Friday, 6 May 2016

Five for Friday edition 7

1. Heavens! Let's talk about the price of school clothes. Even at our school shop that is slightly cheaper than the supplier I payed R316 for one tracksuit pant and a pair of hockey socks. The fact that the hockey socks was R96 just makes it a tad more shocking.

2. On that note hockey season starts today - the first year A is playing the full format of the game and league. Somehow with rugby and netball this starts at u/9 level and with hockey only at u/11 level.

3. All of a sudden we have cold weather mostly in the mornings and evenings. I adore cardigans - real, soft knitted thin ones with cute buttons. Somehow I always gravitate towards black/grey with red or turquoise in winter. This year it is as if I am trying to extend summer with pastels. And a lovely little shop with the most gorgeous beads has opened at our little local shopping street. She hangs racks and racks of beads in colours - gorgeous. It's one of the moms from school and I will certainly support her.

4. An unexpected gift from a friend brightens your whole day (and week to follow). To think someone was kind enough and thought of you to send you something out of the blue warms my heart. And makes me think that I have neglected random acts of kindness. Also I hear these will have to be done without the Post office - which is striking again from yesterday. Thanks dear Marcia. 
5. Bookclub remains a huge treat for me and a highlight of every month. Good food, good company and books to read. Winners on all fronts. I totally enjoyed Tuesdays' bookclub as always.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

We all fight our battles - every day.

I was reminded again this morning how we all face our battles, how we fight them, sometimes openly, sometimes quietly.

I drop off A's flute at the flute teacher's class on Wednesday mornings so I enter the school grounds and leave them later rather than just dropping the kids at the car like other mornings. So I bumped into a friend of C's mom dropping off her grade 1 - her grade 3 obviously absent. He has now been sick for two weeks with a cold type thing - which triggered his asthma. And I very vividly remember driving like mad to our closest hospital with a little man C - just just breathing through an asthma and croup attack. A battle almost forgotten. With a huge relief and gratitude.

As we go our separate ways and old friend walks out of the school gate - her child struggling in grade 1. I give what advice I possibly can and a hug and feel grateful once again that all 3 kids seem to be happy and content. That our last one is now happily reading English in grade 2.

I remember sleepless nights (after the odd night of bad sleep last night), and I am grateful that we have won that battle. I remember tantrums and tears and feel the relief.

And so we fight our fights - we battle the things bigger than us. I am thankful every day that I have my partner in life to fight them with me. Some of us fought infertility, some fought the big cancer in our own lives or with family. Some fight the daily battle of neuro atypical children - for whom every little thing is just that little bit harder than for the rest. Some just fight the sads - the big black wolf that breathes in our necks. There are physical challenges and mental ones - anxiety chewing on our hearts, physical pain taking over at times.

Be gentle folks - we all have our battles.

I am also reminded of how I write about them less and less. Maybe because I do not always feel they are just my story or just my battle. Not because I choose rainbows and unicorns but because I am aware that  my story is their story too. We choose what to share. We protect ourselves.

So one can admit now and again that the tiredness in us is not only physical. But that we are recovering from battles - growing towards better and sunny shores. That although the battles are and were so very real time heels a lot and love cements us together. We are growing all the time - with the scraped shins and lost contact lenses. With full mark test scores and sad faces about a team loss. With awards won and one mark short of a competition final.

This is life. But the silver linings get more and more. The clouds burn away in the bright sun. Because in the end, the battles are won. Again and again. If we choose that silver lining - if we choose the battle. Because no battle can be won without the fight.

Whatever your battle may be I wish you the silver lining - the award at the end. We have all come far but we have a way to go. The war is yet to be won.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

A good long weekend at home consist of....

Sweet, good and thoughtful kids that buys you an early Mothersday gift and stay sweet for a whole weekend. Kids that let their parents have extended Sunday afternoon naps and help to tidy up the house.
Some beauty and sweet fragrances - and a good visit to my mom.
 Saturday night out and Chinese and sushi with my 3 men (A had a sleepover with a friend)
A good book or two to read - and actually finishing one and almost another. 
A good hike up our favorite trail with the puppies and some good friends - followed by a lovely braai after.
Little gifts of love from one of the kids, nature finds and laughs
 Chocolate muffins for breakfast at 9 - all in our pj's on a Sunday morning.
 Great food - Hunters chicken curry, a leisurely afternoon with wine and an autumn swim with friends (their pool is heated) .

Perfection - absolutely!

So how did you enjoy your long weekend?

