Thursday, 20 November 2014

On friendship and more


 It's been a week and a half now of rain, on and off, sunny and cloudy skies, wind, thunder and even some hail. We also had an unexpected cool day or two. As if we haven't had enough dealings with insurance this year (one windscreen claim and one stolen camera claim expertly handled by Santam and one cellphone claim to MTN directly - I am yet to receive feedback) the lightening struck our house on Saturday morning. Thanks goodness we weren't there - apparently it is quite scary and the neighbor told us there were flames dancing on the electrical fence with the gate opening and closing all the time. Turns out both the fence and the gate is fine but our garage motor is totally burned out and the alarm system is as confused as a chameleon on a Smarties pack. ABSA home insurance has been phenomenal and if all goes well everything will be replaced and fixed by tomorrow afternoon. I have had enough of insurance and I am sure the insurers of me too. And the schleb and time it takes and....
Some of you may recall that one of my two BFF and old horse riding partner N has been living in Canada for the last 9 and a bit years. We have only seen them twice since - they waited 4 years to come out the first time and then were here for her MIL 80 th birthday the year before last. Well her MIL fell sick and they came here in haste to organize care for her. It's been a bit of a nightmare for them of course, finding and assisted living facility, organizing to move her things, getting records of her health, etc etc. But last night they managed to pop over for a quick dinner and visit. My was it good to see them. We laughed , had some great red wine and talked and could have gone on for hours and hours. But they have a move to attend to today and the friends they are staying with has early bedtimes so it was shorter than we wished for , but it was there. The kids had a little visit before they went to bed and now have some memory of who they are. I am always amazed at how great these two people that chose not to have kids converse with children. They had such great talks with all 3 - almost talking to them as little adults but about topics the kids can talk about. We were all amazed at the plastic Canadian money- very odd feeling (the notes are not paper but plastic with see through bits)
 We are well into the last bit of the year - next week is going to be extremely challenging, but as more and more things come to an end I feel better and better about things we have achieved this year. Amongst them is the above bit of sculpting work by our Mr C - his very first try and I am over the moon. For 7 years of age I think it's stunning.

So anybody else had weather damage? And how was your insurance year? And how is the rest panning out for your family?

Friday, 14 November 2014

I should have known...

That there is just no way that I can do a one a day blog challenge post in the busiest month of the year. So without even thinking or bashing myself about this, I am moving on - moving on towards a "Currently I am" post like a few other bloggers did. In a time of overwhelm its an easy way to say a bit of the very much milling in our minds.

Listening to Classic FM. Mostly. I find in times of great business the classical music calms my mind. I have also fallen in love with You Tube music mixes - that top button on the right hand if you search any artist. The last few days saw Mozart, Pachabel and Bach and in various other styles Diana Krall, Harry Connick Jr and Leonard Cohen . Works well when I work.

Reading . I have just finished "The lost girls of Rome" by  Donato Carrisi last night - a chilling hair raising thriller/who dunnit that I do not think I will ever forget. I have just started with "Goeiemore Mnr Mandela" and am looking forward to reading it.
The Lost Girls of Rome

Thinking about what will be my first small little foray into painting after many many years. I have to get the me inside out again - my plan was to start painting again this year - it took me nearly 11 months but I am ready.

Looking forward to sing at two Christmas services with our praise and worship team over the next two Sundays. I have never realised how much I missed singing and singing to praise God until I started again. In this year of turmoil it has been a huge blessing to me.

Anticipating the December holidays, spending time with the in laws and just breaking the routine. Seeing the kids playing with abandon in the sea and the pool. Just summer and Christmas in true South African style.

Planning to get through the next two weeks that will involve - 1 Judo grading, 1 Judo parent showcase, 2 school price givings, 1 recorder exam, 1 music centre price giving, 1 ballet exam showcase, 1 stables price giving, 1 grade 0 farewell, 1 ballet end of year, 1 teacher baby shower and I am sure more to follow.

