Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Whatever makes you happy

http://www.amazon.com/Happiness-Project-Morning-Aristotle-Generally-ebook/dp/B002VJ9HRK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1409126907&sr=8-1&keywords=the+happiness+project+by+gretchen+rubin
Possibly 2 years ago I read "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin. Now I am not a non fiction reader by choice - my usual poison is fiction but this came highly recommended by more than one person. I have to say that I flew through it taking into account that it is non fiction and that my habit of reading about 3 books at a time fuels my fiction reading. I enjoyed the book a lot and would recommend it for all. And while possibly most of her items on her happiness list can be added to mine if I ever had the time and chance (and money) to do a full year of happiness project - I may change say 2 of them, the one that I most associated with was her item as "Memory keeper of the family"

I have always since childhood been into photography on whatever level I could practise it at the time. I am not sure if my fascination stems only from the actual technicalities of a good photo or from purely the memory it captures. 

While all three are possibly nice enough photos it's the memories that they capture that makes them so very special. For instance the last one brings the holiday it represents immediately to mind - the boogie board, the sarong and the tiara - all so much part of that holiday (our first in Mtunzini).

In the past I made photo books of every year. Over the last year and a half I have tried to keep up with Project Life - for a long long time it went really well and easy. But ever so often I would get behind and most recently the shoulder op really caused me to fall way behind.

I am so enjoying catching up on it though - using before work, lunch times and whatever I get at home to go through this years photos and notes (at least I kept taking photos which makes it a lot easier). It just made me realize once again that for me this is an essential part of my happiness - not only making but keeping those memories - be it here in the personal blog, on Facebook (mostly shared for the sake of the grandparents) or then in Project Life which in it's very real touchable format brings not only joy to me but hugely to the kids as they page through and recall.

Are you a memory keeper and in which formats? I am interested if this is mainly a female thing - anybody knows a passionate male memory keeper?

Monday, 25 August 2014

The day I was so very proud of my kids

Yesterday we had a birthday party - one of those nice different ones. It was for one of Mr L's classmates. It was at the Groenkloof game reserve and after we arrived the kids were given a pretty bandanna to wrap water bags and chocolates in and tie it to a decorated stick. The whole party then set off on a 4km hike - and one with lots of ups and downs.
The view from the highest point of the hike


I was a bit worried about how the kids were going to handle it but they did us so very proud. While a lot of Mr L's friends were carried quite a bit by their moms or dads, ours walked all the way. And while right towards the end Miss A and Mr C complained a little bit, Mr L was right out there with the front group of hikers, chatting away with friends. He never complained, not once!

This pic looks like two little boys running away from home or something...
And so they grow up - a year ago we would have carried two of ours for quite a bit - of that I am sure. I can see our first backpack hike in sight somewhere in the future.

After the hike and a game drive they still had the energy to ride on a bike obstacle course.

Friday, 22 August 2014

I have never been so happy about a second hand pair of socks (or the day I almost cried when I was given a pair of second hand socks)

I could write a book about the little things that we as moms stress over. The things that seemed HUGE at the time but may not have been. The ones that send us into a frenzy of panic and searching. This morning was a classic.

So A last played a hockey match before the swim camp two weeks ago. After the hockey I took her hockey clothes with me (in my hands not a bag) to the car and we left. Pan on one week and on Monday I saw that there was only on hockey sock in her drawer. I immediately knew I had only myself and possible the Bermuda triangle for socks to blame for this one and not a 9 year old. (I have on a sideline totally reached my capacity for lost things at school this year. Grade 1 is always tough - they are bound to loose things. We are one school jersey down - the rest we found after a lot of time and effort). So I knew that it will cost me a new pair of socks this morning.

