Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Grade 2!

I'm getting bored with myself.

You see, I keep saying "I can't believe it's been a week" and other such things, but yet I'm not changing my behaviour.

I'm re-listening to Better than Before, Gretchen Rubin's book on habits (highly recommended) and I clearly need to use the Strategy of Scheduling. Even though blogging is something I enjoy, I just don't get here unless I put it on my to-do list. So maybe that's what needs to happen.

But for now, let's talk about school.

So we've been back at school for a week already and it feels so much more chilled this year in terms of routines.

The kids are in different classes for the first time since pre-school and they don't seem to be missing their twins one bit.

Connor is with a firm teacher (which he needs) and Kendra is with a very soft and lovely teacher.

We had Parents Evening last night where the (new) principal spoke very briefly. We then went to our kids' separate classrooms. Suddenly the desks and chairs seem so small :)

We both met both teachers who seem friendlier than last year's teacher. There's a whatsapp group for the one class and the other class uses the notebook method.

What else?

Oh right, I love, love, love when the teachers say things that I have been saying because we all know the kids think the teachers know everything. So now I'm all Miss A and Miss W said you need 11 hours sleep a night, and so on and so on.

So that's school.

Did I tell you I saved about R1200 by buying my stationery on my own instead of the packs through the W stationers? And I am even more aware of time wastage than you are - I only made two trips "out of my way" but not really since the store is on the way home from work. Everything else from CNA and PnP.


One surprising thing that has happened this year...

The kids have had breakfast every day AND have been eating all their lunch. I'm pleasantly surprised. Usually Connor tells me he's too busy playing and Kendra mostly eats but only if no breakfast.

We haven't changed anything that we're putting on the lunch - cheese/ peanut butter and a piece of fruit.

Oh, I follow an Irish athlete (after hearing her on a podcast) and she does this Overnight Oats. Oats with milk put in fridge. Take out the next morning, add fruit and eat.

I do oats with milk and cinnamon sugar. I leave the two bowls in the fridge (they LOVE this and I do too - it's my acts of service love language) and they can take it out and heat for 30 minutes. I'm not sure what the big fuss is because they don't even get other fruit put on the top but they LOVE it. Maybe they feel the love?

Okay, I have to listen to reading now.

What's surprised you about school this year?
Do you like your kids' teachers?

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Currently.... in 15 minutes

Bringing you another old-school blog post (no pics) that I may or may not update this afternoon.


A Maeve Binchy collection of short stories around a theme. This woman knew how to do a short story. I keep saying I don't even like short stories but she does them perfectly. Plenty of character development and plot so you don't feel anything is unsaid.

I want to discuss one of these for Book Club, it is that good :)


I'm catching up on all my podcasts but Se7en, you'll be happy to know I deleted a whole bunch too!

I'm also re-listening to Better than Before on Audible since it is the new year and a book about habit formation can only be good, right?


I've been doing the mother of all backups.

It started when I did my usual monthly photo backup and my external hard drive didn't have enough space.

Now, I know how this can go. You then postpone the buying and so on, and your computer crashes....

So I went onto Takealot and bought the first thing that looked like it could do the job.

R1000 later, it was only supposed to be delivered tomorrow but it was delivered yesterday morning (two days early!)

So one disc will keep photos, and the other will have Other (all my business stuff, all my online products - I think there are about 30 - I should check), personal, budgets, etc.

The photos finished earlier and I'm finishing off the other stuff.

I must say, it's so nice to have just a couple of hundred from this year, and I have a "use for blogging" folder with all organising/ goals type photos.


Book Club and a Happier Project I'm writing about tomorrow on Organising Queen. I want you all to join me if it sounds remotely interesting.


Nail polish. I'm going to insta at some point but I figured out I need about 24 nail polishes tops. I sorted them last night while cooking and there are many I didn't use/ used once. If you want some, let me know.

Alright, have to go fetch my Grade 2 babies! I can't wait to hear all the stories. Big kids are such fun :)

What are you reading, listening to, doing, planning and decluttering?

