Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A rather freaky event

Last night as I was tucking Caitlyn into bed she quickly jumped up and said "mum, I want to show you what to do when there is an earthquake" and she proceeded to show me what she's learnt at school.  I thanked her for sharing and then tucked her in, sang sleepy time song (not that I am much of a singer, but the kids do like this little tradition), switched off the light and off I went.  First Rose and I were chatting on Skype for a bit and then I went to have a bath.

I do a lot of thinking when I am in the bath and so as I was there deep in thought the house suddenly started swaying.  At first I didn't know what was busy happening and then I realised that we were actually busy having an earthquake (click here to read article).  Terence said he actually heard it as it started building up although thought at first it was maybe a train coming past or something. Turned out that there was a 7.0 earthquake quite a distance from where we are, but it was felt throughout various places in New Zealand.  Thankfully it was out at sea (I believe) and thankfully it was a deep one otherwise there probably would have been significant damage in places.  In the 7 years we've lived here now I've only ever felt maybe 2 earthquakes and they were so brief I didn't know it happened until afterwards, but this was different and went on for longer. Rather freaky and when it stopped I wondered if there would be any aftershocks or not.

Not really the kind of excitement I was looking for to be honest...

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

About the time I became best friends with Noise Control

On the weekend I was rather surprised.  We got home on Saturday to a note in our mail box saying that the people directly opposite us would be having a party to celebrate their 17 year old son's birthday and that they expected 45 teenagers and supervised by a few adults.  Urgh!  That could only mean one thing I thought - loud music until the early hours of the morning with noisy teenagers running up and down the street. 

Now I have to explain a little at this point - I don't like noise.  I don't mind hearing the train that comes past, I don't mind the sheep in the paddock behind us and so on.  I really don't mind any of that.  Music noise? At all hours of the night? Not so much.  Now I'm a great fan of music.  I loved going to the Simple Plan and Bonnie Tyler concerts.  I often listen to the music Paul has been sharing with me, but when the neighbours have a party and all you hear is the base noise in your house until whatever time at night, that can get to me a bit. 

In 2006 / 2007 we moved to Tawa (one of the suburbs of Wellington) and it was a rather nice (older house) and at first everything went well (except for the kindy down the road - but that's a story for another time).  Then one Saturday late morning I was outside hanging out the laundry and suddenly heard this extremely loud music right next door.  Sigh!  Really?  Did they have to turn it up so incredibly loud?  Not wanting to cause trouble, I left it knowing that we would be going out soon and that maybe, just maybe the music might be finished by the time we came back.  Thankfully it was.  (I would find out later that the incredibly loud music I thought was right next door actually came from inside the house 2 houses away from us).

This was really just the beginning.

Every single weekend and several afternoons in the week the extremely loud music would start up and would keep going driving us completely insane until finally I had enough and rang noise control.  They would then come out, assess the noise and then if they thought it was causing a disturbance would then issue a 72 hour ban on all music.  After the 72 hours the music started up all over again.  So we'd have to ring.  Again.

Now I have to also add I was pregnant with Caitlyn at the time and really didn't cope with lack of sleep thanks to this annoyance.  I did waddle up their drive one evening at around 10 as I was trying to get Bianca (who was 3 at the time) asleep and they had the music blaring, sat outside on their deck laughing and talking so loud the whole street could pretty much hear what they were up to.  So as I waddled up there about 8 months pregnant, they saw me and I asked if they wouldn't mind just making things a bit quieter this lady looked at me and then shouted that they could make as much noise as they wanted until 11pm.  So I looked at her and said "fine, I'll go back home and let noise control know".  My threat worked thankfully because by the time I got home all was quiet.


I'll never forget one day this song was playing so loud I could sing along from our house (if I could sing and if I was actually in the mood to sing which I wasn't on this day) (it was playing inside this house 2 houses away from us).


This was a constant battle for 9 months (the duration of our rental agreement) and noise control and I became pretty good friends.

There was also one day that we got it from the people on the other side right next door.  They knew Caitlyn was just born and their daughter living with them also just had her baby and so one Saturday they informed us they were going to host a 21st party and so we should expect a bit of noise.  Yes, quite a bit of really loud noise until about 3 the next morning.

Not fun I tell you.  So since then I have become rather sensitive to noisy neighbourhood parties. 

So I dreaded this past Saturday night knowing that it would be 45 teenagers at this party.  Much to my surprise I woke up the next morning realising it must have been the quietest party ever.  Didn't hear a single noise.  I think I can deal with that :-).

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Weekend update

So how is everybody's weekend going?

On Friday I asked Val to record me during my swim lesson.  Hmmm, I look a bit different than I thought in my head I must be looking as I'm attempting to do the technique she teaches us.  She has definitely stepped things up and at the start we would do 2 lengths at a time, but now she makes us do 6 or 8 lengths at a time of whatever takes her fancy.  In a session we must probably do about 40 lengths.  Started off the session by working on our kick and using a board to hold on to and I managed to catch up with Denise who was quite a bit ahead of me and beat her in the end.  Wasn't really a contest, but when you hear Val on the side going "kick, kick, kick" then you kind of have to push it harder.  Val was very impressed so I'm pleased.  With me wearing glasses all of the time I usually wear contact lenses for swimming as I can't see without my glasses.  Well I can see, but absolutely everything looks like blurry blobs.  Only down-side with this is that as soon as a tiny little bit of water gets into the goggles then it affects the contact lenses.  And this is exactly what happened.  So much so that I had to leave the pool, go to the bathroom to try and sort it out.  What a mission. In the end I took them out and did the rest of the lesson without contact lenses.  Was rather interesting to find that when I have my face in the water everything is super clear so maybe I need to find a way to keep my face permanently in water :-).  At the end of the lesson Val told me that I have made so much progress since I started and that she is very pleased with how I'm going.  It is nice to get this feedback.  Sometimes it is hard to see or feel the progress, so when somebody tells you then it is amazing!  Anyway, here is the little video clip of me swimming, just in case you thought I was making up all the swimming stuff :-)


While I'm on the topic of swimming, I wanted to share this clip of Caitlyn.  She has just come so far since she started and it is really cute seeing her working on her swimming:


Yesterday Bianca had netball and it was Terence's turn to take Bianca to the match.  Her team lost by only 1 point and she had a great time!  Caitlyn and I went along with Rose and Mike to Porirua as Rose needed to do some party shopping for her son's birthday and Caitlyn went with Mike and their kids to Chipmunks for a bit of a play.  Bianca was pretty disappointed she would be missing out so we promised her that we would take her to Porirua today (Sunday) so she could spend some of her pocket money at one of the shops we don't have by us. 

