Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!


He is Risen!

My chocolate bunny is about 2/3 gone already but the good news is that's all I intend to eat in the chocolate category this week.

In other news, the kids had an impromptu sleepover at MIL last night. We'll be collecting them at lunch time after we all share a quick meal together of rolls, cold meats and salads.

What will you have for lunch this Easter Sunday?

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Saturday, March 30, 2013

{Project Life} Feb pages and how this is working for me so far

Here are the January pages if you missed that post.

I did a month in review for 2011 and 2012 and I realised early this month that I'm really missing seeing the whole month at a glance instead of a random pic.

Now that I write that, it seems a bit mad but it makes perfect sense to me...


Anyway, so I wondered how I could still have my month in review without doing a whole separate mini book.

I could use one of the 10 X 15 slots but then I'd lose a photo.

So instead I decided to use a 10 X 15 journal card, write down my monthly highlights as I used to do and "hide" it behind the first pic of the month.

Now nobody (except a few hundred of my new best friends) knows it's there, I still have my old-style lists and the album still looks balanced :)

Other than that, Project Life is going well.

I love that it literally takes me 5 minutes to put all the pics and little cards in place and another 5 minutes to write a few things here and there.

As I'm "editing" I star any pics I really love so at the end of the month, I just "view starred photos" and then choose the 6 - 8 I want for the month.

Copy them to a flash drive, plug that into my photo printer, and set to print all.

The printer is quite slow for someone like me so I leave it printing and go make some tea, take a loo break, tidy the study, etc.

Still, is a really easy process.

So much so I've stopped reading so many Project Life blogs - I've found what works for me and I have no PL comparison envy whatsoever.


And yes, I realised that I forgot to take pics before I did the journalling. Right now I realised I could have put blank cards over and quickly taken pics but I'm a bit slow in the head, it's been a long, really hard week :)

Never fear... I'll do it properly next time.

Are you recording memories this year in a physical format?

How are you doing? Are you keeping up?
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Friday, March 29, 2013

This "leaning in" business :)

I had a coffee yesterday with my ex-boss who, on the 8th will be my ex ex-boss :) Only four working days left in the current role!

As we do, we got onto subjects about things I've read around the internet.

So I asked him what he thinks of all these Leaning In blog posts and he didn't know what I was talking about.

"ooohhhh, you're a man" I said :)

Sheryl Sandberg is the COO of Facebook. I think it's awesome and if she can make that kind of powerful position work together with being a wife and mother (no matter HOW she does it), more power to her.

I personally love my relaxation time too much to make the same choices but she's doing it and doing it well.

The thing I never get about women is how we like to tear one another down.

What is the deal with that?

It's madness.

So she's written this book called Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead. I haven't read it yet because at the moment the Kindle price is still too high (my money boundary is $10) but I'm so insanely curious I might just "splurge" (not be cheap) and get it.

All over the internets I'm seeing both sides - people liking her message and people tearing her down because she's rich and she can afford nannies. Um, what? My life's work is about making things work easier for people. For you. And if you have the money to pay to make your life easier, then USE it.

Yet... other women are jealous and I've seen some of that "she's not a real mother" business happening which is SO old, I wish people would give it a rest already!


In an effort both to share things you might not have seen around the internet and for me to pull it all together in one place, here are my favourite posts about this Sheryl Sandberg/ Leaning In business.

Watch this video - Sheryl's TED talk in 2010 - we need to discuss point two some more on this blog about male/ female household tasks :) :)

Leaning in: my 2 cents and 2 quibbles

Sit at the table

10 things Sheryl Sandberg gets exactly right in Lean In

Working from Home, Leaning In and All That Jazz

And of course, Brazen Careerist's take on things (I don't agree with what she says about SS and her kids but I do like what she says about most of us in corporates not being able to live that life)

Which is exactly what I've been thinking about a lot lately.

