Thinking & Feeling

“The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.” Horace Walpole

Monday, 26 February 2007

This and That

I am on my own again, with Richard out of the country again.

People laugh at me when they ask where he is and the best I can manage is 'Somewhere in Italy...'. But honestly it's hard to keep up! We chat on Google chat, so I don't need to know every detail of what, where, who, how etc. I think he barely know where he is himself half the time. It's a case of fly in do the work/ training/ conference/ summit/ whatever and leave again. The location is pretty incidental most of the time, and there is certainly no research and recreational planning around it.

So I spent the whole of last week's evening reading up on doula training, and watch birth videos on YouTube. Yes, I am strange like that. I love watching them!

I added links to birth videos and gorgeous newborn photos and even to a virtual labour tool on my Birth Buddies doula site. Check it out if you are interested.

Then on Friday we were invited to a pot-luck dinner and camp-fire with the scouts after cubs. The boys and I went along and it was so much fun! Griffin got right into the thick of things. It is going to be hard to keep him on the sidelines for another 2 years. He wants to be a cub NOW. It was funny to sing all those same songs we sang so many years ago. Songs like Kumbaya (groan, I hate that one!) and 'Oh you can't get to heaven, oh you can't get to heaven in Quinn's bra, cos Quinn's bra, don't stretch s far' etc etc. The kids LOVE the songs and react with such glee and with enthusiastic actions and loud bellowing singing. The scouters really get into it and are very animated and enthusiastic. It's nice that this still happens. I manages to be wholesome but still jolly good fun, and is a nice alternative to hanging out at the 'mall' and skate-parks etc and getting up to no good. I have also noticed that all the activities in cubs are about being active, healthy, creative and thinking and problem solving, yet they are presented as FUN and GAMES. It's really good and teaches so many life skills. After Quinn joined we started telling other friends and there are about 6-8 other boys from our extended circle of friends who have also joined, so I think we have resurrected the troop ;)

On Saturday morning I was up bright and early and set of for Somerset West for the first day of my Doula course. It was a great day, despite me having some reservations about this course and in particular the woman who runs it. My impression is that she is trying to be really controlling and restrictive of the whole doula community in Cape Town. So we'll see how that turns out. I am still undecided as to whether I want to certify through her, even though she makes out like her course is the only valid certification, because it isn't. The risk of not certifying through her though is that I will be outside her circle of influence, and I do think she is quite influential. If I do certify through her and adhere to her code of conduct and 'scope of practice' I will have a lot of restrictions placed on me in terms of what I can and can't say and do, what I have to wear, what I have to charge etc etc. Plus I will have to wear a regulation pinafore which advertises a large corporate baby-product company, and I don't want to be advertising and mentally imprinting corporate logos into poor labouring women. It's like MacDonald's advertising at schools and in newborn nurseries. Basically brain-washing and subliminal messaging. I am very uncomfortable about that.

As a result I have enrolled in an international course too. I have been posting on some international discussion boards and mentioned my concerns and experiences with the local people (including being told to take my website down!). I started looking into the Childbirth International Doula courses, which look fabulous - but not with our exchange rate, as they are all in US Dollars.

A wonderful woman from Birth Arts contacted me and offered me a free registration on their Doula course. I just need to pay the printing and postage fees for the course materials. It's a saving of $400USD! Wow, I am so flattered and grateful. Apparently the course material is already in the mail! :) So whether or not I complete the local course, I will get an International Certification under my belt, and the local lady can say what she wants that will mean something.

Anyway despite that rant, and a few pointed comments been made at the course like NOT being able to be called a doula before you have trained and certified through them and waiting to be told how to set up a practise at the end of the course etc (which I am almost certain were references to issues they have with me and my being pro-active and knowing the industry) it really was an enjoyable day.

A lady came in to give the section on the Anatomy & Physiology of Birth, and it turned out it was my antenatal teacher from when I was pregnant with Quinn 7+ years ago. She remembered me too. :)

We got a file full of notes and we asked to take a book from the reading list to go through and I am already half-way through the notes and 1/3 of the way through the book. I have also ordered several more books through so I am eagerly waiting for them to arrive, as well as my US course notes.

I will do both courses in parallel for now, as many of the requirements are the same including:
- Reading several doula, birth, pregnancy and parenting books from reading lists. It's a fairly contained subject so the same names pop up everywhere.
- Attending a labour themed antenatal class
- Attending a breastfeeding clinic
- Observing 2 births (not participating)
- Supporting a woman through at least 2 births, and in various situations (such as township Obstetric Unit, State Hospital, Private Hospital, Home birth, Water birth etc)

I have 2 pregnant friends at the moment and both have said they are willing to be Guinea Pigs for me. YAY. I have also emailed my midwife to see if she'll help me to get all my practical requirements fulfilled.