This morning was a beautiful sunny, but rather freezing day.  No chance for a sleep in as we had our bike training with Lynley at 9am.  Today we worked on going around corners, doing some bunch riding (where you are meant to ride pretty close to other riders - pretty scary I have to tell you) and she took us to a hill on the way back.  With the hill training we have to focus on getting up to a good speed before we hit the hill, then gear down as we go up.  It was amazing!  When I first looked at the hill I thought I was going to get pretty tired, but before I could get tired I was at the top.  Lynley said I did really well and that my bike is a pretty fast bike for the type of bike I have.  Of course doing the hilly route I normally do, it won't be quite as effortless I'm sure, but it was really nice managing well today.  I did learn though that I really have my work cut out for me as Lynley told me that by November I need to be able to do 120km distances during my rides if I am going to attempt this 90km ride the end of the year.  Eeek!  That's pretty tough I think!  Will need to ask Paul to help me figure out some other routes around here as I don't know many options around here.

Tonight Terence and Bianca are at a games evening and Caitlyn and I will be watching a movie.  Then after she has gone to bed will be reading some of the Joy Division book I am borrowing from Paul.  I recently saw a bit of the movie, so it is really interesting reading up on the lead singer and his life.

Tomorrow and the rest of this coming week the kids have their holiday programme which will mostly be doing lots of crafts and other activities.  Not sure which of their school friends will be there, but I'm sure they will enjoy it.  Both girls are also very much looking forward to the following week when they will be doing lots and lots of cheerleading.  So hopefully this means I will have a bit of extra time to work on this massive distance I am meant to be able to cycle by November.

Well this is it from me for tonight.  Hope your weekend has been going well for you!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Some interesting reading and discovering something cool

Tonight I was reading up on some star sign information, not because I'm really into star signs, but just out of curiosity really.  And of course every single web page I was looking at had different characteristics.  I wonder who comes up with this and if these people actually did a study on a whole group of people with the same star signs?  I suppose if the person who put the info out there was a Virgo then they probably would have compared a group of people of the same star sign - after all it says quite clearly that a Virgo is very analytical, so it kind of makes sense that it should be a Virgo in charge of the project :-).  It made for some interesting reading the star signs I was reading on.  Are you into star signs and do you agree what it says about your star sign?

This afternoon I discovered a really neat something that I think (or rather hope) would be cool for a certain somebody (can't share anything just yet) and it reminded me of the time I had this pen pal.  Well not really pen pal.  We didn't write actual letters with an actual pen to each other, but we were email buddies for a long time.  We met each other by accident.  Or I suppose not really accident because people are often placed on your road for specific reasons even if the reasons are not always clear.  We were introduced to each other in 2002 or 2003. 

We both thought at the same time we wanted to move to New Zealand and so we both emailed the same person at the same time who was helping people out with information.  He answered our questions and then 'introduced' us to each other and so it started.  In the end we moved first to New Zealand and they ended up going to Australia.  We only met each other in person once.  We were really good email buddies for quite a few years, but sadly I think we were just too different.  Had quite different ideas of life and priorities and she was quite direct to the point where she would often make really hurtful and insensitive comments not thinking how it might affect me.  Hmmm, maybe I should go look up her star sign ;-).  So sadly in the end we just lost contact.  But anyway, back to my point.  She was rather hard to buy anything for for her birthday or for Christmas and usually when I feel I know somebody well enough then I like getting them something that would be special for them.  So sometimes (as in her case) I would spend a long time looking for and thinking of something that would be suitable.  It was really just by accident that on one occasion I found something really different.  She loved cooking.  So much so she collected recipe books.  Can't say I relate much to this as I don't particularly feel inspired by cooking, but she loved it.  I stumbled upon this online company in Australia and they did recipe gifts.  So you get to choose something that would then have the ingredients, the relevant tools, a recipe and a story.  So for instance hers was a Moroccan recipe gift complete with the tagine (I think this is what it is called).  I've never come across any other company doing the same, but I thought it was a rather neat idea at the time.

Do you have specific ideas about gift-giving?

Well I better stop rambling now.  How was your Thursday?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Not the best of days for me today

Today was not a good day for me.  It was one of those days where I just could not get myself going. Okay part of the problem is perhaps that I didn't sleep particularly well last night and woke up around 3am.  Tried to get back to sleep, but simply couldn't.  It was like my brain just switched on.  And boy does time drag slowly when you lie there in the dark waiting for the alarm to finally go off at 6am.  Do you get days like that?  I don't too often get days like this, but I suppose they happen for me because my mind tends to work overtime at times.  I suppose.  Who knows really?  So after I dropped the kids this morning I thought I'd go back to bed for a little bit to try and catch up on some sleep and unfortunately that didn't work so well either.  Oh well, hopefully tonight is a better night.

So naturally today I wasn't too productive.  I should have been, but... well... okay, no excuses.  I mostly just did a few chores around the house (not my favourite part of any day and it seems this never-ending task.  I read once that cleaning a house with kids in it is like brushing your teeth while eating oreos).

This afternoon Caitlyn had her cheerleading session and she had a great time.  Last session of the term.  She does have the holiday programme in the second week of the holidays where Bianca and Caitlyn both will have cheerleading for a few hours each morning.  Bianca especially could do with the extra practise as the end of October we'll be going to Auckland for her competition (Caitlyn is not in a competitive team).  That reminds me - I really need to start looking at accommodation and flights.  October feels a long way away, but it will be here before we know it.  At this stage Bianca is only competing on one day (the Sunday), the date is a bit disappointing as it is the same day (I think) as the Otaki Triathlon that Rose and I both wanted to do and now both of us will be in Auckland.  Will be nice to go and see Bianca's tree again when we are in Auckland and hopefully it is still doing well.

