Tuesday, 28 February 2017

It's Tuesday - and booksday!

The All - Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion - Fannie Flagg

Sookie has just married off her last daughter in Alabama and it seems the biggest issue in her life is to keep the Bluejays from eating all the bird food before the little ones have their share. It seems 2005 is going to be her year to at last relax until a package arrives for her dominating elderly mother . Sookie opens it up as she does with all her mother's affairs she had to take over and it changes the whole way she thinks about herself - who she is and where she belongs. The package sends her back to Pulanski Wisconsin in 1941 and the world of the Jurdabralinski sisters and how World war II not only affected the men fighting but also the whole of America. 

The book seamlessly moves between the two time frames and is filled with wonderful characters that really come to life. I love how I could picture almost every one of them in my head - not only in the way they looked but how I would imagine they sound and hold themselves. The description of the places that house the book is rich and colourful and one can clearly imagine living there.

What I particularly enjoyed about the book was that I learned a bit of history that I had no idea even took place. Did you know that the first US female pilots were already recruited in World War II? It is a fascinating piece of history and have prompted me to do a bit of research myself.

I totally fell in love with  Fanny Flagg's writing - it is so charming and easy to read. You may remember "Fried green tomatoes at the Whistle stop cafe" - her best know book (turned into a lovely movie). If you loved it this book will not disappoint. It is a great family saga well told with lots of sensitivity. Many laughs but also a tear or two.

A great 9/10 for a great read. 

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Lets talk teen/tween skins - well all skins actually

So A have been struggling since last year with the typical skin outbursts the tweens get. We tried face wash and creams - it helped a bit. And then I mentioned it one day at our local pharmacy. They have a nursing sister that works for them and the doctor connected to the pharmacy and she was standing next to the pharmacist that helped me. She quietly hands me two little pill bottles (no brands) and assures me that it will at least help. The total cost was less than R50.

So I started giving A two Brewers yeast tablets in the morning and one Zinc tablet as indicated. My, did it make a difference - in less than a week. Do not get me wrong - the problem is not totally gone, but it is certainly a whole lot better. Our Au Pair at the time also struggled with her skin and promptly went to buy some. She had almost instant results and is still using it. We saw her a few weeks ago and her skin has totally changed. Our student in the office is a beautiful girl but I soon saw that she had a tendency to isolated huge pimples - so I gave her the advice and two weeks on she has absolutely none.

So our secretary started to read up on the benefits of Brewers yeast and it turns out to be a great help for IBS. So from today I am on it too. It of course also contains heaps of Vitamin B too so maybe will help with my tiredness. And the odd pimple - I mean honestly how is it ever possible to have pimples and wrinkles at the same time?

So here's my ten cents of advice for your skin - and your teen or tweens' skin - Brewers yeast and Zinc every day. Any brand - the latest we have is Dischem's house brand and it still works.  Let me know if it helps! Any other teen/tween skin advice to share? What is the best face wash product for them?

Disclaimer - I have no medical or beauty background. This is purely our experience. If you are unsure in any way please discuss with your doctor or pharmacist

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Family gifts for the win!

Let's talk a bit more about gifts. As the kids get older the obvious need for toys get less (I mean they all have so many) and clothes get more difficult (I can not imagine someone knowing what my 12 year old would like - even I sometimes have no idea). Books are always an option. But let's talk Christmas in particular.

We have scaled down a lot for Christmas - maybe I took it too far when they were younger. But we started a new trend two years ago with the in laws - we would agree to buy a family girt for the kids for Christmas and not a gift for each on their own. This means you can buy something more expensive and it is often something that in general can be enjoyed by them all. In 2015 we decided on boardgames and we got Cluedo as a gift. There has been many many games of Cluedo since. (For now we will not discuss the matter or fights around board games....)

In any event in 2016 we agreed on books with the in laws and my children were all 3 delighted to received the Percy Jackson box set. Mr C is almost done with the 3rd book, The Princess has read the first 2 and is waiting to get no 3 fro C and Mr L is patiently waiting until we think his reading level is on par to tackle them. This gift has provided hours of reading fun and will still do so in future.

My mom also gave the kids one gift - Rummikub - which is a fantastic game that I really enjoy playing with them. It has become a somewhat staple Friday night activity for us. It has been apart from the Percy Jackson books the most used Christmas gift of the year. The kids also got a tub of giant marshmallows from a family friend - they have been greatly enjoyed at braais and we still have a few left that I am sure will get demolished soon.

I remember as a child (when we gave way more Christmas presents) there was a general thing with friends, neighbours and family to give say a tin of toffees or Woollies cookies (or homemade ones) to families.I love this idea - as I in general love the idea of boardgames.

I would love to know if you have done or received something similar and what are your thoughts.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Dinsdag en dit is lekker boeke dag!

Ek het 'n liefde vir Ierse skrywers - daar is vir my baie ooreenkomste tussen die Iere en my eie ou volkie. Natuurlik het heelwat van ons 'n lekker tikkie Ierse bloed iewers ook maar dit is hoe ons en hulle familie benader wat my in besonders tref - en natuurlik die Italianers ook.  Behalwe vir die hoog aangeskrewe skrywers soos Frank McCourt ("Angela's Ashes" moet die moderne Ierse boek wees om te lees) en Roddy Doyle wat so raak die Ierse samelewing saamvat ("The Commitments" is my gunsteling en "The Woman that walked into doors" is uitsonderlik ) is daar 'n hele string skrywers wat so in die ligte luim skryf. My gustelinge onder hulle is Marian Keyes (lees haar "This Charming Man" ) en dan ook  Sinead Moriarty - sy het die talent om heerlike stories oor gewone families en gewone goed wat gebeur lekker en met genoeg humor te vertel. My gunsteling boek van haar is "Me and my sisters" - so lekker familie storie oor drie susters wat almal op een of ander manier hulself moet bymekaar skraap om deur iets te gaan wat hul w√™rel omver gooi - en dit regkry met hul susters se hulp. Gits ek wou nog altyd susters gehad het.

