Thursday, January 22, 2015

Temp nanny number 3

I received the resignation SMS from Nanny 2 on New Year's night.

After we put the twins to bed (hmm, I never say "the twins" but I noticed my colleagues ask, "how are the twins?"), we went onto the agency's website to have a look.

I noticed that my 2nd choice previously was still listed as available so I wrote an email telling them the situation and saying if she was, in fact, still available, to offer her the job.

They did, she accepted, she came in on the Sat for a few hours quick training and started (thrown in the deep end) on the Monday.

And she's been great.

She is great.

She's open, communicative, calls me Marcia, not Ma'am, and the kids love her because she reads Naughty Amelia Jane to them (it's really easy to make my kids love you :)).

She was a teacher in Zim so I'm getting her to do the homework with the babies. Homework started this week with them writing out a page of their name in the proper upper and lower case letters.

I'm thinking of getting her to teach them words.....

My house is clean, the kids are happy and not fighting with the nanny all the time and so I'm happy.

She's also super switched-on and organised which goes a long way with me.

Speaking of nannies, I went to visit Nanny S and the baby the other day, and take them more presents. My word, that baby is sweet. If I were in the slightest bit broody, it would be a problem. Thank goodness I'm WELL over that stage.


What's more important to you - a clean house or happy children?

I actually need both. It might not be politically correct to say that, but I can't function in a messy house :)

PS Mrs FF has put herself on a data diet (data usage for her phone) which I SUPER LOVE. I'm putting myself on a 30-minute or less blog post diet. This one took 25 mins. If I don't look for pics, even quicker :)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

My 2014 photography, in numbers

Thank you for your nice comments on Louisa's parenting tips. I'm going to do one every week for about a month.


Ta da da dum.....

Let's talk about photography, and particularly, my 2014 photography in numbers. 

1. My goal was 12 photowalks (as in a walk with the big camera, solely to take pics of whatever takes my fancy). I ended up with 53. 53!!! (plus the 10 - 12 where I only took the iphone)

I've set a big goal for this year - 52 photowalks. They don't have to be done with the big camera; as long as we take a walk and I take ONE nice pic (nice by my standards), I'll be happy.

We've had 3 so far so we are bang on track, and I haven't taken the big camera for a walk yet (because I hadn't finished 2014 pics and I feel like I'm just adding to the photo crazy otherwise). You can check out my instagram marcia0608 and look for #52walksin2015 to see the 3 pics.

2. Another goal (a standing one) is to have photos of me every month with the kids. I definitely have nice photos every month and much, much more than I expected because I'm now training the kids to take good photos too. And I outright bribe them "if I can take pics of you, then you can take pics of me with Kendra" and it works!

first day of school last year

My folder has 206 photos but there are photos of D with the kids in there too. I think I had 83 photos in 2013 so this is really good going.

If you don't have a photo project for 2015, may I strongly encourage you to get in photos with your kids monthly? (I'm looking at you, Se7en!) And I always say this but if you see me somewhere, tell me to take a photo of you and your kids. Always very happy to do that.

3. We also have 17 family photos of the four of us (besides the professional shoot - oops, I need to show you some of those), and only three of them are "feet shots" :)

Everybody (including me) thinks it's a huge pain in the behind to faff around taking photos BUT we all love seeing them afterwards.

photo by SIL after I adjusted the settings and told her where to stand :)

4. In other news, I've been asked TWICE to take photos of children's parties FOR MONEY. I consider this a huge honour but I'm not mad. I will stop enjoying it if I start feeling constrained. I declined and decided I don't want to be documenting parties....ever :)

Which might be a Good Thing because these are the types of photos I end up taking at parties when I'm really having fun.

rust and chipped paint are my love languages :)
5. I have 206 photos of my kids together (a major miracle) in 2014. This year I'm doing #the52project. I actually love this project and I'll tell you why - NO PERFECTIONISM. I gave myself nice firm boundaries so I don't think about this project daily; instead, I take 5 - 10 minutes on a Sunday afternoon and take some pics. If they're duds, they're duds. That is the snapshot at that moment and I'm going with it. I quickly look through for the one, post to Instagram and I'm done. I'm saving the original 10 X 15 in a special folder and that's it. So it's a quick 15-minute project and that is enough.

don't ask!

