Heart hurting sunny days

As I sit here inside the shop, keeping an eye on the weather outside and hoping for it not to rain, at least until after 3 this afternoon so that the blankets I have hang up this morning can be taken inside, I have an immense feeling of despair. I have been feeling like this for most of the week. The weather today, for most of it, has been splendorous. It is warm (20 degrees C is warm for New Zealand), the sun is shining, and apart from the clouds rolling in, the sky is crisp. Most days when the weather looks like today, I am in a cheerful mood, enjoying every minute of my day. But today I feel like crying.

This morning, in the kitchen baking with the kitchen windows wide open, over-looking our lush green back yard, letting the fresh spring air in and having the sunrays dancing on the dining room carpet, I found myself thinking how wonderful it would be if I could stay home. How much there is for me to do at home, how much has been neglected since I started working 55 hour weeks. I would have opened every window and sliding door to get a proper breeze throughout the house and let the magpies’ singing fill the house. I would have sorted, scrubbed, played my music, ironed (and I do NOT like ironing) and washed the delicate mountain of clothes.

Yes it my choice to have these working hours as we get our new part-time staff member on her feet. As a small family business we do what we can to help each other out. And obviously the additional income helps a lot towards our (first in 10 years) family holiday next year. It has only been 3 1/2 months but it feels like a life time!

Today I miss my friends. My lavender companion. Our house. Our dogs. Our random and spontaneous braais. Sitting outside in the shade with our kids when they were babies and toddlers, playing, laughing. I miss the connection with my family. Having Wimpy breakfasts with my sister. Secret Santa with our home group. Our church.

To have these memories are an absolute blessing, but today they hurt my heart.

Day 161 10 June – ouma’s chocolate jar

My mother always had a glass cookie jar at home, filled with an assortment of cookies with one of my favourite being the chocolate coated digestives. I remember as a child how my sister and I tried to sneak cookies from this jar, mastering the camouflage sound effects of coughing to hide the clanging of the glass jar lid as we carefully placed it back. You know you were unsuccessful when your attempt is followed by “Anli…Joy…sit die koekies terug!”

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Now my mom has a chocolate jar, where all the birthday and Christmas chocolates are stored. Today I taught my daughter the skilful act of camouflage coughing while we tried to sneak chocolates, but it ended up in laughter and we were caught out.

 

Day 159 8 June – sweet sixteen

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My gorgeous niece turned 16 today!! Honestly, where has the time gone? This photo was taken at my wedding in 2003. She was one of our flower girls and was such a precious poppet. Clearly the day was too big for such a little person.

Sweet 16

Rosy cheeks baby girl,

sunflower headband and carefree giggles,

you crept in my heart ever so gently.

Soft blush cheeks teenage girl,

nail polish, fishnet stockings and boyfriend kisses,

you are finding your place in the world.

Day 156 5 June – family

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My sister made the most of her time here with us by taking the kids out for a morning shopping spree. It is that quality time that no material gift could replace.

My sister and I have a close bond with each other’s children. My sister is 4 years my senior and got married and had babies in her early twenties. I was still a university student and when she had her first daughter, I stepped in (almost as a surrogate mother) for the times when my sister needed some t.l.c and when she returned to work I looked after my niece several days a week.

When her second daughter arrived 16 months after baby #1, I was there more than I can count. I loved watching both the girls grow up and discover the world. They were a handful together, but they surely were a whole bundle of love.

By the time I had my first daughter my sister was so excited to finally become an aunty and while I was on maternity leave we spend many a day shopping, talking, having tea treats, taking the kids out and just enjoying each other’s company. I think we both knew that this time will not only fly pass in a blink of an eye but we may not have these opportunities soon as life tends to throw us all curve balls.

We both had 1 more child each (both boys), so when these monkeys get together, it is a wild-roller-coaster-fun-challenging-memory making occasion…even if 3 of them are now teenagers.

I love being an aunty!

Day 149 29 May – camping

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Gosh, it is that time of the year again when the kids head off to school camp. Both their classes attend the camp but my son’s class stays for 2 nights and my daughter’s class for 3 nights. The packing usually comes at a whirlwind speed as we are never prepared! Sorting clothes the night before, ticking off the last of the list the morning of. And once finished and loaded into the car it seems like they are off for a month with all the gear.

I remember my school camping days. I went on several as I was involved with an outdoor program developing leadership skills. I don’t think we were really ever prepared either for these camping trips as we were ill-equipped with camping gear, but I thoroughly loved the experience. Meeting and making new friends, challenging myself with activities I would never have dreamed of doing, and receiving recognition by peers and teachers. I was a bit of an odd ball but was very sociable and thrived on doing things differently. I was always surrounded by a large group of friends and together we made memories.

 

 

Day 136 16 May – solace

I clearly remember while visiting my ouma and oupa in Pretoria as a young girl, how often we used to walk through cemeteries. Ouma gave us the freedom to wonder around, reading the names on the tombstones, when they passed and how old they were. I tried to find the youngest child, and the oldest date. She told us that there is nothing to fear amongst the dead.

My slightly over-active imagination played out scenery of beautiful gardens, picturesque homes, floral dresses, picnics by the lakes, old cars, dust roads leading to fields of wild flowers, visiting loved ones by candle light. I wondered who these people were, did they come from a big and loving family, did they have siblings, were they in love. And often I wondered how they died. I wasn’t saddened by these thoughts. It was more as if a sense of gratitude and self awareness settled over me. I felt calm.

I admired the tombstones more than anything else though. Some were so old you couldn’t read the inscriptions. Others were huge, looming over their neighbors like giants in a chest match. Then there were those graves who had a single cross, old, chipped with no name, no identity. This is the only thing that will sadden me; the thought that a family might not have been in a financial position to afford a significant tombstone to honor their loved one.

