Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Loving right now....

Gosh it's cold at the moment! The weather is rather crazy with tornado's and hail yesterday in our part of the world. And some rain - which is so appreciated. I am not going to lie - I am not a fan of the cold. But I am loving some of the little things that make the cold a bit more bearable.

I am loving going to the gym  during lunch times. It warms me up totally - especially those 5 minutes I spend in the sauna after exercising. I used to hate going ot the gym in winter - now I love it.

Citrus - all the glorious citrus. Oranges, mineolas, naartjies.... name it. I love it. Not a fan of pomelo though.

Electric warm water bottles - every night they get heated and placed in beds with little (and not so little) bodies to keep us all nice and toasty. I also think that it aids in falling asleep - I get that nice warm sleepy feeling if my feet are nice and warm.

Boots - I love love love boots. I found the perfect Jeep boots this year and promptly bought it it black and brown.

Scarves - I love pretty soft scarves. They keep you warm but also add a splash of colour to any outfit.

So what are you loving despite the cold or because of the cold?

Friday, 22 July 2016

Five for Friday edition 13

1. Remember the cauliflower shrubs that did not want to make heads? Lo and behold just before I thought to take them out we have one tiny head and a second plant seems to be on his way to make one. You learn every day...

2. Third term started with a BANG! Monday morning at 6:15am A had hockey skills test, followed by cricket trails for C and hockey trails for A on Tuesday afternoon. And this afternoon C is playing his first proper cricket match for the school. He looks super charming in all that white. A has also in the first week back at school written two maths and one science assessments. And there is a History one on Monday.

3. On Wednesday afternoon Saving the Survivors visited the Voortrekkers for the term opening. It was incredibly interesting to hear the survivor stories and those tiny little rhinos are the sweetest little things possible. The very famous Hope, the rhino that lost most of the top of her face in a poaching incident is their PR rhino and was saved by them. It was magic to see the progress on her healing. Please "like" their Facebook page in the link and support them. They (and many others) do amazing work.

4. I have without realizing it read so many Afrikaans books in the last while that I am planning to do a complete Afrikaans book review post on Tuesday. I used to read very little Afrikaans but there is an explosion of good crime/thriller writers in Afrikaans with the usual great writers. and I just had to read some of them. I promise and English book (or maybe two) the week after. But if you read Afrikaans I suggest visiting on Tuesday.

5.I received my stunning prize that I won on the relaunch of Bird & Design. Every item is a joy and I love the items she designed herself to bits. This has certainly made my weekend - much much joy! There are so many things in that box that I totally adore....Thanks you Andrea - I am beyond thrilled and it feels as if it was specifically designed just for me.

I hope you have a great weekend - care to share your 5 for Friday? Here or on your blog?

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

How much is too much parenting?

I have started this post so many times, deleted half, left is a day or two - left it the whole school holiday....but I feel the need to speak about this.

Our A is in a super competitive year group on all fronts - specifically between the girls of the group who seem to excel not only academically but also in sport and cultural activities. As example apparently the percentage difference between the top academic girl and the no 10 girl in the year group (Yes, all of the top 10 are girls) is a mere 2%! We have the no 1 girl swimmer in SA in our group, the no 3 short distance athlete and the no 1 Afrikaans debate girl in the country.  Every single activity is turned into a competition. I have had a very brief taste of the competitiveness in the netball when  A was in grade two and has been secretly very thankful that we have been spared this for the last few years. I had no idea that something like the top ten existed until A's prize giving last year. In the first term of this year we got our first taste of the absolute competitiveness in the sport when A sprang a little surprise on the established order of the swimming team. Where some moms (And I have to mention the no 1 swimmer's lovely mom) was visibly so excited for my child's sake while others felt visibly threatened - and as result was less than friendly for a few weeks until they realized that their status will not change the term. Our school gained two very good sports girls from a neighbouring school in the beginning of this year resulting in a total shuffle of the athletics and netball dynamics. The different ways that this situation was handled by parents was astonishing!

The girls had try outs for the hockey teams yesterday - it is the first year that they are going to have official A and B teams and it has been plain to see from the pre season hockey last term that this is going to be the field where the competitive rises for the 3rd term. There has been moms that have openly been trying to add their own coaching to it . Moms that have tried to push their daughters (and their friends) into teams - even almost "hi jacking" games and positions where other, maybe more reserved girls were supposed to play a match. The coaches has been brilliant in combating this and even resorted to asking the high school coaches to score the try outs - but I stand amazed at the way parents act and react on this. And I have to stress that although the girls are very competitive, the parents are way way worse! The moms I believe may compete more than the girls. I am lucky to know many moms who refuse like me to be part of this - but then there are the ones that just push and push.

