Monday, 28 March 2011

YellowWood Cafe in Howick

This morning, as I was flipping through websites on the Midlands meander, I remembered once again that I have never re-capped most of our December holidays. So today, I would like to share the little treasure we found on our first day of our holidays.

Now even with kids ( and sometimes dogs in tow) we like to think of ourselves as "traveling adventurers" or "adventurous travelers" - and by that I mean that amongst other things we try to have adventures while we travel to our destination and not just at the destination - to make the trip part of the holiday. So often we do not stop at the regular big "One stop" type set - ups (although we do have our favorites in that area too), we search out something new. We also often stay over at halfway through the journey - this also makes for happy kidlets. On our way to the North Coast in December we stumbled onto an absolute gem - YellowWood Cafe. Not only does it offer tasty food, it also has an animal farm and several play areas for kids. It is housed in a historic farm house and it truly spoke to me of age old beauty. So if you pass Howick, go through the town and you will find pointers to this great little spot.
The Yellow wood lane.
From your table you look out over green pastures with the Howick waterfall in the background.
The Howick waterfall .

The old farmhouse that houses the restaurant.
The stairs are well worn with thousands of feet over hundreds of years.

Friday, 25 March 2011

A true friend is like a good bra, hard to find, lifts you up, gives you support and always close to your heart.

Today I find myself unable to concentrate - work is slow and interrupted - by phone calls, emails and mostly by my frustrated mind. I am slowly getting the feeling I should just give up on trying to work. Just do the basics and plod through this afternoon's meetings.

You see my BFF Hesti for the last 23 years is leaving today for Canberra Australia. For 3 years or forever. Who knows if you have not done it before, taken the plunge and moved your whole life there, would you move it back? Gosh, my writing is as confused as my mind.

We met on the first day we went for the selection process to study architecture way back in 1987. We quickly formed a group of friends and stayed connected through our years of study. She finished a year ahead of me, finishing her course in the minimum time while a nasty car accident on the day that our 3rd year exams started resulted in me not completing my one main subject and finishing a year later..
In our personal lives, things ran on completely different time schedules and scales - resulting in us spending a lot of time together as friends, but not necessarily including partners. She got married the year after she finished studying and I was honored to be at her side for the day. I was as single as can be. Later as she was enjoying those wonderful first years of marriage, my relationship at the time fell apart. She was supportive, as always. The many years of single life followed for me and although we both had our own circles of friends, the two of us stayed in touch, stayed close and always supportive. Just as I met Hunter their daughter was born and at our wedding, Hesti just found out she was pregnant again. I remember bumping into them in Brooklyn Mall at the movies a couple of weeks later - Hesti in tears after finding out it was twins. I never knew that she would find me the same, on her doorstep about 6 years later, also expecting twins. The truth is that we have the same "package" in life - a girl, followed by twin boys with almost the same time spacing. We both have a son that presents us with challenges. As we moved along with our parallel lives, the support has always been there, mutually I would like to think. Certainly at times, Hesti has been the best friend shoulder for me to cry on.

Today I am finding it hard to think that I will not just be able to pick up the phone and call her. Not to just meet quickly for lunch as we often do. Yes, we shall skype, we will mail and she has started a blog - Mission down under, but it can not possibly be the same.
Today I am choosing to not say goodbye - we said our goodbyes on Tuesday at lunch and yes, I cried. We both did. I am not going to the airport and I know that she is totally fine with that. In fact, I am not going to call her because I will cry. I will text her. I will say "Auf Wedersehen" as the Germans do - "Until we see each other again", not goodbye, because I simply can not say goodbye today. Hes, I will see you on the 10th of January, or very close to it. (She is coming over for a visit - does this not make is so much easier?)

Godspeed my friend. I let you go with the old Irish blessing:

“May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be ever at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face and the rain fall softly on your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you in the hollow of his hand.”

Thursday, 24 March 2011

So how's it going with the SID thing...