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Today I wondered into our local rural town and decided to walk around the small cemetery. The one tombstone in particular caught my attention and as the grey clouds rolled in, bringing with it a cold snap, I stood in silence and solace admiring the life beneath my feet.

Day 110 20 April – chasing rainbows

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Today my daughter and I saw the most beautiful rainbow right above our house and we couldn’t help but think of loved ones who are not longer with us.

I remember my uncle Harry who drowned in the rough seas of Kwazulu-Natal on 23 December 2000. My oupa who passed away in May 2005 from deteriorating health conditions. My ouma who passed away in 2010 from a heart disease. Unfortunately I couldn’t attend her funeral as we didn’t have the finances for me to fly back to South Africa. I was heart broken and felt terribly guilty. I remember my uncle Dawie who committed suicide in May 2013 and left behind a wife and two sons. And we remember Erin, my daughter’s one rhythmic gymnastics coach who passed away February of last year from cancer.

Rainbows evoke memories but also represents rejuvenation of all things broken.

Chasing rainbows

Rejuvenate the soul

Fill our hearts with desire

Embracing hopeful adventures.

 

 

Day 104 14 April – F8

Good Friday and the start of Easter weekend.

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Today we took the kids to see an early evening movie at Event Cinemas. The kids watched Beauty and the Beast and my husband and I watched Fast are die heart fans of the Fast & Furious movies. Yes it is a wee bit over the top action but it is entertaining and we can’t look past the cars, or at least my husband can’t. I think he secretively has a man-crush on Vin Diesel…I know I do 😉

We kids went off to see Beauty and the Beast. That is a movie I still want to watch. It has always been a childhood favourite of mine and I’m sure that today’s special effects will make the Beast seem all to realistic.

Going to the movies is something I value. Obviously over the years it has become an expensive exertion for a family of 4, but it still remains a great time out. As a younger child my parents never went to the movies with us. To be honest I think we dragged my dad to the cinemas one time and one time only. By the age of 12 I was allowed to go to the movies with my friends. Mum would drop me off and pick me up strictly as soon as the movie is finished. Some of the movies I remembered are Aladdin (I still went on a date to watch it), The Lion King, Jurassic Park, and all of the Mighty Ducks movies. My friends were a strange and rowdy bunch. We were your typical 90’s gang, no care in the world and finding fun in everything we do. Meeting up at the cinemas was one of the treasured times spend together.

Warm buttery popcorn, sparkling coke and sweet chocolate M&M’s.

Bliss.

 

 

Day 100 10 April – plat

Photo number 100!

Our morning rituals are frantic. Even though I am up by 6:30am I don’t seem to get myself nor the kids ready on time to leave home by 8:30am. And my daughter has a habit of asking me to do her hair 10 minutes before we have to leave.

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Today however we managed to have some time to sit and spend a few moments doing each other’s hair. My daughter patiently put my hair into a plat and I made a fish plat for her. Years of managing her long hair has turned me into a master of quick plats and buns. But it was calming having her take the reigns and do something for me.

I remember how I use to sit on the floor in front of my mothers’ chair while she French platted my very curly and unruly hair for gymnastics competitions. I don’t think she enjoyed it and it certainly wasn’t calming with my hair being pulled, grabbed, tucked, twisted and finally tied, then sprayed into place as we can’t have a wondering strain of hair appear during a risky beam routine. But what I did find soothing was my mother taking the time to do my hair. Just a few minutes spend either in silence or having a quick chat about the day ahead.

Technology has changed since my day, and this morning we took selfies while she did my hair.

Precious moments.

Day 77 18 March – fundraising

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My son and I attended a fundraising event for our club’s current junior international MAG (mens artistic gymnastics) gymnast. He is in the 360 squad, a group of young and very talented gymnasts who aim to qualify for future Olympic selections. He is travelling to Berlin for an International competition and afterwards spending time in the UK for a training camp. This is an incredible opportunity for any athlete and with an excessive cost involved, any amount of money raised is very welcomed. The night consisted of light entertainment in the form of parents vs gymnasts, MAG and WAG displays, raffle auctions and a 2 course meal.

Our son is a level 3 gymnast and has been doing gymnastics since the age of 5. He isn’t the best and some apparatus are challenging for a small body with little upper body strength but he absolutely loves it. He struggles to stay focused during training and is easily distracted by others around him but I don’t think I should expect more from a 10 year old. He has been in the same team since 2014 and they are a strong team to compete against. Their ages vary from 8 – 13 and last year was their most successful year yet.

Watching him compete certainly takes me back to my gymnastics years. I was an artistic gymnast from the age of 9 and stopped when I was 17. Our gymnastics club didn’t have many boy gymnasts and it was only on limited occasions that we trained with them which means the majority of our training sessions were girls only. We formed some very strong bonds and I don’t recall ever being in arguments or disagreements with any of the girls. We supported each other, cheered during competitions, hugged, cried and bandaged each other when our blisters tore. We were a close knit group and shared a special connection that other students in the school didn’t understand. I remember clearly how we got together one night during a school dance, ran to the rugby field, formed a circle, held hands and wished each other good luck for the upcoming Vaal Triangle Championships, which was the qualifying decider for team selection for the South African Junior Gymnastics Championships.

Now I know boys are wired differently to girls, but I would hope that my son has the same opportunity to form inseparable bonds with his team mates. Those are the relationships that help you grow, mature and shapes how you interact with others in stressful situations, especially when they are competing in an individual sport and there’s only 3 podium spots to fill.

Here’s to good memories, and memories in the making.