Happy 4th birthday Hannah Ruth!

Dear Hannah, today you are 4!

Every birthday I write you a little note, with the hope that one day, you’ll have a letter for every year of your life. Of course, there are enough stories on this wee blog to keep you going for years, but once a year I like to reflect on the wonder that is you.

I still can’t believe you are 4, one day you were here:

And the next you are here:

 han big

Still blows my mind! This last year has seen you move from a toddler to a real little girl. You are officially done with baby things, I had to dig in the top of your cupboard last week, where the last of your baby treasures are stored to get some books for your brother – he is learning to read and the baby books are proving very useful for this purpose. But there, I also found all your little things from your babyhood. And again, it struck me how fast you’ve grown. That you can articulate yourself perfectly, that we can sit down and talk about things, that you can reason with me and challenge my thinking – I love all these things!

So what did you do for your 4th birthday? We had your cousins and some friends over for lunch yesterday, you helped me ice your princess  cake, you helped me set the table and make sure everything was ready for your visitors. You had a bit of a sore throat which you complained endlessly about – except when the visitors were there, you were miraculously healed just for those hours, and then as soon as they left, you went back to “being sick.” You opened your gifts with such delight, which is always a nerve wracking moment for parents – opening gifts in front of the person who gave it to you doesn’t always end well when you’re 4 years old. But you were gracious and loved every gift you received.

Today you took cake and cupcakes to school, you were so excited to wear the birthday crown and to show off your Barbie necklace. I let you eat cake for supper and breakfast, and this was positively the best thing about your birthday.

So what does 4 year old Hannah like? You like playing with your brother best. At 4, he is still your best friend, you guys fight like best friends too though. You have a really healthy appetite and you eat anything and everything. You love to peel the “skin” off fish fingers and chicken nuggets which drives me batty. Your favourite sandwich is still bread and butter. Yes, just bread and just butter. After your father, you drink the most water in the house. You prefer water to juice, who’s child ARE you? You tuck you shirt into your bottoms habitually. Even if you’re wearing tights, you tuck that t shirt right in there. Even if it’s a thick jersey, you make sure it is stuffed into your bottoms. And then you can’t pick stuff off the floor because when you bend and your top slips out of your bottoms, it freaks you out in the worst way. Funny little quirk, that. You love to write and doodle. You make the craziest little drawings and explain them with such conviction, I have to look really hard to make sure we are looking at the same thing. You still love your sleep, and even though we’ve dropped your day time nap, you still enjoy sneaking one in if you can. You are doing really well at school, and not that it matters, but you’ve never been called out for bad behaviour, you’ve never been sent to see the principal. Any anyway, I think if you found yourself in the principal’s office, you’d talk your way out of it quite sweetly. You started wearing dresses this year. I can’t tell you how much this pleased me. Again, ultimately I don’t care what you wear, as long as you are happy, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like to see my little girl in a pretty dress every now and again. You learned to tie your own shoe laces, and this made you all kinds of happy. You started reciting real life poetry and this made ME all kinds of happy. You learned to hula hoop, to make your own bed, and you started doing real chores around the house – which you LOVE, I might add. For now, I guess I must add. You continue to sweet talk your daddy into just about anything. Seriously. Things I have tried for years to get him to do, you get him to do by jumping on his lap (and I’ve tried that, it doesn’t quite have the same effect). You started wearing alice bands and head bands, quite out of the blue. I love how you are slowly embracing your femininity, not because you MUST but because being a girl is SO SUPER COOL! You took part in your first concert with an audience and you CRIED. But you were the cutest crying giraffe I had ever seen. You’ve grown in leaps and bounds, physically you’ve outgrown your clothes in less than a season. Your legs are dangly and skinny. And you still have a pot belly 🙂  It’s cute, I love it! But you’ve grown mentally and emotionally and I think this is the part I love the best. You are still the sweetest, kindest, most tender little thing and you have this maturity about you that surprises even me. While you are still really good at throwing the odd tantrum, they’ve become less and less as you’ve learned to deal with the fact that you can’t always get your own way and sometimes things don’t always go as planned and you have to suck it up and carry on. And this is the part that makes me all kinds of happy/sad – happy that you’re growing but sad because the ends of tantrums signals the end of babyhood, doesn’t it? And I will forever miss my darling baby Hannah, and the only thing that makes that better is that I have delightful big girl Hannah to enjoy.

My wish for you dear daughter is that you will quickly find your path, that you will quickly discover the things that make you happy. And then pursue those things. You were a beautiful surprise to me, and I pray that many beautiful surprises await you. My hope is that you will strive to be the best that you can, at whatever you undertake. And to know that your best is good enough. More than anything I hope you know how much I love you, not only now while you still need me, but forever. I hope you understand that I would do anything for you, that you and I will be best friends forever, even if we do have to fight like best friends sometimes do. You are the perfect daughter for me, you are everything I’ve hoped for. There is nothing that could make you any more or any less perfect that you are right now. Happy birthday sweet girl! From now until eternity, yours. Xxx


What would YOU buy a 4 year old? Help please!

