12 May 2015

How are the kids doing?

This is a question I have been asked countless times. The answer is not an easy one as each child responds completely differently in such traumatic circumstances.

Telling the children was the single most painful experience of my life.

Our prayer has always been that God would place an age-appropriate veil over each of the kids hearts and minds, that they would only hear and absorb what was necessary in that moment. Each of the kids have had conversations with me (and shed many tears) that show they have faced their worse fears.  They are aware of the severity of the situation but they understand that we hold a hope and a real faith that Russell will be restored.

 We have been learning TOGETHER, as a family, to live in a place of uncertainty.

 Initially we all almost suffocated within the confines of our fear and pain but TOGETHER we are making small inroads .... Knitting uncertainty, gratitude and intentionality into the fabric of our lives.

This conversation between myself and Rachel sums up how the kids are doing:

Rachel: Mom! The songwriting workshop is amazing! I loved every minute of it even though it was a bit like a therapy session.

Me: What? What do you mean?

Rach: Well, part of writing songs is learning to tap into your own emotions so we did that and lots of the kids shared stuff that's happening in their lives. It was pretty hectic - everyone cried!

Me : Did you share your story at all?

Rach : Nope. But their stories were far worse.

Me: (gobsmacked) Really?? Can you tell me anything?

She proceeds to tell me stories of divorce, bad child/parent relationships , blended families etc

Rach : Our story is pretty sad Mom, but at least we all in it TOGETHER.

Thankfully I was wearing large dark glasses  as I could barely see through the tears as I marvelled at the miracle of these words of wisdom from our brave, courageous

10 May 2015

Take Me Back to Egypt

*Chemo weekends suck eggs.

Seeing Russell literally devoid of all energy for 3-4 days has taken some adjustment.
The first time it happened I fell apart. This weekend I fell apart a tiny bit less.

I have to confess to having some intense moments of self pity this past week.

It's not fair!
How can this happen?
In my head I know that cancer does not play favourites. It has no demographic but SERIOUSLY?
And then the lights went out. Loadshedding. We were all sitting in the lounge, subdued and heavy-hearted.  I found myself reaching for a book called The Story by Max Lucado. I purchased it a year ago and it has been sitting neatly on our school shelf, untouched.
We read, by torchlight, for two hours. We covered Moses' birth until he took the moaning, ungrateful Israelites out of Egypt. We read about the incredible way  God provided and cared for his people and yet they STILL wanted to go back to Egypt where they lived as slaves.
Faith was horrified that the Israelites could be so faithless; how they could not see that God had rescued them and that he daily provided their immediate needs; that He had a great plan for them.
It hit me right between the eyes.
I am a miserable Israelite.

Yes, my life **BC was pretty incredible but now I am in the desert. I cannot change this but I can choose my response to the experience.

Our faith is being tested in unimaginable ways;  it is really easy to be a Christ-follower when life is dandy and your biggest problem is where to go on holiday.  Facing a future where you cant even plan a holiday takes a special kind of courage - one that comes from a special kind of faith.
I am not going to lie. Egypt still looks pretty damn good to me but I have to confess that in our desert ramblings God has been faithful each day. 
The 'each day' bit is crucial to this plot. I have explicit instructions to not look at tomorrow or next week or next month. Consequences of my trying to look further ahead involve me coming apart at the core of my being.
Instead we attempt to look at today; to trust for financial, emotional and physical provision and He has not failed us.
It is important to note that I am NOT saying God made Russell sick to teach us some great, spiritual lesson. I don't understand it - all I know is that bad stuff happens in this world but God is good.
*Weekend after chemo
**Before Cancer

05 May 2015

A Jarring Return

Here I am 7 months later and our lives are  looking very different. I once again have to write, to process and ultimately share our everyday life which is now anything but ordinary.

Russell was diagnosed with cancer a month ago. A shocking diagnosis that has left us breathless.
In an instant our world has changed forever.

