Wednesday, 30 September 2015

And that was September

Gosh but this long and busy term has flown by in the wink of an eye. I am extremely grateful that next week is the school holidays but wishing it was a bit longer. We are a house of tired parents and tired children. Granted the long weekend did help a bit.

I am seeing quite a few months wrap ups and honestly I think that will suit me best today.

Ambi pur sent us a lovely box of goodies . I loved the way this drop was done - with some of the things that cause smells (toilet paper, a tiny nappy and black bags) and things that can "cure" the smells. I love the car freshner that is not overwhelming as a lot of the usual car options are and the spray is trumping any one we have previously used. I will without a doubt buy it again.

They also included this rather interesting infographic.
The summer fruits are slowly making their appearance and this year even the very first bit of watermelon we bought was sweet and lovely.
A went all out and made her brothers a wonderful birthday cake. It was a vanilla funfetti cake (from a Pillsbury mix) with a speckled eggs secret centre and sour (lemon) frosting. Boy it was simply divine.

On the boys' birthday I took them with a friend each and A's always present BFF K to play putt putt. It was very hot but really much enjoyed by them all.

And what is a birthday without Lego? A bought her brothers each a small 3 in 1 set - the cat/dog/bunny one for C and the truck and cars one for L. Much enjoyment! L last night broke down his truck and started with one of the alternatives. I love this idea from Lego to build 3 things out of one set.

And with that, what is news in your part of the world?

Disclaimer - we received the parcel displayed from Ambi pur. The Pillsbury and Lego shout outs are purely because we enjoyed them and not sponsored in any way.

Friday, 25 September 2015

The 25th of September is not a great day in the history books

Honestly - go and have a look. Nothing really big happened. There are the usual tragedies and disasters. Small inventions - ok, maybe Henry Fords 8 hour day and 40 hour week deserves a mention. But that's it.  A lot of musicals seemed to have made their debuts on the day - among them Les Miserables and Evita. But nothing really big. As to famous births its really only actors that stand out - Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta Jones and Will Smith. And Hansie Cronje - Cricketer.
When the courtyard garden explode in purple Irisses it's birthday time in our household

But the 25th of September changed our little world forever because our awesome boys were born. Nothing has ever been the same again. Our house has never been quiet again. Two such amazingly different little men. Each so unique in their very own way.

My dear L, my little Lion that has learned so much and grown up so well this year. You are so determined and strong in your own quiet way. To wear contact lenses with such ease and deal with all that comes with it at the age of 7 is admirable. You tackle every obstacle with total determination - be it academic or in any other field. You are well known for your total love and dedication to sport - both as a player and as a supporter. You memory for sport scores and games is surprising and admired by so many people. And boy! Have you grown! 3cm in the last 5 months. That's a lot for a 7 year old boy. I love you to the end of the universe my little boy.  Happy happy 8th birthday!

My dear C, my little bear. This year has been such a good one for you. You have grown so much in terms of friendship and how you see the world. Your constant yearning for knowledge is amazing - as is the fact that you remember every little bit you hear or read in a subject that may interest you. You look at the world through the eyes of an artist and will always be the one to remark on a particularly beautiful building/flower or even a car. I also love how you care about others and are always looking out for others. You are really so tall now - on Sunday I was amazed to see how tall you stand in front of the church with the birthday wishes. I love you to the end of the universe (where you are quite sure you will find some intelligent life!) Happy happy 8th birthday!

Thanks to Tanya for the date in history inspiration .

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Today 14 years ago a cheeky little puppy was born. 6 weeks later she came home with us after choosing us by running towards us when we went to pick out a puppy. Moya is a legend in her own lifetime. The most amazing companion to us all.  Even at 14 she is always ready for a walk - maybe not so much a swim these days although she does still enjoy wading in the water. Although she is slowing down a bit she remains the loving special dog she has always been. Always ready for a cuddle and a talk with those soulful brown eyes. She has such character and her love for us all shines through. Happy birthday to our very first baby. 14 is very old for a Labrador and we feel very blessed that you have been with us for so long and to have had so many adventures together.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

School birthdays

When I started thinking about celebrating the boys' birthdays at school I had a Whatsapp chat with both teachers. From grade 1 on there is not much time to celebrate and they basically sing, eat a cupcake and that's the end of it. I asked them if I should bring just cupcakes or a bit of sweets and a cupcake. The one replied that just a cupcake please (limit the sugar) and the other said that I could just as well leave the cupcakes because the kids are so tired of cupcakes they throw away half of them - and just send some sweeties. I then asked the first teacher specifically about cupcakes and got the same sort of reply. Then I suggested ice cream and both teachers replied extremely positive.

