Friday, August 31, 2012

{Friendship Friday} It's really nice to be asked out for a change

I thought weekend accountability fitted better at the organising blog - come join in!

Well, I don't know why this is but I'm usually the one to initiate friend dates.

Oh my gosh, I wonder if that makes me seem desperate?

But recently not one but TWO friends asked me out.

1. Haven't seen this friend since my kids' party and "properly" since May when her family came over to my house for lunch. She sent me an email and suggested an early supper straight after work.

Sounds PERFECT and I actually need to set it up because I can't wait. Let's face it - socialising with kids running around is not exactly real connection time :)

2. A second, new friend sent me an email a few weeks back inviting the whole family over for a braai (barbeque for the non-South Africans).

I just sensed that this was a step of courage for her so when I replied, I said, "thanks for being so brave" and she loved that I noticed that.

So we'll all be having a lovely lunch next weekend and we can't wait (we are not people who braai so it's such a treat for us, both food and company).

Over to you...

Are you mostly the initiator or the recipient of invites?

When was the last time you acted with courage and asked someone out?

And now, I'm off to finish preparing supper for these friends!

A favour

Please will you do me a huge favour?

I have a guest post up at today.

Would you go over there and just leave a comment so she doesn't regret ever featuring me??? Please just say something about some of my answers to the questions, not just a "great post" comment.

Thanks. I owe you!!!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

{Create} more washi tape binder clips & the sometimes fun mother

Get your posts ready for Saturday - our theme this week is COLOUR.

The other day I was constructively procrastinating. That means there were things I should have been doing and didn't feel like doing, so instead of doing nothing, I did things that were not necessary just so I felt like I was accomplishing something :)

Does anyone else constructively procrastinate?

The point is I cleared out my drafts folder. I had 60 posts in there. From 2010.

I deleted most of them until I was left with about 20.

These pics are one of those draft posts and is being posted because I realised it's Thursday (supposed to be our virtual craft day) and I have done almost nothing creatively except photos.

  1. Took tons of pics - nothing new there - but I am playing just a little with editing (that word is very loosely used because all I do is crop a little here and there and sometimes saturate the colour a smidge, oh and I found if there's too much light, I increase the shadows, again a smidge to make it more "moody" - all in FREE Picasa)
  2. Put pics from babies' party into a scrapbook like this one
  3. Finished the New York scrapbook
  4. Got my year-in-review book up to date (til end July). I've journalled up to the middle of August (when all the pics were printed)
  5. Made two batches of snack mix - sweet and savoury

Easy-peasy. Just take washi tape and very carefully cut strips and attach.
you could do these while on the phone with boring clients... not that I did them then...
happiness and best? nobody will steal your stuff. Everybody knows all the cute stationery is MINE!

What did you create this month?

I have a pile of cardboard in my bag to chop up with the guillotine tomorrow because I'm CRAVING a good session with my stack of washi tape. I want to make some gift tags (MandyE made me some BEAUTIFUL ones and they're so cute I don't want to use them - seriously :)) and let the kids do some too.

I must tell you all, I have become a "sometimes FUN mum". D was so shocked when he woke from a nap one weekend day recently to see me WILLINGLY letting the kids MESS with GLUE and GLITTER inside the house.

 It was so worth it just to see his expression. And the kids? They looked at me like "are you really going to let us mess like this?" but didn't wait two seconds to take advantage of my lapse in judgement.

It was Connor's idea to squeeze glitter glue onto their hands.

look at that concentration - she was intent on getting that glue out
 So we're going to keep doing things like this - out of my comfort zone - because I laughed SO much that day and we all need to laugh more, right?

And MandyR, I still have that pudding paint idea saved from when you sent it to me last year.

Are you a fun mother with your kids?

I'm about a 5.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

D & M in NYC - pics by Heather's Tom

I love this one - my favourite!

I love this series of pics of us in NYC.

Especially the laughing ones because somehow people are never around to take those kinds of pics of us.

I so appreciate  Tom snapping away - I'm going to put three of these in a frame in our bedroom - but I will do them in black and white since our bedroom walls are a minty green and I don't know about the blue.

Which is your favourite?

PS My necklace was a gift from MandyE - I love it!!!
PPS Today we're married 17 years 4 months :) Yes, we were babies when we got married.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Updates - pre-school and other more frivolous things

So, pre-schools

Looks like we've narrowed the search down to two.

It's interesting how you don't sometimes know things are a priority for you til you start looking. Like diversity. D and I want a school that does not just have one racial group, whatever that may be.

