Monday, 14 November 2016

How To: Host a Happy Hour Baby Shower

This post is a little late because this weekend past we hosted a real Happy Hour Baby Shower, and the cat could not be let out of the bag before the Lady in Waiting experienced it for herself.

I have to admit: I love everything about this concept. It caters for those who are pressed for time, without rushing things or compromising on any of the traditional 'fanfare' that one looks forward to at these things.

So, here's how to do it:

Save The Date
Naturally, the first thing is to choose a date. We opted for a late Sunday afternoon affair. It worked well for us because many of us had prior engagements over a number of consecutive weekends, and none of us had whole days to set aside for this event.

Location, Location, Location
The ideal for me would be an outdoor location, particularly if you're going the sunset/sun-downer route like we were. However, any spacious indoor location works well too (for a bit of a cocktail party feel).

There are plenty template ideas all over the net. I preferred a more sophisticated and elegant feel compared to the usual baby-themed options, and made this one from a concept I found on and mailed or text it to all the guests (as is the norm these days). We stuck with the late afternoon idea, and settled on a time of two hours - much like a real happy hour.

Our budget, time and interests had us sticking to a minimalist approach all the way into the decor as well. We simply put up some pink patterned bunting, used pink accents in the serviettes and plates, and got a few helium filled pink and gold balloons. It gave a very grown up and girly feel, without needing to cover the room in baby paraphernalia.

Food and Refreshments
This was my favourite part. We decided to plan everything around a central theme: what is more happy hour than cocktails, and more celebratory than champagne? We chose to serve only punch and sparkling wine (non-alcoholic, of course). I bought a couple pretty bottles of pink bubbly, and made our own punch with fruit juices, frozen berries and sparkling water. We served the drinks in champagne flutes with fresh strawberry garnish, and chose not to have other juice, soft drinks or tea options which also helped keep the event brief. 

For the food we chose savoury bar snacks that could be served without the need for cutlery or even plates much. We had tortillas and guacamole, mini three-cheese, onion and green pepper muffins, salmon blinis, fruit platters, mini meatballs served with sauce, and only a single platter of cupcakes.
It was all such a hit with the guests. Not only was it really tasty, it was also light enough to fill a gap without replacing dinner.

I'm not particularly big on all the traditional baby shower games, although I admit some of them are really fun. So in keeping with a low-key and more subdued atmosphere, we decided to do just three activities:

Nursery Rhyme Time allowed guests to test their nursery knowledge and identify common nursery rhymes by cryptic clues, no lyrics. We allowed guests to work in pairs in an attempt to finish the task first. We then went through the clues and had the mom-to-be sing the ones she could.

The other activity we did was something we started even before the guest of honour arrived. I had printed several copies of colour-in pages for each letter of the alphabet, and asked everyone to colour them in. The idea was that, at the end, we would have something that we could put together and give to the mom-to-be as Baby's first ABC book. Having all these adults colouring in was very entertaining (who knew it was so difficult to stay inside the lines?) - and also surprisingly therapeutic.

Our final activity Guess Who allowed the mom-to-be to guess the gift giver by listening to a story about their childhood. This was such a hit! It allowed the guests to really get to know something about each other, and encouraged conversation, even with those who'd never met each other before. And in our case, the mom-to-be was such a poor and funny guesser, we were in stitches most of the time!

All in all, from an unlikely beginning, it was a really successful party for the hosts, the guests and mom-to-be, with relatively easy preparation and planning, and apart from the dishes, nearly no cleaning afterwards. I would definitely do this type of thing again!

Sunday, 6 November 2016

The Time Sam Went Suicidal

It happened last night.

It had been a normal day, and our annual Hendricks family Guy Fawkes trip to one of the designated beaches where we could watch the fireworks. We had been picnicing for long enough and were getting ready to leave for home when Sam suddenly went rogue. In the process that is getting everyone safely into a seat, Andel was trying to put Sam into his, when I noticed this eerie silence. I looked up to find Sam in one of those silent screams.

