Thursday, 30 October 2014

You are not alone.

Yesterday afternoon as I sat amongst a group of moms waiting for extramural photos to be taken at school a mom sinks down onto the lawn next to me with a huge sigh. " I can not any more. I even had a chocolate on the sly in my car right now".  She went on to tell us how busy her week has been and that in 45 minutes time she had to be back at the high school across the street with picnic dinner for her family and her high school boy in tow. It's silly season all round.

Even before she arrived talk was all about how hectic this term is and how everyone feels that they are just not coping. I had a headache lingering from earlier the day despite taking some meds. " Well you are lucky - my kids find out if I eat chocolate in the car" another mom exclaimed to which mom 1 answered that she is a pro - she has already chucked away the wrapper in the bin at the gate to the school.

And so the next mom explained that she and her hubby pig out on a slab of chocolate every night when the kids are in bed. "Damn the chocolate, we have a good shot of whiskey every night" one of the moms with 4 kids said. "I can not wait until we get home, never mind the kids are in bed to have my glass of wine" another mom explained - she does have two busy toddlers and a grade 1. I admitted to doing maybe a bit of them all if occasion calls but whipped out my trusty bottle of ResQ remedy that has been floating in my handbag since about August this year. "Snap!" called another mom, her REsQ in hand and with a "Cheers" we both had a few drops to loads of laughter all around us.

It turns out that yes, we are not alone and yes, we are all struggling a bit to cope with all that has to be done. But with a bit of laughter (and a few drops or chomps of your choice ) maybe we will all make it to the end of the year.

So - what is your "drug of choice"? And are you also finding it very very busy - or are we just all very tired? I suspect it's a bit of both.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

All about Candy buffets

Some of you may know that I am not a big supporter of the traditional party pack. The one pre filled to the brim with sweets - some of which the origin is totally unknown and the kids feel obliged to either eat or bring home. Mine in general end up not eating most of it in any event.  In stead, we have switched to the Candy buffet idea. First of all - it looks wonderful. Ok, mine not as great as the ones the professionals do, but still pretty. Secondly the kids love it! They love to pick what they want and what may seem to them to be big amounts of sweets. They love dishing in themselves with a scoop, carefully choosing what looks great and avoiding what they do not like.

But let me tell you the secret - they take way way less that what would be in the traditional party pack. And they take only what they eat or want. There is almost zero wastage as whatever stays uneaten you can use at home later. Kids in general will not take anything they do not like if they have a choice. I am also convinced that it costs you less because you can buy big quantities bags and not more expensive smaller bagged units.

Another thing I totally love is that the parents are not shy to help themselves. I will even go so far that I think the parents like it even more than the kids. You will see parents enjoying a jelly snake as if they do it every day. Sneaking in a mini fizzer or especially those apricots that I am convinced I buy solely for the parents every year.

So I thought I will do a post on how we did our last 3 candy buffets and what was popular or not to help you on your way to what may be your first one.

Space Party:

I used plastic, stainless steel and foil containers to go with the theme. We also named every sweet something that had to do with the theme. The kids dished their sweets into foil containers and dispensed to take home what was left (or add to it) in celophane bags that was dropped into themed silver paper bags. We used silver paper plates for cake or boerewors rolls.

 What was offered:
Jelly feet, sherbet packets, popcorn, monster pops, coloured cachous( you may know the pink only version), jelly domes, other jelly domes with the white bits in, apricots, those coloured candy corn rings, liquorice, smarties and cheese curls
 Most popular eats:
Sherbet - Actually you can never have enough sherbet and will never be left with any. It's a golden candy buffet rule.
Apricots - we never have any left but this I think is 60% parents. But some kids love them too.
Cheese curls - need I say more.
Popcorn - every bit eaten.
My worst buy of the party:
Those candy almost chip like sweet rings. I find them disgusting but it looked to me like children like them and the fit the theme. Very little eaten . I actually just gave the huge bag that was left to the school to use for baking day.
Moment I loved most:
When Marcia took a party pack home with those 'Space capsules" which she loves.