My immediate instinct was to batten our hatches and keep everything close to home. I did not want to see  or talk to anyone. Ever again. I had my immediate family and some very close friends who were my safe space and they sheltered me from the world. Questions flooded my phone, each one piercing my  broken heart as I had to relive the horror of our situation. Ultimately my sister set up a fb page and whatsapp group for us to post relevant updates.

Little by little I felt God breaking down my defences and preparing me to share our story. Initially I felt sick at the thought - sharing our struggles and pain felt indulgent and garish. I did not ever want to be perceived as a victim. I did  not want to become the poster child for inspiring people. I just want to be Mel. I know the real me; I am not brave and courageous. I am scared all the time.

But herein lies the secret -  the Person in whom I have faith makes me look good. In my weakness He makes me strong.

He is where I take my pain and my fear.

I trust Him.

I have relented.

I will write.

22 October 2014


Rachel's hair has become a separate person in this house. It has a personality all of its own. It is making us poor trying to find out exactly what it needs to keep it from running a-mock!

I have great sympathy for her as I have never had tricky hair. It has always been a wash 'n wear affair for me. To see her constant battle (and often MY BATTLE!) has been quite a journey.

From time to time I have been taking her to the salon to have it professionally blown out - it lasts beautifully for a week. More recently I have become aware that my bank balance is not going to support this luxury which means I need to add 'professional blowdryer' to my portfolio.

It took me a good hour to get her hair to look like this. It is by NO MEANS perfection but it was free! We will trundle along but one day she is going to have to learn to do this herself as I think this luxurious, untamed head of curls is here to stay!

Talking about hair --- I did have some fun with Faiths this week -- doing a sideways wrap around the head vibe plait. Pretty advanced for someone like me who is still challenged by a french braid!

Levi. No hair issues there so lets take a look at his warrior project instead. He worked diligently on this project and watched the full Shaka series on Youtube.

He also read many books on different warriors before choosing the three he wanted to showcase.

 It is his first completed project since being at home and he is very proud of the work he did!

21 October 2014

A month in races

The past four weeks have seen Russ and I do races every Sunday. Not something we have done since the Summer Trail Series in early 2013. A while ago I felt I needed to give my running a Vit B jab. I was feeling blah and bored and unmotivated. I knew I had to do something drastic. I sat down one quiet Sunday afternoon and logged onto the Runners World calendar. I booked 6 races there and then. Boom.

To be honest I didn't think we would do them all! I felt pretty sure I would have bailed on at least one by now …..this past Sunday was a close call. After a month of 0530 Sunday rises I really felt entitled to sleep in …and the howling gale outside seemed to agree with me. Luckily I have a secret weapon….Russell! He relentlessly gets me up and out the door as he knows full well I will thank him later.

Below are the four races we have done to date. The Chappies Challenge was my favourite by far - the scenery and my time were both largely to blame for topping my fav list. A close second was the 14k trail run purely because I LOVE offroad running and I did enjoy the less frenetic pace. Trail 'racing' is never really a race - not to me anyway.

The Gun Run was okay, I ran this one alone (wanted Russ to be able to run his own race for a change!) I became bored and annoyed. I think I started too fast and a stitch plagued me from 6kms which really hacked me off. To add insult to injury Russ somehow missed my finish, despite coming in 10 minutes before me! We ended up searching for one another for ages in the 8000 strong crowd. (he refuses to run with a phone)

The Cape Town Peace run was really well organized and a great race but it was my first race in a long time and I had some teething issues. The most revolting being I thought the finish was within 500m so did my thing of going 'balls to the wall' only to realize that I still had a kilometre to go. I was not amused. :-/

I have never been a fan of 10k races, always felt it is a bit of a waste of time, energy and money to get up and race only 10kms but I have since changed my mind. Racing is fun, its social and it keeps you motivated. Ten kilometers is an easy distance, not real need to do extra training or to get stressed if you get sick and miss a week. It is the kind of distance you can just run and enjoy anytime. I will certainly do more 21's in the future but for right now I am happy to throw down 10-15k and just have fun!

We have found this time really special - this thing that we do together. Despite Russ being away from home regularly we know that Sundays we spend together doing something we both love. There is simple ceremony in doing these races together from the way we get ready, to the run to post run celebrations and recovery.

