Friday, January 21, 2011

This is on my mind...

Thank you Rhonda Jean from Down-to-Earth for this Friday challenge.  I've been a bit slack and today I'm cheating a bit.  It is not a photo so much and not a new thing so much, but something that is definitely on my mind today.

Sometimes a simple thing like a song can make you remember and today was definitely a day where I could not stop thinking about Bianca's journey.  We are so blessed that today Bianca is no different to any other 7 year old.  At the time it felt like time stood still, but today we are looking back and we realise just how blessed we were even when things felt impossibly difficult and alone.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Ready, Set...

And go...

We are all packed and ready for Bianca's camp tomorrow with Camp Quality.  It feels strange not to have to rush around at the last minute getting the last few things crammed into Bianca's suitcase.  We are all ready.  It feels as if I forgot something, but looking at the list - nope, seems like we have it all covered. 

Bianca is so excited.  She can hardly wait.  She'll be on camp until Sunday, meeting lots of new friends and doing loads of fun things.  Amber, Bianca's companion assured me she will be taking lots of photos. Can't wait to see.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Ahhhh, weekend! Lovely weekend!

End of the week.  Caitlyn loves being back at daycare and this weekend we are getting ready for Bianca's Camp Quality next week Tuesday to Sunday.  It is a pirate theme this time and her costume is all ready and no, this time round I'm taking the lazy approach and instead of making it, I bought her a costume.  The price was good and I figured it would probably cost me the same amount to make something, so this way was better. 

I'm hoping to go to the lavender farm close to us this weekend where they will show how they do the harvest and how they get the oil and so on.  I've always been interested (well, if I say always I really mean the past year or so) and lavender is one of the few things you can do commercially on a smaller scale.  Not that we would do anything like this anytime soon, but will be really interesting to see.

And other than that, not much else that we are planning, just keeping it fairly relaxed and low-key this weekend.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The difference between New Zealand and South Africa

For those of you who don't know - we moved from South Africa in September 2004 to New Zealand.  And we love it here.  This post is not about why we chose to leave or to justify and defend our decision.

For a long time I used to read several internet sites each day - sites like NZ Herald, Stuff (both NZ news sites) and News24 (a South African news site).  Now I didn't read the South African one because I was all homesick or depressed about wanting to move, it was simply a habit more than anything else (I started reading this site when I was still in South Africa) and in a way it is good to stay in touch because we still have family there, so good to know what was happening. 

After a while I just got completely fed up with this site because really all you ever read is about political jokes like Julius Malema who seems to be probably one of the biggest racists you will ever come across.  And I don't support racism - at all! 

So if it is not that, then it would be the most horrific crime you can imagine - farmers who are tortured and killed daily, women and children who are raped and so on.  And especially this one made me feel really sad because all I could think about was that Caitlyn is 3 and how incredibly incredibly scared this little girl must have been.

And of course the typical expat witch-hunt.  They invite South Africans living in other countries to write about their experiences, which they then publish and then the nasty, hurtful, often racist comments start from loads of South African readers as a result.  Hundreds of comments which become this huge mud-slinging match.  Things like "traitor" and "runaway lowlifes" and "good riddance" and "you have no right to come onto this site" and on and on and on.  I have never written about our experiences living here because the only thing most South Africans (in our experience) ever want to know is if you are unhappy with your decision, but if you are happy about it then they are quick to "shut you up".  Not so much from family and friends, but acquaintances and on forums and most definitely on this site as well.  So there really is no point and really we did this for us and not for anybody else.  So despite the fact that the majority of South Africans' forefathers immigrated from a number of other countries hundreds of years ago, a lot of South Africans are often fiercely patriotic and will not accept or tolerate if somebody decides to live somewhere else and boy, will they give you a piece of their mind.  So I choose not to participate in articles like these because I don't feel guilty or sad about our choice to come here, it was the right choice for us.

One thing I have noticed here in New Zealand is that it is very much encouraged that people will go off and have an OE (overseas experience).  There are no rude, hurtful, nasty or racist comments when any Kiwis (a term to describe New Zealanders) choose to live and work somewhere else.  And I must say I like this more mature outlook far more than the immature South African comments I have noticed on News 24.

So for a very long time I have not been back on the News24 site, because quite frankly I have had enough of the constant negativity from these who can't accept that people made different choices.  What made me go back to News24 today was this:

Recently I read a post on one of my favourite blogs (at the moment) where a bunch of people went on a subway ride and they were without pants, just to see the reactions of the other passengers.  (You can read the post here) and so this morning on the radio (or was it yesterday - can't remember) they mentioned that a bunch of people tried this on the train in Johannesburg and something like 43 got arrested.  I saw nothing in our news and was curious about it and thought there must have been something on the News 24 site and so I broke my resolution and opened the site to read.

I didn't see anything about this particular article so really don't know if it is true or not, what I did notice was an article SA couple in Brisbane lose everything.  The Australian floods have been BIG news here in New Zealand and we have all been really anxious to see updates, many of us know people living there and Terence also has family there and I really feel for the people who have to go through such a terrible situation, losing everything in the process. People losing their lives!

