Tuesday, 21 October 2014

When Pretoria paints herself purple....

 You know that apart from the pretty and your irritated sinuses it is also RAD exam time and way way more hectic that the fourth term brings. By the way, did you know that Pretoria also sports one street with white Jacarandas? (You can see them on the city view above towards the foreground). Herbert Baker street in Groenkloof if you want to take a drive. ) Back to the realities at home.

As I said - RAD ballet exams was yesterday. The Princess is positive it went well. It is a difficult but very beautiful syllabus - in fact, next year they are not going on with grade 4 as half their troupe will be below the minimum age - so they will do grade 3 solo next year and grade 4 the year after.
This is called a character skirt and shoes- a small part of RAD ballet
 She also scored an A++ with her drama partner in unprepared drama last week. Unprepared drama always has me totally amazed as they get 10 minutes to study a  story, prepare a piece and bring it on the stage. No help from the teacher. She was so happy with that much coveted A++ and there were only two groups that afternoon that managed that score.

Mr L has a huge week ahead - their grade R graduation is a total concert with two numbers per child, costumes etc and then the actual capping. The concert is on Wednesday, Thursday nights and Friday morning (for grandparents) and his class' capping on Thursday night. Apparently he is enjoying it a lot and I can not wait to see him on stage.

Mr C is doing well and  he has an artwork on show at the school's cultural evening. Can not wait to see it.

Jacaranda time is also Santa Shoebox time - I know a lot of bloggers are involved but do get involved if you are not already. This year I was very brave and took the 3 kids (plus friend K in tow) to shop for "their" kids last Saturday morning. They chose every item themselves - up to the colour of the toothbrushes. After this shop the boys added stickers, A added a little necklace and alice bands for her girl and I added little money purses for all 3. The boxes are choc and block and we will deliver on Saturday. I love how this teach them that they are so very privileged even if they are not rich they have way more than some other kids.

 Ever wondered how to get a book into a shoebox? This is what we do - roll it, secore with a rubber band, fit diagonally into the box and fill roll with items.
So what's happening in your word?

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

On the Bookclub, friendship and good books and food.

Yesterday was a tough day. In fact, the last few months, no make that this year has been super tough. I can not go into the details of what this all entails but I am sure we will one day look back at this year and say, "Wow, we made it" like we do after the first year with 3 kids under 3.
My table was all about words

Last night was bookclub - and as one of the other girls remarked when we left - even if you felt extremely tired , or the day was super tough and you are actually a bit sick and thought about staying home, going to bookclub was the best idea ever. I am not sure what exactly is the winning formula - if it's the company of a wonderful group of woman who all became good friends or the fact that we all love books and discuss them. Just the night out - for a lot of us it is the only me time we have every month.  Or if it is the random non -book chats that happens before and during dinner (books and book discussions follow after)? Is it the great food we all take pride in producing once a year? For instance last night's menu was beef roll with apricots, beetroot risotto, oven baked veggies and a pea and bacon salad with home made strawberry and kiwi semifreddo for desert.

My menu was inspired by Deon Meyer characters

I think it is a combination of it all - and the glass or so of good wine adds to it. And although none of our problems and stresses were solved, at least for the night we laughed and laughed and you got that "everything will be alright in the end, if it's not alright its not the end yet" feeling. Maybe just for an hour or two.

So I want to know what lifts your spirits? What social get together makes it all better?
(Photos from my hosting of the book club last month. Quote from "The best exotic Marigold hotel)

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Boy did we have a great weekend....

I always say it, but I think I always mean it too - I have never been so thankful that the school closed for the holidays on Friday. The last 2 weeks of the term was hectic and very busy- more about that later. Although I do work this whole holiday things are way way easier - the kids are at home, enjoying themselves I am told. But there is no pressure to get up way early - in fact I can easily get up at 7 and be at the office way before 8. There is no homework to check, extra murals are reduced to swimming and horse riding (and OT for Mr L)  - life has an easier and relaxed swing to it.

On Friday the Princess had a sleepover party so it was just me and the 3 boys at home. We bought the boys what we refer to as Skilectric from our youth - but now is called Carrera slot cars for their birthday and boy, are we having fun. Not sure if the 2 small boys are having the most fun or the bigger folk. So Friday night was Take Aways and some serious racing. Hunter spoiled me with some alone time this weekend so I went to bed earliesh - I was in fact so tired I could not keep my eyes open. It's been a long term.

On Saturday morning I slept in a bit while the boys went to horse riding. Where Mr C took a tumble of Willow - the first of our 3 to fall in more than a year and a half's riding. He is fine though and was really very very brave - getting up, having a drink and getting back on Willow.