I always assumed early on in my career that my career path was up, up and up some more. But now it's very obvious - I'm sooo not cut out for senior management (exco) but that does leave me wondering where I'm likely to end up.

I'm a strange paradox - ambitious but I also like work/ life balance. I suppose I work hard and play hard :)

I'm a bit hesitant to even voice these thoughts aloud.

Do you think about these things? Where you'll be in the world at, say, age 50... 55.... 60.... 65?

In the interview for the job I start in April, I'll be team member 8. The manager's been there for 2.5 years. The average length of time worked for the current team members is about 6 months. 6 months!

He said the turnover is about 2 years...or sooner.

So something I have to think about is a next move and I honestly don't know where that will be or what that will look like. I do know this experience will be very good for me.

Anyway, this article on not wanting to be the CEO really talks to me. Anyone relate?

So, dare I ask?

What do you think about this leaning in business?

Are you senior management material?  

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A post about NYC and my expectations

Now that New York City is 8 months in the past, I feel like I need to write a post to properly process some of my thoughts and feelings.

You might want to get yourself a nice cup of tea :)

New York City had always, always been on my bucket list and I'll even admit that my answer to those questions, "what would you do if you knew you only had a month to live" was to go spend that month in NYC :)


Because of the energy and the vibe.

I love cities, I love vibe and I love hustle and bustle.

So imagine what I felt when I arrived and was confused, frustrated and just plain overwhelmed.

I want to share one experience with you.

I had to get an adaptor so that I could plug my phone and ipad chargers into the sockets.

At the airport, I had 5 hours before the flight to Charlotte so I went to a shop that sold travel stuff.

Fresh in the USA and feeling excited that I (1) got through customs without a hitch (I always have these worse-case scenarios in my mind) and (2) had 5 hours to shop and occupy myself, I was my normal (confident) self so I went to a sales assistant and asked if she could help me find an adaptor.

Well now. First she was much louder than I'm used to and it felt like she was shouting to everybody in the shop about this adaptor/ converter (I think this is what the Americans call it?) and I just felt... STUPID. Picture this - all the people in the shop looking at me and this lady obviously thinking, "stupid tourist". My ex-ex boss laughed when I told him this story but it was SOOOOO not funny. I was mortified. And I'm not stupid. 

What did that teach me?

If you're looking for something, think twice before asking in case the person embarrasses you again.

That wasn't the only thing that happened.

You all know about my problems with the internet and phones when I was over there. A word to the travellers - sort out your technology before you leave and don't assume it will be easy to do once you're there (wherever there may be).

But all of those experiences left me with a dent in my self-confidence.

My time in Concord where I felt so very alone (except for God) was of course hugely smoothed over by meeting up with the Mandys and Beth in Charlotte.

That time was so special to me in so many ways - I hope you two know that!

And then back to NYC.

Grand Central Station just before midnight

These are some of the things that were really difficult for me about New York.

I know everybody says you can't get lost because Manhattan's a grid. Hello - I got lost a lot! The first time I got lost I decided to ask a New Yorker (a guy at a food cart). He was so abrupt and kind-of rude to me I really didn't want to ask anyone else the next time. So my trick was to stay still and observe people for a bit and find someone who didn't look like they were in a huge hurry (very rare in NYC even on those beautiful summer days that are perfect for meandering - they can catch some tips from us Africans :)) and then ask that person. Even so I found myself being Not Me (all apologetic and almost begging for help in my demeanor).

Are you asking where was D during this time?

D and I had to go our separate ways for an hour or so on two of those days because he wanted to see a lot more bookshops than I did, and I wanted to stop and take photos a lot more than he did :)

Pace of the city

Oh my word. I thought I was fast but no way. You walk your little legs off in that place otherwise you'll get kind-of trampled.

I kept thinking, there's no way I can bring the babies here...

Everything is fast - the people walk fast, the queues go fast, you have to be fast with getting out the right money and then taking your stuff and getting out of the way, making decisions, etc. Fast, fast, fast.

