Friday, 27 May 2016

Five for Friday edition 9

So how has your week been? Mine in a nutshell:

  •  The Angry Birds bug has bitten - and Spar has another of those campaigns that can possibly drive parents nuts. I have informed the kids that there will not be 3 collectors albums - just one which they will share. The kids fully agreed - do not say we did not learn something from those darn Stikeez. We collected the first booklets of stickers in very little time (I pass a Spar between work and home so milk and bread shopping is always there) and the kids each used their pocket money savings to buy one. I have to say that the big ones are soft and cuddly.

  • A had a tummy bug on Monday and Tuesday - rather horrid timing because she missed two tests and exams start this Monday so she missed on study time but I guess it is better timing than next week - if there is anything like that even. 
  • The kids have had a rather fabulous sport week - the boys' rugby team had two huge wins (43-7 and 37-0 ) this week and A's hockey team had a 4-0 win last Friday. This afternoon they face a very tough hockey match - hoping they will do well again.
  • Autumn is incredibly beautiful - this year we seem to have ore grey skies than the usual. This picture was taken on Friday afternoon at an icy cold hockey match. 

  • I have a new favorite scarf - one of about 3 thing I like in winter(Scarves, boots and soup) - I ordered it on Facebook, paid and had it in less than 24 hours. Try Mooi Moois for fabulous service and beautiful products. I am hugely impressed.
So tell me about your 5 things for today.
Disclaimer - Mooi Moois have no idea I am giving them a shout out. I bought my product off Facebook and am just very impressed.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

So what do you do with your evenings?

Odd question? I think not. Please do not tell me you are watching series and catching up on Game of Thrones. Why do I specifically single out Game of Thrones? Well it is just the current office obsession around here. Every now and again they come and go. It used to be Gosworth park, Grey's anatomy, CSI, the Mentalist, The Blacklist, Homeland, The Dome- you name it.

The point is not really that. The point is - where do you get the time? I am honestly asking myself at the moment what on earth is happening to my evenings. Admittedly I would personally rather read a book than watch TV but that's besides the point. For the last two weeks I did not read three pages before falling asleep. I am just tired. Ideally I want to be in bed by 10 but seldom achieve that. I am also not a Winter person so getting into bed earlier is a much better option than staying up. A bit like a mini hibernation.

There has been winter cupboard organization and decluttering - which did make me extremely happy. And looking through piles of old tests and notes and finding the best ones to copy for A's exams - starting on Monday. The usual washing up, lunch boxes and cooking for tomorrow night - but Hunter is a champion in helping with this - some nights totally taking it over.

Oh I complain about nothing really because Monday night I cuddled with A, sick and not going to school on Tuesday and watched Survivor. Alas - it's my own management that need to improve - my own priorities to set.

I do of course have a nice pile of books waiting on my bedside table, a half finished painting, many colouring in books calling my name and a very behind Project Life album. It's more a question I guess of wanting to do too much than having too little time. Of managing what needs to happen first or what I want to happen first.

But tonight I am going to get into bed early and watch "The Fault in our Stars " - a book I hugely enjoyed but never seen the movie. Call it girl time with myself. Tonight the rest can wait. Even the books. I have set my priority. Maybe that is the answer! Setting the evenings' priority ahead of the time - then knowing exactly what to expect of it.

So tell me - what are your evenings like? I know for some I have a huge luxury in having nay time at all to myself in the evenings . And is there anyone else that have so many nice things you want to do - and do tell me what they are.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Another Tuesday booksday

I am leaving today's Book review over to A - who wrote this review for school and gave me permission to publish it here. So here's something for the tween girls to read:
Meet Mia Thermpolis – an ordinary girl that feels very unpopular and struggles to pass her Algebra exam. One morning she wakes up as herself and goes to bed that same night as Amelia Migonette Grimaldi Thermpolis Renaldo – Crown Princess of Genovia.

Today, I am reviewing The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot. Mia lives in Manhattan, New York with her artist Mom who is dating one of her teachers, Mr. Gianini. Her Dad, after falling ill with cancer, decides it’s time for Mia to grow into the Crown Princess she is destined to be.

The storey also features Mia’s best friend, Lilly who I do not like so much as she is very arrogant about being smart and having her own TV show. My favourite character however is Grandmêre who has the task of teaching Mia to be a proper Princess of Genovia. I realise a lot of readers may not like her but I think she is funny and wise and although she and Mia often do not agree they do love each other. Mia in particular is a warm and honest character that you grow to love.

The book reminds us that even if we used to something our wholes lives, it doesn’t mean that it is necessarily the truth. Mia makes many mistakes in the book but she always learns from her choices. The story also teaches us that what may seem very ordinary may disguise something very extraordinary.

