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 28, 2006

Nikki and the Doctor.

Nikki Noodles the glasses queen went to a pediatric opthalmologist. Poor guy. Have I mentioned the will of iron, the drama queen that lurks at the surface? Poor man did not know that it took 4 adults to get this kid to have medicine from the time she was a few months old (she had two well weeks her first year of life courtesy of her big sister going to school, Ry and her would throw colds back and forth better then any Yankee pitcher). We used to hold her legs, cross her arms, one would hold the mouth open, the other put the muti in her mouth, she was so friggin' strong, a real contortionist (sp?) she would writhe out of our grasp. If we did manage to get her to take it, she would hold it in her mouth until we thought she had swallowed it and then this fountain of medicine would come flying out of her mouth. She really is too much. She is now 5 and nothing has changed, she can turn tears on at will, tantrum to calm in 3 seconds or less. Poor man. Poor assistant. They had to get drops in her eyes, I held her tight, wrapped my body around her, she sent us all flying, he was good though, got those drops in by prying her eyes open, wonder if he makes house calls.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Is there ever a good time to die??

This post is really long, its more as a short family history for my kids as well as the last few days of Josh's best friends mom. I print out these posts at the end of every month and have them for my kids as a diary of what we did when they were young.

Today I went to Josh's best friend, Bob's mother's funeral. It was an odd event it really made me think about my own life and the legacy I want to leave behind. I know of professors who ask students to write their own eulogy. I don't want to achieve greatness or cure the common cold. I want to be remembered for how I make people feel. I want it to be like the way I feel when I smell the scent of Tea Rose and feel surrounded by my grandmother who when she lost her sense of smell would drown in the perfume. Or my mom who leaves a trail of Cartier Musk in her wake. I want to be like the warm taste of chicken soup that transports you to safe place in your life. I want to be remembered for so many things.

Bob's mom decided at a young age that she was going to live to be 87, she died 2 months shy of that date. It was sad really as she left behind two kids who are enemies. They are 10 years apart in age and worlds apart in their lives. They don't want to be in the same room and while they did not have mean things to say about their mom, their speeches were not filled with warmth. Bob's niece who is my age was the one who felt the brunt of her loss. Who sobbed for this woman that is gone forever, who has a scar permanently embedded in her heart for her grandma whom she knew and loved better then her own kids. I could not believe how fortunate she was to have known her grandmother for such a long time. My moms parents died when I was young, her mom when I was 4, her dad when I was 9. My dad's dad passed away when I was 12, his mom when I was 24. Except for the passing of my mom's dad, whom I was not connected to, I have stories that accompany each of their deaths.

My Granny Ninny (yes that is her real name), was born to luxury in Germany. Germany in the 30's was not a place for a beautiful Jewish woman she was the equivalent of a baroness, she fled to South Africa without a penny to her name, where she met the man she would one day marry. He adored this beautiful lady, all who knew her only use the word lady to describe her. He threatened to kill himself when she tried to leave him, and ended up marrying him for fear that he would carry out his threat. She lead a quiet, simple life of happiness through her kids, not her marriage. Her husband was a furniture salesman and money was always tight. She lost many siblings in the holocaust, only a sister and two brothers survived. Her sister and one brother ended up in South Africa, Rosie had the misfortune to lose her true love, before she left Germany, his ship passed the dock where she was standing waving at him, they caught each others eyes just as a torpedo struck it, it sank, he died before her eyes. She never recovered and would never find love again. My mom's brother Nathan, lived with his sister, he was quite the ladies man but never married. They bought properties in Hillbrow which when they lived there was a vibrant town, filled with immigrants, safe with beautiful apartments. Hillbrow is such a rough place to be now but when they died, the properties went to my mom, her brother and sister. Unfortunately, my two uncles managed those properties and the sale of them, they had a rough financial time themselves and mismanaged the properties and we lost everything.

