Cream Cupcakes, Not Guilty ?

When I emailed my mother yesterday and mentioned Robert’s runny tummy, she said maybe he is teething.  I dismissed the notion immediately, because my boy is almost fully grown, how could he be teething again? Besides I was too busy blaming the cream cupcake. I guess I was brainwashed by my ex, who used to claim that even a small ice cream gives him indigestion.

When I picked Robert up from school today he looked tired and unhappy. His teachers told me he has slight temperature and he hadn’t eaten. One of them mentioned teething as well because they noted that one of his cheeks was red and hot. I was still unconvinced until I tried to investigate his gum this evening, and sure enough the gum is swollen on the right bottom side his mouth, so I think we are both going to have some interesting times ahead.

Eating has been almost non-existent, and the runny tummy continues. He also has a little temperature, we are in for some challenging time.

Apart from that the weather in Cape Town is still great, it reached 28 degrees this afternoon. So we did get to the playground, runny tummy and all.

This is another picture of today’s sunset from the playground on the promenade

The Gross Out Phenomenon

Yesterday was another day off school for Robert. He started the day with a terrible bout of diarrhea and went on like this for the rest of the day. I spent considerable amount of time at the changing table trying to prevent a leaking nappy disaster.

Scientifically, an ailment of this nature can only be caused by a virus, but I do not know why I am still blaming the cream cup cakes we both consumed greedily yesterday. I was buying our usual stuff from the supermarket when he saw these ones on the discount table and started crying out : muffin.. muffin, and of course I had to buy him something. Perhaps I made him my excuse because they were discounted and I fancied something sweet.  I think next time there are more wholesome options, and I can buy him ONE bran muffin instead of a whole tray of cream cupcakes.

If it was not for another pressing translation assignment I would have enjoyed today’s break with my son a little more. It was a glorious warm autumn day with blue skies and sunshine, something that this part of the world is renowned for.  I took Robert in his stroller up Victoria Road in the direction of Camps Bay and after a brief rest taking in the views of the Twelve Apostles and Clifton beaches we headed back towards our part of the world, and Robert got to walk as well on the promenade.

We do not get this fabulous weather all the time, though. This past weekend was disastrous in the Cape. The rain and gale force winds wreaked havoc in informal settlements (shanty towns) and on the Cape Flats (where flood damage is always greatest).  I had quite a challenging time because I had to go to work and I was scheduled to drop off Robert with Britt’s nanny at their place.  As is always the case Britt came to the rescue and offered to come and pick us up. She gave me a lift to work and back on that day too, something I only got once from my ex husband since our divorce. Compassion was never one of his strongest points.

On Sunday Robert was due to be with his father and the weather was better. I had the chance to put the laundry out in the sun for a few hours when I came back from work. My ex dropped off our son late and my poor baby was drenched in mud water from the knees down. My ex insisted that I not mention anything because Robert fell in a puddle and was very upset for at least half an hour after that. At home Robbie protested bitterly at being carried into the bath and the subsequent cleanup, but I did not sense anything was wrong, our afternoon proceeded normally with the usual bath-time and bedtime routine.  I was very surprised when my ex phoned just as we were both drifting to sleep to ask how Robert was, it makes me wonder whether my ex was telling me everything about Robert’s misadventure.

Speaking of the tyke. I think he is starting the boy tradition of fascination with the gross. Whenever I change his diaper (and yesterday I had more of this experience than I care to count) he would give a comment on this, either: bum hurting (hetin) – meaning he has a nappy rash , ka ka toiten (he should have used the toilet) or just nappy on/ nappy off. Lately however he started commenting -I think- on the actual contents of the nappy.. gross.  As I wrinkle my nose at the disgusting diapers and try hard to keep the squirming toddler from smearing it everywhere or putting his hands on his dirty bum he would go : “like avocado”… Yuk… Last night he volunteered: “Like Hummus” … I had a hard time fighting my gag reflex while laughing at the same time.

