We got Covid and it sucked.

This year has been a nightmare for most of us, but especially over here at The Rabbit Haus. My husband, Francois works in tourism and owns a well established tour company called Wine Flies Tours. It relies mostly (and I mean 95%) on international tourists. In season, he has 5 or more tour busses out into the winelands every day. Above this, they also do private tours, Kruger Safaris and helicopter tours. When we hit lockdown, his business closed completely. He didn’t earn an income for almost 6 months and had a whole team of staff and tour guides to try support. I do marketing and PR for mostly the hospitality industry and I also write for a few other companies – mostly content and blog posts. I lost 80% of my clients during lockdown and the clients I did have, decreased their services to a minimum. The schools closed. The kids were adapting to home schooling and everything changed in what felt like seconds.

My dad (who I am extremely close to) let me know that he was leaving the country. For good. He lived in KZN, in my same childhood home. I quickly bought flights for him to come and say goodbye to us in Cape Town. I hadn’t seen my dad in over a year and all I wanted was a last hug, dinner, cup of tea and for him to see his only grandchildren before he left South Africa. A few days before his arrival, he caught wind that the airports were going to close and they had to move their UK flights forward. Immediately. I got a frantic voice note and my dad got on a plane to the United Kingdom that same day. I didn’t get to say goodbye. Out of all the ways that Covid affected me personally, that remains the worst.

Fast forward a few months and Francois and I completely restructured our businesses. I stepped in as the Marketing Manager of Wine Flies Tours, I started teaching again and I put my writing career in children’s books on hold. We launched an extensive PR campaign for local travel and got great coverage on television, radio and online media. Francois got bored and started making biltong fun fun, which quickly turned into a little business and he is now stocked at quite a few places around Cape Town. I picked up a few new additional clients, the kids were finding their groove at school and getting ready for their final exams. We booked a holiday to Mozambique  and JUST as everything seemed to be going better… We all got Covid.

Monday, 23 November

Francois’ birthday was on Monday, 23 November. He woke up saying that he felt tired and that his body was sore, but we put it off to him being very tired. It’s the end of the year, we had been on holiday in Stanford for our wedding anniversary and had many late nights and far too many drinks. I genuinely thought he just had a 2-day hangover (which you know, is a thing). We even stopped to visit his dad in the morning (a diabetic) and I had arranged a little surprise party for him: A full day in the winelands with some of his best friends. We spent that Monday with at least 20 of our friends – eating, drinking and travelling together until at least 10pm that night. We had no idea. We did take Francois’ temperature on Monday morning just to be sure, and it was completely normal. Also – the tour bus we were in was seated according to Covid regulations, eg the bus can normally take 13 passengers, but we were at capacity of 9 passengers according to Covid regulations. The bus had also been fogged, sterilized and all passengers were checked for temperatures, hands sanitized etc. This is important later.

Tuesday, 24 November

On Tuesday morning, the kids came back home from a week with their dad. Noah was at school for an exam and Ben was just hanging at home with us. Francois felt bad, but still not like – “flu bad”. He said he felt like his body was really sore and he was feeling chills like hot and cold vibes. Not like a fever. He had no cough, no sore throat. Not even a sneeze. No temperature. I on the other hand started coughing a dry cough and also started feeling the chills. The worst was definitely the lethargy. I felt like even walking to the bathroom was impossible, but I had the kids and everything else to take care of.

Wednesday, 25 November

Our nanny came into work. Ben started getting cold symptoms so I kept him home from school just in case. I still honestly thought that we were just tired and probably just had a hangover from Francois’ all-day party on Monday. We had scares before. I have gotten sick with colds this year and so has Ben. We had been for Covid tests earlier this year which were negative. Not wanting to take a chance, Francois went for a test and by now we were letting the friends from Monday’s party know that three of us were sick. I got hit with the worst case of lethargy I had ever felt and I am counting having raised 2 newborns. I got into bed that afternoon and could not move. Francois and I were just like, critically exhausted. My cough was getting a bit worse but not bad – just the odd wet cough. No other symptoms except a really sore body and absolute exhaustion. Francois and I dragged ourselves to Lancet for his test. I stocked up on all the flu meds I always use: Corenza C, Myprodol, Vitamin C and Zinc for us. For the kids, I got Corenza C paediatric syrup and Stilpane syrup. If you’re a parent, you may know that Stilpane knocks a kid out like a sleeping pill, and I knew that Ben needed to sleep to help his body heal. My son Ben is asthmatic and is on chronic medication. He has been hospitalised a handful of times, making him high risk for Covid. Things were starting to get real very quickly at this point. I pulled the kids from school and told our nanny not to come in anymore. I still didn’t think that we had it, but I was just being safe.

