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Groupon ruined my dream Honeymoon

The Geek and I have dreamed of going to some small island or tropical get away for our honeymoon. The budget is tight, we can’t really afford to get married but we are making a plan. It was so important to us not to spend too much money on wedding or the ring as we are desperate to go away together alone.

We met when I had Pinklet 1 and 2 in tow. Soon Pinklet 3 joined the gang. We love our kids and having a family but we have NEVER been alone.

I dreamed of going to Mozambique to a place my sister told me about. But we could not afford it. I was beyond excited when I saw a deal for a 5 day trip to Mozambique for 50% off. The deal said low season January to March and then after Easter until before Christmas. But it had no end date.

Seeing as it was already the end of March I thought maybe the deal was available 2013. It was Sunday afternoon. I emailed Groupon and the hotel to check.

I never received a reply email from groupon. I phoned on Tuesday as I did not want to miss the deal. I asked and the phone consultant agreed the deal was unclear. He went to ask his manager and came back and said it was available 2013. I said I was very happy as we wanted it for our honeymoon but only if we could use it next year.

I bought the deal on my credit card and if we pay it off slowly we would be okay and could try get money for flights. I was so happy.

Later in the week, I get an email from the hotel saying no the deal was only for this year. I immediately phoned groupon, they changed their story and said it was not available. I was so upset and asked to speak to a manager. Klaus was lovely and I think because he was leaving the next day to get married on the weekend, he understood how important this deal was to us. He promised to negotiate with the vendor and try work something out. He left to get married and emailed me the details of the people following it up.

They of course never emailed or contacted me. I emailed them asking what was happening. No reply. The Geek phoned on last week, no one knew about it and had not followed up after Klaus left. The girl The Geek spoke to also promised to get back to us – nothing.

Until today when I get a email saying the deal has been refunded to me. I don’t want a refund! No one had the courtesy just to call us. So now I am tweeting and blogging and linking this on FaceBook.

The Geek just gchatted me ( yes we are very geeky during the day too, sometimes I can even make him blush. The best is when it pops up on his screen at work and a work buddy or client is looking at his screen and it is one of those messages, hee he bad Pinky) he spoke to Klaus who is going to try negotiate with the vendor if this does not work I am going to ask for you help. Klaus is the only decent one there who actually follows up on his word and does contact you back. Nothing happened the 2 weeks he was away. Poor man is only just back from his own honeymoon. But maybe that help him realize how important this is.

Can you guys please help me?
Tweet @groupon_za and say it is not right what they have done to The Geek and me.

FaceBook message them

Or if anyone knows if there is anything legally we can do, please let me know.

I am in tears. This was our dream honeymoon, they promised it was available and just with a cold clinical refund email my dreams are shattered.

We have this screen shot of the deal, and a close up of the dates

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Chicken Sagas

Who would have thought that 3 little yellow bundles of fluff that we acquired in September would be the result of so much learning, heart ache, joy, vets visits but as of yet not one egg.

I have blogged about getting the chickens before. How we got them from day olds and built a coop for them and have been waiting for them to lay some eggs. Well the egg laying female chickens that we were supposed to have gotten are in fact broilers, but the drama does not stop there.

Caleb’s chicken who was by far the biggest turned out to be a boy and started crowing. Not good;
1) the coop is outside my window and
2) we stay in a residential area and are not supposed to have Roosters.

We also adopted Carle’s 3 chickens that she got from the fete because being broilers they were not made for wild farm life as they can’t fly up into trees at night due to their size. One of hers also turned out to be a rooster. He was very small though and was called Little One by the kids, he had funny toes

Jackie who was Caleb’s rooster was actually a lovely natured bird, he was protective over Gertie who can’t walk well ( other story I will get to…) he allowed Carle’s chickens to integrate easily into the flock with no fighting. But he had to go, but being a broiler he was not much use as a farm chicken and the only option really was the pot. There was no way that he could go in our pot. I know it is a bit hypocritical but I can’t eat a bird that I have raised and name and known. We only had 3 to start and then 6 so a small flock, not a big group that are more anonymous.