Boy were the ice creams a hit! It is a hot and rather casual day just before the long weekend so it went down really well. Add to it that the kids are wearing Springbok attire today to and you have a  very festive little event. I was lucky that both teachers immediately asked me what timing I would prefer, knowing that there is another twin in another class that has a celebration too. So I could be with both as their friends sang to them and they handed out the ice creams. Even the headmaster got one as he walked past where Mr C's class was busy celebrating.

It was by far the easiest (and I may add rather cost effective as I bought it at the factory shop) festivity in a while.

So what do you do about school celebrations?

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

It's world rhino day

I have written so many times about rhinos and the fight for their survival. Today is another reminder that however small our contributions every bit helps. Every year we loose more and more of these wonderful creatures. And easy way to contribute - go to Stop rhino poaching.

Did you know that rhinos?
1.  have poor eyesight, but very well-developed senses of olfaction (smell) and hearing.
2.  are the second largest land mammal.
3.  skin maybe thick but it can be quite sensitive to sunburns and insect bites which is why they like wallow so much – when the mud dries it acts as protection from the sunburns and insects.

When last have you seen a rhino in the wild? Do you want your grandchildren to have the same privilege?

For those who want to wear the message - Keedo has awesome Rhino T'shirt for the smaller boys and we found this at Mr Price sport for the girls.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Books and more books

Reading has been a bit slow in my world over the last few months. So I am grouping the books from June to August. I have read quite a variety of books - I am sure you will find something here that you can enjoy.

I loved "Wolf hall" - the first book in the series about Thomas Cromwell and Henry the 8th and his escapades. Granted, Mantel is not everybody's cup of tea and the writing style is something to get used to. Bring up the bodies is as brilliant as "Wolf hall". Full of intrigue, mischief and odd old customs and backstabbing. I have to mention that in general I am not one for historical fiction but these books are pure brilliance. It took me ages to get through but I am eagerly awaiting the next book in the series. 9/10

A story about a mother and daughter and their lives in a little knitting shop in New York. I would classify this under womans fiction and it is a good enough read (best description I can think of). I enjoyed it to the end but will not recommend it to all and sunder or go out and buy it to read again. Sort of a good read if its lying around in a holiday cottage. 6/10
I have learned that not all Jojo Moyes books are created equal and if you are looking for "Me before you" or "The girl you left behind" in every one of her books you will be disappointed. Read them for what they are and they will all be good books - maybe not brilliant but good staple well written reads. I got this one for free on Kindle from Amazon one day and it was truly a nice light and relaxing read.
'n Wonderlike jeugboek wat temas soos eerste liefde, siekte en die dood op 'n gemaklike manier hanteer. Ek lees nou en dan kinderboeke wat my kinders spesifiek geniet en is regtig bly dat ek my dogter van 10 se advies geneem het en hierdie boek ook gelees het. Behalwe dat dit vir my ook 'n heerlike leeservaring was het dit my baie insig gegee in hoe kinders rondom siekte en die dood dink en funksioneer. Wat ook insiggewend is is hoe kinders na mekaar kyk en die verskillende faksies wat daar in die kinder gemeenskap heers. Hoe dit voel om miskien effe "anders" te wees of dalk baie gewild te wees. Lees gerus - selfs al is jy n grootmens en veral wanneer jy kinders in die 10 jaar plus ouderdomsgroep het. 9/10
I had this book lying around in the house for a while and when I was down with a tummy bug and basically to weak to read anything that required much thinking I grabbed it. What a delight to visit Mma Ramotswe once again in the delightful Botswana that is so very close to her heart. This series has no intentions to ever be high literacy but is delightful and fun to read. BTW ever seen the British TV series? Just as delightful. 7/10
I have never read a Karin Slaughter book before and was so pleasantly surprised. She is such a good crime writer - I am planning to find and read more of them. A story full of intrigue and great characters. 8/10

What a book and what a story! I was totally gripped by it and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Warped and unusual characters and a great ending. I have to say that I liked it a lot more than Gone girl and think it is a better story too. It is however a very disturbing read. Absolute brilliance! A must read if this is your type of book.9/10

So, what are you reading at the moment? I am as usual busy with 3 books at the same time. And do you ever read more than one book at a time? Have I inspired you to read any of the books above?

