Friday, January 30, 2015

{Friendship Friday} Salad or dessert?

I think it was Melinda who said on a post recently that she wants to entertain her kids for free this year :)

That's me.

Well, that was me last year too. I also want to have people over more often and let the kids run wild.

I think we Joburgers are putting up with too much (noise, stimulation, COST, etc.) in restaurants and not having enough true connection time.

Maybe that's just me?

When I find myself concentrating to lip-read in a restaurant, that's not a good thing.

I'm sure I've said this before but we (collective we) put pressure on ourselves to "entertain" instead of just enjoying the company of our friends.

I started out "entertaining" with tea and muffins, and it's still my go-to if all else fails. But now I do easy lunches in summer (Fournos rotisserie chickens, salad and rolls :)) and pasta, salad and garlic bread in winter. I need to find myself some other easy meal options :)

Also, let's face it - people always ask, "can I bring anything?" so if you want some "help" on the catering, say YES.

My one friend was telling me that her SIL always asks in such a way that she's hoping my friend says no! Ha - too funny :)

I ask her like this - what would you like me to bring - chicken, salad or dessert? First time she said chicken, next time she said dessert. It forces the people to pick.

Anyway, where was I going with that detour?

This is the last set of friend pics for 2014 - I'm finally up to date :) :)

My friend Caren and her family came over late in December for tea. It was one of those super-hot days so we let the kids splash in the blow-up pool while we chatted and it was so nice.

The kids are all at a stage now (mine for the last year, at least) where they let you get on with the talking and they get on with the playing. Now and again I might have to intervene for normal kid stuff if I hear someone getting bossy, but that's always been the case.

These 4 played so nicely together. When they arrived, S asked me if they were going to make necklaces.

I was totally lost for a good few seconds (brain fried by the heat) and then I remembered the last time they were here for the twins' birthday party, they all made cereal necklaces.

I didn't have Fruit Loops (bought specially for the party) but I had some Otees and all the kids were very happy to eat them make some necklaces :)

And of course I had to take a few photos.

The reason S's arm is cut off? She's holding Caren's hand.

and us!
Incidentally, I saw you 6 times in 2014, Caren. Let's see if we can better that this year :)

Caren already has all her holidays planned up to July (I think?). I'm super impressed by her holiday organising. I need someone to do that for me!

Do you prefer meeting at a restaurant or at your home?
If you like having people to your home, do you accept help with the catering?
What is your preferred dish to take along with you, if asked - salad or a dessert?

PS This is post 100 in the Friendship Friday series (really?!) and I think it's fitting since the content of this post ended off the year.
PPS I have absolutely nothing planned yet in the way of entertaining this year... except for those monthly Praise and Worship evenings and the workshops. My goal is to do at least 6 Love Languages workshops. Would you come?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

This is a post about school lunches

Mandy was interested in this post and I didn't need my arm twisted much beyond that :)

Some background first... at the pre-school
  1. They had their breakfasts at 8 am.
  2. They had a snack mid-morning (bread with peanut butter or jam)
  3. They came home for lunch
these breakfasts were the best food at a blog workshop I attended in November

So I'm thinking they'll now have breakfast here at 7.15 latest, and I'll then send the snack to school.

Well, turns out it wasn't enough.  Connor came home with half of someone else’s sandwich the other day – a boy shared with him but he says he didn’t like the way that tuna was done (I do mine with onions, tomato and mayo).

When we had the parents' evening, the teacher told all of us to please send lots of food, enough for two breaks, because all the kids seem to be starving.

I've started putting the food in two lunchboxes so that it's clear - first break and second break.

(Kendra just told me, "Mummy, Y's doctor told her she has to eat jelly and ice-cream so she can get better. Lucky, hey?!") 

from the same blogger function

They eat breakfast here daily - the usual suspects - Weetbix, Pronutro, muesli - and they've also had a muffin when there wasn't much time. My muffins are healthy - oats, yoghurt, banana and raisins - so I'm happy for them to have those as breakfast.

Currently, we send them with...
  1. bread/ rolls/ pita bread (I bought some but I need to start making them!) with ham, cheese, peanut butter.
  2. a fruit (Kendra told me she wants an easy fruit to eat, i.e. not an apple) - peach, plum, grapes, pineapple, etc.
  3. a snack (peanuts and raisins/ dried fruit roll/ mini muffins (I had some left from the workshop on Saturday)
  4. water
and still more from the blogger function

The school doesn't allow unhealthy lunches which is just fine with me! If the kids are found with sweets/ chocolates, fizzy cooldrinks, etc, these are confiscated and sent home on Fridays.

my take on that delicious breakfast

When the nanny goes to fetch them, she takes an apple with her for them to eat on the way back home.

