The little toys that aren’t.


I often get emails from people asking me to promote stuff on the blog, or to plug some event, or to ask for help in raising awareness for a specific initiative. Most times I’m just too much of an unreliable blogger to follow through (really I need to put on my big girl blogger panties and take these thing more seriously), and other times it really isn’t a cause I’m interested in.

But sometimes, you come across a cause worth championing and this is one of them. Stuff that makes your heart break. Do you know there are children out there who don’t have toys? Children who re-purpose what we would consider junk, into toys, because they have nothing else. Makeshift robots, dolls, cars, jewellery – these kids make these little toys that aren’t, from scraps. jewel1

jewel 2

car 2

car 1

Now let’s just think about our own children for a minute, shall we. Picture your home in your mind. Picture the toys laying in every conceivable corner. Picture the little cars lined up on the bath tub. Picture the naked Barbie dolls with bad hair. Picture the dozens and dozens of forgotten loom bands laying at the bottom of a toy chest. Picture the rows of books your children probably only read three or four of. Picture the puzzles with missing pieces, the art sets, the balls, the Stikeez collection your kid whined over for weeks.

Now. Picture your home without any of those things.

Sad, isn’t it? It’s wrong and unjust that this is the reality for some children.

The Topsy Foundation is trying to right that wrong. Through a partnership with Spree and Your Parenting, these makeshift toys are being sold “virtually” as real toys. Your full donation goes straight to Topsy to stock their toy library. And guys, they aren’t asking for hundreds of Rands. Please click through to this link and go and buy your virtual toy from as little as R20.

Topsy has partnered with twenty three day care centres in the Mpumalanga area, as well as a centre for physically disabled kids. With the help of your donation, these kids are getting access to specialised educational toys and better trained teachers.

order

See, I just bought my first virtual toy. My next step will be to let my children buy their own “virtual toys” – I think this is an awesome opener for teaching your kids a valuable life lesson right here.

I love that quote from Mother Theresa where she speaks of “not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” Will you do this small thing with me, which will change the lives of many? I dare you.

Finding joy where you are


I’ve blogged about this joy-versus-happiness thing before but I need to talk about this again.

Happiness is a feeling or emotion that ebbs and flows as you go through the highs and lows of your natural life. Obviously, we aren’t always happy. And thank goodness because we all need a dose of the sads to keep us humble, right? But more importantly, the beauty of our humanness is in experiencing the full spectrum of emotions we were built to endure. I won’t lie, I love the release of a full blown snot-inducing ugly cry now and again. Sometimes I secretly enjoy being miz and just climbing under my duvet and shutting everybody out. And let’s be honest, we all roll our eyes at the eternally happy colleague who skips down the corridors in the work place spreading sunshine wherever she goes.

However, joy springs from something deep inside of you. It starts off as a choice, and then burgeons into a belief. It is spurred on by faith and it is not moved by or dependent on circumstance. It is not dictated by your mood or your feelings or the number of snotty tears you cry. Joy remains unshakable in the wake of trials. Joy says I believe that even though this situation sucks right now, God is still the King of the world. He has overcome this. He is on the throne. Whether you like it or not, God’s Will, will be done. And God’s will is always good, is always favourable, is always blessing.

