It’s a tough life but someone has to do it

Yes, we are on vacation.  It is very hard work.  We have major decisions to make.  Are we having coffee or tea?  Are we going to do nothing before or after taking a nap?  Or before and after taking a nap?  Ground breaking things like that.  We need your sympathy.  It is a huge responsibility.

We are in George, visiting my brother and his wife.  He is the financial manager of Kingswood, one of the golf estates here and we are going to join him in a day of golfing later today.  To be exact, Wouter is going to join him and the children and I are going to have fun with the golf carts.  Don’t tell anyone!  Boeta is very excited about the golfing idea.  He’s played golf on the PlayStation and has decided that it is his game of choice.  Personally I don’t see a problem with it.  I can live with the idea of retiring at 35 on my son’s winnings.  If Tiger could do it, Boeta can too.  It stands to reason.

Yesterday we met more angels in uniforms.  Boeta’s broviac line needs to be flushed weekly to keep it from getting blocked.  I planned on getting it done on Saturday morning before we left Cape Town but I forgot.  I know.  I am a terrible mom.  Yesterday morning I phoned Gerrit’s rooms to ask for advice.  Stephanie (receptionist) phoned me back and layed out our plan of action.  We are really on vacation – I didn’t even do this myself! LOL! 

Off we went to the George office / branch / practice of GVI*.  They don’t treat children at all (children usually go to Tygerberg or Red Cross Children’s Hospital) and had no experience of Broviacs (aka Hickman line).  Their patients have ports, ie an implant under their skin.  This wasn’t a problem.  With a bit of over-the-phone info from Debbie (staff nurse Kluyts, if you want to be all formal about it) from Panorama and a lot of interference from me Boeta’s line was flushed and his dressing was changed.   Thank you Marietjie and everyone else.  They were thrown in at the deep end and oh my word, they swam! 

It is now 10:50 and I am still in my pajamas.  So toodles, I will be back.  Right now I have to get some more tea and look at the mountains. 

*GVI is the oncology people.  They do out-patient chemo and all radiation.  Boeta received his radiation from GVI in Panorama Medi-Clinic.  They deal with cancer patients every day.  They are a different breed – “special” can’t begin to describe them.

Our baby is growing up

Woutertjie has decided that he wants to spend the night with my parents.  So now Wouter and I are home with Carien.  We kept on asking him if he really wanted to stay there the whole night “tot dit weer dagtyd is”.  And apparently he does.  He is growing up too quickly.

I’m not in a good space at the moment.  I spent the whole day moving furniture around in our house.  And now it is just not working.  And I don’t know what to do to fix it.  I get very jumpy if my surroundings aren’t balanced and right now it isn’t.  I actually feel claustrophobic in my own house.  I have to do something to make it better but I don’t know what.  And I can’t just move everything back.  Wouter used to have the whole dining room area to himself as office space.  Now he isn’t working at home any more and I desperately need space.  I’ve been conducting my life on the dining room table and it has to stop.  So I had to create work space for me.  If I had my way I would leave the house right now and not come back until someone else sorted out the problem.

Added to this I really need some quiet time.  As in literally.  The children have been loud, loud, loud.  And the whole day I’ve been moving things, scraping things along, banging stuff in the process.  I am officially over-stimulated.  Never again will I think badly of an over-tired baby.

So now I am off to bed to try and get some rest.  Wish me luck.

All is well in the Grové household

Wouter came home at 18:00 tonight.  The children were out of their skins with excitement.  They’ve been on top of him from then until bedtime.  It was very sweet.  I knew that they missed him but I didn’t realise how much he missed them.

Wouter has been working very hard the last few weeks.  There were quite a number of days that he left before the monkeys woke up and came home long after they’ve gone to bed.  I’m happy to say that the audit that his company was gearing up for is now under way.  By the end of this week he should revert to normal-person working hours. 😉

This weekend we are leaving to go on a bit of a vacation.  Woutertjie isn’t having any treatment next week and Wouter has leave for the week.  I’m not planning on giving him any opportunity to “quickly pop in at work”.  Oh no.  We are leaving on Saturday and I think I will insist that we get back next Sunday.  Grrrrr.  I am a tiger!