It’s Hannah’s birthday on Monday. How is this child four years old already? Anyway, we’ve been asking her for the longest time what she would like for her birthday, and she always has the same answer:  “anything you would like to buy for me mama.” This child. Then I’ll say ok, but is there anything special you’d like just for yourself? And she’ll say “anything special you would like to give me.” Then last night they were grumbling about how all their koki pens were dry, so I suggested that Hannah get some for her birthday and she said “yes, Liam and I would like that alot.” But what do YOU want, baby? I know the age of I-want-this-and-I-want-that is coming, but I do love this age when really anything will do.

But what do you buy a girl who has everything? And by everything I mean the small simple everyday things that little kids play with. I don’t buy gadgets. I wanted to buy them electronic gadgets for Christmas but I’m glad we didn’t go through with it. I have nothing against gadgets, but while they still enjoy cars and trains and dolls and tea sets (read:cheap stuff), I figure I’ll run with it. They play on the computer and the iPad and I think that’s enough technology for the time being. So what to buy for a little girl who wants anything?

What I do know, is that at this age, the pleasure derived from unwrapping is almost the same as the pleasure derived from actually playing with the gift. So as is customary in our house, I’ll wrap a whole lot of little things. I do wish I could think of one special thing? Any ideas? What are 4 year old girls playing with these days? My soon to be four year old plays with everything and anything, so while she is not difficult to buy for, her wide area of interest also means there is nothing that she TRULY TRULY TRULY desires. This is a good thing, but makes buying her a special gift difficult afterall! Conundrum much? Her aunty bought her an early birthday gift: you know the wind up jewellery box  with the little ballerina who spins around and around to music when you open it. She LOVES this little thing. Her most prized possession. I don’t think anything would top that.

So give me some ideas? What would YOU buy a 4 year old girl? And they don’t have to be girly things either, so if there’s something awesome that a 4 year old boy in your life loves, I’ll take those suggestions too, please!

It is well with my soul.

I really liked this post of Cindy’s. I’ve been rather reflective the last week, after first reading, and subsequently stalking, Mindy’s blog. And when I read Cindy’s post this morning and Mindy’s latest post, it really summed up everything I’ve been feeling.

It is well with my soul.

This has nothing to do with the great news we received yesterday, that hubby would be back home at the end of June. Yay! BUT I will say that this news has cemented what I’ve been feeling the last week, and subsequently, my belief that God is in control, and ultimately His will WILL be done, whether you believe that or not.

I’ve been feeling REALLY tender after reading Ben’s story. Again, I’ve read about and mourned with many families who have lost young children,  colleagues who have lost children in the most horrific ways, friends of friends who have lost children.. it’s not new. But Ben’s story has stayed with me for reasons I am not sure about. It has made me take stock of a lot things. How I parent, what kind of wife I am, what kind of daughter I am, sister, friend? It has made me rethink my values and my goals. It is changed the order of things on my to-do list. I’ve always said I don’t have any regrets, my attitude has always been that there really is no use in crying over spilled milk, so get on with it. But I’ve had this nagging thought lately… why allow the milk to spill in the first place? I’m not talking about things you have no control over. I’m talking about living consciously. I’m talking about actively avoiding the pot holes wherever you can. I’m talking about finding your purpose and living purposefully. I’ve just realised that I live a very “c’est la vie” life. And unapologetically, I have to say that that’s a load of rubbish. Sorry if that’s your stance on life. Taking things as they come, accepting that “oh that’s life” – NO I do not want to live there anymore. I feel like I am wasting SOOO much time on things that actually don’t matter. I spend too much time being down in the dumps over stuff that I make up, all on my own, in my head, accepting woefully that I have no control over the things happening in my life. No, I can’t do that anymore.

I waste so much time trying to fix my kids and keep them toeing the line, when truthfully, IT DOESN’T MATTER. Having polite, well mannered poster children who clean up after themselves and do all the right things is wonderful, it’s great I’m sure! But for goodness sake, let them be 4 and 5. Let them make a mess, without going on and on about how they better tidy that mess. Let them be noisy, without yelling at them to use their inside voices. Let them jump in puddles without complaining about the trail of mud through your house. I want to stop my fire-and-brimstone parenting. “If you do x,y,z.. then THIS is going to happen to you” … I’ve just realised that I sap ALL the joy out of anything they want to do because I’m always harping on about the negative consequences they will face! What a killjoy. I want to parent purposefully, I want my kids to enjoy being little and doing stuff that little children do. Full stop. I don’t want them to be obedient because they are afraid of consequences, I want them to be obedient because they know it’s the right thing to do. And even if they are NOT obedient, cut them some slack!!! They can barely tie their shoelaces, let alone absorb and grasp 155 orders from their parents and teachers all day long. I need to change the way I do a lot of things.