The scary thing is.... I am fast! And I couldn't cope in this fast place.

People overwhelm

When we went on the city tour, the lady gave us the stats on the number of people who come into Manhattan to work on a daily basis and what the average number of people per square metre is. It was about 240 times the most dense place (India or China).... she joked and said, "no wonder people in NYC don't look happy" and that is the truth.

No wonder they walk fast, talk fast, and are impatient with foreign ladies from South Africa.

When we met Pufferfish, I just stared at her and exhaled as I relaxed for the first time in NYC. She's calm, peaceful, not at all rushed and just so centred. It was an oasis for me :)

I suppose that's why I loved Bryant Park so much too - that was also an oasis within the city.

I don't want this post to come across like I didn't like New York. I loved it BUT I thought I would love it more.

Does that make sense?

My one friend from London and I chatted about this and she said, "New York is LOVELY for a holiday but no way would I want to live there" and that's how I feel too. Her husband could get a transfer to NYC so he took her on a look-see (without telling her that's what their holiday was for) and she said only after she was telling him this, did he confess that he secretly was testing the waters. LOL And they're from London. But for me, London was more of a reserved unfriendliness, whereas NYC was quite assertive in its unfriendliness. Do you know what I mean?

I'm certainly aware that South Africa sets the friendliness and helpfulness standards very high (for me, Scotland was a close second - now those were very friendly people) and that my bar is probably unreasonable.

Although, in North Carolina, I also found the service staff very friendly in the hotels, shops and  restaurants.

I read something on Laura Vanderkam's blog once about memories and travel.

Something along the lines of ... you may not enjoy the actual hours and minutes of something like travel (like travelling with kids!) but afterwards, the remembered memories are MUCH better.

That is so true.

I look back on all the photos I took and I can't remember the frustration I felt or being close to tears when I got lost yet again.

And of course the absolute best part for me of NYC was meeting my blog friends Heather and Pufferfish. Close behind that, of course, was Staples and Aunty Annie's pretzels :)

I love how you can see all 4 of us - D, me, Tom and Heather in the reflection
 I said all that to say this - I think I'm about over all the crazy because I'm actually starting to think about my next trip!

This time I will have zero expectations - I'll go in ready to be the slow, misunderstood one and just prepare my suitcase for lots of staples goodies :)

Have you been to New York?
Have you had any of these feelings? Or are K (my London friend) and I the only ones?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Irene Market with friends - part 1

It seems that March was the month of visiting Pretoria - I purposefully planned these adventures for March as it's autumn and should technically not be blazing hot but still, it was blazing hot. That'll teach me :)

This was the first social - we arranged with our friends J and P to meet at the Irene Market (Cat has raved about it for years!) and then to their house, which by the way, is the perfect combination of tiring out the kids enough so they don't trash your friends' place.

And of course, the zoo was the second social - that one was with the in-laws.

There were OODLES of lovely things to take pics of... I was actually very restrained.
one of my most popular posts is on milk tart (that's melktert in Afrikaans)
perfect vase
these hearts were just gorgeous

my friend holding an old camera
I really want one of these but a nice big cabinet with about 30 little drawers :)
what on earth???
isn't this gorgeous?
my little one checking out the dress forms!
this was the washi tape/ fabric tape/ lace tape oasis - I was very good after a solid talkiing-to - I didn't buy a thing :)
isn't this being rude to muffins??? I love muffins!
I love this!!!!!!! windmills.... blue... grey... love!
Which is your favourite pic?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Let's talk about Easter baskets

This week, I have a TON of work to do at work and then it's the Easter weekend.     

I emailed a pic of my basket-in-progress to Mandy who told me that a family member is going ALL OUT for Easter which made me wonder if it's just me who does basically nothing?

In years past I hauled out the same bunnies (I bought when the babies were babies and then they play with them for a few weeks before disappearing ;)) and added one or two things.