The rest of the week-end was about taking the kids to see Barnyard. Richard was right it is VERY FREAKY that the male cows have udders! It seems other people are also bothered by this... "The most striking thing about the reviews of this movie is that all the cows have udders, including the males. Every single review whether by a critic or just your average John Q. Moviefone seems to be possessed by the urge to point out their extensive knowledge of bovine anatomy and remind the reader that male cattle do not, in fact, have udders."

Then on Sunday I hit the gym - it's been a while. Then I pottered around at home, cleaned the pool, planted a plant and had a friend (a preggy one) over for tea etc. Last night I watched In Her Shoes, it was the first time I watched TV since Richard left last Tuesday. And that was the whole week-end.

Quinn the good and the bad and ugly

My clever boy. I have become a Parlotones groupie. So I bought their CD for Richard for Valentines Day. I LOVE it. I have now nabbed it to play it in my car. Yesterday we were driving and I put it on. Quinn didn't know I had it, or that it was on. After a few songs Quinn said, 'There's a lot of Parlotones songs on today'.

But THEN he says to me, 'Hey you have a beard' pointing to his lip and meaning moustache. He then clarified that he meant moustache. So I replied, 'Yes everyone has one, we all have hair over our lips...'. So he says, 'Yes but yours is black!'

Oh my word, I guess it's time for a bleaching?

Wednesday, 21 February 2007


What do you get for eating spinach, carrots, potatoes, butternut, leeks, onions & mushrooms at my house?


We had a vegetarian dinner tonight:
Butternut soup (with butternut, carrots, potatoe & leeks, and dhania to flavour) and a vegetable mix our nanny makes with what we have (today it was spinach, potatoes, carrots, mushrooms and onions.)

My kids love it and so do I, and well after such a 'good meal' with so many veggies we needed something a bit more wicked.
The boys had full cream vanilla ice-cream with Milo, Strawberry Nesquik, chocolate chips & sprinkles. For me ice-cream, milo, chocolate chips and brandy cherries. Bliss!


So this is one of those TMI* posts.

Warning - if you are squeamish, especially about things relating to female anatomy, just leave now. I am not taking responsibility for upsetting sensitive readers.

So yesterday I had an appointment with my gynae. Why? Well firstly, as a 30-something woman you are supposed to go see your gynae about once a year** for a general check up and pap smear. Also I have a Mirena, which is a fabulous little device which not only offers near on 100% contraception, but also reduces or even removes your periods for up to 5 years. \o/ It's a wonderful invention that has made my life so much better. I love it. No cramping, bloating, moodiness, and all the other crap that goes with a monthly cycle.

So why am I telling you any of this? Well it seems that some people (read men) think there's something exciting and even erotic about a gynaecologist visit. It seems to be a fantasy of kinds.

Let me describe yesterday's visit to dispel any misconceptions (no pun intended) you may have, and then you can decide just how fun and exciting it must be.

Firstly, I must say that I really like and respect my gynae. He is a small Ghandi-like Moslem man (yes I KNOW Ghandi himself wasn't Moslem). He is respectful, considerate, courteous and just a sweet and kind man. He takes his time to get to know you and listen to anything you have to say, and is happy to answer any questions you may have. He makes a point to tell you exactly what he is doing and makes sure you are comfortable throughout. In fact if it wasn't for all of that I don't think I would be able to cope with the anti-joy that is a visit to the gynae. Especially not yesterday's visit...

So let's see, after the routine weight and blood pressure checks (no surprises there), and then general breast and abdominal examination (again no surprises), it was time to get to the more serious stuff .... (cue ominous music here)

I then had to de-robe completely and hop up on the lovely 'bed', complete with stirrups.... then lying back, legs splayed in the air and with everything on complete display to this sweet man who I have just spent 30-minutes having a polite conversation with. - Fun right? Surely he should at least have to buy me a drink first? (oh wait he is Moslem, so he doesn't drink. ) ;)

Then out came the dreaded SPECULUM....
Really why these things can't be made out of something softer and more comfortable I do not know?? It is 2007 after all! I feel like Jack the Ripper's next victim when this thing comes out.

So this cold hard, sterile stainless steel vice-grip gets inserted, and cranked open, with a few requests to 'cough please'. OK not too bad, I can breathe deeply and zone out, I do yoga, I have given birth... This is easy.

