Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Blast from the past post.

As I am slowly working through the years of this blog, removing some personal details (keeping them in the private blog only), I keep stumbling on posts that were either very popular or that I believe should have been more popular and had more comments, or that I feel was a good piece of writing or information. I have decided to from time to time feature them on a Wednesday (for a way- back).

Today I am featuring a post form 17 March 2011

So what would you have done?

If you were a mom in Japan, tomorrow a week ago? Alone, at home with 3 small kids. Would you grab the two smallest and try to speak to the oldest to get them to safety as soon as the earthquake starts? And after that, assuming you made it out safe and now have to flee in front of a possible tsunami? Truly, I have no idea.

To read more click here
(It only had 65 views -very low for my blog at that time.)

Friday, 4 April 2014

One of those big debates

You know those ones that always do the rounds that pitch mom against mom. The Csetion vs natural birth, the Whole foods feed vs porridge driven, the school vs homeschooling debate - one can continue. But the one that by far seem to get the most attention at the moment is the SAHM vs working mom debate.

Of course for most mom that work, this is no debate at all. We have to work - its not purely by choice but mostly our of necessity. School fees, the cost of living - it is simply too high. If you then have your own business or is a partner to one you also support all those that work for you and their families. Its a no brainer debate, because the option simply does not exist. Which makes me even more angry that the debate in the media is fueled as if we all have a choice. Add to that that I mostly really enjoy my work and would be a no good housekeeper and educator and the answer is clearly that I will remain a working mom.

But the holidays this week has left me with feelings I have not really had before during a holiday. It's the first one where more kids (2) are at home and only one have a good holiday school option. We enrolled them in the programmes of the sports they love and also in art classes which they both like but I did have to plan very carefully to get the taking and fetching done. I guess having the extra demand of my mom in hospital and her needs having to be seen to adds to it. Also, she has always been a help over holidays - at the very least entertaining a kid for a day or two and a sleepover or two which made it feel like holiday and special to them.

Now and again though I find myself thinking that it would have loved to be able to be a SAHM for the school holidays. To take them to activities and actually seeing them enjoying it. To do art with them myself. To sleep in and stay in Pj's for the day and watch DVD all day. To leisurely stroll through the streets with the dogs and feed the chickens. To go to the bicycle park and ride around. To go to a morning movie and ice cream after. To just spend more time with them. I wish I had more time - well in general too, not just with the kids. But unfortunately for a lot of us time is also money. Its a sad but very true reality.

So in this debate as in many others, lets be kind to each other, lets support. Know that the working mom would have loved to be at the netball tournament and the teachers birthday. Know that the SAHM would love a few moments quiet time in front of a computer and some grown up interaction and brian stimulation. Know that we each face our own set of circumstances. And know that once in a while the other side of the fence look a whole lot greener than your side.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

There's a destinct little nip in the air in the mornings...

and the first autumn leaves are taking a place of pride on the trees. I believe the Cape Townians have full blown winter weather, rain and all. So its that time of the year to start to stock up on warm clothes, hot chocolate (what? Easter chocolate would be great too) and books of course! So what to read? I have read an excellent bunch of books the last month but more about that next time. To help you choose, I bring you the Exclusive Books recommend list for April:

The April Book of the Month

 & Sons by David Gilbert. The funeral of Charles Henry Topping on Manhattan’s Upper East Side would have been a minor affair, except for the presence of one particular mourner: the notoriously reclusive A.N Dyer whose novel Ampersand stands as a classic novel of American teenage angst. & Sons is the panoramic, deeply affecting story of an iconic novelist, two interconnected families and the heart-breaking truths that fiction can hide.

The Girl with A Clock for a Heart by Peter Swanson is a thriller about love, loss and the memories we hold closest to our hearts. George Foss never thought he would see her again, but on a late night in Boston there she was, in his local bar. George first met her when she was eighteen years old and they became inseparable. Over Christmas break he received the news that she had committed suicide. Twenty years later, she is back and telling George that he is the only one who can help her.

Mrs Hemingway by Naomi Wood tells a tale about the most famous writer of his generation and the four extraordinary women who married Ernest Hemingway. Set in the dazzling summer of 1926, it is luminous and intoxicating. Over the ensuing decades, Ernest’s literary career will blaze a trail, but his marriages will be ignited by passion and deceit. Four extraordinary women will learn what it means to love a world-renowned author: each will be forced to ask herself how far she will go to remain his wife. Mrs Hemingway portrays real lives with rare intimacy and plumbs the depths of the human heart.

The News by Alain De Botton explains what we are looking for when we watch or read the news in a philosophical way. De Botton looks at the manic and peculiar position that the ‘news’ occupies in our lives. This brilliantly illustrated guide advises us on the precautions we should take before venturing anywhere near the ‘news’ and the noise it generates.