I am thankful for the kids that are so accommodating. They stay home and potter on until we get home. They allow us the time and have not once complained.

Our next race is a family run and I am really looking forward to all five of us getting out there again.

22 September 2014

Weekend in Review

Friday afternoon saw my sproggles going off to their cousins for an overnight stay. This did mean that I would have a very quiet house for a couple of hours.

I watched a movie. (I think?) Or maybe I tried to watch a few but I can usually only managed a few minutes and then get totally bored and feel like I am wasting time. Overall I did nothing - I pottered around my house talking to my dogs, staring into the garden and at one stage I found myself sitting on the couch, in the dark in total silence. Why turn on lights. It was maybe a bit weird but I really liked the stillness both visually and auditory. Charly didnt even bark at the runners passing our house - I think she sensed the mood and valued her life.

Saturday morning Russ and I did park-run. He was on a mission….'the only good pace is suicide pace and today looks like a good day to die'. Yes, that was him on Saturday morning - me, not so much. I took it easy as I knew I had a race the next and because easy is all I am capable of doing right now!

We met up with some friends at Parkrun and they invited us for breakfast which was so lovely. They live down the drag but we seldom get together - spontaneous outings are the best!

The afternoon saw me all alone again as Russ took Levi and some mates to Newlands for rugby. Levi had been counting the sleeps until he could take his friends (Newlands virgins) to rugby!

I definitely feel a bit like orphan Annie when my family is out ; I did MAD, CRAZY things like finish the laundry, sorted out cluttered spaces, fixed some curtains and altered my bikini (yes, i did!). I really am a potterer at heart and being in my own house makes me very, very  happy. The only downer was that there was not much food in the house but even that did not tempt me to go to the mall….pronutro and tea did the trick!

Russ arrived home later that evening with all the kids and TomToms GPS watches for us! (he had collected our race numbers and had visited the expo…) Both our gamins died a few month ago and we had been in deliberations as to whether to replace them or look at something new. Happy birthday to Russ and early happy birthday to me!

Sunday morning saw Russ and I crawling out of bed at 0530 to go off and do the Cape Town Peace Run (10km). It was a fantastic experience although i did find the first 2kms annoying as you can't run due to the masses of people….can be a frustration if you are wanting to run a personal best. Anyway, I had no intention of PBing - I just wanted to finish and feel good. Despite the very slow first 2kms I still managed to finish in under an hour (just!) so I was well happy with that.

I really enjoy doing races with Russ - even though it can be intimidating as he really has to tone it down…and my pride aches at times but every now and then he waves a friendly goodbye and runs his own race. ;-)

Sunday arvie was very low-key; took the kids for lunch at FLM, did some housecleaning and then just chilled out. I did watch Dallas Buyers Club on my iPad last night - a movie worth watching and it did proves to me that Matt Mcconaughey (am not a fan) can actually act. He was a shadow of himself - playing an AIDS patients in the 1980's) in this movie and he was truly amazing.

17 September 2014

Photo post from Mcgregs/Montagu Break

Spoilt with gorgeous weather

My very happy man playing the fool!

The super tube at the springs provided HOURS of fun

Never fails to entertain

My beautiful teen

Never enough turn on the super tube - waiting for the attendant

our mini-golf champ

just a-chilling and relaxing, mcgregor style

We found a natural warm waterfall!

my perfect trio

Visiting Green Gables - so pretty

There were 5 in the car and the selfie had to happen...

Lunch - the BEST salads everrrrr!

Dominoes and downtime

Nothing like a super tube to help you find your inner-kid

The dog-whisperer in action 

Some of us are just more organized than others

Awesome dude explores

Dinner adventure in Montagu - we loved Ye Olde Tavern

My handsome mini-man

never to big to find a lap and steal a cuddle

Sunset walks are what we do in mcgregs

School can happen - wherever we go

This little midweek holiday was wonderful - just what we all needed. Looking forward to finding our next place to explore.

