Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Dear Julia... on teachers

Dear Julia

I wrote the kids' teacher an email and said...

Hi ________ (first name)

Blah blah blah

Kind regards
Marcia


She replied...

Hi! 

Blah blah blah

Thanks
Miss ______


What are the parents supposed to call the kids' teachers? Surely I cannot be calling a 24-year-old Miss _____????

Confused Marcia


Dear Confused Marcia

You address her using her first name! And she can call you Marcia. 

I've ALWAYS been on first name terms with teachers. They are not MY teachers!  At Son 2's school the kids use first names. It is either Miss Vanessa or Miss V. No need to be too formal!  

About the email, you continue to call her by her first name. She just wants to feel important. Son 1 had a teacher like that. She called herself Miss _____ and refererred to me as Mrs ______. 

I said "Hi Jane. Please feel free to call me Julia" and I continued with the rest of my email. That solved the issue right there and then.  


So, dear readers, what do you think?
 
PS So this is some of what Julia and I chat about and I always love her wisdom. Please leave your questions for Julia in the comments. For real!

Monday, February 08, 2016

Why I go on dates with the kids


On Saturday after gym, Connor asked me if he and I could go on a date on Sunday morning, before church. He wanted to go to Mugg and Bean for breakfast.

Yes, he is that specific.

(it's scary seeing yourself in your kids)

I'd been feeling the same way so I said YES, of course we can go.

So that's what we did.

It was a huge effort for me because I had a terrible headache on Sat (a topic for another blog post) and slept from about 7 pm to nearly 3 am. Faffed for an hour tidying in the middle of the night, and then started a new book before falling asleep again.

Anyway, we had a lovely breakfast and both had a wonderful time.



Today after praying good-night prayers, he told me his teacher asked what their favourite part of the weekend was, and he said, "going on a date with Mummy".

Me: Awwwww, my boy. And I kissed him

C: Because Mummy, with all the homework every night, we haven't had a chance to chat. That's why I wanted to go to breakfast so while they were making our food, we could chat.

(I did ask him if he wanted to take colouring with us - we do this or Word Search sometimes - and he said no, he just wanted to talk)

I am amazed at this child.

I just said to D now, "is he 6 or 30?"

Connor's love language is quality time and that's why I go on dates with him.

I have started a new thing which I will write about on the other blog - goals with kids.... which so far is working AWESOME.



Do you have a child whose love language is quality time?
Do you spend intentional time with that child?

P.S. It doesn't have to cost money. Connor and I also race up and down the street (when it's not hot!) and on Sunday afternoon, we kicked a ball around the garden for about 15 minutes.
PPS. I will add that I typed up my 2016 goals this weekend and since I have it on there, I'll put it out here - I would like to do a few 5 love languages talks/ workshops this year. If you have some friends and would like me to do one for you, contact me. I LOVED the one I did for about 30 ladies in October last year.

Friday, February 05, 2016

January was a great reading month



My goal for this year is exactly the same as it was last year - 70 books.

The difference is that this year I'm aiming to finish two weeks into December, so instead of having 52 weeks, I'm going to read these books in 50 weeks.

The reason for this shortened timeline is that for Dec 2015, I was left with 10 books. I honestly didn't think I'd make it. I thought I'd come close (like 67 of the 70 books) but really didn't think it was possible.

Instead, I was hardly on the social media (did you notice?) and I read, read, read. It was delightful.

I could use the excuse of having to reach my reading goal to legitimately sit and "do nothing" for hours on end, which is what an ESTJ needs to do to relax. The relaxing needs to be on the to-do list.

Still, I didn't have the luxury of stopping books because I'd already invested x number of hours in that book.

So this year, I want to finish by mid-December and do purely reading for pleasure afterwards.

Yes, all reading is pleasure except when I'm reading for the blog, but you know what I mean.


Reading is also one of the ways I'm supporting my goals this year.


Back to January.

I got one audio book done while driving to work once back from leave, one physical, non-fiction book from my shelf, one from the library and the rest were Kindle books.

