Tuesday 30 November 2010

A Custom build Advent calender

I love Christmas, not only because we are celebrating the birth of Christ or because it is the end of the year and holiday time, but because I love to create the best Christmas I can for my children. For the memories, the family moments and the love we share.

I have always loved Advent calenders and the count down to Christmas. When I was a kid the standard chocolate one were no available here, or very expensive, but one year, my dad got one from overseas and really, the joy of opening each day, will never be forgotten. Christmas pretty much disappeared after his death, to be revived when I made my voice heard at about 10.

So I have made a point to get the Princess a calender to count down. Last year was the first year that the boys took any interest. This year the levels of sibling rivalry is so high, that I am doing my best to avoid it - hence, I had to get 3 of the standard chocolate ones. Then I saw the lovely wood re-usable ones at Woolworth, but alas, expensive and sold out! So, I decided to make my own, and to make it portable to take on holiday, if we have the space.

So this is what I did:
Take 1 compartment box (from Plastic warehouse etc) - I had this one lying around in my office.
Find Christmas images on Google - measure your box and set up on Photoshop or such to fit over the container. I had to divide two compartments with board to get 24 boxes.
Buy sweeties and goodies to fill the boxes.
Fill and stick paper over - the kids will break the paper at the appropriate date every evening.
And done - totally portable, unbend able and breakable. I will add a ribbon to hang it on the wall.
It took me about and hour and 10 minutes to complete, including popping out to the nearest Quick shop for the sweets.

Monday 29 November 2010

You know Christmas is near...

when the annual school play is over and done with. As per usual, the cuteness was immense. The storyline was told with popular songs and the kids had so much fun.
It's Christmas Eve and the elves are packing the toys for Santa to bring to the kids.
Santa gets "dressed for success"
The reindeer ready to work.
With Rudolph in a pensive mood.
3 Teddy bears get left behind by the naughty elves.
The faerie dolls spread their own brand of magic.
I'm a Barbie girl, in a Barbie world...with Lightening Mac Queens entering the game.
Daddy Cool almost flukes the rescue mission with a moonwalk.

Friday 26 November 2010

Ahh, Friday...

It just seem as if the weeks are speeding towards the end of the year. So I think I can manage a few bullets today, but that is about it:
  • Tonight it the Princess' long awaited school concert. She is hugely excited after the initial disappointment of not being a Barbie to be the lead teddybear.
  • Tomorrow night we are actually going to a grown up party
  • In just 4 sleeps we will have our end of the year function.
  • In just 8 sleeps, I will be 39 again...
  • In just 14 sleeps Hunter and I will be married for 10 years
  • In just 19 sleeps we will close the office for the year.
  • In just 20 sleeps we will be on our way to a camping holiday.
Have a great weekend!

Tuesday 23 November 2010

Being very domesticated .

So which three small kitchen appliances are your favorites? The ones you can not live without? I am not talking the standard stuff like kettles, microwaves and toasters, rather the more specialized ones.The ice-cream makers, bread bakers, etc. For instance we have a health griller, given to us as a wedding gift. It was all the fashion almost 10 years ago. I think we have used it 5 times. We also got an electric can opener as a gift - I hate the thing. In fact, I am just going to give it away. I would like a new blender and we are looking into slow cookers.

My top 3 are:
1. Our Russel Hobbs espresso maker. I can make magic coffees of all sorts with this - it is really a bit of a hobby almost and I love the whole process of it. We are both coffee addicts.

2. (Can also be seen in the background of the top picture) My Braun stick blender. I use it a lot! I even make mash with it. I made all my baby food for 3 babies with it and it still serves us well with soup etc.
3. My 3 tier food steamer. Gosh, I think I use it almost every second day. If veggies are not part of a dish or in a dish, they get steamed. I love that I put them in, set the timer and forget about it. And they are so fresh and tasty.

So please tell me which ones are your favorites in your kitchen - the ones you  use often or the ones you specifically love. If you feel the need for a post, please do so and just let me know in the comments. And also, which ones do you have, but do not use?

Monday 22 November 2010

Our little ballerina

Playing along with Cheryl.
The princess had her first ballet recital  on Saturday morning. We all went to watch, even the little boys. Tank goodness that her class was early on in the show as they would not have managed the full concert. The teacher first did the graduating girls, and then started with the pre-primary class (the Princess') progressing through the grades. It was amazing to see how the girls progress through the years.

