Category Archives: Family

It’s my daddy’s birthday!


Happy birthday to the best father in the world. My love for you knows no bounds. Growing up, I wanted nothing more than to please you. And you didn’t make it difficult. You always supported me and let me make my own decisions, even if they opposed your own ideas. You were the perfect example: a tough disciplinarian but a tender Daddy. You loved our mother and we knew it, because you showed it all the time. You made us laugh, still do. Your grandchildren think you are HILARIOUS. I value your opinion and I trust your advice. Even now, I’m so grateful that I can still use you as my sounding board. Even though time and space separate us, I love to see your name pop up on my cell phone.

Mostly, your love for your children helps me to understand the love that our Heavenly Father has for us. And for that, I thank you. I hope I can be to my children, what you are to me.

On your birthday, I pray that you feel the love that you show to so many. And I pray that you will know how deeply cherished you are.

Thank you for being the best Daddy in the world.

I love you

Your baby girl

R xx

The words that a father speaks to his children in the privacy of home are not heard by the world, but, as in whispering galleries, they are clearly heard at the end, and by posterity. Jean Paul 

My Dad waiting at the finish line for me at Midmar, earlier this year.
My Dad waiting at the finish line for me at Midmar, earlier this year.

Odds and Ends and Rants


As part of the husband’s Father’s Day gift, I got us tickets to Parkers Comedy for last night. I doubt there are any comedians following my blog, so my question may go unanswered but I have to ask… why do comedians think funny = swearing? I just don’t get it? It seems like comedy is more about how many beeps you can fit into a sentence, rather than the punch line. By the time I hear the punch line I am so put off by the number of beeps that it actually isn’t funny anymore. And when I played it back in my head as I laid in bed last night (I’m an over-analyser, forgive me) I got the joke and it actually was really funny, even without the beeps. I’m no prude, but for the love of linguistics I wish I could watch clean comedy sometime – just to prove my point. Funny ≠ Swearing. Does NOT.

So I’ve had bushy frizzy hair for the last two weeks because of my running (walking). When your husband asks if there’s something wrong with your blow dryer, you know you need to tame your mane. I won’t break into a thesis about Coloured hair because you have kindly endured my moaning and groaning on this subject in many a post, but to break it down for you – I will not suffer the hour plus it takes me to straighten my hair, just for it to spring back to its roots the minute I start sweating. So now that I’ve started exercising, I’ve had to carefully strategise when I waste an hour of my life exorcising my hair into straight submission. My strategy showed that I needed to do my hair at 6h30am this morning. Man, I was annoyed. But I have a fabulous Huggies event tomorrow at the laaadeedah Westcliff Hotel, my dear, and there is no way I am going to pitch up there looking like Diana Ross – no disrespect, I LOVE Diana, ok. Secondly, it’s a pretty busy weekend so I know there will be no time for running (walking) so I can enjoy a few days with my straight look before I need to sweat again.

Meze and board games. Tonight my friendlies are coming over and we’re going to attempt to play board games while stuffing our gobs with delectable meze type stuff. I told you guys in this post how I love meze platters. Quick and easy to make, yummy with a capital Y, all messy and hands on – my kind of meal! My pal found this 4 minute cheesecake recipe which we are going to try tonight. Now I’m sure you’ve gathered that I’m a whambamthankyoumam kinda cook; while I love to eat, I don’t care for spending hours in the kitchen cooking stuff. So when I see things like 4 minute cheesecake, it appeals to me. FOUR minutes in the kitchen, I can handle. I won’t share the recipe until I am sure it works and tastes good, so watch this space. If nothing appears in this space, you’ll know it was a flop, and we sent the guys to McDonalds for McFlurries instead.

