Thursday 30 April 2009

The Vase

When we were living in New York we invited a couple to our home for dinner after having enjoyed an evening at their place. They arrived and the wife handed over a box from Pottery Barn, not the usual bottle of wine, chocolates or flowers but a beautiful frosted red/brown vase.
For some reason I am affected every time I see that vase. What is it about it? I have no idea, the bearer of the gift is a lovely person but we have no contact, in fact that dinner was the last time I ever saw them.
But something happens inside me when I see that flower receptacle...a lifting of my spirit, a tug deep inside. It is peaking out from the top of my kitchen cupboard in one of the pictures I put on my blog and even there in the picture it caught my eye. I am not a hoarder or a gatherer, am not over sentimental about THINGS but I cannot bear the though of ever losing that vase. Weird.

Monday 27 April 2009

Showers that don't make you wet

We have a mini baby boom going on with our SA friends, yep two of my fellow Africans in Dublin are pregnant, a baby boom because our circle is kinda small, and if you count it in couples the percentage is high :)


I decided to throw Kelly a small intimate baby shower to celebrate the coming of their bouncy boy or girl. A brunch was my choice for the late morning gathering and a very surprised Kelly walked in to find smiling familiar faces.
Hours before I had been manically mixing spooning and pressing out muffins and scones while Jessica and Carla went about blowing up balloons and hanging banners.

I had managed to make a makeshift (okay, okay) wash line and hung some baby clothes from it in the lounge and once Carla, Jess and Kirstin had completed the look with pink, blue and cream balloons, changed all the items on the mantle piece for fluffy toys and it looked very much like it was supposed to!
Everyone brought along something tasty to add to the groaning table and much fun ensued.

I had asked everyone to bring pictures from their baby days and we had great fun asking Kelly to guess...
I also bought safety pins and Lisa managed to collect the most safety pins from people who said the "word that was not allowed to be said" - B-A-B-Y.
We also all had a go with a pair of scissors and a ball of string to guess the circumference of Kellys bump!
Lisa brought pin the dummy on the baby which was also loads of fun and a fabulous idea.

For once we did not allow the kids to hijack the lounge but we STILL managed to sit around in the open area by the kitchen! Now guess what we were talking about here....

Kirstin wrote a about 20 minutes and here it is:

Babies bring excitement and joy

Will it be a baby girl or baby boy?

Picking out a high chair, stroller and crib

Then baby bottles, dummies and bib.

Dirty fingers, crayoned walls,

Shouting and screaming in the malls.

Fairies, princesses dinosaurs and more

T Rex, fairy tales and folk lore.

Cowboys and Indians boys will play,

In the sunshine every day.

Crowns and fairy princess dress

for the girls with very little mess.

Little fingers, little toes

What it will be nobody knows.

Friday 24 April 2009

SMILE - Lily Allen

Friday again - and I kick the weeekend off with a 7 a side hockey tournament tonight! Last night the Vets festival committee members got together for a meeting and the three of us ended business at 22h00 and then sat around talking until midnight, it was fabulous. Good springboard to the coming weekend!

Wednesday 22 April 2009

Corridor Duty!