Monday, 14 September 2015

This weekend we took a deep breath - and enjoyed it!

It was wonderful to have a weekend without the looming of 3 tests and two orals ahead. It changed everything for me - I really did not know that it contributed so much to the anxiety I have (see previous post). So this weekend we let our hair down and relaxed. Although Mr L had hockey early Saturday morning and A had ballet course at the same time , it was as if we sighed a combined breath of happy.

In pictures we:

Spent Friday the afternoon at the school festival - A is a total adrenaline junkie.

The school had Bobby van Jaarsveld in concert - I am not  fan but he gave us a most enjoyable concert. He even sang some CCR! A delightful Friday night.

The clever moms at school imported Stikeez ( a different series) from China and sold it to a great profit for the school

We attended a baby welcoming party for a friend who is adopting a little girl. It was such a relaxed afternoon with the kids splashing in the pool
We had a lovely relaxed early Sunday lunch with my mom at a nursery - lots of space to play and wonderful food too.
Mince pancake - it was so tasty
We also just relaxed at home - made marie biscuit art
And planted some violas - each kid in their own pot.
 How was your weekend?

Friday, 11 September 2015

The groove - I need to get back my groove.

 This morning I have a little Simon and Garfunkel tune turning in my head:

"Slow down, you move too fast.
You got to make the morning last.
Just kicking down the cobble stones.
Looking for fun and feelin' groovy."
More of this - a delightful hour on a cold and rainy day at the gym. Just playing. No practicing.

I have become the mom I really do not want to be. I need to let go of always being stressed. Of always rushing even if it is not really needed. Of letting the usual day to day little mishaps get to me. Letting the daily little stresses - missing hairnets and lost erasers get to me. Of stressing that kids be in bed before a certain time and live for the fun of the extra 10 minutes of laughter. Slow down the pace a bit. I need to stop the shouting most of all. Maybe I need to just burst out in song sometimes and "Let it go!". I need to slow down and feel the groove for a while.

It has been a busy and tough term - and it's always so difficult to keep the balance of good discipline and manners while leaving the gap to have fun and live a little - not just go through the actions of living. Enjoy being in the moment. Enjoy my family for who they are.

It has to continue not just today or this weekend -I need to change the way I mom. Without losing the  discipline we have worked so hard to install. I need it for our family but possibly more even for myself. I hate being the shouting mom.

I need the great mommy groove back.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

When plain hard work (and maybe a bit of talent) pays off.

A has always enjoyed drama. This year though the prepared drama has taken more time and determination than ever had before. You see, the group she has been in has always had a relatively easy ride. And did well - always an A+ when it comes to Eistedfodd time. She and her one partner even scored and A++ in unprepared drama last year . Their groups however are determined by the days when they take drama. And so this year she landed in a new group - with only one of the girls that was in her previous group. The rest of the group was made up of one girl that has been in one of the other good groups and two brand new girls with zero experience.

All along the girls have been prepared to maybe not score as high as their previous years because by grade 4 a bit of drama experience makes a difference. But they have a great teacher and she handed out the roles according to personality and experience. They were well on their way. And then a glitch. One of the new girls did not as expected in her term 2 exams and her mom stopped her drama. Literally less than 7 weeks before the Eistedfodd with the whole piece in place and rehearsed. They were just going to run it through every week and work on unprepared preparation and coaching.

So the result was a whole restructuring of the piece - with one less character. Drama most weeks twice a week and the last month 3 times a week. I was very angry with the mom on the one hand but I do understand her reasons. But drama is a team sport and honestly you do not drop your team.