I waste so much time being nasty to my husband, whether to his face or behind his back. The number of times I complain about stuff that REALLY DOESN’T MATTER. Guys, randomly without even thinking about, let me jot down a few things that drive me up the wall about my husband: you pack the dishwasher wrong, you have no sense of urgency about ANYTHING, you are too hard on the kids, you leave crumbs on the counter and you put the butter knife in the jam and it drives me bonkers, you watch too much TV. Whine, whine, whine, whine, WHINE. And the things I say to my girlfriends about my husband… SHAME on me. SHAME!!!! So WHAT if he is and does all these things. So bloody what? I’ve come around to thinking that if you want to see a change, you need to be the change, instead of whining about what’s not changing. At least he is there, at least he packs the dishwasher, at least he makes his kids jam sandwiches, at least he is loyal and loving and helpful and kind and understanding and all the other wonderful things I never tell my girlfriends. I need to adjust my attitude. I don’t want to be that person anymore. I want to purposefully build my marriage in small ways. Overlook butter splotches in the jam tin, or clean them out myself – two seconds, that’s all it would take me. Do I want a WHOLE day ruined by an argument over butter splotches, or do I take two seconds to fix the problem? Sure, I can tell him about it nicely and suggest he uses a clean knife, but if he doesn’t, I don’t want to burst a blood vessel over it anymore. I just don’t. I want to be a nice person to be around, someone he can’t wait to get home to, not the Whiney McWhiner, who just complains 24/7. I wonder what impact that would have on my marriage?

Which takes me back to Cindy’s post… with everything I have, with everything I have been blessed with, with the outright evidence of God’s hand upon my life, how can I be anything but grateful? How can I be anything but satisfied. How can I not live in constant hope, living each day to the full, doing the best I can with what I have in my hand. HOW CAN IT NOT BE WELL WITH MY SOUL??? You know how I feel right now? I feel like it’s just dawned on me. I feel like my eyes have just been opened. And it’s nothing new, its stuff we ALL know all too well, it’s not rocket science, I just want to live purposefully.  God has all this figured out already. He is not surprised by what happens in our lives, NO. He is all knowing. Omniscient. He knew your life’s path before you were even born. So even when you’re going through bad times, God is still in control, he has the ultimate say-so over a situation, all you have to do is believe, and trust in Him. So with this trump card in my pocket, why wouldn’t I plan to live my best life, have the most FUN ever, be joyful even in the storm, parent like a friggen rockstar, be the best wife I can be, show c’est la vie the middle finger and truly plan to kick butt every single day of my life, in every situation? I’m not saying you need to be an ever-ready-bunny who is always pumping positivity – let’s be honest, people like this are TIRING to be around. TIRING. But for goodness sake, I cannot, will not, walk around like my life is so bloody awful. I cannot talk to people about how BAD my life is, that’s a LIE. I cannot let my trials get me down if I believe God has the final say, I cannot continue to bash on my husband and on my kids and be a hater about every little thing that goes on around me.  I just can’t.

Because truthfully, it is well with my soul. Contrary to the children who often behave like zoo animals, the bills that sometime remain unpaid because there’s more month than money, the house that constantly needs fixing up, the husband that works away (not for long), the aches and pains in my body that I always complain about… it is well with my soul.

It is well with my soul.

Death sucks, but it’s not the end.

So everyone. You know I like to keep things light hearted around these parts but I simply cannot ignore this story that landed up in my feed. I read it yesterday, then pretty much trawled Mindy’s blog over 24 hours and I cried and cried as a read the story of Ben and his family. I cannot shake them from my head. I feel so heartbroken over this loss of life, over the sickness that took this little boy over such a short period of time. And I am awed, floored and completely amazed at the faith of this family as they’ve lived through the loss of their son and brother. In the space of a few short months, Ben went from well and healthy to dying of a cancerous brain tumour. And I’ve read of many families who have suffered through the same loss, but I think it’s the way Mindy writes… her honestly, her bravery, her love for her boy, that really gets me. How she describes his illness, his fight. And her testimony of God’s grace and goodness through it all. There’s nothing I can write here that will articulate this story, as well as she has done so on her own blog.

 Anyway, I know that each of us are shocked into the realization of how short life is when we are faced with the death of a loved one, or when we read stories of people, especially children, dying. I don’t really want to give you another post on how we must cherish every moment. We know that already.

I just need to say something about being a mother and having children. Or something like that. Truthfully, I’m not really sure what I want to say. I want to say that I hope I never need to bury my child. I want my life to follow the natural progression as it was intended: that I will grow old, I will drive my children insane with old people stuff, I will see my grandchildren, and that they will happily bury me at the ripe old age of whatever. We all want that, right? I want to say that I can almost bear the thought of losing a parent – I say almost because I know that will be the hardest time of my life when it comes, but there’s some peace in knowing that I KNOW where my parents are going – the other side of heaven. There is this comfort when a believer dies. Also, I think it is easier to accept an older person dying. Don’t get me wrong, it will be difficult because I can’t imagine my life without my mother and father in it, but I will be accepting. But I don’t know how I would feel if I lost my child(ren). My mind cannot fathom the idea. I want to cry a thousand tears when I think of Mindy and I don’t even know her. But I sympathise with her because I have my two healthy beautiful children and if I woke up tomorrow and one of them wasn’t there, I don’t know what that would do to me. And then I read about this lady’s strength and her faith in God. And it blows me away. She didn’t have a long time to process and accept what was happening to her boy, you understand. It wasn’t a long illness. He was well, and then in a few months, he was dead. And yet she is so strong. She knows where her boy is.

