Hula Hoops and Paper Mache



Lurking deep within me is a frustrated crafty person just dying to break out.

Sadly, although the spirit is willing, the flesh is fundamentally incapable of creating cute little knick knacks out of bits of yarn and empty soda bottles.

I am good at some things.

I am not good at others.

If I were Spock I’d devote my energy to the former.

I am not Spock, so I continue to hit my head against the wall of crafty DIY like a radio controlled car with faulty wiring.

How hard can it be to make paper mache Christmas balls to hang on the tree?

The lady on YouTube made it look so easy.

I have a university education for Heaven’s sake; surely I can manage to stick some pieces of newspaper on a ball?

Apparently not.

I now have 6 misshapen blobs and my floor is covered in flour cement paste.

The Husband wisely chose to distance himself from the proceedings except for one comment: “If I were doing it… I’d make sure they were round. But I’m a perfectionist that way.”

Really? Really?

He will never know how close he came to having the slimy squishy paper mache paste upended over his head.

The Husband knows stuff.

He knows about Tesla and electric currents and quantum flux mechanics.

Apparently he also knows about paper mache and hula hoops.

On Saturday he proceeded to instruct his offspring and their mother (me) on the precise way to get maximum momentum from a hula hoop.

He did not demonstrate, but sank to his knees in laughter as we tried to master the skill.

imagesAs a child of the eighties I could hula hoop with the best of them.

Round the neck, round the waist, on my arms, on my ankles.

I could hula hoop 4 different hoops in different directions.

I was the hula hooping queen of suburbia in leg warmers and a bubble skirt.

Now it is beyond me how on earth I am supposed to get that idiotic piece of plastic to orbit my body.

My mother in her seventies can just pick it up and hula to the Sound of Music.

I cannot.

I also cannot use a skipping rope without injuring people and tying myself up in a noose worthy of a hangman.

graduation cap diploma isolated on a white backgroundMy children don’t care that I went to university.

They don’t give a damn about postmodernist theory.

They care that I can make cool stuff and hula hoop.

And I can’t.

Someone… Someone….

Someone… should organize a college degree in parenting techniques including Masters in Making Stuff, and 20 Things to do with Toilet Rolls.

Woman + Car + Pole = Mistake


The Husband was home for just over 24 hours this weekend.

This was both a blessing and a curse.

A blessing because, hey we missed him and the washing machine and stuff needed fixing.

A curse because, hey we screwed up a little. Okay, I screwed up a little.

Just after The Husband had departed this sunny country for the land of the free, I had a small altercation in his car with a pole. article-0-0248D9A4000005DC-840_468x286

I was in the CBD and the traffic on the one-way was hideous, tempers were frayed and no-one cared that I was trying to reverse park in a teeny tiny spot.

In a desperate effort to avoid a collision with a very angry taxi driver, I shoved the car in reverse and hit a pole that I swear wasn’t there a second before.

I had hoped he wouldn’t notice.

Hope is not a strategy.

On Friday at commuter rush hour 5pm, I arrived to collect The Husband from the train station.

In front of the crowd of onlookers who all stopped to watch with undisguised mirth, he exploded.

TH:      “WTF? My car! Tell me someone drove into you. Tell me someone drove into you.”

Me:      “I can’t. That would be a lie.”

TH:      “I can’t believe you drove into a tree! In my car!”

Me quietly:     “It wasn’t a tree.” TH:      “What?”

Me louder:     “It wasn’t a tree. It was a pole. Get in the car.” when-wives-drive

The Husband stalked to the passenger side of the car and stopped in horror.

TH:      “WTF!”

Onlookers now recording this on YouTube.

Me:      “What?”

TH:      “Where are the panels on the side of my car?”

Me:      “We’ve been through this. They fell off before you left. We had a conversation about it and you said you knew.”

TH:      “It wasn’t this bad. Not a bloody gaping hole in the side of the car!”

Me:      “Get in the goddamn car or go back to the airport buddy.”

The homecoming wasn’t too great either.

The chocolate bar he had hidden in plain sight to test our resolve remained in situ. Leaking-Washing-Machine

However, at some point the fan in the refrigerator had stopped working, the rain had turned our porch into a swamp and the washing machine was spewing suds forth all over the floor.

I tried to be patient. I did.

I get jet lag and that after two weeks in 5 star luxury, peace and quiet etc. that a home with three kids on half term is like diving from heaven straight into the depths of hell.