Thursday, 26 November

I woke up feeling like I could never get out of bed again in my life. I almost wet the bed because walking the 2 meters to our en-suite bathroom seemed impossible. Francois was literally just groaning next to me. I checked on the kids, gave them more meds and got straight back into bed. At this point, I told Francois “This isn’t flu. Something is wrong.” The only thing that really set up alarm bells was the total exhaustion and inability to move, stand or walk. Francois and I felt really, really dizzy and spaced out. I slept in for a bit and got out of bed at lunch time. I still had to look after the kids, make sure they were studying, eating and sorting out their odd squabbles. I had a few urgent work matters and had to clean the house and still walk and take care of the dogs, rabbits and our cat. We survived on take-aways and lets just say that my kids ate a LOT of cereal.

Later that afternoon, Francois got the text. He was positive. By now my denial had disappeared and I went into full-on panic mode. We had to contact everyone we saw that Monday. We saw his dad who is high risk. All our closest friends. Our nanny had been in. The kids had been at school. I felt this feeling of total guilt and almost like, grief? I had to contact the school, pull the boys out of exams. At the same time it hit me that Ben is extremely high risk. The kid has ended up in hospital with a cold before. Asthma attacks are scary. We put ourselves in total lockdown. Obviously.

Friday, 27 November 

All I could think about was monitoring Ben. The doctors wouldn’t see him and I was too scared to take him for a Covid test. It was very clear that we all had it. My other son, Noah absolutely NEVER gets sick. He had a headache for like 2 hours that week and that was it. Also, note that I started dosing Noah with all the same meds as soon as Ben got sick, so I think that definitely helped. We got a peak-flow meter (From Wynberg Pharmacy) which is a device that measures your lung capacity. I was advised to get Ben to blow into the device every 2 hours to see if his numbers were decreasing. I also got his emergency asthma meds (a strong cortisone called Aspelone) to boost his lungs above and beyond his regular meds. By the time I noticed a decline, I called our doctor who referred me to a Paediatrician who admitted Ben straight to the Paediatric Ward at our nearest hospital. By now, I was slowly getting my energy back but I was probably just running on adrenaline. We had run out of food at home and Francois was still very sick. He definitely got it the worst out of all of us. I had to leave Francois and Noah at home alone and stay over with Ben in isolation at the hospital.

They tested me and Ben straight away. The test itself is really sucky. We got swabbed around our tonsils which makes you want to hurl. I would much have preferred a blood test, to be honest. It seems like a stupid thing to even mention, but a lot of people ask what the test is like.

Ben was put on a nebuliser. This was Friday. Ben’s 10th birthday was on the upcoming Sunday and it looked like he was going to spend it in hospital.

The nurses couldn’t really come into our room because they had to put on like a dozen garments to even enter our ward. This meant that most of his medication was dropped at a table outside our room, which I would administer to Ben. I had to run his nebs and turn them off. I slept on a chair next to his bed and he struggled to sleep. His lung capacity wasn’t coming back up fast enough and would just drop every 2 hours again.

Saturday 28 November

If you’ve ever been in hospital with your kid, then you know that they wake you up at 5:30am. I was feeling super sick at this point and in my rush, hadn’t packed my own meds, toothbrush or even a change of clothes for myself. Obviously Ben had everything he needed because this is just how parents operate, right? The doctor came to check on Ben and didn’t want to discharge him as she felt that we would just come back again later. Knowing that it was Ben’s birthday the following day, she let us leave on condition that we purchase our own Nebulizer for at home, which we did. We ordered some groceries online and all of us literally just slept for what felt like a hundred years.

Sunday 29 November

Ben woke up feeling so much better. I actually felt 80% fine and Francois too. We had a cute little drive-by party and all the family dropped off cakes and presents for Ben. He really got spoiled rotten and was off his nebs by Sunday evening.