The pap smear is over in a jiffy. Hell there's nothing to that, it's just a swab of the cervix....

Then it was time to remove my old Mirena - using loooong scissor-like forceps. I was warned that it might have become embedded inside me, and may not be very easy or pleasant to remove. Thrilling. Of course I was expecting the worst, so I was pleasantly surprised when it came out with relative ease.
So far so good. But the fun was just beginning. The best was still to come. Read on. Before a Mirena can be inserted your cervix needs to be clamped, so that it stays still and so that the uterus stays in place. This is to make the insertion easier for the doctor, as the cervix and uterus are shy and private and try to get away when pursued, but more importantly it is done so that your uterus is not perforated as the Mirena is inserted. Didn't I say how much fun this is? Like a beach holiday on a tropical island!

So there I am legs in the air, cervix clamped, me breathing slowly and trying to pretend I am not really there - but assuring the good doctor I am just fine thanks (i.e. just get it over with dammit!). Ok, so now that the clamping is done it is time to measure my cervix and uterus. Why? Well so that the doc knows how far to insert the Mirena to get it in place and, you guessed it, to not perforate me in the process. The little measuring trick is done with what I can only guess is a copper rod - because that is what it looks like. So this lovely copper rod goes in and pokes around. Now note that a cervix really likes to be closed. That's its job to be closed and unless a baby is on it's way out, stay closed it normally does. So it doesn't like having a copper rod trying to make it be open. It's sore and damned uncomfortable! This goes on for some time, because apparently 'There's something blocking it'. Yay! That's just what you want to hear in that situation. After several failed attempts at this, the poor doc says, 'Um I am going to have to improvise something here'. Again yay, that's sounds great. I love improv!

So he leaps up and grabs the ultrasound machine, gels my stomach up and gets to work with the ultrasound machine. So now we have one hand driving the ultrasound, and one had driving the copper rod. Oh and don't forget the speculum and clamp, those are still faithfully helping too.

After trying for a bit, Doc decides he really needs 2 hands after all - so I have to drive the ultra sound! So there I am doing a half-crunch and holding the ultrasound transmitter in place and trying to stay dead still, while simultaneously trying to relaaax and not clench (now is not the time for those kegels) as he gets the measurement sorted out, while doing his best not to pierce right through me. 'Ommmmm'.

Finally he decides he has it figured out, so now we just have to get the new Mirena in. Again he gets the ultrasound image lined up and I take over and, and then in he goes. I am still stoically telling him I am 'fine' every few minutes. The Mirena manages to go in, and springs open once inside, causing some wonderful contractions. Then it's time to put a pair of looong scissors inside me to cut the strings. Hard to describe the fear of knowing there are SCISSORS in there!

But that's not all folks. No, he then really needs to make sure it is in place, and the normal ultrasound does not give a clear enough picture. So he has to do an
internal ultrasound. Think that sounds like fun? Well lets imagine for a minute that you think having a rock-hard ultrasound wand inserted while you are cramping, and after all of the above, would be fun. Let me tell you it's not. Especially not the part where it gets ground around to try to 'find' your ovaries. Finally everything gets seen, and found to be in place, and working as expected. Whew.

And voila, easy as that a new Mirena!

It seems I behaved appropriately, as I was told afterwards that I am 'really brave'. So a noddy badge for me please.

If you have actually managed to read this I hope you can appreciate how seriously NOT FUN going to the gynaecologist is. It is something we do because we have to, not because we want to, or because we derive any pleasure what so ever from it.

* Too much information.
** I go about every second year - do you blame me?

Saturday, 17 February 2007


Quinn joined Cubs a few weeks ago, and is thoroughly enjoying it.

He is yet to be invigilated, but already knows the Cub Law, Cub Promise and the salute. So he'll be well ready when it happens.

He has already learned about purifying water various ways, has made water bombs, roasted marshmallows, played broken telephone and used tin-can & string 'phones' and played various ball games etc.

Last night they were trying out for swimming badges. Quinn was keen to try. They had to:
- Swim 5 lengths of the pool.
- Swim another 5 lengths of the pool in a different stroke - he swam (mostly under water) breast stroke.
- Tread water for at least a minute.
- Float on back for at least a minute.
- Dive in from the side of the pool.
- 'Duck Dive' - stand in the pool and dive straight down to your feet (as if to fetch a coin that sunk).
- Dive in with shorts and t-shirt on and tread water in the centre of the pool and remove clothing.

Snorkel Swimming *
Treading water
Swimming lengths
He managed to do all of this, and so he'll be getting a badge. :) Yay!