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Tuesday Booksday

Time for some book talk again. I though to wait unti next week to give you the May books in one batch but honestly I do not know how much reading is going to happen over the long weekend in any event .

The Handome Man's Deluxe Cafe by Alexander McCall Smith

Reading a no 1 Ladies detective agency novel is like having coffee with an old friend. You know her family and friends but you get an update on their newest movements and doings. Just as it's not really about the coffee (or the case in question) it's about the cast of characters we know so well. It's familiar and comforting and in the same sense there is always something new. I feel like I have just had a great cup of redbush tea and a genorous slice of fruit cake with Mma Ramotswe. 

Recommended for fans and friends of Mma Ramotswe with a 8/10

 Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Sometimes one needs a day or two to write a book review - sometimes it needs to sink in a bit before you can write about it. This was the case with "Still Alice" which left me very sad, but to an extent at peace when the books ends.

Walk the devastating road with Alice Howard, Linguistics professor who at the very young age of 50 is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers disease. The book is so well written that you experience life as seen by Alice as the disease progress and her memory fades away. You feel her pain, her frustration and in the end her sadness and content ease.

I do love how the relationships between her and her children and husband are changed and affected and how each is portrayed in the book - especially with Lydia.

I found myself questioning my own memory at times... A great read - 9/10. I hear that the movie is a great interpretation of the book but have not seen it.

Any book recommendations?

Monday, 25 April 2016

Mouthwatering Mondays

It's about time we do one of these again....

My MIL often make these - she calls them Brownies, which in all honesty they are not - but I have no idea what their correct name is. But let's just call the Marie biscuit chocolate squares - one of the few recipes I know by heart. I made these for the church's bake sale yesterday and they were apparently  sold out. Addictive and great with ice cream for desert too.
500g butter
1kg Icing sugar
250 ml good quality cacao
2 eggs
2 packets of Marie biscuits, broken into small bits.

Melt butter and remove from heat.
Stir in icing sugar and cacao until well mixed.
Beat the two egss together and add to the mix - mix well.
Add Marie biscuits. Mix very well

Pour into an over tray and let is cool down completely before you cut squares. They keep well in a airtight container but also freeze very well.

You will see that you can easily half the recipe but honestly it serves no purpose as you soon find yourself making another batch. Also the taste equals the cocoa taste.

So do you have an "off by heart" cookie recipe? Please share.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Five for Friday edition 6

Gosh, it's been a week (and a half) and really Friday is not here one second too soon.

This morning we celebrated Mr C's lovely teacher's birthday. She is one of those special ones - she was A's grade 1 teacher and I really adore her. We also said goodbye to her - sad, but there's a plus. She is moving to our local high school where she will teach maths - after she obtained her masters degree in maths a bit more than a year ago I guess it has always just been a matter of time. The new teacher in her place is co teaching for the last two weeks of the months to ensure a smooth transition.

This cake was above amazing
Yesterday saw me walking around in the rain on site - and it was cold and the wind was chilly. I have never been one to believe that feeling cold can give you a cold but today I have a runny nose and sore throat.

I am loving having my camera back - can not stop taking pictures.

We have a small succulent garden that my MIL started when she visited - I love it! Some of the have already started flowering.

It's truly and honestly autumn although it feels too hot. I drove through the streets of Joburg yesterday struck by the beauty of the season.

Have a great weekend. What are you up to?

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Yesterday was one of those days

I have a situation at work. Well not at work - on a building site. It's one of those situations where it's not my fault but I need to make things work around the fault. You know, when the sh* hits the fan it spreads? When grown men shout and stomp their feet and walk off site like 3 year olds - you know? Those type of situations.

I spent 4 hours in the sun measuring out parking bays that a qualified person is supposed to be able to do by themselves - if they have only build the boundary wall on the actual boundary and not half a meter short - the crux of the issue. It's a domino effect of gigantic proportions.

Hence my planned books post never happened.  More books for next week I guess.
I came home exhausted and tired and just short of tears. To three pairs of embracing arms, homework all done and waiting to spend time with me. Offering to feed the dogs, asking me to listen to their flute practice and showing off full marks tests. Thank goodness to our au pair who helps so much.

Coming home was the best part of the day - and then when Hunter came home later even better. Good thing that when life is tough at the office it's great at home.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Saturday a year ago....

Labrador rescue posted an urgent request for a foster home for a brown labby girl found in Pretoria. As they do not have a permanent foster home and we only had our elderly Moya with us at the time we offered to help - as we did many years ago with another labby girl called Nandi.