The following week…

We had another week of isolation to get through and were all feeling the cabin fever really badly. Luckily, we have a house in Stanford to we packed the family in the car to go isolate there. Our Stanford house has a big, beautiful garden so at least the kids and dogs would have more space to play and be active. We left on Monday and I asked my nanny to go to the house on Wednesday / Thursday to check on the cat and bunnies. She is a single lady living with another family, so she often stays over when we travel. Our Stanford house is my sanctuary.

On Wednesday our nanny told us that she was feeling sick. On Thursday her chest was severely tight. By Thursday evening she was taken to hospital for medication and a Covid test. I felt so helpless being all the way in Stanford, so I ordered groceries online for her to be delivered to the house. She had medicine and everything else she needed. By Friday she had tested positive. This meant that she had to stay at our house and was officially in quarantine. This also meant… that we could not go home. Apparently you can get Covid twice and if we went home and lived with her, we would need to go right back into isolation.

We would have just stayed in Stanford, but I had a meeting in Cape Town on Tuesday and the boys were also seriously missing their dad who they hadn’t seen in two weeks. We ended our quarantine, drove back to Cape Town, gave the kids to Graeme and then Francois and I had to check into a hotel. We stayed on Long Street for a week before we could come home on Friday afternoon.

Only 1 of our friends also tested positive for Covid. One who was at Francois’ birthday party that first Monday. Out of the other 20+ people we were with that day, everyone else was luckily fine.

Our nanny went home yesterday and she is feeling absolutely fine now. We are all 100% recovered. We did miss our holiday to Mozambique (you need a negative Covid test to get through the border) and the boys missed their final exams, class picnics and everything else. It’s the 12th of December and I haven’t even put up the damn Christmas Tree. We’re still tired. I spent all of today in bed, watching Greys Anatomy re-runs. I still feel exhausted and like I could just fall asleep anywhere, at any time. And (because I hate myself) I got on the scale this afternoon. Three weeks of no exercise and trying to “eat for energy” has really, really taken it’s toll on my body. I must have gained about 7kg but even worse is that I just feel horrible. Tired, gross, unhealthy and dehydrated. I feel like I need to run 10km and eat 10 salads and drink 20l of water to just feel normal again and I will. As soon as I can get out of bed again.

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Bunny fishing banana

I feel like I need to walk around here with a feather duster and dust all the cobwebs off of this blog! It’s been so long, and I’ve missed being here. I really love keeping all my memories in one place and having a little online journal! How I’ve missed writing.

Today I want to talk about Benjamin Nicholas Clark! He is the sweetest little guy that you’ve ever met in your life, and he loves nothing more than fishing. He started when he was about 2 years old and he’s NINE now. He’s caught more fish than anyone else I know and he’s really, really good at it. I don’t know what attracts people to fishing, but whatever it is – it literally has Ben hooked!

My boys each have their own hobbies, talents and interests. Benjamin is all about fishing and art. He loves to draw and sketch and has built up a gorgeous portfolio of pieces. I think that I help out more on the art side and his dad is also a passionate fisherman. They spend hours at the local dam or on a kayak pulling bass out. Once, when we were in Paternoster – I organised for him to go deep-sea fishing with a family friend. He pulled out the biggest fish out of all the grown men and was in his element. They caught Hotentots and that night Ben helped scale, prep and braai his very own catch. It was such a lovely moment to be a part of. He was SO PROUD.

Anyway, I need to keep all these pictures together for him, because it’s so nice to watch him grow through the years and develop into a proper little fisherman. I always wonder if he’d want to join a fishing club or go professional in some way one day. I love that fishing gets him out the house and into the outdoors, and that his best friend (James) is also a major fishing enthusiast. When Ben has a great catch, he immediately wants to call James on the phone and tell him all about it. Here’s a look at Ben’s fishing trips and catches throughout the years. What a great little man! I love you Ben.

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A weekend away as an Experience

A few months ago, I got an “Experience Days” voucher to try out. They’re a company that lets you buy experiences for people, – instead of presents. I happen to be big on this; I would much rather buy someone art lessons, a weekend away, bungee jumping etc instead of a random, heartless gift. So “Experience Days” is how you can gift someone things like horseback riding through the winelands, weekends away, shark cage diving, a supercar driving experience, a flower arranging course – etc. If you’re stuck on getting something for ‘the person who has everything’ then this site is for you. They’re big overseas and have just launched in SA. The company asked me to pick an experience for my family to do… just to get the feel of it and how it works. Check them out here > Experience Days.