Carle’s rooster went back to her for one of her workers to take home and Jackie went with our domestic. I was actually really sad on the day. Fortunately the kids were visiting my mom in Pretoria and so were spared seeing him go to his fate. I did tell them and they were very sad but my parents helped chat to them and I promised Caleb a laying chicken for when he got home.

The day Jackie left was also the day that I had Gertie at the vet, yes I took a chicken to the vet. Much to the amusement of all the people in the waiting room. Her ( well at this point what we thought to be a her) legs were sort of knock kneed. She can’t walk properly and walks a few paces and then collapses. The vet was not sure what was wrong but gave her antibiotics and said that broilers are not made to live very long and so they get congenital defects. It seemed to get a little better but is now really bad again.

I fortunately needed to go out straight after the vet and was not actually home when the domestic took Jackie. I did wake up that morning with a sick feeling in my stomach, they are like pets and less like just livestock. Sending your pet to the slaughter is horrible.

I went to join the kids in Pretoria for Christmas and forgot about chicken drama for a while. When I had discussed loosing Jack on twitter @mattallison said he had an extra Koekkoek, he wanted 3 and he had 4. She was laying and he was happy for her to go to a new flock. On Saturday we arranged to go and collect her, Caleb was really excited as she was to replace his Jack, he said that this chicken also had to be called Jack.

He picked one of the birds, they are so much prettier than our broilers. She came home with us and I let her out in the garden

and after she had walked around for a bit I let the other 4 ‘girls’ out.

I have been wondering for a while why Rachel’s Lily does not look like Potter and Lavender ( Carle’s remaining 2) who are clearly hens, they have a rounder lower body shorter legs and neck.

Potter

Well we were soon to find out. Lily, after ignoring the new comer for a while started squawking at her, this turned into crowing and a cock-a-doodle-do by the evening. Lily was in fact Lionel! Now 2 out of our 3 original female laying chickens from the church bazaars have turned out to be male. Can’t trust the church bazaar.

Rachel is devastated and there has been much crying. But Jack used to crow only once in the morning and as soon as we let him out of the coop he was happily eating and not crowing. Lily started crowing at 5am today and has hardly stopped, seems like the arrival of the new Koekkoek laying chicken has kicked his hormones into over drive. He is also not as nice as Jack when it comes to welcoming new members to the flock. The poor new Jackie, who was at first ignored is now a bit picked on by him. He does not actually hurt her but crows at her a lot and does not allow her near the food in the coop and keeps her away from where the rest are free ranging during the day. So it is off to the pot for Lily/Lionel too.

But the drama does not end there. Poor Gertie is really not walking well and after rethinking Lily’s gender I had a good look at Gertie too. It is easy to forget what shape she/he really is as he can’t stand or walk very well. She walks with her knees totally together for a few steps then just drops down. Her feather also look horrible and molting.

Lily and Gertie now Lionel and Gert

I always said that as long as she seemed to be eating and managing we would keep her but today she has not eaten well and could not get up into the coop so I think I need to cull her too. And looking at her I think she might be a he too.

What a disaster, out of the 6 chickens 4 have been rooster!

But on a happy note Jackie the 2nd laid and egg today in our nesting boxes so this is good. We put some wooden toy food eggs in and she seemed to get the hint that this was the place.
The real egg is in the middle

Caleb and Jackie

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Everybody Hurts Sometimes

I was in the bathroom getting dressed after a shower when I heard R.E.M “Everybody Hurts” playing from the dinning room.

I was immediately transported back to my res room in university. I remembered listening to this song, broken hearted over unrequited love. You only learn through these painful experiences, the lessons life has to teach. At the time you always think there is something wrong with you, why could the other person not love you. Why do we do that? Why do we not think that maybe they are just not the right one? I guess only time teaches that.