Still missing the kidlets but really getting into this new role of married without children. Do you remember what you used to do before kids? What is one to do with all this free time? DO NOTHING, that’s what! We’ve watched almost everything on Box Office, if you look at my couch you’ll see my bum-print on it. It’s also exhilarating to eat whatever you want without having to wait for bedtime or hide in the pantry cupboard where the kids won’t find you. And not having to do all the things you really only do because you’re trying to teach your kids The Way. For example, I haven’t brushed my teeth before bedtime, I have been eating in bed, I’ve been watching waaaay too much TV, I’ve been leaving my stuff laying all over the house, I’ve neglected to pick up that sock or bra that didn’t make it into the dirty washing basket on the first throw, and I’ve eaten way too much sugar. It’s great being an adult, isn’t it? You can just do whatever the heck you want all the time!

Yay for a short work week and the weekend which is looming – have a good one!

Xxx

#GraceFactorySocial


Guys, remember this post about The Grace Factory? I’ve watched this little NGO grow and it truly is amazing to see the lives they are impacting! They are doing good work, people, and I continue to appeal to you to help them in any way you can. Remember they have drop off points across Johannesburg, and I’ve found one right around the corner from my work so getting your previously loved stuff to them is super easy.

So anyway, Tanya and Sharon have put their clever little heads together and come up with this awesome idea to host a fundraiser for The Grace Factory. While your actual “funds” would be highly appreciated I am sure, the idea here is that you come along with the stuff you’d like to donate. And really, they appreciate ANYTHING – clothing, shoes, toys or equipment that your kids have outgrown. Maternity clothing that you’re almost sure you won’t be needing again 🙂  and of course consumables like formula, nappies, cereals, wet wipes, etc. WHATEVER you have – there is a need guys!!

Even better, you get to bring your kids along to the event. I am always looking for opportunities to teach my kids about generosity and giving to those less fortunate so I know they are going to freak out at being able to actively help out. Oh, and also this event is taking place at Jump and Play so once the kids are over “helping the poor people” as Liam puts it (don’t know about yours, but mine have the attention span of little puppies) they can play together while the moms chat. Sounds like a win-win situation to me.

So who’s in? All the deets are on the flyer below, I’d love to see you, your babas and your new and previously loved goodies there. Help spread the word too please (#GraceFactorySocial) and don’t miss out on this chance to bless the lives of those in need.

gracefactorysocial

Empty Nest


So we went down to the South Coast for the long weekend, Uvongo to be exact, and we had such a good time with my parents and my sister, bro-in-law and their two boys. Those of you who read often will know the high value I place on family. We love to be together and we visit Durban as often as we can because my husband knows I need to see my family as often as possible. I also want to continue the legacy which my parents and grandparents have instilled in us – one of strong family ties, times of togetherness, and building into our relationships so that our children grow up knowing and loving their extended family of aunts, uncles and cousins. All the things I want my children to learn start first within the confines of family, don’t they? Love, kindness, generosity, genuine concern for the next person – it’s easy to teach and to learn when it’s with people you love. My hope is that this then spills over into the rest of their world – having learned to love within their family first. Of course, it isn’t so with every person you meet, family member or not, you may find that you just don’t click with some people, but generally I find my pie in the sky theory works, and I’m sticking to it. I think we all want to raise our children to be kind, loving and generous in spirit, right? Right.

So yes the weekend together was wonderful, the only negative being that it went too quickly. Then we left, and the kids stayed with their grandparents. It’s been two days and I miss them way more than I anticipated. Make no mistake, I do not miss the administrative duties that come with having small children. I do not miss bathing, changing, feeding, playing the referee, repeating myself ten times, reading the same story 20 times, being summoned 30 times after bedtime to make sure that the prince and princess are indeed sure that everything is suited perfectly to induce sleep. Boy, I am so grateful for being relieved of those duties, I ASSURE you! But in between those duties, there are laughs and tears, there are jokes and questions, there are hugs and kisses, there are long explanations of how things work and why digging your nose and constantly holding your pe.nis is not appropriate behaviour, there is the white noise of tiny feet running up and down the passage – and THIS is what I miss, I guess. Weirdly, I miss baby girl the most. I guess this is because I know she needs me more. Liam is our suave-smooth-talking-man-about-town, he is at an age where as long as his physical needs are met and there’s someone for him to chinwag into a coma, he is pretty much happy. Also, I KNOW Liam is doing ok because he couldn’t get rid of us fast enough. Over the weekend, he kept insisting that it was time for us to go back to Joburg and leave him alone! But Hannah still needs me, so I think, perhaps I am wrong. Hannah still seeks me out in a crowd and still looks back to see that I am there, the apron strings we share are still much shorter than the apron strings which bind Liam to me. She is my baby and I miss her!

