Saturday, February 28, 2015

5 things I want to do more of in 2015

I forgot to write up this post after the success of the previous one, 7 things I want to do less of in 2015.

Seeing as it's the last day of February already, let's do this :)

1. I want to sleep a lot more

I've started tracking my sleep on a spreadsheet (what? you don't?) and in January, I slept an average of 6 hrs 38 and in February, 6 hrs 40.

(tonight's sleep counts as 1 March)

I had one really good week of sleep because I put it on my goals list (!) which pushed up the average otherwise it would have been really bad!

My main problems are I stay on the computer too long or I'm on my phone checking Instagram too long.

Did you notice I wasn't very active on Instagram this week? All part of the plan.

I've also downloaded an app called Moment which tells you how long you're on your phone every day!

2. I want to read more

I read a TON compared to other people but for me, I could easily do more if I got more disciplined with my computer time at night.

This deserves its own post on the Organising Queen blog but I've started listening to audio books and while expensive, it's TOTALLY worth it to me to not care if I'm in the car because I'm either listening to the Bible or a book.

This month I only read 3 complete books plus 1/2 audio book plus 1/2 book on the Kindle (pity my system doesn't allow me to add those two together and make it 1 :))

3. I want to connect more in my work

This year, in addition to coaching, I started doing workshops in my home.

I can't tell you how lovely it is to be connecting with people in this way. I've truly missed it.

They're work and logistics and chasing up and and and, but for me, sharing my home and my heart is worth it, for now :)

I have two 5 Love Languages workshops coming up on 19 and 28 March. I'll be advertising in the school newsletter so hopefully that brings lots of people. If you were thinking of booking, I'd love to have you.

I can't WAIT for autumn! I'm going to take so many photos it's going to be SUPER awesome!!!

4. Send out more mail

I lost my mojo with the Post Office strike and I want to get it back. Loosely, in my mind, I wanted to send out something every week, but I don't want a hard deadline. Instead I'll say 52 items of mail and that will still get done, whether batch-sent or not :)

Feb update - I've sent out 10 items so far and it's been super fun to get notes when the recipients get them :)

5. Make some money from photography

I've joked about this before that someone needs to pay me to travel and take photos for them.

That would be amazing.

Meanwhile, a seed got planted and I'm toying with the idea of doing a fun photography workshop. Not a technical, boring one - people can google and read those articles by themselves.

My passion is to inspire and motivate people to SEE differently...

Watch this space!

I'm open to other things but not children's birthday parties :) :)

D reading with the kids nearly two years ago (see tiny baby fingers!)

6. Randomly give things to complete strangers

I've done 3 of these already and they are so fun. For one, I took the gift to our receptionist and told her to phone the person in question. Too fun!

Speaking of random giving, please join me and send a book to this library. It can be gently loved or new books. I'm taking the kids shopping next week after work and will let each of them choose a book

What do you want to do more of in 2015?
How was your February?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Enough sleep?

one of my favourites of Connor last year, taken at Champagne Sports Resort

I've been exhausted for the last week or so.

Some of it is due to going to bed too late but I think a lot of it is due to nanny pressures and all of that emotional stuff.

I haven't told the blog even a tenth of what we've gone through because, truthfully, I don't want comments about this being a first world problem, which I do know.

It also doesn't make it any easier.

I find myself saying to D, "it's only ___ days; we'll just suck it up".

So I think because I know Nanny S comes back in 4 days' time, the tiredness suddenly feels like it's overtaking me.

I put on my goals list last Thursday that I want to get at least 7 hours sleep a night. 7 hours is my enough; if I get 8 hours, I'm a machine! I've been doing really great with that - I definitely average over 7 hours now even though two nights were under 7 hours.

Of course a key part of me getting enough sleep is the simplest thing imaginable - switch off the computer at 10.30 :)

With that said, I've got to send out a resized photo for my Love Languages workshop and then I'm off to bed after I pack my lunch.

How much sleep do you get?
Is it enough for you?

Friday, February 20, 2015

{Friendship Friday} The heart of hospitality and a Friday round-up

Hospitality's been on my mind a lot these days, especially since I read Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes in December.

Interesting (to me) - I didn't love a previous book of hers (Cold Tangerines - it felt more suited to a blog than a book) but I LOVED this one, easily one of my best books last year.

Recommended by Modern Mrs Darcy, who has a genuinely lovely blog. I heartily recommend it if you like intelligent, thoughtful debate and good books.

When I read non-fiction, I have to feel like I connect with the person and I totally connected with her heart in this one. Totally.