I sent A to the school's own supply shop and none to be found. I then drove to the retail supplier but nothing but the tiniest socks that I am sure a 3 year old will not fit into, never mind a very tall 9 year old. So I though I will try the school shop again - maybe she has bigger/smaller sizes? But nothing! Not a sock to be found. At this stage I phoned home and asked our helper to literally take the house apart in the hope of finding the missing sock. I had thoughts as to who stopped playing hockey or who had many kids and may have a spare pair to borrow....and then the lady that runs the school's shop said, "Wait a minute" and started digging in a plastic bag behind the counter. And produce a rather run down but perfectly legal pair of hockey socks!I was close to tears. Turns out a family that moved donated clothes to the clothes bank but the shop have not had the time to send it over.

So today I almost cried when I got that second hand pair of socks. And realised once again that maybe I bring this upon myself? Should have carried that clothes in a bag? Should have gone to the shop on Monday? Alas, if I went on Monday I would not have came home with new socks and still not have had that pair of second hand socks.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

On competition and more

I had a busy week with heaps of deadlines and lots to do. I delivered my last deadline item this morning and although there are heaps of the usual things to catch up on I can breathe a bit easier for now.

The last week has been full of activities and the usual run of the mill stuff. C had a Judo tournament and got a gold medal, A got her gold merit badge at school (the quickest she has done it since grade 1) and just way too many of the little things in life to mention. The big event though was the English schools speech festival yesterday afternoon.

Although we are not an English school we do present English on a first language level and hence, we take part in this festival. A has always done well in this and with her background in drama it comes easy. However C decided immediately as we received word of this that he wanted to participate too. He totally surprised us by learning his poem in no time and adding the appropriate  expressions etc. I then realised that for the first time these two will participate in an event where they could see it as a competition. Now C and  L have in fact competed directly against each other in Judo - but there were no issues. I was sort of fearing issues here as these two seem to naturally gravitate towards competing for our attention or whatever. (I am often given the impossible task to chose say the prettiest picture etc - drives me nuts).

So we had the appropriate talk the night before about just doing our best and supporting each other etc. On the afternoon they both asked to be with the other when they did their item and as time worked out, we could. Both got a gold, which made me very very proud and possibly averted unpleasant issues.

However I know the time WILL come when they will go heads on with something or the other. Maybe as close as the end of year prize giving - lo and behold if one may win some special prize. I guess it's just another of those very hard lessons we have to teach our children. And to which they seem to each react so differently. I guess some of it we can chalk up to personality only and others to birth order. But address we have to.


Monday, 11 August 2014

Yesterday really had the "Spring is in the air" feeling.

 The garden certainly did it's best to join in the general feel with a display of Spring bits here and there.


Apart from the one Clivia bloom above the rest all have numerous buds waiting to open.

The garden just called out for us to work and play in it. Our kids, as part of their chores have to help in the garden. Often it's raking and picking up leaves, or like yesterday helping to tidy up after H did the Spring pruning.

But we like to make gardening fun and I do believe that they often enjoy us all working together. So now and again we make sure that they do the fun things gardening has to offer. Mostly for a child that's planting and sowing. This flower bed used to house a hedge of lavender - and has been since we bought the house. But lavender gets old and woody and one then has to take it all out and start anew. This time though, we did something different and we planted daisy bushes - a fond memory childhood favorite of mine. The kids enjoyed making their own little garden (and decorating around it with shells) We also sowed some lettuce and basil in small containers and hope to see them grow.

























Do you garden with your kids? And which of the photos do you like most?

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Oh my word it's August!

The year has sped by with the speed of light. It mulberry tree has tiny little leaves, the jasmine bush at the back of the house is flowering and outside my office window this little guy is going all out building a nest for the new babies of Spring.

It has me thinking of all I wanted to do this year. How most of what I wished and planned for fell away with the package we got for 2014. We really have had a tough year - sick grandparents, my operation, uncertainty and choices for Mr L. But maybe putting some out there will help and get me motivated to re-look at them.

I am sad to say that I got very very far behind with Project Life in the 6 weeks I was basically without a right hand. I have no notes from then, but at least plenty of photos. I am planning to just start with this week and then keep up and catch up as I can.