Let's quickly whizz through a few of my 4-star ratings but you can check them out properly on my Goodreads profile.

Tara Road

This was my second Maeve Binchy novel. Think The Holiday but 20 - 30 years earlier. Interesting in that the other protagonist was introduced very late in the book but I loved it anyway. I'm noticing that there is a real difference with authors published "back in the day" and these newfangled authors. It sounds very poncy of me to say this but the editing is better, character development is good, the writing seems better.... and now I'm showing my age :)

Each and every one

Another novel set in Dublin. I was glued to this one til it finished. WHOOSH. Read it for family dynamics, parent-adult child and adult sibling relationships. Loved it.

I'm going to get her other books too.


The First-born Advantage

That link is to all the Kevin Leman books on Kindle. I had this paperback for years and years, and only after my colleague read my copy and kept talking to me about it, did I get it together and read it.

Now I'm telling everybody to read it, if you're a firstborn, married to a firstborn or are interested in Birth Order.

I recommend the Birth Order book too, and Making Children mind without losing yours.

This month I'm listening to Parenting your Powerful Child on audible :)

*************************

I've been on a book-buying binge... but only cheaper ones.

By the way, this bookbub thing is not working for me. I haven't yet seen any books I like....... they seem to be all random stuff I'd stop three chapters in....

Is there any book you recommend from your January reading? Do share!
Do you set reading goals?

PS the links to the books are affiliate. If you buy through them, I get a few cents. To give you an idea, I earned a grand total of $1,13 in January. At this rate, it will take me about 7 years to get my $100 minimum payment sent to me.
PPS I made a #marciareads hashtag on Instagram if you want to have a look

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Creative boundaries


I decided to do a few short-term, creative projects this year.





Short-term, because I get bored quickly, and creative because I realised while goal-setting last weekend that I miss my year of create. 2012 really was a fantastic year of trying things and stepping out.

So this month - Feb - I want to use only 5 photos in every post I publish on this blog. Call me out if I forget!



This practice is hopefully going to do two things:

1) instill the discipline to continue this habit for the rest of the year, and
2) help me to become more ruthless with the photos that are my actual favourites. I noticed that my Marcia faves folders have been increasing in size year by year...and I want to get back to choosing ONE beautiful picture of a sunset, not five from different angles :)

Tell me about your creative projects for the year.
How do you feel about having boundaries with your creativity?
(I think it increases the creativity but I want to hear from you)

Monday, February 01, 2016

So many ideas, so little follow-through, but let's talk holidays!

First - are there any wordpress geniuses (sp?) out there who understand back-ends and so on? I bought a new domain and I need to redirect things, add things, and so on.....  If you know of someone awesome who is patient with a non-techie, please tell me. I need to get this done by the end of the month.

The last time I did this was 6 years ago, and let's just say the exchange rate is not favourable to use my usual US tech people, especially since my ex-business is now a little hobby.


Okay, moving on.

Let's talk about holidays.

I was thinking about what worked well, what didn't... about holidays in 2015 and I thought I should get that down on paper before I forget.

Working through December

This was fabulous for a few reasons:
  1. aircon at the office during a heatwave. I'm never that motivated to get moving in the morning but to escape the heat? yes please.
  2. traffic. I don't have to say any more than that. I successfully dodged proper traffic for a full month - the extra two weeks worked while the rest of South Africa was on holiday, and the two weeks of holiday. 
  3. I worked for a few hours daily and caught up with other stuff afterwards. Made me feel both responsible and like I was on holiday.
  4. I was holidaying when others were back. Bliss!


The only con was:

I returned to the usual madness at work. I even worked at home for about 7 hours over two evenings within my first 5 days back. It didn't bother me at all though because I was completely up to date when I left for my leave.

This year it won't be quite the same because we're now doing that thing where the company closes between Christmas and New Year but you have to use your own leave for this "privilege". #breathedeep #choosejoy



Timing of holidays

In 2015, we took leave during the last week of March, for a week and a half in July, and then January. I know it technically was this year but half of it was paid for last year.

