Sunday, 26 June 2016

Unspoil Your Child: The Notes

Earlier this week we attended Focus on the Family's "Unspoil Your Child" with Hettie Brittz, and once again, she did not disappoint! So in an attempt to share (and remember, later on) some of what was taught, I thought I'd post on the blog some of the notes I made on the different types of spoiling.

Hettie identified ten main areas of spoiling and pointed out that, based on your child's temperament, they are more likely to be spoilt in certain areas that in others:
  • Palm Trees (fun-loving talkers) are most likely to be spoilt in the areas of Pleasure, Entertainment, Quick-fix and Branding.
  • Rose Bushes (challenging leaders) tend to spoil with Privileges, Choices, Quick fixes and Attention (selfishness).
  • Lollipop Trees (perfectionist achievers) get spoilt for Privileges, Choices, Possessions and Attention (selfishness).
  • Pine Trees (peace-keeping friends) spoil when given too much Comfort, Privacy, Possessions and Attention (selfishness)
(For more detailed information on the different tree type profiles go here or check out the website)

Here is more detail on each:

1. Privileges = a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people (understanding that it is not a right)
  • Too much privilege leads to Entitlement
  • The cure for too much privilege is to be given responsibility and do favours for others
  • e.g. your teen wants (and could do it) a laptop so you agree to each pay half

2. Pleasure = the feeling of happy satisfaction and enjoyment
  • Too much pleasure leads to Hedonism and Over-indulgence (and a predisposition to addiction)
  • The cure for too much pleasure is to practise restraint and understand when it's enough
  • e.g. insist on kids using their  'boredom' to become creative and discourage constantly needing a fix

3. Privacy = the state or condition of being free from being observed or disturbed by other people
  • Too much privacy leads to believing that what no one else knows won't hurt them - and sinning in the dark
  • The cure for too much privacy is purity and accountability
  • e.g. no passwords on any devices, and allowing full access to parents (i.e. no deleted message etc.)

4. Possession = the state of having, owning, or controlling something
  • Too many possessions leads to ingratitude and materialism
  • The cure for too many possessions is sharing and simplicity
  • e.g. encouraging giving away new, loved and still valuable things to others

5. Branding = assign a brand name to / having identity established in how one looks or dresses, instead of Christ's image and without development encouraged by fathers
  • Too much importance on branding leads to idolatry and identity crises
  • The cure for too much importance on branding is to have a strict budget and develop authentic identity
  • e.g. giving your child a small allowance for clothing, encouraging them to spend wisely

6. Comfort = a state of physical ease and freedom from pain or constraint
  • Too much comfort leads to a lack of character and compassion for others
  • The cure for too much comfort is to stretch your frustration tolerance
  • e.g. do not rush to minimise the discomfort or inconveniences your child may experience, but rather use it as an opportunity to enlighten them of the plight of others, and to teach them to adapt

7. Entertainment = the action of providing or being provided with constant amusement or enjoyment
  • Too much entertainment leads to callousness and inattentiveness
  • The cure for too much entertainment is to encourage creativity and insist of periods of silence
  • e.g. breakaways without any technology

8. Choice = an act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities
  • Too many choices lead to inflexibility and disobedience
  • The cure for too many choices is to insist on compliance and instill consequences for misbehaviour
  • e.g. setting clear boundaries (especially between 18 and 36 months of age)

9. Quick Fixes = an easy remedy or solution, especially a temporary one which fails to address underlying problems
  • Too many quick fixes leads to poor impulse control
  • The cure for too many quick fixes includes employing waiting periods and encouraging participation in long term projects
  • e.g. helping your child plan and start to save for a long term dream (however big it is and however small the contribution and progress appears)

10. Attention (selfishness) = notice taken of someone or something and regarding of someone or something as interesting or important; lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one's own personal profit or pleasure
  • Too much attention leads to selfcentredness
  • The cure for too much attention is to cultivate wonder and community
  • e.g. regularly expose your child to situations where they are not the centre of attention, and limit the ways in which you encourage them to feel as though they are

Going over this again now, I realise this is a lot to take in, process and implement! I also have to admit that, this is not exclusive to kids, and many times we are responsible for modeling and encouraging these very indulgences. What an immense responsibility we have to grow our saplings into kids of character: Joyful Givers (palm trees), Justice-seeking Leaders (rosebushes), Problem Solvers (lollipop trees) and Peacemakers (pine trees). I'm so thankful to have the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the wise teaching of people like Hettie Brittz who can partner with us along the way!

Thursday, 23 June 2016

The Bucket List

This morning, while sitting in a meeting discussing some possible future business prospects, my friend whips out his phone to show the other business partner my Facebook profile, and one of my latest posts happen to be one of those tick-what-you've-done-on-this-generic-bucket-list kinds. As we went through the list together (quite a good way of getting to know someone, actually) it suddenly dawned on me: why have I never done my own, personal bucket list?