Okay enough rambling now.  How was your day?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Just a quick update

Am not feeling very inspired tonight and nothing too important to blog about.  Feeling a bit tired and down so will be heading off to bed soon I think.

The girls had their swim lesson tonight and I was absolutely amazed to see the progress Caitlyn has made.  It doesn't seem that long ago that she could hardly get through the lesson without any tears and now?  Now she is confident, she loves being in her class and can actually swim to some extent. 

Only a few more days then it is school holidays.  The girls can't wait.  I have booked them in for a school holiday programme which I'm hoping they would enjoy.  Can't believe how fast this year is going. 

Saw this picture on Facebook and I don't think I'll ever look at a duck the same way again :-).


And that's it from me for tonight.  Sorry, I did warn you I wasn't feeling particularly inspired.  Hope your day has been good.

Monday, June 25, 2012

A royal title

This morning I received a royal title.  And not just any title - but that of Queen.  Not a duchess or a princess, but no, the ultimate of royal titles.  I think.  I'm not really all that familiar with royal titles.  But Queen does sound rather important.  Don't you think?  Okay... it is the Queen of Slackness, but Queen nonetheless :-). 

Paul told me that he was going to do a 20 minute run before school and then another 8km run at lunch time.  Yes... I know, I feel rather tired reading that too.  Paul wanted to know what I would be doing today exercise-wise and I did indicate that I had a really good effort yesterday with my bike ride and really that should be enough to last me for the week.  Paul wasn't impressed with my reasoning and insisted that I should at least go out and do a walk / run today (and should do this every single day).  He told me that he wasn't interested in excuses or complaints (the two things I'm really good at too). 

He is right though.  I should be doing much more than I am doing at the moment. Every so often I would get a moment of insanity like with my bike ride yesterday, but a lot of the time I seem to get too busy and distracted doing other things and if the weather is unpleasant too...  It becomes too easy to come up with excuses.  It doesn't help that I am probably one of the most impatient people around and of course with exercise there is no way you would ever see immediate results.  So it becomes hard work with little immediate evidence of progress made. 

If I have to be honest then looking at the swimming for instance I can finally see that I have made progress.  It took quite a long time to finally get to this point, but finally I am starting to get the technique, I cope better with more during the session and Val told me on Friday that I've come a long way.  So that is really neat.  So now I really need to put more effort into my biking and running as well.  It is true that I had a huge set-back with my constant leg injuries from a little while back, but I don't have this problem at the moment and really have no excuse.  I just have to put the effort in.  Small steps to start off with and build on that (Paul's advice).

So today I did just that.  I made the effort and did a 5km walk / run. It was hard work (I won't lie), but I did it and that is all that is important.  Hopefully in the not too distant future it will become a bit easier and more of a habit than an effort.  I'll just have to keep at it.

Despite how very hard I find exercise - I do feel really fortunate to have a good team supporting me in all this - Lynley, Val and Paul.  It is great having their interest and expert guidance in a world I don't know all that much about.

So what have you done today to increase your fitness?  The title of Queen of Slackness is already taken and you really have no excuse... ;-).

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Feeling rather pleased with myself

Today was a beautiful day.  It was a bit chilly, but we didn't have any rain and not much wind.  I decided that I really didn't have any excuse and that I should take advantage of the great weather and go out for a bike ride.  After all I have this small issue of trying to eventually cycle 90km (about 55.92 miles).

The route I chose is a pretty flat route and I really wanted to try and work on going a longer distance than I would usually go.  Usually (if it does not include hills) I would go around 25km (about 15.53 miles).  Am rather pleased that today I managed 51km (about 31.69 miles).  Still a bit off my target, but a good effort today I think.

Other than this not much else happened.  Mostly just a quiet day at home.  How was your weekend? What did you get up to?


Saturday, June 23, 2012

A rambling post.

Last night I meant to blog.  I really did.  I made myself comfortable in front of my laptop, opened up blogger to start a new post, fingers on the keyboard and then... nothing.  Writer's block big time!  And so I waited.  And waited.  And finally had to give up because nothing was happening.

So now I'm here trying again.  Might just end up a bunch of rambles, but hey, let's see how it goes.

As I'm sitting here staring out the window (yes, I can do touch typing so can look out the window while I'm typing :-) ) it is cold and rainy outside.  A real grey day that kind of matches the reflective mood I'm feeling today.  Bianca has netball a bit later (and it is my turn to take her) so we'll probably get a bit wet.  And cold.  Oh the joys of winter and winter sport.

I stumbled upon this Youtube clip and I really liked it:



Marcia was writing about how she likes to match-make people (click here). If she thinks that 2 people would get along really well then she works to try and get them to meet up.  I have to be honest that I don't like it when people do this with me.  They might mean well, but I am rather reserved a lot of the time and a few times this happened it kind of backfired on me and it left me struggling to trust (not just them, but also myself).  Perhaps because not all that many people truly get me.  It kind of made me think that even when we know people all our lives people don't always really know somebody, the person they are behind the smile, behind the walls people often put up to protect themselves.  So often people have certain expectations.  They expect you to fit the image they have in their mind, that you need to be what they want you to be, that it doesn't matter what you might want. And sometimes you fall short.  It can be hard to live up to that - to the expectations others have of you.  And because it is easier, sometimes it seems better to shift what you want away, to push it aside and unfortunately you sometimes risk losing yourself in the process.  And the longer you go, the harder it can be to find yourself again.


But in saying this I have made some wonderful connections over time.  Sure I might not have a lot of friends (sometimes people think you need to have a large group of friends for the sake of simply having people around you all of the time), but the people I have in my life, the ones who are allowing me to be just me mean the world to me.