6. As far as documenting things, I did Project Life 2014 and am up to date, again, because perfectionism. I love the mini albums (nice boundaries) and I loved the COLOUR from my Kiwi mini album and the Sunshine and Honey 4 X 6 filler cards (I bought digital and printed the PDFs on cardboard).

I'm doing Project Life again - this time I bought Midnight and I have a black album, so it's all very sleek and elegant (unlike me!)

we call this the tribal council pic (Survivor!)

In 2014 (and I will continue this year), I printed 4 pics per kid per month, and 4 of them together.

We've now filled our baby albums, the 300-photo album (Pepperdew or something from CNA), and I had a moment where I said to D, do I really need to continue beyond 5? That was my intention, you see - birth to 5, and then doesn't the cuteness stop?

But the cuteness hasn't stopped and especially the type of photos I take of non-traditional portraits (hands, feet, sides of face, etc), so I'm continuing til I feel like I'm bored or they need only one pic in an album per month (HAHAHA - we can dream).

But I must tell you, my kids LOVE looking through their albums and talking about when this one was taken and this is Kendra: Mummy, look at Sweet Connor!! She is too much.

7. And last but not least, the real numbers.

I kept only 40.7% (not forgetting the 0.7!) of all the photos I took....
I starred 11.9% of them...
Total after editing = 11078
Which means, I took a total of..............

27027 photos on the big camera!


I have no words either :)

Julia came closest with 15 000 :)

So which numbers were the most interesting to you?
Do you have any photo goals for 2015?

I plan to do Superhero Photo again in about March/ April. Get ready if you plan to join me. We can blog our results weekly...

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Parenting advice from my friend Louisa

This is going to be fun!

I read a post on a Cup of Jo where she asked some of her friends for some of their best parenting advice.

So I thought, "HOW FUN!" and I asked some of my friends for their words of wisdom.

Here we go, first from Louisa.

-Pick your battles. Yes, we have to teach our children everything they need to know to make it or at least the basics on quite a few of those. Some days it's okay to just let it slide for the sake of sanity though.
-Trust your instincts. Parent the child you have in the way that you are, and don't lose any sleep worrying about what other people think is the one true way. Each child is different, and so is each parent.
-Make time for fun, and hugs, and loads of encouragement. And take photos as you go. That's the stuff those little people will remember when they're all grown up. 

Will that do? ;-) 

That will totally do - thank you!

I personally think some of Louisa's parenting superpowers are:
  1. She keeps to her word and doesn't make idle threats.
  2. She teaches N life skills that most people don't think about (like self-defence, and how to stand up to a bully)
  3. She parents with the end in mind, always :)

Now, which are the parenting battles you choose to fight?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Peanut butter and Provitas

First of all, thank you for your delicious comments on yesterday's post. This blogging thing is odd - I thought it was a normal post and yet COMMENTS. Love it!


So when we arrived at the resort, I was armed with my shopping list planning to do what we always do: check in, drop the luggage and then head out for food.

Well, D came back to the car and said the reception ladies said the nearest food place is 45 minutes away.

I said, "that's nonsense. I'll google it" and sure enough, it was 45 kms and 50 mins away!

Hells Bells!

We then made the executive decision to eat supper at the restaurant and then head out the next morning for provisions. By provisions, I mean a boot (trunk) full of food.

And that's how we had apples, provitas and peanut butter for breakfast on our first day of holiday.

No-one starved but it was not exactly what I had in mind (that's an afternoon snack for me).

What's the weirdest breakfast you've ever had?

Also, I feel like I need to finish writing about last year, it being the 19th of Jan already!

What do I still need to post about?

The photography numbers
what else???