I hadn't seen or heard anything happen to warrant that kind of cry, so I just watched for a moment. But it just went on and on, and we noticed that he wasn't breathing. Andel started shouting at him to stop. I was blowing air into his face. We were hitting him on the back and on the bottom. And all the while he did not flinch. He was frozen in that open-mouthed scream pose, and now going visibly blue.

Obviously we were panicing then. Ash was trying to help. Yaya was giving instructions. The other kids were shocked quiet. it seemed to go on for ages. I don't know what eventually made him snap out of it, but as Sam took that first shallow breath, we all breathed a collective sigh of relief. It took a few more deep breaths and a few minutes outside in the fresh air before the cyanosis in Sam's face and began to subside, but he seemed calmer after that, and we made it home in one piece. Thank you, Lord!

I'd heard about these breath-holding spells before. They are often associated with tantrums or being deeply upset about something. I had never experienced it with my own kids - and for so long - though. Naturally, I had to read up about it some more.

The first thing that struck me was that it's not deliberate. People have generally created the impression that this is a form of misbehaviour from kids, but actually, they aren't even aware, or in control, of what they're doing (which explains why Sam was starting blankly back at us while we were screaming at him to inhale). In fact, some kids go on for so long, they pass out, and may only be able to 'snap out of it' once they've come to afterwards. The literature suggests that it's relatively common, occuring in many children between the ages of 2 and 8 years old, and not necessarily as a result of an underlying condition, but you should still tell you doctor about it so that there's a record of it.

A relief, I suppose. Not that any of that changes how flippen scary it was to watch!

Oh, the life of a parent: a non-stop adventure of faith and grace.

Friday, 4 November 2016

How To: Test your Heath and Fitness

So I've spent most of the last week testing kids' fitness - more specifically: doing anthropometric measurements - and most of them are actually so easy to do, I thought I'd share how to do some of them:

In order to establish your Body Mass Index, which is an indication* of whether you are in the correct mass range for your height, you need to measure both mass and height.

* I say indication because this calculation does not take muscle mass into account. I prefer to look at it as an indication of the mass your body frame can comfortably accommodate before compromising health and wellness.

For mass: remove shoes, jackets and any other heavy accessories (if you're doing this at home, being in your underwear is probably the best way to measure). Place your feet in the centre of the scale (a digital one is best) so that your weight is evenly distributed over the base of the scale. Standing tall and looking straight ahead, have someone read off the measurement to the closest single decimal place.

For height: remove shoes and stand against a height metre that's been accurately placed against a wall or similar structure. With feet together, place the heels directly against the wall so that most of the posterior side of the body is also against it. Standing tall and looking ahead, have someone level the top most part of the head (you can use a ruler running perpendicular to the wall), and read off the measurement.

BMI is calculated as follows: BMI = (mass in kg) / (height in m)(height in m), and the healthy range is between 18.5 and 24.9 kg/m2)

Resting Heart Rate (RHR)
The important thing about this measurement is that it is actually a resting one. This means that prior to a reading being taken, the person must have sat or lay still, without talking or laughing, for 2 minutes.

Find a pulse point (the easiest is the radial pulse in the wrist or the carotid pulse in the neck). Using a stop watch and your index finger (do not use the thumb as it has its own pulse) count the number of pulses you feel in 30 or 60 seconds.  

RHR is the number of beats per minute so if you did a 30 second reading, multiply it by 2. Normal, healthy range is between 60 and 80 bpm, but it's generally accepted that the fitter you are, the lower the result.

Waist to Hip Ratio
This result is calculated by dividing the waist circumference by the hip circumference, and is an indicator of cardiac disease risk.

Image result for waist to hip ratio

Using a tape measure, determine the girth of the waist at the midpoint between the last rib and top of the hip bone (iliac crest). This is usually the narrowest part of the mid section. Do the same around the hips. Then divide the waist measurement in cm by the hip one to determine the score.

Friday, 28 October 2016

How To: apply for a PDP

Before we even get into the How To of things, I guess it would be good to clarify what a PDP is in the first place. If you were to google PDP you'd come up with a lot of options. The one I'm referring to, however, is a Professional Driving Permit.