Let me give you an example of my own life right now, just in case Facebook or my Instagram feed has led you to believe that it’s all unicorns and sunbeams around here. My husband and I still argue and disagree on a plethora of things, we are not that couple who “turn the other cheek.”  We are either in a silent treatment face-off or a battle of wills over who gets the last word (I win most times, just saying). Now while there is sadness and disappointment and a lack of respect in these moments, it doesn’t detract from the joy I feel every time I consider that this is MY man (Denzel Washington voice) until I die. My children never fail to confuse and upset me. With every age I’m more astounded at how much harder this parenting thing gets, I mean really can I get a break. I got called in for Liam’s behaviour the other day. Me? I never got called into the teacher’s office NOT ONCE while I was in school, but I’m getting called in for my spawn? NOT COOL. While Hannah has turned into an absolute dream of a child, truly she is my most favourite daughter, she is as volatile as a Slinky… can you say up and down? But with all the difficulties of parenthood, the inexplicable and constant joy I feel whenever I think about these two perfect children is just there. And then there’s the circumstances we face… we’re still in the process of finalising our house sale which means lots of money and lots of anxiety. Secondly, I called the school I had planned to enrol Hannah in for next year to be told that they are actually full, now what? If you know me, you’ll know that sorting out schools for my children has been a project I have dedicated myself to fully and to be rejected in this way was like a slap in the face. And then the daily stresses of life… when there’s more month than money, when your appliances all seem to die at the same time, when you’re drowning in the stress of trying to please all your friends. This may not be true for you, but it is highly stressful for me to try and fit everyone in. I have a guilt complex over trying to meet up with all the special people in my life. There’s the loss of a pet, the boy child who has regressed and cries at bedtime because he is scared of the dark, the point on your to-do list you forgot about and now your boss is pissed off. Guys, if we had to focus on the things that were wrong in our lives at any given moment, we would be truly doomed. I’ve seen people in the darkest of valleys these last few weeks. People who have lost loved ones, people who have been retrenched, people who are going through fires that you and I will never understand and I think to myself HOW do you move forward in the face of such adversity?

But then joy steps in. I don’t know where you find your joy, but I find mine in the Lord. I remain joyful and hopeful and reliant on the fact that I will not succumb to the injuries I face. That this season will pass, that goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life (Ps23:6). I remain confident that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. (Ps 27:13).  You see, joy transcends the here and now and looks forward to the future. It veils your eyes with wisdom enough to see through the pain you may be enduring. Joy is that thing that makes you laugh through your tears, it makes you expectant even when you’re all out of options in the natural, and it comes from a deep-seated knowledge that it isn’t over until God wins.

What every parent needs to hear


I first wrote this post (minus my usual sarcastic bite because they pay me to be nice) for Childside.  Go check them out, they are a pretty useful resource for what’s happening in your city.

What every parent needs to hear

  1. You don’t have to be the perfect parent, as long as you strive to parent YOUR child as perfectly as you know how. It isn’t a competition or a race, it’s the delicate process of growing a human. Your garden. Your flower. How you make it bloom and  grow is up to you.
  1. Parenting is often trial and error. Children do not come with an instruction manual, you learn on the job. And sometimes it’s a pretty yuk job. Don’t beat yourself up when you make mistakes, apologise and move on. You’d be surprised at how forgiving (and forgetful) your children are. Like puppies.
  1. Ask for help. I guarantee that there are plenty of parents who have experience in whatever situation you find yourself in. While every child is beautifully unique, the challenges they face can often be universal. I’ve learned the most from my fellow mommies (and Dr Google obviously).
  1. Don’t be afraid to let your hair down. Being a parent is actually a license to be a kid for the second time. Laugh often, play silly games, get dirty and exercise your imagination. Weirdly enough, it’s in these moments that your children’s respect for you grows.
  1. You are not a genie; you cannot be in two places at one time. Parenting more than one child can be a juggling act. Manage the diary as best you can and if it means that you can’t attend one sports day or one recital, that is OK. Your child may be upset but no permanent damage has been caused from missing one of 100 school activities.
  1. Don’t bear grudges. I know it’s difficult to move on from the Persian rug your toddler scribbled all over, or your favourite sweater your baby vomited on, or the hurt your teenage daughter caused when she called you fat in a fit of rage. But the truth is, they often don’t mean it. Move on. Then go outside and scream as loud as you can to get rid of the urge to put that kid back into your womb.
  1. There’s never a right time. For anything. Waiting until the baby is weaned before going on holiday. Waiting for a special occasion to let your toddler wear that gorgeous dress which Aunt Mildred sent from London. Waiting for the kids to be older before leaving them with a sitter so you can enjoy a date night with your partner. Often the most time is wasted on waiting. Spontaneity is the spice of life.
  1. In total contradiction to point number 7. Spontaneity is good only in small doses. Children and parents thrive within a routine. Make your lives easier by developing a routine that works, and stick to it. The easiest way to get your children to comply is by sticking to the rules, all the time. Don’t make the rookie error of changing the game, they WILL make you pay for it later.
  1. Don’t forget your manners. The easiest way to teach children is to lead by example. Be the person you want your kids to be. It is true that children learn more from what they see, than from what they are actually taught. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve cringed when I hear my kids unknowingly impersonating the ugly me. Watch yourself.
  1. Above all things, affirm your children on the daily. We show our children that we care every day just by keeping them alive (duh) and mostly it’s a thankless job. But be sure to tell your children every day just how much you love them; how proud you are of them. Love them when they are being extremely difficult, like throwing a tantrum in aisle #3. Love them through the difficult stages of their lives. It is said that love conquers all things, let your children understand that through your love for them.