someone asked me the other day. Not the first of the blogger friends to ask. Well, I think we are making some progress. Maybe it just feels that way because we are learning more about him and understanding more about what makes him "tick."
  • The Occupational therapy is going well. He runs to his therapist with joy and laughs through the half an hour he spends there. She said to me today that she feels that he is already concentrating better and that she can understand his pronunciation better as she thinks he is talking better.
  • The little isolation tent/nest has turned out to be a winner - he uses it regularly and it has made our mornings a whole lot better.
  • At school the teacher reports that he is at least now sitting at his chair and doing tasks as the rest o the class. That is a huge step forward.
  • "The Out -of -Sync child" has finally arrived from Kalahari and I have started reading it. Hunter is also going to.
  • I have made contact with an organization that gives seminars for parents about SID a few times a year. They will email me for the next one.
  • We try to incorporate some of the stuff the Occupational therapist do at home and it is helping a lot.
  • We are also exploring other options to help him like horse riding and swimming.
  • He is definitely getting better at sitting and doing something for instance play-do and drawing/colouring .
  • We are not making progress in the potty training department - so we might enlist the help of a play therapist that calls herself the potty specialist.
  • The part that is really getting us down though, is the sleeping. C is actually a worse sleeper - in the sense that he wakes up about 50% of the nights, come to out room and sleep on the little mattress we put out at the foot of our bed. But in all honesty, some nights I do not even wake up when he comes. So that is fine. But L.... and I only now realize that this is typically SID child, struggles to fall asleep some times, but wakes up some nights ( once to twice a week), totally unable to sleep again. He talks, he plays he wriggles around. He is 100% awake. Last night was another one of those, following on Saturday night. I saw that Tertia got a weighted blanket for her SID boy, and after reading a lot of  great reviews on it being a sleep saver have decided to order one. Really , we need to sleep.Very badly. And as from tonight, regardless of what sleep gurus say, we are taking him downstairs and letting him play, preferably in his tent and hopefully we can get some sleep.
So, all in all we have some improvements and are hoping for way more. Now if we can only get this sleep thing going and the no-nappies thing.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Antoher great weekend camping.

This weekend we camped with our friends S and I and the kidlets in the Pilansberg game reserve - our first camp with friends. Imagine 4 adults, 6 kids between 18 months and 7 years. Busy, but fun. We did not see anything super special - the usual great game, but the kids had the greatest of fun. Even while driving back, C started throwing a small tantrum pleading to go camping very soon again. I think Hunter had a great birthday in one of his favorite places.

I also got the chance on Saturday evening to see Andre Rieu in concert in the Sun City Superbowl.It was truly a magnificent concert and occasion and I really enjoyed it so much. Hubby and our friends saw to the kids while I met my mom and a friend of hers at the concert.

As always, the photos speak louder than words, so the highlights in pictures:

Our campsite from the back

Our campsite early morning from the front.

C running to the Mankwe hide.

Plenty of elephants as per usuall

I always like the wise old giraffes.

Our precious rhinos.
Red crested barbet

A yellow crested barbet in camp.

While the dads were busy finishing pitching the camp, we moms took the kidlets for some fun time at the pool.
A taking miss T for a swim.
And my best picture of the weekend:
Water lilies at Mankwe hide

Monday, 21 March 2011

Happy Birthday my love

My love,

The many reasons I love you will challenge the amount of stars in the sky
So to highlight just a few is  challenge
But just so that you know why
You help me keep my balance

You are the instigator of many games and fun
From riding a quad bike to participating in the run
You are the glue that bind
Our little family in kind

You are my rock
You are my hope
You are the very reason I cope

I love you to no end.

May your year be blessed beyond words.

Thursday, 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. From experience I know the Princess freeze in a panic situation and I would literally have to shove her in front of me with a boy under each arm. I keep thinking of a South African survivor of the  Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 saying on to that she grabbed and held onto her youngest and had to make the heart wrenching decision that possibly the oldest could be able to survive on his own. What a horrible decision she was forced to make. This one turned out to be good - they all survived, but it could be so different.I just pray that we never have to face a trauma like this.

Being a mom changes the way you think about everything in life, but mostly about how your no1 priority is keeping your children safe, fed and happy. I often think with fear about war situations and how to deal with that when you have small kids.

At the moment I am dealing with a million questions from the Princess about the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. I think she does (luckily) not completely comprehend the devastation - truly, who of us can and certainly she knows nothing of the nuclear threat. But she is asking the eternal questions. How does God allow such bad things to happen? Why did it happen in Japan (and yes, Nieuw-Zeeland she has not forgotten about that) and not here? Is is because we believe in God and the other countries not? Very tough questions. And then to curtail the fears of these disasters happening here.She went as far as to draw me a sketch showing the earth's layers and where the center is and how volcanoes work and asking me why it then does not happen here. ( I am pretty sure I did not know all this at 6) I am trying to answer as best I can, but these are tough issues for a 6 year old brain to digest.

So, any bright ideas? And are your children wondering about these issues?

Monday, 14 March 2011

More proud mommy moments

So it's been a while - actually a rather sick while from my side. On Thursday afternoon I could not stand the earache any more and went to the doctor with a nice big ear and throat infection. For once, I also listened to her and stayed home on Friday, but on Friday afternoon I had to take L to his annual eye appointment - if you wait 4 months to get an appointment you keep yours, even if mommy is sick! So I am a little more than a tad behind on news, so tonight I am catching up on a very important event - our first fun run in our career as parents.

