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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Thursday, September 29, 2005

Peace prevails...................

Not sure if it is more hectic during the summer or the school year, all I know is life is passing at the speed at light. Ryan is doing remarkably well, I think in spite of everything we are now in a really good place, my friend Loren really helped me put things in their place with a really astute saying, what we resist, persists. I had never heard it and I have to say along with that and her comment of how some things just can't be under my control, really helped, I managed to finally let go, we started a new medication. I had really faught meds and wanted to use foods as the only control. The foods combined with the meds have made a huge difference. In a week it is like having a new kid in my home. I think we all chilled out. Along with her words of wisdom, Loren found some costume jewellery that is completely unlike anything I would ever have bought for myself and I just loved it and feel fabulous when I wear it. I got a complete overhaul in one session, sheesh may have to sign up for Loren therapy big time.

Nikki is loving Kindergarten, how could she not seeing as she has our favourite teacher, Ms. Ambrose. I am so connected with her teacher, we still e-mailed eachother once Ryan left her class. She is the kind of teacher you dream of, warm, beautiful inside and out. She gives so much love to these kids and they just grow into such spectacular hujman beings under her care.

My sister Ninnette is here for the holidays, the girls love their Aunt Nin, they ave a great time with her and she has really spoiled them. She has been roped into doing family events with both kids in the classroom, every year I get asked to do a South African presentation for the kids and they all love it. Funnily enough when I was at Ry's meet the teacher night there were numerous parents there whose kids had been with Ryan in Kindergarten and they came up to me and told me what an impact it had on their kids. Who knew a few songs, pictures and some candy from a foreign land could be imbeded in their memories. Love that they all have a piece of South Africa with them.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

A guilt trip of a different kind................

I lost it yesterday. I got so angry with Ryan that I pushed her. I can't believe I did that - here is this great kid and I lost my rag. She frustrates me so much at times, not an excuse for my behaviour by any means. Mornings are rough trying to get her to the next step, trying to get her dressed, make sure she does whatever she needs to do to get out the door.

I wish I was a morning person and that I woke up raring to go. I am not. I wake up sluggish and tired, Nikki coming into my room 4 times a night to tell me about night dreams or Josh's snoring or my playing Mah Jong until late, once again, no excuses.

I spend a lot of time trying to understand the world, how people interact with eachother, how much behaviour impacts the people around me. How I hope and pray I have done the right thing for my kids and help them to understand who they are and for them to know there is a safe place for them in my home. Not a place where people push each other. My imagination is my worst enemy. I have visions of her in an abusive relationship because mom pushed her. I know it is ridiculous but the beauty of this blog is I get to vent to take it all out of my head and see how stupid it really sounds.

I picked her up immediately after it happened, both of us shocked by what I had done. We hugged and talked for quite some time, I told her how I loved her, how special she is and how very wrong what I did was and how sorry I am. I am sorry Ry. Deeply truly. Think this should be posted under my guilt trip too................

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Family perspectives

Last Friday Night I did Shabbat at my home, I do it every couple of months as the rest of the time my folks do it in their home and the kids sleep over at them. When I need the kids to sleep over at home it is easier to just do it here so I don't have to deal with the hysteria of dragging the kids out of camp Ruth, where the four-legged camp counselors JJ and Cindi reside. OK they have cable TV too. Home just does not come close to Grandma and Grandpa's house and that's the way it should be.

Josh invited his dad and step-mom, it was a lovely evening. Les and I had spent the day before helping clear out her mom's basement. Les's mother, Muriel is 93, one of the most remarkable women I have ever met. She is a small woman who is filled with sunshine, nothing is too much trouble, every meal is the best. she finds delight in everything. There is nothing she cannot make or do whether its an evening bag for her daughter or a stone sculpture. Muriel learned to roller skate when she was 83. She is a hard woman to track down as she volunteers at a few different places taking care of infants, when she does not have a million plans on the go she is off travelling to visit friends, family or different places. She was an interior decorator and has the most interesting collection of goodies one can imagine. Moving out was an interesting event, moving from a two story, 4 bedroom home, jam packed with treasures was really something. Unfortunately she left everything for the last minute and so much stuff had to be thrown away, not just stuff but treasure, so sad really. I loaded my car to the brim with rolls of fabric, trim, art work, gorgeous pieces that no-one could take, no-one's home was big enough to accomodate all that she had to give away when she down sized to an apartment. The garbage men, delighted in the treasures they took away, a friend of theirs arrived with a U-haul sized truck to load up with so many goodies that would have been compacted. She was devastated, we all were. She gave me a portfolio of unframed pictures, dozens of them from an artist friend of hers who was all the rage in the 1930's-1960's but has since lost favour. What a treat, Josh and I looked over the pictures, each one more exquisite then the next. Working out which ones to frame first. Treasures saved for another generation to enjoy. How sad to watch ones life reduced to stuff.