I chose a night away, ‘Glamping’ with the boys in Montagu. You can find the listing on their site here. The place we stayed at was really, really cool. A few things I loved:

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  1. They’re totally affordable. It’s R800.00 for the voucher and you get your own, private campsite for a night, that sleeps 4
  2. They’re dog-friendly. It’s so hard to find a place where we can take Jack. I hate leaving him behind
  3. There’s a working farm on the premises with chickens, sheep, goats, geese, and alpacas. The owners live nearby and they give you food to feed the farm animals. The boys got to hold a 3-day old goat, see a 4 HOUR old lamb and baby geese too. They fed the Alpacas which was so sweet.
  4. There’s a dam there for fishing/swimming. We didn’t catch anything, but it was fun trying. Sort of!
  5. There are braai facilities, and you can order wood (R25 per basket) Your campsite has its own private kitchenette (with gas stove) and a bathroom with a shower.

The boys really enjoyed playing in a proper tee-pee. We slept in the handmade gypsey wagon which was pretty darn cool. There are beds with bedding and towels in the ‘rooms’ so you don’t have to worry about dragging your entire house along to go ‘camping’. It was a short stay and we definitely could have stayed an extra night. The drive is pretty far from Cape Town (about 2 – 2.5 hours) so pack entertainment for the kids.

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We fished, and Francois braaied for us. The boys played ball on the lawn and we felt like we were a million miles away, which was really nice. I made a big bed under the stars for the boys and we all laid there watching the sky together. Even Monkey (our new baby lovebird) joined for the weekend. He’s super tame and hand-reared – but I’ll tell you more about him another time!

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So check out Experience Days if you’re stuck on a gift for someone. What I like about them is that you can send gifts to friends and family in other provinces/countries without relying on the post office or a florist. The prices are good and there’s a big range of things to choose from. E.g. my dad lives in Durban, and I can send him a voucher to go River Rafting for Christmas. It’s something that I know he’d never do on his own, and I think it’s more special than sending a bottle of whiskey or similar, you know?

 

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Lately

I’m going to skip the whole “I haven’t blogged for so long because I’ve been busy” intro because *yawn* and because well, we’re all busy. We glorify it like it’s an achievement, but being busy really sucks. People throw all their savings at expensive holidays to get the hell away from being busy, so I won’t bore you with the details on why I’ve been too ‘busy’ to blog. I’ve still been writing though. I wrote this huge heartfelt post on my innermost self-exploration and emailed it to like five people instead.

I made a huge decision this year. See, last year I went on this gigantic mission with my business. I wanted to feed and grow it like something out of “Little Shop of Horrors” and once it was all set up, I looked at it and realised that it wasn’t what I wanted at all. Taking four days to reply to emails, feeling like we were ‘delivering’ instead of achieving. I felt like a waitress with seven tables and everyone sat down at once and it was awful. That’s not what I want. While I have a small group of people that assist where I’m absolutely unable to, I want to stay the face and project manager of my own company, you know? I want to maintain control and know exactly what is going on at every minute. I don’t want to delegate, I want to DO. So the first part of this year was greatly dedicated to re-shaping a lot of what I’d formed in to the wrong mould. And it’s been great. I’ve also been much more selective with our clients and ensuring that we’re 100% passionate about absolutely everything that we’re doing. What a huge difference that’s made for general morale… But enough shop talk.

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My children are by far the most amazing and incredible thing that’s ever happened to me. I know that you’re supposed to love your children, but I really LIKE them, you know? Like I sit for hours and just talk nonsense with them. I have to give you a little run-down on their current personalities because I’m just besotted.

