Thinking & Feeling

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

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Spot the difference

Notice anything different...?
Here's another clue....

Got it yet?! J

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Boys won't get to Change their Surnames

So it seems to be official the Boys Won't Get to Change their Surnames after all.

My ex Mother in Law managed to get hold of my ex finally... and he said NO. Just like that. After 3 years of nothing. No interest shown to us. No care, support, cooperation, no responses, AT ALL. He has now decided he will respond by blocking this.

So my case for the court order, which was based around him being MIA, un-contactable - or at least entirely unresponsive - and hence not appearing to give a crap, no longer holds and he has now effectively and actively blocked this avenue.

I would like to say I was not upset, but I was. I wanted, and maybe even needed, this next step of autonomy. So we can get on with our lives and do the things we need to without having to worry about him, or having to grovel to get him to sign a form or letter, or give consent for us to have the liberty of simply living our lives independently*, as he no doubt gets to do.

In fact it irritated me more than just a bit that after 3+ years of zero contact at all, no calls, cards, emails and not a cent of maintenance since we got divorced 4+ years ago that he now feels the need to assert some kind of right.

The boys were upset too. They have said that although we can not officially process this now and they do have to keep their paternal surnames legally, they won't use it. So for all intents and purposed they shall stay Frasers. 

THEY chose to change them along with mine 3 years ago, they have chosen to keep using them now, and they have said that as soon as they are old enough they'll simply change their surnames themselves.

They have said they would rather perpetuate my family's name going forward and do not want their father's name. (I can't say I blame them. Though I will not direct them or try to influence them further on this. It is entirely their choice.)

Interestingly though on hearing this news, THEY have now asked me to pursue the maintenance issue. Which again was not something I was planning to do, but  it is their right. And again if I don't do it they will be within their rights to pursue it themselves if they wish. 

I am going to think about it. Because if he is going to start to assert his right, we really should start thinking about asserting responsibilities too. But I strongly suspect it would be futile, fruitless and frustrating exercise and I have neither the energy nor inclination to re-engage in any kind of negative energy with him. Again though I will take my cue from the boys on this as they are and always have been my primary concern and responsibility.

* He will need to give consent for us to travel now, as I expect once we are on separate named passports I will get questioned when crossing borders. But I will have to tackle this when we get there.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

WWYD? Maintenance

What are your views on maintenance?
Should the father have to pay?

What if he was unstable and lost his job and had nothing?
What if he hadn't been in contact for over 3 years?
What if you had never got a cent from him at all since the day of your divorce well over 4 years ago?

What if he is working now and seems to be more stable and coping?

What if you had been stoically and proudly coping ON YOUR OWN all this time?

What if you contacted him simply to request consent for changing the children's surnames and renewing passports, nothing else, but this was blocked and ignored? (passport renewal in his name now agreed)

What if there was a very real risk you'd lose your job soon due to the company facing financial difficulties?

What if your children are tired of sharing and having hand-me-downs and second-hand goods and budget and non-name everything and THEY are asking you to pursue him for maintenance?

What Would You Do?

What should I do??

This is tough, very tough. Yest again I am sucking it up because I don't want to rock the boat or upset him (God know I have spent enough of my life facilitating him and pussy footing around so as not to upset HIM), but is it best for MY CHILDREN? Really?? I thought it was, now I am not so sure. I think I am effectively doing them out of opportunities but being proudly and adamantly independent and self-sufficient.

Any advice or opinions on this VERY WELCOME.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Look what we made!

Tomorrow is Griffin's birthday. So he needed something to take to school to celebrate with.

We decided on Angry Bird cupcakes.
It took us ALL afternoon and evening, and included a cycle to the shops for more bits and pieces but...

I present to you Griffin's Birthday Angry Bird & Pig Cupcakes!

I baked the cupcakes and everything... the boys helped to decorate.

The pig's snouts were not easy! So they are not as neat. But I am pretty chuffed with how they came out. :)

Friday, 9 November 2012


Most Amazing Surprise Helicopter AKA The Most Incredible Surprise

2 weeks ago on a Sunday I was just going about my day when A called and asked if I could get to the Waterfront by 14:30.