Ninny and I had a connection that was so strong, I have such vivid recollections of her and whenever I go to fortune tellers they always see her standing next to me. When she was sick, she was only 50, I was 4, my mom was just on the road home from the hospital, no cell phones in those days, aparently, I started crying, unable to stop, the time I started crying was when she died, my mom walked in our house in that pre-cellphone era to find that she had just missed her mom's passing at the hospital. She never forgave herself for not being there at the end. One of Ninny's brother's, Joseph ended up in Israel, he got power of attorney from his siblings, after the war he petitioned the German Government for reparations for all the family had lost, he ended up taking it all for himself, leaving his siblings with nothing, I never met him but have heard how hard his life was, not financially but how his kids suffered and the tough times they endured, I guess his children had to pay for the sins of their father.

I guess I was payback to my Oupa, Harry who was married to Ninny, as I say I don't remember him but apparently I tormented him, after she died he came to live with us until he died of lung cancer. My mom adored her daddy and looked after him until he died. He was a tough man, a Russian immigrant but his kids adored him and that speaks volumes. For all his failings as a husband, he had three kids who all had a strong bond for each other and their families, we grew up around the corner from my cousins, my mom would see her sister almost every day and the 11 first cousins grew up very close and connected. The son a doctor, the two daughters, smart, independent women who sacrificed enourmously for their families. My mom the glue to the family, the middle child always making peace and taking care of everyone around her.

My Dad's parents are a different story, Lionel, a peace loving man first left Lithuania to go to Israel before there was a state of Israel. He was a religious man, who went to Temple every day, when he arrived at the Kibbutz and was handed a rifle, he looked around, decided it was not for him and boarded a boat for South Africa where his sister lived. He was an artist, a photographer who in those days had to handpaint colour onto photographs. One day while walking down Eloff Street he bumped into this beautiful woman, the date was the 11th of November, it was way before the end of World War II but Armastice Day, the anniversary of the end of WWI, would prove to be a lucky date for them. He was a shy man, and my grandmother had to get her brother-in-law to re-introduce her to this handsome man who had captured her imagination. Quite scandalous as Rae as my grandma was called came over as a bride, married to a mean man with the last name of Cohen, he was her visa from Riga into South Africa during WWII, he married himself a slave but he never realized that he married Rachel, a strong minded woman who got what she wanted when she wanted it. His slave did the unthinkable for that time, she divorced him and moved out. She lived with her sister and her sister's husband, and their kids until she met her soul mate. She married my grandfather on the 11th of November a year after they met in a rented dress and a he in a rented suit. What a gorgeous couple they made. They were married for over 40 years and truly loved and cherished each other. Every year on Armastice Day, the 11th of November she would buy bunched of paper poppies from war heros to commemortae their day. to this day I buy one everytime I pass a vet selling them. They tried to have a huge family but only one child survived, my dad, Jack. He was the center of their world and them his. He was an unbelievable son who took such great care of his folks, they truly moulded a great man whom so many would admire.

My granparents were incredibly involved in our lives, they were old fashioned, but they worked hard and saved, my dad's parents lived in the servants quarters of a house in Mayfair, they saved for their own home, once they got their own home, they moved into the servants quarters of that, rented out the main house, paid off the mortgage and then started investing in real estate, building a small but comfortable living. My grandmother was the business woman, had she been born in a different time she could have established her own empire but she was happy to stand behind her man whom she adored. They made sure to broaden our horizons which included a trip to India, Greece and Israel, many family vacations at the Balmoral Hotel in Muizenberg and stays at the Carmel Hotel in Warmbaths. They would only stay in Kosher hotels and liked the comforts of familiar places.

After my Batmizvah, when I was 12 (a Jewish girls confirmation, when she becomes a woman), my grandfather was sick, they were not sure if he would be able to attend the ceremony, but he did. Proud as punch.

My folks worked incredibly long hours, sometimes 6 or 7 days a week. They were trying to keep afloat. They were not around much during the year but over our summer holiday, every December they would take my elder sister, sometimes my younger sister and I away on magical trips to exotic destinations. The year of my Batmitzvah they took us to Portugal and Switzerland. One night in Zurich we were staying at the Kindli Hotel, my elder sister and I woke up, and could not go back to sleep, my little sister woke up a few minutes later, crying hysterically about a bear, a big brown bear. We consoled her, I was 12, Heidi was 15, and Nin was 8. None of us could sleep and ended up going downstairs to have some Swiss Hot Chocolate, an incredibly decadent treat. On the way back to our room we saw our parents light was on in their room. We knocked on the door to find out my grandfather had passed away. Funny we all had this uneasy feeling and I came to trust that instinct as I got older.