If any lunch was left, they start with that and then get their normal lunch at home.
  • A sandwich with egg, cottage cheese, peanut butter, ham, tuna or cheese plus
  • A veg - tomatoes, cucumber, carrots

Their snack later is a fruit and yoghurt, or in cold weather, tea and two biscuits/ a muffin/ hot cross bun, etc.
we have a pic like this taken in Scotland looking out at the William Wallace (?) monument - lost on me of course, history not being my thing.

So what are you sending to school for lunches?
Do your kids eat your lovingly-packed lunch?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

You could almost believe we're in Ireland

One of the days on holiday it was cold and rainy. Normally I love this kind of weather but this time, we weren't prepared so I wasn't that thrilled with the weather.Because it was super cold.

I had delusions of going for runs (!) - me! - so I took gym pants and a grey sweatshirt with us, which was what I wore.

The kids had leggings.

Fortunately, that was the only day it was that cold the whole day. It rained on another two days, but more the thundershowers we're used to in Joburg.

So of course we took a drive and

Irish weather

three little birds

how gorgeous is this?!


the resort

Oh, I loved this manhole cover. Rust and chipped paint - what more could you want?!

and my other love, fire hydrants!

A wallflower :)

my favourite kind of photo - bare branches against those grey skies. To be honest, everything looks better against a grey sky!
Which is your favourite "Irish" photo?
PS I'm a bit under the weather and by "a bit" I mean a lot. So I don't want to talk or do anything. I'm sleeping a lot and reading some. Oh, and I cooked two meals because when do I get the luxury of cooking?! I want to finish A Million Little Ways this month - the Kindle tells me I'm 58% through.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Parenting advice from my friend Julia

Oooh, thanks again for leaving such nice comments on Louisa's parenting advice last week.

Next up, some advice from my friend, Julia.

Interesting thing to note but both Louisa and Julia claim to be INFP....if memory serves me correctly :)
  1. Understand that just like no two adults are the same, no two kids are the same either.  Get to know your child/ren and respect them as individuals.   This obviously means that they will have different needs.  Where it is reasonably possible, work WITH them and their quirks and not AGAINST them – otherwise you’re going to be a very miserable parent. 
  2. Kids do not always have the ability to express themselves in an emotionally mature manner and they don’t always know how to use their words effectively. Sometimes they will act out. Sometimes they may become a bit quiet.  Listen to what it is that they are NOT saying and read between the lines. 
  3. Think long-term. Ask yourself: “how will I feel if my child does xyz or abc in public.”  Ask yourself: “what is the long-term implication of my child doing xyz at this moment”.  Ask yourself: “what message am I sending my child if I do xyz or abc.”
I've never seen Julia with her kids but I know from how she writes and talks about them that at least some of her parenting superpowers are:
  1. she is a fierce mama-bear advocate
  2. she's very mindful of what's right for them (whether society feels differently)
  3. she celebrates their uniqueness
Over to you!
What do you do to parent for the long term?

PS One of our values has always been to raise independent kids, so from the time they were itty-bitty babies, we let them play by themselves on a playmat, so they didn't expect us to always be the entertainment. That's just one example but I mention it because at least 4 - 5 people commented on it at the time, and we thought, "huh! doesn't everyone do this?"

Monday, January 26, 2015

School update - things I love and don't love

The twins (just for you Mrs FF) have been at school for 9 days now (I just counted) and they are super happy. So am I. I just love the school, teacher, principal, etc.

They're in the same class which is so good for us speaking to one teacher and getting all the same messages.

I also love, love, LOVE how I'll ask them, "so what happened at school today?" and one will start, another will fill in a gap, and then it will prompt the other about something else.

I'm actually getting a real sense for what goes on.

They should have been together sooner, at least to satisfy my curiosity!

Every day I ask them if they've made any friends yet!

The first couple of days they both said they had their twin and one boy in K's pre-school class.

But tonight Kendra could tell me everyone's name around her table (they sit in tables of 5) and 3 at Connor's table. Connor plays with kids at all the tables apparently.

I love their teacher. I think I mentioned this before but her son was in C's class and so we've had a couple of parties together - they came to ours too.

