4 Christmas Gifts for Baby Girls

My mom asked me the other day what she can buy Emma for Christmas. I had no idea. She is at that age where she is happy with a toothbrush and box of macaroni but those aren’t exactly nice gifts, especially from a granny for your first Christmas.

So I did what any self respecting person does  – I googled it and obviously found some outrageous things but also found a few really great ideas for babies 0-1 year old.

Sea Stack and Learn  Blocks  – these are always a win and these blocks have letters, shapes and pictures on so they learn more than just stacking.

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Colour Flap Mirror – Emma loves a mirror. She will spend hours playing at the mirror in our lounge. So anything with a mirror is a huge win for her.  This one includes colours so can be used for checking yourself out and learning colours.

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Tea Time Shape Sorter – I had a shape sorted growing up and all the older kids had one. They are such fun ways to learn a host of things – shapes, colours, motor skills. I thought this one was a very cute one for girls.

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Peekaboo Book – We are huge Dorling Kindersley fans and these books are stunning. Both of these are really cute and you can never go wrong with books as gifts, for any age.

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Sensational Kids are having a sale on from the 5 – 7 December! – EVERYTHING on the site will be 20% and all delivery is free within SA. Book mark it, set reminders because you do not want to miss it!!!!

The day we lost the keys inside the car.

Our lives at the moment work well because we have a routine. Everyone knows what they need to do, when and how. When that gets messed with it really does throw the world off kilter a little.

My car is currently having the clutch replaced (today is day 4) so I have been driving Davids car (change 1). David usually takes Cameron to school but this morning I had to take him because David needed to be at work early. (change 2).

Kiara was the last one out the house so she had to lock and bring the key. She also then opened the complex security gate. I drop Cameron, drop Jack and Kiara and head home. Get home and can not find the keys anywhere. I turn the car upside down but its not my car, not my space. No keys. I assume Kiara must have them so off I go back to her school. She doesn’t have the keys but says she gave them to Cameron. So off I go to Cameron’s school. En route Emma falls asleep and I swear a little under my breathe because it wasn’t nap time. Cameron doesn’t have the keys BUT he knows where they are. INSIDE the car in this hidden compartment behind the cup holders. Now he knows this because he drives with David daily. I forgot about it when I was searching the car.

SO the keys were inside the car the WHOLE TIME! I just spent an hour driving up and down and they were in the car the WHOLE TIME!

Emma woke up when we stopped at Cam’s school so was very unhappy about life in general.

Get home. Get the washing and as I step into the kids bathroom I am ankle deep in water. SAY WHAT! One of the kids left the tap on in the basin so the bathroom was flooded!

All I could do was laugh because what else was there to do?

Oh and I may have bought a chocolate for breakfast!

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Smartbox with owl backpack

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I’m  giving one lucky reader the chance to win a x 1 Mysmartkid smartbox filled with educational toys and activities, all you need to do is comment on this post and tell me up to what age the programme caters for?

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Like Mysmartkid on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/mysmartkid.za?fref=ts or for more info visit:www.mysmartkid.com / www.myslimkind.co.za.

 

5 reasons why I don’t think 4th place needs a medal!

I have decided to keep with the “controversy theme” this week since my Coca Cola post got some heated responses. Possibly the most heated I have ever received.

We are all about competition in our house at the moment. Kiara has had her dance exams, Cameron qualified to swim Champs next month, it is his interhouse gala on Friday so we are literally all about competing at the moment.

When I was at Primary School we used to have a Victor Ludorum and Vixtrix Ludorum trophies for our interhouse galas. They were for the best over all swimmer. They were a big deal. We worked hard for them (ok not so much ME but I know my brother won one or two), they were something to aim towards. I don’t remember anyone asking me what I wanted to swim, we were told “you are swimming A,B,C – bring your costume”. This wasn’t just with swimming, athletics was the same. There was no choice.

Things don’t work like this anymore.