This is not enough *in my opinion* for Jhb people in stressful jobs :)

I really think I need at least 4 breaks a year. We did this in 2014 and it was beyond fabulous.

So that's what I'm aiming for this year. I've finally reached that point at work (I hope) when you have sufficient leave days for most of what you want to do.

I plan to again take all the days before a public holiday to make long weekends, those 3 days in March that give you 10 days off in total, and so on.



Dreaming of...

The kids asked so nicely if we can please go back to the Drakensberg this year. We all loved our April break there in 2014 but that's not the issue; it's whether I can find reasonable, really nice accommodation.

We also want to see if we can do a fly to PE, leave kids with their cousins, and drive to Plett/ Knysna thing.

And of course, Ballito. Always Ballito :)

Cape Town was amazing but is so, so expensive that I'm not sure we'll be back for a good few years. I haven't told you that somebody dented our rental car while were parked outside a restaurant on day 1, so yes, that was a huge, unbudgeted expense. Still, in the grand scheme of things, the important thing for me to remember is that at least we had the money for it.



Spending time with my family is an important part of what will bring me joy in 2016.

How about you? Have you planned/ given thought to when you're taking leave?

(I've planned it all - a colleague started talking about it and I was suitably distracted so I gave in and marked off all public holidays)

PS these photos from a Pringle Bay sunset, in other words, after 8 pm at night!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

New Year's Day, favourite drinks and weighing less

It's about time I started blogging about the new year.

The kids slept at Granny's house and we went over for lunch, and to fetch them.

They were running through the sprinklers to cool off, and then used towels to make themselves costumes.
 



 This is me coming outside and seeing someone (Kendra, I think?) with my camera!




I thought for a minute that this pic was in the wrong folder because surely the light wasn't that amazing after we arrived home.



Yes it was - this photo was taken at 6.16. CT folks won't know what I'm on about but for the light to still be that amazing this late... it's high summer here!

Also, I love my mason jar glasses. If you want some, Mr P Home has them for about R130? in a set of 6. My favourite drink at the moment is cold water with a squeeze of lemon juice from the bottle. My kids are into this too, so much that we're buying a 500 ml of lemon juice every two weeks :o

What's your favourite non-alcoholic drink at the moment?

And then on the matter of goals, my four main focus areas this year are God, relationships, health and fitness, and my word of the year, joy.

I go into it all a lot more here.

But on that health and fitness bit, I joined Weigh-Less on 2 Jan, went on holiday (!) and have gone back every week since. My goal is to lose 1 kg this month while holidaying and getting back onto the eating plan.

I am going to have to be VERRRRY good for the next two days because the first half of the week was a bit hit and miss.

What are you doing differently for your health this year?

Monday, January 25, 2016

When you're in a funk

(I'm trying a new thing where I blog for 15 - 30 minutes and then get off because it's too easy to get on, and blog forever while taking a break to read a blog or 15, etc.)

Anyway, I finished working through my Shining Life Workbook this weekend and it was amazing.

IMG_6533

I know this intellectually but I'm still amazed at how putting in the work actually yields results :)

I had such clarity around what I want for myself in each of the areas of my life - spiritually, financially, relationships with friends, family, work, body, creatively (!), etc.

I wrote my mottos, habits I want to cultivate and more.

A glorious, dedicated time of intention-setting.

One of the exercises was about knowing what brings you comfort (she phrased it in a different way) especially when you feel blah... and need to get out of the funk.



Here are some of the things I wrote down:
  1. going for a walk
  2. playing with my camera - I found if I just take my 50 mm lens, or I turn the f-stop down, and go walk around the garden, or play with vases/ stationery, etc. to get a focal point, I can have no end of fun and .... 300 pics later, I'm good (10 minutes)
  3. cuddles with the kids
  4. talking to D
  5. worship
  6. cleaning/ organising... but furiously 
  7. reading with a big mug of tea for just 10 - 15 minutes (obviously longer is better but the trick is to find quick things)
Tell me, what are a few things you do to take you out of a funk?
PS It's not too late to set intentions for the year - read my OQ post :)

(13 minutes to write this post)