Corridor duty is not all bad. It gives you lots of time to reflect…on when last the carpet you are sitting on was vacuumed! We were there to do a job though - keep the battle of the sexes lines well defined by the patterned carpet running along the hotel wing we were in, girls rooms on one side and boys all opposite.
There was only one small unfortunate incident where I got caught up in a prank…but after that I behaved. Yep, it all started innocently enough, I noticed two girls entering a boy’s room with a key card and went to investigate. The boys whose room they were in had hidden their shoes and it was payback time. I stood helplessly by as they began to dismantle their beds! Of course I had to tell them that there were better ways to do things, soap on the toothbrush being one of my personal favourites. Unfortunately I got caught up in the moment and next thing the boys were trying to get into the room and I was hidden in the bathroom where of course I was discovered, the boys got a rather big fright to see me there, oh dear not a very good example, but extremely funny…
After that little hiccup I took my task more seriously and settled down to carpet scrutiny with the other four on my ‘team’.
We decided to let the kids all sit in the corridor and socialise as it was the easiest way to keep an eye on EVERYBODY. Sadly this did not work out very well and a very angry night manager came upstairs to find 29 kids, linen pillows and five adults hanging out in the corridor, OOPS. Unfortunately ONE of the rooms on our floor was occupied – typical. After that everyone was sent to their own rooms and we continued supervision from the corridor and played lie dice. I discovered that I am NOT very good at it. I also learned to play backgammon and think that perhaps adding another board game to our alarmingly big collection may be necessary.
At 02h00 three people went to bed, and I was NOT one of them. Dave and I heard the kids trying to peak under the door (looking for feet) and I hatched a cruel and evil plan...we left shoes outside every noisy room. I guess as a mother of two girls my instinct to keep things in order was too strong. and we prowled the corridor, listening out for stirring and sneaking about noises. At one point I went into one of the girls room just in time to here a thump on the window. I went and flung it open, peeped outside, looked left and right and discovered why the rooms had quietened down - they were all hanging out their windows for flow of conversation purposes! At first they mistook me for one of their own so it was very difficult keeping the laugh out of my voice as I roared for all of them to get into their rooms and go to bed. Somehow I managed though because 5 heads disappeared at alarming speed.
Next we confiscated the handset from the phones as every couple of minutes our hopeful 'it has been quiet for a while' would be shattered by the ringing of a phone in some or other room.
Finally it got quiet - 03h00.... Dave and I lay in the corridor on our pillows and he slowly drifted off to sleep and then I heard a cell phone alarm! I jumped up and stood at the door of the room and listened carefully, some rustling and then silence. I hid around the corner and took in the sight of Dave gently snoring in the corridor with telephone headsets strewn about and had a fit of the giggles. At 04h15 I woke Dave and we finally got to spend a little time in our rooms for some well earned shut eye. In the morning the kids discovered all the shoes and were absolutely flabbergasted that we had such foresight - the cheek of them! They actually commented that they did not think we were clever enough to come up with a low down dirty trick like that!
They forget....that once upon a long time ago I was one of THEM.

Monday 20 April 2009

LAST weekend re-visited

I never finished telling you about my hockey weekend, so a quick run down of the highlights. We spent A LOT of time at the club. Every morning started with breakfast at 10h00 and then it was a day of hockey for the kids, a lot of sweet buying and water carrying by me and a lot of encouragement - they all thought my psoitive thinking was MAD...but humoured me anyway and went from an apalling loss in the first game to a very proud draw in the second - and afterwards they told me how the positive thinking had really helped them, let that be a lesson! 15 year old girls agreeing with an adult - I kid you not.

Slowly but surely I got to know some of them, it was rather daunting I have to say, especially as I did not know ANY of them and they did not know me!

On Saturday night there was a dance, which finally ended at midnight and all the kids trailed off with their families. We walked back to our hotel and came across a bar with tables outside and sat down for a drink. We soon discovered (the gay credit card sign above the door was our biggest clue) that we were at a gay bar and had some very interesting conversations with a very funny guy! Of course it was so pleasant that we had a second round of drinks before finally deciding that bed was probably a wise option due to the fact that we would be faced with 29 U16 year olds again in the morning, a very sobering thought!

Fast forward to Sunday night...we all stayed in a HORRIBLE town (sorry if you live there!) and as it is my policy to find the positive in every situation it is this: the best thing about the town is that I can cross it off a list of "Where I would like to live!"

We all went for a walk and some very strange guy followed us for a while, I stayed back with the boys and kept telling them not to turn around, it was just encouraging weirdo...of course boys being boys...but finally we caught up to the rest of our group and Dr Strange sloped off in a different direction.

After our walk the kids went back to causing mayhem and the adults met on the hotel terrace for a sundowner before dinner. At 20h00 all the kids came up to the restaurant and we had a buffet style meal leaning towards kids favourites...29 vs 5 we did not say a word especially as it was all very edible!

And then the fun began! And I think it should be a post unto itself...

First time for EVERYTHING

So the concert then. The girls and I caught the bus in and walked along the Liffy which was fabulous as we were blessed with blue skies and mild temperatures. Jess and Kirstin put pink sparkly eye shadow on to celebrate the occasion and we all wore comfortable shoes – standing makes this a necessity in my book. I wore my runners and hoped that I would not embarrass my girls. Little did I know that I actually would embarrass them in a way I would not even have imagined.
The opening act was Ray Gun and they were okay but I had been feeling kind of strange all day and after their performance I started feeling a little nauseous – no they were not that bad! I told the girls I was thinking of heading to the back but they did not want me to go so I stayed put. Five minutes later they regretted my company, I felt light headed, put my chin on Jessica’s shoulder and promptly fainted. Typical! The first time I EVER faint is at the 02 packed full of people. I came too and wondered why Kirstin was screaming MOM and in tears, jeez I felt sooo bad, they were terrified. I promptly stood up, confused and somebody handed me their coke which I gratefully accepted. I assured the kids that I was okay and then sat myself down on the floor…eeuuww…and drank my coke. I stayed down for 15 minutes and then took a deep breath and got back up. Luckily that was the end of that nonsense and P!NK came on and everything was right with their world once more. The very first song that she sang was actually the song Jess posted on my blog so that was pretty cool. Watching my children loose themselves in the moment was an awesome experience –they ABSOLUTELY loved every millisecond of the concert and it was unbelievably brilliant, P!nk sure knows how to put on a show. I have been to a few concerts now and I have never experienced anything like it. For all my Face Book friends, the pictures are uploaded – and here is a sampling for the blog too!