PS Drakensberg holiday, day 2

Sunday, January 18, 2015

7 things I want to do less of in 2015

I want to do a few of these kind of posts. If not your thing, mark as read and see you tomorrow :)


This is my biggie of the year. I need to stop shouting. Yes, I'm an expressive and what-not but I need to just stop. I listen to myself sometimes and it's like I'm another person.

Some people drink wine and apparently I shout.

(the kids need to also listen but they're 5.5)

Psalm 141:3

Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!

Put up with things

I don't naturally put up things but somehow over the years as my "personality style" got refined, I'm a bit more tactful and soft. And some of it is good, but I've put up with lots of things I shouldn't.

This is part of the year of enough.

I spoke to our assistant and made my expectations very clear. She's now giving me good and timeous feedback, long may that last.

I used to say I have a low tolerance for nonsense, and I want that low tolerance back.

In small things like tossing out junk and getting things done around the house (painting - OH how I hate the process, but I do love the after-effects), but also in the bigger things like dealing with stuff (teachers, relationships, work stuff, etc.).

Force myself to finish books
I'm a finisher a la Gretchen Rubin and that is good with work stuff and project things (verrrrrry good with this) but it plays out with reading in that I feel like I can't stop a book once I've started. Even if it's terrible.

Thank goodness for Kindle samples because I've gotten much better over the last 2 - 3 years, but I could still let go more. I can think of at least 3 books that were a complete waste of time in 2014 but I forced myself to finish them.

D told me he realised that at his current pace of about 40 a year, he calculated that it will take him til he's retired to read everything (especially with favourite authors releasing books every year, and new favourite authors appearing all the time) on his bookshelf and Kindle. Scary.

Force myself to finish products I actually don't enjoy using
Same thing here. I bought two facewashes over the last 3 months that I hated. I only gave those away because I bought another in a sample size that was working.

I've also been using a BB cream and a moisturiser I don't really like solely because they're okay. And I spent the money. But enough.

Today I went to Clicks and bought the moisturiser I adore and a new BB cream, but (in my defence) I tried the BB cream on in the store and it looked good, so let's see :)

Louisa, what are these things called?

Let likes and comments on social media affect my state of mind
  1. It's still a good blog post whether people comment on it or not. There have been lots of great commentary in the blogosphere recently on how comments are down and conversation is happening elsewhere (people linking to your post, sharing on Twitter, etc.) ... yeah well. I'm not that well-adjusted yet. Plus there's no other conversation happening.
  2. It's still a good picture whether people like it or not.

Rinse and repeat.

Normally these things don't bother me much but since they're starting to affect me a bit, I want to nip it in the bud.

Spending because I "deserve it"

I see this sometimes in my spending habits. I don't need or really desperately want something but I find myself saying things like, "well I deserve it" but what am I really fixing?

I have a good filter in my head with spending and I don't spend wildly, am very responsible BUT I do say "I deserve it" for nonsense spending.

Jennifer Louden (who I LOVE!) calls these things shadow comforts. Like when you could have one block of chocolate to truly savour and treat yourself, but instead you gobble up the whole slab because you feel guilty for shouting at the children.

Less social media consumerism overall

The Fitbit lets me see how well I'm sleeping and even though I fall asleep within seconds (or a minute maximum), it's interesting to see how restless I was during the night.

My average is about 7 minutes which I think is normal, and then there are nights when the mosquitos drive me nuts and I had 56 minutes of restlessness.

But I have noticed something else. When I scroll Instagram (mostly) and very occasionally, Facebook, my restlessness increases.

Clearly my brain is still working on whatever I saw.

I just wish I could leave my phone somewhere else instead of the bedroom, but I have to tap the begin sleep button to activate sleep in the fitbit app, because if I simply tap the device on my arm, somehow it loses everything and I have to uninstall, and reinstall the app. Which, of course, is crazy.

Write your own post and link back here (if you wish) or leave me a list in the comments.

What do you want to do less of in 2015?

Friday, January 16, 2015

{Friendship Friday} When friends don't take no for an answer... and flexible friends

I want to tell you a quick story.