But today the song meant something else. I walked out to Rachel babbling to Yme, unaware that he was in pain. I sent her outside and just stood and held him for that moment. The quiet sad moment of remembering. A few short months and the pain is still raw.

And so it starts again


the decent into the black hole, somehow I hoped that being loved and supported this time would mean that it would not happen. Never mind the morning sickness and the tirdness from pregnancy this is the part that I really dread. The reason to say “I am not a baby person” the reason that the first few years seems so hard and like that just need to be endured rather and enjoyed. – PND

I hate seeing all the things that need doing and not being able to do them. I have too much to do as it is and now more and more is falling through the cracks. I am letting things slip with work, I really can’t keep up, even though things are slow I am overwhelmed by what needs to be done to get it all working more smoothly. I have been saying since November about needing to get a new website and streamline things but I just never get a chance.

I need to organize the chaos that is my house and again another weekend is over and still the piles of mess are everywhere and I can’t fix them holding a baby and dealing with the demands of the other 2. I see all the great ideas on Pinterest on how to get organised and make things work better and I just get started and then someone needs me again.I had great plans for the school room to make it work better so that it would be easier for us all, I worked all of Friday and most of Saturday and still did not even scratch the surface. It is like having this great plan in your head and no way of ever getting there. I got a laminator that I was so excited about and have not even had a chance to try it yet.

My Edinburgh pnd questionnaire was a 19 apparently above 10 you should go to your Dr. But I know the options and I am not suicidal at all, tearful, anxious, not wanting to see people, not coping – yes all of those but it is familiar I know that I will get through to the other side. Besides I remember the health visitor coming in the UK and saying that really you just have to live through it and that exercise is the best way and has been proven as effective as anti-depressants, well lets home water aerobics once a week help then. I know I could go get happy pills and if it does not lift soon I might. The lovely side effects of decreased libido and flattened affect are not really wanted though. Any new parent know sex is in short supply anyway and this time I actually miss it.

I love my children endlessly and Titus is a delight, he is a happy, cute, chubby wonderful baby and Rachel and Caleb are adjusting remarkably well. When I look at each of the I am so glad that they are in my life but wow hormones can ruin the joys of being a mom in the first years.

The wikipedia definition: A hormone (from Greek ὁρμή “impetus”) is a chemical released by a cell or a gland in one part of the body that sends out messages that affect cells in other parts of the organism. Only a small amount of hormone is required to alter cell metabolism. In essence, it is a chemical messenger that transports a signal from one cell to another. sounds so innocuous so Innocent, a little chemical messenger. Well I am not sure what messages mine have decided to start sending but it is not the happy. coping, smiling warm fuzzy ones.

The worse part is when it is not just you that this hurts. After another frustrating day of being able to get nothing done that I needed to and feeling overwhelmed and tired, during another evening of trying to hold the crying baby and make the supper and deal with Rachel’s 400 questions and Caleb’s demands for apples and general chaos you yell, I just don’t want to be a Mom anymore. To see the crumpled face of your 4 year old as he asks “don’t you want to be my mom anymore?” “do you just want to be Rachel’s mom?” then getting little I am sorree Mommy letters from Rachel. I hugged them and told them that I love them very much but that sometimes being a Mom was hard and that Mommies get frustrated. Damn these hormones – stop hurting my children.

Life goes on

Today is Caleb’s birthday. I have taken some pictures and will do a happy post on the Pinklet’s blog. But this is a sad one, this is after all my space to say things in my heart and head. Feel free to skip if you like.

We were driving to the park for a picnic and cake for Caleb’s birthday and I  thought about seeing the family later tonight, suddenly tears are pouring down my face. You see life goes on, birthdays, anniversaries, mothers day etc they all still keep coming, and she is not here. Sometimes it just seems like life should stop, but it doesn’t. It just keeps going. Life does not stop for grief.