The Pre-primary girls did a little under the sea mime with mermaids, crabs, dolphins and many more sea animals.

Little mermaids waking up.

Seeing the fruit of a loved extra mural just makes my Monday. Thanks to my mom who really does all the support involved in the ballet.

Friday 19 November 2010

Friday again!

Ah, Friday again! Yeah! I can not be more delighted. So what's happening in our little corner of the world?

  • We have two sick boys on anti-biotics. Little man C , quite predictably developed bronchitis from the cold they all had. Just as predictable is the tonsillitis Little man L has. Just a pity it did not show on the same day and we could have had one trip to the doctor and not two separate ones two days after each other.
  • Tomorrow the Princess will be performing in her first ballet recital. I am sure the cuteness will be immense.
  • We have quite a few social events coming up in the silly season. Somehow I am looking forward to them but am also a bit stressed out by them. I have opted out of a few, child involved day time ones as we desperately need some time off.
  • I am looking for a garingboom for a Christmas tree - just the top "flower" part. I love slightly alternative Christmas trees and until my kids challenge this I will continue with my own little tradition of non- pine tree Christmas trees.
  • The Princess and I have been in the process of writing a letter to Father Christmas for a week. We are just on a picture for now. Everything on the list at present is hugely expensive and we do not do expensive for Christmas. I am hoping if I can jot her memory of things she has asked for in the year Father Christmas will get a more realistic list.
  • On that subject I thought that I haven't done much Christmas shopping yet. But when I looked on my list I was amazed to see that I am halfway there.
  • I am undecided as to if I want to do something for my birthday. If so I am leaning towards breakfast with the girls, or lunch, but not on my birthday, which is on a Saturday - family time! Ag, I just do not know.
I have not done a Photostory on this blog in ages, so here's your Friday treat.

Is this not the cutest thing you have seen in a long time? This is a Lesser African Bush baby and this one is a fully grown adult. Just look at the size on the bricks.

We have been living in our house just a bit more than 9 years and they have been living alongside us for all those years, in the hollows of the roof tile overhangs on our patio. Every year they bring up babies, who leave when grown. Never have we seen an adult so close up before. (we know ther is rabies around, but this one had no rabies related behavior). He/she must have fallen in the jump from the roof to the trees and the dogs were trying to get to it when Hunter saw what was happening. He got them inside and the humans outside to have a look at the obviously frightened little cutie. He then helped it up on the wall with a broom and it merely went it's way in the trees. Such a great honor to have nature this close to you.

PhotoStory Friday

Wednesday 17 November 2010

Did I loose my groove?

I have been wondering about this for a very very long time. Today, it was just driven to the point where I thought that speaking about it might make all the difference.

I feel that I have lost my work groove. I love my job, or should this be loved? I love the energy, the drama, the mad rush to the end and the creativity. In fact, the only thing I despise is the admin issues about running a business, not my particular type of business. The day to day site admin I can handle.

Of all the types of projects that we do, I have always found none more rewarding than retail. I mean, for a woman, what is there to like more than being there at the first thoughts of a shopping centre right up to shopping there some day and then revamping it 8 years later (the average time span to revamp). Those last few weeks of rushing to finish, getting tenants in, working like mad to make the opening date - simply extreme adrenaline rewarding stuff.

Somehow I have lost the joy in all that. I am just finding it a total madhouse of rushing, everybody buggering up and the stress is just getting to me. I would just love to jump off the bandwagon and do some quiet industrial or residential development down the road. I hat that I can not pick up the Princess at school tomorrow because my meetings in Joburg will only end at 4 (I hope). I hate that I am working evenings where Hunter has just finished his studies for the year and we should be spending time together.

I have just lost the passion for what I used to love. Do you think it will come back? I am wondering if it is the time of the year (nope - can not be - we have been in this process many times before), a particularly stressful and tiring year or just being a mom of 3?

And then I think of the excitement of redeveloping my favorite mall next year and I feel a tiny sting of excitement. Or not? Would I rather just sleep?

Oh please, can I just get my groove back and enjoy this again? Please!