And in typical South African spirit, instead of being compassionate and caring, I noticed comments like these on an article where South Africans who have been living in Brisbane lost everything in the floods:

"The grass is greener, hey...hahahaha"

"a what can we say, you left a beautiful country a great country for a s**t box and now you lost everything..... grass is not always green on the other side hey???? rember Karma karma is a dangerous thing and most if not all expats have left SA with bad karma bacause of their sins and karma always comes back to collect the debt owed to it"

"I am tempted to b nasty to these traitors, but it wont benefit me anything. Instead i will b a proud south African and send them an invitation to come home."

"First it was fire now its water (2 plagues 8 to go), GOd is punishing evil Australia for taking in racist and evil apartheid supporters"

"Left SA cause your purse got snatched, landed in "Glorious Australia" **Ausie accent** only to lose everything! poetic if you ask me. Oh please stay there!"

"They deserve every miserable thing that is happened to them and they should not think of coming back, they will stand up like a sore thump in this country and our trailer parks are full"

"I wish for more floods to sweep away all the SA`s living there!

Waiting for your comments ( bloody agents)

And that folks - is the huge difference in my opinion between New Zealand and South Africa, that in New Zealand people can be compassionate towards New Zealanders who chose to make another country their home. There are no insulting comments, no "serves you right for leaving us", no "you are a traitor", no "good riddance" type of immature reactions. To the people here this is a tragedy affecting thousands of people regardless of where they came from.  And in South Africa?  It becomes yet another witch-hunt on News24, a chance to throw around hateful, hurtful, insulting, rude and even racist remarks and then these particular people call themselves "proud South Africans"?  I can't see why anybody would be proud of an attitude like that.  Thank goodness my children are not part of such a hateful society! 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Prayers and thoughts

It is absolutely shocking to see the floods and devastation that is currently happening in Australia.  Prayers and thoughts to all those who are affected!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A new obsession

About 20 years ago I first became interested in bonsai. I was just so fascinated with these cute little trees and wanted my own, but never actually did anything about it. I never really read any books or talked to anybody doing it or anything like that and sort of just stopped thinking about it. I can't even really remember who had a bonsai at the time (maybe my grandfather).

And that's the thing about hindsight because if only I picked up a book and started my very first bonsai when I first thought about it around 20 years ago, I would have had something decent to show today. But instead, here I am in my 30's and I can't even remember what I was looking for on the internet but I suddenly found myself reading whatever I can about bonsai, looking at pictures, I joined a forum, I'm asking questions and I borrowed all 8 books I could find at our local libraries. I know, I know I'm nuts :-).

Today I took a walk at a few of the local nurseries. The first one I went to was terrible, it looked in a really bad state. A lot of plants were lying down where the wind blew it down, the plants all looked dry and there were many weeds around, so we left pretty quickly. The next two were way better. And there I was walking and looking at the different trees trying to figure out if it would make a nice bonsai or not. It is pretty daunting and I have a lot to learn. But this time I am determined to get my very own bonsai started. Fair enough it will be a long time before it will be worth showing off, but I'm only doing this for myself and really? I don't care how long that might take.

I am particularly interested in making a bonsai from a Japanese Maple like this one:

I just absolutely love the vibrant colours! And I think I would also like to make one from one of our natives like the pohutukawa.

Nothing like a new year to get a new hobby, now if somebody has some spare time lying around, I would greatly appreciate it :-)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The things we got up to in the holidays (mostly a photo story)

The last few days were truly relaxing. Up to Christmas and even the few days afterwards that Terence's brother was here, was still pretty busy. Not only with Christmas preparations, but also showing Alistair some of the things New Zealand has to offer. After Alistair left, we kept it quiet and low-key. We didn't really go to the shops other than to find me a new cell phone, a new oven light bulb and to buy groceries and I must say I really enjoyed the slower pace of the last few days - very relaxing.

Every morning we got to sleep in. I have wonderful kids! Bianca likes to sleep in a bit too and each morning we'd wake up and Caitlyn would be quietly playing next to the side of our bed, patiently waiting for us to get up. I really don't envy parents whose kids get up and demand attention from 5am each morning!

Apart from this we took the kids to the park where they got to ride their scooters, Bianca got more practice with her roller blades and they even got to play at the park for a little bit.

Then we went to Staglands which was lots of fun and we got to see many cool animals.

And we've gone for walks. Caitlyn and Terence did shorter walks, but Bianca and I enjoy walking for around 5km. All the way to her school, around her school and back home again. The best time for us is around 7pm and it is really peaceful. You can hear the birds as they go back to their nests for the night (even though it still looks really light) and I love seeing all the pretty gardens and all the trees. Bianca would take her scooter and scoot ahead while I follow - I love that she is able to do this! And when I read on some of my South African Facebook friends' statusses that they never go for walks because it is not safe - then I feel truly blessed that we can do this without a worry in the world.

Today it was back to reality and to our normal routines to some extend. Caitlyn's one daycare started again today and Terence was back at work and Bianca and I mostly amused ourselves. We visited the library where we borrowed a bunch of books and a highlight was spending time with 5 little kittens at one of the SPCA fosters who live really close to us. It was sooooo much fun :-)

Please adopt me - I promise to be very very good...