Friday, February 26, 2016

Friendship Friday - The friendship situation after the first 2 months of 2016

I have a few resolutions about friendship this year. I'm not sure yet how they will work out but this is where I'm at:
  • invest most of my time in my closest friends
  • tend fewer friendships but tend them well
  • invite groups of friends to events with me
  • reciprocity is the name of the game this year; if people don't seem interested, maybe they're not.
  • I plan to have not more than 2 weekend plans per month, but happy to have a lunch date during the week
Do you have any friendship resolutions this year? 

I had a great January which was helped along by our Cape Town so much.

But first, we had a chance for a quick catch-up at church with our good friends and their most adorable child. Look at the cheeks! B's mom said when she looks at the baby, it's like going back in time 30 years! We like to squeeze lots of visits in as if London is on the other side of the world when truly, we see these two more than we see many friends living right in Jhb.

My kids wiggled their way into Julia's plans and went swimming with her. I had an awesome Bo-Kaap walk with her (those who follow me on IG have seen a few of those pics already) - one of the absolute highlights of my holiday, even though it was unbearably hot, and we then met up with Leandra for supper at my favourite Cape Town restaurant, Chef Pon's Asian Kitchen.

(I went twice in four days and both times ate the same thing - Thai Mussamen Curry - nobody makes it like The Chef :)) To be honest, I'm jealous of all you Cape Town people who technically could have a nice treat every month.

We also spent a wonderful afternoon/ evening with the Se7en gang. I wrote about that visit on this blog. By the way, please donate a book or five. They (we're) building a library again this year.

pic by D - who was most impressed :) He came back all "they have EIGHT kids and that house runs like clockwork. Things are going to change around here" :) HA!
We also went to church (Hillsong) with another friend - so good to worship together. Kendra was right - worship is one of my most favourite things.

And we had tea with another friend in the computer that I finally met years later. I love it!!!!

taken in a parking garage!
That's not even all.

I arranged to meet Laura for an early lunch after a client meeting last month. It was so good to see her again and catch up :) He came to our offices this month so I may get to Pta in March or April again.

And then, the best. I reunited with a university friend. She lived two doors down in my res, and we hadn't seen each other for 23.5 years. It was so great. She was actually friends with D first, and she is the reason D started sitting at "my" table. How's that for a story?

We share a birthday so I asked her to a half-birthday lunch :)

And the very next day Mrs FF came to do photos with me at the crafternoon. The kids babysat Miss K. I think they thought she was a doll. They were babying her and drawing with her and on and on.

So things are ticking over nicely, but they could be better. It's amazing (to me) how quiet things get when you stop fanning the flames.

But enough about me.

Now that the first two months are just about over, how is your friendship situation looking this year?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

My world, currently

So there's only one person who emailed (Dear Julia, in fact) to tell me I'm crazy! HA!

Pleased to see there are so many of us with exacting needs :)

It occurred to me that I have some updates to share, so here goes.

1. I finally had a crafternoon

There were only two of us but we worked really hard on our photos and it was so nice to be done. I did all my iphone photos for Jan and I made those ring bowls which I'm super chuffed about.

Next one is in the diary and everyone who expressed interest through the blog or in person has been invited. If that was you, mail me. I'll send you the invite.

2. This E car rental

The crooks tried to get us to pay for all the dents, chips and scratches on the car in addition to our one.

When I pointed this out to them after reviewing all the documents, they knocked off about R7000.

It still means we paid R15 000 for a rental. Yes, the most expensive in the history of D & M, and I maintain we will NEVER use this company again.

I still haven't paid the additional thousands - it makes me ill to think of it. Can someone tell me if I can pay like R250 forever? I'm tempted to do this.... but I checked hellopeter and they just hand you over to lawyers which my stress levels cannot take. If anyone knows, email me please!

But let me just tell you - if you insist on using these crooks, please take out super waiver at all times. It is not insurance, no excess. I had an answer to my question and if someone had seriously bashed us, we would have been liable for R42 000 for the class of rental (C).

I will be Uber-ing.

3. The A car rental place

My medical aid used to use the red A car rental place and they moved to these green E people. GRRR.

Obviously, because I'm a sharer, the whole office knows the saga.

And then............. our parent company has moved from the lovely A car rental people to ... these green E people.

I actually screamed.

And then announced I would not be using those crooks for travel. So we're at a standoff til I need to fly somewhere for business again. Probably September.

I adore this pic. My reflection and the lovely, old wood.

4. Refinement

Speaking of work, we will be going through a refinement. Yes, it's what you think. A re-org, a re-structure.

There have been tears and shouting and drama at work. Thankfully, not by me!

I still don't love my laundry, but Capetonians do!