 I told him I had the plans to climb Lion's Head from 17:00 and had stuff to do and had to prepare for that but otherwise yes. So we agreed to meet there and he said I'd be done by 16:30 and could go straight to Lion's Head from there. Cool, so I carried on with my day. I had suggested we go see the Rodriguez movie the night before but he'd not been keen, so I thought 14:30-16:30 sounded like we'd be going to see the movie. Not my first choice on a really stunning still and sunny day in Cape Town, but hey who am I to argue…?

 So I got us ready and packed up and off we zooted to the Waterfront and waited at the Big Wheel as instructed.
 Next thing A appears and gestures me to follow him quickly down the ramp to where the boats are moored and next thing I'd signed and indemnity form and was on a golf cart being whisked away to…

 Huey Helicopter Combat Mission
Huey Helicopter Combat Mission
The Huey helicopters were extensively used in the military and is generally considered to be the most widely used helicopter in the world. Easily identifiable by it's thundering sound and iconic shape, playing a predominant role in several Hollywood blockbusters such as Apocalypse NowM.A.S.HFull Metal Jacket and Platoon.
Now you also get to enjoy a white-knuckle experience during The Simulated Combat Flight with the wind rushing in throughopen doors, and ground-hugging maneuvers adding to the thrill.
For the less adventurous a selection of scenic flights are just as enjoyable with open doors allowing for unobstructed views and the best possible helicopter experience in Cape Town.
It was indescribably frikken incredible! But it all happened so fast it almost feels like a surreal dream. I had no time to anticipate it or build up any excitement. Sometimes I forget it even happened! It was a birthday gift from some of his colleagues and he chose to use it with me.. WHEEE!

I have never been on a helicopter before and this isn't any old chopper-flip it is a adrenalin-pumping stomach-churning 30-mins of extreme exhilaration  Dips, turns, stalls and super low-flying manoeuvers over the sea and the dunes and the hills, grasslands and forested areas of the West Coast. The views and sensations are simply awesome. We skirted the cats seeing shipwrecks and kite-surfers and people playing on the beach. At one stage we went inland and roared down a jeep track with trees right next to us, and we dive bombed some off road bikers too. That was pretty fun.

Anyway photos and better article explaining what it's like follows. But wow what a super awesome experience. THANK-YOU!
 This write up describes the experience really well.
"I love the smell of Cape Town in the morning."  I haven't even seen Apocalypse Now, but I know the line well enough to misquote it. I spoke gruffly, with a dodgy American accent.  I couldn't help myself – I was in a Huey, the iconic combat air vehicle and star of so many films, and I was revved up for a Combat Mission flight.  The rotors were settling into steady whump whump overhead, and the sound system was playing The Doors' This is the End.
Those were the only doors of course.  The Huey is instantly recognisable for its lack of them, a fact which lends a huge boost of extra naughty thrill for a passenger.  My nerves, already stretched with anticipation, had been teased further by the pilot, Lee, who instructed that all bags and sunglasses, loose scarves etc. must be left in a locker because if anything flew out of the plane and into the tail rotor, it could bring the whole 'copter down.  Yikes.
There are many fantastic sightseeing tours over Cape Town but to travel in a Huey offers something a bit different. Not least is there fantastic visibility through the gaping holes in the sides, but there is the sensation of the sky flowing around you and the relentlessness of the massive noise of the rotors which create a sonic boom on each rotation.  The noise is an integral part of the experience.  Not for nothing is the Huey known as the Harley Davidson of the sky… and we were about to put it through its paces.
We flew almost directly north of Table Mountain, up over the curve of Table Bay, leaving the city bowl behind us – a blotch at the bottom of the vast mountain.  The surfers paddling out below us gazed up in awe.  I was watching our shadow flit across the waves when an unmistakeable outline appeared – whales.  We swooped down low and around them, one after the other – six or seven in total of the slow, silent behemoths of the deep.  What a sight.
To have spotted whales from a helicopter would have been exciting enough, but the last of the stretches of houses and golf courses lining the beach were petering out and we were on a mission.  We headed in a little from the beach and Lee took us right down, skimming the top of the long wild grass, heading straight for a hill.  It was just like the films – that classic scene in every film featuring a helicopter – where it bursts out unexpectedly from behind a grassy knoll or a building or a sand dune… that was us!  And Status Quo was blasting "You're in the Army Now…"
As we skimmed and dived and pirouetted over the waving grasses, I was amazed at the grace of the machine. How extraordinary that something built solely for the purposes of war could be so elegant and precise… though maybe that's exactly the point.  Even the noise of the rotors seemed a part of the dance, with crescendos and diminuendos rising and falling with the speed and angle of the machine. Only with any sudden lift did I feel that stomach lurching sensation, but nothing like the battering the fairground Waltzer gives. Sometimes the Huey seemed to be almost on its side but, Wall-of-Death-like we were glued to our seats, gaping stupidly as the ground came up to meet us.  Time after time we looped and curved and rolled, often just a couple of feet from the ground, and the view changed from blue sky to blue sea to green grass with only Table Mountain in the background as a steady reference point. Awesome.
Ah, the things I put myself through for you readers.  Well, as Hawkeye once said in that other Vietnam film, M*A*S*H,  "It was the least I could do. I always do the least I can do."
Here's a youtube video so you can see what it is like:
"Huey helicopter trip cape town" — This is footage of a helicopter trip i took on a visit to cape town, south af...