Noah plays the piano and had his first music concert. I couldn’t get over how brave he was on stage. How confident he is in his ability and how comfortable he is with himself. Watching him laugh and joke with his classmates in the seats – I literally could not take my eyes off of him the entire time. He played so beautifully and was so proud of himself. He loves reading and languages and has never been overly interested in television. He LOVES tech things though, like to a borderline OCD level. I got a humidifier and it was like the highlight of his month trying to figure out how it works, what purpose it serves and the engineering behind all of it. Little things that we all walk past… like he would sit for 20 minutes and try figure out what else our oil heater can do. Which settings it has. It blew his MIND when he figured out that it had a timer. He’s just like that… he loves figuring things out. One day when we drove through that tunnel (you know the one that goes through a mountain – I think it’s on the way to Robertson or something) he said “When I grow up I want to be an engineer so I can make tunnels and bridges that are safe for people” and I swear. to. God he’s going to. I know that he’s going to end up doing something in that field, although it might switch to medicine when he’s older. I know he’ll love knowing how a body works and he’ll like helping people. He’ll definitely have a career with some sort of reward attached to it. Noah is also so social and funny and man, he’s just so smart. I know that we all think (know) that our kids are smart, but his teachers begged us to send him to be assessed when he was five and man alive – he really is a tiny child genius. When they assess kids, they do this personality test too (the whole thing takes like two full days) and Noah has what she called the ‘head boy’ factor. Meaning that he has strengths in every department – emotional, intellectual, rational, physical and social. He’s a very lucky kid.

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Sometimes he says the most incredible things like the other day he asked me if I thought that a particular girl at his school is “the one” for him. I was like well my boy, I don’t know…. ??? He doesn’t believe in Father Christmas because “It doesn’t make sense – how can one person be at the same place at the same time every year etc” when I suggested elves, he straight-up laughed at me. Like I was the child. Anyway, I’ve sworn him to secrecy to protect his brother’s innocence. But man… he says the craziest things. The other night he said he loves me, and I bragged: “I love you MORE!” and he replied “I love you more than space-time continuum” and I had to google that really fast. Like hello, please can you be eight years old and not twelve? He is such a bright, happy boy. He’s also super in to origami right now and spends hours practicing his folds. I can’t wait for him to read all of this one day. Noah, I’m so proud of you x

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BENJAMIN. Well look, if he doesn’t end up being a vet, archaeologist, zoologist or paleontologist then I will be shook. Bunny Banana is obsessed with animals. Noah goes to the library and brings back story or joke books, and Ben puts a new ‘information’ book on my lap every week. “Information books on mammals. Fossils. Dinosaurs. He has probably brought home every educational mammal book that poor library has. His bedtime story is a fact book on animals. He has always been like this, and now that he’s started reading and can scan titles – it’s even worse. We went to a bookshop recently and he asked the store person: “Bring me ALL the information books on animals” and sat on the (kids area) floor while this poor guy loaded books in from other sections. Ben sat there for a good hour trying to soak up as much information as he could. He also really loves math, so I buy him these cool workbooks so he can do sums.

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Ben loves television. Ben loves television probably (definitely) more than he loves me. He watches documentaries about earth and (yes) animals. He watches cartoons that give information about different species. When you talk to Ben, he’ll rattle on and on about this habitat and that ecosystem. His language ability is honestly profound. I took him to the UCT clinic for his asthma a while ago, and this retired professor handled his consultation. Within five minutes, the professor (sincerely) asked if he could use Benjamin as a speaker at his next conference and could not believe how well articulated he is for his age. He wanted me to get Buns tested, but you know what… I don’t want to. I just want the boys to be kids and like dinosaurs and be engrossed by our household appliances.

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Ben is my baby. Noah thrives on independence. In the mornings, he makes his own toast, lets Jack out, makes my coffee, pours himself a bath, gets himself ready and reads a book and has had like, an entire life before Ben and I have even woken up. Bunny still asks me to pour him some juice and he’s so soft and caring. Honestly – Ben is the most caring person you’ve ever met in your life. He also has an incredibly innocent and beautifully naive quality about him that makes you fall in love with him at once. While Noah is super social and popular, Ben is the sweetest little loner. He’s not lonely, it’s just that he’s so fulfilled in his own company. He has like, one close friend at school but other than that, Ben lives completely in his own little world with animals, books, maths and television. As I watch his reading improve, I get more and more excited for him. A whole new world is going to be available to him, and I can just picture him sitting in his room for hours, soaking up information.

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I honestly can’t get enough of those two or their love for each other. Their bond is the most beautiful, precious thing and it would break your heart if you ever saw it. Really, I’m so grateful that I get to watch them grow up. There is nothing sweeter.

There’s so much more to talk about, and I’ll chat more again soon. I want to write a whole lot more again – about everything that’s been going on. I also want to write about the places we’ve been visiting and I want to talk about some serious stuff, but more on that next time. PS It feels really good to write again!