Friday, January 22, 2016

What these 6 and a half year old kids are up to, and the disequilibrium


I started a page in my notebook on things Connor currently says because I think it's so cute.
  1. Here you go, my dear (98% of the time, he says this to me) - no, I don't know where he picked up the "dear". I do say "here you go, my love" but I'll take it!
  2. astounding
  3. devastated
  4. blurb - tonight's one. D took out a library book and Connor said, "read the blurb, Daddy". I was organising in the bathroom but D and I both burst out laughing. Nobody taught him that word apparently.
Kendra has taken to mothering Connor. She speaks exactly like I do, and I hear things like, "no, my boy, that won't do" which is very funny from one 6-year-old to another.

Anyway, moving on from their chit-chat.

School

We've had 8 days of school and I am yet to see homework.

They had more homework in Grade R last year (every day was a few books to cover or a different set of forms to complete).

I suspect the homework will start on Monday. So therefore, why are the 3 flipfiles sent home every day? 

On the bright side, they tell me they are very well-mannered (!) because they both have stars at the top of the chart or some such thing.


On growing

They leap out of bed every morning, get dressed and we have not been late once! Can I just say my heart gets a little bit sore when I see how cute they are in their school uniforms, and how big! Of course, I say this to them and they tease me when I tell them I get just a little bit sad because they're growing too quickly.

I'm happy to have them growing nicely but it also makes me realise how quickly time passes. If the last 4 years passed so quickly (0 - 2 took its own sweet time), seems like when I blink a few times they'll be teenagers.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Lunches

Favourite lunches are peanut butter and jam, with apples. They've both gone off bananas for lunch.

Games

This was the holiday of card games. I shouldn't even have bothered taking any activity books because all they used was the pencil and a notebook to keep score. Uno, Bicycle cards (which we bought in Ballito one rainy day) and some other games D bought, as well as Ludo.

I have lots more to say about toys and such, and how D was WOWED by our visit to the Se7en gang, but let's just share this nugget:

In Pringle Bay, I didn't have to say once, "go make your beds" and so I said to them, "what's going on, guys?" and they said this..... wait for it....

It's easy to make our beds and keep our rooms clean because we only have 1 teddy bear in it.

I literally said, WAIT. Did you just hear what you said??????? 



Disequilibrium

Remember in years past I would speak about the half year disequilibrium? It's a real thing. So I bought "your 6-year-old: loving and defiant" - I buy the age book every year, and both D and I read it. It's been great.

D went to renew his driver's licence when we got back from holidays and I gave him my Kindle so he could read this book in the queue. For the record, he started and finished the entire book while standing in the queue. Yes. And then still had time to chat to some people.

Anyway, D was dealing with them one way when he left that morning, and when he returned he was saying things like, "oh shame, they're going through the disequilibrium," which is remarkably satisfying for someone like me to hear. :)

A quick tip - for the boys, the moms are the best friends when things are well, and the worst enemies when things are not. Things I hear regularly - I'm never speaking to you again! and You're my favourite person in this house. So there's that.
(Read your age's book!)

This should all ease off in Feb sometimes so we wait and see.



I'm going to write a post next week on Organising Queen about how I'm doing goals this year but basically, one of the things I'm doing is to read and listen more to things that tie in with my goals. It's not earth-shattering but it's something I don't know why I don't do more consciously.

At the moment I'm listening to Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids (how to stop shouting). The 3 sections of the book are: Self-Regulating (for parents), Connect then Correct, and Coaching.

So far so good - this is helping while we're in the disequilibrium......


How are you settling into the new year with your kids?

PS these pics were taken on the last day of 2015, just before they went to their granny's for a sleepover.

Monday, January 18, 2016

5 things I'm not doing in 2016

Thanks for weighing in on the deodorant situation.

Gosh, the things we blog about!

While you're thinking about deo, tell me what is most effective at not leaving the white residue on clothes....

Last year you all seemed to like my post, 7 things I want to do less of in 2015, so let's do the 2016 version. I was reminded of the idea at Modern Mrs Darcy.