Winter For Sure

Today it rained almost for the whole day and Robert and I stayed at home. We listened to oldies on the radio, we built tower, and I tried to knit.. I had soup for lunch and finished with chocolate pudding with custard – not healthful at all. I hate to admit it but Robert liked the pudding and finished almost half the custard by himself, I hope I am not developing his sweet tooth too much.

Just before sunset there was a little break in the weather and we went out to the shops. Shopping used to be uneventful with Robert, but now it is starting to get more interesting because he is now noticing the things that I try not to buy… Today he said again : want chocolate bar (in his own pronunciation) and I successfully diverted his attention until we headed towards checkout, passing through temptation alley, where all the sweets are strategically placed, and then it became a nonstop call for “open chocolate bar.. open chocolate bar” and this time I ignored his whining completely – it was a small whine really nothing like some children’s tantrums I had the misfortune to observe. Yesterday I bought him a nut and fruit bar when he did the same stunt at Woolworths, and he ate it all on the way home. But even though I would love him to eat more I am not turning this into a habit.

Last Days of Summer

Truly amazing how we moved from 40 degrees plus last week, to low 20s this week. Robert and I are struggling with early cold symptoms and a nagging dry cough because of this drastic change.

We are starting to think hot cereal, and hot milk bottles, when a week ago it was a question of how to keep the milk cold. Well, that’s Cape Town weather for you, now we are in for experiencing four seasons in day and asking a clairvoyant what to wear for the weather, great fun ahead.

Silly Season Stories and Christmas Eve

The glorious South African weather apparently always turns to the worse (cold, wind, rain) for Christmas. Perhaps because heat and humidity are hardly fitting companions for the celebration, or maybe in sympathy with the housewives and kitchen employees who do a tremendous amount of cooking for the occasion, I mean who would even want to think of a roast when it is roasting hot outside.  This held true this year, as Cape Town witnessed gale force winds, unseasonal rain and almost wintry temperatures in the past few days.  The rough seas brought some unexpected consequences for a coastal resort, as people were treated to a white Christmas landscape on the beach, with the ocean foam that settled on the beach. The cool weather which was with us since late Sunday afternoon was an excuse for me to take a break from my daily jaunt to the shops.

Sea Point is becoming crazy in these days. There are tourists, holiday makers, and shoppers and the Main Road is covered with bumper to bumper traffic. These are the days when it is good to be on foot.  Like everyone else I had a busy day today. Robert and I made to the library for story time then off to the bank for some unfinished business. I was grateful that this boring stuff was dispenses with while Robert napped in his buggy. Later I nipped into the post office for some late mail – this is quite a habit with me as you will notice, everything to the last minute.  Actually all the work that I have done today (except for the holiday mail) could have easily waited until after the holidays, but there is nothing like a long weekend to put you in panic. Some of the shops are even open during Christmas day for some time, but still there is a sense of panic to get everything done and bought because some of the businesses close and the shops are not open for twelve hours. Humans are really strange.

As I write this I do not need to buy anything anymore. This year I went overboard, maybe it is to compensate for the long months of hardship, or to prove to myself that there is life after divorce. Perhaps to spite my ex I went out and bought all the things that he did was loathe to waste money on, it is kind of retail therapy I guess.  The last few days were no different, and I was running around for last minute shopping trips even as far as the Waterfront.

I did my last shopping trip to the Waterfront on Friday as Robert was with his father. And on that day I witnessed an unfortunate exchange between a bus driver and an irate would-be passenger, who tried to hail the bus to stop at a traffic circle near the Waterfront shopping complex. The driver did not stop and the irate South African continued running after the bus through the traffic and knocked so hard on the door that he shattered the glass.   Like a horror movie scene the same guy waited with his bloody hand and the next bus stop and screamed at the driver to wait on the side of the road because he had just called the police.  The driver, he claimed had risked injuring him gravely when he drove on as he was holding on to the bus, and his hand got stuck.  I was in the seat next just by the door of the bus, and I remarked that I could not see any of that. The man had irritated me so much with his crazy outburst, but he was adamant that from my vantage point I could not see everything.  The bus driver drove on and did not heed this man, but I can tell that he was shaken by the incident and he took my cell number for reference in case he got further questioning from his boss.  This crazy incident and the total lawlessness of the shopping frenzy at the V&A Waterfront made me vow to avoid it until the end of the holidays. It is a pity because Robert and I could spend a lot of time at the Aquarium, but we will get much more out of it if we wait until the out of town crowd leaves.