Horse farm party:

We used buckets and brown paper bags to hold the items. Because it was in a dusty place I bought small packets of chips (and a lot). The kids dished their sweeties into decorated brown paper bags (I forgot to take a photo of them!) and added to take home.

What was offered: 
Home made brownies, sherbet bottles, marshmallow cones, coconut coated marshmallows, elegance fruit toffees, chocolate echlair toffees, monster pops,  candy watches, similar candies like ziffers on a stick and small bags of crisps. 
 Most popular eats:
My MIL chocolate brownies - seen here in one red and green bucket. These were completely swiped not even half into the party regardless of the fact that we first served boerierolls and prego rolls. I thought we would have left for tea the next day but we re filled the buckets 4 times. I think this is possibly 80% parents.
The apricots - once again parents mostly I think.
The sherbet bottles - only 2 left at the end of the party.
The coconut covered marshmallows.
My worst buy of the party:
Will you believe it - the monster pops! Only 2 taken out of the whole bag. It seems that if kids have the choice they do not take lollypops.
Favorite moment of the party:
The mom that refuse to leave without the brownie recipe scribbled on the back of her boys' party pack by my MIL.

This year's Lego party. 

I got the kids involved this year and let them build containers out of Lego Duplo and used some tins I have been collecting and a cupcake stand. Once again packets of small chips. For containers to dish in and take home I made Lego boxes with their names on (contact me if you need the template)

What was offered:
Fruit chews, sour worms, jelly snakes, sherbet, apricots (but not the nice type - could not find them), cola mini fizzers, coloured cachous, chocolate echlairs, jelly beans, chomps, home made chocolate drops, home made rice crispie marshmallow treats and petty nice lego blocks.
Most popular eats:
The jelly snakes disappeared in minutes and not a single bag of sherbet was left. The chomps were also totally swiped. But what totally floored me was the fact that 96 cupcakeholder sized marshmallow treats were eaten. I by accident took the two containers that was meant for school the next day along with the party's container. All 3 totally eaten. I decided early on to unpack the others when I saw how popular they were.
My worst buy of the party:
The wrong type of apricots. I did not even buy lollipops this time around.
Favorite moment:
Two dads begging me to find more rice crispie cakes - which triggered me bringing out the next days' too. They each blatantly took 4 and went on to eat. 

So what do you do for parties? And have you considered this? Come to think of it - this is much more like we used to have in our simple uncomplicated parties when we were kids.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

This that and the other

Some really random photos and chatting today.

So who is old enough to have grown up in the 80's? Remember these? Yes, they are back and the girls apparently like them. Just now, they come with glitter inside. I think we use to call the Jelly Babies?
 The many sizes of a Lego Yoda figure - Mr C is quite obsessed not only with Lego but also Yoda - he even pulls his face like Yoda. The boys asked for Lego or money for their birthdays and each got a small fortune - we went to the Lego shop and did BIG shopping. Mr L bought one of those huge City sets which he build in a week. Mr C bought a very difficult house and a Yoda alarm clock and watch that has a mini figure included. The Yoda LED flashlight (middle size one) was a present from his sister. (Mr L got a Startrooper LED flashlight)

 On Saturday A and I had a girls afternoon. We do not often get the chance so I let her choose. She chose to go shopping (we had to buy a swimming costume and she also got to choose some dresses and tops) and to have a milkshake at our local newest sensation - 23 on Hazelwood. This is a Nutella milkshake with a mini doughnut on top. It was divine but completely too much.
 The boys at the same time had a stunning Blue Bulls rugby party. The mom bakes amazing cakes - but just look at these sugar cookies!
 Our first roses are in bloom - makes me so very very happy!
 See the little froglet? The kids discovered him on an outing and spent some time just studying him. Very very cute indeed.
 And the final bit of random. Who can guess who decorated the cakes below? One is by my twin boys and the other by A and her BFF.

It turns out boys go for pretty and equal spacing and girls for what looks like total random too much of everything. With a banner "the Ocean" . After some explanation I could sort of grasp that there is a bed of sea plants and two black whales. But seriously?

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

When Pretoria paints herself purple....

