Tact. Full Disclosure.


I’ve had it on my heart to write about this for a while, but at the risk of putting myself out there or offending someone, I’ve kinda put it off. But now I think it’s time for full disclosure.

I’m a talk-now-think-later sort of person. I can run off at the mouth and very often later regret what I divulged. I’m impulsive and I generally say what I think. I don’t think this is cool. I don’t think it’s a great quality to possess. In fact, I think it’s quite off putting.

Don’t get me wrong. I am all for speaking your mind and “putting people in their place” when the situation calls for it. I’m all for honesty upfront and cards on the table and that bravado that let’s you call out bull dust as soon as you see it.

But. Tact.

Tact.

I believe that being able to guard your thoughts, being able to think something through in your mind, even if it’s just for 3 seconds before you spit it out, being able to hold back when your mind is  screaming at you to pounce… THAT right there is an art. And it’s called tact.

There are some people who have tact down to an art. My mother is one of these people. My mother has such a way of saying things that you cannot help but listen and obey. It’s incredible. She doesn’t shout. Ever. She doesn’t use big words or frighten you into action. She just chooses her words tactfully, her words soothe over you and have the right effect on the listener. Like she could tell you that you totally suck or that your hairstyle doesn’t suit you or that you are not a very nice person, without you being offended at all. And yet you would have absolutely gotten the message. It’s amazing.

There is power in the spoken word. Often HOW we say things is much more pertinent than the actual words we use. But the words we use also have the ability to make or break the intended message.

I am so tired of running my mouth. It’s like a bad hangover, when I wake up the next morning and I regret how I said something, or why I said something. And I replay the scene over and over again in my head and I analyse how I coulda/shoudla said it better. And then you are consumed with anxiety as to how that poor person on the receiving end is feeling. You see, we’ve all been on the other side. I think we’ve all been in a situation where someone has said really hurtful things to or about you, where the person has ripped your heart to shreds with the words spoken to or against you. Sometimes it’s in the heat of an argument and we think it’s OK, but long after the argument is over, the words remain. I don’t want to be that person. I don’t want to be the crass, ballsy, vitriol-spewing person that I know I can be.

And yes, there is a big difference between being loud, fun loving and the life of the party versus the person who always wants to be right, who’s opinion MUST be heard and who says whatever they feel with no holds barred. You see, I used to think I was the former, but often that line is blurred with the latter. And sometimes I don’t even know who I am. I do.not.want.to.be.the.latter.

So I’ve been praying about tact; believe me it’s a spiritual thing. I know this because I have tried/ I BEEN trying to work on it and still I can’t help but POUNCE. If I was an animal, I’d be Tigger from Winnie-the-Pooh: the ultimate POUNCER. Also, people in my circle have been dealing with word issues.. words said out of context / words that hurt / words WOrds WORDS that didn’t even NEED to be said but now it’s too late and those words are out there. I believe the world would be a better place if we all just developed a bit of tact. If the world didn’t view tact as a weakness, I think we’d be onto something. Because that’s what the world thinks, if you hold your tongue, if you allow other people to have their piece while you silently observe… you’re weak. And that could not be further from the truth.There is true strength, beauty and grace in saying what you have to say so that it does not demean, demerit or destruct the next person.  And it takes bravery to say what you have to say while keeping the hearer’s feelings paramount. Be brave.

It’s a journey of self discovery, I guess.

A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered. Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent. Proverbs 17: 27-28

This is my jam. And it says succinctly, what I’ve been trying to say in 835 words.

 

 

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My darling, you are five.


I have said this before, and I stand by my word, FIVE is the absolute best age. Five is the age where your kid is old enough to wipe his/her own bum but young enough that rocking out with your mother to hits of the 80s in the living room is not awkward at all. It is also the age of awareness. The Wonder Year. The year when you find yourself moving from the extreme end of the childhood spectrum (tantrums, meltdowns, not being able to express yourself without losing your mind) into a more settled peaceful middle where you can talk nicely, reason perfectly and negotiate like a good salesman. Our five year old milestones were absolutely the best  – the losing of teeth, the growing of molars, learning to  read, going to big school. Experiencing this with a little person who is fully aware of what they are doing and how awesome it is, was a wonder for me, more than it was for him I think.  It was at five years old that my first born toyed with the idea that Father Christmas and the Tooth Fairy possibly-maybe weren’t real. But it was also the year where he was young enough to still choose the magic and believe they were real. I am sure that will change at six and the idea of the Easter Bunny will be poo-poo’d on.

Five Years Old was the bomb.