A PDP (or PrDP) is required when transporting goods or people in a commercial, mini-bus, break-down or goods vehicle. In my case, I need a PDP to legally drive the school buses transporting students to and from their various activities, and I am in the middle of the painful process of having to renew.

Like many of the government processes, this feels a lot like a waste of money and time, however, I do understand why it should be done. To find out more about the legalities of everything, you're welcome to have a look here. If, however, you just want to know how to get the darn thing over the done with, read on.

Step 1: Collect the necessary forms from the traffic department. You will need a yellow form for the driver applicant to complete, and a white form for doctor's clearance. Do not write on the white form! Really. If there is even one letter printed in handwriting other than the doctor's, you will need to get it redone. Don't do it!

Step 2: Get doctor's clearance in the biggest waste of an appointment where s/he will complete said white form. Hear this: it's a questionnaire. The doctor is not actually required to examine you at all. Just make sure s/he completes the entire form, in their handwriting, and that the information in it corresponds with the other requirements below.

Step 3: Complete the yellow form (you can write this one out yourself) ensuring that all the information is your personal information. Even if you are getting a PDP for work purposes - even if they are paying for it and expecting future correspondence to come to them - put your own information on the form (you will be asked to redo the forms if this is incorrect - ask me). And wherever they ask for an address, insert your residential one (see below).

Step 4: Gather the following support documents and requirements:
  • Proof of residence: this address must be on a utility bill of some sort, and be the same address that's on the forms (even if you have a different postal address, do not use it), and it has to have your title, surname and initials on the page (I'm not kidding: "Mrs Klaasen" will not cut it!)
  • Identity Document: do not assume that your license card is ok (even if it is the traffic department)
  • Passport sized photo for the application form
  • Application fee (please note there is a hidden cost of R100 in the form of police clearance that is not stated upfront)
Step 5: Go to the traffic department and have them check that all is in order for your application. I would recommend you go early and prepare for a long wait. I was there earlier in the week. I arrived before the doors had even opened for the day, and I was number 27 in the queue.  Needless to say, when I got to the reception desk after an hour, and was told something on my form was incorrect, I was not impressed.

Step 6: Assuming you have made it through steps 1 to 5 with everything correct and without losing your mind or sense of humour, you will have your eyes tested (side note: this is the only thing that actually gets tested; it appears what you are able to see is more important than how - or if - you are able to drive) and a photo for your license card taken.

Step 7: Finally, once you've passed your eye test and submitted and paid for your application, you will be able to leave, and the traffic department will check on your criminal status on your behalf. This can take a few days or a few weeks - but once you've been cleared, you will be able to operate under a temporary PDP until your new license card is ready.

Before I go, two quick things:
  1. There is a very real possibility that you will need to repeat the wait in Step 5 when you collect your card. There is nothing friendly about this process.
  2. The validity of the license is 2 years. So in less than 24 months you'll have the joy of repeating this process.
 Image result for bus driver clipart

Friday, 21 October 2016

How To: do a Cake Sale for Kids

I just thought about starting a once-a-week How To series. There are plenty things I don't know how to do, and plenty others like me that can do with some help. Starting with the kids at my school.

Last week, the incoming senior year held their first fundraising cake sale for the primary school. They aren't my register class so I wasn't involved in the planning. I was, however, involved in the transporting of cakes and students to our satellite campus, and it was right then that I knew things were not going to go as well as they could have.

With respect to them (they were full of enthusiasm and seemingly well prepared) they had no idea how to cater to a 4-8 year old market, and arrived there with large cakes and other baked goods, only one of which cost less than R10 per unit. What made matters worse was that these kids, the ones buying, had been told they wouldn't need more than R10.

And right there How to do a Cake Sale for Kids was born.

People think that in order to make money on cake sales, you have to have huge, expensive cakes. Wrong. The trick is to have a lot, of easily (home) made and inexpensive treats, that can be sold for R5 or less.

For example:

Racing Cars can easily be made using finger biscuits decorated with sweets and icing. Kids love character themed things, and enjoy taking apart and eating all the different bits.