Later the morning I left with my friend A to explore Tierlantyntjie mark. I did not buy much but as I very seldom go to these events and Hunter gave us heaps of time we really enjoyed milling through the stalls and had a fantastic lunch of rolls with lamb, rocket, onions and tomato and some very funky cocktails which for the life of me I can not remember the details of. We really had a lovely time.
Mine was not the wow looking cocktail on the left but it was great though

 My best buys - extra thin writable washi tape - ideal for notes on photos in Project Life and a stunning necklace with a mommy bird and 3 little birdies. Just perfect for me (although a daddy bird would have been great)

We headed over to my mom to watch the Springbok against the All Blacks rugby match and have a braai. My, what a match. Mr L is a HUGE rugby fan (in fact it's an obsession that often is too much for us) and truly enjoyed the game. The Egyptian geese at the retirement village are raising 10 goslings this year and they are incredibly cute to see. My moms roses are also in full bloom already. Hunter and the kids had their "once a holiday lounge camp out" the night and I had a great sound sleep alone upstairs. (as I said I was spoiled this weekend).

On Sunday morning after I slept a bit later than usual we hiked the Faerie Glen koppie with kids, dogs and all. This is fast becoming the tradition it used to be when the kids were small and we could carry them all between the two of us. Hunter made exceptionally great iced tea to enjoy afterwards and made us a yummy traditional English breakfast.
We headed for lunch with Hunter's aunt and uncle and some cousins for Sunday early afternoon, and returned home to our now enforced rest time. This means you have to be on your bed - you can read, play with a car, whatever. But you lie down on your bed. For the first time in what feels forever we all slept like logs - I had to in fact wake up the whole household around 5:30!

A great great weekend!

As you all know I spend very little time online over weekends - it's family time. But Marcia has a monthly photographic theme on some Saturdays and as I did not post it then, here is my take on "Patterns" - seen recently in the Pretoria Botanical gardens. (better late than never)
So how was your weekend.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

So lets talk about the world we live in.

I am sure plenty of you have seen this: Parenting as a Gen Xer. If you haven't please go have a read before you read any further here as just reading my post will not give you the full picture.

I am not going to go into a long discussion about the positives and negatives about the world that our kids are growing up in - I think the article pretty much sums it all up. We know we can not stop it, and that there is much that is good about it - but we also know we need to manage it. Where I want to take it further is the "pointing out the river" thing.

I have talked before about family culture - more than the values and principles you want to install in your kids. But also what you enjoy as a family. Countering the world they are growing up in with a culture of honest to goodness, traditional family values. Giving them the best of both worlds.  And enjoying the opposite to what screen time brings. That is why I love that we as a family take the time to enjoy a late afternoon walk with the puppies up the koppie, why we go to swim together, go camping and spend time with friends without screens. It was wonderful to see last weekend how screens and electronic devices were mostly forgotten by the kids. How cycling on the dirt roads, teasing each other with the garden hose and building shelters out of next to nothing was priority. You could hear them talking and chatting away, running around, playing hide and seek and so much more. The same can be said of the adults mostly - with little or no phone reception the old game of good conversation was played. It was just great.

I do believe that yes, we are the ground breakers of the new generation, and as such rests not only managing what the new world bring, but showing them that the old world holds its own magic - magic that we can bring through without losing the good the new world brings. That is why I would, in stead of merely pointing out the river each morning, stop in the afternoon, get the kids out of the car and go and explore the river. We need to take this one further - we need to invest heavily into the mindsets of our kids, not just try to impress the merest sliver of oppertunity.

I would love to know your thoughts on this.

Monday, 29 September 2014

It's been ages since I have blogged.

I have so much news but let's see how much I can catch up with in one little post. First the little bits of mommy pride:
  • A and her drama buddies did us proud and score another A+ at the yearly Eistedfodd. They did a dramatization of Nicky Daly's Yebo Jamela.
  • A achieved the highest merit that you can last week. I am super proud of her.
  • C got a special little merit for reading fluent English (second language). He surprised even his mom.
  • L surprised me at his Playball showcase with how well he plays soccer. Who knew? He was also quite cool with hockey. 
On the social front we had the school's big yearly festival, a weekend away with friends to the bushveld, two little boys' 7th birthday and birthday party, a family wedding and a morning learning about butterflies. But let me show you bits of two events:
This "robot wrestling" item was a big hit with the older boys. Mine were too short and it was a huge disappointment for Mr L

This guy (Armand the singing cowboy) is and ok singer but boy, is his horse fantastic! Great great dressage.
We only attended the afternoon leg of the event and left for the bushveld to spend a lovely weekend with friends. What I loved most was that the kids had the freedom of the farm on their bikes - they could ride for hours on the dirt roads.
Of course the bushveld sunsets are stunning
Hunter made the most fantastic curry pot for the grown ups (the front one) and beef potjie for the rest. With homemade potbrood (bread in a black pot)
I also had great fun with the kids, the camera (on B mode) and some glowsticks, finger lights, light swords etc.

