Friday 31 January 2014

I read, therefore I am

Most of you know that I am a passionate reader - fiction being my poison of choice but I also have a soft spot for a pretty cook book or a great real life adventure. I have also been in a Bookclub for a few years, acing as secretary like forever for the club. I also have a blogging connection with the wonderful folks of Exclusive Books - my hangout of choice in many shopping malls. Even in the day of Kindle I still like to sit with a "real"book and read my heart out.

I have recently discovered that Exclusive Books makes the "Buy a good book" thing a lot easier by publishing an "Exclusive Books recommends" list of 5 books every month, chosen with care from the publishers list of the month. You can be sure that choosing any one of these will give you great reading joy.

Their golden favorite for this month is by one of my all time favorite writers - Amy Tan and is titled: "Valley of Amazement".I will never forget the first Amy Tan I ever read - "The Joy Luck Club" - it had me running to the closest Chinese takeaway to eat the lovely flavours so vividly described in the book while devouring her great characters and story line. This book spans over 50 years and two continents and promise to be a riveting read.
The other books on the list are:
  • Donna Tart's "The Goldfinch" I will never forget her "The Secret History" - such a chilling tale. This book sounds like a great read and has received excellent reviews.
  • One of the most inspiring books of the last six months is An Astronaut’s Guide to Life by the world’s most famous astronaut by Colonel Chris Hadfield who has spent over 4000 hours in space. It promise to change the way you think of our world.
  •  In the traditional and cosy vein of PG Wodehouse is Sebastian Faulkes’ resurrection of the inimitable Jeeves in Jeeves and the Wedding Bells
  • Rounding off their selection is the stunning The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg. With all the men off to war, Fritzi and her sisters must learn men's work, from fixing flats to driving the tow truck. Wearing smart little caps, short skirts and roller skates, they fly round the forecourt of The All-Girl's Filling Station. But it's wartime, and the sisters' peace won't last long. I really want to read this one - its sounds great.
 ( You may notice that I have incorporated the "Cat's bookclub" blog into this one - there is going to be a lot of book talk here)

Tuesday 28 January 2014

My experience as a grade 1 mom is way way easier the second time around. Wow, what a difference. Party because you know your way around activities and how things fit together so you as a mom have more confidence and know how things work.

But party also because Mr C seem to be such an easy going grade 1. Possibly because he is a second child - as one of A's friends' mom pointed out the other day - the second child's path is paved by their older sibling (s). They are more familiar with things, they have possibly been to some places with their older siblings and they have in our case a caring older sister at after care to ease things in. But he also has such self confidence in all this.

The Princess is enjoying grade 3 - it is a big leap in terms of the amount of home work they get but she is copping well. She got her first merit yesterday - I think the soonest she ever got one.

L is settling in well, or so it seems on the surface. However he is giving us all hell about eating(or not). Every meal is a fight - we are exhausted.

I am frustrated and struggling with some extra mural activities and fitting things together (or not) but hopefully by the end of the week things will be sorted. Its mainly A's swimming - it almost seem that swimming coaches are a fickle bunch and that each season we have another issue with the couch at school. C had cashes but I was able to sort out where what fits. He enjoyed his first Chess class yesterday and is very excited about all that.

So here's to the full tempo of the school year.

Thursday 23 January 2014

December holidays part 1

When we took the decision to do a family December holiday last year, we could not have been more spot on in our timing. Family bonds were formed and strengthened - the kids were all at an age where they could form them and will have their own memories. We were all together for Christmas and some quality family time was spent with Hunters brother and family and his parents.

But lets start at the start - we drove down from Gauteng to a farm we totally adore somewhere between Smithfield and Bethulie in the Freestate. It is an area that Hunter and I both adore - there is magic to big open spaces, magical stars and the wind playing in the windpumps. Not to mention the fantastic Karoo food and stunning old house.

Just before turning off to the farm we had the best pies ever at Kuilfontein padstal.
 After arriving at the farm and unpacking only what we needed there Hunter had a nap and the kids and I played around the house. There was cycling and running until they discovered froglets in the "leivoor" which kept them busy for ages.

After some much needed refreshment I went for a nap and the rest of the family for a long walk.