This year I bought them new bunnies (I couldn't resist the gorgeous corduroy stuffed animals with LONG ears from Mr Price Home) and they'll be getting 2 - 3 of Cadbury's mini Easter eggs.

The Easter Bunny also came to their school (K was THRILLED - she is a child easily delighted which I LOVE!) and they had an egg hunt. They each have a big bunny, some more of the mini eggs and about 4 marshmallow eggs each. So I'm hiding most of those eggs.

Kendra's basket
Connor's basket

Are you doing baskets for your kids?

PS this is what I do with the school stuff: I take pics and store it in an appropriately named "school stuff" folder (!) and then they go into the plastic tubs I bought. Once those plastic tubs are full, they have to toss all but their favourites. Is it bad that I can't WAIT for that day... and it's coming soon :)
PPS if you read my organising blog, I had to change from my original storage system after about 6 weeks.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Adventures in small plate eating

In the 3 weeks I've been on Weigh-Less, I've lost exactly 2 kg.

0.8, 1 kg and this last week 0.2 kg.

I thought I ate better but then I remembered:
  1. 2 boerewors rolls (Sat and Thurs)
  2. 1 Taste of Asia dinner with quite a bit of oil (Tues)
  3. work breakfast (pictured above) (Wed)
  4. 1 biryani which was so, so good (Wed)
  5. 3 slices of pizza for lunch one day (Fri)
  6. the usual Easter egg chocolate here and there...
So actually a 0.2 kg loss is FANTASTIC!

This week I'm back to basics which for me means planning. And not exceeding my personal Weigh-Less boundary of not more than 4 meals off track.

Especially in light of the upcoming chocolates and hot cross buns... Have you guys seen those chocolate hot cross buns at Woolies?!!!
What has worked so far for me?
  1. only having 3 cups of tea a day (hard!!!!)
  2. drinking all my water
  3. 1 slice of bread at lunch - I find I actually don't miss that second slice
  4. afternoon apple and yoghurt - I eat an apple while driving home on gym days
  5. eating off a smaller plate (no jokes)
Which Easter treats are your weakness? Do you allow your kids to go wild with the chocolate on Easter?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Seven Sunday Snippets ;)

1. I've just made Kendra a ring and she is over-the-moon delighted with it. Old beads (I'm still decluttering) plus some wire I bought at our plastics shop (similar to Westpack) = 3-year-old happiness.

That was my attempt to bring some happy back. I haven't had the best day in the world. I was already screaming this morning...

2. Thought it would be fine once I got to church but there I heard that one of our pastors' wives died last night. These things are always kind-of glossed over as in "she's with Jesus now" and yes, she is, but I heard NOTHING of the message after that. Nothing.This woman was 36 with two little kids. I don't know what happened but I keep thinking about him and the kids.

Which reminds me - don't wait to do anything. Just do it - we all don't know how much time we have left.

3. I had some fantastic news yesterday though... and I think Connor is kind-of perceptive because he very randomly asked me about this person yesterday morning and then I got a phone call from her about an hour later!

4. My kids flat-out refused my soup yesterday which is very strange - they love soup - so they went to bed hungry (or maybe not since it was after the party).

Today I asked them, "what was wrong with the soup? Why didn't you want it?" Kendra says, "it was too yellow. We only like brown soup" which means the ratio of butternut was too high???

I dumped all the little soup portions into a big pot, added some Worcestershire sauce and a can of tomato and it was brown enough. They both gobbled up a big bowl tonight. Success.

5. I'm in a weird place at the moment in that I feel totally caught up with life. Isn't that weird? Usually I can list about 20 things I want to do on the weekends and at the start of this weekend, i battled to think of things beyond the usual errands...

That's good (I lay reading for a couple of hours this afternoon) but it also makes me feel like there's some Big Thing I've forgotten to do. I'm even caught up with photos. About an hour or two on the zoo pics and I'll be totally caught up!

