Tuesday, 3 March 2015

It was really a good weekend.


Flowers for my mom
I had such a great weekend - and I do think the rest of the family had a good one too. I was really spoiled with time for myself this weekend. On Friday night I went to a Stef Bos concert with 5 other ladies and it was such fun. Three of my favorite cousins went with and it was a night of good music and lots of laughter. I always forget how much I enjoy live music and although not one for big venue concerts the smaller scale ones totally fill my soul with joy.
Great eats by Loft restaurant

On Saturday morning I attended the #mombogmeetup and boy, was it a great event. I am not going to go into the details - so many others have already done that but I enjoyed the diverse and great speakers, good food, lovely venue and it was so very well organised by Laura and Heather. I loved putting some faces to the blogs I read and discovering some totally new blogs and the girls behind them. The goodie bags were excellent - I am not going to go into the details but check out the photos:




















Thanks to all the wonderful sponsors - who you will find at the link above. I will go into some details about one or two in later posts. I have to mention the lovely creative food Margie made right in front of our eyes. It was fun and very yummy.




















I returned home to the boys in the household making bows and arrows. It's the "in thing" in our home right now and as this develops I may give you and insight into it. Suffice to say the rest of the weekend was spent aiming at targets.

On Sunday my mom turned 79 and as she is still not very mobile (knee replacement pending) I went to help early with the many guests that came over. The kids and I made her a secret centre pinata cake which she cut to lots of laughs discovering the inside surprise. It was really tasty - the dark rich cake with the smarties inside. I will definitely make it again.


It was the first weekend in a month that we did not have a lot of grade 4 stuff going - projects, orals, tests etc. Although she does have 3 small tests and a poem to learn for this week we only did about an hour's work for the maths test. It was great having our weekend back!

How was yours?

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Why you need a rescue dog in your life.




This is our Rufus - doing his puppy face as the Princess calls it on Christmas day. His "I am the cutest dog ever face". But there is way way more to this furboy of ours.

Just more than a month short of a year ago we adopted this boy through Labrador and Golden retriever rescue. We knew that our Bongi had a very short time left with us and we did not want Moya left alone and grieving. After viewing a few dogs we almost immediately upon meeting him knew that he was "the one". He and A bonded immediately and do have a very special thing going between them. He adores his human sister but loves that his human brothers play ball with him. Even more now that the ball gets hit with cricket bats and golf clubs and goes really far and high.
Moya and Rufus on Sardinia bay beach

The point is that we decided to adopt a grown rescue dog and not buy a puppy. Whilst the benefits of buying a puppy is plenty it is incredibly rewarding to give a dog a new human family after it has been given up or forsaken by their previous one. It is almost as if they are even more loving, even more attentive. He is a real character and the sweetest pup ever.

The reasons why we adopted a grown dog was mostly selfish - we did not have the energy to bring up a puppy. The sleepless nights, the potty training. In return we got a dog that is fully potty trained, walks well on a leash (although he does pull hard) and is over the excessive chewing phase. He does not dig up the garden, eat the sprinklers or do many of the other Labrador puppy things that makes them equally challenging and delightful to raise. If the rest of the family is out he will make sure that he is a mere 5 steps away from me all the time. If Hunter works downstairs in the evenings he sometimes slips up the stairs to cuddle with me or he slips onto his human sisters bed and falls asleep - sometimes sleeping her half off her bed! Sometimes he checks up on his human brothers and gives them a little wet nosed kiss. It is almost as if he is checking if this is really his family and making sure he stays with us. He has been such a blessing for our family - maybe more so than what we have been to him.

The downside is that socializing him fully is proving a challenge and training him is harder than with a puppy. But we do see improvements all the time. And lets face it - if we had a puppy we would have spent time training and socializing in any event.

So do consider adopting a dog the next time you need a family pet. Most of the breeds have rescue organizations that you can approach and then there is of course always the usual animal charities. You may just be rewarded with the most awesome dog ever!

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Do second kids have it easier or harder?