Last term the grade 5's wrote a maths test that was in anyone's book a thriller. It was needed because it tested if a certain type of sum was fully understood. Some kids did ok - A did about 10% less than usual but still a good enough mark, while others scored their first 70% ever. Guess what happened - the school was pressurized by a number of parents to have the test re written! The kids were then given the chance to re write if they wanted and the highest score of the two counted. Suited us well because A managed her usual range of marks in the rewrite but the point is we were prepared to accept the first mark. This term we got a letter we had to sign that no tests will be rewritten under any circumstances. Although I am using their grade as an example here it is certainly not limited to this grade. I heard this morning that C's cricket trails yesterday had too many too verbal parents attending.

My point is why do parents feel the need to interfere so much with the school on all levels? I am not saying that one should let a school get away with things that are wrong though - I mean interfering to push your child blatantly ahead. To confront a teacher about a point your child misread in a history test on behalf of your child - a point A also misunderstood but I never contemplated to take up. I told her to take it up with her teacher if she felt that the question was not properly stated as the other mom claimed. (BTW none of the girls' marks were changed by the teacher - and apparently all had to hear from the mom what a bad teacher she is because of that). And that merely because your child may now not be top 10 in Social Sciences which History is part of - not because your child may fail a subject.

Once again I think we need to ask the question - what are we learning our kids by our behaviour? Are we teaching them to stand on their own feet and think for themselves if we interfere with a test and a teacher? Are we teaching them that there will always be a do-over if in our eyes they failed? Are we teaching our kids that they have to perform and be the very best for us to love them? And very important - are we removing the joy of everything? Focusing on performing rather than enjoying the sport or the work at school ? The question is for how long can they be pushed if they do not enjoy what they are doing?

Or should we teach them that their best is good enough. That sometimes the B team is great to play in. That being a leader at school is not the end all and be all of your existence and that we value you for who you are. That it is important to enjoy the game - and not just to be the very best against all costs.To me performance can follow enjoyment but I am not sure the opposite is true.

I am not saying we do not have to support our children and always do our best for them. I am just saying that they have to learn how to do their best on their own when needed - and not just because mom push them all the time. To enjoy the here and now. There comes a time when own responsibility have to be learned. That you have to learn you can not always be where you want to be if mom was standing behind your shoulder all the time. Where not everyone is a winner - and where second or third or fifth place is good enough if you have done your best and enjoyed the game.

I know that this is not limited to our school ( I can see the parents of opposition schools at any match and I am convinced that it may even be worse elsewhere) and our city and I would take a guess not to our country too. Although I do think we as a country may value sport more than some others.

Our children should know that their own worth is not based on measuring up to the next child. They have to learn to stand on their own, to compete with themselves - and mostly they have to learn that mom or dad will not always be there to catch me when I fall. Too much parenting is - well, too much!

With that - listen to the great Bakkies Botha about parents and rugby on the link below. I fully agree with him.

I would really love to know your thoughts on this.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Movie time

We go to the movies a lot - a result of our Discovery Vitality membership as the kids really movie for free most of the day and we at a great discount. We have also trained the kids not to expect a full combo of refreshments at the movies - and they understand that we can see as many as their age allows if we stick to this. So we share popcorn, only get drinks or sometimes skip the whole lot. But we enjoy our movies to the full. We have seen all 3 the kids movies available these holidays and I thought I will give you a run down on them.

I saw the movie with the kids in the second week of the holiday. Firstly it is incredibly beautifully animated mixing live subject with super realistic animation. Secondly the tale is stunningly told - not 100% as per the book but close enough to satisfy a Rolad Dahl fan like me. I thoroughly enjoyed it as did the kids. The scary parts however are very scary and I think a child under about 6 might find it overwhelming. The funny parts are some of the funniest I have ever seen - gosh, that scene in the palace is hilarious!
The kids gave it a unanimous 10/10 and as to enjoyment for adults - I give it a well deserved 10/10 too.

ICE age 
The kids saw this one with our Au Pair during the last week. The general feeling was that it was very funny indeed and quite entertaining. A did mention that the bit of the little guy with his acorn is getting a bit too much but that is purely a personal opinion.
The kids gave it a 9/10 (two of them) and a 10/10 from Mr C. Out Au pair gave it a 8/10 for adult entertainment value.

Finding Dory
We  saw the movie yesterday for a last little holiday treat. We all really enjoyed it but it is not "Finding Nemo" - but still a great adventure. I loved Destiny - a great character added with her friend Bailey and it is in the end still a great Disney/Pixar movie with all the elements we expect.
The kids gave it a 10/10 (A) 9/10 C and 8/10 (L). I give it a good 9/10 for adult entertainment value.