I really recommend the book for girls. It’s a great story with wonderful characters you will grow to love. Maybe we all want to be Mia and be a real life Princess or maybe we would like to have a wonderful best friend like Mia.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Five for Friday edition 8

So how was your week? Looking forward to the weekend? I am totally.

1. The current series of "Humans of New York" is touching me deeply. Bloody cancer - hitting so many people so very hard. I have my personal grudges against the bugger. The sadness but also the hope of these kids and their parents are talking to my heart every day. We have a little boy in our school dying at the moment....the sadness is overwhelming.

2. On the same trend - a mom at the school have been collecting bath capsules for the Pediatric cancer ward at Unitas hospital. The response has been huge and we collected a huge box between two classes. A great initiative - they hand them out with chemo to the kids to make their day just a little better they get "tablets" to play with. The photos she send back to us with thanks show the huge happiness a mere R20 given with love and care can bring.

3. All 3 the kids asked me to make some soup last night! I was at first a bit taken back and then thought wow! Great opportunity. They were remembering their days at the pre-school after care where they sometimes had soup in winter and all of a sudden they all enthusiastically requested soup. Guess who will be cooking soup this weekend? Any great recipes around?

4. With winter now it is hard to get the kids up in the morning - especially A's wake up call for hockey on Monday mornings - they are on court by 6:10 am. But this morning both the boys were dressed and ready before we went to wake them up because it is Soap box cart and gladiator course day at school. Priorities people, priorities.

5. For the first time in years I have a blogpost with no comments. A book post. In general my book posts get  a lot of views and some comments - in fact I have always thought they were quite popular from the feedback I got. So tell me - do you ever read book posts? Enjoy them? I love other blogs when they pos about books but maybe that's just me? Or were it the specific books?

So what is your 5 little random thoughts for today?

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

For nature - and open spaces - and rain, rain , rain

I left on Friday to go camping with the kids and the Voortrekkers. This time I went along not to help with one of the groups but as official camp photographer and social media. Therefore I took photos of every group , walked kilometers between them and posted the pics on Facebook as every part of the weekend and day went along. The parents absolutely adored it as they had a few into what was happening as never before
I have to say that it was absolutely great to do something I love the whole weekend - although the fact that it became hugely overcast early on Saturday resulting in rain and rain and more rain that made light and taking photos rather difficult at times. It also of course made camping with 195 primary school kids a lot more difficult. It was cold too - but trying to get little boys to wear jackets and shoes seem to be a bigger challenge that one may expect. It's a good thing the kids and most adults slept in rooms and not in tents although some of the adults did pitch tents and brought caravans.

I just love being a bit in nature, see past the city horizons and appreciating the beauty. Yes, it was still hard work (I also did what was needed at times - everything from first aid to helping a tiny bit in the kitchen) but it was fun. There were the most beautiful moments that nature showed us during the weekend - mostly I think thankful to the unpleasant weather.

This was dawn on Saturday morning - cool and beautiful.
This was dawn on Sunday morning - really cold and it poured the rest of the day too - so much so that there was no formal closing of the camp due to heavy rain.

In between there were moments of brief sunshine and rain at the same time.

I love that I could spend time seeing my kids, sometimes from a distance between their friends. I have realized once again that A has the best of the pick as her friends, that C is very selective with who he spends his time with and that L adapts better than one assume he would.

I also love my favorite photo from the camp - from one of those sunshine/rain moments - just like life I guess. Gold after the rain.

So - which is your favorite photo?

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Leaps and bounds....

Since Monday afternoon my heart has been so happy , so very happy. Some of my newer readers may not know the history but we have had a hard and long struggle with our Mr L. He has several issues that just make life that little bit harder - harder to learn and to be what seems to come easy for our other two children. For the record, let me spell it out because this is a celebration of regardless of all of this, he is achieving. He has surprised us so many times. Mr L has an eye defect that leaves his right eye partially blind and the 2/3 that have sight at -6,5 while his left eye is +1,5.  Therefore he wears contact lenses - as glasses can not compensate for an 8 point difference. A challenge on it's own. Add to that low muscle tone and Praxis - two issues the OT has worked very very hard on through the years. Then the ADHD and some Autistic traits complete the picture. He has a package that will be a challenge to anyone. A package that our little Lion fights with - bravely. Sometimes we feel like we are going two steps forward and one step back - but we are certainly winning and life is way easier now at 8 than at 3 or 5.

Last year his biggest challenge in the year by far was the debate item they all had to do in class for a mark. Boy the fights we had over this! The learning again and again. The barrier he build not wanting to learn more. The shouting and fighting and total feeling of being unfairly frustrated with your kid.... and then his teacher let him almost read it in class. I think we all felt a bit defeated but it was over and at least he did hit.  He never looked up and spoke really softly. For grade 1 it was apparently enough. They just had to speak (it was their very first chance to do so in grade 1) and it was enough. But I knew come grade 2 it will be another matter.