Love me
For who I am
Behind my smile
And the walls around my heart
With my ups and my downs
With my quiet and my laugh
I am me
Even if you might not agree
Even when I am different
I am still me
The one who stands
And sometimes falls
Who tries her best
But sometimes fails
I am me
It's all I know
It's all that I can be

Okay, enough rambling now.  What are you up to this weekend?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

I've been a bit slack lately...

I've been told off for being slack with blogging.  So here I am.  Sorry for being so slack.  I guess some of what happens in my life is not all that exciting and I'm sure you wouldn't want to read about me needing to do the dishes or doing the laundry or anything like that.

I went out for a run today and boy did I nearly die.  It's been a while since I've been trying to run any particular distance and I have mostly focused on bike rides whenever I'm able and of course swimming once a week.  Bike riding is also hard, but running is harder.  But as I'm often told no pain no gain.  Finding a time with what I need to do at home and the kids' activities is sometimes challenging and I really do miss the summer time when it gets dark later at night.  That's usually the best for me with running, go out after Terence is back from work.  Not only that he can take care of the kids then, but less people around to watch me being all out of breath struggling along.  But anyway, making the effort is what counts.

Today I found My Sister's Keeper on DVD.  Warehouse had it on sale and it is a movie I've seen once before just after it came out here.  It was at the local cinema and I was determined not to cry during the movie.  I hate crying in front of others.  Sometimes I can't help it, but I do hate it.  I wanted to see what it was about and how much of it I could relate to.  So when I found the movie today I decided to get it, came home and watched a little bit of it.  I wasn't really in the right frame of mind for this movie so decided to put it away for now until another time.  Have you seen the movie?  Did you like it?  I did and thought it was a good movie, a few things here and there that I thought wasn't as realistic, but overall a good movie.

In just a bit more than a week it will be the end of the second school term for the girls.  This term really went so fast.  I'm still looking around to see what activities the kids might like to do during the holidays and at this stage they only have cheerleading from 9:30 to about 12:30 every day of the second week.  Rose has her kids booked in too so between Rose and me we will take turns with drop off and pick ups.  I did initially think that maybe Bianca has her hospital visit in there somewhere that week, but it is on the 18th so the first week of the new school term. 

With the school term coming to an end I think we'll probably have only 2 swim lessons left (as I don't think we'll have lessons in the holidays).  Tomorrow and next week Friday and it sounds as if Val plans to make us work hard.  Best I work hard because the end of the coming school term (term 3) Paul and I have our swim race scheduled and he is fierce competition.  Rose suggested that maybe we should do all or part of it in back stroke, but Paul wasn't very interested since that wasn't what we initially agreed on :-).  As it is right now am going to have my work cut out for me because he just keeps going and going and going whereas I don't have quite the same level of endurance (or rather no endurance at all right now...).

How has your week been so far?  Anything exciting happened?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Happy birthday Bianca!

Today Bianca is 9!  Hard to believe that she is 9 already.  It feels like it has happened too fast.  Of course we did try and tell Bianca that since she was born in South Africa she really won't be 9 until it is about 6:30pm on the 18th of June (South African time), but she wasn't interested in our theory :-).  This morning she woke up to "Happy birthday" and a few small presents from us, after school I took her to get a new bike as hers is really way too small now and this evening we went out for dinner. 

I was going through some of our old photos tonight and it really has been a bit of a trip down memory lane.  As I was going through this, I remembered this song that Paul recorded for Youtube just last year (click here).

Happy birthday Bianca!  We are so proud to have you as our daughter.  You are an amazing kid and a great big sister!

Here are some photos of Bianca the past 9 years:

18 June 2003
3 Months old
9 Months old

About 18 months
2 Years old

3 Years old

4 Years old

5 Years old
6 Years old

7 Years old


8 Years old

9 Years old

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A celebration (lots of photos included)

Today was Bianca's birthday party.  Her actual birthday is only tomorrow, but as that is on a Monday it seemed a better day today to celebrate.  Bianca wanted a cheerleading birthday party and so we asked her coach to host the party for us.  It was a great idea and a lot less effort for me to organise than the party we did last year.  Bianca had a great day today!

Here are some photos for you :-)

Bianca wanted her photo in edible icing on her cake.

The craft table

Party food

My beautiful girls

Opening presents

Bianca was given a special birthday bow


Making some bows

Busy drying, ready to be turned into bows



Just little bit off target :-)



The kids had fun on the tumble track




The kids trying out some cheerleading moves




 


Food - the highlight of any party :-)





Caitlyn won a prize in one of the games

Group photo

Finishing off bows


Bianca got lots of great presents

Friday, June 15, 2012

This and that on a Friday

Nothing deep or profound from me today.  Val worked us super hard tonight and it sounds like the next two weeks especially will be hard as she is working on increasing our fitness and have shorter rest periods in between.  The only one of us who would quite comfortably handle the pressure I think is Paul who is already super fit and the rest of us will simply feel like we are dying each time.

We are in countdown mode around here.  Bianca is counting down the days until Sunday when it will be her birthday party.  She will have a cheerleading-themed party at her cheerleading studio.  It is a much smaller, more low-key party than the one she had last year and much less effort for me.  Feels rather strange I have to say as usually at this stage I am putting in long hours to put all my plans in place (yes, I'm a sucker for punishment) and so right now I'm wondering if there might be anything I might forget.

The other day I watched Notting Hill again.  Oh what a lovely movie!  My favourite bit is where she says "After all... I'm just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her."

And of course this song from the movie is one of my favourites:


So how was your Friday?  Any plans for the weekend?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

What if?

Recently Blackhuff wrote about "what-ifs" and how it affects her and wanted to know how others thought about this (click here).

I have to be honest that most of the time I don't really think about "what-ifs".  Some of what I've been through has taught me that there is no point in thinking and worrying about "what-ifs", that I simply have to trust myself enough.  That you can't control the future, you can only base your decisions on what you know now. 

One of the biggest risks we ever took was moving from South Africa to New Zealand.  If I allowed the "what-ifs" to take over we would never had made the move.  We simply had to trust that we knew enough and that we wanted it enough to make it happen.  I'm a firm believer that if you want something bad enough then you can make it happen.  Sure there were many "what-ifs" we could have focused on but what would have been the point?  We did a lot of research so we had a good idea of what to expect and we simply had to trust ourselves.