You should get this book :)

I also watched a series of videos from the Allume conference. You can watch them here.

The thing I took away from that book and from some of the videos is this: the heart of hospitality is when having people over is more about them than about you "entertaining".

Isn't that lovely?

When I teach on the motivational gifts (from the Bible), I always say the gift of hospitality is not about being the best cook or entertainer; part of it is about opening your home to others but more than that, it's about making people feel welcome and at home in any place.

As for me, I can't wait for Nanny S to come back so my home can be completely sorted and then I can start having people over again :)

Have you read Bread and Wine?
What does hospitality mean to you?

PS you need to read the tips on this post and this one

Thursday, February 19, 2015

On dates with kids, and keeping kids busy

These pics of K and C came about because I was bashing nails into the wall (I love to be that girl - I just need a pink drill now) and Connor wanted to have a go too.

I told him we'd get him some wood and then he could have at it, not in my walls!

So the other weekend I had a bee in my bonnet. I have a 1:1 date with each twin every month and so K and I went to have our girl date at Mega Mica.

Don't you love that image?!

Have I told you before how much I love hardware stores? OH MY WORD - you could buy me gift vouchers from there and I would be in heaven. I also really like the way everyone really knows their stuff - you can ask any of those guys and they all know (or pretend to, very well) exactly what you want, what you should get, etc. Perfect shopping for me.

So we bought wood which I had to get cut into random pieces - and now that I know they charge R25, I'm going to be much more specific next time (call me Ana White!).

We also bought some white pebbles which the kids are going to paint with their little friends when next we have little friends over. Caren, you keen?

I bought some hinges for my one cupboard and some door handles that I can't WAIT to show you - seriously, my best buy of 2015 so far!!!

And of course, I bought some stationery - the most divine soft crayons in a little carry case. They were for the kids but I've taken them for me............................

I also brought home 7 paint swatches of grey (I won't say it if you don't...) so I can finally find the perfect shade for the inside of my house, and I decided I'm having an accent dark grey wall outside so I don't have to fly to Ballito every time I crave grey wall pics.

Do you see how easily I can spend money there?

(this lot was R575 and I hardly got going)

Kendra was in her element and told me we need to go back to buy some flowers to plant. Okay then... (she doesn't fully realise the extent of my plant-killing nature).

I'm very comfortable around wood (my father does kitchen and other cabinetry) - I made my own lap desk for homework in front of the TV when I was about 12 or so. It also kills me a little to PAY for bits of wood, but then again, we're not in PE so I have to suck it up. 

By the way, the wood cost R45 plus the R25 cutting fee = R70 = the second best money spent ever. And we only used 2 of the 6 pieces - yes!

These two were bashing nails into that wood and painting it for a good hour, if not longer. You just have to train the kids on safety and show them how to hold the hammer and not to fight while holding said hammer..................

Do you have one-on-one dates with your kids? What do you like to do?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Our last photowalk of the year #summer

Connor and I regularly go on photowalks.

On the last day of the year, we decided to go for one but in another part of our suburb, where we'd never been before.

And it was glorious.

We haven't been back since but I told him we need to put on our takkies (me) and go for a nice long walk again.

don't these look like castanets?

autumn! :) (I can't wait!)

I have this thing for doors...

all sorts of doors...

and grey walls

green on green

perfect NYE weather

I mean, seriously!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Parenting advice from my (somewhat crunchy) friend, Mandy

I sent out my first email to about 6 South African friends - you've seen those responses.

And then I knew I had to include some more with slightly different approaches. Mandy said to me that she sounded crunchy after writing down her 3 but see for yourself.

Mandy's twins are a mere two weeks younger than mine. I'm convinced she had a big fright when she read about K & C being born so early and so hers were born quickly too :)

Take it away, Mandy!

1. Be present and available. When you can be immediately available, follow up as soon as possible. Children live in the moment and so should we. Throw out too many requests for waiting and you'll both miss out. 

2. Less is always more. Don't replace yourself with things or toys. They have amazing imaginations and can be terribly resourceful if given the opportunity. Kids don't need a million toys, they need connections and experiences! It's ok to be bored! Think of your own favorite memories; you remember who you were with and what you were doing. 

3. The best advice I have ever received or have had the privilege to give: all they need is love. Nothing will be perfect and life isn't a competition, so focus on loving your children in the ways they need and the rest will follow. 

I dearly love my crunchy friend!