I guess I want to say that I love my children. That I didn’t quite understand how MUCH I would love them before they were born. I didn’t understand the depth of love a parent could feel for a child. I want to say to the mothers out there who are going through a hard time with a new born – it doesn’t last forever. It goes by SO quickly. Please don’t wish these times away, I know I did. But don’t. It’s so short and so precious. And I know it feels like you are going to die from tiredness but hang in there. I want to say to the parents with children who have learning disabilities, or lifelong illnesses – I don’t claim to know your struggle, but I know your child is ALIVE. And while a child is ALIVE, there is POSSIBILITY and POTENTIAL and POWER. I want to say to parents who are battling to pay school fees, pay the bond and car payments – don’t give up. These struggles SUCK when you are in the middle of them, trust me, I know ALL about it, but those situations are temporary, we find solutions, we sell a car, we get a smaller house, we get backlisted until we figure things out and get rid of that judgment against our names, we can fix those things. I think I want to say don’t let the STRESS of living KEEP you from living. Guys, it’s the truth – we don’t know how long we have. We just don’t. All those things I said before about not wanting to bury my children, I wish I had a guarantee, but I don’t. But I do know that I need to be making memories with these kids of mine every day, I need to be making every damn moment count. I can’t be worried within an inch of my life about crime and paying bills and my weight, when it takes me emotionally or physically away from just giving my children memories. I don’t know how else to say it. Don’t get bogged down by life, just like that email that does the rounds says, on your death bed you are not going to be worried about how many hours you put in at the office.

Are you stressed about something right now? Don’t be. Give yourself a serious pep talk, I promise the problem you are looking at right now, is not as bad as you think it is. Don’t even give that situation a chance to steal another minute of your joy, your quality time with your kids, your sanity. It’s not even worth it.

And I have to say this even if you don’t believe it. Even if I lose followers. If I don’t say this, I will have missed an opportunity to tell you about Jesus and that’s what I am called to do, so just listen. If you don’t know God, if you haven’t accepted Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, won’t you think about it? I don’t know where I would be without Him. I don’t know that I could live another day in this fallen world with all its problems, if it wasn’t for the fact that it is temporary and our real home is in Heaven. And I don’t want to get all holier than thou on you, you know me, I am not like that, but I just feel like we need to be talking about these things guys. It’s hard out there, we need JESUS!

My wish for myself, for you, for your families is that we live in the moment, that we let go and let God, that we value this opportunity to be ALIVE and use it to impact the lives of those around us and that we enjoy every moment doing so. Love on your kids today, even if they are particularly testy and annoying between the hours of 5 – 7pm. Be kind to your partner with all his/her “faults” because we all have our issues and sometimes turning a blind eye isn’t a sign of weakness, it is an act of Grace. Take it easy in the traffic, phone your bank manager and make payment terms, drop that grudge and pick up the phone and talk to that person already. Don’t let anything hold you back from living your best life. This is my wish. Xxx

And to the Sauer family, I wish you a peace that passes all understanding as you revel in the memories of your precious Benjamin.

When you love one child more than the other

So I’m just going to be honest because I know I can’t be the only one who feels this way. You know, as a parent, when you go through a phase when you just feel more connected to, more in tune with, more in love with, one of your children over the others? I’m going through a serious Hannah phase.

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And I’m not even going to qualify that statement by saying oh, I love Liam, he is my first born, blah blah blah. Because I know you mothers know EXACTLY what I mean. I will say that Liam is going through a lovely phase of being a good boy, a good listener and a good helper, so no hard feelings boy, I still love you! But I just want to talk about how I’m loving my girl child right now.

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Maybe it’s because she is so loving towards us. Maybe it’s because she and I are the only girls in the house and I feel some sort of girl-power solidarity towards her. Maybe it’s because she is so damn cute right now. Whatever it is, I just want to squeeze the life out of her every time she walks by. I watch her sleep for long minutes, unable to tear my eyes off her beautiful sleeping form.

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She is the child who asks how my day was as soon as she gets in the car after school. “So did you do filing and wead (read – she still can’t say Rrrrrr and it’s so cute) your emails and make coffee for your boss today?” She asks me what I had for lunch and if I was a good helper. When we get home, she is the one who stays behind to help me with my stuff. Liam, bundle of boy that he is, zooms off to play with Rocky, storms off in a whirl of noise looking for boy treasure and makes fun of us girls with our girly business. Hannah is the one who asks to be put on the kitchen counter so she can sit with me as I cook (I need space for a chair in my kitchen, loved this post by Cath). “What is that? OH VANILLA ESSENCE?! IT SMELLS SO GOOD MUMMY!” And she is the one who will always ask “what job do you have for me, what can I do for you?”