Bianca's illness was 830 days of forcing myself not to think about the "what-ifs".  Especially in the beginning those "what ifs" kept popping into my mind as I struggled with the realisation that she might very well die, that if we waited just 3 months longer she probably would have died, and throughout her treatment so many kids who relapsed and died and constantly wondering if the treatment was doing what it was meant to do.  830 days of teaching myself that there was no point in allowing the "what-ifs" to take over as it was driving me insane and leaving me utterly exhausted.  I simply had to focus on now.  That was what we were sure of.  I had to trust that the decisions we made were the right ones and at times we did not have the luxury of time to take our time making decisions.  So you jump and swim and trust and hope for the best. 

I think sometimes we don't give ourselves enough credit and we don't always believe that we are capable of making good decisions so we allow the "what-ifs" to hold us back because we are scared of what might lie ahead.  But all that really happens is that you end up looking back realising just how much time and energy you wasted in the process.

What if just for once you took a chance, trust yourself and simply believe?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Just a bit of a Wednesday update

A while back Paul shared on his blog that one of his favourite movies to watch is One flew over the cuckoo's nest.  It is not a movie I've seen before and so recently I noticed that this was one of the movies Terence got from somewhere and I thought that I should watch it to see what all the fuss was about and have to say it is a really good movie.  The actors, the story line - all of it is really good and I've now watched the movie twice. 

Today I had to take Prince Charming to the vet.  He hurt one of his front paws and hasn't been putting any weight on it.  Oh the joys of having pets I tell you!  No idea what he got up to.  But about $200 later the vet confirmed that it was a soft tissue injury (thankfully no broken bones) and hopefully with some antibiotics on board now in a day or so he'll start feeling better.

Bianca is currently counting down the days to her birthday party on Sunday.  It is hard to believe we have an almost 9 year old in the house.  Of course Caitlyn is already planning her birthday party next year February and has already decided which complicated cake she'd like me to make (I better start hiding that "easy cakes" book because none of it is easy...).

It is really cold at the moment and I can tell you one thing it is really making going out for bike rides challenging.  Absolutely freezing!  Can't slack off though as I have a lot of work still to do before I will be ready for the big goal the end of the year.  Speaking of that - if you haven't yet and you are able please will you sponsor Rose, Denise and me (click here)?  We are trying to raise some money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation.  Every little bit will make a big difference!

How was your day?  What did you get up to?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Waiting... and why I don't like it

Anybody who knows me will tell you that I am a very impatient person.  I simply don't like waiting.  Part of it is my impatient personality, but there is another reason I really don't like waiting for things. 

When Bianca was diagnosed my whole life fell apart in an instant.  Suddenly I was dumped into a world that was completely foreign to me.  A world that I had no idea about. One minute I felt I was in control of my life and the next I lost absolutely all control of my life and the outcome of our situation.

When I heard that it would take about 2 years (2 and a third years to be exact) for the first time in my life I could actually imagine being locked up in prison.  Nothing I did, no amount of thinking or analysing or planning would speed up the process or make it shorter.  There was no option to be bailed out, no option to be let out early for good behaviour.  We'd simply have to get through each and every day, ticking it off as we went along.

Everything revolved around a schedule dictated by others.  Every day had a number and that told us what would happen.  The first section was around 28 days (if I remember correctly), the next 2 phases straight after 56 days, the 4th phase around 42 days and that was the first 6 months.  Then Bianca went onto Maintenance which was 84 days in length repeated over and over (or maybe a bit more) straight after another with daily, weekly and 3 monthly medications and procedures with their own schedules ie. twice a day or 2 hours after dinner with no food and so on.  The schedule dictated when we would go to to hospital, what needed to be done at home and sometimes just to keep us on our toes there would be complications resulting in hospital admissions.

Throughout the 830 days we waited.  Everything involved waiting.  We waited for test results at the start, waited for the doctor to come and see us each time, waited for blood test results, waited for counts to recover, waited for Bianca to be well enough to be discharged from hospital, waited for unpleasant and painful procedures to happen, waited to see if there would be a reaction, waited for side-effects. The total of 117 times Bianca was admitted were particularly frustrating as we ended up stuck in a small little hospital room, not able to just come and go as we wanted and we would sit there waiting, waiting, waiting.  Waiting for the hours to pass day in and day out.  Whenever she needed a blood transfusion, you not only wait for it to arrive, but then it would take about 4 hours to run and you sit there and watch the drip...drip...drip...drip...drip all the time wishing time would move faster.  With theatre days Bianca would not be able to eat breakfast and then you get to the hospital waiting to at some point be called so she could have her procedure done under general anaesthetic, then wait for her to recover and be taken back to the ward, then wait until they are happy for her to go home.  I wish now I wrote down exactly how much time we spent waiting, would have been interesting to see.

Despite Bianca being off treatment now for about 2 years I still find myself struggling with the waiting process.  It does get to me a bit when I am not sure of the how, when and ifs because once upon a time not so long ago it represented a complete loss of control for me.  It is a learning process right now for me and part of picking up the pieces.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sunday update

This morning I was meant to have my training session with Lynley and sadly left the house just a little too late so by the time I got there the group must have just left.  I felt terrible as I don't like letting people down.  So this afternoon I had to make up for it.  I went and did a hilly ride which was hard work as always.  But as I'm always told "no pain no gain" even if right now the gain is not here yet.  Had a bit of an unfortunate incident in that my chain came off at one point and so I had to try and figure out how to get it back on. 


Hard to believe in a week it will be Bianca's birthday party already.  The venue is sorted - she has chosen a cheerleading theme and so her cheerleading coach will organise some activities, invites have been sent out and I don't think there will be too much more I will need to organise other than the cake and food.  Need to make a list and just make sure that I will not forget about anything.

Sorry, this blog entry isn't particularly interesting.  I'm not feeling overly inspired tonight. Hope your weekend went well!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Netball, cake, dinner and Dominion of course...