I am doing well.  After 6 months of being a stay-at-home-mom I am starting to settle in the role.  It is very different.  In my defense, spending lots of time with doctors and in hospital didn’t contribute to cut down my time to adapt.  But I think I am getting there.  By February when Woutertjie’s chemo finishes I will be 100% SAHM.  Just in time to start to work again.  Oh joy.

Carien is doing very well.  She is such a little madam.  I couldn’t imagine life without her!  She loves mielies (corn-on-the-cob).  She calls them miemies and since she can’t wait for me to boil them she usually starts on a raw one while she waits.  I am serious.  She finishes a raw mielie by the time the cooked ones are done.  We just shake our heads.

Boeta is gaining weight – he ate 4 eggs today.  Yes, four.  2 for breakfast and then he asked for more for lunch.  His blood results are very good.  The haemoglobin (10.5) and platelets (210) are in normal ranges and his white cell count (4.2) is lower than normal but a record high for him.  So we have the doctors’ approval to go away next week.

I want to kick myself.  Gerrit (paediatrician) is going to a hunting farm in the Karoo this weekend.  It is bitterly cold in Cape Town and it will be frostbite-cold in the Karoo.  I was going to deliver an excellent and very old bottle of red wine to his rooms today as a blood warmer for the weekend.  But I forgot.  And he isn’t at work tomorrow and Friday.  Damn.

Cristina (oncologist) is overseas on a course at the moment.  Apparently she is burning the candle from both sides (with a blowtorch) there as well.  According to my sources the phrase “Dr Stefan, please close your laptop” has been used a number of times, as well as “Dr Stefan, the coffee break is over.  Close your laptop and come inside now.”  She isn’t the kind of woman that gets ordered around.  She is the one who does the ordering!  I wish I was there to see it! 😀

The importance of being bald

Boeta has never aspired to be a hair-model.  As far as he was concerned, hair was trouble.  You had to wash it and comb it.  What a waste of potential playing time.

When Woutertjie first started loosing his hair (in January) Wouter shaved his hair off as well.  I didn’t think Woutertjie cared whether daddy’s hair looked like his.

Moral of the story?  Don’t assume.

Wouter developed a bit of a shaving rash on his head about a week ago and didn’t shave to let it heal first.  Last night before going to bed he shaved his head completely bald again.  I asked him about it.  I figured that it would be better in winter to have a bit of hair left.  And Boeta wouldn’t mind anyway.

Turns out Boeta cornered Wouter yesterday and told him that it was time for daddy’s hair to look like his hair again.  Never underestimate the urge to fit in. 

Woutertjie wears hoodies and beanies the whole day to keep his head warm and Wouter … doesn’t.  My poor husband!

PS:  A couple of nights ago I checked to make sure that Boeta was warm enough.  Only his nose was sticking out from under the duvet.  I wanted to open his head but he woke up and told me to leave his head covered – it got too cold!  So now a beanie is standard sleepware in our house.

Not saying “I told you so”

One of my favourite phrases (to use) is “I told you so”.  I can’t resist the urge to tell the world that I was right all along.  I’ve told the world so many times already that it is now using a spam blocker to keep me quiet.

One of my favourite phrases to hear is “I bought you flowers”, but we will get to that.

Today our beautiful, lovely, talented, adorable children switched roles.  Carien became the calm, reasonable one and Boeta became the drama princess.  At 04:15 he started serenading the world with “Jacob and sons”, one of the songs from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.  My mom bought the DVD and the children love it.  We didn’t love it as much this morning. 

When everyone didn’t respond the way he thought we should (ie, wake up singing and dancing) he flew into his first raging tantrum of the day. 

I eventually stopped counting by the 6th one.  And through it all Carien was calm, mature and not at all like her usual demanding princess-self.  Or maybe she was like normal but compared to Boeta she was a little angel.  Hmmm.

We went for a quick visit to my sister and her family in Grabouw.  It was so nice.  When we got back Boeta flew into another rage.  I don’t understand it, actually.  It isn’t his nature at all.  By the time we got antibiotics into both of them (yes, we are still fighting that fight) and got Woutertjie sort of calmed down again Wouter had had enough of this day.  He told me that the children were driving him up the walls.  I was this *insert one atom-width here* close to telling him “I told you so”.  But I resisted the urge and told him that I understood his frustration.

I am so proud of me.