And now my darling second born, you are five…

The thing with you, Hannah, is that you are a contradiction of the highest degree. To quote Forest, you’re like a box of chocolates… I never know what I’m going to get. You have successfully changed the game on me at least 50656234 times since the day you were born. The minute I think I have you pinned down, you do that game-changer thing. I love it. I love you. I love your spunk, I love how you can change your mind a million times and still be as chilled about your 15th outfit change in as many minutes while the rest of us are losing our minds waiting in the car for you to get ready (can you imagine when you’re 16?) You are not bothered by life. When someone doesn’t want to be your friend, you move onto the next little girl or boy until you find someone who wants to play with you. When someone is being mean, YOU TELL THEM. Guuuurl, I just love how you TELL people where to get off. Very nicely, of course. When you don’t like what’s for supper, you make it quite clear that you do not like to see onions or mustard seeds in your food (even though you still eat it, because I said so, because I am still the boss).

But here’s the contradiction. For as bossy-boots-I-don’t-care as you are, you’re as soft and squishy and emotional as only a little girl can be. You never fail to tell us how much you love us, unprompted, all the time. You say it so often that sometimes I hear myself saying it back without even registering and then I feel sort of bad. You end everything with “so much.” I love you SO MUCH. I miss you SO MUCH. I’m going to love this movie SO MUCH. I’m going to love this ice cream that you bought me SO MUCH. I think SO MUCH is your favourite line.

You’re so smart but you never use it to your advantage. I find this so weird because I want EVERYONE to know how WONDERFUL I am at EVERYTHING, ALL.THE.TIME. I love people to tell me how amazing I am. It drives your Dad crazy.. this constant need for approval that I have. But you aren’t like that. Like the day you learned to tie your laces when you were only three, you didn’t even tell us. One day we just kind of noticed and you were like “yeh, I’ve been doing this for like ages, guys.” Like the time we discovered you could write your name, you could count in 2s, 5s and 10s backwards and forwards up to 100, you knew the words to popular music and we only realised it when we heard you singing in the shower one day. All these things, we just discovered by mistake. It’s almost like you are so self assured, that you don’t need anyone else to stroke your ego. I so admire this about you, baby girl.

You are a marvel to me. I love you deeply. You teach me something new about yourself everyday. But more than that, you teach me something new about MYself everyday. From my personal experience, mothering a boy was really simple. It’s only now at 6 that I’d say mothering a boy is becoming more challenging. But mothering Liam has been mostly easy.. he eats, sleeps, poops, keeps us laughing, and doesn’t really get emotional about too much. I LOVE how simple Liam is. But you my darling, you’re like a closed rose bud. Every petal that opens reveals another layer to the extraordinary stuff you have inside of you. We’ve just discovered why you don’t particularly like to share. You’re a germaphobe! I didn’t know! But you do not like to share a bottle (even with your own mother who bore you in her womb for 38 weeks), you do not like to put your fingers into a chip packet which does not belong to you, you do not like to use the same medicine teaspoon that your brother has licked off already. Even someone asking for a lick of your ice cream cone is enough to make you hyperventilate. Until one day you very nicely explained to the family that all these things cause germs to spread and please can we stop nagging you about it. This was duly noted. My sweetheart!

So we gave you a little shindig at home to celebrate your birthday. You wanted a Frozen party but you did NOT want to be a princess, you just wanted to wear shorts. In fact, you wanted to be Prince Hans, but I talked you out of that. You had a lovely time with those closest to you. Your granny, aunt, uncle and cousins from KZN even came along to celebrate you.

I love you, Han. You fill a gap in my heart that nobody else can. From now until eternity. xx

photos by the lovely Marcia and Karina 

IMG_2573IMG_2580IMG_2585Hannah turns 5-008 Hannah turns 5-011 Hannah turns 5-015 Hannah turns 5-019 Hannah turns 5-021 Hannah turns 5-024 Hannah turns 5-041 Hannah turns 5-044 Hannah turns 5-045 IMG_2567 IMG_2586 IMG_2590
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Downsizing my life?


I’ve been toying with this idea of downsizing for a long time. I’m not even sure I know the full extent of what downsizing entails but the idea of LESS is becoming more and more appealing to me.

As I get older, as I see my children bloom into their life’s purpose , I can’t help but wonder if this is it? What started as a whisper somewhere deep inside of me is becoming louder and louder and it’s a voice saying that no, this is not it! This life which Christ came to bring us is not just THIS. He has purposed us for life, life in abundance. And abundance of GOOD things. Not an abundance of strife, debt, getting by, working long hours, tiredness. No. Good things. When I sit down and truly consider the things that cause me strife, I see that they are the things that I don’t need to have in my life anyway and since I invited them in, I have every right to kick them out.

You know you read these stories of people who just sell up everything and start over by living really simple lives. People who left the Big City to go live on farms and home school and grow their own food and basically turn Hippy (sorry to all the hipsters). Now while I don’t want to get any closer to Mother Nature than going for a walk in the local park, I have to admit that the idea of being FREE is really tantalising.

