Tuesday, 1 September 2015

A mom is only as happy as her unhappiest child.

Last night A had a little breakdown. Tears, really ugly crying. Gut wrenching sobs. That cry that you are not sure how to actually address because even talking to her does not seem to make any impression. So I just held her. And once she calmed down a bit we talked.

It is her busiest term and I do think she is a bit stressed at the moment. Once the drama Eistedfodd is over on Friday and the Speech festival on Wednesday she will have a big load off her shoulders. It is also the last test in the series next week. I am sure for our little A type personality life will look a bit easier in general. And yes, there are some things we can do a bit different at home - maybe we do not use the right words or tone at times. But the big issue is the absolute nastiness of the girls at school. What on earth is the problem! Why do the 10 year old girls suddenly change into little terrors? This is not a "one bully or group of bullies" issue - it is sort of the general thing. Is it the awakening hormones?

She is in a slightly odd class this year - a group of girls that have almost no friends among them apart from two BFF who landed together. And then it seems they have the sharpest tongue of them all in the class. As A said last night apart from 3 girls that are really friendly and 2 others that are ok the rest are nasty. And not just with her. This all made her question her intelligence, her personality and the way she looks. She felt stupid (with an aggregate over 90 % she surely is not), unpopular (she really has a lovely friendly heart that I have always admired and has a range of friends - but they are not in her class) and ugly (any of you who have ever seen her knows that is not true either). My heart aches for her. She is also a typical sensitive oldest child which does not help at all. She puts enough pressure on herself not to have any externally from other girls. She certainly feels she is not part of the in or cool crowd.

So how do we help her to feel better about herself? I guess we can just encourage. Make sure that she sees herself in a positive sense. Be stronger in herself. Make sure that she understands we and God loves her just the way she is. That she is good enough. We also have to encourage the positive friendships that are out there. Yes, we are maybe a bit slack with inviting other friends that her BFF over but they all have such busy programs. She told me this morning that she is feeling a lot better and was excited to take a little gift for one of the nice girls in her class that has her birthday today. I am hoping that the new courage and positive attitude will last a while.

Above all I am delighted that she talked to me - I think that is the essence of it. As long as they feel they can talk to us as parents I hope we can help them. I fear the day one of them may not talk to us.
In the air - day 1 of the challenge

On a happier note - it's the 1st of September - happy Spring day. I am joining Melanie in her September photo challenge - why do you not join in too?

Friday, 28 August 2015

And that was August...

Well almost - but it has flown right out of the door in the wink of an eye. What did not help was being busy at work and loosing a whole week to a tummy bug. The worst one ever for me. So firstly apologies to Cindy who I was supposed to feature this month and to Ella Bella who was supposed to feature me but whom I never got around to answer her mails. What can I say girls - the month swept by and disappeared in a cloud of Gauteng dust and pollen. Because yes, its Spring! Glorious! I love that Winter is (mostly) over.

So what's happening in our world? Well A is in the midst of a test series and has a project with an oral due next week. Most is done in class and she is well away with getting it all done. Next week Friday is drama Eisteddfod and preparations for the ballet exam is taking a lot of her time. The girls have also decided to audition for the schools' talent evening which has huge competition to get chosen for the showcase evening - we will see how that goes.

The boys have both had a Voortrekker badge day  - C did the Animal recognition badge and  L the Junior chef. C and his troupe spent a delightful evening last Saturday having a sleep over named "A night at the museum" in the Ditsong museum of Natural history (the old Transvaal museum). It was a great adventure for the boys who literally got to know every single bit of the museum. They also both competed well in a Judo tournament where L managed to win every fight he had and took gold. C was in a higher weight division for the first time and the lightest boy in it. He still managed bronze . I am so very proud of my little Judoka. Bev cricket season is in full swing once again and Wednesday evenings are spent with the sound of balls against bats and the now and again cheers that cricket brings. It certainly has a unique atmosphere that goes with it.

While C was at the museum Hunter took A and L to watch the Bulls on Loftus. The school was awarded and amount of tickets and the kids had great fun surrounded by their friends. It is also hockey season and A had a tournament last Saturday and L has one tomorrow.

Third term always seems the busiest of them all to me. But we are fine - doing well. And it's Spring! Possibly the greatest bit that third term brings.