On the flip side, I’ve been a single parent for 2 weeks solid with no domestic worker and a new job, so my stress levels are approaching red line emergency status.

The Husband left yesterday morning for a week in some African country.

I can’t keep track if this one is at war, recovering from war or under the threat of Islamic terrorism.  In case of the latter I made sure The Husband had memorized the name of the Prophet’s mother – Amina.

As for the new job…

Well, I had a great view, but lost my window seat this morning in some strange and meaningless desk shuffle that involved all of us wandering around holding our Apple Mac’s and looking lost until we found our new desks. 11693541,,

So far, the work has been fun, the people are great, despite the fact that a disproportionately large number of employees are currently off on a mental health sabbatical or have scrawled goodbye letters in permanent markers on their office doors.

I have my towel. I will not panic.

If all else fails I will drown myself in the large pool of plastic bouncy balls.

How can I embarrass my child? Let me count the ways…

Copyright Derek Hardy
Copyright Derek Hardy

Way of the Warrior: Run flat-out into a wall at laser games and knock yourself out in front of all his friends.

Today I face planted.

I’ve never really understood that term until now.

Looking in the mirror I am mildly surprised my face is not flat.

It was not my proudest moment.


It was The Birthday Party today.

The party that has been freaking me out for weeks, months even.

Doctor Who Tardis Cake and DalekI spent yesterday afternoon making The Cake.

Of all the cakes each child requires I try to make one special cake.

For J it was Doctor Who’s TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space). A big blue police box.

The reason I do not outsource the cake is pretty simple.

Someone once told me that in Japan there is a saying that equates to, “You can tell the depth of a mother’s love by the content of her child’s lunchbox”.

I may not make award-winning cakes, but they are definitely made with love.

Robyn from Kadies
Robyn from Kadies

The girls at work sent me to Kadies in Fourways for supplies. I am no super baker. I don’t craft masterpieces of cakedom like Cake Boss’s flushing toilet cake.

John and Robyn Brukman from Kadies did not make me feel like an amateur on professional heavyweight fight night.

They went out of their way to help me earn the look of wonder on J’s face when he saw The Cake.

Kadies Heidi and John
Heidi and John from Kadies

They coloured my icing for me, cut out my numbers and waited with utmost patience while the bank and I had a small altercation about my right to access my money.

Without them I would have been certifiably insane by this morning and would have spent the day in lockdown in a mental institute being feed little coloured pills.

In retrospect, perhaps that might have been less painful than what actually transpired.

I am a lazy party parent. I do not like having people invade my home and I do not like cleaning up before and after them.

As a result I seek venues.

This is what I wanted to look like.
This is what I wanted to look like.

We decamped to LaserMaxx for three adrenaline-fraught Daleks versus The Doctors games to the death. In some cases more brutal than others.

The odds were stacked against my team.

Along with the tweens were The Father, a target shooting champion, and three ex-army infantrymen.

On my team I had one of them and thank God for him.  We managed one decent win.

This is what the kids looked like
This is what the kids looked like

In Game 2, I was determined to take out the sniper that was hell-bent on killing me.

I stormed his base.

I hit the base.


Flat out.


This what I ended up feeling like
This what I ended up feeling like

And my lights went out and Tweetie Birds sang a sweet serenade only slightly marred by the warm flow of my life’s blood streaming Nigeria Falls like down the lower half of my face.

The physical pain was nothing in comparison to the body blow my pride tried and failed to bear.

I lay down in the foetal position against the wall and begged the earth to stop spinning.

Whereupon I was shot by my child.

Who was actually on my team.

The Husband came to my rescue.

“Are you alright?”


“Well, just lie there, there’s a few minutes left of the game.”


I made the Walk of Shame past the twenty-somethings with pity shining in their eyes.

This would have been a better look
This would have been a better look

I got some ice from the bar.

I went and hid in the ladies loo.

Then my phone rang.

A colleague asked me to attend a client meeting with the potential to take my career into the stars.

I explained that my nose felt broken, I had a black eye and my lips look like Angelina Jolie after a silicon injection.

His response?

“Dude! Ask them if they have a video. That’s a YouTube moment.”

I hung up.

I stalked over to the chaps behind the counter.

“Is. There. A. Video?”

“Um… Well you know we’ve had way worse,” said A.

“Yup,” said B, “We’ve had like 6 foot guys knock down entire walls and stuff.”

“Is. There. A. Video?”

“Well, everything is recorded.”

