Family

Childhood memories

Think about your childhood for a minute. Close your eyes and let those memories of your younger days come flooding back. What do you remember? Roast chicken for Sunday lunch, listening for Santa’s reindeer at Christmas time, searching for hidden Easter eggs in piles of hay. Bottle feeding calves, riding a horse even though he’s a bit wild, a gang of giggling girls, freshly baked pancakes with my Gran. These are just a few of the memories I have, the treasured experiences that helped to shape me into who I am today.

Of course not all of our memories are fond, I remember not liking minestrone soup and cabbage, foods that to this day I dislike. I remember being naughty and running away from my Mom, that one time I was sent out of the classroom for talking in primary school, falling off a motorbike.

Now think about your children. What will their memories be? Both good and bad. We must always remember that we are shaping their memories. I want Amy to remember candles at dinnertime, fun tickles when she wakes in the morning, hugs in the evening, splashing in the pool on a hot summer day, snuggling with the dogs when she was sad…I want her to remember fun times at home, love, laughter and happiness.

Of course she will no doubt also remember that I made her try and eat a tomato, just once to make sure she actually didn’t like its taste, and that I always tried to smuggle a pea or two into her mouth hidden amongst the mashed potato. She’ll remember those times she didn’t want to nap, but I insisted it was best for her, that time she had bronchitis and she needed an X-ray but I couldn’t come in with her because I was pregnant, when she was naughty and had a time-out.

But even though she may have memories of some tough times too, I want her life to be overflowing with memories of the good times. I want those memories to wrap her up and engulf her so tightly that they will make the others seem small and insignificant.

And if one day she can say that she had a happy time growing up with Mom and Dad, that she has happy memories of triangle cheese toast after school, reading funny Hairy Maclary rhymes, dancing to silly songs, sharing hot chocolate on a cold day, hidden marshmallows after bathtime, learning to share toys with her brother, then we would have done a good job and can sit down to finally enjoy a (hopefully hot) cup of tea.

Reviews

Winnie-the-Pooh: The Great Heffalump Hunt

If there’s anything that frightens Winnie the Pooh, other than running out of honey, it’s Heffalumps. You do of course know what a Heffalump is, don’t you? It’s an elephant-like creature that has been known to cause poor ol’ Pooh bear many a sleepless night because it seems intent on stealing his precious honey.

Winnie-the-Pooh: The Great Heffalump Hunt is written by the very talented Giles Andreae, who also wrote one of my all-time favorite books Giraffes Can’t Dance. The story sees Pooh and Piglet bravely deciding to catch a Heffalump with a cunning trap baited with “a yumptious jar of honey.” The friends split up – Piglet is to dig the pit and Pooh is to fetch the honey. With the trap set the two plan to meet the next day to see what they’ve caught.

But Pooh is hungry, and when he discovers his last jar of honey was used in the trap he sets out into the dark forest to eat just one more pawful. Piglet, meanwhile, is scared, and longing for his best friend Pooh to be with him, and so he also sets out alone to find comfort from him.

What’s that “mournful, muffled moan”? Who is in the pit? Have they caught a Heffalump?

The Great Heffalump Hunt is a wonderful Winnie the Pooh story of friendship to share with your children. They will love the rhyming verse and the beautiful, coloured illustrations to accompany the tale of Pooh and Piglet’s brave new adventure. If you love Pooh Bear this is a must to add to your book shelf! It’s a lovely big book for children to hold, with a beautiful cover that features silver embossed stars and leaves as well as raised flickering fireflies.

Motherhood

Flashforward

You may have experienced a flashback before, sometimes a smell or a song can transport you back in time and the memory can be so vivid in your mind. The other day I had a flashforward.

I was sitting on the couch when a song came on and my little boy of just one ran to me, grabbed me by my hand and pulled me to come and dance with him. As he did and I stood up, allowing myself to be led into the middle of the lounge, I suddenly had a flashforward.

I saw my little man all grown up, I saw him take my hand and lead me onto the dance floor with the same love and enthusiasm that he was doing so now. But it was his wedding day and I was a proud mom who still loved her son with all her heart.

It was just one second, and then the feeling was gone and I was back in the present with my little boy holding onto my hand so tight while we danced together on the carpet at home. I don’t remember this happening to me ever before, but I felt at peace knowing our bond was still so strong and his love for me unchanging, even years from now in the future.

From the day Ethan has been born he has been a blessing in my life. Right from the start he was most comfortable sleeping on my chest, I think it was his favourite thing to do in the world. As he grew he started to hold my hand when he drifted off to sleep, and it’s something he still likes to do now. He also still likes to stroke my hair to soothe himself, and he continues to give me the tightest hugs I have ever had. Such love this little boy has for me that I am still in awe of it every day.