6. I'm noticing a lot of usage of the word "ain't" on the blogs. Now call me a language prude but I cringe a little every time I read it :) What's the deal with "ain't" for the South Africans? Is this part of some twitter speak or some other pop culture I'm not aware of??? :) (I mean no disrespect if you use that word!)

7. OH, I have a soup recipe for you. This is recipe 11 in the 25 recipes in 2013 project.

It's a Weigh-Less one.

The portion size is 80 g sweet potato (1 complex carb), 200 g butternut (2 veg), 45g low fat feta cheese (1.5 proteins)  and whatever soup spices you like.

I put garlic and coriander in everything so that's what I added and I also made enough for about 7 portions (just because that's how the butternut quantities worked out).

I didn't add the cheese to the soup; only just before serving because I want to be sure I get the right amount of protein.

Delicious! I also add some chilli flakes as a garnish - yum!

I have it just like that and D has some bread with his.

How was your Sunday? Better than mine, I hope?

Any new recipes for me? I'm looking for easy chicken recipes and remember I only buy chicken breasts - deboned, no skin, etc :)

PS playing with pics for Superhero Photo

Saturday, March 23, 2013

School classmates' parties, cliques and mean girl behaviour

So remember the huge dilemma about the class parties and whether we should go or not?
Since the kids were fine with just the invitee attending, I thought we'd at least go to these two and see what the lay of the land is.

I got a "please could you rsvp" note one Friday morning when I dropped off the kids so I quickly sent an sms to say I'd definitely RSVP by Sat but D and I need to sort out logistics for babysitting Kendra.
She immediately said, "bring the other child" and I said "that's very sweet of you but really, it's not necessary - these party places charge a fortune per child" but she said that it was one price for unlimited kids so please to bring Kendra.
So I did.

(We also had to take two gifts which I loved because my shelf is emptying. Yes!)
I braved the unknown of lots of parents and kids and took the babies BY MYSELF last Sunday afternoon.
We found our way there just fine but we got hellishly lost coming back (a 15-minute drive ended up taking us 50 minutes to get back) and yes, I was totally frazzled.
And so this week, when it just seemed like we were going a new way, the kids say, "are we lost because that policeman gave Mummy the wrong directions". Yes, he did but that's another story for another day... I felt more comfortable leaving the policeman than when I was getting directions from him. Yes!
Nevertheless, the party was lovely - the facilities were nicely spread out, lots of good food but we'd just had lunch and I had a few nice conversations with three parents. The host mother is also a twin and was just lovely.
It's so interesting that the cliques exist everywhere you go!
How do you deal with cliques?

I just ignore them!
You could see who the family and "proper friends" were and then there were the parents of the classmates.
I felt like one parent was genuinely friendly, and the others were friendly but kind of putting up with me (eek!).
The one warmed up once she heard we went through IVF (she's been through 13!) but still very cautious.
That was party 1.

I emailed the mother some pics and asked her if she'd be at party 2. Probably not due to a funeral...but she said "we need to have a coffee even if we don't make it to the party". So that will be nice.
(pics to follow but if you're a facebook friend, the one of the kids pulling funny faces against a gorgeous yellow door was taken at that party - worth it just for that pic of a typical 3-year-old)


Party 2 today was closer to our house. We had some thundershowers during the party so I had some gorgeous grey skies :)
I'd met the mother last week so she looked happy to see us.
And two of last week's parents were there again. Well, there were more from last week but the others didn't even bother to smile and say hi even though we all saw each other last week so there is that.
What is it with people? Will it kill you to smile and say hello?!
I spoke in depth to the one parent (he's gay and he was telling me about their difficulty with their adoptions) so that was really nice.
Another parent also chatted to me and told me even though all these people invite the class, she most assuredly will not be doing that :) A real straight shooter!
This time D came with us and I saw him also chatting to a few people. Although of course, he couldn't care less about connecting with these parents :)