Cupcakes should be smaller in size, and simple in flavour. Stick to chocolate and vanilla both for the cake itself and the icing. Kids are not interested in red velvet and carrot options, and usually don't eat a full sized cupcake anyway.

Tea Cups are always a hit. You can make them using cones, marshmallows and plain biscuits. You stick the parts together with icing, and decorate them for effect. If you're feeling fancy you can even add some surprise treats inside.

Who knew Iced Biscuits could be so yummy? Plain biscuits can be transformed with just a little icing and creativity. You can create expressive faces, bugs and insects, or even just create patterns. It's dead easy and super cheap to make.

Jelly Cups whether you make them in fruit-peel shells or serve them in a small container, are a regular favourite. Make different colours, or mix them into a rainbow effect. And you can have them plain, topped with custard, or filled with more hidden treats.

Marshmallow Pops are simply regular marshmallows on a stick. Dip them in chocolate and add some colour and sparkles, and you're good to go.

Mini Cookies can be served a hundred ways. You can decorate them with icing, sprinkles, chocolate and more, separately or together. You can choose to infuse them with chocolate chips or mini sweets, or oats and tasty nuts (watch out for allergies here) or even different essence and flavours to enhance the taste. The best part is you can do them in different shapes too, which kids will absolutely love!

Fudge is also popular and relatively easy to make at home. Kids love them, and they can be sold in smaller portion sizes to cater for smaller kids.

If you must buy go for things that can be bought in bulk, are fairly small and not too expensive so that you don't have to make your selling price too high. Things like small boxes of sweets, chocolate fingers, ice bites, lollipops or ice cream suckers are guaranteed to sell well - and can be kept for future sales.

The class' efforts were not in vain that day. They were creative in the way they made small serving sizes and managed to sell nearly all of what they had, with every little customer having something to show for their money. They did admit, however, they they had not really thought about how different catering for kids could be, and are considering a few of the above ideas for their next sale.

So there you have it: how to do a cake sale for kids. Happy Baking! Happy selling!

Friday, 7 October 2016

How to Eat Pasta - According to Sam

If I were to determine the nationality of my kids based purely on their temperament and eating habits, they would definitely be Italian! No one can chow down a slice of pizza, or devour a bowl of pasta quite like they can, and just last week, I was able to catch Sam in action, on camera.

Believe it or not, the correct way to eat spaghetti, is actually with a fork and a spoon. You take the fork in your dominant hand and catch a few strands in it. You then lift the fork to separate it from the rest, and press it against the spoon in your other hand. You wind the fork against the spoon, and then put the bundle of spaghetti into your mouth.

Clearly, Sam did not get the memo.


Buon appetito!

On Being a Teacher

Despite presently being employed in a teaching post, teaching was never, not even remotely, on my radar as a career option while I was growing up. Being an underpaid civil servant did not seem like an appealing, or smart, occupation.

In some ways I was right. Teachers are taken advantage of, constantly exhausted, under valued by the institutions, parents and students, and paid not nearly enough for the incredible impact they should - and do - make. I was also wrong. Teaching, it appears, is not an occupation at all. For most it isn't even a choice. It's a calling that, sooner or later, if it is yours, catches up with you.

For me, the first signs came in my final year of university while completing my Sport Science degree. We had to do a teaching module as part of our course. I realised then already that teaching comes in many forms (including parenting). At the end of the course my lecturer came to me and said, "Mej. Hendricks. Hoekom swat jy nie onderwys nie?" (translation: Ms. Hendricks. Why don't you study teaching?) I looked at him as though he was mad, and in no uncertain terms told him that was not something I ever wanted to do. He smiled at me in all his wisdom and said, "wag net. Jy gaan 'n onderwyseress wees" (translation: just wait and see. You're going to be a teacher one day). I was horrified, but because I liked him, I smiled and thanked him before walking away.

Less than three years thereafter I found myself lecturing sport science, and little over that years after that, while pregnant with Zac, I was making it official by studying for a teaching degree. I have no idea what happened, I just knew it was something I had to do. Like it had been part of me all along.