Quinn Soon to Have Contacts in Eye Places

We went to Q's eye appnt today. 

Good news is that physiologically he looks ok. The opthalmologist says he is not concerned about anything developmental and that this is probably pure genetics. He says from what he can tell Q should be able to have Lasik in future. 

For now he is getting specs - with super thick lenses - with an updated prescription, and we are going to trial some contact lenses. Both the Optometrist & Opthalmologist think the contacts should allow him to see better, as the thick lenses on specs cause some, erm what's the opposite of magnification?... 'smallination' so while they crisps things up it actually makes them smaller and harder to see. Which he says explains why Q can't read the smaller letters on the test charts and that this should improve with contacts.

He has been asking for contacts for a while now, and I told him it was going to depend on personal hygiene habits and maturity and I think we are pretty much there now. So we are going to go ahead and try that out!

In the mean time we await the contacts and new specs.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Quinn Aaai Issues

So we have to go see an Opthalmologist tomorrow...

Quinn is 12 (nearly 13) and has been wearing prescription specs since he was around 8 years old. His first prescription was -1.5 in both eyes. His eyes have deteriorated steadily and quite rapidly since (his father's family all have/had fairly bad eye sight) and his latest test on Tues showed R- -6.5 and L - 6.75 and he also has astigmatism. The optometrist thought it was a good idea for him to be seen by an opthalmologist to ensure there are no other issues or factors we should be managing. She is concerned about how fast and steadily his eyesight is declining and it shows no sign of slowing down.

Aaai. This poor child. Bad hearing AND Bad Eyesight! That just sucks donkey-balls man!

This shows how his sight has declined since 2008:

Monday, 5 November 2012

Luleka Exchange Part 2

So after Quinn's 'Khayaletsha Bra' Sandile  came to stay, the boys from our school were meant to have a reciprocal exchange with the Khayaletsha school 'Luleka' the next month. Sadly there was some political instability in the area triggered by the truck driver's strike and the Luleka teachers advised that the area was not completely safe at the time and so our boys never got to sleep over or spend time going to school in Khayaletsha. This is disappointing because I think it would have been a very valuable learning experience for our boys and by all accounts this is usually memorable and enriching for them. Anyway there was not much we could do about it.  So what they did instead was break the exchange into 2 parts.

On the first day our boys went through to Khayaletsha and attended a children's home and had a township tour. Including a visit to Mzoli's where apparently they got to sample 'Smiley'. I knew it as 'skop' (short for skaap-kop) but Smiley seems to be the accepted vernac. Quinn says he ate a part of the cheek. Brave boy!