All those romantic notions of “it’s not the size of your house, but the people who are in” and “my home is where YOU are;”  call me crazy but all of a sudden I really believe them. Why stay in a house, spend a fortune for it’s upkeep, spend a fortune on a bond for the best 20 years of your life, have beautiful crystal glasses to drink out of on special occasions, drive a fancy car when you have to work REALLY REALLY hard to afford all those things and… then you die? And don’t get me wrong, I LOVE nice things, I really do. I love making my home beautiful and impressing my visitors with my fancy place mats and I like working really hard too. But quite suddenly, I’m questioning my reasons, I’m questioning my choices. I think I’d prefer to work really really hard for experiences with my husband and kids – like travel opportunities and amazing holidays and SEEING the world and doing all those things in my very city which we never do versus fancy cushions in my living room. Again, there’s no judgement here, for the last few years all I’ve whinged about is getting a fancy new kitchen in my house, so if that’s you, I pray you get your fancy kitchen soon! But I think I’ve reached a point where I want to live simply in order to be free from stress and to free up my time, my efforts, my finances for things which I hold dear to me.

My thoughts are muddled, my ideas are hazy, but my mind races at the thought of being FREE. I want to live in the full freedom that Christ offers, first spiritually but secondly all that comes with that freedom. Free from other people’s opinions, free from doing things because the Jones’s say we need to do it, free from wanting things because that’s what the magazines and the TV say we need to have, free from debt and from the fear of not having enough money. Free from the fear of “lack.”

It’s not impossible, I know people who have taken hold of this idea and who are flourishing, people who are living their best lives, simply. Other’s may see their lack as limiting and sad, but in their lack they have actually found the best kind of freedom.

I suppose I’d view this differently had my surname being Oppenheimer or Branson, but I’m talking about myself as a normal middle class wife and mother in a normal middle class family (depending on what you consider normal of course). Times are tough and if the Word is to be believed, times are only going to get tougher, I don’t want to be suckered any more into this shiny sparkly white picket fence dream about how I should be living. I want to just LIVE. My best life. NOW.

End of term and teachers who know your kid.


It’s hard to celebrate the end of the term when your kids are not there to celebrate with you, but celebrate we must. The kids are on holiday in Durban with their grandparents, having the time of their lives. I do so love that they get to do this, I am so pleased that they get to build these memories with their grandparents.

Anyway, I received a call from a certain 6 year old yesterday morning to remind me to fetch his report (truthfully I had forgotten) and to say hello to all his friends at school, which I duly did. I am pleased to report that he had a really good first term. For those of you who know my story, you will know that Big School was a Big Deal for us. I was stressed about the school, about how he would settle in, about the transport to said school which is faaaar out of our zone. And now we’re at the end of a term and it feels like we’ve been doing this forever!

The only “negative” on his report is that he tends to talk too much and thus needs to be reminded to focus. Now I wonder where he gets that from? Ha.

When I phoned to give him the good news, I didn’t even mention this blip on an otherwise excellent report. I didn’t want to rain on his parade and I know ALL about that blip and we are constantly working on it. I have the same blip on my life report too, ha.

Which brings me to my next point. What excited me most about his report, is that his teacher sees him exactly as I do. Let me elaborate on that… there was a time when Liam received a report from school and it was not pleasing. I couldn’t reconcile the school Liam with the home Liam. And it wasn’t a case of “I think my child is an angel” when in fact the child needs a straight jacket. No. I truly didn’t think they had summed up my kid properly. The report made me think that he needed Ritalin or something similar and that was not the boy I knew. Of course I took it up with the principal and we sorted it out and by the next report I had taught them how to word things appropriately (HashtagKiddingNotKidding). My point is there is nothing worse than people not “getting” your child. I know that mothers often look at their children through rose tinted glasses and often need someone to point out the truth; quite frankly I wish my mother had told me years ago that I can’t actually sing, but there are also times when you need to step in as a parent and say NO, that is not my kid, I don’t think you’ve engaged with him enough to know that that is NOT my kid.

Our Mrs V gets my Liam. Besides this report card, our one-on-one meetings always leave me feeling warm and fuzzy, EVEN WHEN the report is negative – because it’s always been about something that I had already picked up at home and she confirms it for me, and I know that she is seeing what I am seeing and we work on it together. I love the words which were used in this particular report card. She didn’t say he is a distraction, she didn’t say we need to calm this child down with whatever is at our disposable, she didn’t say that he is making it unbearable for the rest of the class (which I am sure he does at times)… she always makes me feel that we can work through this together, that my boy is perfect and just needs polishing (which he needs a lot of). The Liam I know and love, is the Liam she is getting to know at school, and the fact that these two Liam’s reconcile, pleases me no end.

I guess we all have our quirks and idiosyncrasies and as an adult I mostly don’t care if people get me or not. Let me say that differently: as an adult, I don’t let it bother me too much if people don’t get me. But as a child, when you are misunderstood, or the adults who play vital roles in your life (teachers, coaches, grandparents even)  don’t know how you tick and you don’t have the verbal or emotional capacity to deal with that, it can be really hard on you, and harder on the parent who DOES know and knows your potential. So having a teacher who wants to know your child and wants to draw the best out of your child is such an amazing blessing, and one that I do not take lightly.