1. Finishing books I don't enjoy

I had this same one on my 2015 list and.... I didn't finish two books. Yay me! That is big for me. Already I've abandoned one book for the year so I'm doing well.

I'm a big finisher and especially with book goals, I keep thinking about the opportunity cost of having partially read the terrible book....

2. Holding onto things that don't spark joy

I made really good headway from August last year when I read the Konmari book. Apparently I liked the idea of the book so much I wrote 16 posts. A bit excessive but you know me - when I like something, I really like something.

I've got really good at not thinking too much as I put things in the donate pile even when they're perfectly good. They just don't spark joy.


3. Torturing myself by going to sales

I went into a shop (H & M) for a sale in Cape Town and then I said to D, "now see, this is why I don't go to sales". I really hate crowds, people attacking sale racks of clothes, etc.

Everything about the experience is unpleasant.

My "mantra" now is ... if I need it, I can afford to buy it at full price. This is usually true and I'm going to resist the marketing psychology.

Of course, if I do need/ want something and it happens to be on sale, HAPPY DAYS!



4. Having loose boundaries

I love the topic of boundaries and I've spoken before about the Boundaries book. I read the book many years ago and listened to the audio book last year.

Life-changing.

Read it if you feel like yours could use a tune-up. I used to buy this book for my coaching clients, it's that good.

Small example - I used to flip my lid on Saturdays when I'd clean the kitchen and D would return with the shopping, pack the fridge stuff away and then leave 3/4 full bags all over the table and floor, and disappear.

Then there's me, huffing and puffing. Don't pretend this stuff doesn't go on at your place.

And then I thought about it. The thing that drives me mad is my nice kitchen "messed up" and no space to walk around. So now I calmly take all those bags to the laundry area where I don't have to look at them.

When family members ask where this or that is, I say calmly, I don't know, check the shopping bags in the laundry.



Back to this year's boundaries - I already tried to befriend someone at the school, apparently not interested, so I've moved on. Such progress, I'm amazed at myself. I still like the person so if she picks up her end of the stick, I'll pick up mine. Otherwise, we'll be friendly acquaintances :)

Same story with work stuff. I used to stress out about people not doing their bits (I am overall managing this thing but these people don't report to me, you know?) and this year, I sent out my email, and then calmly but objectively stated facts in the meeting. "There has been very poor participation" being a favourite phrase at the moment. But it's on their side of the fence - I can't force people to do their work.

I have some issues with Spanish too. I will need to be very strong in this area. I have loose boundaries because I enjoy the dancing but there are a few other issues I need to deal with.



5. Making excuses

I realise more and more over the years that even though I'm an upholder, I'm someone who needs accountability to eat properly. End of story. Therefore, I better get ready to pay Weigh-Less forever....I happily handed over my R320 and here we go again.

I threw away about 5 Weigh-Less filos (those files) last year in the big Konmari declutter...

I said to Robyn when we had lunch late last year, I tell myself things like "I don't have time to go to Weigh-Less and gym on a Saturday morning". NONSENSE. Of course I have time. I may as well face facts that I'm just plain lazy to get out of bed.

One Saturday down, many many more to go.


There we go.

Over to you - what are a few things you're not doing in 2016?

PS you all need to pray with me for a new job/ reporting line for our "assistant" at work. I thought about my word JOY in the shower before I started work this year and one thing that seriously steals my joy is her lack of work ethic, etc. There are two options because current manager is too scared to deal with it (all of us have complained): she has to get a new reporting line or find a new job. Deal?

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Can we please talk about deodorant?

I don't use roll-on, aerosol sprays or the gel deodorants.

I don't like the wet feeling of roll-ons and gels, so I use speedsticks.

First I used Shower to Shower, then Dove for a long time, and for a good few years, Mitchum ladies.

This is not cheap. I think I paid about R55 for the last one (the other cheaper ones are about R36 - R38) and I'm finding it ineffective.

Granted, we have had a TON of super hot days but should these things not be able to do the trick?

I'm also finding that the deodorant cakes into these tiny little white ba.lls. Anyone?

Tell me, what do you use and are you happy with it?

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