Natasha loved the kids and I know how much she would have enjoyed spoiling Callie today. We celebrate and live on but there is an empty space.

Blog challenge – Your Wishes

I went with Annatjie to fetch the ashes last Friday. A strange experience. Annatjie amazes me with her strength and ability to cope and keep her composure at times when I am sure you would be scrapping me off the floor as a blubbering mess. I just kept thinking, no mother should have to do this.

The family now have to decide what to do with the ashes. Natasha never said what she wanted, but what 27 year old does! It got me thinking, I know that anything that happens to us after death or in commemoration of our death is for the people left behind. Yet there is a sense of helping with closure if you feel you can follow things the person wanted.

Not that I think it should become a burden for families to fulfil requests. Like getting all family together for scattering ashes when they live in different corners of the earth. It is not something that really makes any difference to the person that is gone, so it should only be followed in as much as it is useful to those who stay behind. I hope that makes sense.

After that long ramble, the blog challenge is hard and in fact I expect very few to do it. But I wanted a place to leave my wishes so though it might trigger others to want to do the same. I am not nominating anyone, this is a personal choice. I needed a place to write this down and here seemed as good as any.

To those who love me

These are my wishes should I die.

I want to be cremated. Although Yme has slightly messed with my plans. He wants to be buried under an Apple tree on a farm he wants to own. So, if we have said farm and he is under the Apple tree I would quite like to join him, or if he is alive and would like to join me one day then the Apple tree it is. I just do not want to be in a graveyard. They are for dead people and I never want the emphasis of my memory to be on the death.

If we have no farm and I am creamated I would like to be scattered on the beach or somewhere I thought was beautiful. Please not out at sea, I after all only liked getting my feet wet. Be guided by where we lived at the time and what was special to me. Don’t make a special pilgrimage the only thing that matters is that the place reminds you of the alive me.

I would prefer the funeral not to be in a church, that would see hypocritical, but if it easier to organise, so be it. Most crematoriums have an area that can be used. No prayers, hymns etc please. Play music I loved or music that helps you remember and heal. I would like it to be a time of remembering the alive me. I don’t want anyone to talk if it is hard for them but would like friends and family to share special moments.

Involve my children in an age appropriate way with love and support. They don’t have to say anything but maybe they can make or draw something. Again this will change as they get older.

I was raised with a social conscience and to help improve the lives of others. I would really like my funeral to have the chance to be meaningful. Donations to a charity, or a food, clothes and blankets collection.

I love flowers, have a few, but what would make me really happy was if you planted trees. I was after all a green hippy at heart. It does not have to be a big group activity but do it in small groups or just in your garden to celebrate the circle of life.

Most of all carry on living, be great, dream big, have ideas and passions like you know I would have. When someone dies it is indescribably sad but if it cripples us we do their memory an injustice as they live through our memories. Talk and laugh about me often.

Love Sally-Jane

In Memory – Natasha

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Yme’s sister died last week – gosh I can’t even bear to type those words, to see them like that in black and white. How can they possibly be true? How is it that one year after I met vibrant alive gorgeous redhead that we were saying goodbye?

The first time I met Natasha was when I came down to Cape Town with the pinklets to do our ART roadtrip, it was exactly a year ago . Yme had offered that we stay at his bachelor flat, he moved to his mom’s house for that week so the Pinklets and I would have somehwere to stay in CT. Natasha, knowing what boys are like had offered to help him clean and tidy up before we arrived. I liked her instantly and the bond between them was so clear right from the start.

I had the great privileged of getting to know her on our trip as she drove most of the way with me and the kids. We talked about love, life, dreams, South Africa, her family, kids, well basically everything. She always supported The Geek and I. Lets face it when your brother suddenly has a girlfriend with pink hair and 2 kids one could expect a sister to be critical or protective, but Natasha embrased us all and was so keen to be an aunty to the Pinklets.