But they are having a good time! And I know the time they spend with their grandparents is building into their lives and fortifying the foundations which we have tried to and continue to lay. And more than that, I know that when they are older, they will cherish the time they spent at Granny and Pa and Nana’s houses. I know even as an adult, I cherish the time I got to spend with my grandparents when they were still alive.

So what are WE doing without the kids, you ask? Well that’s a post for another day! I will say that it’s weird, it’s eerily quiet, and having to pee alone without any interruptions is oddly disconcerting. Who would have thought?

A very contentious issue…


Hannah is a girl and has girly toys including dolls, bags, a play kitchen, a play vanity stand and so on. Liam is a boy and his room is filled with boy toys like cars, robots, soldier figurines, plastic tools, a carpenter’s stand and so on. You get the picture, right?

Since forever, they have played happily together, sometimes in her room and sometimes in Liam’s room. They swop toys, they take turns and everyone is happy. Recently my husband has decided that he doesn’t want Liam playing with dolls or carrying handbags. This breaks my heart a little – the kid is four, so what if he wants to hold a dolly or play dolly house with his sister? I really don’t see the big deal. In turn, surely this should mean that Hannah should not be allowed to play with his “boy” toys? What message are we sending if we allow her full use of his things, yet we restrict him from playing with any of her things?

Also, why is it easier to accept that your daughter may be a tom-boy and we all laugh about that, but the idea that your son may like dolls is sacrilege? Why are men wired so differently to women – and why can’t we just agree that playing with a doll is just THAT – playing with a doll. It doesn’t mean anything, it’s not a sign to anything, and it most definitely is not the end of the world!

I am torn between letting him just play with whatever he wants to play with (especially when Daddy isn’t around but I don’t want to confuse the kid and besides that’s like doing things behind Daddy’s back which opens a whole other can of worms), and keeping a united front with my husband and agreeing with him in front of the children. I’ve had the discussion with my husband and it’s a no-go: hear yeh, hear yeh, there will be no boys playing with dolls in this house! Liam is well aware of certain things that boys (in our house) don’t do – nail polish is for Hannah only, only Hannah and Mom have pierced ears (he is HORRIFIED when he sees pictures of his younger Dad with TWO pierced ears nogal), and we get to wear lipgloss but he only gets to wear “Lip-Ice” (lip balm). So yes, perhaps I have indoctrinated SOME gender specific aspects already I guess. But always in a way that they understand – like how only Daddies shave their faces because only Daddies grow long beards, or only Daddies and boys pee standing up and mommies and girls pee sitting down. You know, in ways that make sense in their little minds for valid reasons – like can you even imagine if Hannah had to pee standing up, it just wouldn’t work, right? And of course, that makes sense, so they agree.

To compound the issue, we’ve had this conversation with lots of friends and it seems there is a complete divide between moms and dads. Moms are cool with their little boys playing with girly toys and all the Dads are horrified at the idea. Dolly house is just role playing for goodness sake – kids wanting to be like mommy and daddy. And it’s a bit ridiculous to lay down this law at home, when at school and at church, boys and girls play together – whether in the dolly corner or riding bikes wildly outside and it is considered absolutely fine. Let the child, on their own, get to an age where they are able to distinguish between the different roles that people play. But all this fussing just creates more drama than is even necessary at this age as far as I am concerned – creating more questions and confusion in the mind of the child.