Saturday, January 07, 2017

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

I did something awesome this year - I decided to reach my reading goal early so I wasn't pushing to reach a goal around Christmas/ New Year and I could just chill and play with my workbooks instead.

I realise chill and goals may not go together for you, but they do for me :)

However, I just had a really good year of reading so I finished my goal months ahead of time.

For final nerdiness, I ended on 97 books. The best since I've been tracking through Goodreads or, my adult life.

My previous best in 2001 was 95 books.

There are two people who read here who read way more books than that last year. Please tell us how many pages you read please because I get some questions like that and I don't read short books. I read normal books. My average book length is 340 pages.

More stats:

2016 books
Audible Kindle Physical
14 44 39

Non-fiction Fiction
24 73
25% 75%

This is probably the most non-fiction I've ever read in one year. Most of those were memoir-type books, which are my favourite non-fiction.

Longest book: Tara Road - Maeve Binchy (648 pages)

5* - 3 books: Stories I only tell my friends, Smart Money, Smart Kids and The Year of Living Danishly

 Please see if this Goodreads link works for you.

The bad book stuff? I abandoned a couple, one just a few days before the end of the year (!) and more than half done when I realised I actually don't care one iota about the characters.

I also read four 2* books but there you go.

And that's it!

Now, Terisha and I are starting a book club. I've extended the invitation to those who said they were interested on Instagram. If you're interested, let me know. We're meeting end Jan/ beginning Feb. Our first book is Big, Little Lies by Liane Moriarty.

We'll discuss everything at the first meeting.

Here's to a wonderful year of reading for us all!


PS the kids are 7.5 today!

Thursday, January 05, 2017

A chatty, catch-up post about Christmas

I've had it on my list to write this post for a long time (over a week) and today I told myself before I tackle my budget, I need to do this.

So here goes:

Christmas 2016

In my craziness, I invited everybody! My one friend didn't end up coming but I did have a house of 12 people.

Let's focus on all the good things, shall we?
  • Jesus is still the best Gift ever!
  • It was a beautifully overcast and rainy day
  • There was more than enough food (I had a little panic like was there going to be enough food?) and plenty left over. 
  • The SIL and BIL only bought one present per child (this I've been trying to get right for the last 7 years!!!).
  • The BIL ate food (super fussy) and plenty of it! Actually, I also think he's stopped smoking so that might be it.
  • The BIL complimented my house.

We told everyone we're not buying gifts so they listened... but I ended up looking through the rapidly diminishing gift shelf and so the grannies got gifts from there, and I made some keyrings with beautiful glass beads for them too. The grannies felt awkward about that so maybe I should specify no BOUGHT gifts next time because D and I love food gifts :)

Because of the aforementioned amazing weather (that apparently only D and I enjoy!), there was no swimming and people left around 5.... which meant we went to church again at 6, and that was really nice.

I do have one question: why is it that a house full of people for my birthday (usually even more!) doesn't stress me out one little bit but a house full of people for Christmas does?

Christmas is now all packed away and my house was thoroughly cleaned that day, two days later and again when Nanny S came back to work.

My To Marcia, From Marcia gift this year was a devotional colouring book - super little to colour daily with a scripture reference and about a minute of reading. Really low-key and hopefully a habit I can keep up, as long as Nanny S doesn't pack it away like she does everything else.

How was your Christmas? What did you get up to? Do you exchange gifts? Do you go wild? Do you buy a gift for yourself?

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The start of the 2016 wrap-up, Laura-style!

For those who don't know, I have this little side-hustle going on where I coach, do workshops and sell online programmes.

Anyway, I made a simple (Super Simple) booklet which, if I say so myself, is really good at helping you think through things to close off 2016 and start 2017 on the right note.

Go get your FREE copy here (and my time management purpose pack).

1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?
Bought a house without selling the old one first! Um, I don't recommend it if you're the stressing over money type (I am!) but I still know this was the right thing to do.

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I don't do new year's resolutions, but I do make goals. I wrote on someone's instagram recently that I love goals because you can set them anytime, you can start them anytime (right now!) and even if you make 2% progress, it's progress! Have I convinced you yet?