It has been years since I have not completed a single book for a month. But sadly so July 2014 was that month. It's not that I did not read, it's just that I am busy with 4 books at the moment and did not complete a single one. I also find myself sleeping as much as I can.  And we were in Port Elizabeth for the first week - generally I try to read more over the holidays but circumstances were totally contrary to having quiet time to read.

Do something creative, maybe paint again or something like that. Hm, huge fail. But one I do intend to address.

Take some family photographs of friends to fuel my photography passion. Did not happen - but maybe my now replaced camera can fuel this idea. It's a question of finding time over the weekends.

Spend some time with my hubby - a date night or two. This is also not as I would have wanted to but we did have a short one in PE and short coffee ones here.

Organize and beautify the house - ahem yes nowhere near, but we have done a bit. Hubby has been a great partner in this.

Meet up with friends more - total total miss on this one. I need to think about lunchtime week dates as that is possibly all that can work.

So in summation I need time - possibly the one thing we all have in the shortest supply. I tend to go to bed earlier in winter - I feel I need more sleep and boy do I love sleep.

So what were you hoping to do this year and what did you actually manage to do?

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

On insurance and so on

So the insurance paid out my money for my camera and I have it replaced. I am so totally happy to have a camera again - I do feel rather helpless without it. Santam really came to the party for me as they did for a cracked windscreen a while ago when the claim was immediately approved and I was phone within 20 minutes with the details. This of course took a bit longer - my camera model is not available any more and replacement models had to be checked.

They have a brilliant way that they do this - you can either have them replace the item or they pay the amount into a debit card that they deliver to you and you can then spend it on whatever you want, or as I did seek around for a good deal and replace the stolen items.

I have however learned a couple of things in the process which may just be worth your while to check if you have it in place, specifically with items specified under a policy that you may carry around like cameras, ipads etc. Having all these in place made it way easier to submit and finalize the claim.

1. Keep a proof of purchase - this can either or both be the payment docket or slip and the packaging
2. Keep proof of the serial numbers - you give the serial numbers when you specify under your policy - I had the bits of packaging with the serial numbers on in my file with the original purchase slip.

I have also learned that I will from now on try to personalize my camera strap. The way my camera was stolen was possibly by someone just hanging it around their neck and walking away - we do not know this, it's just the police's speculation. Apparently there is a spate of these type of thefts right under our noses a school events. If it had a non stereo type Canon strap on maybe just maybe we would have seen the person walking around or they would not have taken it so easily.

I do hope I have so many happy moments with this camera as we snapped on the old one.

Monday, 4 August 2014

On labels and much more.

Do we really ever know if we are doing the right thing for our children? Are we at any time 100% sure? I really do not know but what I do know is that right now I am 100% sure of one thing. I am 100% sure that it will be the right thing to move L to another school, out of main stream and can we say it, a Special Needs school. We have applied, have been given an evaluation date and I find myself praying every single day that he gets in. Because it's just simple to see that there can be no other way.

It's hard to admit that your child can be classified as "Special Needs". On the one hand you try to make sure that you do not see your child different than you have always seen him. Your love for him will never change - your dedication will never be less. Maybe it will be more. On the other hand, with every tag or label that has been hanged around his neck, with every diagnosis or confirmation thereof I feel we are moving forward to do what is in the end the very best for him. Not for me, for the family or for anyone else. For him. I am one of those that feel that a label is the start to making the most of countering what we expect from that label. The label is not a restriction - its a help towards a solution.

I often question myself as to what I did wrong. Is it my fault? Could I have done something different with the pregnancy, was it medicine, all those nights of very little sleep he had? Would it have made a difference if we changed his first OT earlier? Did I blindly believe people and should I have seen more? Honestly I have to just block these thoughts out and believe we did the best we could at the time. We had no experience in anything out of the neuro typical child. Because milling over them will make no difference for him, it will only be fraying my fragile nerves.

I am so very positive that we are moving in the right direction. And no, admitting he has special needs is not losing a battle, it's not losing your dreams for him, it's not admitting defeat. It's moving to make the very best of what he can be, of pushing up your sleeves to continue with the battle, of having hope in huge quantities. We will not treat him different than how we treat the other 2. We will fiercely fight for all 3of them.He may just need our fights more often, our patience more frequently and our love in more ways than the usual.