So how are you all doing? I have also not been reading blogs either so please let me know.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Longweekends at home

Sunday was one of those magical days - mostly because we did nothing that we in general do on Sundays. Because it was a long weekend - and having that extra day afforded us the opportunity to take it slower, to move all errands to the other two days. To have time to breathe a little deeper. It was great!

We had a lovely breakfast at the Harvard restaurant at Grand Central airport. While there is a cool children's play area ours mostly sat and watched the planes and helicopters landing and taking off. Hunter and I had a great value for money buffet breakfast with bottomless coffee and the kids enjoyed the kiddies menu - the pizzas was especially great done in a wood burning oven. We took our time - there was no rush. Nowhere to be, nothing to do. I literally felt myself relaxing.

The rest of the day was spent at home- the kids just played and played . A's friend K was with us for the day and it always results in great play time for all 4 kids. I read a bit and did some project life on the patio in what was the best weather we had in ages. We have wonderful sunny warm winters days here with temperatures close to the mid twenties. Hunter and I both had lovely 1 and a half hour naps while the other one supervised the kids. The day concluded with a walk around the block with the puppies and wonderful left overs for dinner.

The rest of the weekend was busier - but great too. The kids and I made it to the very last day of the Ice Age exhibition on Saturday and had friends over for dinner and rugby. On Monday we did some very necessary shopping and visited my mom . A then studied for her test for tomorrow and she and I did the huge task of decluttering her cupboard and sorting out too small clothes. Gosh, has she grown! We gifted 3 huge black bags of clothing. It honestly felt great to do it. It was just in general a great long weekend at home.

I think the key is that although we were busy for two of the days, that one day of absolute leisure made the weekend. Our Sunday routine has been rather tight for the last year and a half- church to my mom to do her shopping and visit her , make lunch for her, tidy up- and then most of the day is over. We need more leisure Sundays - we need to program ordinary Sundays to be leisure Sundays . Maybe it means packing Saturday a bit tighter  - but in future - we need to get this right, at least half of the time. I need it - I think my whole family need it.

Friday, 7 August 2015

Things I have learned this week.

  • It's great to try out a recipe you haven't made for years - even if it is not what your family in general enjoy. It's sweet nostalgia - and just maybe it can become a new favorite. I made fettucine carbonara last night - it's been years. Hunter and I both loved it. It took me back many years to when we dated and just got married. And the kids all enjoyed it.
  • I was asked to do some specialist consulting in retail architecture at another firm. It took spending more than 2 hours with them for me to realize how much knowledge you accumulate through experience in years of working in a field. It was a huge ego boost.
  • Pick n Pay clothing's pants for girls are in general longer for the waist diameter than any other retailer. At last I found pants that A can wear straight off shelve and that actually fits well.
  • Even at 10 she was delighted that I found her and myself a pair of matching harem pants! I though by now it would be uncool. Love it though
  • Changing a swimming coach or place can truly turn what was ok or good because she was heading for a goal into the most loved activity. For the first time ever A placed any activity above her ballet. 
  • A boy that started this year with a sad and long face and was so not happy to be in grade 2 at all can decide after making two great new friends in his class that grade 2 is in fact the best year ever.  
  • A ball sports mad boy may just find that there is one ball sport that does not feature in the great category. It may also be the only ball sport his sister enjoys.
 With these few bits of randomness- have a great great long weekend! Do you have anything special planned?

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Sometimes we forget....

That Mr L has a few more challenges than your average 7 year old boy. Odd that I forget because he has a twin to remind me all the time. But we have come to a routine - pop the one meds as he wakes up, pop in the contact lens after breakfast, pop the last bit of top-up meds as we park at the school. The only real reminders are his sports obsessions - which by the way are driving me totally nuts. But I guess at least it is a healthy obsession.

The fact of the matter is that he is doing well - very well. He is spelling, reading, writing and doing maths like he should. Yes, sometimes it takes more prompting to get what his homework is out of him (short term memory recall) but it is a common grade 1 problem - hence they practice it by not letting them write down their homework.