09 September 2014


We are back from an amazing week away. we didn't do anything especially spectacular - there was a far amount of series watching, sleeping late, swimming, reading and loafing about.

We spent most of the week in Mcgregor barring a couple of days that were spent at the Avalon Hot Springs. The weather was simply perfect - cool enough to appreciate the warm water but hot enough to still feel the burn of the sun (in a good way)

The kids spent many hours going from the warm pools to the chilly super tube - definitely worth the groupon!

We are back home and getting into school mode is proving a challenge. Not just for the kids but for this mama too. I swear I can feel summer beckoning me and she causes me to enter holiday mode at the drop of a hat!

We always run with the 'work hard in winter, play hard in summer' so as soon as those nets are up at the beach we will be spending many happy hours down there again.

I am far more housebound with the three kids at home. I used to be able to school Faith in 90 minutes a day but now that I am working with all three kids it is proving a time consuming endeavor. Not too mention the squabbles and general hysteria that break out occasionally.

Days like today remind me that I am doing the right thing though. I am comfortable right down in my soul that this path is right; even on the mornings when I wake up and am assaulted by thoughts that ask me 'what have you done, crazy woman!'

Today I employed the services of a lovely young lady (yet another home schooled child, the daughter of my friend, T) to come and help Rachel with some maths. While I am well able to help her, our relationship is tenuous when it come to mathematical debate. I am sure D is going to prove a valuable asset over the next few years.

Tuesday lunchtimes has become our 'hit the gym' slot. I find Virgin far more interesting and exciting when i take my tribe along with me. They are all highly motivated and enjoy working out. Rach LOVES the pool and did over 30 lengths today. Levi and Faith cycled and did other cardio work with me upstairs - Russ is keen to get them all involved in a triathlon in the coming month or two.

I am still running. Been through a lazy patch but never did stop. My enthusiasm waned but have managed to forcibly harness it by registering for two races in the next 4wks. Nothing like a deadline (and the threat of a bad race) to get you up and hitting the road again.  Levi is fast becoming a worthy 5k partner with him hitting a sub-30 recently. Very soon he will be outrunning me - bring it on!

I am unable to upload photos right now as I am rebuilding my photo-library from scratch after it crashed!!! Probably because it was 150gig….I will upload photos this week so pop back to have a look see.

26 August 2014

Starting from where I stand!

I have a month of life to catch up on but that is way to overwhelming so I will start where I am right now.

At this moment I am in the midst of eistedford performances as well as hosting my sis-in-law and nephew. They are visiting Cape Town for a week to ascertain if boarding school is a good option for my nephew who will be starting Gr 8 next year.

It has been CRAZY around here but Faith is loving all the opportunities to perform. Tonight is our 2 of 4 performances - her group tap dance.

Last night she did her tap solo and has made it through to the finals on Friday. Last week she got Diploma in her modern performance (the highest attainable) so she was super stoked as this was her first modern/jazz performance.

I am pretty exhausted - I am not going to lie - but then again I am simply one of MANY MANY exhausted mothers out there!

I have just come back from watching Levi play a very energetic soccer match (in the rain) and have done hair/make-up for Faith and now it is time to hop in the car and head to town for the show.

I will be back tomorrow (i have carved out a free day!) to update this blog with more news of the last month.

11 August 2014

Party of five get to work!

Today saw us getting to work on the sadly neglected front entrance to our house. The one that no-one uses so its always been UGLY and low on our priority list. 

Slowly taking shape. Lavender around the rims and confetti bushes inside. 

Next up - measuring and planning our chicken coop. I am still on the fence about this endeavor …negotiations are in place as I wonder WHO will be cleaning out the coop hmmm? Not me!!

Rach seems to really enjoy the design process.

10 August 2014

Getting creative

Was a productive day today. Rachel really enjoyed designing the flat and helping Russ measure out where everything needs to go.

We are hoping to use the space as a holiday rental in high season and an office / school space the rest of the year.

The chip board on the floor is Faith's makeshift tap floor for practicing her Eistedford piece.

After doing the necessary measurements Rach put this design together on some CAD software.