Next time he'll try for the 'Aquanaught' badge which involves more diving and snorkel work and 20 lengths, plus 10 in clothes.

*Note: I realised I was making the poor child swim with a snorkel and only eye goggles. I forgot you need full goggles which cover your nose to be able to use a snorkel properly and not not inhale water through your nose! The situation has been rectified and Quinn now has a proper snorkel with an appropriate mask. This will make that 'Aquanaught' badge a hell of a lot easier! LOL.

Quinn's Athletics Day

Friday was Quinn's annual school inter-house Athletics Day.

Like last year I managed to sneak out of work for long enough to attend to watch.

He was placed with the Under 7s - so with mostly Grade 1s. (The school is good about putting kids in their correct age group for competing physically, and I think that is fair. So of his class most are in the Under 8s, Quinn is Under 7 and there are 2 boys in the Under 9 category).

he came about 4th last, but ran well and tried hard. He is still a bit more concerned with what's going on around him than trying to win though, so he is not hugely competitive.

Here are some photos of the day. Waiting for his race...
Lined up and ready to go...
And away they go...
Sprinting to the finish...
All over.

My Valentines

This is my Valentine's Loot.
A card from Quinn, and a chocolate and rose from the department manager of our floor at work(yes all the ladies got them) ;)

I gave my team each a slab of chocolate with the little teddy card shown, it says 'At least iLAB loves you'. Haha..

Thursday, 15 February 2007

'I'm just going to the loo quickly'

When you have to visit a public toilet, you usually find a line of women, so you smile politely and take your place.

Once it's your turn, you check for feet under the cubicle doors. Every cubicle is occupied.

Finally, a door opens and you dash in, nearly knocking down the woman leaving the cubicle.

You get in to find the door won't lock. It doesn't matter.

The dispenser for the modern "seat covers" (invented by someone's Mum, no doubt) is handy, but empty.

You would hang your bag on the door hook, if there were one, but there isn't - so you carefully but quickly drape it around your neck, (Mum would turn over in her grave if you put it on the FLOOR!), yank down your pants, and assume "The Stance."

In this position your ageing, toneless thigh muscles begin to shake.

You'd love to sit down, but you certainly hadn't taken time to wipe the seat or lay toilet paper on it, so you hold "The Stance."

To take your mind off your trembling thighs, you reach for what you discover to be the empty toilet paper dispenser.

In your mind, you can hear your mother's voice saying, "Honey, if you had tried to lean the seat, you would have KNOWN there was no toilet paper!" Your thighs shake more.

You remember the tiny tissue that you blew your nose on yesterday - the one that's still in your purse. That would have to do. You crumple it in the puffiest way possible. It is still smaller than your thumbnail.

Someone pushes open your cubicle door because the lock doesn't work. The door hits your bag, which is hanging around your neck in front of your chest, and you and your bag topple backward against the tank of the toilet.

"Occupied!" you scream, as you reach for the door, dropping your precious, tiny, crumpled tissue in a puddle on the floor, lose your footing altogether, and slide down directly onto the TOILET SEAT. It is wet, of course.

You bolt up, knowing all too well that it's too late. Your bare bottom has made contact with every imaginable germ and life form on the uncovered seat because YOU never laid down toilet paper - not that there was any, even if you had taken time to try.

You know that your mother would be utterly appalled if she knew, because, you’re certain; her bare bottom never touched a public toilet seat because, frankly, dear, "You just don't KNOW what kind of diseases you could get."

By this time, the automatic sensor on the back of the toilet is so confused that it flushes, propelling a stream of water like a fire hose that somehow sucks everything down with such force that you grab onto the toilet paper dispenser for fear of being dragged in too.

At that point, you give up. You're soaked by the spewing water and the wet toilet seat.

You're exhausted. You try to wipe with a gum wrapper you found in your pocket and then slink out inconspicuously to the sinks.

You can't figure out how to operate the taps with the automatic sensors, so you wipe your hands with spit and a dry paper towel and walk past the line of women, still waiting. You are no longer able to smile politely to them.

A kind soul at the very end of the line points out a piece of toilet paper trailing from your shoe. (Where was that when you NEEDED it??) You yank the paper from your shoe, plunk it the woman's hand and tell her warmly, "Here, you just might need this."

As you exit, you spot your husband, who has long since entered, used and left the men's loo.

Annoyed, he asks, "What took you so long, and why is your bag hanging around your neck?"


This is dedicated to women everywhere who deal with a public rest-room (rest??? you've got to be joking!!). It finally explains to the men what really does take us so long.