I'd just been outside the office collecting something from one friend (and having a quick chat), got back to my desk and another friend phoned to say she was in the area and could I do lunch.

Technically, I could do lunch but I'd just been outside, I had work I wanted to complete and it was unscheduled (I'm a J - not a fan of unscheduled).

So I said no, and we carried on chatting for a few minutes, and then I said, "you know what? Let's Do This".

I say that phrase to myself and others a lot which is why I'm calling my workshop Let's Do This :)

I can always work late or at home, right?

I ran across the road, we had lunch, it was soooooo good to connect again and I was glad I said yes.

My heart is ALWAYS to connect  but sometimes I let my to-do list get in the way.

I'm so glad this friend kept talking and made me want to meet with her.

Then, another incident.

I had two presents for another friend (birthday and random act of kindness - movie she mentioned she wanted to see) and so I sent a text and said, "listen, any chance of meeting up with you this week?"

She said yes. She always says yes and then we try and figure out the how. Not surprisingly, we see each other a lot.

Well, we don't have a canteen at work yet which severely impacts my lunch time friend dates :) (spoilt at previous company)

So she came to my place anyway and I dragged a packet of Marie biscuits from my drawer together with work coffee onto a balcony, and we had our friend date :)

It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful (The Nester).

In a few weeks, D's going to an 80s concert (I declined because I remembered I don't sit on grass at concerts anymore!) and I decided to make the best of it by getting together with two friends (one of them is friend 2 above).

She thanked me by email for arranging because who knew when these things would happen if not for me :)

I said and this is no joke, "it's my gift. I am relentless at connecting" :)

So what is your friendship gift?

Do you have a friend who doesn't take no for an answer ... that is good for you? and a flexible friend? (Louisa, you're my flexible friend too!)

Thursday, January 15, 2015

So let's talk holidays

I love being in Jhb in December - it's hot but dry (I don't like the heat but I prefer dry heat over humidity), there is NO traffic and you can actually find parking in the malls and do your necessary shopping in peace.

We always preferred to have our holidays at different times but now with kids in school, we are restricted to the official school holidays.

It's kind of killing me, to be honest, because my highest value is freedom ----->> and I just feel resentful having to take a holiday when the rest of the country does too.

More on this later.

I started the new job in September so I wasn't planning to take leave in December (except between Christmas and New Year because I feel that has to be taken).

But I did a thing I do often - I thought, "let me just have a look and see what's available" and before you know it, I was checking out places in the Drakensberg. Sadly, the beach would require flights and accommodation, and we didn't feel like spending on a full (flights, car and accommodation) holiday that was completely unbudgeted.

I set a number in my head and looked within that figure.

And thanks to our diamond vitality status, we paid only 50% of what the holiday should have cost.

(BTW, we saved more than 10 times what we spend on our vitality membership last year, so it pays for us, big-time)

So we went on a 7-night holiday very early (for us) together with half the country.

I explained to a friend that the place was awesome and all that... BUT if I'd paid full price I would have been disappointed.

Not much to do with the place but more with the MORE-ness of all the people.

I like quiet holidays out of routine and this time I saw more people there than I see in my normal Jhb life. Pool at resort full so no loungers available, etc.

I realise this is the new normal but I suppose I thought not many people would be on holidays yet. Wrong.

I'll write more about the holiday because there were lots of wonderful experiences but I'll admit I had to give myself a talking-to so I could set aside my expectations and just enjoy what was there.

But back to the point of this blog.

I'm not really sure how people do this holiday thing for long (2 weeks) on a normal budget. Do you know what Ballito accommodation costs? R2500 a night. Ridiculous.

  • My SIL suggested we all rent a house and ... no.
  • Another friend suggested camping and.... I laughed hard. Do I look in the least bit like a camper?!
  • Another suggested family holidays.... possible but I can only stay with people for 3 days before I go cuckoo.

I was thinking of doing a drive down to PE and stopping halfway at a farm (Cat, was it you who told me about a farm you guys go to?) and continuing with a drive the next day. We could stay with my mother to cut down costs...

