Monday, March 30, 2015

A tried-and-tested recipe for getting over the grumpies

Do you have this workbook?

I have it, obviously.

One of the pages inside asks you to consider things that work for you to get over the grumpies.

I made a list of about 10 things that work for me which I won't bore you with in its entirety:
  1. wandering around with my camera
  2. praise and worship music (loud!) in my car
  3. cuddling with the kids
  4. talking to D (unless he's grumpy too)
  5. curling up with my book and a hot mug of tea in my stripey Woolies mug (huge and therefore, perfect)
  6. going for a walk (even better if it's a bit chilly so my cheeks get cold)

Seriously, getting outside is almost a guaranteed pick-me-up.

The kids are the same.

I'd venture to say it works for anyone :)

I need just open the door and they run around, get bikes or whatever, and do their kid thing.

Or we go for walks.

Or I prompt a little - do you want to paint outside?

(there's always a taker - that's the nice thing about twins)

On this day, Connor asked me if I had black paint because he wanted to do something. I didn't but I had white, so they busied themselves outside for a good hour or so.

And then we went for a walk
How do you get over the grumpies?

Saturday, March 28, 2015

So, let's talk parties

We've been to three parties so far this year: two of them were old friends of ours (old in kid terms is we've known them for a few years :)) and one is a new friend in the kids' class.

my favourite photo

the other coloured M and Ms :) Such self-control!

who remembers these apricots from school days?

K is not sure what to do with Miss K who has a mind of her own

My K is the only child who packed cucumber and tomatoes in her party bag :)

These kids all turned 6 so I had an opportunity to notice a few things:
  1. the kids mainly invited their own friends, not the kids of the mothers' friends
  2. they were all the same age (roughly) unless a sister or brother of the invited kid
  3. there was still a fair amount of family (cousins and so on)

The one party happened last weekend and that was a nice, small party with 6 girls from the class, the birthday girl, her little sister and another little cousin.

Lovely and intimate, and the mother could do very hands-on stuff with all the girls (so relaxing for me!). She even made them each an apron!

These are the parties I'm so looking forward to hosting for my kids. I, of course, don't mind having a boys' party and a girls' party if the numbers are smaller. A bit more civilised :)

(Cat, I always think of that mosaic party you did for A - perfect example!)

So when do you think the "friends" parties start happening?

I thought we could do one of those big parties with own friends and children of the mothers' friends for another year or two.

What do you think?

When did your kids start having just their own friends at their birthday parties?

(if you have birthday parties, of course)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Summer... around here

for your delight, I left in the laundry :)

party favours from Miss K's party

I take random photos of skies/ trees/ plants while the kids are being silly....

the gem - photo 1/52 for my 52 project
I thought it best to post these photos before we're wearing jerseys again!

I did my February photo-choosing exercise the other night and consciously chose photos of us in sandals because there will be plenty of photos of us in our takkies soon enough, right?

It's strange. Summer, that is. It hasn't felt like it was a long summer for me - I haven't had many of those days where I feel like I'm going to combust from the heat... or too many heat headaches. Of course that could be due to the frigid temperatures in the work office. Who knows?

Are you pleased it's autumn? Or do you miss summer?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

First term feelings on the big school thing

Our first term at big school ends tomorrow.

Sheesh - it feels like it's gone really quickly.

We get reports tomorrow morning which is exactly why I wanted to write something tonight so I'm not swayed by what the reports say, or don't say.

I realised a few weeks ago that it was around this time last year that we attended the open day. Since it was our first school visit (to any school), I thought we shouldn't get too excited and that we needed to visit at least two others to do our due diligence.

But that was the one. I remember saying to a pre-school mom friend that if we don't get in (we're not zoned), I'll have to homeschool because I really am not into any of the other schools.

It's almost sacrilegious to admit that we didn't bother completing applications for any other school.

Anyway, I love the school. D loves the school. The kids love the school.

We love the teachers.

It's such a huge difference to how I felt about the pre-school, I can't even explain.

One of my family goals for this year is that the kids would adjust well to school. I thought that would take a few months.

Truth - it took a few days.

D and I have also adjusted.

Since we bought some extra clothes at the secondhand uniform shop, we're good and I don't have to think about having clean school clothes more than once a week.

I make lunch every night and (don't throw tomatoes at me!) I love it! LOVE IT! I feel like I did when I was making their baby foods years ago. Like I'm nurturing them and caring for them well by doing this act of love.

My second love language is acts of service.

I need to still adjust to only having holidays during scheduled school holidays.... the crowds, and the expense of flights and accommodation due to the entire country being on holiday all at the same time.

But other than that, school is good!

