A South African, married to an American, finally adapting to my adopted country. I love life, laughter, good friends and the warmth that my two kids have filled me with. I glory in the colors of my life and am grateful for the gray days as they allow me to appreciate the rainbows.

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Location: New York, United States

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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Off to Florida

We are off to visit our family in the sun. Leave the snow and have 8 glorius days in Florida. We will be spending the first few nights at a hotel near Josh's dad's place which is in Jupiter Florida. IT is in the most unbelievable community called it is such a great place, the kids have a jol. We rent golf carts and zoot around. Its really funny as most of the waitstaff is South African and Josh loves messing with them and ordering a castle, it always catches them offguard. They have a halfday camp for the kids so we get to do our own thing in the morning. It is going to be extra special as Heid's son, Gary, will be coming for two sleepovers. He is such a delightful little boy and I can't wait to spend some good quality time with him.

We then travel south to Heid's neck of the woods - she lives on the water in the most gorgeous townhouse community. We'll spend two nights down there so we can see Joey Boey her baby. My kids will have two sleepovers at her house and Josh and I will have the two nights to ourselves, I must say sounds divine to me. Then back up to Josh's dad to spend some uninterrupted time with him and his wife. I must say I am most fortunate as we really all have an unbelievable relationship, it was not always the case and Josh and his dad spent many years barely acknowledging one another. They have since matured and mellowed and they speak to each other many times a day. Ralph, is a tough man, but I have to say we have developed a great bond and a real deep affection for one another. I feel blessed to have him and Les in my life and can't wait to see them and my sisters family. Those are truly the times we all get treasure as there are never enough of them.

I will try post after my trip but we have Ry scheduled for ear surgery to have her tubes removed when I get back so will see if I have the time.

See you all when I return........................................

Monday, February 21, 2005


Dawn brought it to my attention that I had not mentioned why Ry has been at all the dr's in my previous post. Nothing serious thank goodness, she has a weird thing with the tendon on her foot called Peroneal Tendon Subluxation, its where the tendon is stretched, and does not fit into the right place on her foot, it is very common in serious athletes. She also has some learning problems and needs additional help for that. She is an incredibly bright and creative girl but has some issues studying. She sees a dr once every six weeks, has physical therapy three times a week, has a homework helper 3x a week (as I am at work), a tutor once a week and then a few dr vivts inbetween that. Poor kid, its a lot but hopefully can all be ironed out in the next few years. She is like a fulltime job these days and it really takes a lot of time and planning but hopefully she will get sorted out and life can be hectic without all the extra hectic stuff.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Lines in the sand

How many times do we sit by our window watching the world go by. I think of all the views I have seen, the swimming pool from our house in Northcliff, the flashing neon light of Dora's in Sea Point, Cape Town, the beach in Muizenburg, the big tree from my studio apartment in Manhattan, Josh's breathtaking views of the city, the squirrels outside my condo in Port Washington, NY. So many places, many faces and experiences, my how fast it all goes.

Sometimes it seems like your life is in an hourglass, sand granules fall to the ground, one by one, a memory, a thought an experience. A shift in the stand, we start all over again until our time runs out. Do you ever wonder how to add color to the sand, to savour the moment, enjoy the day?

I often have flashbacks to when I was a child, life was simpler on many levels, words to the wise, how we become our parents. I often hear my mom's voice coming out of Heidi's mouth and she says the same about me. I have these visions of my mother, she worked so hard and so many hours to do what she did, her successful business, her home, her family. Many balls floating in the air at one time. I remember seeing her behind a pile of work at her desk at the office and knowing she was unavailable to me. I see the circle repeating, Ry has had to go for many medical tests, I have had to bring work with me into the waiting room as waits can run many hours in the doctors office or when she gets treatment. I have such vivid memories of my mom doing the same with me when I had my doctors appointments, we would have to go to the Johannesburg Gen once a month for an entire Wednesday afternoon, I had to see a Gastroenterologist. My mom would bring these index cards of work that she would plow through while I watched her. I see the look in Ry's eyes as she watches me and I know I am missing the same opportunities as my mom missed with me, no cellphones, no where else to be. Just us and the endless wait ahead until we are called. I understand why my mom did what she did, it would be hard not to as I do it to. There are just too few hours in a day to do all that needs to get done. It seems so strange how history repeats itself. I think our reasons are different. She lived in a time where selfish abandon was not the order of the day I live in an era where self discovery is the key. Open the door to your soul and all will be revealed. I am fortunate in that I choose to work, I tried the stay at home route and it did nothing but make me feel dependent and useless, finances were more restrictive and I did not like who I was. I like having a persona outside of my family and have discovered that I am somewhat of a flirt. I find it safe in that I would never betray Josh but I enjoy the banter and interaction that goes along with it. I like the financial freedom to make impulsive buys without having to balance the national budget. I am certainly not frivilous and the majority of what I earn gets plowed back into the home and my family, it makes me feel safe because I know if ever there was a time that Josh and I were never together I have the means to support myself and my kids, it may not be in the manner they are accustomed to but we can survive and that empowers me. So many of my friends are divorced or unhappily married and wonder what now, where do I go and how will I survive, I don't ever want to be in that position. I have not forgotten the raw scars of being in the states by myself and literally counting pennies to survive, walking 70 blocks instead of taking the subway as I just did not have the $1.25 (at the time) to get home from work. How grateful am I to that time that shook me down from the tree and left me naked and shivering at the bottom unable to survive without my Momma bird. How strong and humble and human it made me. How I never want to go back to that time, to being so emotionally naked, so alone, so afraid, and yet how I value who it helped me become. I am no longer alone, my nest is now a cocoon and it feel safe wrapped in the soft silk walls of the family Josh and I have created. I no longer skirt around the trappdoor waiting for it to open and snap me up. I can't say that the road is going to be complete easy sailing and we have some big financial hills to pass over in the next few years. Luckily we will be in it together.