At Cameron’s school they only get to swim two races of THEIR choice (???) THEY, as the children, get to chose what they want to do (??). Also every child who wins a race gets a trophy. There is nothing really for them to work towards. For Cameron, it is a big deal to be the best swimmer at his school, not the best in two races but the best over all.

I know what I am about to say is one of those contentious topics that has people greatly divided but in my opinion I don’t really like this new “everyone is a winner” attitude where children get chocolates/sweets/rewards merely for competing and here’s why!

Winners deserve to be celebrated! Winners work really hard to get there. They train, they sacrifice, they put in a lot of effort to win and they deserve to be singled out and receive special treatment. They deserve that gold medal or trophy. Their achievement deserves to be celebrated.

There needs to be a carrot. If children are going to compete they need a reason to compete. They status, the medal, the trophy – there has to be a reward. If I know that just by running  will get a fizzer, what is the motivation to run faster? Or do better?

Real life is all about winning. When your child starts applying for a job (even a menial student job) they will be up against a lot of applicants, they will all be competing for the same position. Your child needs to understand that if they are looking for 2 people and he comes 3rd there is no consolation prize, there is no job. That’s life.

It creates gracious losers. Losing, as much as winning, is a part of life. Children need to learn how to lose with grace. It is not always easy but no one likes a sore loser. If you are always validated regardless of your performance you don’t learn that it’s ok to lose.

It pushes us to achieve. Imagine there was no competition, if everyone won. You always go what you wanted. How would anything ever be achieved? It wouldn’t! This isn’t unique to sports but is in every area of life – technology, beauty, science – we have achieved what we have not because we gave everyone a lollipop for trying but because we didn’t!!

Having said all of this, I do understand the role of parents as nurturers and encourages and supporters of our children. I tell my children I am proud of them wherever they came or whatever mark they got (provided they actually made an effort and didn’t spend afternoons playing hopscotch instead of studying). I also think we have a more important role – to prepare them for life and life isn’t always fair!

What do you think? Am I too strict? 

Coca Cola promoting a healthy lifestyle? Say what?

Gareth Cliff often says that we are living in the best time. We have opportunities, we are connected more than ever before, we have access to more information than we can process, we have freedom of speech, we have more choice than we have ever had.

You can google ways to live a healthy life and pages and pages of results will come up. Some will say cut carbs, some say balance your foods, some suggest a soup detox for 3 days, some advocate a vegan lifestyle, some say eat all the meat, some say no sugar, some suggest drinking a revolting looking pill, some say drink a shake or two. I could go on and on. The internet has provided a platform for everyone to be experts about everything. Everyone wants to promote and encourage what has worked for them, because it has worked for them.

I think though, it is rare to find a diet worth anything that does not promote movement of some sort. Most diets come with the disclaimer “this diet works in conjunction with an exercise programme.” Exercise is all the rage today. People are being encouraged more and more to get up, get outside and get active.

I was recently invited to be part of a really great, very interactive session with a panel from Coca Cola and I discovered the Coca Cola are doing just that – promoting movement and a healthy lifestyle. I can see you all raising your eyebrows and rolling your eyes. I did initially too.

Coca Cola doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to being a healthy and nutritional product, in fact many of the diets you will find suggest cutting out fizzy drinks. I know in our house we do try to limit these drinks and when we do have them we do try to chose the diet ones but  I am not going to be hypocritical and say my children never drink Creme Soda or Fanta because they do. Kiara would drink creme soda all day every day if she could and she probably will one day. Coke Zero and  I have a very close bond.

During this discussion group Coca Cola never said that their products promote weight loss nor was it a sales pitch to get us to all add coke to our daily lives. It was more about raising awareness for the positive things Coca Cola are doing to promote movement and a healthy lifestyle and they are actually doing a fair amount in terms of raising awareness for exercise.