How has your first term been?
blurry Connor but the lounge looks so nice, doesn't it?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

I'm a girl who likes a project

I realised the other day I have many projects on the go this year (besides the business of life stuff and running the workshops):
  1. 52 photos of my kids, one every Sunday - going well
  2. 52 walks - I've done 13 already so we're ahead of our goal
  3. 70 books for the year - I've finished 11
  4. 25 recipes to try - I've done 5
  5. 52 pieces of mail - I've sent about 12 
  6. 6 Love Languages workshops - I really hate asking for help but I'm asking anyway. If you know of anyone who has not been to a love languages talk and is the slightest bit interested, please send them my way. I will also travel if you will get at least 8 people together!

And then there's the #doorsofjhb series. It's no secret I love doors with a mad passion.
Mandy sent me a link on Facebook of a guy who's taken 3000 pics of doors in NYC and my brain started whirring.

A few days later I made a doors folder on my computer and dragged all the door pics in there... and then the next day I went on a photo hunt looking for those doors.

I'm having fun! But I realised the project should have been called #gatesofjhb because there are very, very few doors one can see from the street. Instead we can take pics of our 6 ft high security gates :)

Tell me about your projects for this year.

Oh, here are the first 4 photos of the kids' #the52project.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

5 things I'm loving at the moment

As I was pottering around the house, I thought of 5 things I'm loving at the moment:

Cooler weather

I forgot just how much the heat affects my productivity. It's been a bit cooler lately (after all it is autumn) and I've enjoyed it so much.

Walks in the neighbourhood

I did an actual tally of the walks we've taken this year the other night when I was doing a mini goals review. There were about 8 - 10 days between walks in Jan, and in March they decreased to about 4 days between walks.


I've tried two new recipes in the two weeks thus far, simply because I actually feel like I can bear standing in my hot kitchen.

(I imagine cooking properly will return soon to our household - we've been living off freezer meals and quick assembly-type meals for months. They freezer will be completely empty after this week when we finish the last two meals there - yay. Then I can cook again)

Terrycloth kitchen swabs

I've tried all manner of kitchen swabs, my favourite being those yellow ones you buy for 3 in a pack at Pick 'n Pay. But I ran out and we've been using those disposable cloths on a roll (I bought a roll of brown cloths YEARS ago and we're still using from the same roll - I take them with me on holiday).

Finally I went into Pep and got one terrycloth kitchen swab and oh my word, the difference in a nice, properly absorbent cloth is mindblowing (to those of us who get kicks from small things).

This one was only R7,99 and it's increased my happiness level 10-fold :)

Ina Paarman's Rosemary and Olive Seasoning

Shayne told me to use this seasoning after I instagrammed a photo of my tomatoes one lunch time. I happened to have a bottle at home and it is delicious. Try it :)

The kids only want their tomatoes and cucumbers with "the purple spice"!

Speaking of tomatoes, a new habit of mine is both healthy and deliciously lazy.

Before, I'd slice enough tomatoes just to cover my sandwich. Now, I slice the entire thing, and eat the rest as additional veg. Bonus - I don't have to pack the rest away. I never waste food so tossing it is never an option.

What are you loving lately?

Friday, March 13, 2015

{Friendship Friday} When the moms are friends, but not the kids

So an interesting thing happened at the end of last year.

I realised that there were moms I was friendly with, but that my kids weren't that into their kids, or vice versa.

The one other mom clearly felt the same way because she said to me at the graduation that she was really sad she wouldn't be seeing me anymore.

So I said, well, we'll just have to meet by ourselves.

You could see she hadn't thought of meeting aside from our kids, but she loved the idea.

There's another one too who is friends with this mom. They've been friends since they were 18.

Long story short, we arranged to meet for supper one Wednesday night.

I go to Spanish on a Wednesday night but I told them to go ahead and I'd come join them after my class, which I did.

Can I tell you how nice it is to have friend dates like this? It took me 5 minutes to get there and 5 minutes to get home, and I still had 2 hours with them!

We had a lovely time except they were worried because I wasn't drinking.

I don't drink alcohol... ever. I think I'm the only person in creation but there it is. I really like to be completely and utterly stone-cold sober.

Anyway, it seems we're doing this monthly! YAY!

It's perfect - I'm out anyway so it doesn't impact the kids or D any more than my usual Spanish does.

And then there is another mom (the one with the amazing house). When we're on our walks, we often see her driving and we wave. So she sends me a message to ask if I want to meet up for a walk? YES, I always do.

So we're taking the kids this weekend. TOO FUN!!! If it doesn't work out, that's fine but I do think it will be nice to have some local walking buddies to get in our 52 walks in 2015 :)

I think I mentioned before how awkward it is when the kids are friends but the parents don't really gel.. so to find a solution for the opposite challenge is really nice.