They told me, "Mummy, we have to call her Mrs H now" :)

A few things I love:
  1. no unhealthy food allowed (YESSSSSSS) otherwise they confiscate
  2. tuck shop on Fridays - we've said they can each have R5 every week so there was a whole lot of negotiation about whether it made better sense to have 1 bag of biltong, or peanuts and raisins, and have some change. Guess who chose which option?
  3. the uniform!
  4. using "Mrs H says...." when t
  5. I got to wrap 3 books for each child (I'm that weird kind of person who loves wrapping books - well, back to school sales are better than Christmas :))

A few things I don't love
  1. prying them out of bed in the mornings - it is already getting easier but the novelty of school wore off after two days....
  2. monitoring the uniform - is there a clean golf shirt? all the time (they have 2 each, and I'm waiting for the 2nd hand shop to open to hopefully buy some more.... it seems I had unrealistic expectations of them wearing one shirt for two days before laundering it...)
  3. we keep running out of food (this is a good thing I suppose, in that my kids are eating me out of house and home, and they're ONLY 5.5) - shall I blog separately on this?
I think that's it.

If I've forgotten anything, let me know in the comments.

Also, what do you think of parents posting the name of their kids' school online for the whole world to see?

Maybe I'm a bit of an overthinker but I can't help thinking about any crazies out there knowing their whereabouts.

PS I don't think my FB friends are necessarily crazies, but what about each of their hundreds of friends?!

PPS All pics from January last year - can you believe the sweetness?!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Temp nanny number 3

I received the resignation SMS from Nanny 2 on New Year's night.

After we put the twins to bed (hmm, I never say "the twins" but I noticed my colleagues ask, "how are the twins?"), we went onto the agency's website to have a look.

I noticed that my 2nd choice previously was still listed as available so I wrote an email telling them the situation and saying if she was, in fact, still available, to offer her the job.

They did, she accepted, she came in on the Sat for a few hours quick training and started (thrown in the deep end) on the Monday.

And she's been great.

She is great.

She's open, communicative, calls me Marcia, not Ma'am, and the kids love her because she reads Naughty Amelia Jane to them (it's really easy to make my kids love you :)).

She was a teacher in Zim so I'm getting her to do the homework with the babies. Homework started this week with them writing out a page of their name in the proper upper and lower case letters.

I'm thinking of getting her to teach them words.....

My house is clean, the kids are happy and not fighting with the nanny all the time and so I'm happy.

She's also super switched-on and organised which goes a long way with me.

Speaking of nannies, I went to visit Nanny S and the baby the other day, and take them more presents. My word, that baby is sweet. If I were in the slightest bit broody, it would be a problem. Thank goodness I'm WELL over that stage.


What's more important to you - a clean house or happy children?

I actually need both. It might not be politically correct to say that, but I can't function in a messy house :)

PS Mrs FF has put herself on a data diet (data usage for her phone) which I SUPER LOVE. I'm putting myself on a 30-minute or less blog post diet. This one took 25 mins. If I don't look for pics, even quicker :)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

My 2014 photography, in numbers

Thank you for your nice comments on Louisa's parenting tips. I'm going to do one every week for about a month.


Ta da da dum.....

Let's talk about photography, and particularly, my 2014 photography in numbers. 

1. My goal was 12 photowalks (as in a walk with the big camera, solely to take pics of whatever takes my fancy). I ended up with 53. 53!!! (plus the 10 - 12 where I only took the iphone)

I've set a big goal for this year - 52 photowalks. They don't have to be done with the big camera; as long as we take a walk and I take ONE nice pic (nice by my standards), I'll be happy.

We've had 3 so far so we are bang on track, and I haven't taken the big camera for a walk yet (because I hadn't finished 2014 pics and I feel like I'm just adding to the photo crazy otherwise). You can check out my instagram marcia0608 and look for #52walksin2015 to see the 3 pics.

2. Another goal (a standing one) is to have photos of me every month with the kids. I definitely have nice photos every month and much, much more than I expected because I'm now training the kids to take good photos too. And I outright bribe them "if I can take pics of you, then you can take pics of me with Kendra" and it works!

first day of school last year

My folder has 206 photos but there are photos of D with the kids in there too. I think I had 83 photos in 2013 so this is really good going.

If you don't have a photo project for 2015, may I strongly encourage you to get in photos with your kids monthly? (I'm looking at you, Se7en!) And I always say this but if you see me somewhere, tell me to take a photo of you and your kids. Always very happy to do that.