Tuesday 16 November 2010

Harassed mom

The ever so charming Betty of Bettybake had this super great idea to do a blog it forward. To give some other great bloggers exposure on ours and they do the same for you. In our little group we complied a list of questions which we all answered.

So, introducing you to the last of my Blog it forward fellow bloggers, meet Laura of Harassed Mom:  Laura is no stranger to me, in fact I consider her a friend and she is certainly one of the most prolific and interesting bloggers around. 

1. Why you started the blog/ who you’re blogging for
I am blogging for myself  I started blogging initially as a 365 photo project but then it developed into a journal about the trials and tribulations of my divorce, being a single mom and having to move home again.

2. What you love about it/ hate about it
I love having an outlet where I can say what I want, when I want about what I want. Its my space and I can do what I want with it.

3. How you came to choose the name for your blog.
The day I registered I felt harassed and so harassed mom was born.

4. Who would you give your last rolo to?
David. Right now my kids aren’t in my good books so it’s not likely they would get a rolo if I had 6 rolls

5. If I were a colour, which would I be...and why.
Blue or yellow. Even though I love pink but blue and/or yellow are such bright happy colours.

6. What 3 moments defined your life and explain briefly.
Getting divorced
The journey that followed the divorce – it was a painful time
Meeting David

7. What song would best describe you? 
I cant think of one! Maybe Dido – Life for Rent?

8. If you could choose another career or job and money is no option, what would you do?
I would write or run a small coffee shop/party venue.

9. If the faerie comes with her magic wand and give you one wish that you have to use for yourself (and no one else), what would it be?
A full time live in domestic!

10.What are you doing this December and are you looking forward to it?
NOTHING and I can not wait!

11. What 3 things are on your Christmas wish list?
A Kenwood Chef
A camera
Gift vouchers for books

12. What is your idea of a perfect day off?
Doing nothing! Ok this probably wouldn’t happen I would find something to do but in theory I would like to wake up when I wanted to, have a breakfast I wanted to, read, blog, check out the internet, maybe watch a DVD or too, have lunch somewhere chilled, go home have a nap. LOL you get the picture.

13. Favourite book – one that you can read over and over and not tire of?
Tuesdays With Morrie and Between Two Eternities

14. First blog you started reading?
It was Jeanettes(http://www.therealjenty.com) locally and then Rachels (http://www.singlemomseeking.com/)

15. You get to make over one room in your house – which room would it be and why? Maybe add a pic of how you would like to change it!
I think my en-suite – it’s a yukky avo green now. I would rip out everything and redo it all in white and black!

If you are looking for a holiday read, have a look at Cat's Bookclub and I have also posted some great pictures on Captured by Cat.

Monday 15 November 2010

October 2010 -Book 27

 The Vintage Caper by Peter Mayle
Peter Mayle is well known for his bestsellers featuring France and more specifically Provence. I have thoroughly enjoyed the other books that I have read by him and this one is no exception.

A lively little detective story featuring the world's best wines and a good shot of humor, takes place between the USA and France. As per usual it is Mayle's descriptions of the French food and lifestyle that brings the real magic to the book. Warning - do not read hungry! The French national character is featured and displayed through some of the colourful characters that populate this book.

I am left with a desire to return to France as soon as possible. To sit at the little cafes, eat the food, drink the wine and look at the people - the very same feeling I have after every wingle book I have read by the author. And certainly some day I will.
An easy and entertaining read, I will certainly recommend it with a 8/10.

The weekend that was.

Another weekend has flown by in the wink of an eye - or so it seems. It was a very very hot one in our little corner of the world and I am sure that the heat contributes to the kids not on their best behavior at times.

On Friday evening we went to our local Spur for dinner with the kids. Little man L has now at last discovered the trampolines and it makes for a more relaxed dinner. After that Hunter left to do an anti-poaching patrol in the Pilansberg park - doing his bit to try and protect our rhinos. He had a lucky escape with a black mamba, but I am not even thinking about it or talking about it. The night proved to be one of our epic sleep failure nights - I think I need a tag for those. Gosh, it was exhausting - summarize to day I slept about 3 and a half hours in broken sleep (3 bits).

