honest a lot of this divine food involves a friend of mine who has a whole bunch of us over for dinner so often that we've even got a whatsapp group for our Tuesday dinners (don't be fooled by the name, they can happen on any night!) One of the many things I love about this friend is that she can whip up a three course meal for 10 people, including a roast with all the trimmings (including Yorkshire puddings) in 2 hours without breaking a sweat and it is D-I-V-I-N-E! This year she had a pizza oven installed in her new boma/ fire pit. The pizzas are divine and braaied marshies dipped in chocolate for desert are not too bad either - the kids love it! This same friend took us all on a cooking course for her birthday. We cooked up an Indian storm (a literal hell fire storm - it was flippin' hot!!) and we had an amazing evening with great company and awesome food! 
Homemade ice cream bowls

Sampling the soup
At my house the cooking is not as gourmet as at my friend's house, but we get by. The kids love crumpets, especially in different shapes and as you can see, Lettuce loved my broccoli soup that I made in bulk. I caught him sampling each tub while I wasn't looking! We have also tried some fun things like sprinkled ice cream bowls which the kids had fun making with balloons and lots of sprinkles. 

One thing you can be sure of, is that no matter what life throws at me, I will always find the humour in it. Like Bacon's reader with pertinent picture, I was crying I found it so hilarious - she of course did not. Every time she read "the king's hole" I collapsed and she was not impressed that I was not taking her reading seriously.
Bacon's reader in grade 2

Laughter truly is the best medicine and I take medication very seriously! With three little ones in the house it can be a laugh a minute! Even while typing this my BLT have just called me to the TV room so that we can all dance. They are so much fun, you can't be in a bad mood when you have to sing and dance all the time! Lettuce likes to talk in an American accent, Tomato loves to sing and make up her own songs and Bacon likes to dance on the coffee table (I know, I'm a bad parent but I started it when Mama Mia came on and let's face it you have to boogy on a table to Waterloo!!)

So together with the bad and the sad and the downright scary, there have been many wonderful times and although there were lots of tears this year (I also lost a school friend), many have been tears of joy and for that I am truly grateful.