I know teachers are different, I also am aware of the fact that our kids will have to face these challenges in their lives and not everyone will “get” them. In fact, it’s probably a good character building lesson to learn. But for now, with all the other stuff this shiny new Grade R six year old is going through, I am so glad that we landed ourselves in the butter with a lovely teacher.

For those of you who were wondering how we’ve solved the transport issue, we tried many ways including me dashing out during the work day to take him to aftercare at Hannah’s school (no brainer that that didn’t last long) and have eventually settled for two morning drop offs, aftercare for the Mr at his own school at an exorbitant price,  aftercare for the Miss at her own school, I leave work earlier to collect both kids, and unrivaled peace of mind. Ah.

My son is 6.


This post is almost a month overdue! As is tradition in these parts, it’s time for the annual birthday post where I get soft and gooey and say all the wonderful things about my wonderful child. If you don’t want to hear about how I have bred an angel of a genius of a most precious human boy, you should look away now.S7300530

Dear Liam

How did we get here? You’re six. I am in disbelief at how the years have smudged and blended into a mass of beautiful memories far too quickly. I remember your born day as if it was yesterday. I remember you as a boisterous toddler who didn’t sleep. Ever. I remember you as a smart pre-schooler who smashed through your milestones, like tying your shoe laces, with ease – yes, those things aren’t important but they are important to you, and me. I can’t believe that you can read and write,  I can’t believe that I can phone home and ask you to take stuff out of the freezer for dinner. That you can go into the corner store and buy bread and milk when we need it. You are a boy.

liam 1
Those hands. Those are big boy hands. This makes me both happy and sad.

Six years old is a big deal. You’re in big school, you make your own sandwich if you’re hungry, you make your own bed, you clean your own room, you bath yourself from beginning to end, except for the bit where I rub lotion on your back because you can’t reach – 6 year old arms are still rather short.You are my right hand man and I’d be lost without you. Thank you for holding the door for me, thank you for putting the kettle on for me, thank you for emptying the dishwasher – all without me asking you to.

You and I have become allies, and it feels good to always have someone on my side. I hope you know that I am always on your side, cheering you on, supporting you and assuring you of my undying affection. You are my favourite boy, sometimes when I look at you, I still can’t believe that you are mine, that I had a hand in your creation. You are perfectly and wonderfully made, the fingerprints of God are all over your perfection.

Even when the pressures of motherhood engulf me, there’s never a moment when I wish you were not mine.

liam 5

So what did you do for your 6th birthday?

Since you were little, I’ve baked your birthday cakes (except for that one year when we ordered an ice cream cake) and this year was no different. It’s a labour of love I plan to keep up for as long as you will let me. This year’s cake was your best, although you tell me that every year. You enjoyed the day with some of your little friends and the following day we went out for your obligatory Spur birthday lunch. On your actual birthday which fell on a  Monday, you marched proudly into school carrying your two dozen cupcakes. You were the centre of the birthday ring and the whole class drew you something special and your teacher made it into your birthday book – what a treasure! You loved all your gifts and you shared so graciously with your sister – good boy!

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Photo cred: the lovely Marcia from http://www.the123blog.com

Happy birthday my little love, as my own mother says to me, I’ll love you until the Lord takes me home.

 I’ll end with a quote from one of our favourite books, it’s the Blue Fairy talking in Pinocchio… she says:

Prove yourself brave, truthful, and unselfish, and someday, you will be a real boy.

You’re a real boy in every sense of the word.

xxx

Mum

The Big School post.


So we’re well into the first term and I still find my heart spasm-ing, constricting, palpating and all those other words that mean you are not coping very well with the whole thing.

Don’t get me wrong. Big School is going well for the kid. In fact, I had my first one-on-one with Mrs V yesterday and she is well impressed with our boy. She says he has settled well, that he works beautifully, that he is the best reader in the class, and that he interacts and plays cheerfully with everyone. There was that bit about how he can be very demanding of her attention and how he wants her all to himself,  and how he is quite noisy, but let’s overlook that little part, shall we?

The person who isn’t coping well with Big School is me. For a variety of reasons… to name a few:

The calendar. 