5. Work from home

I'm largely irritated by my team of late (last month or so). Basically when I got back from leave. Far, far too much talking (whining/ moaning) and not enough actual work. Believe me we all have plenty.

So I decided to work from home one day a week. No one's actually asked me why I'm not coming in and if I'm asked, I'll tell him I can't work properly in that noisy office.

It's been AMAZING - I get so much done... in the morning and then I fetch the babies at 2.30 and it all goes to pot.

That, my friends, is why I love the office.

So tell me, what's been happening in your world? Work, money, whatever.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Let me tell you about my new pan

The house we stayed at in Pringle Bay was amazing. Function and form.

Before my organising queen days, I used to sometimes wish someone would break into the house and steal everything so we could then go out and get just 8 of exactly what I want.


Anyway, this house had quality stuff in it so it was a pleasure to cook. And it had lots of neutrals so it felt calm and peaceful being there.

So I decided to start doing what I can to my own home to make it feel the same.

I stand at the entrance to my kitchen regularly now looking to see if anything is out of place or how I can make it feel more calm. Calm with a pop of colour because it's still my kitchen :)

It takes about 3 seconds but so far I now always turn the oven gloves so the red side faces me, I bought 6 neutral mugs and this afternoon, I did some more Konmari-ing of things in my cupboards so I can have white space...

We always stay in really nice places when we go on holiday and the thing that is always incongruent is this business of not having a proper non-stick pan.

I have, in the 5 times we've been to Ballito, requested new pots and pans twice that I can remember. Don't charge us R1500 a day (off-season) and then expect me to cook in horrible cookware.

They are good about it and when we're back from the beach at lunch, my new stuff is waiting.

One day in PB I made omelettes for lunch. And the pan was SO divine to cook in I gasped and smiled and.... very nearly sang from joy.

No jokes.

A good knife does the same thing to me.

Anyway, I checked this pan out properly and discovered it was from Woolworths.

So when we got back to Jhb, I took my Secret Santa R200 voucher and put it towards the same pan.

Now I can also have the pleasure of that pan in my very own kitchen.

Some of you are thinking, I completely get you, and the others are saying, wow, you're crazier than I thought :)

Which camp are you in? Do you feel passionately about certain kitchen items?

Thursday, February 18, 2016

So yes, the homework started

Remember how I was saying before that the kids didn't have any homework yet?

Well yes, the deluge started the following week.

While, on the one hand, I like to do homework and such (like the arts and crafts) with the kids, I still feel like they are only 6 and I feel they should be playing more!

I even found myself saying to a mom the other day, "no, they can only do playdates on a Friday" - who am I? Usually I'm all for the socialising.

We're slowly getting into the routine because I don't want to be forcing kids to do homework every day.

Here's what we're doing so far:
  1. Nanny S does draft 1.
  2. When we get home from work, we check that they've done it properly and tick the list.
  3. We had to have a talk with Nanny and the kids because they all seemed to think the point of homework is to fly through it. And so I said this - you can do it fast and do it again when I get home, or you can do it a little bit slower and take more care, and do it once. That fixed it all. 
  4. On a Thursday, I do a thorough check again because the folder lives at school over the weekend.
  5. We've had one show and tell already - I emailed the teacher and she told me they both did well, so there's that. In my opinion, the show and tell is to make the parents work! 
  6. Key tip - we have to separate the kids otherwise they distract one another and the whole story takes a lot longer

I am a different sort of mother (and it turns Dr Kevin Leman approves of my tough mothering approach) - I do my bit to support but I let them at it. I passed Sub A a million years ago, as I tell them. So I printed the pics they wanted, and provided cardboard and glue stick, and they did their things themselves. Then we listened for 3 days running, and that was it. Their projects looked very different but they are very different kids.

There's another thing too - the kids are way advanced for what is required, for example they have to count up to 20, and back down again as one of their many things every day. They try and tell me that they only need to count to 20, and I had to say that if you can do something comfortably, you need to stretch yourself.

 "But the teacher said...." and I say, "I know what's best for you because you're my kids". Oh dear.

Seriously, I said the teacher is looking after 26/28 kids so she needs to make sure all of you can do something at the same level. I know you can do more so you will practise that here with me.

Anyway, they eventually got it. I think.

I do give a star every week (only one star at the end of the week because homework, is after all, their job at this level) for a good attitude while doing their homework.

Tell me about your homework situation.

Are you coping? Who does the homework supervision? Share your tips and tricks.

PS which is your favourite photo?

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

6 and a half: K & C answer questions about me

I was reading Sarah's blog and I found some questions she asked her girls.

So I grabbed the kids (separately) and they answered some questions for me. Enjoy. I loved this little exercise.

These photos were all taken on their actual half birthday while we were in Cape Town.