I guess its a bit of both really. I think it can be tough following on an older sibling especially if they are known for something or the other - like the star athlete's little sister that is just expected to win although it might not be her thing at all. It really has to be tough following a top academic achiever if you are just the average Jo Soap. Luckily I think in our family we may just bypass these issue.

However in some cases having older siblings certainly helps - they pave the road, show the courage and in some cases help their younger brothers and sisters. Although I am of the opinion that Mr C taught himself to read in grade R both he and A maintains that she had something to do with it. Whatever the case, last week he showed us not only his own guts, but that having an older sibling certainly helps.

When we get to gym on a Tuesday night the aquarobics class is still in progress in the small learning pool. Typically the boys will wait for the class to finish and the play in the small pool until their lessons and A do a few practice lengths before she plays a bit before her lesson. Last week Mr C tapped me on the arm (as he does) and said, "Do you think I can swim there?" showing the 25 meter pool. I said that he certainly could if he swam but no playing as people were doing their lengths. He got in and started with breaststroke following his sister and before long he was at the other end with a huge grin on his face and a high five from her. He turned around and did another back behind her to get a huge high 5 and congratulations from me. Boy, was I so delighted with this little man. He did another 6 lengths and then went on to his lesson. Following the example. I know a lot of kids his age swim these lengths regularly but for him it was a self motivated first.

BTW it's the second time in so many weeks that he has surprised his mom - at a bootcamp party he was the only boy of his age that managed the balance beam (a round pole) over the river without any help and while being harassed by the bootcamp instructor. He tried 3 times and succeeded on the 3rd try - quite amazing balancing skills. He thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience, the mud, the water , the toughness and skills. It seems my quiet little softly spoken soul has a lot more I still need to discover.

Edited to add: Dr Kevin Lehman wrote an excellent book called "The birth order book". Do give it a read.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Currently...

Listening to: Ed Sheeran - actually the whole family has a favorite on his CD.
Reading: I am only a few chapters in but am loving it.
http://www.amazon.com/What-Milo-Saw-Virginia-Macgregor-ebook/dp/B00GFHG1B4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1424170647&sr=8-1&keywords=what+milo+saw
 Thinking about: How great it was to have a slower holiday like morning this morning. The kids have the day off school as it is cluster athletics and none of them are in the team so they are having a little mid week break.

Looking forward to: Going to a live shown next Friday in a small theater. I actually always forget how mush I love a show and live music.

Anticipating: Load shedding and making plans around that.

Planning: All that mainly the grade 4 has to do this week and weekend. It's a big leap in terms of projects and tests.

Wearing: Dresses! It's hot and there is nothing as cool as a summer dress. I am working my way through all the dresses I have every week and bought a beautiful addition last week on sale at Poetry.

Drinking: Anything with ice in.....

Eating: Summer fruit salad - it's the time of the year when seasonal fruit salad turns into a feast of note with the addition of mangoes.


Thankful: For my wonderful husband that is just always there for us. Also how he is stepping up to help A handle grade 4. This weekend it's the two of them and a chicken coop.

Wishing and praying: That L will continue to do well at school. Honestly I need all the prayers we can get.

Not looking forward to: Coming home from late extra murals (will be 3 nights from next week) to load shedding. I honestly do not mind the late home or the activities because we chose them all and the kids enjoy them - it's the inconvenience of more time and effort due to the load shedding that gets to me.

Dreaming about: A little camping weekend/holiday on a farm. Just a little break.

I would love to read your "Currently"

Monday, 16 February 2015

What if?

Found on Instagram
Competition in our 0/10 girls age group for the swim squad is hectic. With 1 girl already competing in the 0/11 national championships last year (at 0/9), and several other girls representing some of the best clubs around the chance of getting into the squad is very little. In fact, some of the girls bluntly state that they do not even want to compete. Our A had the same attitude - in fact, she did not even want to try because as she states, the places are all taken. And she believes she is not much of a swimmer - she is slow. What's the use? She did however swim in a small foundation base gala at the end of the year - but it was just the kids and not places/teams involved. It was sort of a mass thing - they all had fun. Not the real deal thing.