Friday was Eistedfodd day and despite it all they were amazing and scored an A++. Highest achievement ever! We were so proud of the four of them. Little drama queens.

Once again I am so happy that the lesson of hard work equals reward could be taught. Also the lesson of adapting and accepting the unexpected bad news. And most of all that team work wins. I am wondering what the other mom is thinking when she saw their marks on Facebook?

So now my question - what would you have done if you were the mom of the other girl? (She is no where close to failing but the marks are not what the parents wanted). Would you have dropped the team or would you have continued with what would have been one hour a week and maybe half an hour once a week for a month and caught up the time and work somewhere else? I know it is more an issue of principle possibly. However the principle of teamwork is also one to stick by. Due to the positive outcome I am not angry but it did add a lot of strain on the other girls in a term where we certainly do not need more strain.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Kettles, irons and toasters

I swear there is a conspiracy. A small appliance one. They are all made to last EXACTLY a year. Although I have to give our kettle credit - it's been hanging around for about 3 years. Our previous toaster was older than our marriage of 13 years at the time it died. I have high hopes for the new one as it is a super funky 4 slice Russel Hobbs. But from talk around the school I know toasters fall into the same category. I am keeping a beady eye on it. And do not even try to have one fixed - no one does it and it will cost you more than a new one. We live in a truly disposable society.

So this morning at about 11 Lucy gives me a call. "It's the iron" , she says. "It made one big spark and it's dead" At least she is ok.  I ask her to find the box and check the date of the slip. It turns out it is almost to the day 1 year and 1 month old - a full 29 days after the guarantee expires. Sigh!

So I bought a new one - at least I went to Pick n Pay and got a much coveted Stikeez more than my normal day to day groceries would have brought me. Does it make up for it? No way - although the kids might disagree.

Do you agree? Am I the only yearly buyer of especially irons?

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

A mom is only as happy as her unhappiest child.

Last night A had a little breakdown. Tears, really ugly crying. Gut wrenching sobs. That cry that you are not sure how to actually address because even talking to her does not seem to make any impression. So I just held her. And once she calmed down a bit we talked.

It is her busiest term and I do think she is a bit stressed at the moment. Once the drama Eistedfodd is over on Friday and the Speech festival on Wednesday she will have a big load off her shoulders. It is also the last test in the series next week. I am sure for our little A type personality life will look a bit easier in general. And yes, there are some things we can do a bit different at home - maybe we do not use the right words or tone at times. But the big issue is the absolute nastiness of the girls at school. What on earth is the problem! Why do the 10 year old girls suddenly change into little terrors? This is not a "one bully or group of bullies" issue - it is sort of the general thing. Is it the awakening hormones?

She is in a slightly odd class this year - a group of girls that have almost no friends among them apart from two BFF who landed together. And then it seems they have the sharpest tongue of them all in the class. As A said last night apart from 3 girls that are really friendly and 2 others that are ok the rest are nasty. And not just with her. This all made her question her intelligence, her personality and the way she looks. She felt stupid (with an aggregate over 90 % she surely is not), unpopular (she really has a lovely friendly heart that I have always admired and has a range of friends - but they are not in her class) and ugly (any of you who have ever seen her knows that is not true either). My heart aches for her. She is also a typical sensitive oldest child which does not help at all. She puts enough pressure on herself not to have any externally from other girls. She certainly feels she is not part of the in or cool crowd.

So how do we help her to feel better about herself? I guess we can just encourage. Make sure that she sees herself in a positive sense. Be stronger in herself. Make sure that she understands we and God loves her just the way she is. That she is good enough. We also have to encourage the positive friendships that are out there. Yes, we are maybe a bit slack with inviting other friends that her BFF over but they all have such busy programs. She told me this morning that she is feeling a lot better and was excited to take a little gift for one of the nice girls in her class that has her birthday today. I am hoping that the new courage and positive attitude will last a while.

Above all I am delighted that she talked to me - I think that is the essence of it. As long as they feel they can talk to us as parents I hope we can help them. I fear the day one of them may not talk to us.
In the air - day 1 of the challenge

On a happier note - it's the 1st of September - happy Spring day. I am joining Melanie in her September photo challenge - why do you not join in too?