Me:  What was I like as a child?
Kendra: a cutie
Connor:  you didn’t wear glasses

Me:  What is something I always say to you?
Kendra: I love you
Connor:  I love you

Me: What makes me happy?
Kendra:  when I listen
Connor: when we be good

Me:  What makes me sad?
Kendra: when I don’t listen
Connor: when we be naughty

Me:  How do I make you laugh?
Kendra: by tickling me
Connor: making funny jokes

Me:  How old am I?
Kendra: 42
Connor: 41

Me:  How tall am I?
Kendra:  2 cm
Connor: 13 cm

Me:  What is my favourite thing to do?
Kendra: worship
Connor: go on a date with us

Me:  What do I do when you're not around?
Kendra: play with Connor, type on your computer
Connor: go to work

Me:  What do I do for a job?
Kendra:  you’re a stabiliser (I also don't know what this is!)
Connor: scientist

Me:  What do you enjoy doing with me?
Kendra: baking
Connor: going on a date

Me:  What am I really good at?

Kendra: hugs and kisses
Connor: writing

Me:  What is something I'm not good at?
Kendra: getting sick
Connor: running fast

Me:  What is my favourite food?
Kendra:  pancakes
Connor: eggs and bacon and toast

I'm not saying which is true or not... but did anything surprise you?

Which was your favourite answer?

If you do this with your kids, let me know so I can come read :)

PS thanks for all the great comments on the car rental post... I'm very close to a resolution. Will blog more when it's sorted.
PPS Do you have any questions for Julia?

Sunday, February 14, 2016

I should have known better - not just a Jim Diamond song

Here's some free advice for you if you rent cars - don't use the car rental company whose name starts with an E and has a green logo.

Maybe some of you remember a holiday we took nearly 3 years ago to Plett? Long story short, our rental car started smoking and so we had to delay our flights while waiting for a new car to arrive. About R4000 later, we had new flights back and that was that.

The car rental agency company accepted no liability even though it was their car.

I was in That Job at the time, so straight back into the swing of things, I don't even think I had time to process it.

And now this -  I mentioned in passing a few posts back that we had a rental car that was dented by an anonymous driver on day 1 in Cape Town.

We've just received a bill for R17220. Yes!

They already took some of it off our credit card and now want the balance of R14 000.

I'm horrified.

This thing is giving me sleepless nights.

It's not so much the money. We have the money but it is meant to pay for other things, exciting things like damp-proofing!!!

I've been plagued by this thought that I should have known better. I'm in financial services (granted, this area is not my expertise); how could we not have checked everything better? To be honest, I feel really stupid about this thing.

Anyway, I'm not regurgitating the whole, sorry tale here because I spent a good two hours of my life this evening poring over the various documents I requested in order to draft a very long email to them.

Very long.

I'm sure it's two pages long, when printed.

I have asked for their complaints procedure, and I want answers to my 4 very detailed questions. As far as I'm concerned there are too many things that don't add up.

Anyway, in church today, our pastor preached on baggage...... and I saw in myself this E situation so clearly. So I'm doing what I can which is to state my case, ask the hard questions and I'm letting go. I can't drag this thing around with me day in and day out.

If worst comes to worse, I suppose we have to pay. Can I pay them R200 a month forever? I still want to know what would have happened if someone had bumped us hard enough to write off the car. We don't have R200,000 to pay in that case. What do they do then?

I still would like to know from my medical aid why they associate with such shysters (they're like used car salesmen) when they are clearly better than that. And I have told my husband we are either driving everywhere in our own cars from now onwards or Uber-ing. That's it.

Back to I should have known better.

Nail polish colour - Jazz Funk by Rimmel (a navy/ dark grey)

It's brought up the thing about That Job where for so long I beat myself up because I felt like I should have known better.


Anyway, tell me something amazing to cheer me up.

Oh, and Happy Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Dear Julia... on teachers

Dear Julia

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

Hi ________ (first name)

Blah blah blah

Kind regards

She replied...


Blah blah blah

Miss ______

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

Confused Marcia

Dear Confused Marcia

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, February 08, 2016

Why I go on dates with the kids

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

Yes, he is that specific.

(it's scary seeing yourself in your kids)

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

So that's what we did.

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

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

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

Me: Awwwww, my boy. And I kissed him

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

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

I am amazed at this child.

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, February 05, 2016

January was a great reading month

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back to January.

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

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

Tara Road

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

Each and every one

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

I'm going to get her other books too.

The First-born Advantage

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Creative boundaries

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

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

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

This practice is hopefully going to do two things:

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

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

Monday, February 01, 2016

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

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

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

Okay, moving on.

Let's talk about holidays.

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

Working through December

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

The only con was:

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

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

Timing of holidays

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

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

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

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

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

Dreaming of...

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

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

And of course, Ballito. Always Ballito :)

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

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

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

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

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


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