Do you have situations like this in your life?
Or do you only make friends with moms because of the kids?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Our official photoshoot in Newtown

I keep forgetting to share some of these photos with you.

I showed you the ones that I took - shoot 1 and shoot 2.

And here are some of the ones from the official photographer, Eve Meyer. I get an official shoot done purely so there's a record of me being the mother. I'm finally happy with the photos I get of the kids and D :) :)


Jeanette took photos of us in front of this door too... 3 years ago

babies!!! - I want to get this one enlarged and put up in their room. After the list of 9 is complete :)

and yes, Thursday is still making appearances in photos. I love it!!! Connor still plays with Friday but these days, he's hanging him up by his ears, and other such boyish things.
Did you see my Newtown pics the first time around? 
Which is your favourite?

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

I'm mortified, frustrated and blue

So please, for the love, go read half of the post that disappeared when I pressed publish last week.

And then tell me those tips are good, ok?

I realised something. I'm frustrated with blogging, not because I necessarily want comments (I do!), but because I want feedback and to chat, and to engage and connect.

It's the strangest thing - I keep thinking "I need to talk to the blog about X" and then I have this weird feeling of almost deja vu. So I go check my blog and sure enough I have talked to the blog about X, but it doesn't feel like it because no-one's talking back.


That's what I miss about old-school blogging.

When everyone was just having a fat (online) chat with friends in the computer via the blogs.

I had some emails from concerned parties because it's no secret that I've stopped the post-a-day for a few weeks and the thing is this - I enjoy it but it's a 30-minute (or longer) exercise and I could be getting my kicks from other things in the evening (reading, clearing emails, working on my business or tidying my house - I get satisfaction from my sorted spaces).

I'm not really blue but I am super busy at work. So on the one hand I feel slightly out of my depth and on the other hand, I'm totally earning my salary (!) but I'm also getting to that cool stage of anticipating client needs and doing really good work. It always happens at a point in time, and I love it because it feels like I'm on my game.

How are you doing...really?

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Nanny updates & my list of house projects

So nanny S returned to work this month.

She had a big smile on her face at the start and at the end of the day.

It's like we can all breathe again.

The kids are calmer, I'm SUPER calm and D is his usual self (but not telling me how the nanny's eating all the ham/ cheese, etc.)

I didn't even THINK to phone or SMS to check if the kids were picked up on time, etc., things I used to do almost daily with the other nannies.

It's the small things - she checks through the fridge to make sure fruit/ veg is not going off without me telling her.

She checks the menu planner and asks me things like, "how much rice do I use for the tuna bake?" Aaaah, bless!

I'm going to paint my "portrait" wall! What colour would you go? What colour do you think I'm going?

I told her the house is slightly to very out of order due to all the nannies doing their own thing, and to fix where she sees there is a need. I have been sorting out things as I see them but I can't check the entire house daily. And everything is back in its place. It is a beautiful sight to behold.

Best of all, I can get my list done. It's amazing to me how quickly one has to do house maintenance.

I was thinking how ugly my carpets look in the main area and thinking, "but they're new", and then I worked it out - um, not new. They're 6 years old because I was newly pregnant with the twins when they were replaced. Do you guys budget for these "regular but infrequent" house things? We never have, but it may be a good idea.

I have this list of 9 projects to do around the house. 1 is already done and we're only 1 week in - yay :) (The carpets are not on the list!)

Tomorrow I have a tree feller coming, and then I can get a builder in to fix around the pool, and then finally we can PAINT.

By we I mean the person who is going to paint, not D and me.

However, I have this crazy idea of building my own bench for outside... and a window seat in the sun room... I think all the heat in Jhb's got to me, to be honest :) Clearly I think I'm Mandy! HA :)

Do you have a list of house projects?
What's next on your list?

Friday, March 06, 2015

Joburg-style entertaining

I've spoken a lot on the blog before about how it seems in my circles, most people prefer to meet up by going out to eat instead of having people over.

I have wondered if it's just us... but that's another story!

Then we had a family wedding a few weekends ago and I was reminded of something else which I thought only happened to me, but my BIL also spoke about. Now I think it's maybe just a facet of Joburg-style entertaining.

He said he doesn't get this Joburg business where people ask you to bring basically all your own food with you. He said if he can't afford to have people over, he doesn't invite them :)

We've spoken before about bringing a salad or dessert with you, so it's not that.

He gave an example where their neighbours "invited" them over for a braai, and then said they should bring their own meat, and their drinks and could they also bring a salad?

So he said (hopefully only to us!), "well then that's bringing the whole meal! What's the point of inviting people over?"

HA! Too funny.

I didn't mention anything about how my SIL used to invite us over yearrrrrrs ago and tell us to bring our own food. Payback :)

 Funny stories aside, amazingly I still managed to see a few friends despite doing no "entertaining" .