 I woke up refreshed after about an hour and went in search for them - seeing a little pink top far away close to one of the farm dams. I made my way there to find them having a swim in the dam. (I joined them after the pictures - it was hugely refreshing)

Looking back to the farm house from the dam.
 It was a wonderful afternoon - Hunter had a quick bike ride and we had a lovely dinner. To top it all the moon was bright and full over the karoo.
 We left very early the next morning for Houtbay, Cape Town. Dawn was simply spectacular from the car.
We arrived around midday in Houtbay to big welcomes from the cousins. We also got to meet their lovely puppy and after unpacking etc we headed to Houtbay beach for a bit of a swim and then to their pool. Oh gosh, was it cold for us after the last 4 years of North coast Natal waters! But fantastic weather for Cape Town

Tuesday 21 January 2014

For quite a while I have been contemplating this

And now I know I have to do it. For many many reasons, but the main one being that my kids are growing up. A is at an age where they will learn Google at school this year and I really do not want her to in any way be embarrassed by anything that is available on this public blog. At the same time I do not want to loose this document for my kids - I do not want to loose the memories I have kept both for them and for me - and I certainly do not want to stop keeping the memories. I know that it is one of the things that truly makes me happy - being the family's memory keeper.

So I have made a decision - I have imported this compete blog into another blog that is a private blog. I will delete some posts from this original blog, remove a lot of photos, but leave it as a public blog from where I will continue anonymously. This will allow for a public presence but keep the family's privacy.At the same time the private blog will continue as per the usual. I may publish the same post on both but changing the visuals etc. Some posts may not be on both.

So, if you want to be added to the private blog, send me and email at rinagousatgmaildotcom. As and when I get the time I will delete posts etc from this blog.

Friday 17 January 2014

Of growing up and big boy stuff

Every year I feel myself starting with the same post on this bog - something to the tune of "This holiday huge progress was made by....." referring to one or more kids reaching some milestone. Its true that time together in a relaxing environment often encourage these moments. This year was no different as...

 Two big boys got rid of their fairy wheels and are cycling like hooligans. To add to that they both lost their second baby tooth mere minutes apart.

This growing up thing is now really going way too fast. I am super proud of them both.

Wednesday 15 January 2014

Back to school 2014 and Mr C's big day

This morning I was woken by a very excited Mr L and a slightly more subdued Mr C. By the time I was out of the shower we had 3 kids dressed and ready to prepare for the first school day of the year.

 Hunter dropped off Mr L who he reported after some initial shyness was totally happy in his class. A asked me and  Mr C to walk with her to where the grade 3's are meeting but when she saw her friends she quickly called "Bye" over her shoulder and ran to them. So it left me and Mr C to enjoy his big day - first one in the real big school in grade 1.

 I was totally surprised by his confidence and total joy over at last being in grade 1. The fact that he and his best "girl" friend are in the same class and that he met his teacher last year certainly helped to make the day a very happy one indeed. I do think the way that they integrated the grade 0 classes into the school more and more towards the end of last year made such a huge difference.

My precious little man C - mom knows that you have looked forward to this day for ages I know that you really want to learn and enjoy school and I know that you are going to make us so very proud of you. I love you to no end. May your school career be blessed beyond words.

Tuesday 14 January 2014

The small things really are the big things

So I am back at work after our well deserved holiday. A holiday where things did not go exactly as planned but where never the less, we made the best off and all had heaps of fun. We had a big road trip, first sleeping over in the karoo near Bethulie, then spending time in Cape Town (mostly Houtbay) and on to Port Elizabeth over Christmas. We ended our trip with a day with our friends in the karoo on a farm bordering the Orange river. The kids were amazing these holidays - I can hardly describe how great they were and am immensely proud of them.

So I sat with the kids after the holiday away and we talked about their favorite moment of the holiday. We had plenty of highlights, visiting the Two Oceans Aquarium, eating at Simons at Groot Constantia, Christmas with many spoils, ice cream on the beach and too many to mention. A immediately said that it was when she took Spirit, a Welsh pony for a swim in the dam on the farm on the day before last of our holiday. I guess to be expected from a horse lover but she was also the most enthusiastic swimmer amongst our bunch and adores the beach sharing a passion for Sardinia bay with both her parents.
 I then prompted L who simply said "quad bike" referring to all the bike rides on the farm with dad. Anything with engines is his passion, possibly a quad bike most of all.
 C has been quiet all the time and then he quickly said - "Swimming in the farm dam" (our first day on holiday) and then changed it to swimming with the horses as well. And then said "no, no, finding the star fish in Sardinia bay and releasing it again".
 He was clearly having a tough time deciding. And then he said it, "actually every thing was the best because we did it all together."

And that I guess is the answer - its the small things (none of these cost anything) that makes the big things count. Spending time together doing things we enjoy is what holidays are all about. Come to think of it, it's what life's about. May your 2014 be filled with magic moments.