This is the first time ever that I have thought that parents with same sex children do have it a bit easier! Generally, there will only be one category of toy in that house depending on the sex of the kids, right? And because Liam and Hannah are so close in age, they do generally play together with the same toys. They haven’t yet reached that age where he goes off and plays with his toys, while she does her own thing in her own room. They do everything together. Parenting is so difficult – finding the balance between firmly guiding them in the way they should go, and becoming completely Nazi over silly things is intricate and complex. There is such a delicate line between getting it right or completely screwing it up, isn’t there?!

High highs and low lows


This weekend was cuh-razy. It reminded me of those first few weeks with a new born – you know when your emotions are just all over the place and you go from feeling completely saturated with love for your new perfect baby, to crying hysterically when the enormity of the parenting task hits you at 3am when a hungry baby won’t latch to your boob, to laughing uncontrollably probably from sleep deprivation but also from the circus your life becomes when you have children. Cuh-razy, I tell you.

So this weekend had nothing to do with newborns but my emotions pretty much matched those mentioned above.

On Friday night we were blessed with an overnight stay at Emperor’s Palace with another couple who we love. The giddy anticipation of a night away from our children, staying in a hotel room with a king sized bed which we didn’t have to share with midget bodies, and the tantalizing promise of a buffet dinner and breakfast was enough to send me over the edge of happiness. And it wasn’t an empty undelivered promise – boy, it was awesome. The food was amazing, the company was lovely, our hotel room was a real treat and we laughed until we cried at one point! Isn’t it great to have good friends to do life with?

On Saturday we attended the funeral of my husband’s cousin who was killed in a motorbike accident. Funerals don’t exactly have me jumping for joy, for reasons I don’t have to explain I’m sure. So already on a low, we then zoomed off to the airport to say farewell to my brother and his family who returned to Australia after a 6 week long holiday. You know what the worst thing about saying good bye is? It’s that uncertainty of whether you will see each other again in this lifetime. If I KNEW for sure that ok yes, I’ll see you tomorrow morning at work, then saying goodbye would be a cinch (even though even tomorrow is not guaranteed) but with the time and distance that separates me from these people who I love, it makes saying good bye that much harder. As I get older and the reality of life and death affects me more, goodbyes become very emotional for me. And yes I’m going to get all sentimental now, and tell you to treasure every moment and live each day as if it was your last  because guys really, we need to be cognisant of the fact that this very moment is the only one you can bet your bottom dollar on. Later tonight, tomorrow, next week – we may not be here! Heard such an encouraging Word at church yesterday. An old and familiar teaching about the power of the tongue and how the words you speak bring life or death. But what struck home for me was how we speak to our children, how we should be affirming them every day with words of love and encouragement and positivity, how we should be prophesying good things into their futures. I want to say the things I need to say while I have the chance. And this goes for everyone else too. I don’t want to wait until so-and-so’s funeral to say and hear nice things about them, I want to tell people everyday  how special they are, or how I appreciate them for whatever reason it is. Down to the lady who comes to collect my used coffee cup off my desk and washes my lunch Tupperware every day – I really appreciate her and I need to tell her that. It’s mind boggling that your words have an effect on the hearer without you sometimes even REALISING the impact. So make your words positive, spirit building and loving. EVEN if what you are saying isn’t necessarily a compliment, believe it or not, you can even pass a criticism in a loving way!

 I digress.

So after all of that I was feeling really bleak. But once again the good people in our lives came through for us and our friends invited us over for dinner. I neeeeed to be more like this friend of mine who is so perceptive to other people’s feelings; knowing the sort of day I was having, she extended this dinner invite and it was just what I needed at that time.   Our friend showed us this really cool app that displayed exactly where my brother was flying over the ocean at that exact time and it made South Africa seem so much closer to Australia than it really is – even if it’s just an iPad illusion, it made me feel instantly better! We could see exactly where they were, how fast their plane was going (going like a boeing is not just a made up phrase, those planes go I tell you!) how many kilometers they had traveled and how far they still had to go. Technology is amazing isn’t it? Again I felt the warmth of good company and true friends seep through the sadness, saturating my sponge-like heart with good vibes again. It’s weird, I always picture my heart like a sponge that expands and contracts with each emotion. Sometimes it expands with sadness, and sometimes with joy. Sometimes it becomes dry and I need someone or something to pour something into it to make it all sponge-y and fat again. Anyway, my love tank was revived and full on Saturday evening, after a rather gloomy day.