Oh the calendar. He has something different on everyday except a Wednesday. This means that we have to remember to pack a different item (clothes, gadget, book, equipment) in his bag everyday. And by “we” I actually mean “ME” because this 6 year old  remembers NOTHING. It also means I have to remember a different pick up time for almost four days of the week. I have to write EVERYTHING down or else I forget. Then there’s something for Show and Tell that needs to be remembered once a week, reading that needs to be checked and signed everyday, tuck shop money on the last Friday of every month, library books that need to be returned or else we incur a fine and a million other little things that crop up that we need to deal with. I loved our pre school because they made it really easy for the parents. In fact, I’ve come to realise they made it too easy for us. I didn’t have to do anything, other than drop and fetch the kids. No lunch, no extra murals outside of school hours, no show and tell, no fundraising, no nothing. It was awesome. Big School on the other hand is all about being independent and responsible and getting yourself together. You don’t have your school hat, then fine you can’t play outside today. You don’t have your library book, then fine you have to pay AND you don’t get to take another book out until you return the old one. Your mother hasn’t signed your homework book, then fine you get a de-merit. Guys, it’s HARD out there for a kid!

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The scary calendar

Pre school teachers versus Big School teachers. 

This has been by far the most difficult challenge for me. I am the mom who hangs around at drop off, I want to engage with you and ask you what you had for dinner and ask you what your weekend plans are and tell you the hilarious thing that my kid did last night. That’s me, and our lovely little pre school encouraged this. I was never made to feel like it was not OK to hold up the whole morning with my chin-wagging. I felt in control because I knew EVERYTHING that was going on with my child, I had a heart to heart with the teacher about EVERYTHING at ANY time. Woah. Big School. You are not encouraged to hang around, talk to the teacher at drop off or pick up, cross examine the teacher about last night’s homework or make small talk. It’s a big no-no. If you need to speak to the teacher, you make an appointment or you write it in the message book. You cannot hold up Big School with your chin-wagging. Everyone has something to do, including your child, there is no time to shoot the breeze in Big School, no sireeeee. Mrs V is lovely, I adore her, she is perfect for Liam and he loves her too, but man I feel so out of control. I feel like I don’t know what is going on. Relying on my 6 year old for information is making me twitch. Because his version of the school day events goes something like this: we played, we did some work, I must bring something for show and tell, I had water melon for snack. I can take my soccer ball to school tomorrow. OK, can I go and play now?

I’m like HUH? I need MORE than that, give me MORE!!

I chatted with Mrs V about this in our meeting last night and she laughed… she said that if anything was the matter, I would definitely know about it. She said this was a normal reaction from all the virgin Big School moms and that she encourages moms to keep the channel of communication open… just via the message book. Ha!

So. As if I don’t have enough going on, I signed up for Class Mom. Guys, my OCD would not allow me to just let this one slide. I feel like it would give me a bit more control over what is going on with school. I wrote a long essay in the message book asking various questions about the position and the requirement and with that knowledge, I applied for the job. Ha. The Job. Class Mom of the Year.

As for that message book, they don’t know me, they don’t know I can write pages and pages of words, they don’t know how it crushes my spirit to get a simple “OK!” and smiley face back in return when I have poured out my heart on those pages. That’s MY message book, not Liam’s. I even covered it nicely in paper and plastic wrap.  Oh, the hurt!

Transport woes. 

Currently, I do two school drop-offs. Liam first, then Hannah. Then at lunch time, I fetch Liam and I drop him at Hannah’s school for after care. Then I go back to work and fetch them both on my way home. It is quite exhausting, even though all this is within a 5km radius. So we’re looking at putting him into his  own school’s aftercare even though it costs almost double than the aftercare at Hannah’s school, but let’s be honest… playing chauffeur was tough even for Morgan Freeman in Driving Miss Daisy, I don’t know how long I can keep this up. So we’re trying and testing all sorts of scenarios to see what will eventually be the best plan for our family.

All in all, I still LOVE our school. I am so happy with our decision to send him there and despite all the challenges, I am happy to keep making the sacrifices that need to be made in order to keep him (and eventually Hannah) there. I can’t believe I have a kid in Big School. I can’t believe I have a kid who just gets left at the gate and makes his own way to the classroom all the way on the top floor – this makes me shake all over, but some days he insists, sighhh.

Nothing quite prepares you for Big School!

Going to the movies. Books. Other stuff.


Firstly, I must tell you about Paddington. I am not one to review movies and books and the like, but this was a special one.

I love Paddington because I’ve known him since I was the age my children are now. But more so, Liam brought Paddington home from the library two weeks ago and we started to read all about the bear from Darkest Peru, so it was great to see the book brought to life. Also, the movie was a really good adaptation of the book (give or take) so the fact that the kids could preempt certain scenes was sort of cool. Well, not for the other people in the cinema, who had to put up with the live narration from the second row. And when there was a scene that didn’t feature in the book, it raised lots of loud questions which I had to answer, of course. All in all, I’d give this movie a 9/10.  I think Paddington and the Brown’s were perfectly portrayed. I will record this movie when it comes out on Box Office because it’s one of those which my kids could watch a million times over and still enjoy.

Talking about a million times over… do you know my children are STILL watching Frozen? Is this normal? Never before have they been this entranced by a movie. Like they will choose to watch scenes from Frozen in the TV time they get during the week, rather than watch regular Disney Junior or whatever. And by watch, I mean they narrate the movie word by word. They could probably do Frozen on Broadway without scripts because they know all.the.words. Are your kids over Frozen yet?