We as parents always hold the stance that if given the chance, would should just try - and try your best. For us, your best is good enough - it's great! So this year with their Inter house gala in January we urged her to try. Her swim coach asked her to do just one race for him - with the idea just to get the feel of competing. Gosh, she was all fired up but come race day, she was in tears. She just did not want to. I talked, I reminded, she reminded me that she actually can not despite me knowing she can. She then made a deal with me - she would do the one race her coach asked for. She chose breast stroke.


Very nervous she dived in a had a great race and came 4th in her heat - what we did not realize was that her time was good for her age. In fact, apparently they have 12 girls in her age group with good enough times to do well in school galas. After the race I tried to encourage her to do backstroke to but alas, to no end. She stated that she did what we expected and enjoyed it but that's it. We were regardless extremely proud of the fact that she tried and gave her best.

On Monday I came home to a very excited girl with a call up letter to swim gala for the school on Friday. It was a friendly and she was given the chance to compete. On Friday in front of my eyes she turned from "I can not do this" to " I can and want to do this". Gosh did she enjoy representing the school. She got a 5th in her race and swam beautifully and their mixed medley team won their race, despite a goggle failure for her. The best of all is she enjoyed it so much! She literally bubbled over with enthusiasm. It was huge fun. And she wants to do it again.

I am thankful the school has the foresight to give all of them the chance. She is a little sad because she realizes that it was possible her turn this season (there are only 6 galas) but we intend on using it as inspiration to work on her swimming. What a wonderful experience for me. Oh to see her fly!

Thursday, 12 February 2015

The last two weeks....

Has been very very busy. Life is running at full pace and we are only in the middle of February. But to give you an idea of what's happening in our lives:

We have been a bit more social that we usually are. We have spent the last two Saturdays with two different sets of friends just celebrating being friends and enjoying each others company. I have also met 2 friends for lunch and a catch up.

We seem to be good into the school routine and grade 4 and the tests seem to be going well. I am also so happy about the way our school goes about projects - research, photos, prep etc can be done at home but they actually put together the project at school in the class to different steps and time frames. There is no way a parent can actually "do a project". Way more meaningful in my mind. On that note I am very grateful I have a stash of craft stuff that we can just dig into. For A's history project my Cinnamon Project Life cards will find a new use.

The boys both started with cricket this year and after their first matches last night the excitement is huge. Mr C actually dropped chess in order to play cricket - our rule is to do a full season or year - you can change after if you want to.

A has added Science club to her busy schedule. It's on Friday afternoons so the influence is minimal.

She will however not be doing it tomorrow as she was unexpectedly asked to swim for the school in a friendly gala. This actually deserves a whole post about just trying, motivation and lots of other lessons but I will do a full post some time.

For the rest, our au pair resigned as her schedule is busier than she expected (she qualified for a swimming event that she did not think she would achieve) - with lots of tears from her side. I just went ahead, registered on the website, paid my money and interviewed 8 girls in 2 days and could have easily chosen 4 of the 8. In a week and a half's time we will have the new one on board when the old ones notice period is over. She looks like a real go getter so I am hoping for the best.

Tonight we will be making little Valentines for the teachers and one each for the kids to give away. A had a class draw and she was hugely relieved to draw the exact boy she really wanted to give something to. Funny girl - she says now she can give it to him without him knowing that she likes him. Mr C has a very good friend that happens to be a girl - so she is getting something and Mr L just popped out a name of a girl in his class (I started with the girls' names and about 3 in he said "And there's Mia - it must be Mia".

The loadshedding and the heat is getting to everyone I think - but especially Mr L who remarked yesterday morning: "Eskom does not believe in Jesus - they work for the devil". That's about the worst insult you can get in our house .I do suspect he just verbalised how a lot of us feel about the issue.

So what's happening in your world?