This week we celebrated World Teachers' Day. And while I may not be comfortable in my own teacher identity (let's be honest: when you're the PE teacher, it doesn't matter your qualification/s, everyone still think you're just a avid sportsperson), I am so very grateful for all of mine. I could not put into words all that I have learnt from them over the years. They have challenged, guided, inspired and pushed me. In many ways, they are responsible for a large part of who I am.

I feel like I never thanked them enough. It's not that I wasn't aware at the time. Perhaps I just didn't realise then how much time, dedication and effort they were putting in outside of the hours I was seeing them. I know now that they must have sacrificed being a soccer mom/dad to attend school sports; missed out on time with their families while they were finishing marking scripts or preparing a lesson; relied on their spouses to do another solo night so that they could attend school functions. And yet they were still able to make me feel like my education - and I (as a person) - was an important part of their lives.

Teachers need to be celebrated! They are responsible for encouraging the questions of inquiring minds; for inspiring the dreams of entrepreneurs; for honing the skills of all professionals. They really have made all the other occupations possible.

I imagine that for many more years still, I will wonder what I'm doing in this profession. I'm a self-confessed process person - great with systems, less great with people. I have anxiety which means that I'm significantly affected by my emotions. I'm type A personality which means I need things to be done immediately, professionally and correctly. I'm in my mid-thirties which means I understand nothing - and probably disagree with everything - this generation of children are going through. And yet here I am. I have to believe, though, that this is part of the bigger picture; part of God's plan - not only for me, but in His revelation of Himself as well. And if I can impact one life, in even a small fraction of the way my life has been impacted by my teachers, I would have done something significant with mine.

To all teachers (read: pastors, instructors, guides, mentors, parents and good friends): Thank you! xx

Friday, 23 September 2016

Graduation Day

Today is my class' graduation, and being involved in so many areas of the preparation, I've spent quite a lot of time thinking back to my own. Surprisingly, even though it's been over 15 years, I can remember quite a bit! I recall the walk through the guard of honour of all the students; and the speaker - who quite serendipitously is the same man speaking at my class' valedictory today - and the version of "When I Fall In Love" that he sang. Most of all, though, I remember this one song.

It's a Lee Ann Womack song my Mom dedicated to me at the time, and subsequently became the song that we played in the montage of the photos of our class, and words I shared with my classmates; the same words I shared with my class today.

I Hope You Dance...
I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
Get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid life ever leave you empty-handed
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance:
I hope you dance

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Living might mean taking chances - but they're worth taking
Loving might be a mistake - but it's worth making
Don't let some hell-bent heart leave you bitter
When you come close to selling out, reconsider
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance:
I hope you dance 

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Great is Thy Faithfulness

My late grandfather loved and would often sing the old hymn, Great is Thy Faithfulness, and this week, it has been my mantra.

The context of my life right now is that it's the end of term, the end of the winter programme, the end of a long and often difficult final year with my class, and also the second-to-last-day-end of my financial month. As is prone to happen at these times I have lots of plans and ideas and preparations, and not enough time, energy or money to see them all through.

Just yesterday, in the course of 12 hours, between Andel and me, we: bought and opened the wrong pack of nappies for Sam (potential disaster - watch this space); forgot to take something out of the freezer to cook for dinner; had to fork out triple what medical aid pays for what now seems like an unnecessary trip to the pead; had a mildly catastrophic trip to the hairdresser; and both seemed to be coming down with something. Feeling exhausted and utterly overwhelmed is an understatement.

But! My dear friend sent me such a great reminder of God's faithfulness, that - just like he did with Noah and Abraham and Moses and Elijah, and many more - He will meet and provide for us where we are. Sometimes that will come in the form of immediate relief, supernatural healing, a significant and unexpected blessing. Other times it will come in a new day, with new mercies, divine strength, and joy in the morning.