She was an immediate hit with not only our Moya as great company but also with the kids and us. She is a true lady with beautiful manners and lots of love to give. She "talks" by raising her paw to get your attention and as you talk to her the paw keeps "talking" back. When she was never claimed we started the formal process of adopting her to become our furever baby as by then we could clearly see she was just the girl for us. She is a much appreciated and loved member of the family.

Happy adoptiversary dear Gabby - we love you and furever will. A made her and Ocean each a "cake" of Beeno and viennas - two of their favorite treats. We sang to her and the kids blew out her candle because this is now her birthday to us. We hope she has many wonderful years left with us.       

So have you adopted before? I agree there certainly is a pace for buying puppies and raising them but I love the rescue dogs so much.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

It takes a village.....

You know the old saying "It takes a village to raise a child"? I realize more and more that we still have a village - although our modern one may look a bit different.

Yesterday afternoon I got a Whatsapp call - now these are still a surprise to me every time I get them. But the photo that dusplayed with the call clearly showed two boys in our school's uniform. So I pick up. Turns out it's a mom of a grade 3 boy (that we have never shared a class or team with before so I do not know them by sight) - she introduces herself and ask if I am C's mom. I confirm. She says that the rugby practice for their team has finished half an hour early so she thought to give me a call rather than let the boys wait for so long. I was so thankful. She offered to drop them but I declined as our au pair and A had to leave the house in a few minutes in any event and just picked them up then before dropping A at ballet. By then I have found her on Facebook and recognized her photo. Indeed we have had a few chats before on the school ground - her name did sound familiar.

But guys, this is our village. The moms that when a party invite on a Whatsapp group shows up offers to ferry whoever needs to go. The ones that call you and offer to fetch if maybe you can take kids somewhere. The ones that on the class' Whatsapp group types: " I am in shop x and the item we need for Friday costs R20. Who wants? I will wait for 5 minutes before I buy". Our village basically is the other parents at school. Likie the mom that send me a message to say that her son has stopped with Judo and she knows we are missing a pair of pants - would we like his gi? And no, she does not want money for it. And in return we help each other - this morning I get a Whatsapp from one of L's friends' mom - she has already dropped him at school but forgot tuck shop money - can I maybe send him some and she will give it back tomorrow morning via L? I will gladly do - because next week she will do something for me. It's a bit like borrowing sugar from your neighbour in that old village.

 I guess the Whatsapp groups is a whole discussion on their own - sometimes I hate them (and mute them) but more often than not they are helpful. A's class has one that creates a new dimension to the village idea. The moms will post all assessments etc as reminders - our A is good at telling us everything but some moms says that it is the only way they would know of everything. So you would the Sunday get a list of assessments this week. If someone has something to add they will. But of course - the golden rule for Whatsapp groups works well in this one - no one says tnak you a million times, you only use it if you have something helpful to add or need to ask . No jokes, no adds, no 24 "thank yous". Plain and straight to the point. A wonderful helpful village in your phone.

I have to admit that maybe it takes a bit of time and effort to establish that village - and some year's parents are more helpful than others - but it is so totally worth it. And sometimes it even surprise you by growing on it's own - like yesterday.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

It's Tuesday Booksday

Personally I am a huge fiction reader - its my poison of choice. So is A. She can get lost in a book - reminds me so much of myself at her age. Hunter would rather read an autobiography or biography or anything that is in the non -fiction genre (with some exceptions like Deon Meyer). C reads very well but he is not a lover of fiction. He reads the odd book but he loves non fiction too. Add to that his insatiable curiosity about anything historical and you have an idea of what to get him to read. After all he is our aspiring archeologist. That being said, all 3 the kids love a certain type of book - call it an illustrated fact book. Like this one (History year by year) we reviewed before.

Today let me show you this wonderful book (that I picked up at the Exclusive Books sale for R69,00 - best buy ever!) It has been one of those where they fight over who gets to read it today. It is called Archeology detectives, written by Simon Adams and published by Barron's.
The books starts with a child friendly index page that show you the different archeological discoveries the book features with their time frames.
This is followed by a page that is very informative on what archeology is a how some techniques work
The seperate archeological finds follow is a well structure format of:

A title page with a big photograph and a location pointer on the world map with description and a summation of what the discovery is.

 He next two pages gives background on the people and place that was discovered - background to the find.
The next two pages shows the actual find with sketches and photographs.
The last two pages is about the archeology itself - how it was found, restored or displayed and what the finding showed.
 It's a wonderful fascinating read that I have dipped into myself.

So I would love to know which books your kids love (and fight about) and would they be interested in a book like this?