This morning Bianca had a netball match.  She loves playing netball and at her age they rotate the kids every week so every week she gets to play a different position.  Right now Bianca's favourite position is Centre.  Today she was put in the Wing Attack position (which she doesn't really enjoy as much).  The game got off to a good start, Bianca was right into the action and then within 10 minutes got hit by the ball on her one finger and she left the court in tears.  Unfortunately she was too sore to continue playing and so we came home early. 

While we were out Terence and Caitlyn baked a cake.  Last weekend Terence and Bianca went off to their board game thing and he promised Caitlyn he would do something just with her. 

We had an impromptu dinner invite with a guy who works with Terence and takes the train with him every day.  They live close to us and we've been meaning to get together.  They have the cutest little 3 month old girl and Caitlyn was extremely fascinated.  Dinner was curry (a choice of a mild or spicy / hot one) and we took along Caitlyn's cake for desert.  After a quick game of Dominion it was time to come back home as it was around Caitlyn's bedtime and of course their routines would be much stricter than ours with their little girl.

And this was pretty much our Saturday.

Tomorrow morning I have Lynley's session and it will be a bike skills session which is not a long or particularly hard session, but focused on teaching us some tips and tricks to be more effective with our cycling.  I'm hoping if the weather is good to maybe go out in the afternoon and do a longer ride as I do need to try and work on increasing the distances I am able to cycle.  Will need to first see though exactly what Lynley has planned for us in the morning.

How is your weekend going so far?  Any special plans?

Friday, June 8, 2012

It was worth it in the end...

I was going through my Facebook Newsfeed to see if I could find some or the other inspirational quote to start this blog entry.  There are a number of Facebook groups I belong to with some amazing quotes and sayings and usually there are so many that I find myself reading and nodding my head and they (for some reason) seem to apply to what is going on.  But tonight nothing really stands out except this quote from Winnie the Pooh "you are braver than you believe" and this is so true in life. 

I was thinking back to the time we moved here from South Africa.  It was the biggest, most scary thing I've ever done.  I'm not going to go into our reasons for wanting to move, just that we got to a point and we didn't feel that South Africa was right for us anymore.  So we found ourselves questioning whether we would stick with what was familiar, stick with what we knew or take a risk and start a new adventure.  I remember we started thinking about moving to New Zealand, I spent a long time understanding the process and what would be needed.  It was a huge decision.  If we decided to move it would mean leaving friends and family behind.  It would mean leaving the safety of what we knew and trade that in for an unknown.  It would mean leaving the security of our jobs and our home and start completely over.  There was absolutely no way of knowing whether such a move would be a success or not and all we could do was to try and prepare ourselves as best as possible.  We didn't have jobs secured.  We didn't know in which city we might end up living, but we knew we wanted to make the move and once we decided that we had to kind of just choose a date (September 2004 in fact), take the plunge, make it happen and trust ourselves enough.  Now 7 years later I know that the decision was the right decision for us.  We didn't know at the time Bianca would get cancer and realised after she became sick what a blessing it was to be here.  We didn't have to worry about paying for her treatment or fighting with a medical insurance company to cover bills.  There are other blessings too - I feel our quality of life is better and I feel this is a great place to let the girls grow up. 

I learnt a few things in our immigration process - If you want something bad enough you can make it happen.  If you set your mind to something, just go for it, don't look back.  Don't let anybody hold you back from achieving what you believe is right for you.  Put everything into it.  So many people come here and they kind of keep one foot in South Africa and one foot here just in case it might not work out and that strategy doesn't really work because if you are not determined enough you will quickly forget why you made the move and then you will simply give up.  The one guy who lived next to our one rental home told us that he moved from South Africa to New Zealand and back to South Africa and back to New Zealand 3 times each time forgetting why he moved away from South Africa just to be reminded again when he arrived back in South Africa.

Now 7 years later I can honestly say this was the right move for us.  It doesn't mean it is the right move for everybody else, but it was for us.

After Bianca became sick I read a book.  Can't remember exactly what it was called, I think something like "Hannah's Shoes" or something.  Can't remember.  All I remember is that it was a mum who wrote a book about her little girl who got cancer.  The little girl had this pair of bright red shoes.  The bit that stood out for me was where a doctor said to the mum "you can only base your decisions on what you know now with the information you have right now" and thinking back about our immigration process (and Bianca's illness), I realise just how true this is.  We were only able to base our decision on what we knew at that particular moment in time, there were no guarantees, we didn't have the ability to see what might lie ahead.  Looking back - I'm glad we did it.  There are no regrets.  This is home.

But anyway, a rambling post tonight.  We often get people asking us why we decided to move here and whether it was hard and whether we might go back.  I feel for people right in the middle of it all, it is really stressful, but if you want it enough and if you are determined enough you will hopefully find the way we did - it was all worth it in the end.  Getting there was incredibly hard, seemed impossible at times, but it was all worth it in the end.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A very miserable day - weather-wise

Today was absolutely miserable.  The weather was just horrible.  I suppose if I was a duck I might have liked it and if the weather was nice I had a bike ride planned.  Paul suggested he would go with me (probably to make sure I actually do go out for a bike ride) and sadly the weather just didn't allow for that so we'll need to reschedule that.  It is daunting though going with Paul because his cycling speed is incredibly fast and I am significantly slower than he is, but I really do appreciate the interest and of course the valuable tips and advice he could share - considering I have this lovely 90km bike ride scheduled for the end of the year as part of the half distance ironman Rose, Denise and I will be doing and right now 90km seems a long way away. 

Instead Paul and I loaded his details on a new website that was recently launched.  It is a New Zealand-based site where artists can load their songs to share.  I'm still getting my head around how the site might work, but please will you stop by (click here), "become a fan" and share the link.  The more people "become a fan" the better chance Paul has of promoting his music.

Other than that I didn't get up to too much today.  The usual chores, but that's not interesting enough to write about.  Hope your day was good!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tuesday update

I have found the funniest video clip that I have seen in a while.  Honestly if you are needing a laugh today, this is the clip to watch.