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Oh we fight, mainly about clothes. If only I’d just let her wear her holey takkies to school – “THE CHILDREN WILL LAUGH AT YOU” I yell, she responds “NO THEY WON’T” and either they don’t laugh or she just doesn’t care because she insists on wearing them the next day again. And her headband which she rips over her neatly brushed middle path – “YOU CAN’T WEAR A HEADBAND IF YOU HAVE TWO PLAITS HANNAHHHHHHHHHH” I yell and she storms off in a sulk, completely ignoring me, wearing that headband with PRIDE.

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I’ve always maintained that Liam is MY child. Him and I are so much alike, down to our personalities and likes and dislikes. So much so that when he behaves a certain way I can almost always fix it because I know WHY he’s done it that way. Not always, because let’s be honest our children befuddle us on a daily basis and mostly I walk around completely unsure of how to handle them. But yes, Liam, I get. Totally get him.

But Hannah.

She is like a little pleasant surprise. To quote Mr Gump, she is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re gonna get. She is SUCH a girl. And not in the girly sense. She is anything but girly, although even here she often surprises me by wanting to wear the fluffiest skirt and lots of lipgloss. She is a girl, like me, in that she is forever emotional. When she’s happy, she is so bloody happy that even that grumpy lady who checks your bags when you leave Mr Price (whyyyy do they still do that in 2014?) laughs at her. And when she is sad, she is so sad from somewhere so deep inside of her that it makes me want to cry. And when she is pissed off. Oh my word. Just get out of her way please. And when she is sulky, she knows juuuuuuust how to get her Daddy to respond to her sulks.

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Even from this young age she has this need to please. I’m convinced it is an inborn desire in girls to please. I don’t know WHAT it is. But she yearns for our approval, in everything. I still believe this is a good quality and I will not dissuade her from it, even though many feminists in the hood would disagree. We are called to serve, and I love this servant-hood attitude that she has, even at this age. She wants to do stuff that will make others happy. I send them off to make up their beds, right. Liam goes off singing loudly, whizzing that bed into shape in 2 minutes. The results are…well… the bed is made but it’s a mess. And off he goes singing noisily, onto his next task (love this noisy child too!). Hannah goes quietly about her business, tucking corners, plumping pillows and then she CALLS me, people, she calls me and asks me if I am happy with the job that she has done. It just turns me into a pile of candle wax, makes me WEAK in the knees!!! This child!!

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She loves touch, and loves to be touched. “Rub my back, mummy” she’ll say to me when we’re laying down. “Let me kiss you all over your face,” she’ll say to me quite out of the blue. “Hold my hand mummy” she asks when we’re in the car and even though I am in the passenger seat and it is sooooo uncomfortable to contort my body and keep my arm outstretched as I grip her hand in mine, I do it because it feels so good.

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“I love you from here to eternity” she loves to tell me as she grips my cheeks in her little hands. I love you too, Hannah Ruth. From here to eternity. 

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Let me start by saying that I know lots of people, including my very dear husband, who simply don’t get this whole social media / blogging / tweeting / IG’ing / FB’ing thing. He doesn’t get that I “know” people in my computer/phone when I haven’t even met them in real life. When I talk to him about so-and-so and the issue they are having and he asks “who is this person who you know but I don’t – who you know so intimately” and then he answers his own question with “oh wait, it’s one of the people in your phone”.  It’s gotten to the stage where he actually “knows” some of the people in my phone because I talk about them at home as if they were old family friends.

I have a friend who had a mild panic attack when I mentioned I was meeting up with a lady for the first time who I had met online. She was horrified that I would just meet up with a complete stranger who I didn’t even know. Practically the same thing as internet dating and we ALL know someone who met a CRAZY person through internet dating, right?!

But this is different. Through blogging I have met and know some ladies and their families more intimately than I know some of the people in my “real” life. Some of them I have met in person and they have turned out to be really good friends. Others I have never met IRL but we talk every other day, we know what’s going on in each other’s lives, we know each other’s children and we know each other’s challenges. We celebrate each other’s victories and share in each other’s sorrows.

When I first started blogging it was all about me. It was about leaving something for my kids to treasure in time to come. But that has evolved. Yes, it’s still the reason I write, but I also write to share my experiences, because I know there are girls out there (and some guys believe it or not) who could benefit from my little ol’ tales. People who can identify and also people who help ME and offer such good advice!

Basically, through this blog I have met some really nice people in the world!

And that rather long prelude was to bring me to the point of telling you about the #Jozimeetup. Sharon, Laura and Wenchy managed this event which saw tons of bloggers, tweeters and social media gals come together. I’m not going to get all soppy and say these events are like family reunions but I will say that it’s almost like it!! It’s like meeting up with a person you feel you have known forever but haven’t had a chance to meet up with IRL. It’s funny and weird putting a personality to a face you only know through photos! It was a lovely morning, meeting new faces and catching up with old. I wish I could have stayed longer because I didn’t get to interact with everyone I would have liked to because there were so many pretty faces there! And meeting the babies! That was the best part. We follow these little ones online, we know about their sleeping schedules, how many teeth they have, what diapers they use, and yet we’ve never squished their cheeks IRL! I enjoyed all the babies!