The life I have been missing: why downsizing your life is the bomb diggity.


Hello guys. I’ve missed you *throwskissesallaround.*

Let me bring you up to speed. There’s so much that has been going on. Stuff I’ve wanted to keep private until now because there was a lot of transitioning that needed to take place. Physical transition, but also a mental transition and while the journey has been difficult, the destination is so worth it. SO.WORTH.IT. And we aren’t even there yet!

If you know me well, you’ll know I’ve been talking about downsizing my life for a while now. I even blogged about it here. Downsizing in the sense of simplifying and streamlining the way we do life. I do believe there are many ways you can simplify your life in small ways every day. But sometimes it takes a huge step of faith to make a change even when the pros don’t necessarily outweigh the cons.

I’ve been listening to lots of people in my life, I’ve been reading lots of blog posts and the thread is always the same. People are busy, their lives are hectic, they are stressed out and finding it difficult to balance careers/parenting/finances/relationships/LIFE on the whole. I’m one of those people. But I got to the point where I knew we had to make a drastic change in order to calm the pace of our lives.

So what’s changed?

We moved house! We now live in walking distance to my work. Hannah walks to and from school. Liam’s school is 5kms away. Church is 3 minutes away. I cannot explain the difference this has made. We wake up when the sun is up, our school mornings are leisurely and everyone is calm. I am home at 4pm most days. This means I can cook peacefully, I can sit down and monitor homework, by 6pm everyone is ready for bed which means we have an hour and a half to do whatever we like. Some days I fit gym in before supper. By the time my husband gets home, I am like a 1950’s wife (without the pressed hair and makeup) and ready to serve him and attend to his needs unlike the past where we were all chasing our tails to bedtime.

That’s the physical transition.

Mentally, it was difficult to let go. Going into a complex when you’re used to living in a house on a street is not without its challenges. Giving up a big yard and lots of space was a mind adjustment. We gave away a lot of stuff, sold off some furniture and threw out all the dead wood. Most difficult of all was letting go of Rocky.  Losing the space meant losing our Rottweiler who needed that space. I am grateful that he has been re-homed and he is happy, but we still miss him of course.

But nothing: not a big house, not a fancy car, not all the yard space in the world, not the swimming pool… nothing is comparable to the peace of mind I’ve gained in moving closer to where we do life. I can’t believe we spent the last eight years travelling first from the Westrand and then from Midrand into Zone 1, as I call it. And this is not applicable to everyone either, if you are not governed by school times, peak hour traffic which is unavoidable, and your personality type is such that sitting in traffic doesn’t send you over the edge (God bless you), that’s great. But for me, this move has been life altering. I’m a better mother, wife and human for it.  And let me tell you, all those things that you think define who you are and what you’ve accomplished? All the niceties we think we cannot do without? I can vouch for the fact that there is absolute freedom in not being bound by those things which we think defines us.

What do you know, I even have more time to blog! Stay tuned to see how else I’ve downsized my thinking (not my dreams) and my life.