This week is going to feel rather weird as yesterday was a public holiday and our Monday really felt like a Sunday which means today (Tuesday) feels like a Monday.

I have finally managed to kind of organised Bianca's birthday party.  Nearly there, only one or two more little things to sort.  Rose and Mike were so kind to design the party invites for us.  Not long now then we have a 9 year old.

Rose pointed out that this term only has 4 more weeks left.  Really?  Where is this year going?  It is moving too fast.

Sorry not much of an update today.  Hope your day is going well.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Today is a day to be thankful

5 years ago today was a day where my world came crashing down with the words "The doctors say Bianca has leukemia".  That moment is vividly clear in my mind.  I remember standing in the corridor just outside Bianca's hospital room (room 3 it was) and I remember holding Caitlyn in my arms and staring at the wall as I desperately wished I would not cry as the tears streamed down my face.  I remember having to put on the biggest show when I finally composed myself enough to walk into Bianca's room.  I remember it as if it was just yesterday.  It was on that day that the words "yesterday all my troubles seemed so far away, now it looks as though they're here to stay..." from the Beatles' Yesterday echoed through my mind.

But today, 5 years after that day I can honestly say that today is a day to be thankful.  A day where we celebrate how far we've come.  A day where we stand back and admire Bianca for the amazing little girl she is who bravely went into battle (a battle for her life) and showed us all that it is possible to live life regardless of the challenges she had to face.  She taught us to live for now.  It is also a day that we admire Caitlyn who came along when we needed her the most.  Who kept things normal.  Who simply slotted in and kept us focused.

I hope that one day my girls will look back and realise that nothing is impossible.  That you can achieve anything.  That you can live life despite facing challenges.  

I know I've shared this clip before, but especially for today I would like to share it here again.  It recognises the journey and more importantly celebrating how far we've come.  Thank you again Paul for the amazing music you put to my words. 


Sunday, June 3, 2012

How is your weekend going?

So far this weekend has just been a quiet one for Caitlyn and me.  Bianca and Terence spent yesterday and today in the city at some or the other board gaming convention where they played one board game after another.  Bianca's strategy for choosing which game to play was to look at the picture on the box and if it looked nice, she wanted to play it.  :-).  One good thing about something like this is that you get to try different board games and then when you find one you really like then you know it would be worth spending the money to get one for yourself. 

This coming week is going to feel rather weird with tomorrow being a public holiday.  I don't think we have anything particular that we have planned. So probably just another quiet day.  I will probably see if I am able to get a bike ride or gym session in.

On Friday was our weekly swim session and although Val usually works us hard, it was a good session.  We were 5 in total so was a nice group.  Paul held back on us the first session I think and on Friday he really showed us a thing or two.  He was so fast and he just kept going and going.  I managed to keep up with him for about 2 lengths before he quickly pulled away and left me behind.  Paul and I have a bit of a swim race scheduled for the end of term 3 and I did think that I might stand a half a chance, but now I know I am going to have my work cut out for me.  The plan is that we will swim 100m or 4 lengths.  I did try and convince Paul that maybe (given his fitness levels) he might give me a 10 minute head start, but he wasn't interested.  :-).

So what have you been up to this weekend?

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Please bear with me today...

Today is slightly hard for me.  Not much, but slightly.  You know how you just instantly know what event (like a birthday) happens on which date, you don't have to look at a calendar to figure it out, well this is what this time of the year is like for me.  I instantly remember when I see the date.  Today is the date where everything started going wrong in 2007.  The day started off great.  We had plans.  On the 31st of May we noticed the big swollen lump underneath Bianca's hair at the back of her head and thought we'd keep an eye on it.  She had tonsillitis and antibiotics earlier in the month and we figured it must just be that it didn't fully work.  So on this morning in 2007 (which was also a Saturday) Bianca and Terence left for Kenepuru so she could be checked out and maybe get some more antibiotics.  Then as soon as they came back we would go off and do stuff.  Before not too long they came back.  I remember I was in the kitchen doing dishes and I turned around looking at Terence and saying "so what did the doctor say?"  I expected him to say "nothing major", but instead he said "we have to go to Wellington Hospital where they have a paediatrician".  I remember thinking how annoying it was and that I hope they would just be really quick. 

I waited.  And waited.  And waited.  And finally when I was sure that surely by then they must have been almost on their way back, I called Terence who told me that Bianca needed a blood test. 


I think it is at this point where I suddenly wondered what was going on. Suddenly realised that maybe things were not as simple as I thought.  I didn't really know what to think, but the waiting was killing me just sitting there waiting for news.  Watching the clock slowly ticking by.  Not knowing what was going on was driving me insane.

Much later I got a call from Terence that they were not sure what was up but that Bianca needed a blood transfusion as she had low platelets and low red blood cells and that she would have to be admitted over the long weekend so they could do more tests on the Tuesday.  I remember asking why she had to stay the whole weekend and why she couldn't just come home and we would take her back on the Tuesday.  But no, the decision was that she would have to stay. 

Waiting at the hospital

Waiting for the Emla cream (that numbs the skin) to work in preparation for her very first blood transfusion.  Look how pale she was!

Admitted.
The unknown was driving me completely insane and so I searched Google for some answers. What did it mean to have low platelets and low red blood cells? All I remember is there were so many results for Leukemia.  A few other possibilities too, but I just sat there and felt the panic fill my chest.  I remember desperately emailing people asking them to please just pray that whatever was up with Bianca turned out nothing.  I remember praying so hard that whatever it was was treatable and could be cured.  It became a really long night.  I paced up and down and of course had to still take care of Caitlyn who was only about 3 months old at the time.  

Finally around 10pm Terence was able to come and get me so he could get a few things for them (because of course we were not prepared for an admission) and I had to go drop him off so that I wouldn't be completely without a car. Seeing Bianca there in the big hospital bed - she looked so small.  She was so small!

It seems so long ago now.  How unprepared we were.  

Friday, June 1, 2012

Little did we know...