“You. Will. Not. Put. That. On. YouTube.”

“No, ma’am,” came a chorus.

Better men than I. I would have that video up there faster than I ran into that wall.

After that the cake paled in comparison. I didn’t even blink an eye as my masterpiece was decimated.

My concussion had caused a massive headache and my ego required some downtime and a call to my mother who was very supportive and tried hard not to laugh at me.

The Father was invited to join the LaserMaxx league.

I was not.


Find LaserMaxx

Stoneridge Shopping Center, Shop M4 – Undercover Parking Level, Greenstone Hill,


Find Kadies

Kingfisher Shopping Centre, Kingfisher Drive, Fourways

I am an Interesting Blogger. It is official.

Interesting Blog Award

I am enjoying this award thing. First I get to feel all warm and fuzzy, then I get to do my happy dance and finally I get to send it on like viral chain letter of awesomeness.

The award was started by another fabulous blogger crazybunny.

I do not like the word blogger, I must think of a new one. Blogger always conjures up an image of vomiting words out on-screen. It needs to encapsulate the ability to make a person smile a million miles away not verbal diarrhoea. 

There are of course on blogs as in life rules.

  1. Thank the person who nominated you
  2. List 5 random facts about yourself
  3. Nominate a minimum of 5 blogs for the award
  4. Ask the nominees 5 questions of your choice
  5. And finally, let them know you have nominated them

Number 1 – Thanks!
Thank you Running without Socks for a look at life through your eyes and the images of you running without footwear. Your blog makes me laugh, shake my head and get through the day.

Number 2 – 5 random facts

  1. You spend about 3 years of your life on the loo. I will spend about 5 years of my life there, as the loo is only place in my house I get a little privacy and peace and quiet.
  2. Some people are more attractive to mosquitoes than others. I am the mosquito equivalent centerfold and give thanks for their seasonal demise.
  3. Studies show that drinking tea raises your fertility levels. Three children later they should have paid me to part of the study.
  4. Despite popular opinion I cannot put your logo on the moon without a multimillion dollar investment with NASA. Why don’t you tattoo it on your ass instead?
  5. In a house three children and a pre-menstrual mother it is unnatural to assume your Lindt chocolate bar will remain uneaten for over a week. Testing us is a form of torture

My answers to Running without Socks are…

What are you listening to right now (if anything? if not, what would you like to be listening to right now?)

I am listening to the sound of my fingers nimbly leaping across the keyboard, but I wish I was listening to Justin Bieber or that long-faced chick, um… Celine Dion. Just kidding, I wish I was listening to The Cure.

What food would you hate to be without? (not basic staples – your favorite indulgences)

Tea. Must have tea.

Chocolate. Life is not worth living without it.

Cupcakes. They make the kid in me rejoice.
If you woke up and were transformed to the opposite sex, what would be the first thing you do?

You really want to know this? Pee standing up. Stand in front of the mirror naked and wiggle my hips from side to side. Then laugh hysterically and look at my closet in horror realizing I will have to walk naked into the street.

If you could change your job title, what would it be? (not the job, just the title. If you don’t have a job, give a title for what you do)

Well, freelancer doesn’t seem to be working. People apparently get confused about the “free” part. I think Creative Solutions Architect. Hell, just writer will do.

City or beach vacation?

Beach. Somewhere exotic. With a cocktail that involves a little umbrella.

Number 4 – My nominees are

Shaun at whose blog is always interesting and most of all human

Gareeth who I know will not be able to send this on, but whose blog is interesting and humbling and if I could I’d send a hug instead

The Reluctant Mom whose post today on the circus made me cry (in a good way), but who usually makes me laugh

2 Summers who never fails to make see my city with new eyes and surprise (good surprise not scary surprise birthday party while in your undies surprise)

Learus whose posts resonate with me and who never fails to peak my interest

Number 5 – Some questions for you

  1. Elvis or The Beatles? This is important. It places you in a very specific target audience for people like me selling you stuff you don’t want or even need but will buy anyway. Also the husband was at an office party where some guy was dressed up in an Elvis onesie – so it is on my mind.
  2. What the one place you have to see or thing you have to do before you kick the bucket and shrug off the mortal coil? Dive with sharks, go trolley racing down a hill, get a whole night’s uninterrupted by snoring and small children, sleep?
  3. What did you laugh out loud at today? I watched Eddie Izzard’s Star Wars Canteen on YouTube with my son. “I will kill you with this tray. It will be death by tray.”
  4. What is a better word for blogger that doesn’t sound like throwing up? I have nothing.
  5. If you were a superhero, what power would you have?  The power not to have to wear lycra or my panties on the outside.