Talking about books… so Liam gets to bring a book home every week from the school library and so far his choices have been awesome. So I’ll read it to them the first few nights and then Liam reads it to us the rest of the week. But guys, the novelty is wearing off. I like to read a book once, maybe twice. And then we can revisit it in like a few months maybe. Now we have to read the same book all week because he says so. We haven’t touched ANY of our other books since school started. BORED bored boreddddddd. So this week he brought home Enid Blyton’s Noddy. My most favourite childhood author. And it’s a lovely thick story book with chapters that will take us all week to read. It’s gorgeous! And spoiler alert, I never knew the beginnings of Noddy,  I just thought the story starts with Noddy in Toyland, but no it doesn’t! If you have kids around 4 / 5 / 6, I think they’ll like this book; it’s full of mischief and humour that this age group LOVE. I thought my kids had outgrown Noddy years ago, in fact, Noddy was the theme of Liam’s first birthday party, but I do believe the Noddy bug has bitten.

I’m not reading anything currently. Well, I am reading the Bible-in-a-year and doing a few other Bible plans alongside my lovely Bible Babes and let me tell you, I am behind even in that. It’s like my head hits the pillow and I am instantly comatose. If my husband was reading this, he’d say “you have time for social media but you don’t have time to read, go figure.” So I’ll just leave this topic here.

Exciting things coming up in my near future: Liam turns 6.SIX.SES on Monday. This is generating lots of excitement and dominating all conversation when they aren’t singing Frozen songs. Then work conference at Pezula in Knysna in March – you don’t even have to say it, I know you’re jelly. And Cape Town for Easter… well technically for the 2Oceans Marathon but that’s Easter weekend. So there’s enough going on to keep me out of trouble 🙂

Here’s a photo of Liam’s first Noddy birthday. Can’t believe this was 6 years ago! Also, look at my very preggy belly sticking out there 🙂 S7301299

 

 

When you have to clean your own house…


I will start by saying I miss Zoleka. I miss having someone to clean up after me… ok, let’s be honest, she used to clean up before me, after me, over me, under me. I did no cleaning whatsoever and I miss having the luxury of having someone to take care of all that *stuff.* I can’t lie and say that I can’t WAIT to get home tonight so I can clean up the supper dishes and tidy up a bit. No. Last night I washed four pots. FOUR pots. My husband did the cooking – with FOUR pots? I never use so many pots when I cook, just saying. FOUR POTS??!!

But.

I must be honest and say that it isn’t half as bad as I thought it would be. Also, can I just say how I LOVE cleaning products. My word. It’s like getting new stationery. And they smell so good. When I wasn’t cleaning, I would buy whatever would do the job at the cheapest price. Whatever Zoleka asked for, I would get with very little thought. Now, I’ve taken the art of shopping for cleaning products to the next level. And it has made such a difference. Our laundry smells like lavender fields, our toilets smell like cherry blossoms, our laminate floors smell like real oak. Ha! I’ve had to reorganise my kitchen and make a whole new cupboard for all my special cleaning goodies. And this is no slight on Zoleka at all, but it’s amazing how when you take ownership of something, how you do it right, and you can notice the difference immediately. Now that I’m in charge of the cleaning, I CLEAN. And I make sure everything is clean ALL the time. And it’s given me a weird sense of satisfaction.

I only do washing once a week on a saturday morning, and because the weather has been so glorious this has been a breeze. Let’s have this conversation again in Winter when it’s cold and damp all day long. Grrr. Hubby has already been talking about a tumble dryer and considering we’re only doing 2/3 loads a week, I don’t think it’s such a bad idea. I work through the house room by room, I start with dusting the furniture and windowsills, then I sweep and husband mops behind me. We each do a bathroom and I like to do the kitchen myself. And that’s pretty much the house cleaned for the week. On the little things that need to be done daily: I sweep the kitchen floor every night and I wash the toilets every chance I get because toilets get manky fast when you have two small children. The kids wash out the bath for me and they make their own beds everyday. Thankfully, there isn’t really time to make too much of a mess in the evenings so the house stays relatively tidy during the week. I’ve also started a wash-as-you-go policy, so that dishes don’t accumulate in the sink for the poor sorry sod who has to wash them that day. Even the kids wash their own plastic goodies every time they have a drink or meal; they have 6789 cups of water a day and that usually means 59 cups per day and they like to take out a new plate or side plate for every.single.thing they eat. I actually feel bad for the dishes they used to create for Zoleka now! Now they use one cup for the whole day and rinse it and fill it as they need to. I haven’t tried to do any ironing, I’ve left this all for the lady (A) who will be coming in from this week to help with the bigger stuff – changing the linen, wiping down cupboards and walls, etc. I just cannot bring myself to iron clothes, I can do anything but I can’t iron. Or rather, I don’t want to. Depending on how fast A works, I may get her to do ALL the cleaning once a week and then I’ll just maintain during the week… we’ll see.

