Wednesday, 27 March 2013

It starts so young,

this "letting go" thing. When they start to walk one has to have the courage to let that hand go and let them fall, get up and try again. The same with riding a bike and letting those trainer wheels go. You do not want them to fall and you will do all you can to prevent that but in the end, they have to do it on their own and we need the courage to let them go.

Of course as life goes on the letting go gets easier to an extend but the issues to let go about gets way more difficult. It is always that balance of giving them the courage and the knowledge to  go but also having the courage that you have equipped them well enough to let go. Like this weekend when the Princess went on her first long bike ride  (not the 11 km one - it was about 6km) I kept thinking if we tought her well enough to keep to the side of the road, to get up fast when she falls. What if? It started to get a bit darker and I worried about her not having light enough clothes on. Yes, I guess we always worry.

This morning a friend of mine updated her Facebook status with the acknowledgement that her daughter in her 20s is a total drug addict and that they have managed to get her into a rehab centre and have her 3 year old son in their care. Believe me that this is a good solid Christ fearing family with the dad and one of the brothers as pastors. She mentions that one should never underestimate the influence of friends, no matter what age your children are. Which brings me back to the question of letting them go and decide for themselves. Equiping them enough to make those decisions they need to make in life and giving them the wings to fly.

I know that I have a lot to learn and trust and pray that Hunter and I as parents do enough and the right things in order to equip our children for their future lives. From those first steps to the independence of a solid grown up with their own kids. I guess it never really stops. Ijust pray that we never have to walk the road they have to. And that she finds her way back to fly again on her own.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

It was such a great weekend

We spent the past long weekend at Sondela, just about an hour's drive from Pretoria where we celebrated my wonderful hubby's 40th birthday with my BIL and SIL from Cape Town and our dear friends S&;I. I received the wonderful gift of the weekend in a lodge I designed for clients a while ago and chose to use it for our celebration. We all had such a great time and got to do some of the things we love most. But most importantly, we spend it with our families. Quality time with my hubby and kids. But as always, the story is best told in pictures (hope you have some tea or coffee - expect a picture overload)

The lodge - when we arrived there all 3 the ladies vowed to bath in those lovely huge baths - we each only did once - the outside showers (concealed but with a view) was just way too tempting.

We visited the farm yard where the kids saw cows being milked and fed goats, sheep and many more. A and some of the other girls tried their hands at milking the cow.

I love this one - all the kids apart from the 16 month old S watchiong the milk process. Note the hats - yes, we live under the African sun.

A milking the cow.
The moms and kids went on a game drive where we saw lots of animals and had great fun on a trailer and tractor drive. Mr L was in heaven! (the men mad a wonderful potjie and watched some rugby)


We swam a lot! It was hot and the combination of a cold and hot pool led to many happy hours in the water.

We fed the half tame Nyala that comes to the lodges and the kids could not believe they got so close to wild animals. We did keep a very close eye on the encounters.

There was sand art done, faces painted, manicures and pedicures undertaken and spray on tattoos painted.

And simply time spent together with friends and family in happy companionship.

Apart from the big fortieth celebration, the one thing that stood out was the huge amount of bicycling that happened  The gravel roads lend themselves to great cycling and the area around the house provides lots of safe spots for the little ones to ride too. I had a great ride on Thursday while Hunter had several over the weekend. 

 The big event however was that these two girls (8 and 9 years old) did an 11 km ride with their dads on the gravel roads and paths. It is the very first time that our Princess did a ride more than around a few blocks and on a big bike! We were super proud of her. The two just grabbed their bikes regularly and off they went within the area we set out for them.

 I have to leave you with one of the stunning bushveld sunsets. Just breathtaking.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Life's busy

Yes,I know I have been quiet around here but the honest truth is that I can hardly wait for tomorrow and this term to be over. To move that alarm half an hour or an hour on. It's dark in the mornings now when it goes off at 5:30 - have you noticed? 6:30 would be way more decent. A break from forms to be filled in, things to be organized and remembered. Just to breathe a bit. So let's recap the last week or so:

  • Mr C had the fire department visiting the school last week and he took his fire truck and helmet to school. They had so much fun with this theme for the week.