We had a little discussion in the car on our way home yesterday afternoon and the kids all give the BFG as their favorite with two of them voting for Finding Dory in the second place and one for Ice Age in the second place. For me there is really no contest - the BFG is a MUST SEE (as The Little Prince was) for adults - even if you do not have kids. Just go - it is stunning and simply beautiful. I would really love to see it again.

I hope this helps for your movie selection with the kids - please tell me which ones did you see or are planning to see.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Five for Friday edition 12

It's the last day of the school holidays - on Monday it's back to school for the kids and earlier rises for us all. Back into routine. I loved being able to only get up at 7 for the last 3 weeks. We have had a good holiday - a lovely break at the sea, some quiet time at home, movies, a trip to the zoo for the kids and lots of cricket and hockey practice. It seems as if every mom has been trying to organize a last day before school starts play date for their kids. Without me initiating a single one all 3 my kids are spending the day with friends for one last play date before school starts.

Marcia tagged me a while ago on Instagram to a sort of meme where you are given a topic for the month with subtopics every day to draw or doodle and post. It was just what I needed to get me drawing again and I have completed my firs two page spread. Check out #ptldoodles if you want to join too. No need to be an artist - it is about exploring being creative and practicing your drawings

I have taken part in The Winter Book Swap organized by Cupcake. I loved my parcel of goodies and book received but loved it even more that the recipient of my box was so happy with her box of goodies.

Guys you need to shop around for everything. Mr C bought this same Lego set at City gifts and toys for R359 4 days before we saw this price at Reggies. I am wondering how the big shops can justify the difference of a whole R91!

I have joined a project choir for a set of performances in August. I am extremely excited about this - it is the first time in years that I will sing in a proper choir. This one is huge too - they are aiming for 400 voices with both the soprano and alto parties full, they are now looking to fill up the male numbers. We are singing songs from the musicals - some of my favorite music ever.

With that - I hope you have a great weekend and why not join in with your Five for Friday?

Thursday, 14 July 2016

On expos and exhibitions

Our kids adore the exhibitions and expos that have been doing the rounds for the last few years. Most of them seems to be planned in and around school holidays which makes them perfect as a holiday treat and day out. This holiday seem to have a particularly large haul of them with 4 major ones Gateway to Space,  Power of Poison, The Terracotta Army and Bodyworlds Vital). But lets be honest - they are not cheap entertainment either ( depending on how you measure this of course) but mostly money well spent. Most of them however are totally worth it especially if they spark some learning interest and give good facts to read about - mostly if you buy the expo magazine/ catalogue and can page through it later. There is no way the budget will stretch to do all of them so one has to choose wisely. I had a talk with the kids and they were most attracted to Gateway to Space and The Terracotta army. We are planning to do The Terracotta army in August apart that I have not seen many reviews on it and would love to know what it is like.

Gateway to Space was our holiday treat yesterday and it is one of those that we all really enjoyed a lot. From reading the early history of space travel to seeing the new Orion spacecraft currently in development it was an interesting day spent "in space". Most popular with the kids was the real size model of the old Mir space station that is rotated on an angle and really messes with the way your mind works. It feels rather odd inside and we all had giggles and laughs when Mr C on first entry fell over - like some other visitors also did. This was cosely followed by the movie prop of Darth Vader - my little Star wars fans loved it. The Space food totally fascinated the kids. I learned so much I did not even know about the subject. What I do love about the You/Huisgenoot exhibits is that the catalogue is nice and affordable (R40) in opposition to some of the others that cost a small fortune. Last night A was still awake at around 11 reading it and absorbing the facts. 100% worth it! She and Mr C also enjoyed the "5 degrees of freedom" simulator a lot and could not stop talking about it. Mr L at the time just did not feel like it.

 The new Orion capsule and model of the launch craft complete with it.
The big array of Space suits was fascinatin

Casts of Neil Armstrong's hands - custom gloves were made around these

I found the design of the Moon buggy's wheels fascinating

Space food - even shrimp cocktail and mac & cheese

On our way back home we had a discussion in the car on which of the Exhibitions we have seen has been favorites and which not. Funny enough there was, for once, total agreement on our top favorite one and the top 3. Also on the least favorite one there was absolute consensus.

Favorite exhibition ever: King Tutankhamun - Easter 2015. Every single one of us agrees that it was just awesome.
Completing our top 3 are: Gateway to Space and The Art of the Brick (Lego).
Least favorite: Ice Age - the only great thing was the rides after (which were extra if I remember correctly) The expo was very small and looked  a bit worse for the wear.