A big thank you to everyone who has visited my page, who I ever made laugh, who has left me a comment, who inspires and motivates me to carry on.

Arts, crafts and the hopeless

Arts and crafts.

Other people can do them, therefore, my reasoning deduced that I could too. I don’t know why after 36 years of glaring evidence to the contrary I believe this to be true.

Either I epitomise Einstein’s definition of insanity or I refuse to accept defeat. In short I am a slightly balmy, very stubborn ass.

In recent weeks I have:

  • Made two mosaic Go boards only to have a 6 and 8-year-old beat me stupid
  • Knitted a knobbly and slightly lopsided cover for my Samsung tablet
  • Knitted a fluffy scarf a petite blind dwarf may concede to wearing
  • Downloaded two guides on how to crochet
  • Bought one book and 3 magazines on the same (and knitting)
  • Watched hours and hours of YouTube how to videos to no avail

My beloved Grandmother knitted and crocheted like breathing. When all other faculties deserted her, she could still churn out a blanket and assorted baby clothes in under an hour.

So why can’t I crochet a simple square?

My husband shook his head at me last night and said with deep sympathy, “My darling, are you craving a creative outlet?”

No. I just want a skill. I want to make something. Then I’ll go back to reading bad romance novels and leave everyone in peace.

I refuse to accept that despite a privileged education, a university degree and the fact that I’ve managed to keep three small terrorists alive for a collective 25 years despite their inbred kamikaze instincts, that I am too stupid to crochet a square.

All the instruction manuals seem to assume a basic knowledge, which I am ignorant of. They speak in code designed to alienate the uninitiated. Trebles and doubles and chains all of which alter their meaning depending on which side of the Atlantic you find yourself.

It was with a single-minded desperation I ended up at the Rivonia Village Craft Market this afternoon ostensibly to buy some enough black grouting to complete Go Board #2. I found yet another pamphlet on crocheting and carried it in silent submission to the till.

There I met Beth, a purple haired goddess. She didn’t treat me like an idiot. In fact she stopped everything to sit with me for an hour and teach me the basics of how to crochet.

She praised every stitch I managed to complete and gently suggested I try a simple square before trying to copy my grandmother’s intricate designs.

I learnt more from her in that time than from all the Googling I done before. Nothing beats the patience of a great teacher.

She’s invited me back tomorrow to show how I’ve done and offered to coach me through knitting a purl stitch. Beth is brilliant. And the shop is something else too.

I’m halfway through my square and for once it actually bears some resemblance to an actual square as opposed to the bizarre lopsided triangular thing I have been agonising over for the past two weeks.

I’m nowhere near Granny Bruce’s nimble fingered talent nor my late mother-in-law’s, but at least I’m on the path now.

And next week I am going to learn how to make a teddy bear at the Tin Soldiers Studio in Irene.

So stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

The Rivonia Craft Village can be found at Rivonia Village Shopping Centre, cnr Rivonia Boulevard and Mutual Road, Rivonia and you can call them on 011 234 1998 or email

They offer a lot more than just advice for the craftily challenged, they also stock handmade crafts, gifts, scrapbooking, homeware, kids art, ceramics, jewellery and loads of beads. It’s the perfect place to pick up a housewarming gift, a birthday present or stock up for Christmas.

The monkey and the cake


YouTube moments.

They happen all the time and I never manage to catch them on camera.

Those little tableaux of ordinary life that make you kill yourself laughing.

My husband and daughter (aged 6) were blissfully tucking into a large piece of chocolate cake. A very large monkey had his eye upon that cake and slowly stalked them through the artfully placed flower arrangement behind their seats.

What to do? I didn’t want to cause mass panic. So I very calmly said, “I think you may want to stand up very slowly and move away from the table.”

Spouse refused on male principle, “Why?”

Right then the monkey made his move and spouse ended up nose to nose with gigantic male monkey hell bent on having a snack.

Spouse screamed.

Daughter laughed.

Monkey gave them both a look which spoke volumes and did not move.

Then, my husband decided to take charge. He stood up and waved his hands at the primate saying, “Shoo! Shoo!”

The primate continued to look at him as if to say, “And he is supposed to be more evolved than me?”

He didn’t get the cake, but he did get all the little sachets of sugar.