Both these schools have a fair representation of all, which we love.

School 1 is 1 km from our house (3 mns in the car and 12 mins walk). This school is super organised, they have a beautiful playground, is very clean and well-maintained (she should hire herself out to project manage house stuff at my place!) and they cater for 85 kids.

This school is into a well-rounded, happy kid, etc.

The only "con" is those 85 kids but I must say they have small classes of about 10 kids and all the teachers looked in total control when I visited. The kids were all happy, well-mannered and friendly, and busy crafting. I happened to arrive during Arts and Crafts time and of course, wanted to join in.

School 2 is 2,8 km from our house (6 minutes in the car and not suitable to walk - highways and such). I LOVE this principal - she's young, vibey, great attention to detail and so friendly. We could totally be friends :)

D went there on Friday morning, I pitched at about 12. When we arrived, she looked at the kids and said, "are they twins?" When I said yes, she said, "was that your husband that came this morning?" I like people that join the dots and are on the ball. I saw this kind of thing throughout our visit.

My kids were all over the place - inquisitive, talking to everyone and asking them questions and she rolled with the punches beautifully while all the crazy was going on, and still managed to give me the tour.

This school was more academic than the other or it felt that way. They took great pains to show me how they do their themes and curricula and whatnot. They also do AWESOME arts and crafts - i"m 100% sure most of those kids do better stuff than I do. They'd probably do a nicer cherry blossom canvas than I did.

D liked that this one was in a more secure environment (it's in a boomed-off area) but is still easy to access from our house. Also their half day ends at 2:30 because they let their kids nap until then anyway. If your kid doesn't nap you can get them earlier.

The nitty-gritty

  1. I would be happy with either school. 
  2. We haven't been accepted into either school. However, I'm totally zen about this - honestly. I'm very much of the mindset "whatever will be will be". I do realise it's because deep down I actually STILL think they're babies and we shouldn't even be having these discussions.  :)
  3. School 1 works out to be R150 more expensive in total than School 2 (in total, not per kid). Which is a non-issue. I waste that kind of money (less than $20) in about 20 minutes at Clicks.
  4. Nanny S can walk to fetch the kids from School 1 but not from School 2.
  5. Therefore, school 2 will work out to be more expensive once I add in transport. I still haven't investigated those costs. Anyone have any idea?
Which school are you leaning towards for us?


In other news, let me tell you about my search for the happy, yellow, summer bag.

The one on my 38 things list.

I've been looking and looking everywhere and the only one that came remotely close was a genuine leather tote at Woolies for... wait for this... R1000. I do have two bags that cost that much but they are colours that are a bit more versatile for my wardrobe (red and the gorgeous pink bag, the one I bought for my birthday present last year).

I also searched Amazon and found this lovely bag. After happily clicking I reached the checkout and GASPED. They wanted to charge me R2200 for the bag plus shipping.

So I clicked the window to close.

And then the next day I went to Woolies where I spied the most gorgeous aqua/ teal bag.

It was heavenly so I snapped it up together with a matching wallet. And new sandals (the black ones with the flowers) that Kendra LOVES.

(Thank goodness I'm usually fairly sensible with my money)

I was about to blog yesterday and tell you about how I'm changing my goal to a bag that makes me happy (not necessarily yellow) because really, this teal bag I have makes me VERY happy. Everyone oohed and aaahed in the office.

And then I had a brainwave.

So I detoured via Bag Town on my way home.

I asked them to show me all their yellow bags and they had TONS. Really, about 8 - 10 different styles.

Some were too mustardy, most were too small but finally, FINALLY, I found three I liked.

I narrrowed my choices to 2 and just bought them both. The one is bright, happy yellow and the other has more green in it.

I love them both.

I'll take some pics on the weekend and show you but that's 1 thing off my list done!

Do you buy yourself birthday presents?

Are you a person who sticks with the same bag til it falls apart, or do you change bags to match your mood and/ or outfits?

Monday, August 27, 2012

A few things on a Monday

1. Well, friends, I said I wouldn't complain about the heat this summer (and it's not even summer yet, or spring for that matter), and I haven't yet.

But it's come close. I mean, 30 degrees on Saturday is glorious on the one hand until the heat headache hits.

Still, please remind me if I start to whinge about the weather because it's still TONS better than that cold winter we had.