It also answers their other commonly asked question about why women go to the rest-room in pairs. It's so the other girl can hold the door, hang onto your bag and hand you Kleenex under the door!

Everybody Else is F***ing Perfect

Since last night was Valentine's (Wellingtons, Talents, whatever) Day we had to go out, and this time it was my turn to provide the goods.

I decided on dinner at Diva - cos it's cute, and yummy and the service is good and doesn't take too long, and the prices are pretty good too. We had sparkling wine, pizza and red wine. Mmm!

Dinner was followed by a spot of theatre. We went to see Everybody Else (is F***ing Perfect) at the Baxter's upstairs Intimate Galley theatre.

Here's a bit from one of the reviews:

"Everybody Else (is f***ing perfect)' is a sharp and poignant tale of the bitter pill of reality — or rather the impossibility of sustaining ‘the fantasy’.

Newly married Gavin and Cathy — still in marital bliss — have taken Cathy’s older sister Traci in under their roof, after she has run away from yet another relationship.

Dark little secrets emerge when the catalyst Jared — Traci’s latest young barman ‘boyfriend’ — enters their lives. Gavin, Cathy and Traci are all deluded — living the fantasy which they choose to believe is true, until their worlds collide and inevitably shatter." ...

"As heavy as it sounds, the play is light, comical, raw and refreshing — especially since it is surprisingly short. It’s definitely worth seeing… if not only to make yourself feel better. "

It was quirky, shocking, funny, light-hearted, and cringe worthy at times. Overall a clever play which was very well choreographed and produced.

The theatre is really small and intimate, and we had front row seats, so were right on the edge of the stage. I thought the dark-haired girl over-acted a little, but other than that is was very well done, and very entertaining. Well worth seeing.

"If you loved the films “Little Miss Sunshine” or “The Office”, you’ll love this dark comedy where everything is not as it seems."

Wednesday, 14 February 2007

My Health & Fitness Assessment

I went for a Vitality Virgin Life Care Health & Fitness Assessment last Thursday (mainly to earn Vitality points so I can get back to Gold status - because I missed it by a paltry 1500 points last year pah! - you need 100 000).

So off I went before my kata-box class. I still had a lingering lurgy lurking, and my legs felt a bit stiff, but what can you do?

My health measurements were as follows:

Weight: 58kgs
(Note this scale seemed to be set too high, the one in the gym change room said 55.2kgs (no shoes) and the one in the 'life-zone' said 55.7kgs (with tackies), so this one is was just evil! and of course it affects the BMI and body fat calculations too. Grr.)
Height: 165cm

BMI: 21.3
('Healthy norm' apparently)
Waist Circumference: 68cm
('Within Healthy recommendation')
Body Fat percentage: 27%
('Acceptable' Boo Hoo.)
BP Systolic: 100

BP Diastolic: 70
(It's always low, normally less than that, more like 90/60...)
Cholesterol: 3.5 mmol/L
(at last check)
Glucose: prolly 4-5 mmol/L
(was 5.5 when elevated in pregnancy)

Non-Smoker: Good
Alcohol Usage: 'Within acceptable health limits'

Nutrition: Good

Fruit & Veg intake: Good

My Maximum Functional Capacity -
Done as a (25cm) step test with 4x 2-minute stepping intervals with increasing tempo, and 1-minute rest breaks between them:
Max Functional Capacity: 45.6
(no idea what that means)
Max HR (bpm) - 144

Avg HR (bpm) - 108

Duration (min) - 12

Comment: Your Maximum Functional Capacity is 45.6 which is excellent for your age and gender.


Straight Leg Raise (deg) - 92
('Acceptable' - my leg was stiff and he was too gentle with me.)
Sit-and-reach stretch
(touch toes) (cm) - 55 (Above 39 = 'Excellent')

Muscle Endurance:

Crunches in 1 min: 43
(Just missed excellent by 1 sit up...)
Push-Ups in 1 min: 33
(Above 31 'Excellent' YAY!)

My overall result was excellent thanks to me being pretty fit and flexible. So the yoga and running and kata-boxing has paid off. But my body composition is my lowest score, and is in the high end of the acceptable range. Not sure how to change that very much... The Biokineticist said he didn't think that was a true reflection, and he would list me as 'excellent' - 'especially after having 2 kids'. Er thanks - I think...

Anyway overall I am happy with that, and I seem to be doing ok. It was a fun and interesting thing to do.

Happy 'Talents Day'

Here are some funny things said by the kids this week.