On the 3rd of March the Princess' school had their annual fun run. The kids get sponsored per rounds run in an hour and the little or big siblings get a chance to join in the fun.

So proud and so thankful!

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Camping with kids

A part of last Sunday's unhappiness was Little man L freaking out totally when we took down the tent on Sunday morning. We had it up on Sunday night to do some maintenance on it - the dome part that the kids sleep in and it is the oldest part of our set-up. You see, the kids just LOVE camping, and the tent. For them it is one huge adventure - a totally different world where they have lots of attention from mom and dad, but also the freedom (to an extent) of the camping ground. I love camping because it eases my soul, it speaks to me in many ways. The simplicity of living with just the basics really cleanses the brain from clutter. And to be honest, camping is cheap - way cheaper than other options. For instance, a whole weekend in the Pilansberg costs us R450,00 for the whole family. Getting equipped at the start can be costly though, but once you have the basics it is really great. Added BIG bonus - kids sleep so well while camping. Lots of exercise and fresh air works wonders.

So I though I will give you guys some tips on camping and what we have learned through our adventures:

  • Be well-set up, equipped with what you need. Some of the items we have found the most useful are a table that can be set up lower for the kids' height to eat on, a kitchen cupboard to pack out most utensils and food and a utensil hanger for knives etc, to be out of the way for little kids hands. The usual freezer, etc goes without saying. Our set-up is as follows: a big canvas dome tent (high enough to stand in) that we use as the kid's bedroom. In front of that is our extension part- a room that clips on the dome and is slightly bigger in size. Hunter and I sleep in it and we also keep our freezer and some general items in it like the laundry hamper etc. The extension has a little covered area in front of this and onto this we have a gazebo with sides that we use as the dining/ kitchen area and general living area.
Our home away from home set-up.

  • Take toys, but not too many. I take one crate of Duplo - they all play with it and a little backpack with  each child's specific favorites.including a drawing and colouring book and crayons.
  • Bikes are one of the most important items you will have at a camping site. And the older they get the more independent they become.

  • There are always bigger kids that play with the smaller ones at a camping site. A bonus, I tell you.
  • Choose your site and camping ground with care - you want to be close enough to an ablution block, but far enough from the pool. And close enough to a good playground but in a secured fenced camping ground
Wonderful playground in the coolest spot at Xaxaza resort in Mtunzini.

  • A potable DVD player is not only a bonus in the car but also in the tent for bad weather and tired kid moments.
  • We make one "bed" for the kids by placing their mattresses and sleeping bags right up against each other - they feel safer and happier that way.

  • After many options we are now sleeping on the new generation type stretchers and I add a thin mattress on top of mine. Those blow up mattresses - nope. No more inflating in the middle of the night for us.
  • I use crates to pack almost anything for camping - including our clothes. No bags or suitcases. Crates pack and unpack easily and if you have a rain issue especially while pitching or break up camp, everything stay dry inside.
  • I make one bag for bath time for me and the kids - a big back pack or gym bag in which I keep all the bath stuff, but can also pack new outfits and towels.You pick up one bag and off you go.
  • Always take a multi size bath plug along. Many places do not have bath plugs if you want to bath kids. If there is not bath, small kids fit into big Coleman cooler boxes ;-)
  • Teach your kids to shower asap - it will make your life so much easier.And to go to the toilet on their own.
  • Take enough cable ties in all sizes - they can tie almost anything to anything.
  • Buy the longest electrical lead you can find - we have a 25 meter one. A winner. Take enough multi plugs along to connect everything.
  • Ziplock bags and black garbage bags  are wonderful! They have a million uses.
So, hope to see you camping soon. Any questions?

Edited March 2014 :
Now that the kids are older we do somethings a bit different - I pack each kid their own bathroom bag - big enough for a change of clothes and a toiletry bag.
Also we choose our sites with different criteria - but that one you will figure out as you go along.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

A few bits of news

Things are (as always I hear you say) rather hectic, but we have heaps to look forward to. At work, things are rather busy with a shopping center opening next week and the main tenant the week after. Also a nice big project starting tomorrow, so yes, busy but happy.

On the family front, a lot happening as well:
  • Tomorrow Little man L has his first appointment at Occupational therapy session. I am going to take a lot of notes and try to do some of the things at home too.We can use every bit of help right now.
  • The Princess and her school is going to the zoo - they are so excited.
  • On Friday we have Little man L's yearly appointment at the eye specialist. Hoping for things to have stayed the same as there should not be any improvement. Also, I have some questions from the Occupational therapist for him.
  • On Sunday we are going to my best bud Hesti and family's farewell function. I made a blog for her if you are interested. I still am not able to get my blog post finished about this. Maybe I am trying too hard.
  • Next weekend is camping time - in the Pilansberg and for the first time with friends.
  • If all works out, I will also see Andre Rieu in concert that weekend at Sun City.
  • We had a great bookclub last night where we said goodbye to Hesti, and welcomed the 3 new members as we lost two others last month and our new cycle starts in May. It was long and late, but fun. Love my bookclub girlfriends. But yes, I will still do that post about how to start one etc.
So hope you all have a great evening. Tomorrow is a busy day ahead once again.