Wearing soft pants of all sorts with Tshirt type tops. I am tired - and comfort works right now. Especially loving my new Big Blue Shwe shwe print pants.

Drinking way too much coffee and Roses lime cordial with soda.

Thankful that our kids really tried so hard this year. They gave their all.

Wishing and praying that L could have started at his new school next year but positively planning to start where he is now and make the best of it. Also wishing and praying for a place very early next year in what will be his new school.

Not looking forward to getting the logistic in place for next year - stationery, school clothes, bags , labels etc.

Dreaming about care free days , sunshine and sea

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Things we talk about

Hunter and I have always tried to do our best to raise children with a good general knowledge. When we do not know the answer to a question we will find out and find the answer. In fact, we are teaching them to slowly and in a very basic form find out the answers for themselves. Be it in books or into the big pool in cyberspace. So the type of things that get discussed around the breakfast table may be coloured just a little by this.

Sunday morning A kicked off the discussion with "Dad, was Einstein really the most intelligent person that ever lived?" He immediately answered suggesting other possibilities and that it is truly impossible to define or label someone as most intelligent. Some of the examples the two of us fielded were: Dr Chris Barnard(heart transplant pioneer), President Paul Kruger (ever heard the story of the division of a farm between two brothers?), King Solomon of the Bible (and the story of the two woman and one baby), Dr Ian Player (conservationist who we all had the honour to meet) and Leonardo da Vinci were all mentioned. Also the fact that there are different types of intelligence. I also had to mention Marie Curie as it was her birthday on Friday. I highlighted for the sake of simplicity her role in developing medicine to fight cancer and that she was the first woman to win the Nobel prize.

And so the discussions ranged on - we touched on where chocolate came from - and the mention of the Aztecs and Mayans moved on to pyramids and then Africa and where the queen of Sheba came from. And possible places where Kind Solomon's treasures may be hidden here in Africa. And so on and so on.

Gosh, they do challenge our general knowledge at times but I do believe somewhere it will pay off - at least they think further than what they learn in school. I hope that we can continue with enriching their knowledge every day - they are certainly helping us to enrich ours.

What I do find challenging however is current affairs. I try to shield them against the harshness of the world we live in  I do realize however that this will have to change soon. As they grow older the discussions in class and amongst them grow. The grade 3 girls for instance had wide opinions on the Oscar Pistorius trial.

BTW - I use a wonderful mommy blogger and home schooler in Cape Town Se7en's blog every month to find themes to discuss in the car.She does a lovely monthly blogpost with the main calender happenings in history on her blog - here's Novembers'. I do not discuss every topic - I keep to the main or big things. This morning we discussed the Great wall of china as it was opened to tourists yesterday in history. I may not always be exactly on the day, but use it as a general guide. BTW I am trying to find a list of dates for South African history , art etc. Anyone know of one? And do you actively promote general knowledge at home?

On to #blogvember:
11. Favorite spot in your city:

For this I felt it could not be a restaurant or shop, it must be a place to visit. Two spots very quickly came to mind - hiking up the koppie at the Faerie Glen reserve and taking the kid's bikes to Rietondale park. Both are lovely family outings and both can be done with the dogs if we want to.

There is a small entrance fee at Faerie Glen reserve and as some game has been released there this year dogs have to be on a leash. The kids love to feel the accomplishment of walking to the top of the koppie and taking in the view.

There is no entrance fee at Rietondale park and dogs must preferably be on leash.  Near the tennis court is a lovely play equipment park and some tracks for cycling but the real gem is to the west where there is a wide open park with benches and a long cycling/walking track/

Monday, 10 November 2014

Vintage - and more.

We had a lovely weekend apart from the frustrations with the stolen phone and all that hangs around that. I need to seriously do some catching up on Blogvemeber - so here goes:

 8. Favorite Restaurant - For years we frequented a little Italian place called Tutti Pasta and honestly the last few years with the kids we have fallen into the abyss of Spur. But I blogged about our foray into good cuisine with kids last week so we will do more of that - so my current favorite will have to be Mesa Portuguesa.