Quinn on reading grandpa's e-mail which said 'fantastically' ... 'Fanta... hey why is grandpa writing about Fanta?'

Quinn after burning his fingers on a toasted marshmallow at cubs and getting a blister on his thumb and index finger; the one on his index finger popped. 'My blisters are called Dominic and Tominic. Dominic is dead now.'

When I suggested we make banana bread when we get home, and said, 'Who will mash the bananas?'
Quinn: 'Me, I will.'
Griffin: 'I'll get the bread!'
er not quite what I was thinking of...

Griffin after carrying a ream of paper back and forward to school on his back for *4* days, when asked why he didn't unpack it, 'It was too heavy to take out of my bag...'.
When asked why he didn't ask the teacher to help him with it, 'There's no time, it's work time, then story time, then play time, there's just no time to ask her...'
Who knew pre-school had such a hectic schedule!

Griffin, for Valentine's Day: 'Happy Talents Day mommy'
'Can I come with you to talent's day tonight? I want to see all the talents...'
That might be a more fitting name for it actually.

Saturday, 10 February 2007

Quinn's first project

Quinn has just finished his first school project (of many many to come I am sure!). Of course the novelty will wear of eventually, but I was so excited by this. *grin*

He had to make a 'Time Line of My Life' using a large sheet his teacher had given him. It was an A3 sheet of paper marked into 6 sections. He had to put pictures of himself with captions for each block.

I am not sure exactly what they are wanting, but I went and bought some blue cardboard yesterday so we could stick the paper sheet onto to make it nicer, and stronger, and more like a 'proper' project. Quinn's granny also gave him a book of coloured project paper a while ago so we used that to brighten it up a bit, and I printed off various photos of him at work yesterday.

Last night we got to work. I helped Quinn to conceptualise the layout and to write out the large letters for his name. He cut out the letters, and pasted them on the cardboard. He also chose and cut out all the photos he wanted. We decided each section could represent one year in his life. He wasn't sure what to write, so I spoke to him about the various things that happened during each year. Eventually he chose something and made up a sentence or two, which I wrote out for him. He then copied the sentences out on paper (half from memory and only looking when he needed to) and cut them out.

We finished it this morning. I helped him to figure out how to fit it all in and how to plan the layout and to decide what to paste first etc. Then he pasted everything down and then coloured all the pictures in the middle in and wrote 'By Quinn' and voila, project finished.... and it's not even 2am on Sunday yet. LOL.

This is the finished product.

So overall a great start to the realm of projects.

Friday, 9 February 2007

Merit Badge and Star of the Week

Quinn has won the merit badge at school ... and the certificate for STAR of the WEEK!

At Rondebosch Boys' each grade has 2 merit badges. Deserving boys are awarded the merit badge at the Friday assembly, and get to wear the badge for a week. The selected boy's names are called and they have to stand up in front of the school, while the school is told what their merit badge is being awarded for, they also get a small certificate to keep.

They have also started a new system this year where deserving boys are awarded a 'Star of the Week' certificate for some special achievement.

It took him till May to win the merit badge last year, so I am very proud that he has not only managed to get it in the first few weeks of the year, but was also awarded the merit for 'Good handwriting and neat work'. Something which he has not previously excelled in. In fact, I told him it was an awesome thing to earn it for - and the only thing which could top that would be to win it for finishing his work...

Well what do you know? Yesterday he came home with the 'STAR of the WEEK' certificate for; 'Working fast and beautifully'. I could not be more proud! What an achievement!

Way to go Quinn!

Thursday, 8 February 2007

Need some perspective?

So you think you or your problems are REALLY important?

Get some perspective...

Wow, not feeling so 'big' any more huh?

(Note: I am not sure who these images are credited to, they were sent to me... Let me know if there is any copyright infringement that you know of.)

Be Cool

This is one of the latest drives in the fight against Global Warming.

Global Cool.

The blurb from the site:

" Let's save a planet

Unless you live in a monastic retreat or are allergic to the news, you'll know that global warming is coming and it's not good. What is good is that you can now do something about it. Welcome to Global Cool.

Global Cool is BIG. Global Cool is here to stir anyone who cares about the planet to do their bit to save the planet they care about. And last time we counted, that was around six and a half billion people or so. More powerful than governments, more vocal than corporations, we are our own best shot at it: The People versus Global Warming.