I believe there are many of us who are right now - perhaps even every year around this time (just ask Facebook) - feeling weary and heavy burdened. There may not be much I or anyone else can do to relieve the load, but here is our encouragement: God, the father who created and loves us, is with us, and there is no burden too big that He cannot bear. He who has promised is steadfast and unwavering. And when we get to the other side of this, be it tomorrow, next week, or a long way off from here still, we will look back and see His hand and His faithfulness. Byt vas!

Great is Thy Faithfulness
Great is Thy Faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand has provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

The Blessing of Partnership ... And a Shout Out to all the Single Parents!

Every once in a while, I get the tiniest taste of what it must be like to be a single mom. Last night was one of those nights. Andel was working the late shift, and I was home with the boys. This is not an uncommon scenario as Andel does this at least once a week, and I am usually quite fine on my own. But then, usually, both my kids are healthy and cooperative.

It's true that it takes just one anomaly to set a collision course in motion. This was me last night. Sam was ill. We'd kind of seen it coming but thought it was more teething than ill, so we hadn't done much about it. Of course, by the time I collected him from daycare yesterday he was a puffy, snotty, miserable mess, and I needed to take him to the doctor.

At 19h00 I was simultaneously: cleaning my bed, my baby son and myself of the poo'd-out gunk (including the suppository I'd just inserted 10 minutes earlier) that had overwhelmed the nappy; preparing a basic dinner of box pizza; trying to get Zac to stop phoning his father from my phone, and rather make an attempt to get out of his filthy school uniform and into the bath; and find someone to relieve me of duty at home so I could get to the pharmacy - or go on my behalf.

Needless to say, by 19h15 I was sitting in my underwear on a bedding-less bed, picking up leftover burnt dinner (with blistered fingers) while holding a screaming Sam (with a new suppository inserted) and trying to charge my dead phone, and desperation-giggling at Zac who had fallen asleep on my bed, still filthy and in his school uniform.

Single parents: I. Don't. Know. How. You. Do. It.

Now, I know people don't set out to go this gig solo. I know that often there is a story of real heartache and disappointment. Let me also say, I am not nearly naive enough to think for one minute that this makes them different to every other parent - single or not - who is working their butt off trying to be a good one.

Still, it would be amiss of me not to point out what a wonderful, purposeful and practical blessing it is to partner with a spouse in this journey of parenthood. Two brains are most definitely better than one. As are two hearts, two laps, four eyes, four hands... 

Andel, you are my rock. You hold my hand while I try to navigate the ins and outs of being a mom. You are my anchor when the waters are rough, and my safe place when I need to retreat. We are so incredibly different - incompatible even - but no matter how much my methods or approach may differ from yours, we've managed to give our kids the best between us. I could not do this without you; neither would I want to.

To my colleagues, friends and relatives who do this, daily, all on your own. I can just imagine how tired you must be sometimes. I bet some days you feel alone, or you wonder whether or not you're doing ok. I want you to know you're amazing! Your kids are loved and have the wonderful example you are setting them. You are not forgotten, you are always supported, and help is never far. You are doing the most phenomenal job. You are the real heroes!

Tuesday, 13 September 2016


Truthfully, I need a pause. Sam happens to be in the throes of an infection as well as cutting some eye teeth, and he is not eating, not sleeping, not wanting to be anywhere or with anyone other than me. I'm exhausted. And that's why I'm posting one of these.

I'm thinking about...
how freaking fast this year is going by. How is it even possible that it's already something stupid like 15 Fridays to Christmas?!

I'm watching...
movies again. Did you know, before May this year, I had maybe watched a total of five movies - at the cinema or elsewhere - in the last few years! Then I took my Mom to see Mothers' Day for Mothers' Day, followed by my trip with Zac and his buddies to see Finding Dory, and thereafter Bad Moms - and I'm on a roll! We also recently had our first pyjama movie night in our home where we basically bring out all the pillows and blankets and camp out in the lounge watching a kids movie together. At least this way the tv on the wall actually gets some action!

Image result for family movie night

I'm listening to...
kids karaoke. I kid you not. Zac recently got a CD of children's songs and choruses, and it has that split track feature. So as you can imagine, once Zac has learnt the lyrics to all the songs, he only sings it with the backtrack. And Sam's beginning to want in on this action too. It's really cute to listen to, until I get asked to sing along - and then reprimanded for not knowing all the words!