We were also spoilt with an amazing goody bag in the form of a personalized tote filled with delicious goodies. TOO LOVELY! All in all a successful morning and I can’t wait for the next one! Thanks to the ladies who organised!

Mother’s Day meanderings…

I had a GREAT Mother’s Day. From the handmade trinkets, to the cards with beautiful words that made me cry, to my nice warm slippers which I requested and received (here’s a tip for you: if you TELL them what you want, you are likely to get it and not suffer the disappointment of another kitchen appliance – although I LOVE receiving kitchen appliances!) It was perfect. It started off on a shaky note, because one little girl couldn’t find her gift… but I blame her father for this. It was exactly where she said she had put it, but they didn’t look properly and I eventually came out of the bathroom to put the fire out – her father was yelling “I told you to put it away safely” and her brother was also giving her a lecture about not looking after her stuff… I shooed the boys out of her room, spoke gently to her and offered to help her look for it and we found it together and seeing her smile through her tears was my Mother’s Day made RIGHT THERE. I could have said good bye and thank you for coming and ended the day right there because it was just that moment that made me appreciate the honour of being called a Mom. You know when you do something for your kid that makes them happy, when they give you that smile that says I love you the MOST in the world. Even stuff like making a peanut butter, jam and butter sandwich (that’s what he calls it and in that order) for Liam and he tells me that I’m the best “cooker” and no one makes it like I do… and I laugh and say ANYONE can smear some jam on a sandwich, boy! And he says, no, not like you. Yeh, it’s those moments that define motherhood for me.

We went to church and spent the rest of the day in the kitchen together. We had a simple lazy-aged-steak-and-veggies lunch and we made Siba’s Sunday Trifle for the first time. I am not a trifle person, but this one was different – cream cheese, berry reduction, etc. It was nice. And that’s the only adjective I can use. It didn’t blow my hair back, it wasn’t earth shattering… it was just OK.

We watched some soccer – last weekend of the EPL, I was NOT going to get out of that. And spent the rest of the day on the couch, with the kids playing somewhere in the background -occasionally bringing me bugs, seeds and weeds from the garden as further Mother’s Day thanks offerings. I had to eventually tell them to stop bringing this rubbish into the house.

I had a great day, I felt loved and appreciated. My children are at the age where they have a clearer understanding about what the day is actually about so it was fun to chat to them around why I am the most awesome mother in the world (to them). I told them that Mother’s Day was the one day in the year where I was the queen and they were the servants and they had to do everything I told them to do. Their response? You do that to us every day, mummy! Touché! Little buggers!

Personally, I felt a sense of achievement. Mostly, I feel inadequate and completely under qualified to parent. Not because I am a bad mother, but rather because mothering is bloody difficult, it comes with MANY challenges and I truly feel like I’m just making it up as I go along and I have this constant sense of “what-the-heck-was-that” when I hear myself speak / teach / grow with them. But you know what… I KNOW that I am THE BEST mother for my Liam and Hannah. I am proud of the little people they have turned out to  be.

I spoke to a mom at the #jozimeetup (will be blogging about this awesome little event soon) and she and her daughter are slap-bang in the middle of “that” stage… the Terrible Twos even when your kid is WAY over two years old. I was glad to tell her with absolute certainty that it is TRULY just a phase. They grow up and out of it so quickly, even though it feels like forever when you’re in it, and I could attest to the fact that I was there, I made it out alive, and I have the scars to prove it! I hope I encouraged her, because that’s what this journey is also about. Us moms still in the trenches need to support each other, because it’s tough out there!

I hope you had an amazing Mother’s Day. I hope you felt loved and appreciated. I hope that you know what an amazing job you are doing even if nobody tells you so. This whole giving birth to a life (and by that I refer to any means in which your little one found his or her way to you), nurturing that life, protecting that life, sacrificing for that life – it’s probably THE one most important role and function in the world, and you are doing it. That’s amazing. Well done.

The Fluffy Stuff that relationships are made of…

My husband has been home all week, since last Friday in fact. I’ve realised that I’ve become so used to him NOT being there, that I forgot how much I love having him around. And yes, it is absolutely about having an extra pair of hands to DO THINGS, and not the romanticism of having my husband around to whisper sweet nothings in my ear.

I’ve only just discovered that one of the love languages I respond really well to is acts of service. But wait. Not ME performing acts of service, but having acts of service done unto me!  Now before you call me narcissistic, selfish  and self centred, let me explain…

My husband has always been hands on. He cooks, cleans, baths/feeds/wakes up for children, ET CETERA ET CETERA. You name it, he does it. The only thing he can’t do and won’t do is brush Hannah’s hair. I’m a feminist, and while this word has many meanings, I am referring to it here in the context that I believe men and women are equal and both can and must undertake to do anything they so wish, across the “excuse” of gender. So I EXPECTED that my husband one day would play as equal a part as me in the home. Yes, as a mother and woman, the nurturing and making our “house a home” does fall more on my shoulders, but this does not exclude my husband from fully engaging in tasks once considered “the woman’s job.” Luckily, his mother raised him well and he lived on his own from the time he left school, so I got myself a very self sufficient man 🙂  (truth be told, he even irons better than I do.) So my point is that I wasn’t blown away about how hands on my husband was, I expected it. And because of this, perhaps I took it for granted (insert sheepish, ashamed little face here).

