Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Langa Township Training Center.

Last June, there were a few friends in town, and they invited us to go on a township tour with them. One of the areas we visited was called Langa, which means “Sun”. You can read about its history here and here

In Langa, there are small community training centers where people can learn certain trades and crafts, such as cooking, how to re-use plastics into new useful objects, how to make musical instruments, and various arts and crafts.

At this Center, there were people learning to make ceramics. They learn how to make and use molds, kiln fire the ceramics, and then decorate them with glazes. I love this type of pottery, and plan to bring back an entire set of them in the future. 

Painted, waiting to be fired one last time.

Worker painting designs on a cup.

Our group and the ceramicists. Kiln on the left.

Here is an example of  the vibrant finished pieces. Source.

 There is a room to learn how to make djembe drums, and also an area to make fun wall hangings that depict township homes and businesses.



Love these. They are so cute and are somewhat representative.
There was even a little music area for tourists to try playing the handmade wooden marimbas, dejembes, and gourd rattles. It was really fun.

Tourists of various groups coming together in musical harmony.

The hubs, obviously having fun!

It was very touristy, and yet, gives you a broader perspective on the artistic work that is being created in South Africa and see how some community programs can really make a difference in developing employable job skills.

Song of the Post: Lovesick by The Arrows. They are a girl band from South Africa, and I’m so impressed with their budding talent. I got to see them live at K-Day earlier this year (see my post), and it was two girls on the stage- one playing a piano guitar and the other a drumset. How cool is that?!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

18 Weeks: Yes, I’m pregnant!!

So, I have been on an unintentional blogging break for a few months now, and some of you may have been wondering why. Well, as my title explains, I’m pregnant with my first child! My priorities have shifted from blogging, beading, crafts, to obsessively learning about my pregnancy, baby items, and newborn care. It is ALL-encompassing, and it’s hard for me to think about anything else. I’d like to start blogging again, hopefully once a week, but I don’t want to change this blog into a baby blog, so I will still try to have varying topics, along with my pregnancy updates. 

The rest of this post will play catch up and go into some detail, so it’s up to you if you want to read! I won’t take offense. I just have a lot to say since I have been keeping this to myself and close family and friends for sooo long!

So, to catch you up, my pregnancy started a little rough, but has been 99% smooth sailing. What I find interesting is that I have been so in tune with my body that I was pretty sure I was pregnant just 3 or 4 days after when I think I ovulated. I was able to test at 8 days after ovulation and got the faintest pink line. Like literally, I had to have it in direct light and under a magnifying glass. Lol. I continued to test through 11 days, my last being a digital Clear Blue Easy (as I’d learned it is usually the “gold standard” of home pregnancy tests).

"Pregnant 2-3" means 2-3 weeks after ovulation, not last menstrual cycle.
  I had my first obstetrician (OB) appointment at what I thought was 6 weeks, on a Thursday. She did a vaginal ultrasound and found a corpus luteum cyst (nothing to really worry about because it was small and would probably go away), but nothing else. This concerned her and we decided that we would do a series of beta hCG level testing to help diagnose whether I was experiencing an ectopic pregnancy. My levels were pretty low, around 3,200, and with a normal pregnancy, they should double every 48 hours. I wasn’t experiencing any pain, but I was to immediately contact the doctor on call if I did. I went home, was calm for about a day, until I started the “googling” and learned about how dangerous an ectopic pregnancy could be for me and my future fertility. Crash courses concerning your health are never fun. 
Corps luteum cyst, no sac.
 I had to have my second blood test on a Saturday, right before we went to our first rugby game at Newlands Stadium (I’ll post pictures of the game). We were a little subdued because we knew we might get a call while at the game about my beta hCG levels. If they were too low, it would most likely indicate an ectopic pregnancy, and I would have to have a procedure done within the next day so that it didn’t rupture and cause me to lose a fallopian tube. The doctor on call got the results 3 hours later, and called me just before the game started. He said that my levels were almost at 7,000, and he still had a little doubt about it being a viable pregnancy. We had done enough research in the last 24 hours to feel more confident than him, and we decided to enjoy the game.

The next Monday, I saw my OB, did another vaginal ultrasound, and she saw the corpus luteum cyst and she saw an empty sac measuring 4 weeks, 6 days! Yay! She was relieved because it was proof that it was not ectopic. The mystery was solved in that I was measuring a week later than estimated, and my initial appointment had been too early to see anything on a sonogram. Phew! In a way, I was still glad to go through the stress because if it had been ectopic, it would have been caught very early, and my fallopian tube would have most likely been saved. 

She wanted to see me one more time to see the actual embryo and fetal pole, so we came in 3 weeks later. At that point, I was measuring 7 weeks, 6 days, right on track. We got to hear the baby’s heart beat for a little bit, and she estimated it near 180 bpm. Due to my age, we were referred to a fetal assessment center to do a “level 2” ultrasound to start pre-screening for developmental concerns.
I’ll save that appointment for another day. 

We have an embryo! The head is at the bottom.

In summary, it started out rough, and really put my health and fertility in perspective.
Me being healthy and having a healthy baby is all that matters.

Song of the Post: Baby, I’m Yours by Barbara Wilson.  
An oldie but a goodie! Don’t you just love her background singers?