So, here it is - a brand new list of 20 things (with some pictures to whet the appetite); all things I have not yet done, that I would like to have done before I die:

I'd love to make it to all the continents, but realistically, the max we're probably looking at is six. Still, having only been to the UK and Ireland, a few European and Asian airports while in transit, and Tanzania (mainland and Zanzibar), there's still a hell of a lot of traveling to be done.

1. Surf on the beaches of Hawaii

2. Attend Carnival in Rio

3. Visit Morocco (I'm not sure why)

4. Go to Vic Falls

5. Tour Italy, Greece and Croatia in a single trip

6. Snowboard in the Alps 

7. Stay in a water bungalow in Bali

8. Do some kind of road trip across the USA

9. Road-trip South Africa

Local Thrill Seeking
I must admit, I've become so much more cautious since becoming a parent. Still, when my kids are older, these are things I'd like to do. Probably in tandem with the instructor/Andel.
10. Deep sea dive
11. Bungee jump or sky dive
12. Shark view from an aqua sub (I'm not sure how I feel ethically about teasing sharks from a cage)
13. Paraglide
14. Take a helicopter tour of Cape Town
15. Ride in a hot air balloon

Personal Achievements
These are things I'd like to do for myself - without any pressure to do anything else thereafter:
15. Get my Masters (and maybe PhD)
16. Release an album
17. Publish an academic and/or lifestyle article nationally at least
18. Learn a new language
19. Run a half/full marathon
20. Make a significant difference in a stranger's life

Now to start ticking these off. Life begins after 30, right?!

Monday, 20 June 2016


Following a long four-day weekend, I decided to send the kids to daycare so that, if nothing else, I could at least do a blog post! And given that it's the first day of the winter school break, I thought a pause was in order...

I'm thinking about...
my untidy house. Really. It's at the point where it's so deurmekaar I can hardly see the table and floor in the living room, and I can't actually think about anything else until it's been tidied. So I've started sorting things out (I'm blogging on a cleaning break) while the kids are away, and am optimistic that we'll be able to maintain a relative amount of order.

I'm also really looking forward to getting away for a few days to Knysna for our annual family winter getaway next weekend. This is traditionally a full four/five days involving a road-trip, cycle race, log cabin accommodation and tons of fun. Watch this space for an update on how it all went down!

This is the actual house we stay in

I'm watching...
nothing. Actually, I managed an old movie last week at my Mom's while waiting for the kids to wake from their nap. But other than that,during this last term from hell (I kid you not), I could not fit in a single television series or movie or sports match or kiddie anything. Andel recommended I spend today catching up on some mindless tv - but you tell me how I'm meant to do that in an untidy home.

* I just remembered though: I plan to take Zac to see Finding  Dory this holiday - so that's a start!

I'm listening to...
tons of worship music. At first it was just to get me through the day. Now I'm looking at new music to do with my band at church, as well as some songs that we're getting the kids to learn and lead. They did their first song last Sunday, and brought me to tears. There's something about the innocent sincerity with which they worship that demands breakthrough.

I'm loving...
having a big boy. Sure, Zac only just turned four two days ago, but he's grown up so much since starting school at the beginning of the year. We have the most mature conversations in the car to and from school. He has such insight, and articulates himself so well. And he makes me laugh because he says the funniest (version of) things. The latest is "I think I'm losing my mind", usually expressed after he makes a mistake, forgets what he was doing or says the wrong word for something. Hilarious!

He is also very good with Sam. He readily assists with looking after or occupying him, and they both enjoy playing together. There have been a good number of nights, sometimes two hours after they're supposed to have gone to bed, when they are sitting together (both in Sam's cot) playing until the point of exhaustion, when they literally collapse into sleep.

Even shopping is a whole lot easier (even Dad can do it!)

I'm busy...
doing Sam's photo-book. I did one for Zac when he was a year old (From Womb to One), and have decided to do the same for Sam (Memories and Milestones). It's a painful process though, trying to decide what to put in and what to leave out, and how to lay everything out... But I have to get it done. Before the end of the holiday. Preferably before the end of the month.

I'm going to...
a seminar called "Unspoil your Child" by Hettie Brittz's from Evergreen Parenting tomorrow night, and I'm super excited about it. In 2014 I attended two of her workshops on Parenting and Grace, and it was life-changing. She provided so much insight into Zac's temperament - at a significant time when things were tough and we were convinced we were just not winning at this parenting gig - and her advice made all the difference! As Zac starts to exercise his strong will and independence, it is such a gift to be given guidance on how to develop it for good.

Tickets available from Computicket

I'm battling with...
paranoia. Seriously. Over the last while, I have heard so many stories of tragic incidents involving babies and toddlers, some international (the near miss of the boy who fell into the gorilla pen at the zoo; the horrific freak accident of the toddlers who was pulled into the lagoon by an alligator) and two friends who lost babies that was just too close to home. Honestly, I try not to read too much of anything these days, because all I can thinking of when I do is: "this could have been us". And I know I should have faith, and trust God's perfect plan, regardless of the hurts in the world, but the truth is that it's hard when there isn't really any reason that I should be spared that kind of pain. It's morbid, and I'm sorry. I'm just being real. Being a mom is the most vulnerable I have been. Ever.