He is such a wonderful little boy. He has so much charm and so much love to share. Sometimes it breaks my heart when I see that he is not coping 100% with the day or the situation. This morning breakfast was a huge hurdle. He had so much trouble to pay attention to even eat his food. Other days it is the opposite.  My hope and wish is that we will see less of this and more of the twinkle in his eyes when he enjoyed a day, when things came together and he had a great day at school. Although there are days when I verge on feeling defeated,  I very often have so much hope for him.

We are moving on with hope, and positivity. And holding our thumbs that he gets in where he needs to be.


Thursday, 31 July 2014

Books, again. This time for the kids.

The lovely people at Butterfly products sent us 4 lovely books to review. We love to review things but most of all we love books. We read them at home and then I went ahead and sent the books onto the respective teachers - grade 3 (Times table), grade 1 (Adding up and Taking away) and grade 0 (In the Beginning).
 The first 3 books all work on the same principle - the sum in printed with a ? in the window. I gave the kids a sheet of paper folded in the length on which they wrote their answers. They then pulled down the tab to reveal the answers. They really enjoyed working this way. Both teachers agreed that this was a wonderful tool to reinforce these mathematics basics and added that it would especially help those kids that may not enjoy reviewing the work in the normal way.
 The most popular book however was the wonderfully illustrated " In the beginning" Before I could send it on to school the kids actually had a fight about who gets to take it to read in bed at night. So it took 3 nights before we could part with it for a day or 2.

What I loved about it was that it gives the most popular stories in Genesis each enough space to tell it well enough - other than most children's Bibles that tell these stories very briefly. For instance the story about Noah and the Ark is told over 4 double pages in 4 episodes.

The teacher was totally swept away by the children's enthusiasm for the beautiful illustrations. She mentioned that they all loved it and asked to look at it again and again. She also loved the length of each story saying that it was ideal for that level of school - long enough but not too long.

Below is my favourite illustration from the book (Wonderful World) and Mr L our grade 0's favourite (A Brand new Start) to show just how beautiful they are.

Butterfly books are sold at Makro, Pick n Pay and Dischem and at various mall retailers.

Disclaimer - we were sent the books by Butterfly products to review and keep.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

I am having a day

One where I simply can not concentrate. I touch one thing , leave it and take another on the side. To two minutes later jump on Facebook for some reason? Then the phone rings and I forget I had a payment page open. Ugh! I am sure that I have some inkling today of what L must feel like if his meds wear off.

It is as if the heaps of things that are happening in our lives have reached boiling point inside me today. As if the stress of sick grandparents, insurance stuff and the worry about getting L into the right school (to just touch the surface) is just at a point where my brain cuts off and does all kind of funny.

Therefore before I sit, tidy my desk and make a new to do list (my usual way to gear my brain into action) I am going to self medicate towards positive thoughts by doing a bit of gratitude journalling. Last night as we sat around the dining room table Hunter urged us to share one thing that was great about the day. Boy, I really had to think long and hard to find one. I intend to change this - to focus more on the positive - it's the small stuff that makes us happy after all. (Yes I am always thankful for my wonderful hubby and kids, house etc - this is more the little things that add to that)

So right now I am thankful for:
  1. My new green mug that fits my new office paint colours. It just makes me happy
  2. The police calling and ensuring that they are actually doing something about my camera theft
  3. Leftovers from last night for lunch waiting in the fridge
  4. A book to read and a bench in the garden to sit outside -I am so going to take my lunchtime break today in the office garden. It;s one of those gorgeous sunny winter days.
  5. That Saturday's hockey tournament was cancelled - yes, I think I am allowed to say that - the girls are a bit sad about it but it does make our day way easier.
  6. Did I mention before that I am going to learn how to crochet at Saturday's chess tournament? I am so excited. I really want to learn
  7. An easy morning and early and quick drop off at school
May your day be filled with little joys too.