But the days pass quickly, too quickly for my liking. And so I hold his hand as tightly as I can, I dance with him in my arms while he still fits, and I squeeze back just as tightly when we hug. Remember to take the time to dance with your children, to hug them close, and to slow down to enjoy these special times before they become but a memory, a flashback for another day.

Motherhood

Being the perfect mom

It’s often said that it takes a village to raise a child. But what if you don’t have a village?

Well it’s just as important to have a mom tribe, a group of moms who will be there for you no matter what. I call them my no-matter-what friends.

We often share mom jokes with one another, and when we get the chance we meet for ladies night too. And I can’t tell you how rejuvenating those jokes and that time spent together is. It’s like a breath of fresh air to my tired mom bones, to hear about their challenges of motherhood, to maybe cry a little over daughters’ independence, and yes to laugh over kiddies (and hubbies) antics too. Food for the soul. And no dishes to wash either…it’s a win-win!

Being a mom sometimes leaves me so tired that I wonder how I will push through. I have so many balls in the air to juggle that I wonder what will happen if one falls. And there are always those little eyes watching me that I feel the pressure of wanting to be, and needing to be, the perfect mom.

But is there such a thing as the perfect mom? To my mind no, to my kids minds I think yes. Something I saw shared earlier today spoke to my heart and to the battle fighting raging within me at the moment. “All your kids want is you. Not the fit mom, not the Pinterest mom, not the PTA mom, not every other mom you think you should be. All they want is you, so be the happiest you there ever was.”

Wow. Isn’t that just so true moms?

Is your house ever tidy enough? Do your kids ever eat enough veges? Is the washing basket ever empty? We torture ourselves with trying to be the perfect mom every day. When the truth is we already are.  From the moment that little person was born into this world and made us a mom we have been the perfect mom to them. Chosen so specially to be their mom and with the knowledge that we would try our very best every day to be the best mom for them that we could be. And that’s good enough moms.

So, my advice to you is this. Yes, try to be the best mom you can be, but don’t spend so much time worrying about being that perfect mom that you miss being their mom, already perfect to them. And make sure that you find yourself a bunch of no-matter-what friends, because we all need support from other moms, a shoulder to cry on and a good barrel of laughs every now and then. Plus no dishes, because that’s important too.

Parenting

We’re going on an adventure

A little while ago we went away on a family holiday to the Berg. I’ve often heard it said that “each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.” This was such a special time together and I am so happy to know that we made so many new memories for our children to treasure.

The weather wasn’t so great, it was a bit chilly and even rainy on some days. Yet for the first time in my life, this didn’t worry me. We were all together, we were relaxed, and we still had fun indoors when it was miserable out. We built a fire, we played board games, we read books, and we even caught up on a few naps.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m more of a conservative mom when it comes to the weather conditions. Life is just so much harder with two small littlies when they are sick. So when my daughter asks me if she can play outside and it’s windy, I rather suggest something to do inside, and when she wants to splash in the puddles I say maybe later. It comes from a place of love, of wanting to protect her from being ill. It also comes from a place of self-preservation, from acknowledging a struggle some days to keep my head above water with juggling the demands of my two young children. But that doesn’t mean I miss seeing the disappointed look on her face and feel my heart break a little to see her sadness. That doesn’t mean I wish I was more of the cool mom, the happy go lucky mom who bundles her kids up and lets them play outside even when it’s windy, or pops some boots on and says sure go jump in the puddles.

So when we were away and Amy asked if she could go and jump in the puddles, I thought why not and kitted her and Ethan out in their gumboots and let them go splash a little in the muddy puddles. That evening I asked her what her favorite thing about that day had been, and I felt my heart grow when she said splashing in the puddles. I have fond memories of when I was younger and went for dips in the mountain streams that run through this area. Inspired by her enjoyment of the puddles the day before I decided to go looking for a stream. I packed a change of clothes and some towels and we set off. Unfortunately, because there had been heavy rain during the night the streams were now big rivers that were now running too fast to have a dip.

But while walking back to our chalet we discovered a smaller stream and I stripped them down and they went for a quick dip. Squeals of delight at the surprise of the chilly water and squelching mud were more than enough to know this was now the new highlight of their day. A quick walk back to the chalet and into a warm bath with more happy laughter and then some hot chocolate in front of the fire inside made this day extra special, and one that will live on forever in my memory bank too.