When I came to the United States, I did a Contiki tour across the Southern States, when I got to Durango in Colorado, there were wide open spaces, gorgeous black skies at night with a million stars, I even went horseriding with a man who swore he was the original Marlboro Man. The place was pretty remote. In the middle of the night, I woke up with that feeling and just knew my grandmother had died. I started sobbing and could not stop. I went to the payphone but the lines to South Africa were not working, I had to wait 3 days before we reached Vegas, I had this knot in the pit of my stomach, and the tears just flowed, I could not stop them. I finally got to a pay phone, my dad answered, I said to him, when did Grandma die, he wanted to know who told me, I told him that I just knew. Just as an aside, it was quite funny (in my family we have a really warped sense of humour), when I got to LA, my cousin Wendy picked me up in Anheim, we had planned to go to Disneyland as the bus dropped me off nearby for the end of my tour, when she arrived I told her that I could not go, my heart was not into it as my Gran had just died. She told me it was no problem, that she would pick up take out food and get a video. She brought the food, chinese food in those little cardboard containers I had seen in movies, she popped in the video, it was the Cemetay Club, Oh my word did we laugh, I sobbed through it but it was so funny.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Great Trek

Wenchy ( ) had asked me how I came to the States. Funny when people here ask me what brought me to America I always answer Stupidity. There are times when I am so amazed by what it is I did and endured and what on earth possessed me to stick it out and not pack up my bags and head for home.

I guess to answer that I have to look at my folks, failure was not an option, there just had to be another way to do it. When I was 23 I had the world by balls, I was working for a huge real estate company, I was a big shot freelance marketing agent, aka varsity drop out aka talk the talk and made everyone else believe I could walk the walk big shot pisher known to man. Arogance was my calling card and I dealt it with style, riding around Jo'burg in my spiffy BMW 318i coupe, making HUGE amounts of money every month. I used to call my dad at the end of the month and we would laugh at how much money I was being paid to shop. It was great. At that time there was a state of emergency in South Africa, the year being 1992/1993, Mandela was still etching notches into a wall on Robben Island. One fine day I was driving around Kempton Park, having just dropped two varsity (university) students to hand out flyers. This was pre-cellphones, although Ms. Spiffy aka me had a pager (sheesh I was such a wanker in those days - I thought I was so cool). I was driving around listening to 702 (because I was also a pseudo intellectual sort) and the Pan African Congress was on the radio, saying how for every settler they had one bullet (for those not in the know, the PAC was the extreme left wing political party and the settlers were white folks like moi). Here I was driving around Kempton Park, watching armoured vehicles drive around, having droped off two kids who may not make it back alive, and I felt so friggin' uneasy, guilty and just plain scared. The climate at the time was people were talking about where they were going to emmigrate to but most of my friends had not done it yet. I was 23 going on 50. That evening I represented my company at a Boksburg town council meeting, to try get some zoning changed. Short skirt - and who knows what could happen, I really had awesome legs in those days (lol). Here the extreme right wing was talking about how each of them belonged to a coalition where each person had 50,000 rounds of ammo and they were going to shoot every black person they saw the minute Mandela was released. It was a 20 minute drive from Boksburg to my flat in Killarney. I was so serious in those days, my mind was set on one thing and one thing only, making money and building my company into something big, successful and oh so lucrative. Not a thought of kids, relationships or anything of that sort. I was not known for rash or thoughtless decisions, more of the calculated, well thought out sort. In those 20 minutes I made a decision that would literally change the course of my life forever. I got home, called my folks. My contract with this company was ending in 2 weeks, I was negotiating with them to extend my contract, they wanted to add me to their staff, I wanted to remain a free agent and I was looking at picking up another client. When I called my folks I said to them guess where I am going in two weeks, they said, Cape Town? Durban? I was always flitting off for a weekend here and there, I said No. I am going to the States. They said oh really? For how long, I said for two weeks, a month, I may not come back.

Famous last words...............