I'm loving...
the good space I'm in with my family. Being married with children is hard. Add to that working full time and having other extra curricular commitments, and it's easy to get lost in all the busyness. Recently Andel and I have recommitted to make it a priority to spend time together chatting, hanging out, and generally touching base (deeper than the usual, ""hello, how was your day? please grab a child"). So, when the kids allow, we try have a sneaky treat and cup of tea in the kitchen before bed, and we spend more of the weekend enjoying the simple (free) things with the boys. It's been so much fun, and really such a fill-up-my-love-tank thing, that I have some withdrawals on a Monday.

I'm busy...
writing out hundreds of reports for the end of term. I won't lie: this is my least favourite part of my job of teaching Physical Education from year 3 to year 12. It really baffles me that in spite of each person's uniqueness, I struggle to write something different for each student.

I'm going to...
Girlfriends Getaway tomorrow! The local movie house offers this once-a-month, girls only, preview experience, and this month's film is Bridget Jones' Baby. So who better to take along than my mom and sisters. We are so looking forward to leaving our husbands and children at home having a feel good, night out together.
Image result for bridget jones baby

I'm battling with...
contentment. The older I get the more I wonder what happened to all the dreams I used to have, and whether or not I've really made any kind of difference in the world yet. I'm struggling with the fact that we work hard and long to make money to pay for things that we have little time to enjoy, and to provide for the people we love but who constantly seem to be getting what's left (as opposed to the best) of us.

I'm resolving to...
try to get active again. It's September, the weather is good (most of the time, anyway), and I need to get out into the fresh air, so I'm reinstating some kind of training programme. On a Sunday afternoon you will now find Andel, the boys and me (plus whoever wants to tag along) on a walk on the beachfront/forest/park/mountain getting our bodies moving.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Nursing... Who Knew

My sister, Annie, loves to do this thing were she compares our family with characters from books or movies, or even real life celebrities. The latest is The Kardashians. I don't really know the one from the other, but according to her, I'm Kourtney. You know why? Because, according to Annie, "she just whips out her boobs and feeds her children anywhere - just like you".

Nursing. What a beautiful, amazing, awkward, mindset-changing thing. Even before my kids were conceived I knew I wanted to nurse my babies. More than anything it just seemed like the right thing. Like having natural birth (well, we all know how that turned out). And in my pursuit of excellence, I was going to nurse my babies.

Ashleigh beat me to getting married and having kids, so much of what I saw during my non-mothering years, and then replicated later in my mothering years, was based on what I learnt from her. She nursed Jorja until she was two years told. I remember feeling a little conflicted: without context two years seemed like quite old an age to still be nursing, but being there every step of the way, and experiencing Jorja's self-weaning, made it seem very natural. By the time I fell pregnant with Zac I was convinced that I would also try to nurse until he was two.

Fast forward four years since Zac was born. I am still nursing. Granted, I'm not still nursing Zac, but then truth be told, he only stopped on his fourth birthday. In between that I fell pregnant with Sam. I nursed Sam. I nursed Zac and Sam in an period of what can only be described as mad exhaustion. And then I nursed just Sam. I counted the other day. This month marks 51 months of continuous nursing!

So back to the beautiful, amazing, awkward, mindset-changing qualities of nursing. Putting aside the physiology of engorged breast and cracked nipples, being touched-out, and not being able to sleep on your stomach for months... This journey of nursing my boys has changed me. In some ways, it's really made me find my chill. I can hardly believe that I allowed Zac four years to determine his own weaning time. It has also made me brave. You can now find previously-rather-conservative-me happily nursing, in public if necessary (modestly, of course) - in the face of a fair share of criticism and ridicule.

Without sounding like nursing is the be all and end all of everything (it's not), and without any judgement for mamas who don't/didn't nurse: for me, nursing has been an experience second to none that has afforded me an incredible bond with my boys, and allowed me to really embrace my womanhood and motherhood. Quite honestly: I wonder what will become of me when Sam decides he no longer wants to nurse. Perhaps I'll be granted some grace, and someone new to take his place...