My thoughts on the parties so far...
  • Get to check out the other kids (I finally met a little boy, C, who is teaching my son about fingers in bums and other such disgusting behaviour! We will not be going to his party!) and their mothers
  • Get to inwardly glow when your kids are well behaved and don't have meltdowns
  • Getting to give gifts and teach the kids generosity
  • Having something to bribe the kids with "if you don't rest nicely, you won't be going to the party" ZZZZZZ
  • Meeting a few nice people

  • Awkwardness when people don't seem to engage in conversation, even just small talk
  • Trying to take photos and have decent conversations at the same time
  • Time, time, time
So the sad thing is there are two sets of parents I really like but my kids are not keen on their kids, or vice versa.

And what about all the mean girl behaviour among the 3 - 4-year-old crowd? By the way, I know it's both boys and girls but the girls are just more catty... I even saw this at my friend's kids' party with her one kid against Connor. My poor boy's little face was too sad! I'm also well aware that my kids may be the mean kids at some point; I haven't seen signs of that yet.

this is Connor giving me a smile - and I don't even say SMILE, I say just look at the camera

My heart breaks into little pieces when one of mine tells me about so-and-so who said they don't like them and don't want to play with them.

Today I chatted to one boy and said, "are you in the same class as Connor?"

Boy Yes

Me Do you play with Connor

Boy No

Me Why not?

Boy shrugs

So have you had to deal with mean girl behaviour? What are your tips and tricks?

Today I told Connor at least he has a best friend already in Kendra but who knows how long that's going to fly/
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Friday, March 22, 2013

{Friendship Friday} Ladies night out and quality time

Something weird is happening with the comments you're leaving - they're not all coming through to my email.

I almost thought this morning's post didn't publish because I'd had no comments the whole day, went into my dashboard to check if there were any views and then I saw I had 6 comments.

By the way, Jhb (Jhb!) was even hotter than Pta was yesterday - yes, I melted. I needed another 2 Panado and a 1.5 hour sleep this afternoon. When I had my coaching appt at 4:30 it was STILL 32 degrees! Dear Lord, the weather is trying to kill me.

Laura, I'm attributing yesterday's wussiness to the fact that there was a ton of walking at the zoo :)

I told my friend C that I only take lovely pics of her - don't you agree?

And then I saw a TON more congrats emails on the job thing - thanks so much, everybody. It's starting to sink in now.

There was a "discussion" about me taking today off because I have a TON of work to finish in only 8 working days so there may be a day or two of me working late but I insisted on having today off. I also intend to have another half day but let's get through most of that work before broaching that subject :) HAHAHA

Although D said (not meant as a compliment but I took it as one!) to Connor earlier, "you and your mother have the same negotiation skills" because he said, "we only have time for 5 pages of the book tonight" and C said, "why not 10?"

gorgeous H

So here's what I love, love, LOVE about the love languages. And why I keep nagging everyone who will stand still long enough to listen.

My friend, Caren, went to a love languages talk a few weeks ago (actually by now, probably a month ago) and raved to me about how wonderful it was, etc.

I've been telling everybody this for ages so I just smile when I hear this type of thing.

I asked her what her love languages were and she said quality time and words of affirmation which made complete sense.

She organises these fertility ladies night out things and get togethers and really LOVES seeing everybody in the flesh.

So I made a promise to her that I'd prioritise any getting together with her even more than I've done so in the past :)

As usual we met at Doppio Zero in Rosebank.

This was the day my 50 mm 1.8 lens arrived so I was keen to test it out. I was VERY happy with the pics I took (all of these in the post).

Apparently we're only meeting twice this year without kids (I never go to the "with kids" ones because I get too frustrated with the not connecting while tending to kids) but at least I'll see Caren many other times!

me (taken by C)
our fearless fertility leader, K
the lovely Caren
Gorgeous H's hand :)
How important is quality time to you or your friends?


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