I’ll tell you what cleaning my own house has done for me. As I said, it leaves me feeling very satisfied, I also love knowing where my stuff is at all times because I PUT it there and we don’t have any fights over who used what last, and where they left it. Essentially, Mr Nobody has moved homes because he doesn’t live with us anymore! I love how the kids have started taking responsibility for their belongings and how they have become real helpers around the house. Oh, I’m starting a rewards chart for chores this week. More to keep them motivated than anything else. I want to reward them for being good helpers, I want to show them that hard work pays off… but not for the normal things I EXPECT them to be doing anyway, rather for pulling together and making this work for the family.

One of the things I miss about not having full time help is the all-day-every-day delivery address. We have security in our street but I don’t exactly want them collecting all my incoming packages, that’s a bit out of their job description. Secondly, the on hand baby sitting service. Man, this is probably the most difficult thing to be without. I can’t just zip to the shop quickly to pick up something and leave the kids at home. Date nights will be few and far between, and all my extra curricular activities, read:girls breakfasts, church meetings, dinner parties, etc, will have to be carefully planned.

But so far, so good. It has been an eye opening experience… like who would have thought that dust collects SO quickly on furniture or that the kitchen bin fills at the rate of speeding light and needs to be emptied every five minutes. Or that a dirt smudge on the kitchen floor would cause me to twitch nervously. Unbelievable really. Ha.

I’m not saying this is our plan forever. But I do think this plan is sustainable for us, for the foreseeable future at least.

Who cleans their own houses? Or do you have full time or part time help? Why have you chosen to go with that particular option? 

Bringing you up to speed.


Hello! Happy New Year!

This could possibly be the longest I have stayed away. I hate these catch up posts, how can you possibly cram December holidays, Christmas, New year, Big School, ALL the extra murals, ALL the homework, losing our long term helper, looking after my own house, the start of 2015… all into one post? You just can’t. It won’t do any of it justice. But I shall try…

In the words of the king in Alice in Wonderland:

Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”  

So the beginning. We had a very chilled Christmas. My Favourite People AKA my sister and her family spent the holidays with us and we did very little else, other than chill. We rang in the New Year over board games and biryani and hoped that the year which lay ahead would be as calm as the way we had welcomed it in.

Not so and we’re only 30 days in.

After five years, we decided that we no longer needed live-in help. With both kids being older and out of the house all day, my hours slightly more flexible and a medium sized house… we couldn’t justify having full time help anymore. So we said goodbye to Zoleka who has been a faithful and loyal helper. “Keeping house” isn’t as disastrous as I thought it would be. If you’ve been reading for a while, you’ll know I don’t really like housework. I’m the youngest of four kids, I had older siblings to do all the dirty work, and then I married a man who isn’t afraid of housework so I’ve never really had to clean up after people. And then we had zoleka since the kids were little, so except on the odd occasion and during the holidays, I didn’t really ever have to wash, iron, sweep, scrub and all those other swear words associated with cleaning. But this is a blog post all on it’s own. I’ll share how I “keep house” and I’d be keen to hear how everyone else does it. It’s been just over three weeks and I still haven’t called on my “piece-job” helper who I have on standby for once a week deep cleaning because we’ve been managing quite OK so far.

Then Big School. Guys, it’s like a mine field. New teachers, new rules, new schedules, new routines. Everyday is different, and everyday requires a different something-something that he needs to take, or that he needs to remember. Again, I will blog about this separately and in that post I will add a photo of my monthly calendar and what it looks like! Just today we had to remember library book, tuck money, swimming clothes and show and tell item. That’s besides homework book, reading book and word book, and the little gift for the student teacher who finishes off today, while making a note of what time school finishes today – because he finishes a different time most days depending on the extra mural. I feel a bit frazzled, I won’t lie. The good news is that he is doing SO well. Again,  I will post about this in a school post, but can I just say how HAPPY I am that we held him back and that he is repeating Grade R with children who are all his age. And oh yes, he has the edge, just like all you know-it-all moms who said so! He already has private reading lessons with the principal and he is just flourishing.

Hannah, my little Rose, continues to blossom. Milestone of milestones, she opted to do ballet this term and wait for it… wanted to wear a PINK skirt and leotard. My Hannah? Doing ballet and wearing pink! The tomboy has not completely disappeared, don’t worry… but she has stopped painting with her kiddie eye shadow and started putting it on her face. ALL over a face so that she looks like something out of KISS:

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 My Reader frightens me… I haven’t read a blog post in over 6 weeks so if you’ve missed my essay long comments on your blog, don’t take it personally! I think I’m going to delete all and just start from scratch because being so far behind is giving my OCD filter the heebeejeebies. 