3. How will you be spending New Year’s Eve?
Probably here at home.

I feel like I want to have people over like we did two years ago but I'm going to play it by ear and see how I'm feeling.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Thankfully, no.

5. What countries did you visit?
None and strangely, I don't feel bad about that at all.

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
A closer relationship with God and with D.

7. What date from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

 13 March 2016 - the date I first saw and fell in love with my house

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Staying sane. Seriously. Trying to work full-time with demanding clients, pack up one house, move into another all with the admin and paperwork and phone calls of navigating those purchases and sales = super stressful.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Not a failure as such, but I do think our house was marketed at the wrong price at first and that meant it took longer to sell, and really, we could have got more if correctly priced and marketed. Then again, no point in looking back. One has to rely on the "experts" and we are not real estate experts.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
The numb toe

11. What was the best thing you bought?

The house. Okay, but besides that, my iphone 6 or how about my navy blue kitchen or Woolies beetroot crisps? :)

12. Where did most of your money go?

House, transfer and legal fees.............. and of course our biggest monthly expense is now the bond.

13. What song will always remind you of 2016?

Good good father - He is a really good Father!

A photo posted by Marcia Francois (@marcia0608) on
14. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Taken more walks. I have 6 left to reach my goal and I'm going to have to bribe the kids to come with me. The odd thing is we have such a great view and an interesting garden that I don't even feel like I need to venture outside to take a walk to see beauty. This is a great "problem" to have but does mean I'm not going to do this little project next year.

15. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Stressed about the house sale

16. What were your favourite TV shows?
I don't watch TV...

17. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
No, thankfully.

18. What was the best book you read?
See previous post :) or this one

19. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I'm really not one for new music - I like my tried and tested things. But I will say I got into Bethel Music a whole lot this year.

20. What was your favourite film of this year?
Did I even watch anything?

21. What did you do on your birthday?
I had friends over for a delicious lunch and they spoiled me rotten :)

22. What kept you sane?
God, D and my Bible whatsapp group :)

23. Who did you miss?
I missed many friends who I've not seen as much this year.

24. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016
That I can let go and I don't always have to initiate and drive friendship activities.

Who else is participating in this meme?

Let me know so I can come read your highlights.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Best books of 2016 and November reading

I think you can spot the 3 Christmas books in last month's "read" pile, can't you?

The best was the Maeve Binchy, of course. I don't even like short stories but she has a way of doing them so they are, in fact, complete stories and you're left satisfied with the result and you cared about the characters.

Other than that, I read my best book (most entertaining and pure enjoyment) of the year this month, Stories I only tell my friends, by Rob Lowe. Do yourself a favour and get it on Audible. You can thank me later.

(I wrote this post on making audible/ podcasts work for you - please read it)

I won't say too much here because I wrote a post on Organising Queen on my best books of the year!

Now that post should definitely be read.

How is your reading going? Are you chasing a 2016 goal or have you relaxed into holiday mode? (for me holiday mode is plenty of reading!)

Goodreads sent me a thing on around about the 10th to tell me about my year in books. Um, sorry, I'm still a good 20 days out from finishing off this year and I'm reading all the way.

Since then I've read another three books, I'm 2/3 through with an audible book (this week's travelling will enable me to finish that one) and so I estimate I'll end on 96 books, which is perfect because that will be my highest number of books read since 1998 (when I started logging books on Goodreads. I read 95 books in 2001.

By the way, Goodreads only counts a book once, so even though I read The Life-Changing Magic.... twice, it doesn't count last year's one, just this year's read. Just in case that 69 was bothering you like it did me.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Sunday evening stuff

Usually I blog on a Monday morning because I'm at work too early for my brain to actually work for work stuff, but I can string together words perfectly okay, but...

I'm working from home tomorrow because Nanny S is taking her baby (who's turning 2 tomorrow!) to the clinic. She is coming back to work after lunch because I'm actually not on leave yet and I need to get some real work done. In addition, when I work from home I like to be super productive so as to leave my record untarnished.