The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick is a story about thirty-eight year old Bartholomew Neil, who has lived with his mother his whole life. When she dies, he has no idea how to be on his own. His grief counsellor Wendy tells him to “find his flock and leave the nest”, but how does a man whose whole life has revolved around his mother, Saturday Mass and the library learn how to fly?

Although I am not a fan of any of the specific authors I am without a doubt going to at least read "Mrs Hemingway" and "The Girl with a clock for a heart". Both right up my ally

Our bookclub use these choices from Exclusive books every month to compile our lists and it is a great help to get pointers in the direction of great reading.

Note: I do not get paid in any way to do the Exclusive books releases. I do this in the interest of great reading.

Friday, 7 March 2014

I had bookclub on Tuesday night

It was one of my leaner reading months - in fact I do not think I had such a bad one in close on four years. Things were just busy, and I am tired and have a sore shoulder and the pain meds make me sleepy. Many excuses.

So as you do after a good meal and a bit of Cape Classique we went around the lounge for our book discussion. (yes, we actually do read more than wine labels). They got to me and I said, "Nothing this month" and one of the girls said - that's impossible (I am one of the bigger volume readers in the club) and another with inside info chirped in "Well, you did read Diary of a Wimpy Kind". And rightly so I did. So why on earth would you ask, would a 40 plus mom read a half cartoon book about a quirky slightly insecure but gutsy middle schooler?
Well, its simple. My 9 year old seem to be totally besotted with the series. She loves them and will do almost anything to get the next one in the series in her little paws to devour. 

Years ago when everyone was reading "The Da Vinci Code" my mom had a discussion with us as to how bad and terrible the book is. We asked her if she read the book and she replied that she will not read such nonsense. This really got to me - how dare you decide from what you read about a book that you should not read the actual book. If you want to condemn or recommend read it!

So I made a promise to myself that I would read the books my kids love. If I do not know them, I will at least read one in a series to see what its about. Get my knowledge from the real thing. I am totally glad I read this little book - be it the only one I got to the month. It is entertaining and unique. And totally appropriate for kids her age. Will I read the whole series? I doubt it very much.  But in future I may just admit to reading more pre teen books.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Its been a busy week in Casa de Juggling act

There's been a sports day at school, night time homework, sick kids, sick family members, late nights working and huge work pressure for both the parents. Hence I think some of the kids in the household have felt a bit less than happy with the amount of attention they got. They show it in different ways, but hec, they show it.

As one grows up there are moments when words mean so much especially when lovingly delivered by a parent. We find that one on one (or then two parents on one) makes a huge difference if only for a few minutes .And sometimes, teachers provide a daily inspiration that I found out last night, not only us parents see, but the kids also notice. So I want to share with you the note on the music teacher's door (I pass every morning when I drop off Mr L and the other two see when they go to music class).
With that, I hope you have a great weekend. We are planning to enjoy ours, together.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Life's too short...

  • for bad coffee. Really one need proper coffee - preferably an espresso processed in the preferred way
  • to worry about chipped nail polish on my toes. I know for some others its not, for me it is.
  • to stress about the few cents more milk/ bread/ apples may cost at the Spar or Woollies vs any other grocer. The fact is if you pass the shop on your way the petrol money to take you to the other may be more than the price difference. And not to speak of your time
  • not to have Russians and chips from the corner cafe now and again. Its a wonderful trip down memory lane
  • to continue reading a book you do not enjoy. Although I am very determined to read a book, especially recommended books, I am now at the point where I may just stop it if I do not enjoy the book
  • to not write in pretty colours in pretty note books. Its somewhat of an obsession for me
  • to listen to crappy music - turn off that radio off!
  • to have an ugly calender on your wall. Print one with family photos - it will bring joy to you for a whole year. And while you are at it it makes the perfect grandparents gifts every Christmas
  • to not have a cream soda/ soft serve in a cone/ pack of cheese curls/ Popeye sherbet/ fizz pop now and again. Whatever brings back childhood happy memories. The good thing about being a parent is that those are way more in reach than if you are not
  • to not have a really great slice of cake now and again. And boy did we have on Sunday
  • in any event. Hug more, laugh more, play more

Friday, 7 February 2014

Because we are moms (or I can say parents)

we do all we can for our kids - we are their biggest cheer leaders, their advocates. Sometimes we do so much that we forget to be fun - we forget that MOM is WOW upside down - and I also now understand why a certain Princess is upside down often - because that is wow too!. We forget to be the WOW in our kids lives by being their MOM.

I loved this little clip on Facebook this morning - it really says it all. (Apart that I have to state here that we do not "do" meatloaf in our house)

So I will dance more, be more fun, hug more, shout less! Unless they really need it, in which case, so be it.