So I packed my bags, and my hefty balls :) and headed for New York, armed with travellers cheques (checks in the USA) and a Delta pass. I did a Contiki tour across the Southern States and used my Delta pass (an unlimited Standby ticket on Delta Airlines which cost a ridiculously low amount of around $300.00 for 2 months). I used it to the max. Travelled and hustled. I interviewed with a few folks, I was living with my cousin in LA, she graciously allowed me to stay with her for 2 months, I had no luck. See the States was no place for a Varsity dropout, and I was unable to get sponsored for a visa, it seems the American government allows illiterate immigrants to flood its borders but people who have not completed a degree are unable to get a visa. My time in LA and my Delta pass came to an end. I flew back to NY to stay with my ex-Uncle, who had been married to my mom's sister. There were 13 of us living in a 3 bedroom townhouse (condo). I shared a bed with my cousins, had no personal living space and the only place I could store anything was in my suitcase. I am grateful to have had the place to stay but it was hard, they were wonderful but I slipped into a depression that I had never known before, you see, failure was not an option. I had to do it myself, I had to pay my way, I started working in a store in the city, where they paid me $5.00 an hour, it cost me $20.00 to get there and back, 1.5 hours commute each way, but I ended up clearing $5.00 a day, it was all I could do. I interviewed all over NY, as with everything I gave it my all, one interview was in Coram, about an hour drive from my Uncle but I had no car, so had to travel back by train to a central line then catch a train to Coram. It took me 4 hours to get there. I left at 4am for a 9am interview. Once again I got the job but could not get a visa. I ate my way through the experience, junk food is unbelievably cheap in this country, a dollar can buy a few candy bars and I sure stretched those dollars. Spiralling into despair as I did so. I gained weight and lost myself. Failure was not an option. I had also been in an on and off relationship with someone who while being a great guy was not healthy for me, he tore my self esteem to shreds, and was verbally abusive. He and I both knew how wrong we were for each other, yet were drawn to each other and would always gravitate toward each other no matter how many times we broke up, my move to America would end that once and for all.

My parents had started a company when they first got married, they were flat broke, living with my grandparents and they started a debt collection company, just the two of them, as time went on my dad branched out into Personnell (Staffing) and they grew their respective companies into respected forces in the South African economy. My folks miraculously worked together for 35 years. Mind boggling really, Josh and I could not survive 35 minutes let alone 35 years. Their company was bought out by a huge French company who had offices all over the world with my folks being kept on to run the show. Thank G-d for neopotism, after having exhausted all my options my dad made a call for me, the next day I had an interview in Manhattan with a rather charming woman, who made it seem like I was the answer to their dreams and they had the perfect position available for me, ok so it did not really happen that way, they ummed and ahhed for ages, I flew back to SA to surprise my dad who was being sued by a cousin who was a councilman - yes a relative sued us, made front pages of the Star (SA newspaper) as people just did not sue each other like that in SA - but he did and I needed to support him. I flew back, part of the surprise was that my sisters were going to pick me up from the airport and drive me to their home. All I could think of was my bed, my car and my maid, not sure what order but geez did I long to see them all. My elder sister picked me up at Jan Smuts Airport (now Johannesburg International) and told me that I would have to stay at my folks as she thought I was not coming back (her and I shared a flat/apartment) and she had sold my bed, my folks maid had quit (what else was new) and she had an accident in my car while I was away and had sold my car) THANKS FOR TELLING ME. Oh and my folks had decided to go away for a long weekend to deal with the stress of the courtcase, so I came to stay in their house, with no car, no maid and I could not answer the phone, lest the surprise was spoiled.

In the midst of all the personal chaos, I had found a voice where I confronted those relatives and told them in no uncertain terms what I thought of them and still do to this day. I got a call from the NY company with a starting date and an offer. The salary was low but they promised me an icrease in 6 months if my performance was what they expected. I packed my two suitcases a few weeks later, closed my bank account with my last $5,000.00 and headed to NY to conquer America, except America conquered me.