I think the gift I can give my girls is that I enjoy what I do and feel somewhat empowered by it. My mom always felt like her work was a burden and she was forced to do it for the family to survive. I think that was true to a point but once she reached a certain level of success she did not know what else to do, so did what she did so well, juggled her life and those around her. Worked so hard. My folks were truly believers in the 1% inspiration 99% persperation theory and worked longer and harder then most. Part of their gift to me and one I hope to pass onto my girls is the gritting of your teeth, not taking no for an answer and making it happen. Find another way until you get what you want, and once you have it, keep working harder at it, becasue not only will you get better at it, only then can you truly succees.

Not sure which PMS planet I am landing on today but thought I would take you all for the ride ..................................

Friday, February 18, 2005

Quick update

Got a very excited call from my dad - a car pulled up to his front door, the lady asked - are you Jack, he said he was so surprised when she handed him a complete meal of his favorite things. It really made his day!!! Thanks to the powers that be and the kindness of strangers................

Only in South Africa

I feel very fortunate to be a South African. Things we take for granted, events that are so common place in our lives are so extraordinry in the part of New York where I live. The kindness of strangers is so much a part of everyday living that South Africans take it for granted. My dad is still in South Africa, he had to stay behind while my mom came back to be with her eldest baby :) Last week he was taken to hospital with some complications relating to his prostrate cancer treatment 6 years ago. Luckily the cancer is a thing of the past but he has some health issues that may follow him forever.

Families being torn apart is part of our lives and it is so sad and unfortunate, I am in a rare and most fortunate position as my folks made a huge sacrafice and chose to be near us (well near the grandchildren) for most of the year. Financial, emotionally and spiritually it has been so incredibly hard and I am forever grateful to them for it. It is so hard when someone is not well and you are far away from them, even harder when that person is all by themselves and many miles away.

What makes this time even harder is that today is my dads birthday, and not only is he feeling lousy but he is all alone. Birthdays in my family are a huge event with relatives fighting to be the first to phone to wish you a happy Birthday. He is all alone, uncomfortable, not feeling great, housebound until Monday - this would make me sad on any occassion but even worse as today should be a day to celebrate. Fortunately he is alone in South Africa because when you are alone there you are not alone. I called one of the restaurants near where he lives, the owners don't know me or him for that matter from a bar of soap. I told the woman how it was my dad's birthday and how I wanted him to have a special meal as there is no-one there to be with him (he lives about 45 minutes outside of Johannesburg), this restaurant is the best in the area and does not make deliveries. The owner has put together a special menu of his favourite foods and is driving it to him personally at 6pm on a Friday Night - one of the busiest nights of the week in her restaurant. I was so touched and sadned at the same time. I must just add that he is by himself by choice, he has been flooded with a million invitations but is not feeling up to being with anyone, my co-conspiritors in organizing this surprise had offered to take him food for his birthday but I was very specific in what I wanted him to have.

That is one of the reasons I want to pack my kids up and move back, they will never know what it means to be kind to others for no reason other then it is the right thing to do. Here is a woman who does not know me, chances are will never meet me and will go out of her way to make someone else's day so special. It is so ingrained in us as South Africans and so much a part of what I want to teach my kids.