The second day was a Sunday visit to the school itself where parents could join in , and I did, where we set about gardening  and painting and generally giving the school a spring-clean and face-lift. We worked hard painting and cleaning and chatted and played a little bit too. Afterwards the teachers and parents of Luleka served us a yummy lunch – chicken, rolls, worse and salads. The lady in charge (who I think is the head or deputy head of the school) is such a warm and loving woman. I loved her to bits!
Griff showing off one of the poles we painted. There were well over 100 we had to paint in the end. Those buggers were everywhere! There's no before pic, but they looked pretty grotty and we really helped to spruce them up. G was a star and worked like a champ.
Quinn spent most of his day with another group, painting and cleaning inside. He also did a spot of gardening and found this cute carrot.
All in all it was a fulfilling and worthwhile experience. It was actually quite fun. I like exposing my boys to this kind of thing so they can see how other people live and to realize that they are pretty privileged… as well as to see how strong a community these people have which is something we are a bit lacking!

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Lion's Head 28 Oct 2012

Last Sunday evening I took 3 ladies from work up Lion's Head. Neetha and Manut are from Chennai (India) and have been working here for 6 months and will be going back soon. They have not had much of a chance to see the sights of Cape Town, and Elana – while a local, grew up in the Northern Suburbs so – has never been up Lion's Head before either.

It was a simply perfect evening and we really enjoyed the trip.

I do love Lion's Head! 

Mr Bendy

We saw this guy at the waterfront last week... how crazy stretchy is he hey!?
Wow – OW!

Greenpoint Park

The boys and I spent an hour or 2 at Green Point park last week-end.

It really is a lovely place. So beautiful, fun and tranquil. We live in a wonderful place.

Halloween 2012

This was me on Wednesday…
 The guys at work kinda liked it... until they looked UP and saw the rest of me.
Let's just say they were very confused and conflicted that day.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Hairy Scary!

We had to dress up at work on Wednesday for Halloween. The brief was 'Hairy Scary'. Being me, I took this quite literally. I borrowed some of Quinn's dress-up gear and ended up with THIS!
 Some of the others….

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Boys' School ANA Results

The Schools here do ANA (Annual National Assessment) Test in English (primary language) and Mathematics.

As far as I can establish this is both to assess the performance of the particular learner as well as the school/district, to see if they are on track and doing ok. It does not go towards their pass mark for the year but is used as a tool to decide if intervention is required, on either an individual or whole school/district basis -  I THINK.

I found this which explains:
ANA is intended to provide regular, well-timed, valid and credible data on learner achievement in the education system. Assessment of learners' performance in the GET Band (Grades 1- 9) has previously been done at school level. Unlike examinations that are designed to inform decisions on learner promotion and progression, ANA data is meant to be used for both diagnostic purposes at individual learner level and decision-making purposes at systemic level.

At the individual learner level, the ANA results will provide teachers with empirical evidence on what the learner can and/or cannot do at a particular stage or grade and do so at the beginning of the school year. Schools will inform parents of their child's ANA performance in March 2011.

At systemic level, ANA provides reliable data for policy decisions related to provision and support required at various levels of the system.  The ANA will make it easier for district offices to determine where support is most urgently needed and by allowing principals, teachers and parents to plan in a more informed manner how to improve performance.

The ANA will be administered and marked by teachers, moderated by districts. At national level, the DBE will also sample scripts for moderation (limited to Grades 3, 6 and 9) to check if marking was done consistently across districts and provinces. Schools will then report individual learner results to the learner's parents. In the schools that shall be sampled for independent external verification of ANA at Grades 3, 6 and 9 marking and reporting to the Minister will be done by an independent agent.

Anyway the boy's got their reports today and this is how they've faired:

Quinn - Grade 6
Language -     90%    (Grade average of school 79%)
Mathematics - 72%   (Grade average of school 69%)

Griffin - Grade 4
Language -      76%   (Grade average of school 77%)
Mathematics - 86%   (Grade average of school 83%)

Considering they get very little homework supervision or extra coaching, I'd say they are doing pretty darn well.