9.Take a photo - Vintage. Table center piece of a family wedding we attended a few weeks ago - Vintage themed.

10.Dream date?  At this stage any date with my Hunter would be great - we are low on time and babysitters. But dream, way out of anything realistic? A dawn hot air balloon ride over the Masai Mara during migration with bubbly to add and a 5 star breakfast in the bush follow. We are both nature lovers and seeing the migration is a bucket list item for me. This would be both exciting and very romantic.
Photo credit

Friday, 7 November 2014

This that and Blogvember

I am so very angry this morning. I was deliberately distracted in Spar yesterday afternoon, the flap of my handbag lifted and my phone stolen. Within minutes it was de activated and find my iPhone could not trace it from my iPad. Now the mess to get this sorted - and it's a company phone so the paperwork etc is doubled. And I am going to a funeral this afternoon. This might just take away the one Saturday morning I booked out for myself this year. Bummer....

So today we are going to say goodbye to our great friend's mom - the type of friends that are family . Family you chose to have. But we lost her about 3 years ago already. She was an exceptional lady - she could translate 7 languages and speak them all. Back in her best days she was extremely knowledgeable in a almost anything - history, current news, philosophy, music, art and architecture. She was a fantastic person to converse with. As students and even later as we entered the job market we spent many many evenings at their home, talking about anything and everything around a glass of Belgium beer or good wine, eating wittlof and fritte, waffles and even rabbit. Around 15 years ago she started to slip, slowly into the mist of what is early onset Alzheimers. Around 2 years ago even her long term memory slipped away and she was lost into her own mind of muddled thoughts. The last 6 months she has been house bound. I guess in a sense it is a relief to all - but this does not lessen the loss and sadness for a life that was a great one, although way too soon lost to us. I feel sad for them, we will hold the good memories.

Onto Blogvember - today is about the series you watch.  I am really a bad TV watcher - and more often than not will sit and read. But I do enjoy Masterchef in all it's forms and at the momebt MasterchefSA is followed by Baaimaster on etv so that makes a nice Thursday night's viewing. I used to watch all the CSI series and the Mentalist but now it's sort of hit and run - when I happen to sit down and they are on I may watch, or not.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

So I am going to try #blogvember

I never take part in these blog challenges - and honestly I find myself hardly reading what people write when they do it. But somehow this one by Cupcakemummy and Love, kids and other things looks a bit different. So I am going to give it a shot - mostly because there are photos involved to. We shall see how it goes - I may have to do a few at a time but am going ot give it a bash.

Today is the 6th - I am just going to fall in here:
Today's shoes are my sometimes loved, sometimes hated turquoise wedges. Loved for many things of which their colour is not the least, but in general I have lots to wear them with and they are comfortable. Sometimes hated because now and again, like last week Wednesday they hurt me and chafe my toes - so much so that I had to wear other types of shoes until yesterday. Today however, they are doing just fine

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Your kids may just surprise you

Honestly we have never taken our children to a proper grown up restaurant. Coffee shops and so forth, yes. But no proper place with cloth napkins and no play area. Some place that serves great food and not over basted steaks. Somewhere where they do not have a play area, colouring in sheets as place mats or an offer to make your own pizza. Proper dining.

Well for Sunday lunch we did it. With friends. 4 adults, 6 children 11 to 5 with 3 7 year olds in the mix. It went well - amazingly so. I promise you I could hardly believe it. And all we took along was some paper (an old traffic impact study printed on one side) and a set of twisty crayons.

We had great great food (Portuguese buffet) , good wine, excellent company for 3 hours and very good children. In fact, it was such a nice experience that it has totally turned my very tired, very irritated and low mood into a very happy and positive mood. The naps after at home certainly sealed the deal. None of the "we went out to lunch, the food was just sort of ok but at least the kids had fun" feeling.