Sunday 19 April 2009


I am going to the O2 to see PINK tonight with the girls, we can't wait!

Jess chose the song for the blog...obviously one of her favourites off the Funhouse album...hope I am not the bad influence....

Friday 17 April 2009

Yes Man

I know it is only April BUT the funniest movie so far this year is Yes Man. We have just finished watching it and it is laugh out loud funny. Not since Dumb and Dumber...okay and Wedding Crashers have I laughed so the worst thing is to get a rave review for a movie, watch it and not find it I hope that does not happen after my gushing optimism...but I think Jim Carry is on top form.
Yes it may not all be clever funny but it is good for a laugh..and a few sit up and "maybe we should do that" moments too!

Humble Beginnings

The weekend did NOT get off to a very good start…I couldn’t fall asleep on Thursday night and at 02h15 a very frustrated me got out of bed and dressed for the day in my new white hoodie and tracksuit (not white!) pants. I often marvel at ladies dressed to the nines for flying – comfort is king for me. I made a bee line for the kettle and passed the time chatting to Malcolm, he had been out with work mates and had not made it to bed.
I collected a few people and headed to the airport and arrived on time at 04h00. It was actually really cool because Malcolm had booked the car into the parking opposite the terminal and as you drive up it registers the number plate and the fact that parking has been paid for online and the boom opens automatically, perfect for such an early start. All the kids had been instructed to wear their white hoodies so it was easy to keep the group together and Aer Lingus saw us all and herded us off in small groups and got us checked in quickly which was fabulous.
Security was a piece of cake - I had checked my hand luggage size bag so liquids were not a problem for once.
I tried to sleep on the plane but it was impossible and it is only a 90 minute flight. We were greeted by the U16 Holland coach who had hired a bus for our trip up to the club and on the way we stopped at a hockey shop called Hockey Republic where we drank coffee while the kids played around, called their parents begging for some or other fancy stick etcetera!
After that it was off to the club where all the kids had a two hour fun training session and I finally had a couple of zzz’s on the couch, well actually old train seats – pretty funky.
The weather was fabulous and I made the most of the rays by donning shorts and T-shirt for maximum ray absorption.
All the meals were organised by the club, so we had sandwiches and fruit for lunch and pasta bolognaise for dinner. By 21h30 we finally left the club and made our way on foot to our hotel (about 2km's away) trailing our bags behind us. We were all exhausted but decided that we HAD to go out and have a drink together and so we dashed upstairs freshened up and met in the lobby 10 minutes later. We went to a pub and had a couple of rounds of drinks before admitting defeat and sleep walking back to the hotel to our very comfortable beds.

Thursday 9 April 2009

Wonderful friends

Last night we played our hockey game with the Vets men. We mixed it all up and I played froward, which I have not done in AGES. I was rather trepidacious as I have got rather comfortable at the back and the men are good and I am not sure they suffer fools gladly on the hockey pitch! That is why I have to make extra effort in the kitchen - like Nigella's rice pilaf with the curry Wendy made instead of stock standard boiled rice! I digress.
Left wing was my position last night and by some miracle the ball managed to find me while I was in the D and I scored TWO goals. I also got hit in the chest with the ball - really hard! The good thing is that I realised that it is less painful than I had imagined getting hit would be. After the game Bruce made a joke that I had been taking performance enhancing drugs, of course I was pleased with that comment because I certainly have come a long way since my first mixed game with them!
My friend Hillary also told me that she has freed up her morning so that we can walk up the Great Sugar Loaf today with the girls as she would love to meet them and I was really touched by that. Looks like the Sugar Loaf may not happen because rain is threatening but nothing is stopping us from the coffee and scones at Avoca anyway! I really have been so fortunate there are so many wonderful people in my life, here and back in South Africa. Lucky me.