So when the au pair called on Monday to say to firstly his eye is very red and he is complaining that the contact lens is folded and he can not remove it and that secondly he is refusing to tell her his homework it hit me that in fact things have been going so well that we forget. She also tried to remove the lens to no success. I phoned our wonderful contact lens specialist optometrist who immediately asked us to come in. When we arrived he left his patient for a few minutes and immediately helped us. It turned out the lens folded and moved to the side almost behind the eyeball. He managed to get it out in a few tries and then proceeded to check the retina for damage. Thank goodness all was fine. With a few drops to help with the swelling we were off - recommended two days of wearing glasses and then to try lenses again. I have to add that this wonderful man did not charge us a cent for this.

I am happy to report that this morning he has his lens in again - it took a bit longer than the usual but we got it done. Brave little boy indeed - it was a very sore experience.

I often think how it must be to struggle just a little bit more than the usual with most things in life. I hope that it makes him a stronger, more determined person and I actually believe that he will at the end of the day be able to call on a lot inside himself.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Leaving a #BeautyLegacy

My A is growing up so very fast! It is as if from the moment she turned 10 the nagging little things we seem to have about ourselves started. For the first time ever she did not want to wear a pretty dress to school on her birthday - because it's not cool apparently. She also started with a bit of skin niggles which we are fighting with face wash and pimple cream. Just last night she right out told me she feels ugly because her skin looks ugly. (Which certainly is not true)

She is very tall for her age - one of the 4 tallest girls in her grade - and skinny to boot. If pants are long enough they will be too wide for her to wear and I constantly find myself making plans to get long pants that actually fit. So of course the nasty girls will zoom in on her body - maybe out of jealousy? Or just because they are nasty. The very first hockey practise this year while dressing for the hockey a girl remarked that she (and her BFF - that is shorter but also skinny) are too thin. A was left speechless - her friend had the confidence to very cheekily remark "We are sportswomen - this is how we look. You are unfit and fat". Yes, maybe not the right thing to say but I do admire her confidence to fight back against the negative words. 

The problem is that not only is the world throwing body conscious issues at our girls but so are we. If we complain about our thighs or our hair it is quite possible our daughters will pick up on it. Have a look here:
When I received a lovely package from Dove yesterday that supports the campaign in the video above I knew I just have to do what they ask. I have to start today to make sure that I pass on a beauty legacy to my daughter. Make her feel beautiful because the world outside will do the breaking down of that what we try to build. The idea is to write down and share positive and self esteem building notes and place them in the jar for her to read. And sometimes to add a note to her lunch box, her books, her ballet bag. Part of this of course is to be gentler to myself too - especially when she can hear me. To stop the negative comments about myself. To love myself more and take better care about myself.

Dove has a wonderful website that one can use to inspire and support our girls  - have a look at the Dove self esteem project. It provides a lot of advice on a lot of subjects that we have to deal with and help our girls through.

Lets all get on board and make the next generation one with confidence. 

Monday, 3 August 2015

One on one time

Mr C had a busy weekend - on Saturday he and 21 of his best buds had a Voortrekker speciality course - animal observation. (For the international folks - think something similar to the Scouts). He also had a mad scientist party following right on. As I attended a camp with A earlier this year and Hunter went on a father and son sleepover with L I volunteered when they asked for two moms to join and help the boys on Saturday with the dad that's the leader of the group. Hunter juggled the other two kids with horse riding early and A's first hockey tournament for the season later.

So in a rather unplanned way this combination resulted in a whole day just for me and C (although of course he "shared" me in the morning). The boys had huge fun at Farm Inn seeing wild animals on a game drive and a treasure hunt in the farm yard. Many boys loved petting and feeding the bunnies and guinea pigs the most.
 He loved sitting right next to me in the game vehicle but still had fun playing around with his buddies. We left as soon as we could and headed over to the party - while all along he kept taking about everything he saw and learnt during the morning.


Just look at the inside of this cake!
At the party he immediately joined his buddies around the table and enjoyed and participated in every experiment that was shown. Boy did he adore it. He made sure though that I saw every experiment. Very tired we both left just as soon as it was decent to leave - we had a long long day.

On our way back he kept talking about the experiments and what he learnt and almost at home he fell silent for a while. As we parked I felt two little arms embracing my neck from behind. He landed a big kiss on my cheek and said "thanks mom for our wonderful special day together". When saying goodnight later - the usual hugs and kisses and tucking in he once again gave me a huge hug and said "I will never forget our special day together".