When he left to work away from home, I found the adjustment very difficult obviously for the reasons stated above. But as one does in these situations, you pick yourself up and get on with what needs to be done. Without making light of death, divorce or single parent homes by comparing my situation to these earth shattering ones, I must say that I felt pretty much like a single mother who had recently lost her better half. But it was OK, we still saw/see him every weekend, it’s not the end of the world, right. Chin up.

But having him home this week, I’ve realised what a HUGE difference it makes having that extra pair of hands willing to SERVE in the house. Having supper ready when you get home in the evenings, getting someone else to drop and fetch and carry the kids, playing tag with taking time off work to get the kids to the doctor (Liam needed the doctor this morning and I didn’t need to take him). Having someone else to clean up spilt juice for the 100th time in one day. Having someone to fix stuff around the house, stuff you are quite capable of fixing but never find the time to actually fix. All these things: having a partner to do all of this is amazing and wonderful.

And then… it’s the fluffy stuff that I’ve discovered I really and truly miss. And honestly, THIS is the real stuff. All that stuff I mentioned in the last paragraph can go fly a kite, I’d do those things myself for the rest of my life if I had to, because I can. But the fluffy stuff.. it’s the fluffy stuff that really makes a difference, it’s the fluffy stuff that makes me love my husband so much, it’s the fluffy stuff that acts as the glue that holds us together. And so I guess when I said it’s the extra pair of hands in my opening paragraph, I lied… because it is truly the romanticism that I’ve missed, and NO it’s not what you think. My fluffy stuff, the stuff that I’ve only just realised speaks to my heart in a language I love goes something like this:

  • Having a cup of tea / coffee / Milo prepared for me without asking for it.
  • Getting into my car and seeing that he filled the tank, when I was expecting it to be negative because I forgot to fill up the last time I drove.
  • Exchanging ridiculous amounts of whatsapp messages discussing what we should have for dinner.
  • Love notes in my packed lunch.. and FOUR slices of bread, even though I tell him every time that I ONLY eat TWO slices of bread and he tells me NO NO YOU ARE GETTING WAY TO SKINNY SO EAT FOUR PLEASE (and I eat the four slices – this man is a feeder.)
  • Chuckles. Bags of Chuckles. I think we keep Woolworths in business with the amount of Chuckles my husband buys for me. I find them randomly and when I’m not looking for them and there’s not ONE person I know who doesn’t get excited about finding random chocolate. It’s like finding a R20 in the jacket you haven’t worn in ages.
  • Not running out of stuff. Seriously, this makes me so happy. When the toilet paper is mysteriously and miraculously restocked in the cupboard (even though he battles with replacing the roll next to the toilet itself). When he stocks up the kids’ vitamins and medicine chest so that I never have to worry about it. When he fills the veggie draw with potatoes and onions and tomatoes and makes sure there’s fruit for the week. Yes, this is fluffy for me because I run out of day to day stuff ALL THE TIME, and he knows there is nothing more frustrating to me than running out of necessities in the house.
  • Someone to tell you how wonderful you are. I’ve professed it many times on this blog, I LOVE affirmation. I LIVE for affirmation. I love it when he tells me how good I look, how great that meal was, how he likes my hair like that, how good I am with our kids. It may seem ridiculous to look for outward affirmation when I know my self worth, I know who I am in Christ and blah blah blah, but nothing makes me feel prouder than having MY HUSBAND’s pride. Not just anyone’s, but his. And this week with him being home, I forgot how forthcoming he is with praise, he really is. My head may BURST from the pressure of growing so big this week with all the praise I’d gotten used to NOT receiving in his absence.
  • RAK – his Random Acts of Kindness. For me and the kids. This goes above him making cups of tea and seeing to the children’s needs. He is not a flowers-delivered-to-my-desk type of guy, which I complain about allllll the time. He is more the kind that will see me eye a jacket in the shop, will go out and buy it without me knowing and dump it in its packet with price tag still attached on my lap when I get in the car (he is NOT romantic at all, more PRACTICAL which I’ve learned to work with).
  • He is not a words type of guy. I am a words type of gal. So initially, when I got over hearing only my own voice in the relationship, I thought this was definitely going to be the deal breaker. But I stuck around. I got used to RAKs instead of words. And I can’t tell you how happy I am that I held on. I’ve come to realise that while I love and live for words, the old cliché is true, most times (and almost always) actions DO speak louder than words. He has proved this to me.