    • Mr C and Miss A had a water fun day at school on Friday - they loved it and had heaps of fun.
    •  The ballet concert is done and dusted for another year. I totally loved how much you can see the Princess' obvious enjoyment on stage. I loved how the big girls danced on point shoes on very modern French pop music. It was so well done. I love how big their troupe still is in grade 2 - extraordinary - generally the girls give up ballet between grade 1 and 4 with a big loss after grade 1. I am totally glad it's done though - those almost 2 days at the theatre is seriously tiring.

    • We spent Sunday at home, doing chores, making play dough and just relaxing. It was a good call.
    • My BIL and SIL with their two kids are arriving from Cape Town tomorrow for a week and a half visit.I have not yet seen my little 16 month old nephew and can not wait to see how big he is! Here's hoping the cousins will all get along.
    • We are going on a great long weekend at a game farm from Thursday to Sunday where we will relax with them and our friends S&I - 6 grown ups and 8 kids. Busy, but should be fun. Lots to do for the kids and us.
    • We will celebrate a landmark birthday there when my BFF, boyfriend and hubby turns 40. 
    • We have had two great report cards from the grade 2 and the grade R kiddos. The grade RR still to come but I am proud of how hard they all try. Which is totally what we expect from them.
    • We had Miss A's teacher's stork tea and farewell yesterday. I literally popped in to hang the decorations I made and for her to arrive.
    • I then dashed off to meet my BFF visiting from Calgary. I have not seen her for 3 and a half years and amazingly nothing has changed. We can still talk forever. It feels like yesterday. I just wish it was easier to have a cup of coffee together. Or wait, that has changed - she does not drink coffee anymore. But the friendship of 20 plus years? Still strong.Nothing has changed there.
    So are you planning a long weekend or working on Friday? And what's happening? Blog reading has taken a bit of a back seat here but I am getting other things done. 

    Wednesday, 13 March 2013

    The cloning thing

    We all wish at times we could clone ourselves - mostly just to get done what needs to get done. At the moment however, I wish I could clone myself to give more one on one attention to all 3 the kids. Sometimes you just feel you can not give all that is needed at the specific moment. Clearly at the moment the Princess needs a bit more attention than she is getting. It may be her perception only and not the truth at all. But I do think it will be a mistake not to address it in some way. Friday afternoon she was a sobbing mess telling me that I must just go ahead and give the brothers all the attention as she is clearly not wanted. The typical "Nobody wants me" followed by the scary "maybe I must just kill myself or go live somewhere else" cry out for attention. After a good cry out in her room alone and a short few minutes nap she was totally happy again. But I got some more of the same on Saturday late afternoon and Sunday and Monday and this morning.

    I know that Mr L has demanded a lot of attention this year - it has been a very tough adaption for him. Mr C has the talent to demand his own attention amidst Mr L's tantrum which is tough at that moment but possibly better release to the issue than A who runs to her room and distance herself. But sometimes he looks at me and his eyes shows clearly that he feels he needs a bit more. Those blue eyes can look a hole through your best intentions. I have to make sure that he does not quietly feel deprived as well.

    There is also the issue that A is older and parties are mostly drop off affairs for her now and with the boys we really still need to go with them. I know that this is an issue for her because she dropped something about it- but she has to accept that parents are not necessarily welcome at parties any more. I also know that this week is tough with all the ballet and that she would have loved to have me at the netball yesterday but it was simply not possible. So I promised her I would be with her this weekend for the ballet - well most of it because I do want to watch the show too and I have to get the boys home on Friday afternoon. I know this is important to her because this morning she said "You can just drop me at the ballet, I am the big girl and I will look after myself. You can go to the brothers because they need you more"" in a tone of voice that says the right opposite. Followed by " I know you love them more" Oh my heart broke - did I really not give her enough attention or is it just her perception? I know this is possible manipulation but I can also see that she maybe needs this right now.