I know it’s late, but I do wish you all a wonderful 2015. I don’t do a word for the year and all that stuff but I do have personal aspirations all which revolve around not being so busy this year. Creating time to be the best mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend I can be and not waste time on the things that are inconsequential. And it really isn’t that hard to do. Remember, there’s a difference between good-busy and bad-busy and last year was full of bad-busy for me. This year I’m all about the good-busy!

I went to Tanzania with Coca-Cola


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The nice people over at Coca-Cola invited me, along with 9 other bloggers and journalists from around the world, to visit Tanzania to explore and understand their social responsibility initiatives in this part of the world.

It was an exciting, eye opening and humbling experience. The words I write here, will not do this experience justice because until one tastes and touches this landscape for themselves, it is hard to describe the emotion that you see on people’s faces, it is hard to explain the number of lives that are being positively changed or how different this world is, to the one I live in. But I will try.

It was hot. I grew up in Durban so I am  not unaccustomed to high humidity levels, but the humidity in Dar Es Salaam is stifling and suffocating. It’s that kind of heat that envelopes you and makes you instantly tired. If I had any hopes of slapping on some make up and GHD’ing my hair every day, they were dashed that first moment I stepped off the aeroplane. The city itself reminds me a lot of Thailand, the poor and the rich coexist; there are run down buildings next to posh hotels. It is surprisingly clean, and there are no beggars at every traffic light, although there are hawkers trying to sell you nuts and Coca-Cola at every stop. The traffic is insane but people don’t seem to be bothered by it like our resident-road-rage-joburgers.

Our first stop was at the Coca-Cola Bottling Plant in Dar Es Salaam. It was fascinating to witness the behind-the-scenes work that goes into that cold drink you buy in your local shop. We even got to see the secret syrup that makes Coke, COKE.  This here, is a Buddy bottle:

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We were then introduced to my most favourite project: #Projectlastmile. Isn’t it freaking ridiculous that you can get a Coke anywhere in the world, in the deepest darkest parts of Africa, in small villages which aren’t even on the map… and yet… people are dying from treatable diseases because they have no access to medicines. Not because there are no medicines. There ARE medicines. There are medicines which are reaching their expiry dates in warehouses. There ARE medicines which will change people’s lives. But. The medicines can’t reach the people. How sad is that? Coca-Cola have teamed up with USAID, The Global Fund and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to share their business model, their distribution and logistical strategies to help African governments improve their medical supply chains. Thus reaching the Last Mile. Even as I write this, I get goose bumps. We’re all entitled to certain basic commodities, and it breaks my heart that some people don’t have access to the sort of stuff that I take for granted everyday. This project saves lives.

Another initiative which I have to mention is #5by20. In a nutshell, Coca-Cola has committed to empowering 5 million women entrepreneurs  by the year 2020. These women are all previously disadvantaged, the women we met in Tanzania who are benefiting from this project all have an amazing story to tell. One cannot deny how this project has changed their lives, and the lives of not only their families, but the communities they live in. It’s incredible.

” The initiative addresses common barriers women face in the marketplace by providing access to business skills training, financial services and mentoring and networking opportunities. Coca-Cola collaborates with government, civil society and other businesses to customize 5by20 programs to address the needs of female entrepreneurs in specific countries.”

We visited Lillian, who now owns and runs a key distribution centre for Coca-Cola. She started her business with a small push-cart, she endured through a broken marriage which left her penniless, with one daughter. She has grown her business, with the help of Coca-Cola, and her distribution centre can now house 8000 cases of soda. It’s fantastic to witness.

We visited another market place where women are selling food (and Coke of course 🙂 ). Their stalls are powered by solar panels to cook and keep their fridges operational. They run these little stalls and are able to provide for their families, and again uplift the community by providing the service.

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The last project we were introduced to was EKOCENTER. They call it a modular community market. It’s like a “shop” in the middle of an otherwise rural village. It looks quite out of place in its rural surroundings but the impact it is making on this village is incredible. Aside from the fact that it is run by local women entrepreneurs, and aside from the fact that you can buy your food and household items here without having to travel hours to the nearest town.. for me, the most BEAUTIFUL thing about EKOCENTER, is that is provides safe water and solar power. This is like a gift. A gift that we take for granted everyday, yet people right here on our planet, have been denied of it.

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Over and above being exposed to these projects, we got to experience a day in Zanzibar. It was an amazing adventure of visiting a spice farm, Stone Town and spending 20 minutes in  a rather rickety 12 seater plane… but that story I shall share with you another day.

It was an amazing experience, I got to meet some great people from around the world, and more so, I think when one’s eyes are opened to the great need that exists in the world, outside of your perfect little bubble, you cannot go back to being the person you were before.

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While the Coca-Cola company sponsored the trip, I was not compensated in any way for writing about my experiences, nor was I asked to write about my experiences. 

Raising my babies, while they raise me…

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