It turns out the nice lady who had hired me was busy suing the company, hired me as a final F.U. told all of them that I was a spy for the French Head Quarters. I was there to work, an edit was sent out that no-one was allowed to befriend me as I was the enemy (I knew nothing of this at the time). My folks had instilled a great work ethic and I excelled at everything they threw at me, each task worse then the next. Failure was not an option, everytime I settled into a department they would move me on to the next. There were 120 employees, I knew no-one in Manhattan and I was not allowed to make friends. One guy asked me to join them foor lunch and was threatened with being fired. I made on friend on the side, Vicky, her and I developed a phone friendship, calling each others answering machines and leaving messages. They renaged on my raise, played silly games like making me wait until 6pm to meet with them after I ended at 5pm and then they would leave without telling me, after confirming the meeting with me during the day. Oh I forgot. Nasty stuff. My salary barely covered my expenses and I did without so much, there is something about living in NY and not being able to enjoy it. There were days when I had to walk over 70 blocks home as I did not have the $1.25 to catch the subway. Bagels were supplied for breakfast and I would take a few extra to get through the day, mac and cheese boxes were 5 for a dollar, about 1200 calories a box, I just ate away my misery in carb hell. I should have packed it in, they tried hard enough to make me, I honestly did not know how. They finally moved me into the sales department because I was getting too settled in the marketing dept (and I had been in every other department before then), and of course I tripled their sales for the area they gave me to cover, I managed to obtain to of their most coverted accounts that they had tried for years to land. My greencard came through and I resigned. No relief felt, just dragged myself away from the war zone. The called daily, begging me to come back - what?? They were out of their minds. I could not explain to them how whacked they are, one of the carzy ladies even had the cheek to say to me, but you don't even need themoney your dad is loaded. My folks were by no means loaded, they worked hard and were comfortable, how could I explain to them that even had my folks offered me a single dollar, I would not have taken it., they did not understand about monetary controls and how each dollar was earned and how you watch a pile of brightly coloured rands dwindle down to a few greenbacks.

In the midst of all this madness i met Josh. he is someone I would never have dated in my former life, you see I never needed anyone for anything. here I cried everyday for my folks, my friends, my life, there are days when I would sob, literally unable to move because I cried so much. When I worked for that horrible company I would come home and start sobbing the minute I walked in the door. Josh just knew, he would just hold me and let all the tears that had stained my soul, trail down his. He was my support system. I had no-one to lean on and even he, well he had to find out the hard way how self sufficient and proud I was, but that is a story for another day. Its been almost 13 years since I made that decision, I can't say I never doubted it because I did, many, many times but the one thing I know above all else that I was meant to marry the man I did and have the kids I have and today I am the luckiest person, I love my job, I have finally got great friends (another long post one day) and most of all I have my mommy and daddy nearby and my sister a phonecall away. It certainly does not get better then that.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Week in review.............

Last week was so incredibly hectic, I did not see the kids and my feet barely touched the ground. I worked long days, returning after they had been asleep. I always feel so unsettled after that, financially it was a good week but the opportunity cost is huge and it sadens me to not be present in my girls day to day lives. I feel so bad for single moms who have to work and try keep their kids on track. I know it is not damaging to them but finances have been tight and I am just not in a position to turn down work, so I turn it up,do what I need to do and try keep the balls up in the air before they come crashing down around me.

This weekend was just what I needed. Although my feet did not touch the ground on Saturday - make up for the week gone bye, checked off the list of a million things that needed to be completed, landed briefly in the afternoon, deposited the kids at Diane (my parents dog sitter) who is kind enough to babysit my folks other kids - er- grankids as well. Josh and I showered, changed and headed for family friends. The Edelmens are very religious, lovely people but it is so hard to develop a real friendship as they lead such different lives, they will not eat anything in my house, they will not answer the phone from Friday afternoon until Saturday night. We live in different worlds but when we see each other, there is something very special. Morris's family and my family used to travel to Alliwal North in the Wilderness from when I was an infant until I was about 3. We would go caravaning. It is weird as we have very little recollection of each other just a strong connection through the stories we hear of each other growing up, we have not seen each other in over 30 years and have very little in common save for those stories and our love of South Africa. Saturday night they had two other couples over at their house a Russian and a South African couple. It was such a "lekker" evening, so chilled. Just good food and good laughs. I love having people in my home and love being in peoples homes who are relaxed hosts. They definitely fit that bill. Most Americans do not entertain in their homes, I think its because they do not have help and they do not understand that low key celebrations are some of the best ones ever. My impromptu Sunday afternoon Chili days are loads of fun where the kids run rampant and the grown ups sit and chat about nothing, but have a good laugh doing it.