Aside from the working from home while refereeing two 7-year-olds story, I also have a handyman coming to do stuff here..... and I need to phone for a dental appointment.

Kendra's signing "I love you" to me!

You see, yesterday I was chewing a biscuit when something felt weird in my mouth.

The tooth where I have a root canal is loose. The kids looked excited when I said "my tooth is loose" until we told them that adults are not supposed to have loose teeth!

I can wiggle it and move it around (!) so I'm chewing on the right side. My dentist is on holiday (I stalked her on Facebook) so that will be a fun little round of telephone tag, trying to find someone unfamiliar to attend to my tooth.

Wish me well!

So what have you been up to this weekend?

Ah, Sunday skies!
Most of South Africa is on leave already so these days feel like you're the only one working in the whole country, which I don't mind at all.

I have big plans this week - two lunches, the big filing and chucking-out session and prep for January. And obviously to get my Inbox to zero. I also like to make my to-do list for my first day back.

On the home front, I have my sister arriving on Wed and my mother on Friday. But actually, that can wait for another post.

I've already filed everything possible for 3 clients I've handed over to other colleagues, so I feel lighter already.

Who's on leave? Who's still working? Who's doing the Big Clean at home? (I'm doing that too)

PS I just told D that two years ago we were at Alpine Heath. How has time flown by so quickly?!

Monday, December 12, 2016

It's downhill from here to the end of the year

So, school's out, kids are at home and not listening much (looks like Miss M has much better-behaved kids than we have at home!), and the roads are clear.

(we left at 7.30 and I was at work at 8.10; at that time of morning it would usually take a full hour of driving)

We had a full weekend of socials.

Actually, let's talk about that.

I'm an extrovert; D's an introvert and he's getting older and as such, I say more grumpy :)

So my need to be with people and around people are much higher than his.

Friday night we met up with two sets of work friends at a restaurant close to home. D had his year-end that afternoon so he said he would just pop in to say hi (because I said "they really want to meet you"). The kids and I were going to go (my kids' favourite thing is to go to restaurants!) Well, he enjoyed himself so much he stayed. Maybe because he was sitting next to the one husband who was relaxed and not very loud?

How do you guys deal with this? All not go if the husband indicates non-participatory vibes? Go alone?

On Saturday afternoon we had a lunch plan with very close friends of ours. We love being with them and the kids are comfortable there too so that was wonderful in every way.

On Sunday afternoon I had two work friends plus partners over for tea. Again, D said he'd pop in and out but wanted to be free to not have to socialise. So that's what we did. Lovely time, D did his thing; I was obviously with my guests the entire time. Kids were out til about 4.30 and then arrived home with granny.

I guess I'm saying that this kind of mish-mash of socials works for both of us. I would be miserable if "forced" to not have people over, and he'd be miserable if "forced" to socialise too much.

What works for you?
Are your kids going mad at home yet?
Do you have a busy December?

PS I decided that is it. No more forcing socials into this month. I have a couple of dates during work hours with friends and one playdate after Christmas, and that is that.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Friendship Friday - the crazy, end of year rendition and friendship plans for next year

Well, hello.

I didn't mean to stay quiet for a whole week but we did have three days of concerts.... so there's that.

I do want to get this one out quickly so that I can put on a podcast and attack a certain box in my study before supper, so let's get to it.

1. I don't know what made me have this idea (maybe it's my friend spreadsheet) but I seemed to think that I need to see at least all my friends once this year. And so I've been going crazy, scheduling stuff. I happened to mention something to D and he outright told me I'm crazy so I've calmed down and now I'm telling myself a year, 14 months, whatever... :) (I'm still twitching a little bit inside though, truth be told)

2. The crafternoons have helped to see and spend time with friends this year but I'm not continuing them next year. Tomorrow is the last one of the year, and the last one forever probably.

I thought there would be more people involved when I started. That hasn't quite happened so I'm moving on. I'm not saying some of us won't craft together but it just won't be a Thing. If someone invites me over to craft, I'll go and vice versa.