And to continue with my own take on Mandy's parenting superpowers:
  1. She is the DIY/ crafting/ cooking queen. Acts of service love language if I ever saw one. She's the one who made me my Kindle case and my favourite camera case. She bakes, crafts and builds things (like benches!) for her girls and I know they feel that love even if they can't exactly verbalise it.
  2. She creates memories with her kids. If you read her blog/ instagram, there are pics of them in the woods and playing with animals! Totally a #yesmom and a fun person.
  3. She's going against the grain (some might say crunchy; I say she's living with intention) and passing on amazing values to the ladies. Just one example - kids don't need more activities; they need more time to just play.

I love Mandy's first point about being present and available. I know I do my best but I could always do better instead of thinking of the next thing on my to-do list :)

Matter of fact, the year of create was great for me, because I created memories and set up some good "being present and available" habits.

Which was your favourite tip?
On a scale of 1 - 10, how good are you at being present and available? (I'm a 6)

MandyE, me, this Mandy :)
I'm putting these photos of my kids in the post because I have just this ONE photo of the two of us together and yes, you've seen it a lot :) I call it Marcia and the Mandys :)

Monday, February 16, 2015

9 days and counting...

There are 9 more work days left in February and I'm definitely counting them down because Nanny S returns on Monday 2 March.

The kids were at aftercare for 8 days and a new (temp) nanny started on Thursday last week.

This is strange and not-so-strange all at the same time but I felt sadder about the kids having to stop going to their amazing aftercare (8 days) than I felt at their graduation from the school they were at for two whole years... I super love their aftercare. On the bright side, when one of them is sick, the other will go, and if Nanny S has a sick day, they will go. So there's that.

because I'm too lazy to go get a photo of laundry from my external hard drive. This pic - clothes not worn on Ballito holiday in January 2014.

With all this to-ing and fro-ing of nannies, we've paid 1.3 times what we would have paid Nanny S over the last 4 months.

That means we've paid more than 1 extra month's salary.

I'm ready for a break from all the financial outflow, disruption in routine and my house is definitely ready to breathe again:
  • My favourite runner (blue and turquoise one for any who can remember) was ruined by December nanny.
  • My tumble drier is kind-of broken by current nanny.
  • The house is ready for a handyman and a painter... but I can't rely on the temps to manage extra staff in addition to their work, so Nanny S to supervise as she usually does.

Best of all, Nanny S is getting a SUPER fantastic increase :) I was going to do so anyway (two months early) because of her baby, but I've nearly doubled that original amount.

Nothing like an incentive to bring her back to work!

What are you looking forward to in March?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

I'm no beauty blogger but let's talk about skin care regimes

I'm super curious about other people's skin care regimes but in the interest of "I'll show you mine if you show me yours", I'll go first.

I wash my face in the morning with a Ponds face wash (R40), apply moisturiser (I'm very happily back to my R89 Olay one), and then BB cream (I used Sorbet, Garnier, and now I'm using Pond's Flawless Radiance). It's not my beloved Wet 'n Wild Intuitive Blend but it's close. When I get back to the US at some point, I'm going to bring back TONS in my suitcase.

That’s my “regime”- HA!!!

At night, I do nothing most of the time (honesty time) but I was very good in Jan and actually washed my face about 20 of the 31 days. If I go to "night" gym, I will shower and wash my face in the shower.

I thought if I bought a nice pepperminty thing from the Body Shop, it might inspire me? Um, no - not so much.

But I need to get onto it. Although I read about something where the girl just kept cleansing wipes on her bedside table.

Now why didn't I think of that?! 

Then, make-up:

Eyeliner from Foschini – R14,95 at the makeup sale twice a year
Eyeshadow on my light eyebrows
Lip liner – R10.95 from Clicks (makeup sale twice a year)
Bold lipstick – R10.95 from Foschini (again, makeup sale twice a year)

That’s it!

(the cheapest make-up routine you've ever seen, right?)

Disclosure - I do have a stayfast lipstick in my handbag from Yardley called N.ude which costs about R120 every 6 months or so...

For gym on Saturdays, I brush my teeth, add lipstick and go. I come back, eat, shower and then do the routine above. I may skip the BB if I'm not seeing anyone and just put some lipstick and eyeliner.

Over to you - what's your skin care regime? Do you wash your face at night? Tell me about your make-up.

PS MeeA - please check your spam folder in WP - i'm sure my comment went there....and a big thank you for all your lovely comments this week :)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A little family shoot at the rusty old car :)

Self-timer is our friend!

I warned everybody that we'd be returning on the way back to Jhb and that's exactly what we did.

The kids were not feeling it but hello? A rusty old car was calling my name!

Do you intentionally stop to take photos at things that make your heart beat faster? :)

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Parenting advice from my friend, Sam

I've so loved this series, not only for the advice but for your comments.