    However the truth or not, I do think she needs a bit of love and care at the moment. I am no love languages expert but I know that quality time is important to her - by choice she always wants to make something with me, not get something or go somewhere. And words of affirmation - she lives for praise. Both of these are tough - the correct and enough attention especially one on one to 3 kids is never an easy task even with a full on board very attentive dad that really fills in wherever he can. He really goes the extra mile for use all. I have no idea how single moms juggle all this. We also try to stress the importance of being humble on our kids, but building self confidence at the same time. A very tough balance. Roll into this the forever working mom guilt of not being everywhere always.

    So wish us luck in trying to break ourselves into 3 equal pieces which in honesty one can never do. But yes, a juggle on a balance thing.

    I would love to know how you deal with this in your house, especially if there are more kids than parents in the house.

    BTW I have decided not to do my photo a day on the blog any more - most are featured in my Project life posts anyways - I am still publishing on Instagram (catjuggles) and sharing on Facebook and Twitter so you can find them there. I have also posted my newest Project life pages here.

    Monday, 11 March 2013

    Keep calm and get this week over and done with

    It's that time of the year - the second last week of the term, the first netball friendlies and the yearly ballet concert - all in one week. So A has ballet practice tonight, tomorrow night and Wednesday (4 to 7 pm) Tomorrow they head straight from netball to ballet. Friday afternoon is dress rehearsal, with shows Friday evening, Saturday afternoon and evening. And  just to make sure that I do not get sloppy on the school stuff C also has photo day, a visit from the fire department and both he and A has fun day at school on Friday. Deep breaths people, deep breaths.

    I guess and nice and calm weekend would have been a good idea to precede this hectic week, but alas, it was totally hectic.

    Let me re-cap very very briefly:
    Friday night - pizzas at home and relaxing.
    Saturday morning - Hunter took the kids horse riding - I went with the bride and her mom (to what felt like the end of the earth) to buy the material and pattern for the Princess' flower girl dress - they are going to look so stinking cute and very stylish.
    H drops A at my moms where she visits with another granny and her granddaughter for the day. These two are such great friends (as are the grannies)
    I get home at about 11. I leave with our Lion to attend a wonderful Superhero party where he and his best bud M played and swam forever.
    At the party I met Ben below, who I would take home any day .(He is a real charmer)
    In the meantime Hunter and our Bear take a brief nap and at 2 head to a gymnastics party. He even gets the chance to hang tough.
    After our party I rush to my mom to pick up A and at the same time get the measurements done to make her dress. We get home at about  4:00. At 5:30 we leave for dinner at friends - we have a great time and only leave at 11:30 by which time the Princess and friend A are both still awake and inventing their own ballet shows.
    Sunday morning at 9 we attended our little friend C's Christening with the most gorgeous cake and a rather under the weather Lion.

    We return home at about 12:30. At 2 pm our Lion is fast asleep and I leave with A and C to attend one of A's school friends party (we were all invited). Lovely relaxed party, the most fantastic fettuccine bollognaise I ever had and a pretty eco pool. At about 3:30 Mr L joins us - way better and ready to party.

    We get home at 5:30, make dinner and put the kids to bed. And H and I do a major de clutter operation up to after 10 pm.

    Ok, out of breath thinking of all we did. But alas, we survived, all partied out and happy to have done something at home. Sunday will be rest day. Major rest day.

    So how was your weekend?

    Friday, 8 March 2013

    We all knew the day would come

    When the twins were not both invited to the same party. I think the day arrives for every set of twins somewhere in their pre school years. It was inevitable this year, being in two grades and two classes. Up until now they were always invited, almost as a unit to school friends parties. So when Mr L came home with an invite 2 weeks ago I was almost relieved - he being older than his class mates and maybe slightly odd, has made the social inroad.

    I try to get the kids to attend class mates parties for more than one reason - it is a way to socialize outside the class and to reinforce friendships formed there. I can see them interacting with their friends which gives me in turn an idea who to organize play dates with and to invite to their party. It also gives me the chance to observe the other kids and their parents and decide who I actually want to have my kids interact with.In addition I find allies in the class and grade amongst the moms- believe me, you need those as the years goes on more and more into Primary school.