Friday, 30 January 2015

Nurture


Last night I went to bed at 8:20. I thought I would read a bit but it turns out that I rather slept an uninterrupted 9 hours and 10 minutes. I obviously need the sleep. And its all part of what my word for the year is about.
This year's word had no long thinks, reasoning etc around it. In fact, I stood on the beach on New Years day realizing that I had not even given my word of the year much thought. "Brave" served me extremely well last year and encouraged me a lot. This year is going to be tough, like last year but I need a bit more for myself, as do my hubby. We need a bit of sun to shine on us too in order to be the parents and the family we want to be. "Nurture" just came to me there and then - I grabbed the phone, wrote the words, took the picture and they were promptly washed away seconds later.
Nurturing our children comes naturally to us all. But this year I need to do it with even more conscience- L will need a lot of help to get him well on the track in his school career, C will need to build on confidence and A is in grade 4 that means she will need to get the serious school stuff like study and tests going. We also need to nurture time together and doing things that we love together.

But apart from that I also need to nurture for my own happiness:

My Hunter - my rock, my knight , my love. We had a tough and sick start to the year with this horrible chest thing.

Family - so very very precious. I need to nurture all those relationships even if they do not always come so easy as friendship.

Friendship - I was a terrible friend last year. Things just fell by the wayside of the troubles the year had. I need to nurture existing ones, rebuild others, maybe make new friends.

I need to nurture my relationship with God - learn more, pray more, read more, listen more.


Our house - it needs a lot of nurturing this year. Enough said.

I also need to nurture myself because I need my bit of sun too. An extended nights sleep is a good start. Doing things I enjoy talk to my soul - painting, Project life etc. I also intend to look better after my body - exercise, eat right etc.

So there's my word for the year. Do you have one?

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

2 Weeks on....

School started 2 weeks ago today and as far as possible we have all settled in well.
Grade 4 school bag and roster

A is over her first fluttry moments in grade 4 but after last nights' parent information meeting about grade 4 I am not so sure I am ready. However we will tackle this - first project this weekend. First test in less than 2 weeks. She is continuing with all the extra murals and has very eagerly added Science club (only from grade 4 on) to her activities. It look very educational and like huge fun.

C has a lovely teacher - she is all about emotional development in grade 2 which honestly is an easy academic year if they can already read their second language. She has already noted that he can already read English and has started with supplementary English reading. He seem to be a bit unsure about some of his extra mural activities but I am sure as time goes it will sort itself out.

L is surprising us all - including his teacher. I have to say its very early days and I am in the back of my mind expecting trouble but who knows? She says he is her most obedient boy in the class. I am more worried he will miss things but we are working with her and the au pair to catch anything that may come up. It's wonderful to talk to a teacher that has first hand experience (her own grade 3 son has ADHD) and know what you are talking about before you even explain. He has very enthusiastically started with cricket - now that he has contact lenses it may just be a possible sport for him. The coach informed me that without a doubt he is his most serious/enthusiastic grade 1 cricketer.
Friday's sunset was beautiful

The au pair seem to be working out well for us most of the time. The kids adore being home more. I love that I get home a full 3/4 hour earlier and can cook then and not have the stress even over weekends of cooking a whole week in advance. We also all seem to be in a much more relaxed easier space. It's early days - but I think we have a winner.

So how has your first week or weeks been?

BTW we went to see Paddington - my what a great great movie. I would guess for kids about 4 and older and all adults its a must see. Just see that face below!
Also - I after the heat I am totally loving this soft, cool , rainy day


Tuesday, 20 January 2015

A girly horse party


We have a  horse mad 10 year old - as I guess a lot of girls her age are. Hence we had a horse party at the stables where the kids ride. But, as she pointed out, it had to be a girly one. So with the stable owner we settled on a grooming party and for decor, we headed into the vintage type look to provide a bit of retro pretty with a girly turquoise (her favorite colour) and hot pink accents - mostly in polka dots. She was involved in most of the decor and making the decorations, the choice of sweets for the sweetie buffet , making the rice crispie and chocolate drops and she helped to bake and decorate her own cake.