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The boys in their Winter Country Road gear!

I haven’t done a little shoot of the boys for such a long time. With the move, renovations and work, I’ve barely got their winter wardrobe sorted and find myself fishing through cupboards trying to find snuggly gear that still fits. Growing kids are the toughest, because when they were younger they needed a new wardrobe every single year. Can you imagine that for a second? That everything you own in your cupboard needs to be replaced every year from your shoes to your shirts? Actually, that doesn’t sound bad at all. Now that they’ve settled in to their growth, I’m getting 2-3 years of wear out of items (especially when I’m sneaky and buy a size too big hehe) so I’ve really enjoyed dressing them more lately. I love it when they look good and people stop and comment on how stylish or adorable their little outfits are.

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I shopped at Country Road V&A Waterfront as they have a huge kids section. They had a 20% sale on some winter items, so I did go a little bit mad. I love the quality of Country Road’s clothes and have a few of their items in my own wardrobe too. When I went to Melbourne in January I came home with the most beautiful Country Road dress you have ever seen – but more on that another day / post. Extending my favourite brand in to the boys’ wardrobe makes me happy and I can see how proud and different they act when they’re dressed well, you know? It has begun! I really love the kids denim range. The fit is so snug and lightweight and makes them look like proper little tiny grownups.

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We took a walk down to our favourite sushi spot the other afternoon, so I took some fun pictures along the way to show you how sweet the latest kids #Countryroadstyle gear is. The boys are so good on camera and love playing along. They do drama at school, so I totally take advantage and say things like “show me happy” okay now “show me serious or excited or fun” like really, they are always so keen to play pretend and will be on a ramp in Milan or at least in Vanity Fair in absolute no time. KIDDING. Am I? How cute are these outfits!

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PS Check out sweet Nina’s new outfits on Angie’s blog if you have a girl and want to play dress-up too > Lucky Pony 

 

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I bought a house for you.

I sure did. I don’t know if I’m emotionally ready to talk about this yet, because it has been such an absolute mission. I started this process in November last year and when I saw this little house, I could. not. stop. I’d been looking for a little investment property close-ish to UCT that sits in a great neighbourhood and that obviously won’t depreciate over the next 11 years – when the kids move in and settle in to their studies. It’s a sweet 2 bedroom duplex in a tiny little block with a big wrap-around garden. The street is lined with big trees, it’s opposite a beautiful church and adjacent to a community garden and playground. There’s access to the train station close by, and it’s a quick walk to main rd on the current Jamie Shuttle route. There’s a lot of development going on in the area, with phase one recently completed. Man, I did so much research right down to the body corporate and their financials and maintenance plans too. There was a bit of a show-down between the seller and I, and on the third offer we finally found a middle ground.

Buying a house as a sole proprietor is a total nightmare. At one point I genuinely considered taking up a full time job just to make the banks like me more. I’ve always avoided credit and literally don’t have any. Not even a cellphone contract. Nothing. Apparently this is a VERY bad thing, and there were many tears over the phone to the credit bureau about my case. Buying a house with just one income and watching people across a desk comb through your bank statements and business financials is actually mortifying. Quick tip: It doesn’t matter if you can afford the bond or even twice the bond amount. It’s just not enough. So with no credit, no payslip and no joint income I set out on The Worlds Most Impossible Quest. And we won. Eventually.

The plan is to live in this sweet little house for a year or two and fix it up real nice. Then rent it out, and pay it off by the time the boys finish school. If you’ve looked at projected figures for university fees in 2027 then you should understand why I’m trying to cover as many bases as I can right now. Maybe I’ll live there as an old lady with many cats one day – who knows? But at least there’s something extra nestled somewhere.

I’m doing tiny baby little renovations right now, which pains me. I am not a DIY type of person. Even the thought of shopping for tiles bores me to actual death, but I’m trying to get in to it. My mom’s partner is a most excellent builder, so I’m kind of winning there. I’m so grateful to him, really. So here are some ideas and plans and things that I found on Pinterest. The first steps to making the place feel a little bit like home.

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Do you remember

We all used to cuddle in to mommy’s bed and watch Friends and Now and Then? Noah, it’s your favourite movie right now. You love the Wormers and the mystery of Little Johnny.

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Watering the vegetable garden and watching your mielies grow? Watching things that you planted grow from scratch. Your mielies are almost ready now, and I’m so proud of how attentive you’ve been.