Saturday started with me cranky and tired taking the Princess to a friend for a play date and the boys with me for some essentials shopping. I found a great Duplo bargain (their special for the week) at the Lego shop for their Christmas present! Yeah for them (hopefully) still being small enough to hide a gift from them and buy it while they are with you. Hunter arrived back from the park at about 10:30 and at 11:00 we left the Boys in Lucy's care to go to a work related function at Aurelia's at Emporer's Palace. Me having slept very little and Hunter having slept not a wink, made a pretty tired couple arriving. But some gin and tonics, the relaxed atmosphere and great food did it's trick and we had a wonderful afternoon together - kids less and very relaxing. I loved it. The function was organized in the best possible way - no speeches, mingling if you want and the choice of a table just for us two if we wanted it. We really needed the one on one time together and it was just amazing. Needless to say it was an early evening to bed for us all. To be followed by a repeat of the night before - featuring Little man L at 2 am as the Duracell bunny.

Sunday morning Hunter let me sleep in after I did the night time duty and he spent some time with the kidlets. After breakfast I had some me-time - shopping for new gym shoes and going to gym. Returning home the family was busy giving the puppies a bath. I think the kids might have marginally enjoyed it a bit more than the dogs. This was followed by lunch and a nap for all (although Hunter and I both preferred to read). By then the clouds have packed into an impressive dark storm and plans for a walk was abandoned in favor of a braai.I can not describe the absolute relief of the cooler air and rain after the extreme heat of the day. To finish up the weekend we had the 6 weekly ordeal to cut the boys hair - it went better than expected and to top it all, every body slept through last night. Yeah! to the pharmacist that suggested it could be the cold medicine that is keeping L awake!

So what did you do this weekend?

Edited to add - I actually had a wasp sting me yesterday afternoon - gosh, it was sooo sore!

Friday 12 November 2010

Journaling Junkie

The ever so charming Betty of Bettybake had this super great idea to do a blog it forward. To give some other great bloggers exposure on ours and they do the same for you. In our little group we complied a list of questions which we all answered.

So, introducing you to the first of my Blog it forward fellow bloggers, meet Stefanie:
Stefanie is big into scrapbooking, and although I am a very creative girl I never really got into this. So reading her blog is so interesting - it is almost a new language that I have to learn! So go ahead, and have a look.
15 Questions to Stefanie:

1. Why you started the blog/ who you’re blogging for
The journalingjunkie blog was started by Stella Crupko and I took it over July 2 years ago. It is designed to inspire scrapbookers to add meaningful journaling to their creations. Telling the who, what, where and why, with insight, depth and humour.

2. What you love about it/ hate about it
I love having a team of designers to show off, I hate that participation has dwindled and enthusiasm has waned.

3. How you came to choose the name for your blog.
I can’t say why Stella called it journaling junkies, except that she was passionate about journaling.

4. Who would you give your last rolo to?
I would give my last rolo to my hubby if he asked really nicely and my children too ~ actually it would depend on who was with me at the time, being a closet eater of chocolate, it could well be mine, all mine.

5. If I were a colour, which would I be...and why.
I would be mauve, a mixture between pink, purple and lilac, a strong confidant colour.

6. What 3 moments defined your life and explain briefly.
Being born again at the ripe old age of 20.
Getting married to the only person I could dream of spending more than an afternoon with.
Being pregnant 5 times, having three children and the loss of those other  2.

7. What song would best describe you?
I would aspire to “my Father’s eyes” by Amy Grant
I wanted to say “baby makes her blue jeans talk” but my oldest vetoed that one.

8. If you could choose another career or job and money is no option, what would you do?
 Run a bed and breakfast on a tropical island.

9. If the faerie comes with her magic wand and give you one wish that you have to use for yourself (and no one else), what would it be?
To have a healthy, extremely tasty supper for 5, low cholesterol, gluten free at the push of a button every night.

10.What are you doing this December and are you looking forward to it?
We’re looking at cruises at the moment, air flights not withstanding. Yes, would love to go.

11. What 3 things are on your Christmas wish list?
A trip to Disneyland
Jessica Sprauge’s deep in digi class

12. What is your idea of a perfect day off?
Home alone, Jacob’s coffee in one hand, and a great book or magazine in the other, feet under the duvet, on my bed with all three cats.