3. We also have 17 family photos of the four of us (besides the professional shoot - oops, I need to show you some of those), and only three of them are "feet shots" :)

Everybody (including me) thinks it's a huge pain in the behind to faff around taking photos BUT we all love seeing them afterwards.

photo by SIL after I adjusted the settings and told her where to stand :)

4. In other news, I've been asked TWICE to take photos of children's parties FOR MONEY. I consider this a huge honour but I'm not mad. I will stop enjoying it if I start feeling constrained. I declined and decided I don't want to be documenting parties....ever :)

Which might be a Good Thing because these are the types of photos I end up taking at parties when I'm really having fun.

rust and chipped paint are my love languages :)
5. I have 206 photos of my kids together (a major miracle) in 2014. This year I'm doing #the52project. I actually love this project and I'll tell you why - NO PERFECTIONISM. I gave myself nice firm boundaries so I don't think about this project daily; instead, I take 5 - 10 minutes on a Sunday afternoon and take some pics. If they're duds, they're duds. That is the snapshot at that moment and I'm going with it. I quickly look through for the one, post to Instagram and I'm done. I'm saving the original 10 X 15 in a special folder and that's it. So it's a quick 15-minute project and that is enough.

don't ask!

6. As far as documenting things, I did Project Life 2014 and am up to date, again, because perfectionism. I love the mini albums (nice boundaries) and I loved the COLOUR from my Kiwi mini album and the Sunshine and Honey 4 X 6 filler cards (I bought digital and printed the PDFs on cardboard).

I'm doing Project Life again - this time I bought Midnight and I have a black album, so it's all very sleek and elegant (unlike me!)

we call this the tribal council pic (Survivor!)

In 2014 (and I will continue this year), I printed 4 pics per kid per month, and 4 of them together.

We've now filled our baby albums, the 300-photo album (Pepperdew or something from CNA), and I had a moment where I said to D, do I really need to continue beyond 5? That was my intention, you see - birth to 5, and then doesn't the cuteness stop?

But the cuteness hasn't stopped and especially the type of photos I take of non-traditional portraits (hands, feet, sides of face, etc), so I'm continuing til I feel like I'm bored or they need only one pic in an album per month (HAHAHA - we can dream).

But I must tell you, my kids LOVE looking through their albums and talking about when this one was taken and this is Kendra: Mummy, look at Sweet Connor!! She is too much.

7. And last but not least, the real numbers.

I kept only 40.7% (not forgetting the 0.7!) of all the photos I took....
I starred 11.9% of them...
Total after editing = 11078
Which means, I took a total of..............

27027 photos on the big camera!


I have no words either :)

Julia came closest with 15 000 :)

So which numbers were the most interesting to you?
Do you have any photo goals for 2015?

I plan to do Superhero Photo again in about March/ April. Get ready if you plan to join me. We can blog our results weekly...

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Parenting advice from my friend Louisa

This is going to be fun!

I read a post on a Cup of Jo where she asked some of her friends for some of their best parenting advice.

So I thought, "HOW FUN!" and I asked some of my friends for their words of wisdom.

Here we go, first from Louisa.

-Pick your battles. Yes, we have to teach our children everything they need to know to make it or at least the basics on quite a few of those. Some days it's okay to just let it slide for the sake of sanity though.
-Trust your instincts. Parent the child you have in the way that you are, and don't lose any sleep worrying about what other people think is the one true way. Each child is different, and so is each parent.
-Make time for fun, and hugs, and loads of encouragement. And take photos as you go. That's the stuff those little people will remember when they're all grown up. 

Will that do? ;-) 

That will totally do - thank you!

I personally think some of Louisa's parenting superpowers are:
  1. She keeps to her word and doesn't make idle threats.
  2. She teaches N life skills that most people don't think about (like self-defence, and how to stand up to a bully)
  3. She parents with the end in mind, always :)

Now, which are the parenting battles you choose to fight?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Peanut butter and Provitas

First of all, thank you for your delicious comments on yesterday's post. This blogging thing is odd - I thought it was a normal post and yet COMMENTS. Love it!


So when we arrived at the resort, I was armed with my shopping list planning to do what we always do: check in, drop the luggage and then head out for food.

Well, D came back to the car and said the reception ladies said the nearest food place is 45 minutes away.

I said, "that's nonsense. I'll google it" and sure enough, it was 45 kms and 50 mins away!

Hells Bells!