And lets not forget the magic of a campfire until late into the night.
It was indeed a great weekend.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Today is a wonderful 28 degrees Cesius

That's Pretoria for you - from Winter to a Spring of almost exactly a week and then summer all the way to April at least. No doubt we will have a short cold snap again but this weather makes me very very happy. It's sandals to work weather all the way!

There are heaps of things happening in our little world at the moment - a very important evaluation for Mr L tomorrow, ballet course and mock exam for The little Miss and Mr C just did his first school project. I also am very low key and hastily organising a party for the boys. Somehow time has just slipped by but I have a feeling it is going to be an easy and good one. After a bit of a search I think we have the perfect venue for their bicycle Lego party. (I know? But they are two and agreeing is difficult - and it may still become a bicycle train Lego party but who cares?).

This is however not what I want to talk about today. I want to talk about what I guess no one of us ever want to even think about - Childhood cancer. Of course the newest scare is the loomband charms that can cause cancer if sucked - honestly I do think some of these scares are totally overrated and unnecessary. Regardless we have chucked away the offending charms, checked that we have the proper types of bands and substituted the charms by digging into the craft box and coming up with some great alternatives. (as modeled above by the Princess)

However we may regard or not the above, the reality of childhood cancer is there. Our school has been shocked this year by the very sudden cancer diagnosis of one of our little grade RR kids that is indeed very very sick. It took that it hit one of our own for the school to wake up and do a fundraiser for kids with cancer. So last Monday and this Monday we had at Cupcakes of Hope party at the school and I believe a tidy little some was raised for the cause. On the first Monday all Cupcakes were sold out between the grade R to grade 3 classes - this Monday we planned for 3 times the amount of cupcakes.
Our contribution this Monday

We would all like to think that this can not possibly happen to us or our children but the reality is that it will happen to 1:9000 children in South Africa before the age of 14. So, organize a party - in my link above is all the info. At your work, at your school, anywhere - and spread the hope.

Also, please read below and take note:

If in a child fever persist and your doctor keeps prescribing anti-biotics, ask for the basic cancer screening - it is a simple test. Look out for:

S: Seek: Medical help early for persistent symptoms
I: Eye: White spot in the eye, new squint, blindness, bulging eyeball
L: Lump: Abdomen and pelvis, head and neck, limbs, testes, glands
U: Unexplained: Fever, loss of weight and appetite, pallor, fatigue, easy bruising or bleeding
A: Aching: Bones, joints, back and easy fractures
N: Neurological signs: Change in behaviour, balance, gait and milestones, headache, enlarging head
*Saint Siluan was a Russian monk who died on Mount Athos in 1938. He prayed ceaselessly for all humanity.

The most common childhood cancers are Leukemia and brain tumors and it is suspected that some genetic link is possible in most cancers.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

I can talk about how hectic I always find the third term....

or I can talk about how shocked we are to hear about another couple in our group of friends heading for divorce. Somehow talking about the hectic term will be way easier. However I feel that I need to say what I need to say about the topic. I am in no way more equipped that the next person to talk about it and but somehow I feel I need to. I also do not mean to criticize anyone that has been through a divorce. We all have circumstances no one else may comprehend

Obviously there are times when divorce is the only way out. I am sure for everyone the conditions may vary and some of us may be more stringent on them than others. To me it boils down to a promise I made before God to love and honour our bond.  However two issues will always stand out to me as real reasons to consider divorce - violence should never be tolerated and cheating and broken trust can be very hard to repair. I for one would be devastated but counseling should always be an option.

I just feel getting divorced is too easy, too lightly taken these days. The fallout always land with the children. I am certainly not more knowledgeable that any one else on the subject but we are heading for a happy 13 years this December. And yes, it has not always been moonlight and roses, unicorns and rainbows. We have been through pretty tough times - some induced by one or both of us, but mostly thrown to us by what life brings. The honest truth is that these issues will be in every single marriage. Be it that one of you work so hard that the other feel ignored, or that the inclusion of children brings a feeling of loss in what you had in the marriage. Be it financial hardship or family involvement. There are so many issues - one can really not even start to define all.

Although one would be unrealistic to forget that a successful marriage requires a lot of hard work, dedication and sacrifice from both partners I do believe a very basic item is often forgotten. Its simple: Who and what in that person made you fall in love with them when you first saw, touched or kissed them? Very often it's not exactly beauty that will fade. What was the initial attraction? If it was their infectious laugh, maybe you should laugh again - together. Maybe it was the wonderful conversation you had - maybe you should talk more. Have more fun together, get to know each other for the person you were and still am. Find the magic once again. Because it is still there.

We chose each other - years ago for the persons we were. And still am, deep under the childcare issues, the work hardships and the stress life bring.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Whatever makes you happy

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.