Family

Artwork is hard work from the heart

Amy loves to paint and craft. Every day she spends time in the craft room and comes home with an assortment of different creations. After class she proudly tells me that she made artwork that we need to collect before hometime. And if we ever forget to collect said artwork…well, let’s just say our little artist can be a little temperamental.

Our little girl pronounces it as a combination of “heartwork” and “hardwork.” Even though I do correct it with her, I have to admit I find this pronunciation pretty cute and it still makes me smile. Isn’t it so true that art is actually both of those things combined…its hard work that comes from the heart!

But as any parent knows all artwork isn’t created equal. We do get some beautiful art projects that are done with a bit more supervision from the teachers. These ones are proudly displayed on the fridge or pinned up on her board in her room. I find she really enjoys seeing her art out in the house and it brings us all a little smile on dreary days. When I get a new one to stick up I make sure to tuck the other one away safely for her record book (which I still promise myself I will get around to some day).

So, the question is, what do we do with the other artwork? The paint splattered drips (future Jackson Pollock?) and pieces constructed from recycled material are a bit of a nuisance not only to display but to store later too. And to be honest not all of them are worth saving for the record book either! Yet knowing how much heart and hard work she puts into her art, and seeing how proud she is of each of the art creations, I find it difficult to throw them out. Often I will take a photo of the art and then secretly pop it into the recycling bin outside. Less chance of it being discovered, I hope.

Do any of you have budding artists, and what do you do with all of the art that comes home from school?

Motherhood

Perfect imperfections

If only we could look at ourselves through our children’s eyes. We wouldn’t see the tired eyes that we ourselves see looking back at ourselves every morning, we wouldn’t see the bit of extra weight from Christmas sitting around our hips that we ourselves wish wasn’t there, we wouldn’t see the frustration at yet another drink spilled that had to be cleaned up and wonder how many more times we must mop up today, we wouldn’t see the exhausted tears that we wipe away as we deal with another tantrum over something that seems so trivial to us.

Instead we would see the excitement of seeing a Mom that we love so dearly every morning, her eyes lighting up to get a too early snuggle despite a night filled with many interruptions of little feet padding through in the middle of the night. We would see a Mom who we admire dancing in the lounge to her favourite song as she swings you around even though her arms are so tired from holding you all day. We would see a Mom who we are so grateful for understanding that we are little and make mistakes, and who gives us a chance to learn new things even though we do sometimes make a mess. We would see a Mom who hugs us and understands just how important it is that we have a blue coloured mug even though yesterday our favourite colour wasn’t blue.

We would see less of our imperfections, and more of how perfect we are exactly as we are. That to our children even our imperfections are perfect, and that we are so loved as their precious Mom.

Happy Mother’s Day. On this special day I wish you every happiness and a bit of a spoil, but most importantly I wish that you will see yourself as your children do. The most perfect mom for them, and so very, very loved.

Parenting

Cardboard box dreams

We bought a new vacuum this past weekend. It came packaged in a new cardboard box, a big one just waiting to spark little people’s imaginations and kickstart their dreams to life.

After jokingly popping Amy right inside the box amidst howls of giggling and half-hearted protests, I took her out again (more howls of giggling and half-hearted protests), tipped the box on its side on the floor and waited for the magic to start.

It didn’t take long for Amy to try sit on the box, but after toppling over as it collapsed she decided it was safer to crawl inside. Of course once she was inside it didn’t take long for Ethan to wander over and take advantage of having his sister’s head exposed but arms mostly tucked away inside the box and legs definitely secured against any retaliation. More shouts of laughter and genuine surprise as he nuzzled her, and then quickly crawled inside as she surrendered her space in the box.

As we were getting ready for school this morning it seemed a little quiet, a bit too quiet in fact. Before long Amy came to us and very sadly told us that she had been playing hide and seek with Ethan, but he hadn’t come to find her. I’m guessing she was tucked up nice and tight inside the box and he had lost interest, but unwittingly given us an extra five minutes to get back on schedule.

We were supposed to put the recycling out this morning, but we decided to keep the box for another week. It was just begging to be transformed into an aeroplane or a race car, and it was definitely a step up from the usual nappy box cars we use to roar around the kitchen with. I’m betting it’s not long before the Labradors go investigate inside it either, and then even more fun will be had as the fort will need to be defended.

I guess it’s true what they say. You really do have more fun with the box, even when you’re all grown up.

Motherhood

Mother’s Day

The build up to Mother’s Day lasted a good few weeks in our house. Amy’s school had a morning planned for the special moms, and the children had been learning new songs to share with us too. They had also been hard at work on crafts to spoil us with, but it was all still hush-hush and definitely on a need to know basis…and apparently I didn’t need to know.