 You know that apart from the pretty and your irritated sinuses it is also RAD exam time and way way more hectic that the fourth term brings. By the way, did you know that Pretoria also sports one street with white Jacarandas? (You can see them on the city view above towards the foreground). Herbert Baker street in Groenkloof if you want to take a drive. ) Back to the realities at home.

As I said - RAD ballet exams was yesterday. The Princess is positive it went well. It is a difficult but very beautiful syllabus - in fact, next year they are not going on with grade 4 as half their troupe will be below the minimum age - so they will do grade 3 solo next year and grade 4 the year after.
This is called a character skirt and shoes- a small part of RAD ballet
 She also scored an A++ with her drama partner in unprepared drama last week. Unprepared drama always has me totally amazed as they get 10 minutes to study a  story, prepare a piece and bring it on the stage. No help from the teacher. She was so happy with that much coveted A++ and there were only two groups that afternoon that managed that score.

Mr L has a huge week ahead - their grade R graduation is a total concert with two numbers per child, costumes etc and then the actual capping. The concert is on Wednesday, Thursday nights and Friday morning (for grandparents) and his class' capping on Thursday night. Apparently he is enjoying it a lot and I can not wait to see him on stage.

Mr C is doing well and  he has an artwork on show at the school's cultural evening. Can not wait to see it.

Jacaranda time is also Santa Shoebox time - I know a lot of bloggers are involved but do get involved if you are not already. This year I was very brave and took the 3 kids (plus friend K in tow) to shop for "their" kids last Saturday morning. They chose every item themselves - up to the colour of the toothbrushes. After this shop the boys added stickers, A added a little necklace and alice bands for her girl and I added little money purses for all 3. The boxes are choc and block and we will deliver on Saturday. I love how this teach them that they are so very privileged even if they are not rich they have way more than some other kids.

 Ever wondered how to get a book into a shoebox? This is what we do - roll it, secore with a rubber band, fit diagonally into the box and fill roll with items.
So what's happening in your word?

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

On the Bookclub, friendship and good books and food.

Yesterday was a tough day. In fact, the last few months, no make that this year has been super tough. I can not go into the details of what this all entails but I am sure we will one day look back at this year and say, "Wow, we made it" like we do after the first year with 3 kids under 3.
My table was all about words

Last night was bookclub - and as one of the other girls remarked when we left - even if you felt extremely tired , or the day was super tough and you are actually a bit sick and thought about staying home, going to bookclub was the best idea ever. I am not sure what exactly is the winning formula - if it's the company of a wonderful group of woman who all became good friends or the fact that we all love books and discuss them. Just the night out - for a lot of us it is the only me time we have every month.  Or if it is the random non -book chats that happens before and during dinner (books and book discussions follow after)? Is it the great food we all take pride in producing once a year? For instance last night's menu was beef roll with apricots, beetroot risotto, oven baked veggies and a pea and bacon salad with home made strawberry and kiwi semifreddo for desert.

My menu was inspired by Deon Meyer characters

I think it is a combination of it all - and the glass or so of good wine adds to it. And although none of our problems and stresses were solved, at least for the night we laughed and laughed and you got that "everything will be alright in the end, if it's not alright its not the end yet" feeling. Maybe just for an hour or two.

So I want to know what lifts your spirits? What social get together makes it all better?
(Photos from my hosting of the book club last month. Quote from "The best exotic Marigold hotel)

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Boy did we have a great weekend....

I always say it, but I think I always mean it too - I have never been so thankful that the school closed for the holidays on Friday. The last 2 weeks of the term was hectic and very busy- more about that later. Although I do work this whole holiday things are way way easier - the kids are at home, enjoying themselves I am told. But there is no pressure to get up way early - in fact I can easily get up at 7 and be at the office way before 8. There is no homework to check, extra murals are reduced to swimming and horse riding (and OT for Mr L)  - life has an easier and relaxed swing to it.