Today 5 years ago Caitlyn started daycare for the very first time.  Boy we were on top of the world.  Just the day before I had accepted an exciting job opportunity and Bianca was so excited that her baby sister would come to the same "school" as she was going.  I remember dropping Caitlyn and Bianca off and then when I left I had to keep reminding myself that I didn't just accidentally left her somewhere, but that she was instead safely taken care of at daycare.



Little did we know that just the following day our lives would change so completely.  I think it is a good thing we don't always know what lies ahead because on this day we just focused on everything that was exciting, on the sunny day, and the fact that it was Friday.  It was just another ordinary day.  We were blissfully unaware of the challenges ahead.

Thinking back about this day reminds me that we should make the most of today.  That we should enjoy the ordinary and the little things and the things that fill us with excitement because we really don't know what tomorrow brings.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

5 years in 5 days...

and so the end of May approaches very fast with only 1 more day left.  To my surprise I wasn't as anxious as I thought I would normally be in May.  Although I did glance at Caitlyn's legs this evening in the bath wondering why she had bruises.  I know they are in all likelihood just from playing, but it is an automatic reaction questioning things like that.  I don't think it will ever change.

In some respects it is hard to believe that in 5 days it will be 5 years since Bianca was diagnosed.  Can it be 5 years already?  It seems a bit unreal at the moment.  Although at times the memories are vividly clear.  Sometimes I look at her photos where she had no hair and it doesn't seem that it was really part of our lives.

Of course other times it hits me right in the face, but I look at her now and think, wow, what a long way we've all come.

Sometimes I wonder how we were strong enough to just keep standing, but I suppose a person is always strong when they need to be even when they don't feel all that strong.  We didn't really have a choice.  It was the only option available to us.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

One of my favourites...

Am not feeling inspired to write anything, but I thought I'd share this Youtube clip.  It is one (of many) of my favourite songs and I just love the message in this one.


Hope your day is going great!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A very wet, windy and cold Sunday :-(

It has been raining here the whole day.  It is rainy, windy and cold.  I think there is absolutely no doubt - winter has arrived :-(.  I am so not ready for winter.  Good thing I am able to go to the gym now because going out for a bike ride in weather like this is not exactly my idea of fun. 

Speaking of gym, my left calf muscle is really sore today.  Not sure if it is the leg presses I did because my right leg is fine or if this has partly to do with the leg cramps I kept getting on Friday.  Not fun and I really hope this is not the start to a new leg injury.  The other injuries took forever to clear up.

Recently our home computer crashed.  This means the hard drive and everything on it is lost.  Gone.  Nowhere to be found.  Thank goodness that Terence has a good setup because we didn't lose our photos and things.  This is the computer I usually use to download photos and video clips and make up little clips for Youtube.  The scary thing is we had no warning.  I got back from picking Terence up, we heard a really weird sound and then the next minute it was all over.  So a good reminder to all - back up your important things.  It is not worth the risk losing things like photos and other important things you might have on your computer.

Last night I had a really weird and very vivid dream about a friend I had when I was still at school.  Not sure why I dreamt of this particular friend, but what the dream confirmed was that even though I am Afrikaans, I am dreaming in English.  I know this because at one point I wanted to tell him something but Bianca was right there and I didn't want her to know what I was saying so decided to then change the conversation over to Afrikaans.

Tomorrow I am taking Bianca for an appointment at Kenepuru hospital in Porirua.  It will be an ultra-sound.  In 2007 Bianca had kidney stones and as a result there is a bigger gap in the something, something, something and so this is really just a check more than anything.  I think after this one she probably would not require it again for a while.  I'm not in the mood to drive all the way to Kenepuru though and hopefully the weather tomorrow is nothing like it is today.  I'm also really hoping they don't run late with our appointment - for one I can think of other more fun things to do rather than be at Kenepuru hospital and for two Bianca is meant to drink something like 6 glasses of water about an hour or so before her appointment - if they run late will not be fun for her at all.

How was your weekend?  Did you get up to anything special?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

This and that on a Saturday

Yesterday was the weekly swim session again and it was hard work as always.  But as I'm often told No pain no gain.  Val is good though and I really enjoy her sessions.  We were 4 in the session yesterday.  Towards the end of the session I got a leg cramp that was pretty uncomfortable so not sure what was up.

This morning Terence took the kids to the mall to buy a birthday present for Rose's daughter Lily's birthday party.  While they were there I went off to the gym for about an hour.  Spent mostly time on the bikes and then also did some leg presses or whatever they are called.

Got home for a quick lunch, wrapped presents and then Caitlyn and I set off for the party and Terence and Bianca went to Bianca's netball match which unfortunately they did not win today.   The party was great (exceedingly noisy - as you'd expect with a 6 year old birthday party). 

With the end of May fast approaching I need to start planning Bianca's birthday party for next month.  Bianca has a few ideas and I have some options that I am looking at.

It is hard to believe the end of May is right around the corner.  This year is going just way too fast I think.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A quick update

I'm still here and am briefly stopping by for a quick update.
  • Earlier this week I finished some training manuals as part of the part-time position that I have recently been offered.  It was really interesting to do something other than housework for a change and the I received really positive feedback so am absolutely thrilled.  
  • Yesterday I went out for a bike ride and it was incredibly tough.  Granted it was a hilly ride, but the mindset wasn't quite there and my legs acted up a bit.  I did do about 18km in total so am pleased given the circumstances. 
  • Yesterday we also had a power cut from about 9am to 3:30pm.  When I came back from my bike ride I wasn't feeling all that great so decided to go have a short nap.  Because I was freezing I thought I'd switch on the electric blanket. At some point I wondered why it wasn't heating up and then "of course it needs ELECTRICITY".  Then I thought I might make myself some toast and remembered "it needs ELECTRICITY".  Funny how you suddenly only want to do things requiring electricity when they cut the power.
  • Cailtyn had her hair cut.  She actually decided to snip off some of her own hair and when we asked her why she did it she said that she wanted it short.  So Terence took her to the hairdresser last weekend and she got her hair cut.

Before

After
And that's it for now.  Sorry, not all that interesting.  How has your week been?