Do you remember that every night Jack would lay at the edge of my bed and stare at himself in my dressing room mirror? Sometimes he barks at himself forever and sometimes he wakes us up at like 3am this way.

Noah do you remember telling me that chickens are your favourite animals, and then bunnies. And that dogs are “okay”

Ben do you remember sitting in the bunny cage with Pumpkin, Fasty and “the white one” whenever you felt a bit sad?

Do you guys remember me taking your playstation away and hiding it in the top cupboard? You guys got so mad at me that I thought you’d literally never love me again.

Remember how we play UNO for like hours and how Ben always wins? Sometimes you don’t like picking up 8 cards, so mommy shares the big pick-ups with you. You’re never a sore loser, but you always forget to say UNO. I love how proud you look when you win a game, like you’ve been validated by the universe.

Noah you’re such a sensible, organized, neat and level headed kinda guy. You need things to be right, and fair and explained. You like things to make sense. You got your new school shoes and uniform last weekend, and I watched you meticulously fold and place everything together exactly as it was packaged. You’ve had it all ready and organized… 3 days in advance. I love this about you. I love how much you care about everything.

Remember when I travel and I’d always bring this huge stash of NEW sweets and treats home for you? Remember how Ben likes jelly sweets and Noah likes chocolate ones. Remember that time you got grounded for 2 weeks because of something to do with these sweets.

Noah do you remember how you lost your second tooth? How we tied floss around your tooth and the other end to the kitchen cabinet? You were so brave, I NEVER thought you’d let us do it. I hope I’m there when you trick your kids in to it too.

Remember when Ben decided he needed to be super cool and wanted that crazy haircut? All shaved at the sides with an over comb? You got your rockstar haircut, but I drew the line at peroxiding your hair white. You’re only 5 my boy.

Remember how we spent this summer holiday at the pool and at swimming lessons and the beach? You practically lived in the water, and now you’re on your second set of sunburn. I’m so glad that I got to spend so much time with you!

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You’ve started big school, and I’m so proud of both of you. Proud of how well mannered, attentive, caring, sensitive, crazy, fun, sporty and adventurous you both are. I love watching your friendship grow. You’ve been such brave boys this holiday, and I can’t help but be proud and take a few pages out of your tiny little books. Whenever I worry that something’s going to knock you over or unsettle you, you ALWAYS prove me wrong and don’t let anything dampen your gorgeous little personalities. You’ve walked in to a brand new world at school, filled with new friends, lessons, experiences and knowledge. You walked in well rested and sun-kissed, with beamy smiles all over your faces.  I love you guys so much.

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Every part of you is just another part of me.

I haven’t written you boys a nice letter lately; mostly because I’ve been so busy hanging out with you. I wonder when you guys will start reading these posts. Maybe you’re young men now. Or teenagers. Or fathers. Well, right now Noah: You’re six years old and you joined a new school this year. Your ‘forever’ school where you’ll be ’til you’re ‘big’ (standard five / grade 7) You had a pretty tough few weeks settling in, but you’re finally back to your ass-kicking, bouncy, happy, cheerful, chatty and bright self. You hang around mostly with girls and I’ll mention their names in case you remember or still know them: Claire, Ella, Fin and Ryan. And then with Dylan, Sam and Alfie too. That is sort of your squad and you guys are the coolest.

Benjamin you’re 5 next month and DYING to finish “baby school” and get to Grade R. You’re doing so well at art and your head sucks up information like a thirsty desert. Every day you have a new piece of information and you get SO upset when I drive you to school because you insist that my car is killing the earth and making holes in the Ozone layer. You love to sing. You love to watch television (Paw Patrol) and tell Noah that you just want to relax. You HATE it that Noah wants to play games like 24/7 when all you want to do is sleep late, watch TV and eat melted cheese on toast with tomato sauce. Mostly I think you’re missing out on solid friendships right now. At your school, all the kids are going to other schools next year. You’re really excited to meet your new, “forever” friends at big school. I’m so excited FOR you.

Noah right now you have 5 loose teeth and you’re about to lose a couple. Bunny (do I still call you Bunny?) we’re planning your 5th birthday party right now, which is obviously a Paw Patrol theme. You used to be obsessed with Spiderman, then Dora, then George in Peppa Pig and now it’s Marshall in Paw Patrol.