Saturday morning Nikki started dance class, one of the most amazing things is watching Nikki with her buddies from her pre-K group, there is a cosmic connection between them that holds them. What a fabulous bunch of kids, unfortunately they are all in different school districts and don't have the pleasure of seeing each other every day. My schedule does not allow me to make playdates out of our district as the bus drops them off at the other kids home. Nikki has two of her buddies in her class and they could not keep their hands off each other, the poor teacher had the damndest time trying to keep them focussed, her gym teacher suffers the same fate on a Thursady when she does gymnastics with two of her best buddies in the whole world. In fact it sounds a lot like soccer where she can't pull herself away from her favourite pal, Sydney who calls her Nikki Noodles and towers over Nikki, Nikki was the smallest in her class and Syd the tallest, both of them are bonded beyond bonded but they won't be in school together until the 6th grade.

After dance on Saturday her buddy Isabel, Isabel's sister Ava, my friend Loren's daughter Cami, Isabel's mom and I went for pizza to one of the yummiest pizza joints I have been to in a while. They had a grand time and I must say it was great to see her surrounded by the world she had created.

After I dropped her at my folks (Ry had slept over the night before), I dropped Cami at her home as Loren had surprised her hubby Jeff with a surprise party on Thursday night at an amazing place called the Chalet (we had a great time, meeting their friends who were all our kind of people) the next morning she whisked Jeff away to The Mohegan Sun to be pampered and taken care of, they both deserved the break and I was happy they could swing it.

After dropping Cami I met my friend Lisa to tie dye clothes - we had such a great time although I must admit the dye did not take so well (if you have any pointers feel free to leave them in the comments. We had a fabulous time chatting and turning our hands blue.

Saturday Night we met our friends Beth and Eric, whom she calls Big Dawg for some reason she will not divulge. he is the midst of a messy divorce and she is over marriage number 2. They are the perfect match, neither of them have grown up, they bought motorcycles, their kids have all left home and life is an adventure. They just bought a gorgeous house together in Long Beach, right on the water, they are so happy together and its great to see a relationship that really works (not that I am implying anything about anyone else).

Sunday started the birthday party/soccer shuffle Josh off in one direction and me in another. Nikki and I got home at 1:30 after our round. Josh called me to say his dad, step mom and two cousins visiting from Israel may stop by sometime in the afternoon. At 1:45 he called to say his dad just called and they will all be at us for lunch. Now I wish I could order in, I really do it just not me, you see I have those Ruth genes that mean you have to make everything, or in my case almost everything. We sprung into action, Nikki set the table while I chopped up the roast chicken we had in the fridge, threw a curry together, made rice and viola rice was done, half a dozen side dishes and no-one could even move, sheesh I think we set a new record!!!!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Sounds of Silence

My whole family passed out by 7:15pm tonight. Means we will be up and rocking bright and early tomorrow. Josh has a cold, the kids are sut after a hectic weekend. I am relishing the silence and enjoying playing catch up with a few friends online. Josh and I saw an unsettling movie last night. It was upsetting to me and informative to him. He thought it was brilliant I found it shameful. The movie was "In My Country" starring Samuel L. Jackson and Juliette Binoche. He plays an American reporter and she plays an Afrikaner woman reporting on the Truth and Reconcilliation Commission after Apartheid. Her accent is exceptional and she truly gets the essence of being South African. The film was hard to watch as there was so much we did not know what was going on during apartheid and so much we did not want to know. Growing up with all the privilages of a white South African background it is remarkable how so many suffered for so long.

One of the greatest reminders in the movie was the generosity of the South African spirit. No-one leaves my home empty handed, and I rarely leave my SA friends homes without some padkos (food for the road) or something along those lines. There is a side of me that lies dormant, a side I beat into submission until I barely hear its beat, the part that is so South African that longs to be surrounded by the world I know. The world that no longer exists. That yearns for the bonding of heritage, with people whose stories have followed a similar journey. Looking up at the brilliant blanket of stars in the cool african night. The soft beat of a nation as it dances to a different beat.

I have bonded here in New York with many people, I have friends that I will never lose and acquaintances who keep me laughing and moving forward. There are none who know the beat, who hear the sound of a life that is gone, A world lost forever. An understanding of how the world should be, how people should treat each other. There are times I want to pack up, take my kids to a South African enclave, to Atlanta, to Toronto. But there are times when I just have to face that I live in a big bustling city, a city that never sleeps. I have lost my patience and I doubt if I could live a simpler life. I go to Miami and tap on the check out counter as the cashier asks me about my day. Just total me up and let me out of here I want to scream. Move to the beat of the City no slow drums here, turn it up a notch ot two, I have things to do, places to be. No longer content to watch the world under a Boabab tree.