My shopping was later restricted to the supermarket in my direct area, and I started planning elaborate but easy menus for a quiet Christmas at home. I bought Stollen, Christmas Pudding, sparkling wine and some cold ham (no roasting for me thanks, I do struggle with simple cooking). But my plans where altered when I received two different invitations for lunch on Christmas Day and on Boxing Day.  Two different moms from my playgroup with Robert, which would be quite nice.

Last Sunday I noticed that the Church on my street ( literally two houses away) is holding a Christmas Carol evening, so I thought I could go there with Robert. We went directly after he went for a walk with his father on the beachfront.  I expected music and a lot of hymns but what I got was somewhat disappointing. The church must have been one of the less famous ones, since the congregation consisted of barely a dozen coloured people.  When I arrived the band was “rehearsing” Silent Night, and there were many miscues and mishaps, and even when they managed to get through a segment without someone dropping out, it just did not sound right.  In the end Robert and I managed to stay for roughly half the prayer evening.  I started out in the last pew but the Pastor asked me to move forward, as it was a relaxed prayer session today. The children, he said, can walk freely and look around, because this is a house. All fine and good but when Robert started chattering in front of the pulpit, I thought it was perhaps getting too much. Although I swear the little one provided some entertainment value for those who could not concentrate on the religious message.  I did not get to hear Silent Night, but managed about half of Joy to the World and one hymn at the beginning.

Personally I like the prayers that offer a universal message of peace, kindness and love, but the intricate issues of Christian faith are rather beyond me. Perhaps I cannot comprehend these ideas because  I was raised in a Monotheist faith.  This is neither the time nor the place to throw my religious convictions (or the lack of them) around so I will desist right here. Next year I will go to a proper Carols by Candlelight, either in Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens or in one of the more glamorous Churches in town.

After all these adventures this week, Christmas Eve is finally upon us. Robert’s father took him again today for a walk on the beach front, and this time I spent most of my break from baby at home. I did tidied up and wrapped up all of our presents, I only had one present to go by the time Robert came back.  As Robert drifted off to sleep I decided that perhaps it would be a good idea to invite his father over for breakfast on Christmas Day, he struck a dejected and sad figure as he dropped off Robert. Maybe I am naive but I am hopeful that he we will maintain a cordial relationship that will benefit our son.

Sunny Days.. Rainy Days

Last week we had the rains and the whole Western Cape turned into a disaster area, with many people displaced and some villages in the mountains rendered inaccessible by road. This was followed by a cold snap, and snow was seen on the mountains in the surrounding areas. The snow had some entertainment value for South Africans, who rarely see it, but the rain, you get sick of it after a while. For us, long spells of rain are a problem because there isn’t enough time for my washing to dry, and Robert only has so many changes of clothes. I did wash some of his clothes and hung them to dry in the bathroom but they did not smell fresh. In fact, last Sunday my ex had the audacity to complain that Robert stank so bad and he had to bath him early in the morning. The laundy did not see any sun last week, and perhaps that is why they picked up quickly the smell of the dirty nappy, but they were clean. When I pointed this out to my ex he said he did not want to hear complaining, and he wanted Robert to be well groomed when he visited with him. His acid comments grated on me badly. I am doing the best that I can under the circumstances. I wash our clothes by hand, while he has the luxury of the washing machine. I keep my sense of humor when baby and cat act up and find it hard to cope with their changed circumstances. I walk behind the little one, patiently straightening the things he messes up, time and time again, and try to play referee between my cat and Jackie’s. It is a hard life though, I am starting to get fed up.