It just goes to show a point that was made to us by Piero from the now closed Tutti Pasta restaurant. Children have to learn to sit at a table and enjoy a good meal - without having the adaptions that we as a society have made to make it easier for them. If we always take them to kid friendly venues they will never learn and every time you take them to a non kiddy friendly place they will learn and adapt.

I know we have left this late - our kids are 7 and 9 - certainly we could have tried this earlier as some of you may. But truly, we as adults are entitled to having the dining experience we want and our kids need to adapt too - no use us always adapting for them. Admittedly it gets easier as they grow up but I am wondering if we could not have done this years ago if we started younger and just got them used to it.

So what have your experiences been?

(We had lunch at Mesa Portuguesa that has a stunning Sunday lunch buffet - it is well worth the visit. There is a little plastic table in one section for very small toddlers I guess - our kids did not even attempt to go there but for  a 2 year old this can help)

Monday, 3 November 2014


Is exactly what I did this weekend. And no, we did not cancel everything. We just made sure we had a relaxing Sunday with a happy event - and a nap. But more about that later.

Friday night saw one of those end of year events that you sometimes dread as well, we are all tired and the year is speeding to an end. But I am glad we did as A's troup won Juniors of the year - great excitement and as the views from Schanskop Fort where the function was totally took my breath away. I did not even take my big camera with me - these were taken with the trusty iPhone.The Fort itself was quite a pretty venue too with a huge old tree in the middle.
Voortrekker monument against the sunset

Pretoria City centre

Spectacular clouds and the Voortrekker monument/ Thaba Tshwane area

Night time city view.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

You are not alone.

Yesterday afternoon as I sat amongst a group of moms waiting for extramural photos to be taken at school a mom sinks down onto the lawn next to me with a huge sigh. " I can not any more. I even had a chocolate on the sly in my car right now".  She went on to tell us how busy her week has been and that in 45 minutes time she had to be back at the high school across the street with picnic dinner for her family and her high school boy in tow. It's silly season all round.

Even before she arrived talk was all about how hectic this term is and how everyone feels that they are just not coping. I had a headache lingering from earlier the day despite taking some meds. " Well you are lucky - my kids find out if I eat chocolate in the car" another mom exclaimed to which mom 1 answered that she is a pro - she has already chucked away the wrapper in the bin at the gate to the school.

And so the next mom explained that she and her hubby pig out on a slab of chocolate every night when the kids are in bed. "Damn the chocolate, we have a good shot of whiskey every night" one of the moms with 4 kids said. "I can not wait until we get home, never mind the kids are in bed to have my glass of wine" another mom explained - she does have two busy toddlers and a grade 1. I admitted to doing maybe a bit of them all if occasion calls but whipped out my trusty bottle of ResQ remedy that has been floating in my handbag since about August this year. "Snap!" called another mom, her REsQ in hand and with a "Cheers" we both had a few drops to loads of laughter all around us.

It turns out that yes, we are not alone and yes, we are all struggling a bit to cope with all that has to be done. But with a bit of laughter (and a few drops or chomps of your choice ) maybe we will all make it to the end of the year.

So - what is your "drug of choice"? And are you also finding it very very busy - or are we just all very tired? I suspect it's a bit of both.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

All about Candy buffets

Some of you may know that I am not a big supporter of the traditional party pack. The one pre filled to the brim with sweets - some of which the origin is totally unknown and the kids feel obliged to either eat or bring home. Mine in general end up not eating most of it in any event.  In stead, we have switched to the Candy buffet idea. First of all - it looks wonderful. Ok, mine not as great as the ones the professionals do, but still pretty. Secondly the kids love it! They love to pick what they want and what may seem to them to be big amounts of sweets. They love dishing in themselves with a scoop, carefully choosing what looks great and avoiding what they do not like.

But let me tell you the secret - they take way way less that what would be in the traditional party pack. And they take only what they eat or want. There is almost zero wastage as whatever stays uneaten you can use at home later. Kids in general will not take anything they do not like if they have a choice. I am also convinced that it costs you less because you can buy big quantities bags and not more expensive smaller bagged units.