2. We had our Fertility Babies supper on Thursday evening.

I had a splitting headache by the time I had to leave so I couldn't even move fast. I had the bright idea to meet Natalie there 30 mins earlier and I couldn't even let her know that I was running late. And then I was even later driving round and round that darn parking lot (both levels) looking for parking. I was 26 minutes late - can you believe it?!

But.... as usual, once I was with my friends, it was SO lovely. Food, company, etc.

3. Okay, so I think I may have a problem.

I had no idea that I come across as so bossy with photos! It was mentioned in Charlotte (*ahem* I'm not saying who...) and I just thought "oh, different cultures" but my friends on Thursday said I was "persistent" which is a very sweet way of saying I wanted the pics I wanted and was not going to be dissuaded!

Are you bossy with photos? Even just a little bit to make me feel better????

BTW, I can't promise I'll change. I get it in my head how I want the shot to look and then I want it as close to that as possible. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

4. The light! The gorgeous summer (almost-spring) light!

Look at my KIDS (not babies anymore) :)
my little girl - Kendra says to me all the time "Mummy, say, where's my little girl?"
And my little mouse. He tells me he's a little mouse and goes "squeak, squeak".

and last but by no means least...
Connor's taking a pic of me taking a pic of him :)

5. I'm working in a construction zone (literally). They are breaking down offices/ walls/ desks all around me. There's a layer of dust everywhere and I would not even be here to work if I didn't have so much to do.

This is setting me back so much because of course the action items are growing as is my email.

I'm also not-so-slightly distracted because I got my emotional intelligence report emailed to me this morning. Nothing bad, per se, but the person in there isn't me. It sounds like a much more wimpy version of me which is a Clear Signal things need to change around here.

Kendra wearing the headband from Jess
I've made my menu plan for all of this week and most of next week. Getting to the stage where I don't want to shop but use up all the food in this house. There is NOTHING I love more than an empty fridge/ freezer and cupboard, ready for a proper shop :) 

How has your weekend/ Monday been?

Anything exciting happening this week?

PS is anyone else watching The Amazing Race?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Our photo fun for September

Okay, so I mentioned Mandy and I are doing this photo thing.

First, some background.

Andrea from Superhero Photo's doing a treasure hunt every day in September.

While I love the idea, in theory, I know with my hectic work schedule (and the pre-school search and and and), this is not a good time for me.

And yet...

I do so love taking pics on a theme.

So I chatted to Mandy and we cooked up this idea.
  1. We will have 5 themes for the 5 Saturdays in September.
  2. Please link to my or her blog so people can find the origin and participate.
  3. Use any camera you like - camera phone, iPhone, iPad (I want to start a category I call iPadography :)), point and shoot, DSLR, polaroid camera, etc.
  4. You can interpret the theme any way you like (in fact, that's going to be one of the most fun things).
  5. Please visit and comment on just 2 blogs - we all need encouragement, right?
  6. You're limited to just 5 pics (this is clearly for me because I like to post tons :))

Are you in???

Here are the themes:

1 Sept - Colour (or color for the non-UK English speakers :)) - specific colours/ monotone/absences of colour
8 Sept - textures and patterns
15 Sept - sound (this is going to be fun - interpret as you wish)
22 Sept - letters
29 Sept - dirty/ messy

I will do my posts ahead of time (!) so they will post at 9 am SA time every Sat morning. Hopefully I'll actually be at my Zumba class.

There will be a linky.

Come and party with us.

I can't wait to get inside your head (in a non-freaky way) and see how you see the world.

Are you in???

PS you don't have to post "new" pics - if you have 5 old pics, use those too.
PPS I really want to see LINKS on Saturday besides just the two of us.
PPPS gorgeous camera strap in the pic made by Mandy for me. Yes, I'm blessed and I feel oh so very loved.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Weekend accountability

Connor - I bought the two of them the same takkies (sneakers) like mine. And he keeps telling us these striped socks are his favourites.
So MandyE and I do this every weekend and I thought I'd put it out here so you can join in, or not, as you feel led.

My goals for the weekend

  1. Sort through clothes in wardrobe so there's white space again
  2. Declutter shoes
  3. Sort through August pics
  4. Find a pic of the babies - together and separate - and email MIL
  5. Tidy desk in bedroom
  6. Clear stuff from guest bed (bits and bobs, and birthday presents! I realise my birthday was 20 days ago)
  7. Phone Caren
  8. Go through pile of paper behind me ... I've been avoiding it since I got back from the USA 
  9. Post about the Sept photo fun
(those two are done because the babies and I had an AWESOME time of normalness yesterday - it was JUST like I imagined being a mother to be)

Do you want to share what's on your list for this weekend?