I once again realised that some one on one time with each of the children is so very important. Believe me with two parents and 3 kids with a very full program it's really not easy to do this. On Saturday afternoon Hunter and Mr L had a small pocket of time just for the two of them and it was also hugely enjoyed by them both. We will try to do it more often - because it means so much to them, and frankly to us too. And although a whole day is great, small pockets can also make a difference.

I would love to know what and how you spend one on one time - especially it you have more than two kids.

Friday, 31 July 2015

The most fun around in Gauteng at the moment is....

...BounceInc!

Oh my word did the kids have fun! I think it was the most condensed fun packed hour of the holidays. We were invited with A's BFF and her family to go for a session. We consider jumping ourselves but decided to first have a look and maybe next time. I am not sure that I will live through a high energy session like this though. For energetic youngsters it is the bomb!
The concept is simple you put on a special pair of socks with rubber or silicon patches and jump in huge areas covered in trampolines with different sections - like dodgeball (which Mr L and K played for 99% of their session), basketball, trick areas and more. There is also a huge freeplay area (seen above) where everyone ends up at some stage.


One section has trampolines and a huge bag to fall in. This makes a perfect practice ground for summies etc and some of the kids spent a lot of their session here.

























We were all rather entranced by the pro looking people in the trick section - gosh they walk and walls, do double summersaults en way more.

The kids had heaps and heaps of fun in the hour we booked and wanted to stay longer. Honestly I do not think they would have made it for another hour as they were all exhausted and very thirsty but the end of it.

This venue gets a 10/10 from us for pure good healthy fun. The areas are very well controlled and marshaled and I felt that my kids were safe enough all the time. Only a number of spots are available per session so it is not over crowded and everyone will get a chance to play where they want to play.
I am not sure how kids younger than say 6 will find this (there were no really small kids there when we went) but surely for anyone older than 6 it will be great. In fact my boys have already asked for their birthday party to be there.

Disclaimer - we were not payed or asked or contacted by BounceInc in any way to do a review - we just feel the need to share the fun we had. This connects back to my July holiday fun post as no 2 on both A and C's lists of best holiday moments. 

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Featured blogger - July

Just before the month runs out that I featured Karen we decided to answer a few questions about ourselves.

- What was the best thing that happened to you in your life?
Having my two daughters! They have enriched my life tremendously!

- What is the worst thing that happened to you?
My eldest at age twelve wanted to go and live with her dad. I had to fight for her, although she was not impressed with me! (The very next year she changed her mind completely!)
 
- What is the funniest thing that happened to you?
Friends of my youngest asking at school if I am her grandmother. I can also cry about it! But that is what happens when you are an older mother! I prefer to laugh about it! 

- What is your best me-time activity?
Reading! Anything!

- What music starts playing on your phone when pressing the play button?
Goldfish: He's Crazy

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

I scream,l you scream, we all scream for ....Lego!

My kids are total Lego fans and so am I. So we really could not miss the Art of the brick expo. I was delighted when we won discount on Living Lionhearts Instagram feed. I set off on a Friday morning with 4 kids in tow (my 3 and A's BFF) on the Gautrain and was delighted to find that the station is right at the Expo (and so is Burger King - be warned). We entered and as per usual the kids rushed for audioguides. And then in to enjoy the expo.

The first is a little introductory section with odds and ends and then the big art section followed - possibly where we spent most of our time. I love the way he made some paintings into 3 dimensional works of art. I loved this section because it provided instant opportunity for impromptu art and art history lessons .





























Then follows other section about emotions, some famous faces etc.


And the one I loved most of all - the swimmer. Magical!



Right at the end is what the kids loved most of all  - a huge dinosaur build out of Lego.

This is followed by a freeplay Lego and Lego games area where my kids spent almost an hour building several Lego constructions of note.

My insights from the Expo - it is way smaller than I imagined and one sort of feels as if you should have seen more for the money. However the kids' enjoyment factor was right on spot for the price. I loved it too. Forget the audio guides - waste of money. Watch the intro movie at the start of it and go. It is way over the head for kids and I could not listen to the longwinded talks with 4 kids around me either.I do not think kids under 6 may enjoy it as much - keep in mind that it was originally intended as an art exhibition - he for instance added the dino for the kids. But most kids love it - it was for instance Mr L's favorite holiday activity!

It is still open until Sunday and worth the go it it suits your family. Plan some time for the kids to play after.