I am so proud of Wouter too.  Today is Father’s Day.  Wouter claims that Father’s and Mother’s Day aren’t “celebrated” in his family.  Yeah right.  He married into my family and here we do it.  Mother’s Day passed without him even realising.  He was extremely surprised yesterday when I phoned to congratulate him on the beautiful flowers that he got me for Father’s Day.  He bought me a huge bunch of dark pink roses, irises, gerbera daisies and foliage.  Well, his credit card got it for me.  I had to swipe it but I’m not hung up on the detail.  I am so proud of him.

The Tale of Two Kettles

If you asked Wouter to describe the kettle incident he would’ve said “it broke and we got a new one” (not that he would’ve known what you were talking about – recently he isn’t at home enough to drink coffee).  Of course, since I am telling the story it is going to be a lot more complicated than a broken kettle and a replacement.

I was brought up to think before I spend money.  My dad’s motto is that you should ask yourself 3 questions before you buy anything:

1.  Do I really need it?  If the answer is no, don’t buy it.  If the answer is yes, go to question 2.

2.  Can I afford it?  If the answer is no, don’t buy it.  If the answer is yes, go to question 3.

3.  Can I do without it? 

Now this is the nasty question.  Because most of the things I want are things that I can in fact do without. 

I can do without perfume.  It wouldn’t be nice, but I could.  I could do without new towels.  Our old ones are, well, old.  But it isn’t really necessary.  The children could do without more toys.  And mostly they do.  Wouter could do without a new keyboard.  Actually he decided he couldn’t and bought a replacement for his 16-odd year old model last year.  But you get the point.

The point being that I find it quite difficult to spend money purely for the sake of spending.  Especially when spending means that I replace something that doesn’t need replacing.

When I met Wouter he had a kettle.  An old white kettle.  2 years later when we got married the kettle was still around.   

About a year ago I saw a beautiful red kettle.  I wanted that kettle.  I needed that kettle.  I could afford the kettle.  But unfortunately I could do without the kettle.  I told Wouter about the red kettle. 

S:  It is bee-ahhhh-oooooooo-tiful!

W:  So buy it.

S: (shocked) No!  I can’t buy it?  The old one is still working.

W: *shaking his head, probably wondering why he married me*

Now, 6 and a half years into our marriage the kettle decided to give up the ghost.

It started with that clicking sound that indicates a short circuit…  Oh my word.  The smell of burning plastic rang in The Demise of the Kettle. 

I phoned Wouter in a state of hysterical excitement.  Picture it:

W:  Hi.  I’m a bit busy.

S:  It broke!  It broke!  The kettle broke!  Yippieeeee!

A few hours later, being desperate for a cup of tea I tried another cord and plug.  The kettle worked.  My day was ruined.  So I phoned Wouter, dejected and utterly disappointed, to tell him that the kettle was after all not broken.  Wouter, being the wonderful man that he is, didn’t tell me that I am a sad case.  I know that already anyway.

But lo and behold!  Another couple of hours later I tried to boil water again and it started shorting again.  I made the executive decision to pull the plug on the kettle, so to speak.  I phoned Wouter again.  To report on the wonderful news.  Yes, I am a drama queen.

So I went out hunting for my beautiful red kettle that I now actually need.  And that I can afford.  And can’t do without.  Only to find that there isn’t a single red kettle anywhere to be found.

So I had to settle for a brushed stainless steel and black kettle.  Not bad, but not red.

I was so looking forward to being the only person I know who has a red kettle.

Why things happen the way they do

This year we have been tested in so many ways and we have been faced with so many unplanned things.  And yet, looking back at the last 6 months I can only sit back and marvel.

In this hectic time nothing, and I mean nothing, happened in a less than perfect way.  The timing of everything was perfect.  Tonight I am specifically amazed by the fact that I am a stay-at-home-onco-mom at this time in Wouter’s career.

He has been working 18 hour days for weeks now, trying to develop and implement systems.  The children haven’t seen him at all today.  He left (long) before they woke up and only returned (long) after they went to bed.  If I was working as well (working in the formal sector, I mean 😉 ) there is no way that we could’ve coped.  There is no way that the children would’ve coped.  When I got back from work they always fell over their feet to get to me, on me and over me.  Imagine them trying to understand why they only saw Mommy for a bit every day and didn’t see Daddy at all.

Now when they are missing Wouter too much we drive to his office and take some treat for him.  They see him and feel better, he sees them and feels better.  And I see all of them feeling better and that makes me feel better too.