(Flying to PE is about R9 - R10 000 for the 4 of us)

Julia blogged about staycations and some comments advised against timeshare. A pity because that was one of the things I wanted to investigate.

Anyway, seasoned travellers with kids, what I want to know is:
  • if you have to go on school holiday holidays, which is the best time of year to go away?
  • what do you do as a family?
  • do you save the whole year, or don't you mind spending a lot at one time?
  • how big a deal is taking your kids out of school for a day or so in Grade R?
I've figured out that what I really need is for companies connected to the travel industry to PAY me to take photos by giving my family free holidays :)

Would that not be perfect for me? 

These photos are from day 1 of our December holiday to the Drakensberg. We accidentally took the horrible, pot-holey road and everything in our bodies was shaken loose.

Eventually we passed Driekloof Dam and because we were so annoyed we carried on driving but then I said to D, "you know what? If we were in Ireland, we would have stopped and taken PHOTOS" so we turned the car around (this is a MIRACLE for a goal-driven person like me - I just want to get to my destination) and went back for photos. It felt like South Africa's answer to Wicklow. DIVINE!

That 10-minute stop cheered all of us right up and you can see above that the kids got to use their new cameras too.

Do you like to stop? Or do you like to get to your destination?

PS if you have non-school age kids, GO ON HOLIDAYS!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The first SUMMER photowalk with the kids

trying something different with this tree. It's a jacaranda but all the blooms had been gone for about 2 - 3 weeks when these photos were taken.

Also, these precious children (CHILDREN! weren't they babies just the other day?!) started school today.

I'll have to tell you about that another time.

For now, are you enjoying summer?
Are you taking walks?

I'm "not a fan" of the heat so I've taken fewer walks in Dec/ Jan than I do in the cooler months. My best month of photowalks last year? August... which is one of our coldest months but the reason I took 11 walks was the 5 days on the beach for my birthday :)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

I need your help please

I'm hosting a workshop in my home either next Sat 24th or 31st.

You can read more about it here.

Please click through and then if it's your thing, consider coming along. Bring a friend!

If you're not local, there is the virtual workshop which starts on the 27th Jan.

I'm also looking for affiliates. What's an affiliate? It's someone who can earn 30% commission on every workshop sale and 40% commission on every product sale they refer. All you need is a little bit of a network and you can make some $$.

If you have any great ideas for marketing, please leave a comment. Thanks xx

Monday, January 12, 2015

5 on a Monday

I only lost 0.2 kg at Weigh-Less on Saturday. During the talk I figured out what's going on. Since I've joined about 6 times before, I thought I knew everything and didn't even crank open the book or properly eat all my food.

The thing with Weigh-less is you have to eat the entire formula (right now as I'm blogging I'm eating my last yoghurt of the day) or it doesn't work.

So I made a spreadsheet and I'm marking off as I eat food.

Hopefully things go better this week.

 Generally on a Monday I go to a 6:30 class at the gym and when I get back, D goes. Tonight I said, I can't BEAR the thought of going to gym so D said let's all go. I remembered Robyn's been doing that with her family so I agreed (madness!) and it was actually fun.

I'm not convinced that it's sustainable while the kids are in school... but it might work if we feed them supper before.

They told us, "Mummy, we were the only two kids in pyjamas. Even the little babies wore normal clothes" so I said, "well, aren't you lucky kids, getting to be out in your pyjamas?" :)

So school starts on Wednesday. The kids are excited, we're (mostly) ready and all that needs to be done is to buy 4 white facecloths.

I made banana and raisin oatmeal muffins the other day - I intended them for quick breakfasats if the kids were late getting up for school but they were so yummy they're all gone :o

I've just finished all the photos from the Drakensberg holiday so I can start blogging those soon. But the December photos are far from done.

I'm itching to finish it all up so I can finish up my Project Life, back up my disc and do all those sorts of things.

When I'm done I plan to do a photo post in numbers for 2014.

For fun, how many photos do you think I took on the big camera in 2014? 

I have no idea about the iphone.

PS these photos are from last year this time :)


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