This year I feared the dreaded grade 1-3 debate item. But we went ahead - pushing last year to the back of our minds. We let him choose his subject - possibly the most controversial of the choices ( I believe that hunting is a good thing) - and wrote his speech. We started learning it over the weekend and the au pair spent a lot of time last week teaching both the boys their speeches. Friday afternoon they both presented completely learned speeches to me. I was so surprised and very excited about this. Over the weekend we helped both to round them off and found out that Mr L does not even need his cue cards - he knows it by heart.

I have warned his wonderful teacher before that this was a huge challenge last year and she said that he could choose when he wanted to do it. It turns out that once again he surprised us all! Totally! He got up in class on the very first opportunity - with huge confidence, speaking out and looking at the class as he presented his item. He did it so well that he was sent with another boy to one of the other grade 2 teachers to present his speech. Which he once again did with such confidence in front of a totally different group of children. This is huge for him - another last frontier broken and tamed. I am so very very proud of how far he has come in a year. My heart is overjoyed.

Adding to the happiness of course is that Mr C in the grade 3 debate went through to represent his class in the grade 3 debate final today. That was also a surprise to me as I have never thought that public speaking was his thing.  We are so extremely proud of him - I hope he got up proud and spoke out loudly in front of all those teachers and kids today and that he feels great about his achievement. (He debated the point that homework is not a good thing. )

I'm a very happy mom.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

it's Tuesday - and booksday!

I have had an exceptionally good reading month and since my last post on the 26th of April I have completed 3 books - a total wow for me about half a month. Let me share them:
The Silver Star by Jeanette Walls

Liz and Bean Holladay has the misfortune to be the daughters of a very flaky and irresponsible mom. They are however both very bright and resourceful girls. This is also where any comparison with Jeannette Wall's brilliant memoir "The Glass Castle" ends. Some of the girls in our bookclub felt that the story was too much the same type of story as in the Glass Castle. I however feel that their story is unique and features wonderful family to strengthen their arms an support them in life. I loved the wonderful descriptions of the town and it's people during the integration years. It is rich with symbols and a really good story. I truly enjoyed it. 7,5/10 on my scale

One Hundred Days of Happiness by Fautso Brizzi

Lucio Battistini - water polo coach and personal trainer learns that he has about a hundred days left to live. All the time talking to himself and trying to absolve himself for his womanizing habits he makes one resolution - he is going to get his beautiful wife that he clearly loves, Paola , to forgive him. Follow him as he lightheartedly talks about the choices he makes for his last 100 days, things he learns and discovers that we may miss so often. Resounding a bit with "Me before you" and " The Universe vs Alex Woods" I still enjoyed it for it's unique humoristic look into the decisions this impossible situation forces him into. A truly lovely read - I laughed and I cried and could not put it down. 8/10

Zululand Gold by Ian Tennet

After reading Zululand Snow, the first of Ian Tenent's books in the YA series I was keen to read Zululand Gold. I was not disappointed for one second. The book features our by now well know three friends and add a character or two. I love the area of Cape Vidal and all the folk lore and history stories interwoven in this tale of adventure. I also love the rather unusual characters that Tennet introduce in every one of his stories. Fast paced and a great read I definitely recommend it to anyone that loves a good story. I am sure my two boys would love his books in a year or two and I wish Ian will write a few more in the series for us all to enjoy. I am sure Craig has many historical tales to follow. 8,5/10 as a Young adult book
Disclaimer - I was given this book free of charge to review - my opinion however is 100% honest.

Monday, 9 May 2016

Being a mom

A few years ago my jacket pockets were always full of bit of feathers, rocks and acorns. It was Miss A - if I did not wear the jacket soon enough there may even have been a sea shell or two. She was a collector of nature finds of note and moms pockets and bags were always handy. A few years ago at a ladies breakfast I won a prize for the oddest find in your handbag - in my case a Hotwheels car that Mr L dumped in it and was forgotten about. A lot has changed - but not so much. This was the find in my denim jacket pocket on Thursday morning - thanks to Mr C:
And this is what being a mom is all about - not so? Little bits of them are always with you - maybe not in your jacket pockets but right here, in your heart - your whole being. I love my 3 little souls - each so totally different. Each growing up in their own way and direction. Therefore Mothersday is always special - not just for the gifts and the treats, but for sharing a day with them. Even if it meant spending some of it on  a big clean out of the boys' room - which this morning was so totally worth it seeing the end result again.

I had a great Mothersday - totally. I was extremely spoiled with gifts, breakfast in bed, handmade cards and love. My heart is filled to the brim with all the love. And the fact that thanks to our au pair the boys both knew their speeches to heart for today and we merely had to run through it with them and add some final touches. Always reality folks - the little things that truly bring joy. I love every little note and gift - but I have to say that the Jenna Clifford bracelet is absolutely stunning - with three little roses - one for each of my little ones.