The best R24,50 I ever spent

The last time we were at Westpack I saw a pack of these sticks and blocks, thought they looked interesting and threw a pack in my trolley (cart).

That Sunday afternoon Kendra woke before Connor as she normally does and came to be with me in the study.

We generally do quiet things so as not to wake the boys so I took out these things and gave her some to play with. On a tray, of course.

She's only playing with about a third of the pack here and it kept her busy for a good 30 - 40 minutes.

It's not been a once-off - she's told me that these are some of her favourite things to play with. Connor also loves them but Kendra REALLY loves them.

even Thursday loved them

I'm linking up with Julia today for the Mama loves linky party :)

Manic Mother

Do your kids play with things like this?

Friday, August 24, 2012

{Friendship Friday} Do I tell or would it be crossing the friendship line?

I'm loving all the comments on the waste in the USA post. It's my most popular USA 2012 post to date.

So you know we've been looking at pre-schools.

Well, I have a friend whose children go to a pre-school about half way between our house and my work (I only work 9.8 km from my hom - I LOVE THAT! - don't be jealous). It's also on the way for D to go to work (if he chooses to go that way).

She loves the place so I thought we should at least LOOK at it as an option.

D went there on Wed morning and wrote me a nice glowing email (we never talk at work because he doesn't want the nosy people he works with to hear his business) about the place and when I read all the stuff that night, it seemed like a very nice place.

We had our fertility babies supper last night and I even said to the other girls, "this is probably it. I just have to see it but if I'm happy, we'll send them there".

Well, the babies and I went today.

I don't know how it works where you live but I like to go to these places totally unannounced to see things as they really are.

This is what I observed:

  1. We'd just walked into one class when I heard a teacher SCREAMING at a kid/ s (she had clearly lost it). It was so bad I almost wanted to turn around and leave but the lady showing me around said nothing LIKE IT WAS NORMAL. People, I'm not overly about children being cushioned and I certainly also lose it but I like to think if I was a teacher of about 15 little ones, I'd have a bit more self-control.
  2. The place seemed disorganised. On this point, I know I have high standards and it may not be anyone else's experience but to me, the classroom environment was not organised.
  3. They have 120 kids.....................I may be old-fashioned but I'm looking for a smaller school.
  4. She said there are between 15 and 20 kids per class with two people. That's technically fine but then why was that woman screaming at the kids if she had a relief person to take up the baton?
  5. In about 2 - 3 of the classes, they were doing Show and Tell. The poor kid talking was kind of talking to himself because nobody was paying him any attention. This may be me but if I was the teacher I'd say, "kids, let's listen to John. He's telling us about his xyz" if you care that no-one's listening to this child. Also, what does that do to a kid when no-one's paying you any attention? My friend's nephew was the third child doing Show and Tell while I was there. Same story with all 3 the kids.

  6. The kids either seemed bored or lethargic, both of which is not good. Again, for somewhat of an excuse, it was very hot today (yay, summer!) so maybe the kids were feeling the heat, but actually, that's not the feeling I got.
  7. Now this is the part that gets to me. I asked the lady, "where are Kid A and Kid B?" and so when we got to their class, she pointed them out. I said, "hi, Kid A! Hi, Kid B" and they didn't even respond. This is not a problem because we were out of context because their mother is usually present (Two worlds colliding a la George Constanza) but Kid A is the most talkative (in a good way), verbal, outgoing child I've ever met. And this was not her. I was FREAKED the heck out. So I eventually said, "A, is everything okay?" She just looked at me. (it's not the remembering me or my kids or any of that - I've observed her in many social situations before and this is NOT HER). Kid B is always very quiet and was like that today too.

Needless to say, my children will not be going there. If that was the way all the pre-schools were, I'd happily (HAPPILY) get V back to teach them.  I took their forms to be "kind" but I tossed them the minute we got home.

And D and I clearly have very different ideas of what is a good school. All I can say is he's going to be blown away when he sees the very organised and normal school near our house (1.1 km - 12 mins by foot according to Google Maps - 85 kids).

Now, the friendship part.

What, if anything, do I say to my friend?

We are very different as far as being structured and organised so I get that order is not important to her.

BUT I can't get Kid A's face out of my mind and how out of character she seemed.

I emailed her on Thursday to tell her I was going to see the school so she will ask me and of course, I'll say that it's not for us but into how much detail can I go???