Another thing I totally love is that the parents are not shy to help themselves. I will even go so far that I think the parents like it even more than the kids. You will see parents enjoying a jelly snake as if they do it every day. Sneaking in a mini fizzer or especially those apricots that I am convinced I buy solely for the parents every year.

So I thought I will do a post on how we did our last 3 candy buffets and what was popular or not to help you on your way to what may be your first one.

Space Party:

I used plastic, stainless steel and foil containers to go with the theme. We also named every sweet something that had to do with the theme. The kids dished their sweets into foil containers and dispensed to take home what was left (or add to it) in celophane bags that was dropped into themed silver paper bags. We used silver paper plates for cake or boerewors rolls.

 What was offered:
Jelly feet, sherbet packets, popcorn, monster pops, coloured cachous( you may know the pink only version), jelly domes, other jelly domes with the white bits in, apricots, those coloured candy corn rings, liquorice, smarties and cheese curls
 Most popular eats:
Sherbet - Actually you can never have enough sherbet and will never be left with any. It's a golden candy buffet rule.
Apricots - we never have any left but this I think is 60% parents. But some kids love them too.
Cheese curls - need I say more.
Popcorn - every bit eaten.
My worst buy of the party:
Those candy almost chip like sweet rings. I find them disgusting but it looked to me like children like them and the fit the theme. Very little eaten . I actually just gave the huge bag that was left to the school to use for baking day.
Moment I loved most:
When Marcia took a party pack home with those 'Space capsules" which she loves.

Horse farm party:

We used buckets and brown paper bags to hold the items. Because it was in a dusty place I bought small packets of chips (and a lot). The kids dished their sweeties into decorated brown paper bags (I forgot to take a photo of them!) and added to take home.

What was offered: 
Home made brownies, sherbet bottles, marshmallow cones, coconut coated marshmallows, elegance fruit toffees, chocolate echlair toffees, monster pops,  candy watches, similar candies like ziffers on a stick and small bags of crisps. 
 Most popular eats:
My MIL chocolate brownies - seen here in one red and green bucket. These were completely swiped not even half into the party regardless of the fact that we first served boerierolls and prego rolls. I thought we would have left for tea the next day but we re filled the buckets 4 times. I think this is possibly 80% parents.
The apricots - once again parents mostly I think.
The sherbet bottles - only 2 left at the end of the party.
The coconut covered marshmallows.
My worst buy of the party:
Will you believe it - the monster pops! Only 2 taken out of the whole bag. It seems that if kids have the choice they do not take lollypops.
Favorite moment of the party:
The mom that refuse to leave without the brownie recipe scribbled on the back of her boys' party pack by my MIL.

This year's Lego party. 

I got the kids involved this year and let them build containers out of Lego Duplo and used some tins I have been collecting and a cupcake stand. Once again packets of small chips. For containers to dish in and take home I made Lego boxes with their names on (contact me if you need the template)

What was offered:
Fruit chews, sour worms, jelly snakes, sherbet, apricots (but not the nice type - could not find them), cola mini fizzers, coloured cachous, chocolate echlairs, jelly beans, chomps, home made chocolate drops, home made rice crispie marshmallow treats and petty nice lego blocks.
Most popular eats:
The jelly snakes disappeared in minutes and not a single bag of sherbet was left. The chomps were also totally swiped. But what totally floored me was the fact that 96 cupcakeholder sized marshmallow treats were eaten. I by accident took the two containers that was meant for school the next day along with the party's container. All 3 totally eaten. I decided early on to unpack the others when I saw how popular they were.
My worst buy of the party:
The wrong type of apricots. I did not even buy lollipops this time around.
Favorite moment:
Two dads begging me to find more rice crispie cakes - which triggered me bringing out the next days' too. They each blatantly took 4 and went on to eat. 

So what do you do for parties? And have you considered this? Come to think of it - this is much more like we used to have in our simple uncomplicated parties when we were kids.