We then made the executive decision to eat supper at the restaurant and then head out the next morning for provisions. By provisions, I mean a boot (trunk) full of food.

And that's how we had apples, provitas and peanut butter for breakfast on our first day of holiday.

No-one starved but it was not exactly what I had in mind (that's an afternoon snack for me).

What's the weirdest breakfast you've ever had?

Also, I feel like I need to finish writing about last year, it being the 19th of Jan already!

What do I still need to post about?

The photography numbers
what else???

PS Drakensberg holiday, day 2

Sunday, January 18, 2015

7 things I want to do less of in 2015

I want to do a few of these kind of posts. If not your thing, mark as read and see you tomorrow :)


This is my biggie of the year. I need to stop shouting. Yes, I'm an expressive and what-not but I need to just stop. I listen to myself sometimes and it's like I'm another person.

Some people drink wine and apparently I shout.

(the kids need to also listen but they're 5.5)

Psalm 141:3

Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!

Put up with things

I don't naturally put up things but somehow over the years as my "personality style" got refined, I'm a bit more tactful and soft. And some of it is good, but I've put up with lots of things I shouldn't.

This is part of the year of enough.

I spoke to our assistant and made my expectations very clear. She's now giving me good and timeous feedback, long may that last.

I used to say I have a low tolerance for nonsense, and I want that low tolerance back.

In small things like tossing out junk and getting things done around the house (painting - OH how I hate the process, but I do love the after-effects), but also in the bigger things like dealing with stuff (teachers, relationships, work stuff, etc.).

Force myself to finish books
I'm a finisher a la Gretchen Rubin and that is good with work stuff and project things (verrrrrry good with this) but it plays out with reading in that I feel like I can't stop a book once I've started. Even if it's terrible.

Thank goodness for Kindle samples because I've gotten much better over the last 2 - 3 years, but I could still let go more. I can think of at least 3 books that were a complete waste of time in 2014 but I forced myself to finish them.

D told me he realised that at his current pace of about 40 a year, he calculated that it will take him til he's retired to read everything (especially with favourite authors releasing books every year, and new favourite authors appearing all the time) on his bookshelf and Kindle. Scary.

Force myself to finish products I actually don't enjoy using
Same thing here. I bought two facewashes over the last 3 months that I hated. I only gave those away because I bought another in a sample size that was working.

I've also been using a BB cream and a moisturiser I don't really like solely because they're okay. And I spent the money. But enough.

Today I went to Clicks and bought the moisturiser I adore and a new BB cream, but (in my defence) I tried the BB cream on in the store and it looked good, so let's see :)

Louisa, what are these things called?

Let likes and comments on social media affect my state of mind
  1. It's still a good blog post whether people comment on it or not. There have been lots of great commentary in the blogosphere recently on how comments are down and conversation is happening elsewhere (people linking to your post, sharing on Twitter, etc.) ... yeah well. I'm not that well-adjusted yet. Plus there's no other conversation happening.
  2. It's still a good picture whether people like it or not.

Rinse and repeat.

Normally these things don't bother me much but since they're starting to affect me a bit, I want to nip it in the bud.

Spending because I "deserve it"

I see this sometimes in my spending habits. I don't need or really desperately want something but I find myself saying things like, "well I deserve it" but what am I really fixing?

I have a good filter in my head with spending and I don't spend wildly, am very responsible BUT I do say "I deserve it" for nonsense spending.

Jennifer Louden (who I LOVE!) calls these things shadow comforts. Like when you could have one block of chocolate to truly savour and treat yourself, but instead you gobble up the whole slab because you feel guilty for shouting at the children.

Less social media consumerism overall

The Fitbit lets me see how well I'm sleeping and even though I fall asleep within seconds (or a minute maximum), it's interesting to see how restless I was during the night.

My average is about 7 minutes which I think is normal, and then there are nights when the mosquitos drive me nuts and I had 56 minutes of restlessness.

But I have noticed something else. When I scroll Instagram (mostly) and very occasionally, Facebook, my restlessness increases.

Clearly my brain is still working on whatever I saw.

I just wish I could leave my phone somewhere else instead of the bedroom, but I have to tap the begin sleep button to activate sleep in the fitbit app, because if I simply tap the device on my arm, somehow it loses everything and I have to uninstall, and reinstall the app. Which, of course, is crazy.

Write your own post and link back here (if you wish) or leave me a list in the comments.

What do you want to do less of in 2015?


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