Wednesday 8 April 2009

Things I am grateful for today

The budget is the budget. Everybody is complaining BUT how can I? Yes I have to pay more, but that is because I have a JOB. I do think that justice needs to be served and assets need to be seized BUT I have decided to keep looking on the bright side, like the cocktail I had last week.... a sunny disposition!

First - My children, I am so enjoying that wake up cuddle and being here with them while they are on holiday

Second - Sheena. I was having my usual self doubt about this silly little blog, a total of 10 visitors today - and I would not mind except that none of them were NOT from home...sniff.
I sat here looking at my blog and just thought how much easier it would be to go onto my dashboard and hit delete. No more stress. Then I got an email from Sheena asking for my blog address...I am a strong believer in signs so enough said.

Third - Sunny skies and a 15 degree reading from my car, in a t-shirt right now!

Fourth - My self indulgent day, a pedicure and french paint - love looking at my toes in my brightly striped slip slops.

Fifth - My new fabric softener...I have just washed my new hoodie and cannot wait to pull it over my head and take a deep breath through my nose!

Sixth - Hockey game tonight against the men's Vets team and a dinner afterwards.

And last but by no means least a great weather forecast for our trip - 20 degrees on Friday!!!! Saturday it drops by 2 but that is still fantastic....I am soooooo excited!!!!!!

Tuesday 7 April 2009

To new experiences

And onward and upward we go. This weekend I am off to keep a watchful eye over the U16 hockey teams - tonight was the final meeting with the parents and players and I am now VERY excited at what lies ahead. I have my own white embroidered tour hockey hoodie and I am READY. The tournament is very well organised, we all meet at the club for breakfast every morning and get fed lunch and dinner there too. On Friday night Emma and I are off to explore the city because the kids all go and stay with host families. I am not sure about Saturday night as yet, I believe the hockey club hosts a disco and I am guessing we have to ensure that our charges keep themselves.... well to themselves! But they do go home with host families again after that.
On Sunday night we all get bussed to a hotel and that is where the guarding takes on a more serious note, we do corridor duty...ALL shifts. Monday we are off to a Disney type theme park and then it is on a coach bus back to the airport for our flight home.

STILL on about that ride...

Where was I? Saturday morning....I think! Firstly downloaded photo's onto the memory stick so that I could print photo's for the frame. Then it was Dundrum for a new hand beater - saving THAT story for another day and some baby clothes for the newest addition to the family - our niece. I got the pictures printed, cannot remember the last time I held actual photographs in my hand! Rose and I met at Butler's for a coffee and then it was home to finish off the picture frame for Sido and to make brownies.
Jess, Sido and Kirstin walked down the road to one of our favourite breakfast places to give Sido an Irish breakfast on her last day. When they got back we presented her with the frame...she was so thrilled she cried! I was so very glad that I had gone to the effort, it was worth it.
People started arriving at 2 and then at 2h45 I had to drive Sido up to school to catch the coach that was taking the Spanish students to the airport. It was all very emotional and the kids all waved the bus off and then it was a mad dash back home to a crowd of friends for my birthday hamburger braai (BBQ).
It was a great afternoon, lots of nice prezzies, great company and food...and wine..and we finally wrapped up at around 22h00 which also meant a good night's sleep! I woke up on Sunday and lay there thinking back on one of the craziest weeks I can remember and feeling rather sad that it was finally time to face birthday is well and truly over for another whole year....

It has been one hell of a ride (Part 3)

The rest of the week passed in a bit of a blur. I do remember driving out to Dunnes 20 minutes away at 21h00 on Monday evening, looking for a pair of wellies that Jess all of a sudden HAD to have for a farm trip on Tuesday. I came back victorious with a fairly funky pair of white wellies with scrawls and birds in black -I may have to photograph them...
Tuesday was another round of late nights, movies if I recall. Wednesday.....all I remember about Wednesday is that I was rolling out mini meatballs to be dropped into tomato sauce at 21hoo and we only ate dinner at 22h00. Oh...and Kirstin went to a friend to do a project, I collected her at 20h00 and she had been fed (baked ham, mashed potatoes and veggies) and looked after, but when she got home and saw the meatballs she opted for a second dinner!
Thursday morning and my head was reeling. I was supposed to go the the Cirque de Soleil with work, I had booked it last year before I knew that we would have Sido staying. Jessica was feeling wretched as she was going out on Friday evening with all the Spanish students and it was my birthday. I was feeling guilty because I had a hockey match on Friday night and so while walking to work with the sun shining down on me I made a decision. No Cirque de Soleil for me, a dinner to celebrate my birthday with my family would be far more enjoyable.
When I got to work I told Alan my plans and gave my ticket to Shelley. Alan suggested I go to Thunder Road Cafe in Temple Bar as it was fun and hip and the kids would love it.
It was terrific, the kids each had a mocktail, I had a couple of cocktails - Sunny disposition was lovely...bonus for me was that my birthday was now stretching over THREE days.
Friday morning i was presented with an array of lovely gifts and then it was a mad rush to get to work on time!
I took a batch of brownies into work - which got demolished and the compliments were almost embarrassing (thanks Nigella) - and got taken out for lunch by my boss, along with 2 other ladies who also had their birthdays in the same week! We were given an extra 30 minutes and it was amazing how nice, long and lazy the lunch seemed!
On Friday evening I went to play hockey and then we all went for a quick celebratory drink. I surprised Malcolm by getting home at 22h00 and a good thing it was too. He had a lot to do and I assisted him for a while making hamburger patties until he booted me out of the kitchen with a nice cold glass of wine!