When we moved to CT, she made such an effort with them, she would baby sit and buy them things, she would come shopping with me, do my hair and organise my makeup when I had to go out, help clothes shopping. My sisters are both in the UK and it was so nice to have a sister around again. Her and Arthur would come and braai with us and play with the kids and spoil them. She was so very excited about the new baby. She teased Yme about him being Koos forever.

Then she got sick, watching a vibrant 27 year old with her whole life ahead of her being ravaged by a disease that the Drs knew so little about was hard. Natasha got a rare auto immune disease. She was in hospital a long time at the end of last year and there were many times when things were touch and go, but she fought like mad and we were so glad to have her home for Christmas. We had a big family Chtistmas at our house and I am so grateful that she was with us. Those memories will always be very specail. Soon after new year she got sick again her very weak immune system was over run but some very nasty treatment resistant bugs. But again she fought, she fought on a ventilator against the odds for over 60 days until it was just too much. She could not anymore.

She never got to see Titus, never got to hold him, or ooh and aah and laugh and say how perfect he is. I know she would have been instantly in love and would have enjoyed him so much. She only even got to see a picture. I am determined that he might never have met her but he WILL know her, she will be part of his life as she lives on in our memories and we share things from her life.

My pain and loss is by a drop in the ocean of what her mother and brothers are going through, I can not even begin to imagine. I can only hope in a tiny way to offer the support they need. Something like this never goes away, the hole that someone as vibrant as Natasha leaves is huge. Annatjie lost not only her daughter but her friend, her companion and confidant. I marvel at her strength in all of this. Yme and the other brothers are quiet men, they do not wear their pain out in the open for all to see. But if you look, the eye are always windows to the soul and you see the pain etched there. Wouter, only 19 astonounded me with his bravery and calmness at Natasha’s funeral where he chose to say a few words about his sister, he spoke clearly and without falter making a moving tribute to her.

Time is a healer or so they say… I do not think that grief is something we deal with and get over. I think it is just something that we learn somehow to assimilate into our daily lives and we learn to live alongside it.

Day 26 → Have you ever thought about giving up on life? If so, when and why?

Last year there were times when I did not want to face the world, it seemed easier to stay in bed. I was tired and it all just seemed like a lot of effort. I was not sleeping, hardly eating, but I did get up, mostly because the Pinklets appear at the edge of the bed in the morning. Kids don’t really care how you feel they want you to get up and get on with the day.

You get up because you have to and slowly things start to get better, at the time it does not feel like it but slowly the feeing that you are walking around with a gapping hole in you fades. It is so slow you don’t notice but the more you take time to find one moment in the day that feels good, just a few seconds to feel the sun on your skin and how warm that feels on a cold winters day, or just how nice your first cup of coffee is, then imperceivably* these moment expand and join and grow. You laugh, you feel hungry and you start to find joy again. It is so slow that at first you think that you will be numb and hurt forever, the notion that it could be another way does not seem possible. But that cliche about time as a healer is true.

So while I never thought of actively killing myself there were times when I did not particularly want to be alive. You have to choose to find those moments and it is not easy.

(* The Geek and I have just fought discussed whether impercevably is a word and if it should be impercetibly or if it should be another whole phrase entirely, see this is why I love him we can discuss words and both be on google looking up on line dictionaries 😉 )

Day 09 → Someone you didn’t want to let go, but just drifted.

I have a friend in England who is like a sister to me. There was a stage when I was quite religious and it was something we had in common. Since I moved back here and my life has changed so much I guess we have drifted. It is sad I suppose I almost feel like it is disapproval at my life or that I questioned all that we believed. I know it is partly to do with being so far away but it feels like more.

I know she has been through a really tough year and I think my not believing is maybe hard in the light that she needs to find comfort in her faith and meaning in what is happening. We did email recently and I hope we do not drift apart for good. She was at the birth of my son and is a very very special person to me.

I hope when we get proper internet that I can skype with her and phone and maybe try touch sides again.