Many of you know how tough my immigration experience has been and one of the hardest has been connecting with people in my neighbourhood. There is a group of woman who live here who have kids the same age as Nikki, one lives next door and the other across the street. They are very clicky and move as a herd, whatever one does everyone else has to do it to. We have had very few playdates and the only time the kids interact is after school when the weather is good and they are all outside playing together. I am on a PTA committee with one of the women who lives next door. She mentioned to me at a meeting, that the woman who lives across the street had hurt her back and had been bedridden for 5 weeks. I felt so bad, firstly not knowing and secondly that she has kids of similar ages to me and I would have helped out. Anyway I called her, she happens to be a really nice woman just a part of this click and we have never really developed a friendship. She was telling me how hard it was being laid up in bed for so long and how one of the hardest parts was not having any homecooked meals, her family had been living on takeouts for close to 6 weeks. I was absolutely horrified, here is this group of good friends and not ONE of them had dropped off a home cooked meal to the family, one of these good friends lives ACROSS the street and cooks for her own family almost every night.

I stopped at the supermarket - bought a whole lot of stuff, spent a few hours in the kitchen and cooked different meals for her family. She was so touched, so grateful, her mom who was helping her was so appreciative (even her own mother did not cook for her), and I said to them, this is really not a big deal, maybe for you in America but for South Africans this is what we do. They said to me it sounds like a very special place, I said to them that they had no idea just how special. What time does the plane leave???

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Welcome to the New World

Its been a big week for my cousin Lisa in SA, she has finally connected to the world wide web, became an Aunt again and sent me an e-mail. I am so proud of you and happy to have my favourite medium to communicate with you ......... I am e-mail junkie. For those of you who don't know, Lisa and I have a very special bond, we are born 6 months apart, we grew up within walking distance one another, went to the same schools, she is one of my best friends, we are first cousins, were married within a year of each other, had our first kids within a year of each other, and married guys who are born in the same year, Lees, my love, can you get your own life :) I think the very nature of family, as a friend of mune referred to family as that double edged sword, and yes it is, we all love each other, abuse each other and come back for more. We are bonded together by this bond of blood that cements us forever. All those years of being forced to be together when we were kids really paid off and I must say I have a great relationship with many of my first cousins as a result (not all but many).

Lees welcome aboard.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Mom, Dad and Nin at the Brass Bell in Kalk Bay, Cape Town - one of our favourite places.
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Our pic from the Barmitzvah
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Monday, February 07, 2005


Talk about WOW, sheesh I am still reeling. Went to a Barmitzvah on Saturday that literally left me with my mouth gaping - what an event. I had heard of the excesses of American Barmitzvahs but this was the first time I experienced it, and my what a time it was. We started the day at the service,which was really very spiritual, moving and so special, included all their family. They had one especially touching part where they had 5 generations of the family on the bimah and they spoke about passing the traditions and the Torah down through the generations and each person passed the Torah to the next, going through the generations, recounting a blessing. After the sevice we went for the Kiddish next door, the room was so elegantly decorated, gorgeous with a full luncheon, the food just flowed, imported coffee bar - just really yum - honestly I would have thought it would have been nice to have just had that as the Barmitzvah.

That night we went to the Engineers Country Club, which is one of the premier Golf Courses on Long Island, it is a real foo foo venue. The theme was Rock n' Roll and the whole place was transformed into a 70's lava lamp - there were life siz lava lamps, bright coloured fabrics on the wall. I have attended a few black tie events here and was blown away by how they had transformed the decor. You walk in and there was a raw bar, with an ice sculpture of Brandon's name with a huge display of shrimp, (did we say Barmitzvah?) there was a man in the center slicing smioked salmon, preparing oysters and all the fixings. There was a caviar bar, a blini bar, and another appetizer section. There were waiters walking around carrying trays of lamb chops, filet mignon skewers, coconut shrimp, etc, etc. There was a casino set up for the kids in the back room where croupiers were running roulette, poker and blackjack, the kids had fake money (with the Barmitzvah boy's picture printed on it). They could then cash in for amazing prizes like lava lamps, radios, etc. They also had photobooths where kids could get the pics inserted on their favourite magazine or with their favourite movie star or athlete, there was also a section where they could make their own music vidoes - dress up, dance and go home with a copy of it. Wow, on top of it there were people walking around making wire sculptures (the guy who did it was amazing he make anything - from spongebob, to names to a fireman and two little kitties for my little girls). I forgot to mention there were food "vendors" for the kids with lots of goodies from hot pretzels to popcorn to hotdogs, Italian ices, etc.