Yesterday was a quiet day around the house, my most favourite type of day. Husband and I made homemade pies together. He made a chicken and vegetable filling and I made a lamb curry filling and we rolled out our pastry and filled our pies and popped them into the oven – a total of 10 pies! Although misshaped, and too much or too little filling in some, they were good. I’m guessing it’s the made-with-love ingredient in them! I read my book, the kids pottered around the house, the husband was glued to the end (hallelujah) of the English Premier League and then we went to McDonalds for cheapy ice creams.

What is WONDERFUL though, is ONE thing that remains constant – through the highs and through the lows – and that’s God’s presence and His concern over us. It’s like David said:

Your Spirit is everywhere I go. I cannot escape your presence. If I go up to heaven, you will be there. If I go down to the place of death, you will be there. If I go east where the sun rises or go to live in the west beyond the sea, even there you will take my hand and lead me. Your strong right hand will protect me.  If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. Ps 139 v 7 – 12.

 And that, my friends, is what makes even the highest high better and the lowest low bearable 🙂

With Love from the Richen’s


Ok seriously, how much money are you spending on kiddies birthday presents? Now I am a firm believer in gift giving. Firstly because I love receiving gifts myself, but secondly because everyone deserves to be spoilt on that one special day that celebrates their lives and the wonderful and unique value they place in YOUR life. I especially like to carry this through with my female friends and with the children in our circle  – because us girls and kids like to be made a fuss over right?

Anyway, point is… recently I have discovered that gift giving is becoming outrageously expensive. And this has got nothing to do with my gift choices, but rather with the number of birthday parties my kids are being invited too. And yes, the rational answer would be to decline the invitation and solve the problem, but with Liam having schooled with his peers for almost three years he is pretty good friends with most of the children and when we get invited, we actually really do want to attend. This said, we are on about party number 10 so far this year – school friends and home friends. That’s 10 kids presents. In between we have had birthdays of many family members and good friends and that equals  a lot more presents. When you add that all up, that’s a lot of money being spent on gifts, right?

Also, unless you are buying at the Chinese Market (and yes, if I see something really nice there, I WILL buy your gift from China Mall), getting something “nice” doesn’t come cheap. My gift of choice for children is books, and I do have my little secret spot which has great titles for great prices, but it still adds up. Add gift wrap or a gift bag and a card/tag and you really are forking out quite a bit for each birthday you celebrate!

So my questions are:

How much are you spending on gifts for your children’s friends?

Do you have any great gift ideas which don’t break the bank – for kids or adults?

Do you give gifts to everyone in your immediate circle celebrating a birthday?

Mother’s Day is coming up and someone on Twitter (can’t remember who now) had this awesome idea to buy a pot plant in a plain holder (or buy the holder and plant a plant yourself) and get your kids to paint and decorate them. I loved this idea for Granny’s gift from Liam and Hannah, she will love them. This is a thoughtful handmade gift which totally won’t break the bank. I am not much of a crafter but I think this is something I could manage! Also while grannies love handmade things from their grandchildren, your average 4 year old would not freak out in excitement at a handmade pot plant from their classmate, now would they?

Seriously, with the cost of living on the up and up, the last thing I have space for in the already bursting budget is presents, I’m just not sure how handshakes or hugs would go down as the gift of choice?

handshake

Feel it, it is here…


Well it seems that this post is way ahead of schedule – how are the temperatures so low already? Autumn is well and truly here. I always base the cold on Hannah’s birthday which is only at the end of May, last year we had an outdoor party and although it was nippy, it wasn’t freezing. Judging by the temperatures we have experienced already, I think that come end May, we are going to be knee deep into Winter.