It was by far the easiest, quickest decor I have ever done for a party. But let me show you:
The party table with the Candy buffet
The cake - a red velvet cake with pink velvet icing on top of blue velvet cake with velvet icing.
And the inside
We used the lovely ponies/horses that the kids got for Christmas as part of the decor and used lots of doillies for the vintage touch. I also managed to get beautiful horse themed cupcake holders that we used as part of the rosettes on the party packs and to server the chocolate drops in. For the rest we used cardboard horses I bought at a craft shop, horse stickers and a variety of ribbons.


Some details of the candy buffet - I used containers I had apart from two tin buckets I bought for next to nothing at the farm shop. The tins are old milo tins that I used for last year's lego party for the boys too. The glass containers are my coffee, tea etc jars in the kitchen.

This time we bought some sweets for their looks - all the pastel colours like love mottos, milk bottles, funny faces, jelly hearts and the  UFO type lollypops that you can clearly in the very first photo of this post in the glass bottle.

The rest of the catering was super easy - hot dogs for the hunger and loads of cooldrink and water. Having no parents and older kids sure has benefits.

The girls had heaps of fun - they could ride around the arena taking turns until they had enough (this came sooner than we thought but at 33 degrees C and in the sun it may be no surprise). Then they had a class in grooming the horses and in teams 4 horses were groomed. Then one of the grooms showed them how to plait a tail and mane and they then proceeded to treat the horses as real life "my little ponies" with ribbons and plaits to their hearts content. Then a white horse stayed behind and the girls had fun drawing on him with crayons. Most of them named this as the highlight of the day.

























Following on my previous post of our Candy Buffets up to now (if you have not seen it - go and have a look - it gives you a nice idea of what to do and what not to - tried and trusted)

What was offered:
Home made rice crispie cookies, homemade chocolate drops, sparkles, chomps, love mottos, milk bottles, funny faces, kit kats, elegance fruit toffeas (3 types), fruit toffee strips, jelly tubes, lucky charm sherbet, ufo lollies, coconut marshmallow - hay bales! and  jelly hearts. We also had icies because of the heat.

One has to take into account that all the girls went to the party with us and it was only us two, one of the girl's parents that are friends of ours and our au pair - so the grown up factor is sort of out.

Total hits: Sherbet (after years of this this is no surprise) and rice crispie cakes (after the boys' party this is also no surprise ).Also all those ufo lollypops were eaten mostly right there and then. I never buy lollypops anymore as they are so unpopular but it seems this type is the exception. We bought them mainly because the fit into the pastel theme.

Miss: The coconut marshmallows. Just shows that it was the parents that polished them at the boys' horse farm party.

Favorite moment: The dad that was at the party tasted funny faces for the first time on his daughters' insistence. He left our house that night with an extra unopened bag I had - he loved them.

It was wonderful to see how much the girls enjoyed the party - there were many thanks yous, and we loved it, and I want to ride toos....

Monday, 19 January 2015

Back to school 2015

So the first half week of school went by in the blink of an eye.  Not a single tear anywhere in sight.

Mr L in grade 1 is surprising us by coping well in the same school the other two attend. His teacher is very happy at this stage. It's early days  - here's hoping it will be an ongoing trend.

Mr C in grade two is as happy as can be. He adores his new teacher and has one of his 3 best buddies in his class. Being a rather shy little boy this means the world to him.

The Princess is extremely happy with a wonderful home room teacher. She was slightly apprehensive about today as they started to change classes for the first time and will get the anticipated huge amounts of homework from today.

Things are really different this year for us. Not being able to place Mr L in the school we wanted meant that we had to change the way we have been doing things. Up to now the kids have all attended aftercare at school. This has worked really well for us a most activities are based at the school. The other two also coped well with the group approach to homework at the aftercare but we knew that Mr L would need one on one attention with it - and possibly with things that were taught in class. So we employed an au pair to help us with all 3 kids. This is an added bonus that A in grade 4 will now be able to study at home where she has her own space and without a doubt a quieter environment. I really hope this works out well for our little family.