They then opened the doors to the ballroom for dinner - did I say dinner??? Sheesh let me tell you - there was a dance floor with a D.J. a band, three professional dancers, an MC - the room was unbelievably decorated, each table had different decoraions each more outrageous then the next. As for food, yeah like who could eat - and yes we all did :) There was a full sushi bar, a lobster bar (did we say Barmitzvah???), a huge salad station, carvery station with all the sides - it was outrageous, the far side of the room had Taco Bell stand, a Kentucky Fried Chicken Stand and a Burger King Stand, along with a Chinese take out section, there were basket ball hoops set out for the kids and batting cages - can I just say W I L D. It just flowed.

The desserts were just as incredible with creme brulee, chocolate mouse, ice cream bar with a million toppings, cakes, Italian pastries and of course a coffee bar - yum. 20lbs heavier we dragged ourselves out of there at 11:30pm, the party was still in full swing and aparently they still had goody bags for the kids, I can only imagine. We walked out carrying a ton of stuff, I don't know how the kids managed. They had 350 guests - holy cow. I had heard the Barmitzvah scene was extreme and they ran between $60 and $100,000. Personally I think it is excessive but I am more then happy to be a guest at any of these lavish events. I was joking with my dad and saying how much of a novelty my backyard Batmizvah is going to be.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Mommy Ruth

My sister has been stricken with a bout of Bells Palsey - it has been really hard for her, dealing with her career, her kids, her life with half her face literally frozen in place. Thankfully she is now 95% better. Like most things in life, Heid has kept her sense of humour throughout the experience and has barrelled forward into her life without letting it stop her or even slow her down.

I feel so fortunate to have the mother that I do, as soon as she heard about Heid's plight she booked herself on to the first possible flight she could get on to be with her daughter. My mom is truly a selfless person who puts so much time and energy into putting EVERYONE before herself. It is so wonderful having this woman in my life who I can lean on 100%. She arrived yesterday, after a grueling two day journey unpacked all her suitcases, repacked another for Florida, came to have ONE sleepover at my house :) and then was off early this morning to Florida to take care of her oldest baby.

Heid, when she heard my mom was coming, protested that it was silly of her to leave my dad and all the things she has to take care of in SA and come to Florida, although she would love to see her. Heid is a great and caring mom when she said that - I said to her, if your kids were not well where would you want to be and she said right with them. It really struck us both as amazing that my mom still feels the same way even now that we are not these cute cuddly little creatures our mommy still wants to kiss the boo boo better and be right there. Thanks mom for all that you do.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Off with a vengance

February has taken off with a vengance. Where did January go? The months are starting to melt into one and this whirlwind that is my life is just moving at a pace that I am not sure how to slow it down. Work has been really busy, not in terms of volume but closings that used to take one hour, maybe two are taking 5, 6 or even 7 hours. It is scary seeing how many people are in serious financial trouble. Lis Pendis, foreclosures, deadbeat dads, bankruptcy, it gets more and more complicated. I have not done a feel good transaction for a while where both parties are pleased with the transactions. I have not seen the excitement of a first time home buyer, more the vultures picking the bones as someone hangs on to his or her life with every fighting breath or comes in broken and defeated. I can't imagine the pain of owning your own home and losing it. Some people never learn, case in point, one couple I met at a hard money lender - 24% interest, 6 months paid up front. They were in the process of losing their home, they refinanced with this hard money lender (basically a loan shark), the following month they refinanced with a regular bank to shake off the 24%, lock into a rate of 9 or 10% at a time when people are getting between 4 and 6% interest rates. I see them a year later. Another closing. They lose their house. Unfortunately they did not learn their lesson, cashed out the equity from their house, went on a cruise, forced to sell their house a year later. Very sad.

Americans are sold this dream, a house, a new car every two years, cable tv with a million channels, a dream vacation to exotic destinations all the while they are up to their eyeballs in debt. I am so grateful to my parents for teaching me how not to live my life in debt and to Josh who is so smart when it comes to money. He understands the power of the word no. I am more able to spend on crap we don't need whereas he will put the brakes on - no cash in hand, no spending. Thats it. If we don't have we go without, period. There have been many a time when we have struggled literally not sure how we are going to make it through the month, he stuck to his guns and took me on the ride with him. At times I wanted to cave in, he stood strong. How grateful I am today that he did. I look at these people who did not have that outlook, their homes are gone, their credit scores are in the toilet and their options are limited. Time to write the new American Dream, go back to the basics, food, shelter and transportation. Who needs a new leased car every two years? Funny world we live in, priorities so out of whack.

Hope my fellow travellers in life learn the lessons that they need to although I seriously doubt that they will. President Bush gave his state of the Union address - I see the state everyday and it concerns me.

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