I feel like a lady without a land, a girl without a country, an immigrant caught up in the winds of change in a foreign land. Not quite belonging but staying here so long that it is finally starting to feel like home. How will I explain to my kids the rainbows of my life, the nation I left and the life I have lived. There is a world they will never understand, I sometimes wonder if I will.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

September 11th

Something seems to send the stars out of alignment at this time of year. Two years ago there was a blackout in New York, this year Katrina and the aftermath is just dumbfounding. I watch people living in the deepest part of despair and I am sad for all they have lost all that they feel and how much there is still to do. Before the tears of Katrina a storm of another kind occupied our thoughts, the Twin Towers, remembering where we were and how surreal that day was. The day America changed forever. The dust that hung over the city for months became a cloak across the nation, a suit of fear. An outfit we still wear today.

I remember the silence on that day. As I drove on the Long Island Expressway, the busiest road the USA, and I was the only car on the road. Eerie silence like waking in a dream of a ghost town. I watched in horror at my parents house as I saw the twin towers crumble and fall. Nikki an infant, Ryan barely 3. One of the kids in Ry's class, a big eyed boy with a beautiful smile, a minature version of his father, lost his dad that day. A stock broker at Cantor-Fitzgerald. At three he would never see the man he resembled. His mom heavily pregnant with the child her husband will never know. She a natural bird of a woman, became emaciated, could not eat. She pulled it together, taking her son to parties days after the horror, doing it all for him. I saw her a few months ago, I asked her how she was doing, wanting to really ask but did not want to subject her to so much more pain. Jake is now 7, in second grade. Its been two years since I saw them last. He looks a lot more like his dad. She, a remarkable woman, small but strong. Struggling with being a single mom she tells me some of what she has been going through. I often imagine in those rare times when I am dissatisfied with my life what her lot must be. Setting out for a life with the man you have chosen to be with. Not wanting the marriage to end but he is taken from you and you are left to take care of your kids alone. Those sleepless nights and the worry that follows. She is a very big prescence for a small woman.

I can't end a post without mentioning the bravery of folks like our friends Loren and Jeff, Jeff is a firefighter for the City of NY. He is a wonderful man and we feel fortunate to have them in our lives. Jeff's birthday is September 15th. Every year his birthday is overshadowed by all that happened that horrible day. He saw so much, being in the midst of all that horror. He lost many friends. How hard to celebrate ones own life when one is surrounded by the loss of so many others. Happy 40th Jeff. Hope you can find the time to acknowledge yourself.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The F word

OK tears are rolling down my face. Nikki had me laughing so hard. She came into the computer room in tears crying hysterically she said Ryan called her the F-word. In her little squeeky voice. I was shocked and said what did she call you?? She said she said you are the F-word (just using the letter F), I said what does that mean?? She says F stands for stupid. I could not stop laughing, I know she wanted me to get mad, but I lost it - it was so funny. Maybe she will learn how to spell one of these days. I asked Ryan what the F-word stands for, she also says stupid, neither of them knew the F actually was not the word. OMG......................

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Weekend Warriors

Saturday morning loaded the car up, with a portable dvd system, a satelite radio and J's magellan satelite direction system. Enough snacks for a small army and of course additional toys and changes of clothes. How the hell the Voortrekkers found their way in an oxwagon I will never know. Set off over the George Washington bridge to see our pals Dawn and Daniel to join their celebration to acknowledge a whole host of anniversary's and events. What a great occassion! Loads of food and friendly faces. A warm welcome, 20 pounds heavier, a huge hug goodbye as we head back over the Hudson River to Long Island to drop my kids at my parents. Spent the evening with another couple at their home enjoying the beauty and stillness of a warm summer night. Beautiful people, special times.

Sunday grab the kids and dash down to J's dad's home for a family party. A lovely group of his relatives who I barely know but felt very connected to by the end. All artists and creative sorts, people whose tunes I can identify and sway to myself. Their grounded 13 and 16 year olds were there hypnotising my brood and keeping them occupied for hours. An exhausted Nikki and Ryan crawl upstairs as we throw them in a bath and put them to bed, their Marisol Dolls all dressed for the next days event We took them to American Girl Cafe, the reward for a long hard summer. What a place, what a day. We first parked near St Paul's Cathedral, as we walked past a street vendor he greeted my girls dolls and told them that pretty girls needed pretty sunglasses, he gave each girl a brand new pair of funky glasses complete with Rhinestones, how adorable and grown up my little princesses looked. Mom bagged herself a new Prada knock off - love it. Then we hit the store in a style. We were assigned a personal shopper. The girls felt so grand. Both Marisol dolls had their hair done at the salon. followed by a glutten free dairy-free lunch, with desserts served in flower pots with flowers in them. Both dolls had their own sassy seats and a grand time was had by all. The kids had an unbelievable time and I think Josh had even more fun then they did. We'll be back next year.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Lord of The Flies

The primal instinct sets in. Man against man. No law, order gone. New Orleans a land lost by a flood. A hurricane. Lawlessness. Survival of the fittest. A country unprepared. Thousands dead and dying. G-d bless all who have died all who are lost and all who are suffering. Pass on your thoughts. your prayers and whatever you can.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Stepping off the rollercoaster into oncoming traffic on the wrong side of the street.............

