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.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

When you really want to go to the Spur for your birthday but they are not allowed to sing to you.

These are no 5 shoes!
So a certain Princess had her tenth birthday on Sunday. Gosh 10! Double digits. Fair and square a pre teen. I love so much about our daughter - she is a passionate animal lover, has the greatest heart for those less fortunate and will always fight for the underdog. She always try to find the beauty in anyone and everything.

But I can see that she is finding herself a bit in the "neither fish nor flesh" category. For Christmas her biggest wish was a Barbie - as she herself said, most probably her last Barbie and she had very specific requirements for her. She loved her and played a lot with her Barbies - with both her 6 year old cousin and totally on her own. I love that she still plays with her Barbies because some of the girls her year are really starting to loose every little bit of what makes a little girl. I am quite happy for her to be on the less mature side of all this.

For her birthday however she had the very special request of "a proper Swatch watch" and she knew exactly which one she wanted. She did not mind that all the family contributed to make this dream come true. I know she will look well after it.

She also still wanted to go to the Spur for her birthday lunch (a chain of kiddy friendly restaurants) but asked us very specifically not to tell them it's her birthday so that, heaven forbids, they come with sparklers to sing for her.

So I guess we are warming up to what may be more challenging years - I am hoping that she will stay as sweet and kind as she is through all this.

Happy birthday sweet girlchild. Love you to the moon and back.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Its been a bit more than a month since my last blogpost

In all honesty I also did not read a single blog in the time - or if it I did it was an exception. Not that I can think of any. So I went into Bloglovin this morning and went "mark all as read - 554 posts" and that's it. A fresh 2015 start. Its good to take a break from all this too.

Sardinia bay, Port Elizabeth new years morning.
I went back to work, Hunter did last week and the kids are starting tomorrow. Grade 1 for a calm Mr L, grade 2 for a very confident Mr C and grade 4 for a slightly nervous Princess.

We had a great break apart from a very stupid coughing thing H and I picked up over the holidays and are still recovering from. We spent a week at home, 2 weeks with the family in Port Elizabeth and the last week at home again. Yes, we had really not so great weather in Port Elizabeth, but that can be expected as it is really the weather pattern as per usual in December. We did however make the very best of it and spent time at the sea, rock pools, oupa's pool and in general just being with the family.

This year is going to be a great one - I have all the intentions that is should be. And in fact, I am just going to make sure it is.

How was your break?

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Bright eyes.

It is our wedding anniversary today - 14 years! Wow - I am blessed to have the most wonderful man in the world as my partner on this journey called life. My heart is so full of love today that maybe I need to write about that on another day.

Who knew? Who knew that Mr L had dark blue eyes with a green inner circle? The honest truth is that for the last 6 years in his life he has permanently had glasses on and no one ever noticed his eyes. Just the glasses. Yesterday his life changed - he got contact lenses for his right eye. And its not just about convenience or looks. To him, its like having some way of normal sight and the opportunity to learn how to read successfully next year.

Let me explain - up until now he saw everything in double when he has his glasses on - in two different sizes. Not wearing his glasses would have meant totally losing the vision in his right eye. It was the only way that the doctors could keep the functioning of his right eye to give us the chance to do what we are now doing. To make a long story short - his two eyes' sight differs with 6,5 points - this means that it can never be compensated with glasses only. He therefore has a 4,5 lens in his glasses for his visually impaired right eye making the difference in size of objects already severe. Anything more would have made it impossible for the brain to add it into sort of one picture. The optometrist yesterday gave me a lens to hold in front of my right eye to see how he has been seeing the world up to now - I was shocked ! I would have never coped but I guess if its all you know ....He also has a third of the same eye that is totally blind towards his nose - about that nothing can ever be done.

So we came to the time in his life where we had to do this in preparation for grade 1 next year - get him to wear a contact lens or failing that a lens transplant operation early next year. I was nervous but tried to play it cool. We were sent by his Ophthalmologist to a wonderful optometrist that specialise in contact lenses and is known to be successful with kids. Apparently if the first try is a disaster you miss the chance - at least for a few years so it was critical to get this done and the right way. This is also why they wait until now especially with kids with sensory issues.

We had a long consultation, fitting of two different types and then he had one in L's eye. He told him to open his eyes and showed him a beautiful picture of a fish eagle. I wish I had caught that look on his face with the phone camera but I really did not know that it would make such a huge difference. His whole face lit up and he had a huge smile. He jumped out of the chair and danced around. Oh my heart! I shed a few tears.

After all this we had an education lesson about the do s and don't s and then I had to take the lens out and put it back in myself. It took me close to 3/4 hour to do this properly and many many tries and frustration. This morning I prepared myself for the worst- and guess what? First time lucky! I am so positive that this is going to work. That this is going to make such a difference for him. Here's wishing the best for it.

BTW I knew nothing about contact lenses until now - what a new world. And apologies if that song is now turning in your head - it has been turning in mine since yesterday when it played in the mall after we left the Optometrist rooms.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Yesterday was my birthday

It was one of those where you are closer to the next milestone than to the previous, where work had to be done, where an OT session had to be done as per usual and a day off was not an option and one that was not particularly meant to be special in any way.

But it was special in so so many ways. It's been a long time since I have felt so loved, so special and so very happy. I can not quite define the special in single items or words.