What are your thoughts on the exhibitions and do you go to them? All or try and sift through? And what are your opinions? Anyone seen The Terracotta Army?

Monday, 11 July 2016

The growing up thing

Gosh yes, I know I have been quiet - it's just busy at work and I try to squeeze off some time to spend with the kids during the school holidays. But I do have lots to write about .

I think a lot of you are aware that I love the stage our kids are in now. Make no mistake - every phase has its beauty and wonder - but I do find this stage where their independence grows so very rewarding. To see them on Saturday morning on the horses - how well they ride and how much confidence they show - Mr L had my heart singing - leading his class on his own with such great posture.

 Another step ahead was that Hunter taught all 3 kids how to row on their own while we were on holiday. Last time we rowed they were tiny little people and Hunter rowed us all in  a boat. Now they are 3 rowers - each in their own kayak - rowing strongly, balancing and steering well. Amazing their mom!
There are however always moments that we feel they grow up way too fast - moments where you think that this can not possibly be your child that is this big? Cue in a moment at Sanlameer when A and her friend came running out of the sea in their bikinis - not looking like the two 11 year olds they are but rather two excited teenagers chatting away. That my friends was way too fast. Thank goodness that later that evening they played pretend games with their younger siblings with as much gusto as ever. It's that odd in between phase I guess - to be appreciated on it's own too.

Some moments however are just perfect - on Saturday A and I tackled her room and donated much of what was little girl in it. All the baby dolls went, carry cots, camping cot, their accessories etc. Other little dolls, animals and some soft toys. Tea sets and pretend food. She kept her Barbies - up in her cupboard, and her two Lalaloopsies, my old Cabbage patch kids and her two Trashcan kidz and of course her Lego - and some other little odds like her little ponies, Zoobles en Little Pet shops. I am sure in the near future some of that will go to - but not too soon. Just a few shelves full - to make space for books. I love that she decluttered with such joy and happiness - I guess we should have done it long ago but for her the timing was right -  there was no sadness about it. Just joy at the thought that other little girls will love it and that she is making a better space in her room for herself. It also made me very happy to get rid of 5 black bags of stuff. We were exhausted after 4 hours of going through almost everything in that room but it is so rewarding.
So tell me about the phases your kids are in - are you enjoying it? Or did you enjoy the younger ones more?

Monday, 4 July 2016

Perfect moments

Sometimes life gifts you with a perfect moment - a moment when all that is ugly in the world disappears for a while, a moment where you feel at peace and where your whole being sighs in joy. Pure pure happiness! I had one of those on Monday afternoon as we stood on the beach at Sanlameer in perfect weather - just our little family together after a very excited drive down to the coast. I had a few more over the following few days. It was a great break.

It still feels almost unreal - our wonderful 5 days at the coast. I have forgotten how great the weather is this time of the year. You actually escape the Winter for just a few days. But we are all a little happier now, breathe a little deeper and feel that we had a rest and some time for each other. 

Friday, 24 June 2016

Five for Friday edition 11

  • In about an hour's time I am out of the office for a whole 9 days! It's been a while since we had a proper break and we all really need it.
  • On Monday afternoon, God willing, we will be at the seaside - toes in the sand and sun on our faces. Yes, I know it's Winter but it will be fantastic! I just know it.
  • The kids all brought lovely report cards home - I am very proud and humbled by every great mark. They have all worked hard and earn this break.
  • I had a terrible cold this week - and could not really take time off work. Neurophen Cold and Flu and a 1000mg Vitamin C did the trick and I am already feeling 99% healthy.
  • I have done my first order with Spree and am delighted with their service - I at last have boots that fit and got them on the Boots discount day - have a look guys - they have discount days for categories. (This is purely shared out of public interest - I have no affiliation with Spree)
With that - I hope you have a great weekend! And a great week.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

I am angry today

I am angry because a bunch of thugs paralyzed a big part of our city yesterday. I am angry that politics are used as a motivation for burning, looting and destruction. I am angry that Lucy slept in a car with her neighbours last night at a filling station because she was scared to go back home and that she may not be able to come to work once again today. I am angry that one of our office workers can not write his last exam of the semester today because the university he is attending is close to the affected areas and is closed for the day.That another one is not able to get to work for the second day running as the buses are being burned and the taxis avoiding the area. We are the lucky ones - our part of the city is calm and safe.

I am angry that so many lives are disrupted - apparently because of the tribal origin of the ruling party's mayoral candidate. Or as Lucy so rightly explains - just an excuse to steal and be a horrible person for the day. To sow destruction and feel you have the right to.