With its simple Be Cool actions, Global Cool will help... Everyone knows that they ought to save the planet; Global Cool will help people want to. Global Cool includes a growing gang of the biggest names in entertainment (names - let's drop a few: Scissor Sisters, Orlando Bloom, The Killers, Flea, Kate Bosworth, Sienna Miller, Leonardo DiCaprio) and with their shows, their programmes, their Cooltube uploads and playful SMS reminders they will sing to you, tell you stories and tease you until you care.

Scissor Sisters

Global Cool is STRONG. By getting as many people as possible to do their bit to save a planet, Global Cool will actually slow down global warming. This isn't cheap talk: Global Cool is not only backed by the biggest names in entertainment, it's also backed by the biggest brains in environmental science who know that a billion people x a modest reduction of one tonne of CO2 per person = a billion less tonnes of CO2 = a significant slowdown in global warming.

If that all sounds good - and hopefully it does - just remember that absolutely nothing happens if everything is left to everyone else. So you know what to do. Sign up, save a planet and enjoy."

What can YOU do?

Be Cool

Turn your heating down

Turn your heating down

Not by much - just by one degree. You save a bundle of energy and if you do feel slightly colder (unlikely) you can always wear an achingly fashionable jumper.

(This is not hard in SA, and when it does get cold in winter heat just the room you are in, and keep the door closed to keep the heat in. We try to use heats while we are dressing only, the rest of the time dress warmly and snuggle under a blanket! Air-conditioning is just as bad, go for a swim if you are hot and open some windows. Also get your company to turn the air-con off over week-ends when no one is there - Vodacom does this already..)

An average family can save 0.4 tonnes of CO2 a year and a lot of money

Be Cool

Take a stand against standby

The green button - a shocking name because a TV left on standby still burns vast quantities of energy. Why not burn a few calories by getting up off your chair and turning it off properly?

( Admittedly we don't do this... resetting all the timers would be a pain on the video machine and DVD player and hi-fi etc, I think I'll work on the others first.)

An average family can save 150kg of CO2 a year

Be Cool

Unplug that charger

Unplug that charger

Most gadget chargers eat electricity even when not in use. So once you've powered up your PSP, iPod or mobile, be sure to power down its greedy little charger.

(This is easy! Think how many cell phone chargers are out there. EVERY family has at least one charger, usually many more. I have unplugged our cell, and battery chargers now.)

An average family can save 7kg of CO2 a year

Be Cool

Don't boil over

Don't boil over

Kettles love guzzling energy as much as you love drinking tea or coffee. So if you need a cup, boil a cup's worth and no more.

(We mostly half-fill our kettle when we boil it, but I am guilty of ending up boiling it 2-3 times before I actually make that cup of coffee. Naughty!)

An average family can save 45 kg of CO2 a year

Be Cool

Try not to fly

Stay grounded

Hey hotshot, do you really need to fly to that meeting? Do you really need to holiday abroad? And those relatives across the world - if they really loved you, wouldn't they move closer?

(Our family has been guilty of this one in the past few years...I blame work. Damn this one is tough because it's a biggie. Richard is flying again in 2 weeks and we are planning another trip together in a few months.)

An average family can save 4 tonnes of CO2 a year and a suitcase full of cash

Be Cool

Turn out the bright lights

(Don't) see the light

If you don't need them on then switch them off, they waste so much energy. And if you're scared of the dark, trust us, there really are no ghosts.

(We are good at this one. We only put on light that we need, not to decorate the house inside and outside etc, we also turn lights off when we leave a room. Only the kitchen, passage and lounge lights stay on all evening. At bedtime all lights are off.)

An average family can save 4 tonnes of CO2 a year and a lot of money

Be Cool

Use better energy

Use better energy

Switch to a supplier that generates electricity through wind, water and solar power. It only takes a phone call and it still comes through your wall sockets.

(We are pretty much stuck with Eskom here, there is not other energy provider, but I fully support the idea of a second nuclear power station alongside Koeberg, and am thinking about getting some solar geyser heaters put in. We may put a gas stove in at some point too. We need to turn our geyser temp down further too, it's still hotter than it needs to be. )

An average family can save 1.7 tonnes of CO2 a year

Be Cool

Take a low-power shower

Take a low-power shower

Showers use nearly half the water of baths and cost a whole lot less to heat. If you really must take a bath, save energy and share it with a really dirty friend.

(We normally share bath water, and I try not to fill the bath up too much. We have also been substituting swimming for bathing with the kids on alternate nights during summer.)

An average family can save 4 tonnes of CO2 a year and a lot of money.

Be Cool

Buy better bulbs

Buy better bulbs

Low energy bulbs give out the same amount of light but run on a third of the power. So unless you live in a nightclub, change over.