We’ve just come out of Winter over here, so right now you guys are really loving getting out the house and in to the forest, beach and and park. We’re doing a lot of gardening and planting vegetables – which you both love. Daddy just made you a big swing in the front garden with ropes tied to the bottom so you can pull each other and let go really fast. Do you remember that? Jack loves pulling you guys on the swing too.

I wonder what else you’ll remember about right now. Your tiny childhood. Your teachers, your friends, your school, your home. Do you remember the “N” and “B” lights I bought you for your bedroom? Do you remember us going on dates to the movies and sitting in the “red chairs”? Getting ice creams with flakes and browsing the toy shops? Do you remember baking muffins and cupcakes and me making you clean the lounge every afternoon. Do you remember all the times you got in to trouble for wetting the floor in the bathroom or the dogs always eating your shoes and me getting really mad. Do you remember climbing the olive trees in the garden, because pretty soon you’ll be too big to do it.

I miss you. I miss you being this small. Even though you aren’t big yet – it still hurts… knowing that you’ll grow up one day. You still believe everything I say and you believe in all the cool things like tooth fairies and Father Christmas and magic. All you want to do it play and pretend and make and create things and dream and listen to stories and colour and draw and eat sweets and learn. You’re so energetic and feisty and hungry for life, like every day is a brand new ADVENTURE filled with fun and excitement. Do you remember that?

I want you to know that whatever is going on for you right now – you were once a little boy with scraped knees and a heart filled with joy, happiness and energy. And I adore you.

 

Mommy bunny x

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Family photos by Paul Clark – September 2015

My brother Paul (transmit@paulclark.co.za | 082 855 4379) is a photographer, designer, art director and video editor. He is most excellent at everything that he does (insert sibling rivalry undertones) and I am insanely jealous of his photography skills. Last weekend when we were both visiting my mom, he snapped some nice pictures of Benjamin being silly. I asked him to quickly take a picture of each of us to frame at home, and I’m so glad that I did. I’m going to frame a few of these for our corridor at home, along with some of my Paris art prints. Basically spending all my money at the framer’s this month. I love how dark and moody these pictures are, in contrast to our happy faces and dispositions. Also, how ridiculously handsome are my boys?

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A letter to my third child.

I call you my daughter, but you could be a boy. My son. My sun.

I think about you every day; the child that I want so badly. You’re the possibility. The maybe. Still, I feel you and think about you constantly. Ben wants to meet you, but Noah is unsure. He thrives on certainty and routine, but I know that he’ll love you. He’ll probably love you the most. Daddy says he’s not sure, but every time we talk about you, the right corner of his mouth turns up. He doesn’t know that I can see it, his excited anticipation. He’d love you as soon as you exist, and if you’re a girl… I know that he’ll dote over you like his first love. You’d love him straight away too. He’s such a fun dad. Such a good dad. A really good man.

I wonder how you’ll fit in here. I wanted to meet you two years ago. I wanted to have you last year, and then this year again. I want to meet you right now, but I worry. Will I be a good mom to you? Will you get enough of our time and attention? What if I don’t know how to be a mom to a daughter. What if we fight. What if I can’t protect you. How do I stop your heart from breaking? Maybe we won’t have anything in common. Maybe we’ll be exactly the same.

You already have a name. You’re either Samuel or Bethany. Maybe you’re a Julia. Or a Sebastian. Or Holden or Maree. I see a little girl with long curly brown hair and green eyes. Dad’s eyes. He’s so scared that you’ll get his nose. He hates his nose. I don’t even know what I’d do with a girl. I wonder how different it would be. I hope it wouldn’t be lonely for you, with two brothers. Maybe you’ll be a boy, my Sam. Maybe you’ll really love having two older, fiery and energetic brothers. I bet they’ll fuss over you every day, those two. Soon they’ll be able to read you stories and tell you all about the world. I bet they’d love that.

I keep feeling you. Hearing you.

I have one or two things to do before we meet. Things that will make me a better person, a better mother. I need to calm my storms because your brothers are real firecrackers, and I’m enjoying this rest. I’m getting to know them right now. They’re so wonderful, so kind. You’d really like them.

I’ll think about you again another day, another moon, another moment. I know you’re there, so I won’t be long.

 

I hope you’ll wait for me.

 

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