    So I arranged with H to do something with the other two siblings and RSVP for it. Two days later Mr C received and invite to one of his classmates party - two hours later on the same day. So Hunter will go with him to his party (a gymnastics one) and A will have some quality time with granny. What did amaze me is that they both just accepted naturally that the one will go and they will not go with. I think it is the clear division between friends that helped with this. Grateful that one issue I thought could pop up just didn't. A also has a party on Sunday afternoon but they invited the boys too (she has brothers of their age)

    So let's talk gifts and cards. I buy batches of gifts - when I see something at a good price, I will buy a few, or when I need some gifts, I buy 3 more. So I keep an age appropriate stock of gifts in a box and wrap them when I need them. When they run out I fill with about 4 or 5 more of the same. I do buy special gifts for direct friends' kids or older or younger ones - but these are my "stock" class friends gifts. It saves me a lot of time.
    At the moment the 8 year old girls get a sticker book (bought on sale at Exclusive books for about R25 less than the usual price), Disney Princess body wash and cream. The 5 or 6 year old boys get a great book (our favorite) and a sticker/work book -I bought a variety.

    For cards I doodled the 3 ages we will have a lot this year, scanned them in and printed on white cardboard. I then add the child's name in a doodle. The kids will colour them in tonight for their friends. Cheap but very special.

    Here's wishing you a great weekend - ours is going to be partyish busy ( we are also attending a Christening on Sunday morning)

    Thursday, 7 March 2013

    It was granny's birthday on Friday

    Both the grandmothers has often told me that all they actually want for any gift is some form of photos of the kids. Hence we have done calenders, photo books, handmade canvasses, printed water bottles, handbags etc. This year I hit a bit of an inspiration. One of the guys in the office went past the Consol shop the other day and I asked him to pick up a few Solar jars for me (nope, I got nothing from Consol for this - this post is not sponsored in any way - wish they would send me a few but alas ). Then I added a simple little something to it to make it a wow gift.

    Step 1: Buy a Solar jar for R130 (Also available at Pick n Pay for about R60 more per jar)

     Step 2 : Compile photos into one image (9 x 22cm works perfectly) I used Photoshop
     Step 3 : Print on tracing paper or bumf (thin transparentish paper)
     Step 4: Paste two edges together with sellotape and insert into jar. You can also add flowers or silk flower, beads, whatever into another jar.

     Step 5: See granny smile astonished about a lovely photo gift of her grand kids and an emergency light in one.
     I love these jars - I think they are such a clever idea. So I would like to know about some of your clever photo style gifts.

    Wednesday, 6 March 2013

    The wonder of normality

    We had no power at the office for Monday and Tuesday. Hell was it frustrating. I was in a meeting for a big chunk of Monday morning and we also intermittently had power just to have it off again. By Monday late afternoon we knew we were in it for the day and went home and hour early. Tuesday saw us going home at 10 am, with the promise of normality today. It turns out a lightening strike close to the building damaged some main cables.  I have to say that I enjoyed my day "off" yesterday playing SAHM- I did some winter clothes shopping for the boys mainly, took the Princess to buy netball gear and de cluttered most of a cupboard. threw out a huge black bag of stuff. But today, it's good to be back to the normal, the usual. I am mostly handling emails like a mad automated person, but things are getting sorted.

    In the same breath our weekends are also slowly returning to some sense of normality - by that I mean weekends that does not feature a very out of sync Mr L. It really does put a strain on all. He is now excited to go to school in the mornings. His teacher this morning showed me a lovely bit of construction work he did that totally impressed her.His social skills seem to improve all the time. I am sure he adapted, but I am also totally sure that the horse riding has to be a factor to this happier note. I have also at last found and Omega supplement he actually eats (for the last 2 weeks) - he refused any of the others A and C eats - even those cute Brain food fishes. Creche Guard has one that is like a chewy sweet and so far so good.