(All our lights are low-wattage fluorescents now except for 2 large-sized outside bulbs - which we don't use very often.)

An average family can save 200kg of CO2 a year

Be Cool

Stuff the freezer

Stuff the freezer

Freezers work best when they are tightly packed - that way, they don't have to work so hard to freeze air space. A great way to justify some extra tubs of ice cream.

( OUr freezer is small, but it is usually pretty full. I try to keep it well sealed, and a pet peeve is people who leave the fridge and freezer door open for ages! I hate that.)

An average family could save a bundle of CO2 a year

Be Cool

Don't drive

Don't drive

Walk, go by horse, run, rollerskate, take a coach, bus or train. Or at the very worst, hitch a lift. Do not in any circumstances drive an obscene gas guzzler on your own on a weekday or a weekend.

( In SA we are pretty reliant on our cars. We have minimised our travel though, we live within 2km of both schools and I work only 12km away, and Richard works from home, so we drive only 30-50km a day combined. My new car (Fiat Panda) is a low CO2 emission model and has low fuel consumption. We sold the gas guzzling beamer and Richard uses the Hyundai - 10-20 km a day.)

All our lights are low-wattage fluorescents now except for 2 large outside bulbs - which we don't use very often.

An average family could save masses of CO2 a year

Be Cool

Wrap up your home

Warm up your home

Insulate your loft space, cavity walls, hot water pipes or boiler. Draught-proof your doors, windows, letterbox or cat flap. Keep your home a little warmer and your planet a little cooler.

( We still need to get our geyser 'blanket' we were on the list to get one, but then our geyser needed a repair and they never came back with the blanket, I must follow that up. We must insulate the ceiling too - it also helps with the winter rain damp in the ceilings in Cape Town.)

An average family could save 3.8 tonnes of CO2 a year and a lot of money

Be Cool

Lower your laundry

Lower your laundry

Wash your clothes at a lower temperature, say 30 degrees rather than 40 or 60. It uses way less energy and your clothes still come out sparkling white unless they were black to start with.

(We only launder cold, our washing machine doesn't have a heater and we don't have a hot tap plumbed for the washing machine. It's great I never had stretched and creased clothes anymore!)

An average family can save 90kg of CO2 a year

Be Cool

Buy local food

Buy local food

Veg from a mile away is just as tasty as veg from half the world away and doesn't have to be flown to you in energy-guzzling airplanes.

( I pretty much only buy locally available fresh produce which is in-season. But do buy imported non-perishables at times. I think the vast majority of what I buy is SA produced though.)

An average family can save 4 tonnes of CO2 a year

So how Global Cool is your family?

Wednesday, 7 February 2007

Ethical Consciousness

After my recent rant, Richard has pointed out the following worthy causes by aware and concerned people in the public eye.

Sarah McLachlan chose to spend the +-$150 000(USD) it would have cost to shoot a fancy music video for her song World on Fire on more chartable and worthy causes, and spent only $ 15 on the video itself. Here's what the money was used for instead.

And Chris Martin of Cold Play supports the Make Trade Fair Campaign, as seen here during the Glastonbury festival.

I also found the following articles:
Celebrities Launching Campaign to Fight Global Warming
Celebs turn the spotlight on global warming
Celebrities are Hot on Global Warming

and of course we all know about the long standing and ongoing work of people like Angelina Jolie, Bono and Sting.

Big up to them!

Here's a wonderful website full of info, suggestions and resources. Take a look!
ONE DEGREE: Climate Change, Global Warming and Environmental Resources.

He's an idiot son of an asshole

Go to, select pages from South Africa, type in idiot, and click on I'm feeling lucky.


Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Quinn's Meccano Construction

I forgot to post an update on the Meccano set Quinn got for Christmas.

This is the box.
And the book that came with it.
This is the flying machine - work in progress.
And the completed product...
It is battery operated and the helicopter-like blades can turn in either direction.

It has several other pieces and we can dismantle it and turn it into 2 other contraptions - a motor cycle and a fixed wing plane (I think).

Monday, 5 February 2007

Babies no more.

I suddenly realised last night that babyhood has completely left my house.

We have no more nappies, baby clothes, baby toys, baby furniture or baby bodies.

Griffin has suddenly gone from a baby talking, chubby, toddler, to a board-flat tummied, toned, tanned, garrulous and assertive little boy. He can now write his name, colour in the lines, swim, make his own toast (cut into neat little squares), recite his address and phone number, and will express a considered opinion on almost any topic.

When did that happen?

I miss the chubby cheeks, stick-out baby belly, and thigh rolls ;)