3. I have some other plans though - Terisha and I have spoken about starting a bookclub and I'm really keen to get this going. If you know me (or have met me in person), I really get very passionate about books. It's just that I hate being told what to read a typical bookclub won't work. Anyway, I'll let you know more when things are clearer with us.

this friend completely spoke to my acts of service self :)

4. I also want to have more workshops next year. Not that friends need to come but I do love it when my friends support my passions. I'm definitely hosting another 5 Love Languages workshop and something keeps calling me to a photo workshop or a motherstyles workshop. We'll see.

5. Julia and I are starting a God Centered Mom podcast group. I need to find my Skype password to test the technology otherwise since it's just us two for now, we will whatsapp chat. If you're keen, subscribe to the God Centered Mom podcast and let me know so I can send you the first episode. This is super easy - listen, and we jump on Skype to discuss, and done. You can't get any easier.

6. I have some big financial goals for the next while. It's a number goal so when I hit it, I can relax again. I'm not at all concerned because I'm good with goals and this one should be hit within a year or two but I do need to limit my eating out with friends so I want to do more old-fashioned friend stuff, like having people over. Or cheaper friend dates like tea (R20) or lunch (R65) instead of suppers (R120 +).

7. Still, I've had a good November as far as friends are concerned even though the first 11 days were all things Spanish. Impromptu teas turned into long lazy afternoons, Face Time dates with faraway friends happened, the 5 Love Languages workshop and lunch with a friend, Sunday night suppers, and two work things but these don't count as work because they were such fun.

Tell me, do you have this crazy idea that you need to cram into the year all the friends? Or is that just me?

Are you changing your friends calendar for next year? Do tell!

Friday, November 25, 2016

{Friendship Friday} Deal breakers

So I'm kind-of addicted to a new podcast called Dear Sugar.

It's Cheryl Strayed's podcast. One she does with a guy called Steve Almond.

Cheryl is the author of Wild, the book that was made into a movie that starred Reese Witherspoon.

I wasn't wild about the movie (haha!) but now that I've heard her podcast, I quite love her :)

Anyway, Dear Sugar is the title of her column which is one of the reasons she became famous, I think.

They talk about everything relationships on this podcast, which is probably why I love it so much!

People aren't like tapestries - you can't just pull out the bits you don't like. - Dear Sugar podcast

I can't remember in which context this was said but I loved it so I wrote it down.

It got me thinking about how with any relationship really, but definitely with friendships, you have to decide to accept all the bits if you're going to be friends with someone.

Or you have to accept that the annoying bits are endearing and quirky, and not a deal breaker.

Or you stop being friends.

The trick is that sometimes we don't know what those deal breaker things are until after the fact.

For me, I've had friends say hurtful things to me. That's not a deal breaker at all. The deal breaker is when you don't care that I'm hurt by those statements.

I have a work friend who is always late. Always. I'm always tempted to send her separate meeting invites so she actually pitches up on time. But this is not deal breaker stuff because in the ways that count, she is trustworthy, caring, and calls me out on things.

I'm afraid I'm still reading the election coverage on blogs despite my good intentions. I think it's because it feels like if I lived in the US, some of these issues might be dealbreaker issues for me and I wonder if I'd have any friends left. My stance is not so much political but more values-based.

I read a blog this week and she said that she'd been to a seminar with two speakers prior to the election, and both speakers spoke as if everyone there would be voting for Clinton. One speaker did say that statistically speaking there were at least a few Trump supporters but it highlighted (after the fact) that people were letting other people believe what they wanted, and staying under the radar. Anyway, the comments on that post are interesting.

This whole election business also highlighted to me that clearly I follow only one type of person and I need to change that.

Have you seen posts on the internet earlier this week (and podcasts for the 2 people who listen to podcasts!) talking about surviving Thanksgiving after all the politics? I hope all my US friends had good Thanksgivings!

Back to friendship.

Have you ever had a values/ beliefs disagreement in a friendship? How did it play out? Did you decide that it was okay and you'd accept it or did the friendship end?

(as always, you can stay anonymous - I'm more interested in the story than who is saying it :))


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