For one Robert is getting more demanding and active, and Jackie’s place is full of clutter. I am the last person to judge, because I am not Miss Order myself, but the fact remains that it is a house that isn’t used to little people walking underfoot. It has too many knick knacks strewn around, and many dangerous bigger ones lurking at every corner. Right by the door there is an African sculpture; it is roughly the same size as Robert and three times as heavy, and it balances on a small base. I cringe to think of the consequences if it ever toppled over while he was close by. There is also the puzzle of the electrical wiring in this old old place. An annoying example is the burglar alarm connected to an adapter with loose and exposed wiring connectors. This faulty adapter is plugged into a power bar, which in turn plugs into the wall socket. The power bar itself resides on the floor unsecured and it is the only electrical point in my room where I can plug my cell phone and tooth brush charger. This strange arrangement makes the burglar alarm susceptible every time I charge my cell phone, or every time Robert or the cat moves in the surrounding area; the loose connections in the adapter disconnect and the burglar alarm starts beeping because it lost power. It happens at least once every other day, and Jackie barges into the room to fix the connection. I bite my tongue every time, but I had this same problem when I lived here three years ago, and that was minus cat and baby. I always thought that this bad connection should be addressed. In addition the general living arrangement are not great for me, Robert and I (and now Petey) are crammed into a small room, and we have very little cupboard space. We do not have many things, but whether I like it or not, baby paraphernalia takes up a lot of space, and makes a huge mess. I find myself constantly tripping over toys, books, and various pieces of accessories and clothing. Most of Robert’s toys have nowhere to put away, so they are constantly floating around, and I try in vain to keep them in order, or even to keep track of them when they try to disappear amongst all the clutter.

On the up side, I really cannot complain. Jackie has allowed us to overflow into other parts of the house. The toys are often lying around in the lounge. Baby strollers ( the old monster that my ex bought and the new lightweight buggy) and also the baby car seat reside in the second lounge, along with a number of my boxes. My computer sits in Jackie’s office area, and although my part of the desk is horribly cramped, it is still adequate. I have successfully delivered my first small project from this very corner, and consider myself blessed to have this little space with its connection to the internet. The connection was down for a few days while I was doing the project and it was a huge inconvenience to work offline without the benefit of references and then go out late at night to mail translations from a nearby internet cafe. One should be glad for the small blessings in life.

Another thing to smile about is that after a week of rain the sun is shining again, and I am feeling a strong current of hope. The project is finished and I feel elated, the same feeling I used to get after writing an exam, where I know that I have done well. My washing is hanging out in the sun to dry and a delicious pasta sauce is simmering on the stove. Life has its small challenges but overall things are starting to look up.

Week Seventeen : Christmas Eve

I keep ranting here about the weather, almost as much as I speak about Robert. But coping with its many changing aspects has been an ongoing challenge in the past few weeks. I have given up on looking at the weather forecast; we just dress for whatever weather we have at a specific moment, keeping a contingency plan for sudden changes when we are out. We are both kept busy trying to keep baby cool, or making sure he is well protected from fierce sun or gusty winds.

Two weeks ago I lost a favourite possession to the ravages of weather. The Cape Doctor (our very own south easterly wind) took away my sun hat; it was last year’s Christmas present from Ron. I have worn it for less than a year, and only on special occasions at first. It was not the cheap cap that I wear on the veranda, and I was quite sad to lose it.

Ron taunted me endlessly about it for a few days, and then this week he bought me a new one from the V & A Waterfront. It is much better than my old had, and has a string that I can bind around my ponytail to prevent it from flying into the ocean like its predecessor. All is well in the world again.

All is well that is, except for the mosquitoes, which have now started to pry on poor Robert. A few nights ago, I had to strip him down to his nappy, so that he can sleep in the blistering hot evening. Bad idea, the next day he woke up covered in itchy mozzie bites on his tender skin. Now he goes to sleep in a long-sleeved shirt, zipped up in a light sleeping bag, but he still gets bitten on his little fingers, ears, and face.

In addition to my Christmas present, Ron and I bought some food for our Christmas braai (barbeque) tomorrow. We did not have a contingency plan for that one, in case the weather turns nasty as usual. We are still hopeful of sunshine, although we had a fair share of thunderstorms, lightning and rain today. The floods in the Garden Route area and a stormy Camps Bay beach were even on national news today. I suppose it will cheer up those who are spending the holidays at home. The upside of this cool weather for us is that Robert will get a break from mosquito bites tonight.