It may be all those wonderful messages on Facebook, the many sms and whatsapps and especially the phone calls. I love those phone calls. It may be my 9 year old that made me tea and brought that and their present to my bed as H has swimming at 6 on Thursday mornings. It may be that Mr L wrote a few words on my card - spelled to him by his sister, but all on his own. It may be those very special cuddles from a really sick Mr C in bed just when I woke up. I really do not know.

It may be because I found the time to go to my mom and we had bar-one cake on her patio while the birds played in her water feature and the garden is in full bloom. It may be that my wonderful hubby took me for dinner to one of Pretoria's wonderful fine dining restaurants and we had one of our best nights out in a long time (to be honest, we have not had many in the last year to start with).

It may be another stunning addition to my Jenna Clifford collection but I think that's not that either. It's the love, the calm, the wonder of family. The wonder to love your hubby fully and be loved in return. The wonder of acceptance of where we are and striving forward.I want to keep this close to my heart and feel it every day.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Just breathe.....

After the craziest of weeks - 2 merit award functions, one Judo grading, one Judo parent showcase, one music exam , one music merit award function and one evening Christmas market (not to mention lots to do at work) - from Saturday morning on we had nothing to do.  Honestly, nothing that HAD to be done, we had to attend, we had to rush to. Just that thought already did heaps to help me de-stress - take the load off of a very tough year. It was fantastic!

In the end, we had a quiet but productive weekend - also one where we relaxed and just let our hair down a bit. I went to the Design Team sale and treated myself to (more than I should have) Olka Polka clothing at wonderful prices. I also bought two beautiful cushions for the big couch and the kids all just one Silly Billy item as at the last sale I only bought them stuff. I was in  there at 8 and out by 8:30 and home just around 9. We also had a nice visit with my mom and A and I tackled her toys and sorted out, threw out and made a box for donating. I could not believe that those overfilled shelves (I forgot to take a before picture), had space left in almost every basket or container. Also amazing at how she re discovered some toys and played with them for the rest of the weekend.

On Sunday night we put up the Christmas tree - for the first time ever we had a happy cheerful no fights event with Lady Antebellum singing Christmas songs in the background.

This year, to save my sanity, I did not make the traditional Advent calender we use - in stead, I bought the Lego City one and the kids are sharing it. They take turns to open a window and build the item behind it. Together they are constructing the whole scene.

 And with that, I hope that your life is slowing down a bit. I am certainly enjoying the easier pace. Or are you still firing at all cylinders?

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Oh to travel..... in time.

In an attempt to introduce the kids to something more than Frozen we are delving into the family movies of the 80's. ET was well received so we moved on the the Back to the Future movies. My do the kids enjoy these.

Tuesday afternoon on our way to swimming A suddenly pipes up with "Mom, if you could do time travel, where would you most like to go to?" I asked for a bit of time to think and she immediately asked "Do you know where I would like to go?". I had a ready answer for that one - Egypt at the time of Cleopatrs. She has long had a fascination with both Cleopatra and Egyptology. "No! she said. I would like to go back to the Renaissance and model for Leonardo da Vinci" It turns out she actually would like to be Mona Lisa!

So I asked C and L where they would like to go to. C went between the time of the Incas, seeing the first plane fly and riding with the cowboys when the West was won. He at last settled on the tiem of the Dinosaurs - he would love to know if what we think we know about them is actually true.

L had no hesitation - he would have liked to be Jesus' friend. I love that. And I love the little debates this all stirred up.

I have to add that a lot of this is possibly due to a new book I saw in CNA and immediately bought. It is wonderful encyclopedia type history book that shows every timeframe briefly up until 2012. It even features the Royal weddings of that year.
 This book has had the kids totally fascinated, entranced and has caused more than its good share of fights as to whom has the right to mainly read in it every day. It also means that I had to brush up a bit on my history and art history - both subjects I have always loved.

Btw - I chose to go to the time just before the turn of the century in Paris - the time of the Impressionists and Post Impressionists. I would love to meet Renoir, Toulouse-Loutrec, Gauguin, Manet and mostly Vincent van Gogh. Below is Starry Night - my favorite painting of all time. And who remembers the Don Maclean song?

So - I would love to know to which time you would like to travel and who you would like to meet. And your kids? Are they old enough to give it a go? Come on- ask them.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Scenes from a weekend.

I actually with joy realized today that a lot of the items on that list of events are over and done with.  Last night I pulled out my paint, brushes and a canvas and felt the happy of creating. Is there anyone else that read here that instantly feel the happy when they create?

This weekend we had a fun end of year function for the stables. It was filled with cocktails, a photobooth, nice company and general relaxation. On Sunday we had a hike up the koppie - something we try to do often but would like to do more. It was raining for most of the day but by the time we got to it the weather wonderfully cleared. It was a great hike - the word smelled fresh and lovely and at places like below you do not hear the city at all.
Of course the rain resulted in a bit of a muddy walk much enjoyed by the kids in their gumboots. Puddles were splashed , fun was had.
Saturday was a busy day for me and the boys - we attended two parties while A spent some time with H and her BFF. Both parties involved pools and water slides - in the heat it was a lot of fun and they thoroughly enjoyed it.
The mom at the afternoon's army party had a sweetie buffet for the parents (above). The kids were all on a kiddies table.

Cooldrink for the army boys - loved this
 And look at that platter for the parents! Filled with the type of eats I adore.
 At the first party the mom had treats fro the parents too - in bottles as above filled with Quality street, biltong and dried wors.
And you have to love the Ninja Turtle above - cute?
And just because I love this picture - water balloons from the afternoon's party.

So, was your weekend as colourful as ours?