This is not a dedication or a love letter to him. He doesn’t read here at all, he isn’t a words type of guy, remember. I’m just sharing the revelation I received this week on how important the fluffy stuff really is. Don’t overlook or take the fluffy stuff for granted, like I sometimes do. Consider this a reminder to value your partner EVEN IF they don’t tick ALL of your boxes. With my husband working away, I’ve had ALL my boxes removed and believe me I’ve learned that I’d rather have some boxes than none at all. Furthermore, I’ve discovered that because our “boxes” are different, it doesn’t mean that mine are better or more important than his. So this is a challenge, I dare you to find the fluffy stuff in your relationship and work on cultivating it from today.

Growing a bean. And my mother.

Two weeks ago Liam came home with a bean wrapped in some damp cotton, in a polystyrene cup which said “return by 6 May, don’t forget your bean needs water and sunlight.”

I knew this class project well. I had done it myself back when I was in Standard One all those years ago. He was initially quite thrilled with the whole idea, but after day 3 and no signs of life, his enthusiasm started to wane. The cotton wool started to turn mouldy, even though we were dutifully watering and keeping it in the sunlight. On a group Whatsapp chat my mother and sister were horrified at our indifference towards our non growing bean. My mother declared that she would come with a few new beans and she and Liam would tend them together, because I clearly was mucking around. My sister couldn’t believe my competitiveness in the classroom did not extend to the growing of this wretched bean…

Anyway, my mother and father arrived last week from Durban… and guess what came along… 4 new beans, laying in their damp cotton wool, all the way from Durban, on a Mango flight. Have I told you how my mother is the best granny in the world? Firstly, she was not impressed with the polystyrene cup received from the school. She was convinced that our current bean was not getting enough sunlight. Secondly, she and Liam took to monitoring these beans like they were going to grow into beanstalks and make us rich. They were moved from windowsill to windowsill during the day, following the sunlight. They were probably prayed over, if I know my mother.

And within a day or two, they began to sprout. This made everyone VERY happy. Even cynical little me who was not interested in this project to begin with. So this morning we proudly took our beans to school. And let me tell you… ours were THE best! I did have to tell Teacher the whole story about how these beans were actually sacred, they had taken a plane ride from Durban and how Granny and Liam were actually the caretakers of the beans and I had very little to do with the whole thing. She thought the whole story was hilarious.


Anyway, this post is more about my mother, than it is about the beans. I won’t lie, I was happy to see my son proud as punch with his bean this morning, and he probably would have had a dead bean along with the majority of his class, had my mother not insisted on doing this properly. And that’s just how she is. She doesn’t want to see us disappointed EVER. You know what else she did this weekend? She made me walk two malls flat because she had promised the kids that she would get them an egg timer to monitor their teeth brushing. They were so excited by this idea, even though I’m SURE the excitement over this timer will last 0.3 minutes. Anyway, my mother didn’t want just any timer.. she wanted an hour glass timer. You know the one where the sand filters through the glass? Do you know how difficult it is to find one of these old fashioned timers? There were plenty of timers in all the shops we went into, but she wanted the hour glass… yesterday we eventually found one, literally in the last shop we walked into. And that’s just how she is. She is selfless. And it’s such a unique quality in people these days. Selflessness. Most people do just enough. I know for myself, I don’t like to be inconvenienced and I do my bit and I feel good about doing my bit and then that’s it. I don’t like to feel streeeeeetched when helping others, and my excuse is usually TIME. I don’t have TIME to do this and that, so let me give some money. Or let me make some excuse to my kids because I don’t have TIME to walk through 100 shops looking for this thing they wanted. Or let me donate all my old clothes, and give to my church and feel good about having helped. And don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with that. But isn’t it lovely when you realise just how much effort and thought and love and kindness went into something that someone did for you? My mother still posts birthday cards to all of us. Even her children and grandchildren in Australia. Handwritten birthday cards. She bakes our favourite treats when we go home, even though she isn’t able to stand for very long periods because of her back and other aches and pains. She spends hours and hours with her grandchildren, accommodating their every whim and desire. Spoiling them with TIME and attention. She will make up our beds when she is visiting OUR house. Even when Zoleka is at work! Oh and she sends my helper air time, who does that? She brings toys and treats for our dog! She sews stuff and mends stuff around the house. Like she travels alllll the way from Durban with her sewing machine to mend stuff that I just don’t have TIME to mend.  She is selfless. I can’t tell you the things she has done for us, there isn’t enough room in all of cyberspace. And not things that necessarily cost her financially (although don’t get me started on the stuff she uses her meager pension on – again, for OTHERS) but things that she knows would make our lives easier, or make us happy. And it’s not restricted to people she loves. She is like this with complete strangers too. Did I tell you she got bitten by a dog the other month on one of her missions to visit someone in need? But do you think that stopped her? No.

She is selfless. If she can help you, she will. Whether you think you need help or not. She is a modern day saint and when I think of the Apostles of old, I think she would have been like one of them. Preaching the Gospel wherever she went, but more so, showing the true Christ through her selflessness. If you met her, I promise you would love her. You just would.

mum and kids