Monday 6 April 2009

It has been one hell of a ride- Part 2 (THE birthday)

Kirstin turned 13, wow where has the time gone? She is now a bona fide teenager although the characteristics of the metamorphosis have been making themselves present for a little while now. The little girl who would rather die then upset her parents has certainly almost disappeared. We are now faced with defiant glares, fisted hands and flaring nostrils followed by stomping to the bedroom, screaming into a pillow and then a little later slinking downstairs to hug and make it all better. Gotta love it. We started off with gifts, Kirstin is crazy for Twilight so many of her gifts revolved around that theme, the first book (she has the rest, but had not been able to get the first one) a poster, a CD and a voucher for HMV for when the DVD comes out, a jewelery hanging whatchamacallit and some clothes.

Ellen joined us for the day and we all set off to "climb" the Great Sugar Loaf. It was a beautiful day and the views from the top were breathtaking. The walk is surprisingly quick and easy and the kids loved it. The wind was the only horrible thing - it was absolutely icy. After our walk we all headed off to Avoca for lunch and cake, the choice of cakes leaves you reeling but I eventually settled on a passion fruit tart, Malcolm had a berry cheese cake, Jess had a pavlova, Kirstin a Mars Bar rice krispie square, Ellen a rocky road and Sido a pear and almond tart, see what I mean?

After gorging ourselves we had a little wonder around the shop and I found a really nice photo frame for 6 photo's which I decided to buy and fill with photos to give to Sido as a reminder of her Irish holiday with us.

Jessica and Sido had to meet all the other students for ten pin bowling so we dropped them off and headed home. I got stuck into cooking - macaroni cheese with bacon for the birthday dinner (I am not sure Kirstin has ever chosen anything else on her birthday!) a chicken ala king and chilli con carne for the freezer.

All in all we had a great day and Kirstin enjoyed her day thoroughly which is what it was all about!

It has been one hell of a ride - Part 1!

Where do I BEGIN? At the beginning I guess! On Friday 27 March Kirstin celebrated her upcoming 13th birthday with four of her closest friends. It was a night of dancing, DVD's and much laughing fortified by pizza, curly fries, popcorn and a small array of sugar treats. And of course the cake. The lounge was their domain and I knew not to even frustrate myself with trying to get them to bed at any hour and after spending 2 infuriating hours sorting the birthday girls bedroom out (for our Spanish student to occupy) I collapsed into bed. My only request to all the girls was that they kept the noise levels down and did not wake us which they managed admirably.
The following morning I completed the daunting task I had begun the night before and Kirstin's bedroom was finally fit for human habitation at around 11h00. The rest of the day was spent pottering around the house and re-potting some herb plants and cleaning windows. Much personal satisfaction when I was done and sat back to admire my handiwork for the day as I even managed to tackle the formidable attic too!
At 19h00 we drove up to school to collect Sido and I watched with amusement as the Spanish and Irish children were reunited when the bus dispelled all the visiting kids into the car park.
Of course Sido was very shy and it was awful not being able to chat away as her English is not great. My Spanish on the other hand....well it is non-existent. We had bbq steaks, salad, curly fries and peppercorn sauce for dinner and then I had to get ready for the Ladies hockey dinner. I had told my team that I would pop in for a drink after 21h00, I had figured that the kids would all be settled by then.
Hillary collected me and we went to the D4 hotel in Ballsbridge and what fun we all had! A room full of ladies, a free microphone and music....add to that a few too many alcoholic beverages and you have yourself a makeshift karaoke party with some impressive dance moves from the cheering onlookers. Oh, and a discovery....NOT all Irish people can sing.