Sixteen Weeks: Developmental Milestones

This week Robert was busy with many monumental developments, and both of us were kept on our toes keeping track with him. His grasping skills are improving rapidly and he now reaches out to take a toy held to his fingertips. He spends a lot of time just looking at his hands, or regarding them, which is considered a very important step in his awareness of himself and how his body works. Grasping is becoming a conscious effort rather than a reflex. The little hands have been busy as usual exploring around his face and mouth, and now his ears have been added to the repertoire of toys. I saw him tugging at his ear a couple of times.

His exercise sessions on the play gym are becoming more eventful as well. He now likes spending time on his tummy and has mastered rolling from front to back, and attempts rolling from back to front using his hips and legs. Sometimes however he gets himself in a pickle while trying to do this. He was fussing at bedtime on one hot evening and ended up on his side. Ron came to the cot to find a very angry baby trying desperately to roll forward or backward without success.

Robert’s awareness of his surroundings is now very clear. He reacts to things he sees and hears and lets us know, in a not too subtle manner, when he dislikes something. Ron is sure for example that Robert recognizes the jingle of our daily South African soapie “Isidingo”, which we watched frequently while I was pregnant, and while in the past he did not react to television he now looks at it and shows interest in following the movement of pictures and colours.

The weather continues to drive us crazy. A blistering hot day is followed by a cold one, and the morning sky is never and accurate predictor of the day. Sunny mornings often give way to rain and thunderstorms, while a misty and cold dawn can later enfolds into a hot and humid day. On Saturday we witnessed the most amazing sunset, the pink hues of the sky turned the ocean purple. We only viewed this spectacle from our balcony, but it must have been amazing at the beachfront.

On one particularly hot evening I put Robert to bed without his shirt, and he was still too hot, and only when the air cooled down with nightfall. The next evening it was cool and I had to put him in a shirt and zip him up in a sleeping bag. This is not normal at all, looks like we will have interesting holiday weather.

More Presents for Robert

After a small respite of warm weather on Sunday, the weather man predicts another cold front on the way. The forecast until Saturday is bad, and there is still no spring in sight.I got an SMS from my friend Jackie around noon today. Robert was asleep at the time, so it was one of these rare occasions when I could come near my phone. Ron was at the gym, and I was catching up on my emails and blog. Jackie wanted to know whether she can come for a quick visit and I told her that this was a good time. We had a good chat over tea; I showed her the pictures of Robert from the hospital, and she told me about her new job which she was due to start on the 17th of this month. It was a good opportunity to catch up on news and gossip, as we haven’t engaged in our girls-only chats for a long time. Jackie also brought Robert some presents from her mother, nice rompers for summer, and his first noisy truck, which I suspect will become an annoying background noise sometime in the future.

One of my milestones for today was going to the Supermarket for the first time since I had Robert. Armed with my cell phone, I left the apartment during his nap, and went straight to the shop, zipping quickly through the aisles, to return exactly half an hour later. In addition to the regular staple foods, I managed to buy steaks for dinner and some sweets- a couple of chocolate coated oatmeal bars, and a small carrot cake.

Back at home I had a shower and removed the plaster tape around my incision. The incision was healing nicely on the outside edges, and the skin has knitted together well. However, the middle had shallow flaps, little open flaps in between the stitches. I was not impressed, because it seemed that I will be left with a tiny ridge of skin around the area. Ron commented that Dr. P. will definitely not qualify as a plastic surgeon. My belly was shrinking slowly but I still had to get used to its new shape; now I had an additional fold of fat right above the incision, as if the skin was stretched over a garden hose I wore around my hips. It is a small price though to pay for my little bundle of joy.

Robert was easy to work around today because he settled into a regular schedule of three-hour naps in between feedings of one hour each. He is slowly turning into a greedy feeder, and I am still dealing with the consequences of his hearty appetite on my sore breasts. However, it is a relief that he is over his hunger cry fits. He also went to bed promptly at dinner time, giving us the chance to have a peaceful dinner and enjoy tea afterward with carrot cake.