I'm resolving to...
not eat myself out of (or should that be into) the house this holidays. I have this problem where, as soon as I'm home for an extended period of time, I begin to believe that I'm starving - every second of the day. And because my hunger is so immediate, I don't have the patience to cook something nutritious, and end up eating any- and everything in the pantry cupboard. Does anyone else relate?

I'm also determined to finally (a year and a half after moving into this house) put up the family photos - all of which have yet to make it out of the box they were moved into the house in. If I manage to do this this holiday, I'll be sure to post some pics!

Here's to a productive break - and hopefully a few sunny days to treat the boys! One holiday blog post down... #winning!

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Zac's 4th Birthday

This year was pretty unique in that it was the first time that in the months and weeks leading up to June, Zac actually understood and looked forward to his pending birthday. As a result there was quite a lot of excitement, and a countdown that started nearly a month before his big day. Not to mention, a need for us to get him a real present this time...

Things got a little complicated though. For one: Zac's class, who are the youngest 10 children in the school, all have birthdays between February and June (Zac's being the last), and so we were attending parties left, right and centre - on three different occasions we attended two parties on one weekend, and had a run of three consecutive weekends of Nursery D celebrations! On the drive home from each of these, Zac would ask, "but when is it my party?" - and June always seemed a very long way away. Add to that the fact that Zac's birthday was after the end of the term, and we had a new challenge: to give Zac a 'class party' at school, and explain to him that sometimes a party is not held on the same day as the birthday (I know - we were optimistic thinking Zac would understand and accept that). Well, let's just say, when the big day came around, a few days after the class party, Zac first insisted he was turning five...

We nailed it with the gift *parental high five*

Well, all's well that ends well. Zac enjoyed a class party of the last day of term, which also happened to be Pyjama Day. So, in the cold and wintery weather, they got to go to school in their sleepwear, and bring their blankets and teddies to enjoy a movie. We sent cupcakes and hot chocolate for them to enjoy during snack time, and sent each child home with a party box filled with treats and a toy.

The thank you pic I was sent by Zac's teacher

Then, on the morning of Zac's actual birthday, we decided to take the cousins and close friends for breakfast at Spur. Best idea ever! The kids had a ball making their way through the jungle gym, bouncing on the jumping castle and having their faces painted, stopping only to enjoy a quick breakfast and a milkshake. And best of all: all the adults could sit back and enjoy their breakfast too!

Jorja navigating the jungle gym

Everyone on the jumping castle in their onesies

Sam getting in on some slide action

My little Batman

Enjoying some toast, eggs, bacon and milkshakes

Dom showing Ethan the ropes

The cutest cheetah around!

Trying to blow out a sparkler... He doesn't get out much

The awesome Mr Noah cake

So by 12h00, we were done, fed and without any cleaning to do. Yay!

Saturday, 18 June 2016

4 Zac

It may be that I'm out of practice. I haven't blogged since Sam's birthday nearly three months ago. Whatever it is, as I sat down to write this year's birthday blog, I couldn't think of a single clever or creative way to do it. I first tried brainstorming, then rereading the last three years' posts looking for some inspiration, and then proceeded to write and delete about six different posts!

So without any frills and fancies (which, ironically, is probably how you'd prefer it), as inadequate as it feels, here goes...

My dear Zac. Somehow you have managed to fill four short years with a lifetime of memories and special moments, and I'm so incredibly grateful for them.

You continue to teach me so much and challenge me in so many ways. You keep me on my toes with your questions and observations, and inspire me to, like you, critically question things before simply accepting them, and courageously and confidently find and take up my place in the world.

You fill me with such pride. Not only are you a smart and independent boy who loves to learn and regularly surprises us with all that you know; you're also well mannered and polite (most of the time, anyway), and friendly, and good fun! You have a way of crawling into the hearts of everyone who spends time with you.

Don't get me wrong: you can be hard work! But then I suppose all the things in life that are worth it, are. I know the qualities that may seem difficult now are the very ones that, with some guidance and nurturing, will be your greatest assets as you grow up.

You are reaching one of my favourite ages: young enough to still be free of responsibilities, disappointment and worry; old enough to have an opinion; brave enough to dream limitlessly; innocent enough to believe the best in everyone and everything; protected enough to experience genuine happiness.

I promise to stay near enough to hold your hand when you need assistance; to be your safe place when you feel afraid; to be ready to wipe tears, give hugs and smother you with kisses. And at the same time: allow you enough room to run freely, push boundaries, and test out those wings.

May this year be your best yet!

'Love you forever ~ Mommy x