We didn't want to add any more complexity to our life with all the nanny drama, so we made a decision early on to do nothing the whole month.

This is what nothing looks like for me:

As soon as I hit publish, I'm going to update my March calendar with a few plans.

But the main plan is we are going to see MICHAEL BUBLE on 21 March. I CAN'T WAIT!

Are any of you going?
What are your hospitality/ social plans for March?

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Parenting advice from my friend, Se7en, a mom of EIGHT!

EDITED to add all the red!

oh my gosh, people!

I only discovered after Sam's comment on this post today (Tues 10th) that blogger ate the first half of my post last week...and I am MORTIFIED!

Must have been some anti-reading gremlins because I also wrote about taking some of your latte money (or whatever it is for you - nail polish, Kindle books (*blush*) money) to buy a book or two for the library project.

So let's try to do this again:

You all know I met Se7en in real life last year after being online friends for about 4 years or so. She and her entire family are amazing. Such hearts for hospitality it is beautiful to see.

I saw her (their) parenting in action in those kids and here is a woman who knows, lives, breathes and walks her talk. I keep telling her to write a book and I'm not even joking :o

Anyway, enough blathering from me. Here are my favourite 3 tips from my friend, Se7en. I still can't believe no-one TOLD me. Clear no-one's reading :(

1. Your Kids Need You, Not Stuff:

We live in the world of marketers and child rearing has become, just like sport, a marketers dream... without a million products you cannot raise a child. Don't believe it for a second. There are millions and bazillions of perfectly fine kids all over the world who didn't have a special wedge in their cot, in fact they didn't have a cot... they didn't have special educational mobiles that rocked them to sleep while singing Mozart, and still those kids grow up to be fine. The one advantage that you can really give your kids is just being there alongside them. This will be far more key to your kids "getting ahead" than any extra mural or any multi-sensory toy ever. And your kids don't need you to be doing special crafts, special dates, special activities, special anything. You there lying on the couch on a lazy afternoon asking about the game they are playing or their walk earlier counts for so much more than you think. And no marketer is ever going to tell you that - EVER.   

2. Set Your Kids up to Succeed:
I have said this before and I will say it again, kids need three things to survive... lots of sleep, nutritious food and plenty of fresh air. Their parents need the same. Those three things together. The child that is sleep deprived isn't going to eat well and will hate fresh air; the child that is never hungry, won't sleep comfortably and just can't run around outdoors; and woe to the poor child that never gets to be in the great outdoors, because they will never feel the fatigue of a good days play and they will never stimulate their senses enough to enjoy tasty food. When you see a parent-child couple melting down anywhere, then usually one of those factors is not in play. When you have crying baby and they have cried for hours... wrapping them up and going for a walk is often the best medicine for everyone. Often when I am gathered with mums of little people they just seem to feed and feed and feed them. The snack industry sure is making millions out of moms of tots. When these kids say they are hungry, they are really just bored and a walk in the park, or races in the garden would be equally satisfying.

3. Children are Short, Not Stupid:
Adults so often make this mistake and think that they can talk down to children or worse, be sickly sweet with children, when actually those adults would rather be doing anything else. Try it, talk to a child like a person and you will be strangely surprised how eloquently they respond. Kids see right through our fake voices, we call it the gym voice... When you are at gym and you hear mums saying, "Darling, just get out of the shower will you, just pick up your towel, just get dressed for the ten millionth time." That mum is about to pop and everyone knows it, even the kid. You can be true to yourself and respectful at the same time, while I am polite to my children, "please and thank yous" flow freely, children understand grumpy days and moody moments a whole lot better than we think. We want them to know that we love them no matter what, so let's give them the chance to love us, no matter what.

Hoods 2 and 8
I nearly forgot to write about Se7en's parenting superpowers:

1. She's raising those kids to be such well-adjusted and genuinely nice people. I'm really not surprised because they have great role models.
2. She's equipping them with all sorts of practical skills too - the boys' future wives are going to love their MIL for teaching them to cook and clean!
3. She really parents with the end in mind. She is great at asking herself, "what is the most important thing to focus on right now?" and not worrying about things that won't matter even a year from now.

(not forgetting Mr Se7en, of course :))

Don't you love those tips?

My favourite tip is probably the one about setting your kids up to succeed. I actually say this in all my workshops and it's probably the reason I like MBTI and the love languages so much - those tools help us to set ourselves up for success.

Also, I'm forever going to listen out for my gym voice now :) People do give me looks but I thought it's because I call the kids Pumpkin and Sweet Cheeks :) :)

Which was your favourite tip?
Do you have a gym voice?

Did you see I'm selling a beautiful green camera bag and the cutest pink camera ever? ;)

If you're interested, let me know.


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