Thanks to Hunter - the instigator and financier of this huge spoil.

I hope your day was filled with love too.

Friday, 6 May 2016

Five for Friday edition 7

1. Heavens! Let's talk about the price of school clothes. Even at our school shop that is slightly cheaper than the supplier I payed R316 for one tracksuit pant and a pair of hockey socks. The fact that the hockey socks was R96 just makes it a tad more shocking.

2. On that note hockey season starts today - the first year A is playing the full format of the game and league. Somehow with rugby and netball this starts at u/9 level and with hockey only at u/11 level.

3. All of a sudden we have cold weather mostly in the mornings and evenings. I adore cardigans - real, soft knitted thin ones with cute buttons. Somehow I always gravitate towards black/grey with red or turquoise in winter. This year it is as if I am trying to extend summer with pastels. And a lovely little shop with the most gorgeous beads has opened at our little local shopping street. She hangs racks and racks of beads in colours - gorgeous. It's one of the moms from school and I will certainly support her.

4. An unexpected gift from a friend brightens your whole day (and week to follow). To think someone was kind enough and thought of you to send you something out of the blue warms my heart. And makes me think that I have neglected random acts of kindness. Also I hear these will have to be done without the Post office - which is striking again from yesterday. Thanks dear Marcia. 
5. Bookclub remains a huge treat for me and a highlight of every month. Good food, good company and books to read. Winners on all fronts. I totally enjoyed Tuesdays' bookclub as always.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

We all fight our battles - every day.

I was reminded again this morning how we all face our battles, how we fight them, sometimes openly, sometimes quietly.

I drop off A's flute at the flute teacher's class on Wednesday mornings so I enter the school grounds and leave them later rather than just dropping the kids at the car like other mornings. So I bumped into a friend of C's mom dropping off her grade 1 - her grade 3 obviously absent. He has now been sick for two weeks with a cold type thing - which triggered his asthma. And I very vividly remember driving like mad to our closest hospital with a little man C - just just breathing through an asthma and croup attack. A battle almost forgotten. With a huge relief and gratitude.

As we go our separate ways and old friend walks out of the school gate - her child struggling in grade 1. I give what advice I possibly can and a hug and feel grateful once again that all 3 kids seem to be happy and content. That our last one is now happily reading English in grade 2.

I remember sleepless nights (after the odd night of bad sleep last night), and I am grateful that we have won that battle. I remember tantrums and tears and feel the relief.

And so we fight our fights - we battle the things bigger than us. I am thankful every day that I have my partner in life to fight them with me. Some of us fought infertility, some fought the big cancer in our own lives or with family. Some fight the daily battle of neuro atypical children - for whom every little thing is just that little bit harder than for the rest. Some just fight the sads - the big black wolf that breathes in our necks. There are physical challenges and mental ones - anxiety chewing on our hearts, physical pain taking over at times.

Be gentle folks - we all have our battles.

I am also reminded of how I write about them less and less. Maybe because I do not always feel they are just my story or just my battle. Not because I choose rainbows and unicorns but because I am aware that  my story is their story too. We choose what to share. We protect ourselves.

So one can admit now and again that the tiredness in us is not only physical. But that we are recovering from battles - growing towards better and sunny shores. That although the battles are and were so very real time heels a lot and love cements us together. We are growing all the time - with the scraped shins and lost contact lenses. With full mark test scores and sad faces about a team loss. With awards won and one mark short of a competition final.

This is life. But the silver linings get more and more. The clouds burn away in the bright sun. Because in the end, the battles are won. Again and again. If we choose that silver lining - if we choose the battle. Because no battle can be won without the fight.

Whatever your battle may be I wish you the silver lining - the award at the end. We have all come far but we have a way to go. The war is yet to be won.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

A good long weekend at home consist of....

Sweet, good and thoughtful kids that buys you an early Mothersday gift and stay sweet for a whole weekend. Kids that let their parents have extended Sunday afternoon naps and help to tidy up the house.
Some beauty and sweet fragrances - and a good visit to my mom.
 Saturday night out and Chinese and sushi with my 3 men (A had a sleepover with a friend)
A good book or two to read - and actually finishing one and almost another. 
A good hike up our favorite trail with the puppies and some good friends - followed by a lovely braai after.
Little gifts of love from one of the kids, nature finds and laughs
 Chocolate muffins for breakfast at 9 - all in our pj's on a Sunday morning.
 Great food - Hunters chicken curry, a leisurely afternoon with wine and an autumn swim with friends (their pool is heated) .

Perfection - absolutely!

So how did you enjoy your long weekend?