Friday, 5 August 2016

Middle Child Syndrome?

According to the Urban Dictionary (which is where you learn of all things hip and happening), Middle Child Syndrome is defined as (and I'm quoting here, because it's important you understand this right):

When a middle child - typically of a family of three kids who are close in age - feels left out or neglected.

Because the bigger sibling is the first born and typically an over-achiever, they are the most important and get the most privileges. A younger sibling is the 'baby' of a family and gets away with more as well as being the most looked-after. Middle-child syndrome starts when the middle child is squeezed between these two and have trouble finding their 'niche' in the family.

Middle children will sometimes...
- misbehave to get attention
- go with the flow
- work as little as possible
- be less parent-dependent than their siblings
- become the 'loner' of the family, not participate in family events unless told to
- play the peacemaker
- be more likely to go to a friend for advice than a parent
- be very creative

There must be a third child in my future somewhere, because this description above has Sam written all over it!

What feels like overnight, Sam has become this super-independent, head shaking (he may not speak much, but sure can tell you "no" without any confusion), schedule-defying, rule-breaking bundle of unbridled energy and mischief. And while it can be lots of fun (in really small doses), it's also incredibly exhausting!

This week has been particularly so: I have found him, fully clothed, in the shower at least three times; I have had to fish out toys, Tupperware, and for the first time Zac's (clean) school uniform from the toilet; In his fierce resistance to bed time, he has taken to jumping on the bed in the dark, and twice jumped onto Zac and right off the bed; And even though it's the middle of Winter here, the other day I found him stripped to his diaper and jumper, sitting playing in a muddy puddle...

Does anyone know where my sweet and serene little baby Sam disappeared to - and if so, can you please send him back?!

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Yaya Goes to Spain

Man, I love airports! But, boy, do they make me pine to travel!

My latest trip to CT International was just yesterday as we bid farewell to Yaya, who has left on a six-week-long pilgrimage of sorts to Spain to, among other things, walk the Camino de Santiago.

Yaya checking in - and already making conversation
Already anxious to board!
The rainy Cape Town view of the runway
Yaya's ride 
At last: going through security...

... and still giving instructions
There's no looking back now
El Camino's poster girl
Sam calling out to Yaya
Just making sure Yaya gets onto the plane
Waving our final farewells

This whole trip has been quite something from the start: after years of trying unsuccessfully to get my mother out of South Africa's borders, she basically just planned and booked this on a total whim at the start of this year. So despite this being her first oversees trip -  and a solo one at that - she has been handling things like a pro (well, except for the time she left her walking sticks in the car... and when she went in at the wrong gate - but we put that down to nerves!).

I think it's safe to say we all miss our Yaya already, but here's wishing her a wonderful time. It's such a treat to be able to visit another country, and live in and experience their language and culture, and it's a great opportunity for personal and spiritual growth. We know that she will love exploring, and suspect that upon her return, we won't ever again struggle to get her to travel!

Wednesday, 20 July 2016


Nothing highlights our extreme dependence on modern technology quite like having your server and internet access cut at school. To say that it renders me useless is an understatement. But at least I can blog.

The holidays have come and gone, and I find myself, once again, contemplating a career change to Home Executive. For those who think they know me well, this will come as a bit of a shock, as I am a self-proclaimed workaholic who is a much better mommy when working outside of the home. Or so I thought, anyway. Lately though, no matter how much my boys drive me up the pole during extended periods of alone time together, as soon as it’s over, I want it back.

I think I have gotten to the age where who I have is far more important than what I have. Right now my ideal would be for my kids to go to school and day-care from breakfast until lunch during which time I can work from and at home until I collect them. And then spend the entire afternoon playing and doing homework and living life. I don’t want to look back in five years’ time and feel like I missed it.

But then there are bill to pay and mouths to feed and the need to feel important and like I’m making a contribution to society… There’s a lot to pray and think about. I’m just putting it out there so that if/when this happens, no one can say they were caught off guard.