If there’s two things that Amy loves in this world it’s singing and crafting (and reading books and eating ice-cream of course), so you can imagine she was in her element. But what amazed me was that she was thriving on the surprise element involved, and she was just so good at keeping the secret too. She would find herself singing the new Mother’s Day songs she was learning at school and she would just suddenly clam up mid-chorus when she realised. I would tease her about the artwork she was busy making for me by analysing the paint on her fingers at the end of her school day, and saying yes, I see it’s green and pink. This would always be followed by squeals of ‘no, no, no Mom, it’s a surprise!’

While I did revel in her excitement and in being the centre of attention for all this planning, secretly I also found myself becoming impatient too. I found myself remembering the wait for Christmas presents when I was small, and understanding again what it’s like to be a child so excited for something with counting down the sleeps and being reprimanded for nagging her for clues.

She had also made me a Mother’s Day present at her art class that week. It came home hidden in a decorated brown paper bag and I was made to close my eyes as she hid it in her cupboard. Every morning she made sure to remind me to not look in her cupboard, and I must admit that I found it hard not to go and peek the moment she left the house for school in the morning.

The week of Mother’s Day her excitement reached fever pitch, she could hardly go to sleep the night before the Mother’s Day morning and so I was hardly surprised when she crept into my bed at 2am and smiled at me as she said, ‘Happy Mother’s Day.’ I couldn’t help but to smile at her in the darkness, really understanding just how much it meant to her too. A whispered ‘I love you Mom’ before she drifted off to sleep again, cuddled up next to me and holding my hand.

The morning finally dawned and the girls left for our special morning together. Waiting in her locker was a beautiful Mother’s Day card and a handpainted heart with a picture of the two of us on it. The songs were wonderful, with Amy keeping her eyes on me for every one and blowing kisses at every chance she could. We then had a bit of time to enjoy some fun time, she chose crafting so we moulded pretty play-doh cupcakes, painted bright flowers, and decorated hearts together. It was such a special morning, and we were both sad when the time came for me to leave.

The excitement continued after school, however, as she deemed it the right time for me to open my art class gift. Wrapped in the decorated brown paper bag was a handmade card with a teabag saying I was tea-rrific and another drawing that said I love you. There was also a material bag covered in her handprints and stamped hearts. Definitely a gift and card that I will treasure forever!

Sunday rolled around and I was given another awesome handmade card that hubby had helped the kids to craft. I was also treated to breakfast and crumpets in bed, along with my favourite chocolate of course. All in all, it was worth the wait to enjoy my Mother’s Day surprises and I had a happy day feeling very loved and very spoiled.

Family

Support World Rhino Day, purchase a Rhino Coin Bank!

The Rhino is one of Africa’s most iconic and endangered wild creatures. Tomorrow is World Rhino Day, a day for us to remember the war that is being fought daily against poaching, and a day for us to stand together and to help make sure the rhinos are still here for our children to see in the future.

Prima Toys and Wildlife ACT have joined forces again to help raise funds and support the care of orphaned baby rhinos. Prima Toys and Pick ‘n Pay have raised over R500 000 for Wildlife ACT in the past through the sales of their Baby Rhino and Wild Pals soft toy promotions.

This year Prima Toys will launch 20 000 Rhino Coin Banks into South African toy retailers and supermarkets in support of World Rhino Day. The soft toy rhino ‘piggy banks’ will feature a plastic interior and removable stopper to hold coins and cash inside the rhino’s belly.  For every Rhino Coin Bank purchased Prima Toys will donate R10 to Wildlife ACT.

“Prima Toys hopes to raise awareness of the plight of rhinos among younger generations, and have guaranteed a contribution of R200 000 to this very worthy cause,” said Chiquita Patrizi, Marketing Executive at Prima Toys.

 

You’ll also be able to donate any money your children save in their Rhino Coin Bank back to the Wildlife ACT here. In addition to teaching your little ones the importance of saving and being a part of this cause, and how they can help, they could win one of ten toy hampers from Prima Toys if they donate through the GivenGain website.

“Despite a small drop in poaching numbers announced by the Department Environmental Affairs recently, our rhinos are still under threat,” said Johan Maree from Wildlife ACT. “Not only do we need to keep up the fight against poaching, we desperately need to ensure that the baby rhinos that are orphaned as a result, are rescued and adequately cared for. Without their mothers, orphaned rhinos would sadly die without our assistance.”

Head over to the Wildlife ACT website to watch a video detailing the amazing work this organisation does, and you can even hear what a baby rhino sounds like!

In the words of the great Nelson Mandela, “It Always Seems Impossible Until It Is Done.” Let’s work together and get it done South Africa!