On Friday the Princess had a sleepover party so it was just me and the 3 boys at home. We bought the boys what we refer to as Skilectric from our youth - but now is called Carrera slot cars for their birthday and boy, are we having fun. Not sure if the 2 small boys are having the most fun or the bigger folk. So Friday night was Take Aways and some serious racing. Hunter spoiled me with some alone time this weekend so I went to bed earliesh - I was in fact so tired I could not keep my eyes open. It's been a long term.

On Saturday morning I slept in a bit while the boys went to horse riding. Where Mr C took a tumble of Willow - the first of our 3 to fall in more than a year and a half's riding. He is fine though and was really very very brave - getting up, having a drink and getting back on Willow.

Later the morning I left with my friend A to explore Tierlantyntjie mark. I did not buy much but as I very seldom go to these events and Hunter gave us heaps of time we really enjoyed milling through the stalls and had a fantastic lunch of rolls with lamb, rocket, onions and tomato and some very funky cocktails which for the life of me I can not remember the details of. We really had a lovely time.
Mine was not the wow looking cocktail on the left but it was great though

 My best buys - extra thin writable washi tape - ideal for notes on photos in Project Life and a stunning necklace with a mommy bird and 3 little birdies. Just perfect for me (although a daddy bird would have been great)

We headed over to my mom to watch the Springbok against the All Blacks rugby match and have a braai. My, what a match. Mr L is a HUGE rugby fan (in fact it's an obsession that often is too much for us) and truly enjoyed the game. The Egyptian geese at the retirement village are raising 10 goslings this year and they are incredibly cute to see. My moms roses are also in full bloom already. Hunter and the kids had their "once a holiday lounge camp out" the night and I had a great sound sleep alone upstairs. (as I said I was spoiled this weekend).

On Sunday morning after I slept a bit later than usual we hiked the Faerie Glen koppie with kids, dogs and all. This is fast becoming the tradition it used to be when the kids were small and we could carry them all between the two of us. Hunter made exceptionally great iced tea to enjoy afterwards and made us a yummy traditional English breakfast.
We headed for lunch with Hunter's aunt and uncle and some cousins for Sunday early afternoon, and returned home to our now enforced rest time. This means you have to be on your bed - you can read, play with a car, whatever. But you lie down on your bed. For the first time in what feels forever we all slept like logs - I had to in fact wake up the whole household around 5:30!

A great great weekend!

As you all know I spend very little time online over weekends - it's family time. But Marcia has a monthly photographic theme on some Saturdays and as I did not post it then, here is my take on "Patterns" - seen recently in the Pretoria Botanical gardens. (better late than never)
So how was your weekend.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

So lets talk about the world we live in.

I am sure plenty of you have seen this: Parenting as a Gen Xer. If you haven't please go have a read before you read any further here as just reading my post will not give you the full picture.

I am not going to go into a long discussion about the positives and negatives about the world that our kids are growing up in - I think the article pretty much sums it all up. We know we can not stop it, and that there is much that is good about it - but we also know we need to manage it. Where I want to take it further is the "pointing out the river" thing.

I have talked before about family culture - more than the values and principles you want to install in your kids. But also what you enjoy as a family. Countering the world they are growing up in with a culture of honest to goodness, traditional family values. Giving them the best of both worlds.  And enjoying the opposite to what screen time brings. That is why I love that we as a family take the time to enjoy a late afternoon walk with the puppies up the koppie, why we go to swim together, go camping and spend time with friends without screens. It was wonderful to see last weekend how screens and electronic devices were mostly forgotten by the kids. How cycling on the dirt roads, teasing each other with the garden hose and building shelters out of next to nothing was priority. You could hear them talking and chatting away, running around, playing hide and seek and so much more. The same can be said of the adults mostly - with little or no phone reception the old game of good conversation was played. It was just great.

I do believe that yes, we are the ground breakers of the new generation, and as such rests not only managing what the new world bring, but showing them that the old world holds its own magic - magic that we can bring through without losing the good the new world brings. That is why I would, in stead of merely pointing out the river each morning, stop in the afternoon, get the kids out of the car and go and explore the river. We need to take this one further - we need to invest heavily into the mindsets of our kids, not just try to impress the merest sliver of oppertunity.

I would love to know your thoughts on this.