Ek was dus heerlik verras om in Bernette Bergentuin se "Stilettos' van Staal" 'n heerlike Afrikaanse storie van drie susters te ontdek wat my net so vermaak het. Sy het dieselfde talent as Sinead Moriarty om families met deernis te ondersoek met 'n lekker storie. Die boek spreek van familie en liefde en hoe situasies daarin hanteer word. Lona, Vanessa en Sienna Beauman het elkeen hul unieke persoonlikheid en unieke stel probleme op die oomblik dat hul pa besluit om die familie besigheid in 'n openbare maatskappy te omskep. Elke vrou gaan iewers aanklank vind by een (of meer ) van die susters - Lona wat op 'n laagtepunt swoeg deur babas en kleuters met 'n lyf wat dit wys, Vanessa wat as professionele vrou besef die lewe bestaan uit meer as werk en Sienna wat sukkel om te voldoen aan haar familie se verwagtinge wat haar studies betref . Die dogters van 'n Afrikaanse pa en Italiaanse ma beweeg in die warmte van 'n heerlik vermengde famlie.

Wat ek werklik geniet het was die heerlike Pretoria verwysings - natuurlik aangepas om soms by die storielyn te pas (en sommige verouderd met nuwe verwikkelinge in Hatfield) - maar ek kon die karkaters in my geboortestad en Alma Mater sien en volg. Tukkies se kampus weer herleef en indrink.

Stiletto's van staal is 'n heerlike ligte romatiese komedie oor familie en susters. Die liefde en grappies, die onderstrominge en die hartseer. Ek het die boek werklik geniet en gaan besis nog van Bernette Bergentuin se boeke lees. 'n 7/10 vir lekker lees en ontspan.

Monday, 6 February 2017

How to raise succesful kids

No , I do not claim to know how to - after all my oldest child has just turned 12 an I am finding the road to puberty a tad challenging at times. I have however talked about over parenting before (I have since remove that post as it went slightly viral and I was a tad scared it may find its way to the eyes of the parties mentioned). But to summarize  - in our school we have a lot of parents who are over involved in their children's lives. Parents that almost live through their children. Children that cheated to get the marks their parents wanted. I do believe this is a global problem and not just our school, our city or even South Africa.

At the parents evening at our school this brilliant TED talk video was shown - and I thought that most of us can benefit from listening to it - to either give ourselves a pat on the back and reinforce what we believe or to think a bit about how we approach our children. Also listen out for her take on chores - I love it because I firmly believe it too. My new word for the year is "self-efficacy" - I am planning to raise my kids with it intact

I would more than any other post love your feedback on this!

Friday, 3 February 2017

Five for Friday edition 27

Gosh Friday already!

1. Oh I adore taking photographs - I took some for a school function on Wednesday and I love love some of them! Some tells stories and some express emotions while others are just beautiful for being beautiful - showing light and composition.

2. The rain has caused havoc with the athletics meetings this season and it seems just like that we are done for now. Just for the swimming season to start in full force this week.

3. I really need to start drawing and doodling again. Our Au pair this year is an art student and she and A turned the humble paper plane into an artwork yesterday - I miss drawing.

4. Tomorrow promise to be a fun day for the kids - all 3 are attending water based parties at two venues - if it looks worth r  I will report back.

5. I can not really say our little dancer anymore, can I? But the dancer in our household has decided to add "ole" to the usual and 5,6,7,8's and attempt Spanish. At this stage it is this term only for the annual concert but we will see how it goes.

With that my 5 for Friday is done - care to share yours?

Thursday, 2 February 2017

The thing with gifts

Gosh it's been a tad quiet here? It's not that I don't have anything to say - I have lists and lists of blogpost ideas and some half written ones. But it's been busy - start of the year busy. I am sure you know what I mean. The year is a month old and A is going to her fourth birthday party already. No really! So today I thought I want to talk about presents.

I have always liked to gift money as a gift - and I do believe kids like to get it. Throw it all together and buy something proper. But on the other hand I have seen how much my kids enjoy getting a nice present among the money. A this year got a huge soft and very pretty swimming towel as a gift from one of her friends that also swims. She absolutely adores that towel that is hers only. It was a great gift that she will remember way after she has spent the money she got.

Our kids all have way too many toys to start with. As you all know (if you have ever read anything here) I am a tad passionate about books and reading. I honestly believe the word will be lost if there are no books and no stories. But books have become expensive and almost a luxury. So together with the kids we have decided that this year is our 'Year of the Book". We are giving books only as gifts this year - unless it would be totally unsuitable for some reason.

I send the mom a message to say "We are giving books as gifts this year - is there something specific your child would like to read?" Every mom (there were 5 already this year) replied so positively - with comments like "what a wonderful idea" and "wow - can I copy that idea? Because honestly I believe every mom either wants her kid to read more or has a kid that is reading everything they can find - and both types need new books. The first mom immediately replied with the newest released of a series - which was great . I bought exactly that. The rest did not have a specific idea - so what I do is to make a proposal and ask if they kid has the specific book. With the grade 6 girls we are building a series among them - I have bought 3 of them books of the same series (and A has another) so that they can swap out and read them all. I hope that somehow with this I can spur on the culture of reading.

So tell me - would you have an issue if I do this for your kid? Or will you be doing the happy dance? I have another gift post coming - about family gifts for Christmas in stead of individual ones.