Part 1
Part 2

Please keep it coming so we can keep doing these fun little things.

This week, it's time for parenting advice from my friend, Sam.

Here are Sam's top parenting tips:

1.  Do what works for YOU and YOUR family.  Breastfeeding works for you and your family? Do It.  Formula feeding works for you and your family?  Do It.  Early supper, bath and bed time with stories works for your family?  Do it.  Bath first, supper and bed time with dim lights and tickling of backs works for your family?  Do it.  Find what works for you.  Whatever works to make YOUR family function.  Do It.

2.  Allow yourself some alone time as often as you can manage (preferably every day).  Even if this means 10 - 20 minutes for a cup of tea and a trashy magazine.  I find it makes me a better mother and therefore makes my family a happier one.

3.  Have the "baby bag" packed with essentials at all times.  Stuff like nappies, wipes, extra clothes, sunscreen, hats and a few toys which never leave the bag.  It makes leaving the house easier if you don't have to rush around and pack the bag every time you have an outing. 

4.  Cut yourself some slack! (I am TERRIBLE at this one, my own worst critic)  There will be times when you lose it and scream at your kids and/or spouse.  There will be times when you smack.  There will be times when you react first and think later.  There will be times when you think Flings will be ok for supper.  There will be times when a swim will count as a bath.  As long as it does no harm to your kids cut yourself some slack.  Tomorrow will be better.

Aren't those great tips?

Like me, Sam is a previously infertile but she is one of those "you'll see; once you have one, you'll just pop out another" stories :)

Speaking of which... one of my lovely internet friends is newly pregnant (this time unassisted medically) after they had 5 gazillion IVFs to have their gorgeous little girl. We are praying HARD for this one to stick. HARD!

Back to Sam...

Sam now has two super-adorable kids, K and G, and I think her parenting superpowers are:
  1. she is super loving and affectionate
  2. she's a stickler for manners (and unprompted, K is amazing)
  3. she provides both a safe home but also lets them see that mothers need to do things for themselves too (Sam runs..... A HECK OF A LOT!)
Do you let your kids see that you need time and energy for your own interests too?

Monday, February 09, 2015

Nanny updates - would you work for only 3 weeks?

So we've been nanny-less for a week and a day now. The short story is Nanny F won't be back due to personal emergency situation.

I was supposed to interview 3 ladies on Saturday, one of which was supposed to clean the house for me too.

That one flat-out said she didn't want to (!) and when I told her she could come back later (proper interview time) for an interview for the nanny position, she didn't pitch. Not surprised as she did not look impressed when I said the job was only for 3 weeks since she is looking for a permanent position.

Second lady pitched 50 minutes late, was all hot and bothered from the heat (it is VERRRRY hot these days - 30 degrees and upwards) so I gave her some juice and showed her to the study for the interview.

In the icebreaker/ warm-up chat, I mentioned that the job was for 3 weeks and she said, "it's ok."

I asked what was ok and she said she'd rather not work for just 3 weeks!

Now I don't know about you but if I were in one of their situations, I'd want three weeks of work rather than nothing.

We have very high unemployment in SA so for me to have not one, but two people refusing to even be considered for a job is remarkable and mind-blowing.

However, when I mentioned this at work, my one colleague said she'd do the same.

Maybe it's a J and P thing?

I would much rather have a job for 3 weeks than hold out for a possibility of a job. Nanny F's CV was on the website for two months that I know of; it could have been longer.

It's not like they wouldn't be able to go for interviews and such. There are Saturdays after all...

How about you? Would you take a job for 3 weeks or hold out for a permanent position?

In other news, registration for Let's Do This closes on Friday

Friday, February 06, 2015

The rusty old car... and being persuaded

One thing I really like about Connor is he will not be swayed.

I often say it's hard to parent such a child now but he is going to be even more awesome as a teenager.

We took the kids to this ziplining/ bungee rope place while we were on holiday. It was really cheap (R70 for the bungee thing plus entrance to the kids' ziplining area) but Connor said, "No, thanks. I don't want to do it" and that was that.

You can frustrate yourself trying to persuade him but it's best to just accept it and move on.

(I'm the same)

Kendra loves all this fearless stuff so she participated.

Afterwards, I came across this rusty old car and it was love at first sight.

Tell me, is it not gorgeous?!

this is me checking exactly how safe these ropes are with my precious child :)

my precious child had not a care in the world

oh gosh, I love this colour!

like real photographers :)
Which is your favourite photo?
Can you be persuaded once you decide to do something?


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