13. Favourite book – one that you can read over and over and not tire of?
Rebecca Sower’s book “little treasures”

14. First blog you started reading?
Ali Edwards (www.aliedwards.com)

15. You get to make over one room in your house – which room would it be and why? Maybe add a pic of how you would like to change it!
I would love to redo my bathroom, ditch those grey tiles, and mouldy grout. Get rid of the bath and have a huge shower with multiple shower heads, move the window to the side of the house with the best view...and not the neighbours.

Tuesday 9 November 2010

Why didn't anbody warn me?

is what I am thinking at the moment.
This little man L is truly pushing the boundaries at the moment. In terms of busyness, mostly, but also just in terms of ignoring us and any possible punishment or discipline.In the picture here he looks all cute and saintly, and believe me there are periods in the day where I wish his brother had the ability to play for a long period of time on his own, like he does. But certain times during the day is a real challenge. 

He climbs onto EVERYTHING. Very very dangerous behavior. He even climbed out of the dining room window to get outside last night. We can not leave a top story window open in their room because he will find something to climb on and out. It is tiring and nerve wracking. He also has a tube obsession, everything in a tube has to be squeezed out - be it toothpaste, moms body lotion or ointment. He is into everything that he can reach or can climb on something to reach to. Turn your back and he has dragged a stair to the stove and is throwing hands full of rice on to the floor. Or he turns over the box of serial on the floor. Give him juice in a cup (and yes, I am trying to do away with sippy cups etc.) and he will find somewhere to spill it and make a mess. Give him access to the outside and he will sit in the dog's water bowl or splash it everywhere. It is truly tiring.

Adding to this is the old "self" thing - he insist on pouring his own juice (with the mess involved), closing the doors and putting his own toothpaste on his brush. A pity he does not get the potty training no 2 in that category too (yes, we still do not have that one under control)

I truly believe that school next year might help in sorting some of these energy issues out - he is still very tired and need a nap in the day, but runs the rest of the day on full speed, total overdrive. And my, can he run! He runs so fast for that tiny low muscle toned body. 

But then, after running like mad, destroying all an sunder - he calls me (by my name these days, not mommy!) and climbs onto my lap for a huge wet kiss and a cuddle- and sometimes a puppy dog lick. And then he spends half an hour playing with his cars in total peace and quiet.

So the point to this all is the old girl vs boy debate. Which is the most difficult? Marcia and I have been debating this little issue. My conclusion - on an emotional level girls are certainly more difficult. Physically, certainly boys are on a totally different level. Just totally! 

What's your opinion?

Monday 8 November 2010

On decisions made and confirmed.

We as parents make decisions about our children and their futures every single day. Some are just more important than others.This is one of those big ones.

The Princess turns 6 early in January - in South Africa's school system children go to grade one in the year that they turn 7 as our school year runs with the calender year. But children like her, that are on the edge of that barrier has the option to start school early (or late in the other direction). At her present school she has surged ahead and will be graduating in a few days from grade 0 - practically a year ahead of schedule. She has also been declared school ready and can do basic sums and spell, all in English, not her mother tongue. She can therefore go to grade 1 next year.

We as parents have however decided to hold her back and let her start school in the intended year. That will mean that she will be doing grade 0 again. The difference is that it will be in Afrikaans and not in English, and at the pre-school of the primary school that she will be attending. Her current teacher agrees that although academically she is school ready, she can do with a bit of emotional growth and is in agreement with our choice.Possibly the opinion of our pediatrician is what enforced it in our minds - they may be fine starting early, but as teenagers that one year earlier impacts heavily on an already stressful period of life.

On Saturday we went to the orientation day of her new school, the teacher spent an hour with the kids in the class without the parents and after that we had a chance each to talk to her. I was delighted that she is more than pleased to have a kid in her class that could be a bit ahead of the pack and she has out of her own accord promised to stimulate her when needed. She will also go ahead with teaching her to spell in Afrikaans. Possibly we can move to reading at home as the school is not allowed to do that officially.

So our Princess is going to play for another year -  the stress of school uniforms and homework will wait a while and mom has another year to breathe a bit easier.

Resting assured that we made the right decision, the best one for our child, makes my Monday.
Playing along with Cheryl.

Friday 5 November 2010

A morning at Safari nursery.