Saturday was a missioning day - the girls and I went to a party at a friends house, Josh cleaned out our crawl space while we were gone. We then took the girls out for lunch, out for dinner, in between we did haircuts, manicures, bought them each two pairs of sneakers, one for gym and one to wear the other days of school. How I miss the days of the school uniform, life was so much easier then although when I see what my sister has to pay for her uniforms, we are getting off pretty lightly by wearing regular clothes.

Sunday we did the BBQ thing - we had almost 30 people over. They all had a great time and I must say it was a nice mix of people. Funny it started off with me calling my cousin Darren to see if they wanted to go swimming at my folks pool. He said sure, but actually what he really wanted to do was braai (BBQ), and he thought we should do it. So we went along with that thought and the impromptu braai just grew into 30. Hectic is a word that does not begin to describe the past week.

The end of summers marks the begining of the school year, everyone wants to be in their new homes before the start of school, many people take the last week off so for those Title Closers still in town work was unbelievably busy. I literally left early every morning and came home late every night driving up to 200 miles a day - filling my new gas guzzler up every second day, at $3.00-$3.41 a gallon it was quite a wake up call. On top of it all my kids started school, and Ryan had to have that horrible test. 24 hours with 22 electrodes pasted to her head, all the wires taped to the back of her shirt and a big backpack with the actual monitor in it. It was heavy and she was such a champ. Nikki spent the whole day by her side just lying next to her big sister taking good care of her. She even gave Ryan her most prized possession to sleep with, her woo-woo, a huge white dog with black spots. Ryan's whole head was bandaged up.

Monday started off so early, waking both kids to get them dressed and fed and out the house by 7:15 so I could drop Nikki at my folks and get Ry to the dr's. We (Ryan, my dad and I) were at the dr's at 8:45am, I dropped her at my folks place where she could sit and watch TV all day long. A special treat in my poor kids deprived lives. Cable heaven. I then went full guns into closings, and all the running around that accompanies the job, only to get home at 9:30pm. A miserable Ryan called me, she could not get comfortable with all her gear. Poor baby has been through so much. My mom got her to sleep. Tuesday morning was at the supermarket by 7am so I could be at the dr's by 8am. He refused to read the results as we had a major dissagreement the day before (I will post it under my guilt trip), left him and off to another whirlwind of closings, followed by a brief introduction with the kids meeting their teachers and dropping off their school supplies in their cubbies. Tuesday Night Josh's dad, his step mom and my folks came over to celebrate Josh's 43rd birthday. Everyone had a lovely time, J got spoiled rotten. We put the kids to bed early in anticipation of their first day of school.

We pulled it together, got everyone ready and out the door, the kids chose to walk (hey we do live about a block away from the school so no hardship there although we do have the option of catching the bus outside our house - literally). Nikki, my little mayor was the center of attention within 30 seconds, 5 little people all wanting to sit next to her. I have no idea where she knew all the kids from but they all knew her. She was so done with me. My baby is all grown up. Ryan unfortunately ended up in a class with three kids that she does not get on with, two of the kids were almost suspended from camp, one of the reasons was they tried to force feed Nikki suntan lotion on the bus (nice hey) and the other cheats - lovely!!! She does not back down and goes head to head with all of them. Have to wish her teacher luck.

One of the marked differences between my girls was by the end of the day Nikki knew the name of every kid in her class, and Ry after being at school for two years with these kids did not know who most of her class was. I think it will be a great year for them. Nikki has Ryan's Kindergarten teacher who I just love. We have such a special connection and I really adore her. She already has me signed up to do a South African Presentation for her class - any thoughts or ideas for it would be welcome.

I left the kids and set out for work, oy vey, long, long closing, got a call after the girls got home, little voices telling me all about their day, got all teary eyed at work - I am such a woes. Hated not being there for that moment to share their excitement. The guilt of the working mom.

The rest of the week whirlwinded into work. Friday Night Josh dropped the kids off at my mom, I was just too beat to do shabbat with them. Could barely keep my eyes open as I went to bed early. Really a long hard week.

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