Sunday morning Josh and I woke up at 10:30am which was just what our rundown bodies needed but we literally dove into clothes, I ran to the supermarket, grabbed the kids and rushed home, while Josh fired up the braai/BBQ - we had guests arriving at 12. Needless to say the kids and I were late, one of the couples cancelled as their kids had a fever of 101. It ended up just being Jeff and his two girls, Cami and Kate. The kids all had a great time, as did we. Jeff is a New York City Fireman, a wonderful man with his feet firmly planted on the ground, smart and funny. Throw a few beers in the mix and a good time was certainly had by all.

Monday was Presidents Day. Nikki had a playdate in the high rent district, Old Westbury, with her friend Lauren Greenberg, a delightful girl whose parents had her later in life, her step siblings are in their mid 20's and she is 5. The live in a huge house, unbelievably elegant, warm and inviting like the inhabitants. Ry had a playdate at our home with her buddy AJ. School holidays have begun, its going to be a very long week, especially as I am going to be hectic at work with tons of pee wee patrols running through my home under the watchful eye of Carol, sheesh this woman deserves danger pay.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Valentines Day P.S.

Besides all the hugs, kisses and cards my girls gave me for Valentines day, Ryan put together a package for me, filled with stickers, love notes and she wrapped up a dollar. Mommy she says to me, go buy yourself something special from the dollar store. It just touched me so deeply, Ry is really one of the most generous souls I have ever met. She has the ability to capture peoples souls, not en mass like Nikki noodles but when they see what Ry is about they gravitate toward her, keep her in their soul forever. Nikki lights up every room she walks into and is the center of so many rays of light.

This morning Nikki walks into our bedroom. Daddy she says, my light ran out of light. Little voice, lol, could not laugh at her. So cute so sweet. I am so lucky. Thank you G-d, everyday, every moment for these treasures in my life!!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Picture the scene.............

Yesterday I am sitting in my car minding my own business, listening to the radio in a parking lot. I drive a Dodge Durango which has tinted windows (not completely dark but just a tint to them). A woman walks up to my car with her keys and is trying to open the door, I realize that she thinks it is her car, I start laughing hysterically, open the door and say to her, this is not your car. She turned white, nearly had a heart attack, can you just imagine, trying to get into you car, getting frustrated because the keyless entry is not working and then the door opens and a complete stranger tells you this is not your car. I could not breathe I was laughing so hard, I had to apologize and explain to her that the reason I was laughing was because it was something that I would typically do!!!

Valentines Day was meant to be a chilled, relaxing day, the kids and I had a whole afternoon of activities planned, unfortunately work beckoned and my 11am closing did not end until 8:30pm, I did not get home until 9:30pm. I was really upset not to have seen the girls and heard about all their valentines and parties they had at school. I came home exhausted. Cancelled Nikki's playdate for the next day as I had to work late and could not pick her up. I dragged myself into the bedroom where Josh had lit candles everywhere, had my favourite crowded house songs playing, he had turned back the sheets to give me a massage, had flowers, a card and a huge box of chocolates waiting for me. He really is such a sweetie. Every Valentines Day he buys a box of chocolates for his two girls and for our housekeeper, he is a smart man, he knows being surrounded by so many women he has to keep them calm and happy!!

Monday was a snow day, the kids and I went sledriding and out for lunch at the diner, they really are such good kids, they then spent the rest of the afternoon in the backyard constructing a snow fort. I love sledriding but my favourite snow activity is snow tubing, maybe next year. Here are some pics of our time sledriding...

ready set (see Nikki dive for cover)


My snow bunnies

on the sled

Monday, February 13, 2006

The view out my kitchen window!!!

check out our braai/bbq

Snow where to go

Blizzard of 2006.................