PhotoStory Friday 
On Sunday we spent another great morning out at Safari Nursery - I find going out a bit with the kids when daddy is gone helps to ease the day over.. The kids love to play there and it results in good naps, most of the time - as was for Sunday. As per usual, better told in pictures:

First we checked out the parrots.

And the lovely seasonals

The little details all around.

And some more

Even rusty old gas bottles can look nice.

Thursday 4 November 2010

Loving at the moment

I have a lot on my mind at the moment and something I am writing a post about. It is just not developing as I want it too, maybe I am too close yet to put words to it.Today, a month before my birthday, I am feeling rather fragile. Maybe reading and finishing my Deon Meyer book into the early morning hours was not such a great idea.

So, how about some lighter moments - thing I am loving at the moment.
  1. Summer rain - I love rain, the smell, the sounds the freshness in the air. That special smell just after it started to rain.
  2. Longer daylight hours and playtime after work outside with the kids. Yesterday they water coloured on the patio until almost 6:30 and dinner time.
  3. Watermelon. This year they seem to be so wonderfully sweet so early in the season. The sugary sweetness of it all.
  4. The promise of special events and some treats in the weekends to follow after Hunter's exams are done next week.
  5. Book launch season - I love attending these - in fact we both love it. I attended Deon Meyer's , Hunter attended Johan Bakkes' last week and tonight I am meeting Marita van der Vyfer at her book launch.I have been an admirer of her for ages.
  6. New prospects - the Princess is so excited about going to her new school next year. On Saturday we will be attending a special welcome day where she will meet her new teacher and class mates.
  7. Summer sandals - I truly have no idea how men go  through the whole day at the office in closed, hot shoes. I am so glad that it is socially acceptable to wear cool, open shoes for a woman.
  8. Cool summer dresses and skirts. At the moment I am loving feeling feminine and fresh in pretty summer gear.
  9. Cadbury's chocolate eclair pops - truly, I am not going to buy them again -I am addicted.
  10. The most awesome salads at Isabella's. On Monday my BFF Hesti and I had lunch there - my word, I had a new one and it was just as stunning as the previous time. This time I had gorgonzola, roasted honeyed nuts and pears in red wine salad. 
So what are your current favorites?

Wednesday 3 November 2010

LIke mother, like daughter.

Wordful Wednesday at Parenting by dummies.
The Princess has and absolute craving to create, to make and play that way. No different from me who was a potter for years, makes cards, takes photos and whatever seems appealing at the time. This weekend was a single mommy one (BTW - Hunter had offered to tell all those who have asked before what he actually does over these weekends - blog post to follow), so I was well stocked with ideas.

I bought a bag of self stick foam flowers for R15 at an art shop - we still have half of it left over, after she played around on paper and their plastic chairs, made a pencil holder for her teacher and a faerie wand for herself.
Then we baked cookies, as we often do over weekends. I love baking -I find it therapeutic. She clearly does too. I bought these brilliant cookie cutters with stencils for each and she spent more than an hour creating her edible artworks.

Tuesday 2 November 2010

Its just not fair.

And no, there will be no photos with this post. NONE. WHATSOEVER.

One would think that having ever increasing wrinkles would discount it. One would think that looking at the mirror each morning and silently exclaiming :"Gosh, I am getting old" would exclude it. One would think that decreasing pre-menopausal hormones would counter it.

But no! I have a huge pimple to the left of my mouth and another huge one on my chin. It's not fair, really. One can not have pimples and wrinkles at the same time. There should be some balance to all of this.

It's not fair!

Monday 1 November 2010

First day at school.

On Thursday last week the Boys unexpectedly had their first day at school. Lucy had to urgently return home for urgent matters and I phoned the school (that the Princess attends and they have been admitted to next year), to ask if they could assist. They agreed as it would be a good preparation for next year - so unofficially, at the end of the school year, they had their first two days at school.

Funny how you get to know your kids, as it went exactly like I predicted it would. Little man C threw a huge crying fit when I left, and then had a ball the rest of the day on Thursday. Ditto for Friday when dad dropped them off. Little man L had a small cry on Thursday, but stayed a bit teary through the day - they called in the Princess to be with him, and he was fine. On Friday, he cried with the drop off, but was ok during the rest of the day, even started to interact with some of the other kids.

I am really glad we got this "practice run". I am so 100% sure that they are ready and that all will go well next year.