Have a great weekend

Friday, 31 January 2014

I read, therefore I am

Most of you know that I am a passionate reader - fiction being my poison of choice but I also have a soft spot for a pretty cook book or a great real life adventure. I have also been in a Bookclub for a few years, acing as secretary like forever for the club. I also have a blogging connection with the wonderful folks of Exclusive Books - my hangout of choice in many shopping malls. Even in the day of Kindle I still like to sit with a "real"book and read my heart out.

I have recently discovered that Exclusive Books makes the "Buy a good book" thing a lot easier by publishing an "Exclusive Books recommends" list of 5 books every month, chosen with care from the publishers list of the month. You can be sure that choosing any one of these will give you great reading joy.

Their golden favorite for this month is by one of my all time favorite writers - Amy Tan and is titled: "Valley of Amazement".I will never forget the first Amy Tan I ever read - "The Joy Luck Club" - it had me running to the closest Chinese takeaway to eat the lovely flavours so vividly described in the book while devouring her great characters and story line. This book spans over 50 years and two continents and promise to be a riveting read.
The other books on the list are:
  • Donna Tart's "The Goldfinch" I will never forget her "The Secret History" - such a chilling tale. This book sounds like a great read and has received excellent reviews.
  • One of the most inspiring books of the last six months is An Astronaut’s Guide to Life by the world’s most famous astronaut by Colonel Chris Hadfield who has spent over 4000 hours in space. It promise to change the way you think of our world.
  •  In the traditional and cosy vein of PG Wodehouse is Sebastian Faulkes’ resurrection of the inimitable Jeeves in Jeeves and the Wedding Bells
  • Rounding off their selection is the stunning The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg. With all the men off to war, Fritzi and her sisters must learn men's work, from fixing flats to driving the tow truck. Wearing smart little caps, short skirts and roller skates, they fly round the forecourt of The All-Girl's Filling Station. But it's wartime, and the sisters' peace won't last long. I really want to read this one - its sounds great.
 ( You may notice that I have incorporated the "Cat's bookclub" blog into this one - there is going to be a lot of book talk here)

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

My experience as a grade 1 mom is way way easier the second time around. Wow, what a difference. Party because you know your way around activities and how things fit together so you as a mom have more confidence and know how things work.

But party also because Mr C seem to be such an easy going grade 1. Possibly because he is a second child - as one of A's friends' mom pointed out the other day - the second child's path is paved by their older sibling (s). They are more familiar with things, they have possibly been to some places with their older siblings and they have in our case a caring older sister at after care to ease things in. But he also has such self confidence in all this.

The Princess is enjoying grade 3 - it is a big leap in terms of the amount of home work they get but she is copping well. She got her first merit yesterday - I think the soonest she ever got one.

L is settling in well, or so it seems on the surface. However he is giving us all hell about eating(or not). Every meal is a fight - we are exhausted.

I am frustrated and struggling with some extra mural activities and fitting things together (or not) but hopefully by the end of the week things will be sorted. Its mainly A's swimming - it almost seem that swimming coaches are a fickle bunch and that each season we have another issue with the couch at school. C had cashes but I was able to sort out where what fits. He enjoyed his first Chess class yesterday and is very excited about all that.

So here's to the full tempo of the school year.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

December holidays part 1

When we took the decision to do a family December holiday last year, we could not have been more spot on in our timing. Family bonds were formed and strengthened - the kids were all at an age where they could form them and will have their own memories. We were all together for Christmas and some quality family time was spent with Hunters brother and family and his parents.

But lets start at the start - we drove down from Gauteng to a farm we totally adore somewhere between Smithfield and Bethulie in the Freestate. It is an area that Hunter and I both adore - there is magic to big open spaces, magical stars and the wind playing in the windpumps. Not to mention the fantastic Karoo food and stunning old house.

Just before turning off to the farm we had the best pies ever at Kuilfontein padstal.
 After arriving at the farm and unpacking only what we needed there Hunter had a nap and the kids and I played around the house. There was cycling and running until they discovered froglets in the "leivoor" which kept them busy for ages.

After some much needed refreshment I went for a nap and the rest of the family for a long walk.

 I woke up refreshed after about an hour and went in search for them - seeing a little pink top far away close to one of the farm dams. I made my way there to find them having a swim in the dam. (I joined them after the pictures - it was hugely refreshing)

Looking back to the farm house from the dam.
 It was a wonderful afternoon - Hunter had a quick bike ride and we had a lovely dinner. To top it all the moon was bright and full over the karoo.
 We left very early the next morning for Houtbay, Cape Town. Dawn was simply spectacular from the car.
We arrived around midday in Houtbay to big welcomes from the cousins. We also got to meet their lovely puppy and after unpacking etc we headed to Houtbay beach for a bit of a swim and then to their pool. Oh gosh, was it cold for us after the last 4 years of North coast Natal waters! But fantastic weather for Cape Town