The heavens opened up and dumped mounds of snow all over Long Island. A record breaking blizzard, over 18 inches of snow. It is just magical. I can't believe the size of the snowflakes, huge discs of white floating down from the sky. It was a great experience as it forced us to slow down to take a breath and just stop. I can't remember the last time we spent an entire weekend with the kids indoors with nowhere to be and nothing to do. It was delicious. The girls were unbelievably good and I must say as kids who are not exposed to much high tech activity they really spent the day playing nicely with each other. There was the occassional spat but for the most part they created stories and played house. We did spend a good amount of time making shrinky dink valentines day charms for all the kids in their classes, after my stand against sugar and junk in the school I could hardly send in lollipops. School is cancelled for the day, when it warms up a bit outside we are going to head out for some sledriding followed by coffee and hot chocolate, for now peace reigns and my girls made a sofa out of the mound of pillows on my bed and are quite content to watch some TV and chill out, giving mom some alone time to catch up with some pals online.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Since my post of a few days ago about my experience at work, I have really felt for want of a better word, burdened. A heavy weight has been placed on my shoulders and it seems like an effort to move my head. Its amazing how strength can be sapped from the inside out. I think I need to take time to connect with myself again, stop the frenetic pace. Dee was generous enough to send me permission cards, one of them was meditate, I realized its something I have never know how to do and will now endeavour to learn. It was always on my to do list, its not that long a list and yet it gets shoved to the back of the line. Definitely need to take time out for me. I had become quite good at it awhile ago but have since forgotten how. Its time to remember.

Young at heart............

I did a closing yesterday with a very interesting attorney. He is 75 years young and really a wonderful, inspiring man, did not miss a step and actually showed the young 'uns a thing or two. He graduated from Harvard, I made a quip about him still having to pay off his student loans. He said it was funny because at Harvard Law School they had a saying:
A students became professors.
B students became judges.
C students made all the money.
To which one of the real estate brokers chimed in
D students become president.
It was really funny.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Ethical dilemma

I was brought up in a household where your word is your bond, you learned to treat others as you wished to be treated and a whole litany of other cliches that make up my moral fibre. I am not sure if I am in the wrong country or wrong profession. Many people seem to have the proverbial FU tatooed on their foreheads in NY. I strive to do the best work I can, I love what I do, I meet fascinating people and really love the intricasies of the job. I try to be honorable where many are not. Last night I had a closing where a company was raping the clients for want of a better word. The bank attorney and I conspired to get the company I work for to lower their astronomical fees. Little did we know that the mortgage banker happens to own both the title company and the mortgage company. Talk about a conflict of interest. Holy cow. Well today it all exploded. I have to learn to keep quite and let the pillaging go on without my input. The poor people who are getting treated this way, honest salt of the earth folks, in danger of losing their home because they want their kids to have a better future, mortgaged to the hilt for college tuition. What a wonderful world this can be...........................


I went to a friend of my mother-in-law's funeral on Monday. I felt attending was the least I could do seeing as Alice had made the journey to South Africa almost 10 years ago to attend my wedding. She accompanied me on the start of a journey and I accompanied her to the end of hers.

Alice had 4 kids a result of 56 years of marriage. She left quite a legacy. She was an atypical American parent. Most of my friends parents are really out for themselves, Alice was a devoted mom - it made me wonder what my legacy would be. One day when people stand on a podium and eulogize me what would it be that I would have done to touch their lives? I don't get caught up in death more in the fact that life is so short and such a treasure and I hope to be there for my kids as my folks have been for me. I don't have a laundry list of things I have to do, when I was 20 years old a friend of mine almost died in a horrific car crash. That event was a defining moment for me as it hit home that we were not guaranteed a place in life we had to take it and make it ours. From that day on I embraced the truth, made sure to tell those I knew how much I loved them and how much I cared. I decided to do whatever it is I needed to so I could say I had not lived a grey life and I do feel that. I don't feel a discontentment with my lot, in fact I feel rather content, I feel like i have pushed the envelope, lived a million lifetimes in one and while the road is far is far from over its been a good journey. I hope my kids have some sense of clarity of what I see in them and who I think they can be, I hope they see it in themselves and allow themselves to be defined by the light in the souls not the glow on the neon plastic that beckons the youth of today. My legacy I guess is in these souls I love and the next 60-odd years we have together (wishful thinking but one can hope).

Monday, February 06, 2006

Superbowl Sunday!!!!!