    The past weekend had the photography muse smiling upon me - we attended a birthday party on Saturday and honestly I have so many great photos of each of my kids that I simply can not choose. It was a bat themed party with a sweetie buffet ( I saw adults crawling to the buffet when white eater eggs were spotted in the kid's plates......).  So I am leaving you with some party happiness. And a Project life post on my other blog.


    Sunday, 3 March 2013

    Christmas catch up 3

    Christmas Father enjoyed his doughnuts, beer and Quality street and left stockings for the kids. It is the first year that A knew it's a myth and she played along so well for her brothers. 
    Typical stocking contents (A's) - stickers, sugar cane, chocolate Christmas father, yo yo, one smallish toy (she got Barbie clothes, C a green shoulder buddy he wanted for ages and L a Hot wheels) and a DVD - mostly bought as we know it will keep them busy on the road down to the sea.

    Christmas day was spent at home - we were way less people than we generally am ( only 7 grown ups and the 3 kids). We had leg of lamb, gammon and chicken pie with salads and roasted potatoes and my version of casata for desert.
    The table was a very traditional white, green and red poinsettia inspired setting.

    While taking my mom home we took a drive to Lawley street and saw the lights in the rain.

     It was a good Christmas and I loved being at home but I am looking forward to this year when we will not be hosting like we have done for the last 4 years.

    I have to add justone picture from boxing day:

    He had enough of photos

    Saturday, 2 March 2013

    Christmas catch up 2 - Christmas eve

    I realize we are two months into the new year, but alas, a quick catch up post.

    Christmas eve was spent with my mom and a family friend of ours that was working over the season but had his family at the seaside. The table was decorated in an African Christms theme with the centre piece of an African boabab wire tree and pottery angels made by the 3 kids. We had snoek and sweet potato for dinner and then opened presents. The biggest suprise to the 3 kids in general was the fishing rods which they just could not wait to use once we got to the sea.


    It was a good, relaxing evening with happy kiddy faces. And I got my nifty fifty amongst other things, which I totally love! (Last 3 photos taken with it)

    Friday, 1 March 2013

    Only your best

    As parents, we try to instiall in our children the values we like them to have as grown ups. School, sport and other activities provide us with the platforms and opportunities. Supporting them and giving them the courage to compete is up to us. We as parents will never push them to achieve, but we do believe that they should give their very best, try their utmost and most of all, participate to complete the task at hand. We also believe that active kids are healthy kids and that it is up to us as parents to encourage sport and active participation.

    All 3 kids had their chance this year to show us that they are willing to participate and try their best. We are very proud of them all.

    On the 11th of January (A's birthday) Bear participated in his first 60 m dash with the rest of his grade R group. He gave it his all and ran as fast as he could. We were so proud of how very hard he tried. (they do not allocate places so we have no idea how well he did - the important bit is that he tried so hard.)

    On the 12th of February it was the Princess' turn when the school had the annual internal rugby and netball day. The grade classes compete against each other in both the game and the spirit prize( for theme, cheering and team spirit). They are trained by their grade 7 prefect and 2 other grade 7 girls. The Nerd Ninjas (the theme they chose) won on all accounts and received both prizes. She played her heart out as goal defender, a position she seems to enjoy for the formal netball practice too. We were so proud of their spirit and how hard they tried and how much joy they got from being sporty and active.

    Last night it was our Lion's turn when the pre -primary hosted their annual fun run. The kids get sponsored for rounds they run or walk along a course in an hour. Brothers and sisters get to join in the fun and run too and score points for their sibling's team. They all did their very best and ran like champs -but Mr L deserve a special mention. He tried so very very hard and I am so extremely proud of him. His last 3 rounds was done on the promise that it was the very last song playing on the PA system and that we just had to get through the song. (moms and dads often walk some of the rounds with the kids to encourage them) He was exhausted but ran or walked right to the end. He did an excellent 28 rounds, one of the top ones in his class. C did 25 rounds - a great achievement too and as most of the primary school kids go full out for it,  A did 41 rounds. They each got a medal to remember the event by.

    BTW - what I love about blogging is that I could go back to the Princess fun run post back in 2011 and have a look at how many round they did then (the course was made shorter this year though.)