Monday, 7 March 2011

A word or two and a hunderd pictures by Ballet Mom

So this weekend was my first real experience being Ballet Mom, a variant of Soccer Mom, Gymnastics Mom or the such. The Princess had 4 shows over the weekend and with the theater being far from our home, one ends up living in the theater for two afternoons and evenings with a packed picnic to fill the ballerina tummies. The show was based on the movies and was brilliantly put together as the dancing school not only presents ballet but also modern dancing, Spanish dancing, hip-hop and ballroom. What really was the best moment of the show was a classical ballet show with Michael Jackson's "The way you make me feel" as the music. Ok, no, the highlight was of course our Princess as one of the "Barbie and the 12 dancing princesses".

I have also learned that any self respecting Ballet Mom knows:
  • That La Pebras gel can whip any hairstyle into a ballerina bun
  • Good hairspray still works best to keep that bun in place in conjunction with a hair net.
  • You can not have enough hairpins, extra pairs of tights or extra hairnets
  • A sowing kit by chance in my bag saved us from 3 costume failures.
  • Even if there are professional make-up artists,there will be a make up failure somewhere in the troupe.
  • Not many woman have true red lipstick in their handbags - I was the only one in 12 moms. The rest have pink or orange or brown.
  • You can never have enough make-up glitter on a 6 year old.
  • You can keep 12 6 year olds busy with a bag of crayons and scrap office paper for hours.
  • But if you start to read a story out loud all creativity will be abandoned.
  • One in 12 ballerinas will need to go to the bathroom after being dressed despite taking all to the bathroom before dressing them.
  • And because they are not allowed to eat while in costume they will mysteriously get very hungry just before going on stage.
  • Even 6 year olds get a serious adrenaline rush before going on stage.
And a always, the story in pictures:

Stretching backstage with the big girls.
Our successful first concert Makes my Monday.
Playing along with Cheryl.

    Friday, 4 March 2011

    Just popping in for a quick hallo.

    What I absolutely love about the blogging world is the positive way in which we encourage each other.Thanks for all the support, emails and messages yesterday. The encouragement and prayers are much appreciated. Can you believe it that Tertia's was the first blog I have ever read and that I never read the SID posts! She has much to share.

    We had the school's annual fun run last night at the Princess' school - I can not believe that it all went so well./ She ran and ran for a solid hour - the boys ran and walked for most of the time. Everyone had a ball and was dead tired (and slept through) by the time we got home.

    The weekend is busy - in a few minutes I am leaving to be ballet mommy for today and most of tomorrow. This afternoon is the Princess' dress rehearsal for her first full ballet concert, tonight, tomorrow afternoon and tomorrow night are shows. And tomorrow morning is another birthday party, which she will just attend for an hour.

    Sunday is going to be very peaceful and low-key. It has to be.

    Enjoy your weekend.

    Thursday, 3 March 2011

    We all like to think

    that our children are perfect. They are born full term, healthy babies and you count the toes and fingers and feel eternally grateful. As time pass, it inevitably turns out that none of us are perfect. We each have our flaws - some are just more visible.Some are more serious and some need to be addressed sooner.

    For the last few months Hunter and I have been acutely aware that "something" is not right with our Little man L. On Tuesday the "something" got a name when we got the report from the Occupational Therapist that evaluated him - SID - Sensory Integration Disorder. It was almost an "a-ha" moment when she started to explain how it works and the typical symptoms. We are lucky that with some of the issues he has already started to integrate himself.

    Having a tag to hang around the issue is really a catch 22 - not wanting to label your child on the one hand, but also having the knowledge to deal positively with your child's problems on the other hand by having a label to Google, by obtaining books and gathering information.I have always dealt best with situations where I can arm myself with knowledge. After a long discussion with the therapist, I feel extremely positive that we will move forward and will get the best treatment possible for our child. In fact, some of the simple directions she has given us have already improved the situation at home, making him a much happier child and giving the rest of the family a break - the last two months have really been tough for us.I am not expecting miracles, but am hoping for small wonders. He starts with therapy in a week from today. His school has welcomed the diagnosis and the information and has promised to work hand in hand on this road with us.

    So anybody knows any blogs of kids with SID or have kids with SID?