Last night was Super Bowl Sunday, the night when America comes to a standstill, women across the country applaud or curse, depending on the nature of their relationships as today, the Monday after Superbowl, they get their husbands back. Divorce decrees are put on hold for another year.

Luckily for me, Josh is into rugby and not football, which is awesome as it is always played in a different times zone which entails him leaving before the roosters wake up to eat biltong with my dad and shout at or for the Boks!!! This allows me the opportunity to lie diagonally across the bed and actually get a decent night sleep!!! Love that.

I love Superbowl because I get to hangout and eat all my favourite foods, chili dips, buffalo wings and sandwiches that are longer then my husband is tall. He is no shrimp (oh yeah and they have shrimp too), its a full gluttuneous fest and I enjoy it with gusto.

We started off at one of Ryan's friends parents house where it was quite sedate with a lot of 8 year old girls running around. We managed to make a serious dent in their offerings before heading to my buddy Deb's house. Deb has tow kids, one of 6 and one of 43. Her husband Glenn missed his calling as a camp director. He transforms his house into a haunted house for halloween and we stepped into a football stadium, he missed nothing - he redecorated the ENTIRE house, banners as you walk on the porch, huge football shaped coolers, inflattable footballs hanging down from the chandelier, he renamed every room, put greens on the floor, he even changed the lights to football light fixtres. He set up a whole list of games for the kids with tons of prizes, he even hired a magician, it is so rare that we keep our kids out late, especially on a week night but last night we did not get home before 10:30pm, we dragged ourselves away. She had such a great mix of interesting people to chat with and sample delicacies with - yup my no watchingthe superbowl reputation is still intact, but we had a jol. Thanks Deb!!!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Degrees of normal.....

I think the older we are, the more people we meet, the more we realize how hard some peoples lives have been. How ever screwed up our upbringings, however whacky our family, they are our basis of normalicy, they are the mark by which we compare everything in our lives, our sense of normalcy. I don't strive for normal, and don't search for it in others, I want people who bring colour to my life and their interesting stories, their lives fill my canvas with so many depths and colours. I feel inspired by them and love the advice that people with direct access to their souls give.

I am grateful to have been relatively unscathed by my youth and been surrounded with the parents I have been. They have made their mistakes, of course, but I feel so lucky to have them in my life and I hope not to pass their mistakes on to my kids but to invent my own. My kids will have issues because or inspite of me, I guess thats part of giving them character so they can be people I can relate to when they turn into adults and pass their judgement on my life and my dealings with them.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Nikki at her silly best!!!


Lauren and Nikki

Nikki and her teacher Ms. Ambrose

Nikki and her partner in crime, Shellie

I was the secret reader at school today - did a Valentine's day craft and bought goody bags with heart glasses!!!

not sure how to turn this pics around - sorry

Nikki getting ready for a party

Grounds for divorce!!!!!

4am my husband sets off the house alarm. Nikki wakes up hysterically crying, I rush to defend my family against some unknown intruders, wearing a towel - thought I would just drop it and scare them away with the sight of me. Nope my dearest husband decides that he is going to start walking, and while I applaud the effort and no-one looks forward to a slimmer him then me, did he have to drag the whole friggin' household in his wake?

About 6 months ago there was a spate of robberies in our neighbourhood, just for a few months and the police caught the guys who terrorized the entire county where I live. We got into the habit of putting our alarm on at night, I know it sounds whacky but after the Elizabeth Smart incident (the beautiful girl who was kidnapped out of her bed while her family slept), I have not slept properly. American houses are noisy, built out of wood and we have wooden floors so sound travels like crazy. Everytime I heard a noise I would jump up to check on my sleeping beauties. Since we started using the alarm I have slept soundly so have insisted that we use it every night. Times like this morning I regret it, my kids were up and at 'em after their wake up calla nd Mister Mister was off walking in the rain. I am so not a morning person, I need to bathe in coffee before I can even attempt any form of pleasantries.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Nikki and mommy

Could they have chosen a taller kid to put in front of my peanut????

Mommy, Daddy and Nikki Noodles

Getting ready for school before Nikki's big Bear Show

Daddy and Nikki

All dressed up and raring to go

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