Now I am not a Winter person. The idea of a hot cup of cocoa around a blazing fire while we roast marshmallows on the old kitchen forks does not appeal to me at all. Give me sunshine and bare feet any day. My woes stretch further – everything takes double time in Winter. Dressing the kids in all those layers means I actually have to schedule in more “dressing time” in the mornings. And whereas Summer means yanking off pj’s and throwing on a top and shorts, Winter means two, sometimes three layers of clothes. And then there is the issue of keeping the clothes on. Hannah is still very much an exhibitionist which I don’t mind in the Summer, but you can’t have a small kid stripping down to her brookies in the middle of Winter. No man.

My current issue is not even at home. I sit in an open plan office and if you think it’s cold outside, you should come visit me at work. Why some people feel the need to wear their Winter Woolies and then come to work and set the temperature at near freezing is beyond me. How about you dress moderately, and we keep the temperature moderate? I know its chilly out there, especially if you are using public transport to commute to work, but then strip down when you get to work for goodness sake! With the effect, I am also now drinking up to three hot drinks a day (with full cream milk) – this is not going to end well, is it? I usually only have one cup of a coffee when I get to work, but in a bid to keep warm during the day, I have upped the ante on the Nespresso machine. Poor thing doesn’t know what hit it.

And all this darkness all the time? I wake up and its pitch black, I get home and its already getting too dark (and too cold) to be out with the kids. And I am clearly going to have to think of more indoor activities for the kids because I have already started getting the “I am bored” or “what can we do” or “whyyyyy can’t we go play outside?” speeches. And while I do still let them play outside in the Winter – even if it’s just for a few minutes of fresh air – I can’t exactly stick to my current modus operandi of letting them loose for hours outdoors so I can vegetate on the couch. Even though they would love it, I am not that cruel. Isn’t it amazing how kids don’t feel the cold? I wish my not-cold button still worked. They just don’t feel cold, even when they ARE cold. Their lips will be blue and noses icy from sitting in the bath way after the water has cooled, but they will insist that they aren’t ready to jump out. I’ve stopped counting the number of times I have to top up the hot water so they can have a long leisurely bath without freezing their bits off.

All this said, there are a  few reasons to be excited about the cooler weather:

  1. Husband doesn’t mind me wrapping my big lump of human blanket around him at night (usually in the summer he can’t stand body heat).
  2. Comfort food – thick rich soups and stews, hot curries and of course hot puddings.
  3. Not having to worry about chipped toenail paint or shaving my legs.
  4. The slightly more bulky clothing which hides the rolls.
  5. Kids sleep later and better in the colder months.
  6. Getting into a toasty bed made warm by the electric blanket – is there anything better?

Happy Winter ya’ll!

xxx

Today is a good day!


Today my oldest brother, my sister in law and their 4 kids arrive from Australia. I haven’t seen them since my wedding six years ago and I am so excited to see them that I hope I don’t cry like a big baby at OR Tambo this afternoon. My niece is already 21 years old, she is an adult, we can talk about big people’s things! My two nephews are closer to 20 than they are to 13, they are no longer the little tweens they were the last time we met. And Matthew is six years old  so the last time I saw him, he was a little speck of a baby ! I.CANNOT.WAIT!

 Time and distance truly does make the heart grow fonder. And while Skype and Facebook are such great tools for keeping in touch with your loved ones, nothing beats the human touch, right? Nothing beats being together, sharing food together (we love to eat) and trying to catch 6 years up in one evening. I think it’s going to be loud and messy and I am really looking forward to it. More so, because Liam and Hannah have not met this part of the family at all. I am excited to see how they react to their long lost cousins, uncle and aunt.

We thank God for times of togetherness. I thank God for family bonds and the joy that comes from sharing our lives with people we love. I have to run, I need to work on our “Welcome Home” posters for the airport this afternoon 🙂

 Xxx