What would you do? How would you broach the conversation?
What's the average size of a pre-school in SA? Was this an issue for you?

PS after visiting this school, I took the kids to another one. That one is number 2 on my list. The one near me is number 1. It would be a clear winner but those 85 kids are putting me off. Although to be fair, you really don't feel it - it is super organised, neat as a pin, clean and very well-maintained.
PPS this is the first time I'm sitting down today so first cup of tea and about 63 items in GR.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

So, let's talk about some of my impressions of the USA

This could take sweet forever because there is SO much that is the same and yet so different (speech, for one!) but today, let's talk about something rather close to my heart.

Seeing as I'm a wannabe treehugger :)

Disclaimer before I start - I'm not perfect and neither is South Africa (Lord knows this!) but here are my impressions.

I really found a lot of waste in the USA. A lot.

I can think of 3 quick examples off the top of my head:

1. Water in toilets

Yes, yes, I know I seem to be super obsessed with the toilets (but really, those u-shaped toilets - I'm 100% sure they must have been designed by a man!).

The toilets have such a lot of water in them, about double what we have in SA.

I can't imagine how much water wastage that is................. and I am a bit of a water Nazi. I insist the kids do the soap on their hands while the tap is closed and then we quickly open, rinse and it's switched off. And with the flushing and so on.

Have you noticed that you guys have lots of water in the toilets when you travel outside the country?

(I've been to 9 countries and the USA keeps the most water in their toilets :))

And, of course, the water at the tables. I'm sure they throw away a lot of water from people who don't drink it.

2. Food

Obviously a biggie and one very close to my heart what with all the starving children in Africa LOL. But it's true - there are hungry kids on every one of our very blessed doorsteps.

I noticed that people order all this food and then just send it back where it would be thrown away when they've finished their meal. This is a waste in SA too though. I never send food back. If I don't want it but I usually do (I can at least get a lunch out of leftovers), I get it as a takeaway and give to a beggar or the security guard on my street, etc. And we still buy one meal for the kids and make them share. Lately it's been an adult pizza since they eat so much but still, they share.

The portions are very generous - I remember MandyE ordering a couple of meals when we were together. Both the babies ate from her portion and there was enough for her too. Granted, her babies don't eat that much (at least when I was there) but still, normal toddler appetites.

One day at Panera I ordered a wholewheat bagel and they brought me a poppyseed one. I hate poppyseed anything so I told her I actually ordered a wholewheat one (if it was anything else I would have just eaten it). She then turned to D and said, "do you want this because we're just going to throw it away?" Of course D said yes.

I don't know why I thought that was so amazing - maybe because here the kitchen staff would definitely have it?

3. Utensils

Have I told you of my immense love for Duane Reade? Right... well, I was buying water and yoghurts and the most divine honey pretzels (ooh, the sweet plus the salt = too delicious!) there all the time. I'd ask them for a spoon for the yoghurts and they give you a whole set (fork, knife and spoon) every time. Being the hoarder environmentally conscious person I am, I didn't throw a thing away til I had to pack to come back to SA and discovered a whole stash of cutlery, most of which I didn't even use.

I just found that wasteful.

At Woolworths, there are individually wrapped spoons, forks, knives, etc.

4. Plastic bags

In South Africa we pay for our plastic bags at food retailers. Usually if you buy clothes/ accessories they give you the bags for free. I carry a million reusable bags in my car's boot and one in my handbag (for impulse shopping) both because I'm cheap and because it is the right thing to do... for us.

Well, in the USA they were just handing those plastic bags out like it was Christmas. I tried to be green and haul out my little Baggu shopping bag (I LOVE BAGGU, by the way) but I found the cashiers getting a bit irritated because I took a bit long to get it out and by the end of my trip (a mere 10 days) I was not-so-happily taking those plastic bags to speed things along.

So, do you guys even notice things like that or am I super sensitive to waste?
Tell me which one shocked you the most :)

PS which is your favourite pic?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

NYC wedding photographer - Heather and Tom's engagement session

I'm obviously kidding!

But I read far too many photo blogs and this is how they do their subject lines.

Nevertheless, arent't these pics fun? They colour-coordinated and the city in the background just gives it such energy, right?

Well, just by coincidence, it's actually Tom's birthday today.

Happy birthday, Tom. Have a wonderful day!

colour co-ordinated :)

"Taxi!" this is one of my favourites!

I love smoochy pics!

So which pic is your favourite? 

Are you still enjoying these USA photo posts? I have two more planned and then I should be done.


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