One of the presentations was by a representative from the Exercise is Medicine Initiative. It was a very informative presentation not only about why exercise is good for you but why sitting is bad. Basically what they found was that even if you do the recommended amount of exercise daily, it won’t necessarily help health wise because we are sitting too much. The act of sitting and being sedentary is actually not good for us at all and is even worse for our children. I am not going to go into detail about the studies down around this but the point is that we not only need to be active but also that we need to sit less which is not always easy in today’s world.

The talk from the dietitian was also pretty interesting. The short of what they are advocating is everything in moderation. So if you rode the 94.7 on Sunday, then you can most certainly have the coke they were handing out but if you sat at home watching the updates via twitter then probably a coke zero will work better for you.

We know this though! This is not new, ground breaking research.

Whatever eating plan you use, we all know that moderation is the key. Even good old Dr Noakes doesn’t say eat a block of butter for breakfast! A slab of chocolate a day is the same as having a can of coke a day. (Also did you know there is a very prominent brand of chocolate that has genetically modified soya in its chocolate? Just saying).

Drink it or not, I do think Coca Cola do need some sort of positive acknowledgement for what they are trying to do in terms of raising awareness about healthy living. They have an entire website dedicated to just this. You can read up about all of the ingredients they use, research around those ingredients, there is information about physical activity, nutrition and hydration. It really is a pretty great site.

*I was not paid for this post nor was I asked to write it. I attended the event with Coca Cola and these are my thoughts around what we discussed and the information given.*

Currently

This morning I was busy with a few things and had “blog post” on my list. I did everything to avoid it, not because I have nothing to say but because I have so much to say but no time to organise it all.

So I am joining Cindy and Sharon and doing a “currently” post!

Currently…..

I am feeling very overwhelmed with how much needs to get done before we leave for Cape Town in less than a month.

Money is a huge stress. HUGE.

I was very freaked out by the fact that the big kids father is “watching them” via Facebook.

I am loving the rain.

I am really enjoying the new season of Scandal – anyone watching it? And the new season of Homeland s also pretty good.

I am completing a Sensory Profile for the OT at Jack’s school. (My head popped out the sand just long enough to discuss his issues with the teacher).

I am having to mark too many blogs as read because I just don’t have the time to read and leaving them unread stresses me out.

I am avoiding thinking about Christmas presents.

Kiara and Jack are chasing each other so they can basically just beat each other up.

I have discovered brussel sprouts and am in love.

My laptop is dying. It’s not even doing it gracefully or subtly.

My phones charger has broken – I don’t even know how. A new one is nearly R300. I don’t even know what to say about that.

I want to smash all the chocolate in the world in my face and wash it down with all the wine in the world!

How are things currently in your world?

Have you ever googled your child?

One of our guest speakers on Saturday at the #jozimeetup was Hayley Owen from Actorvate and she was talking about keeping our kids safe online. There is a whole blog post in what she spoke about but one of the things she suggested was that we google our children’s names.

I finally go around to doing it today.

I started with Cameron. His Facebook profile came out and I realised his security settings had changed. So basically his profile was now public! We will be discussing this later. Luckily nothing else came up. There weren’t even any pictures of him.

Then I googled Kiara. Her Facebook page came up and same story with the security settings! I suspect this was my fault because she is never really online which I am very grateful for because I then discovered her father (the same father who hasn’t spoken to her in over 5 years) had sent her a request. I am actually very tempted to delete the whole profile to be honest. The only reason I set it up for her was to talk to my mom but we can do that in other ways. I checked Cameron’s and there doesn’t appear to have been a request from his father but I suspect even if they were was he would have deleted it.

Anyway the point of this exercise is to see what your child’s online foot print is. I know a lot of you have small children but many of you do have children online – have you ever thought about what can be searched about them? Have you ever thought about why it is important?

By the time Cameron starts applying for Varisties he will have been online for 8/9 years. That is a lot of status updates, possible tweets, photos etc all done during a time when we have all done stupid things – our teenage years. What he says and does online will affect whatever he chooses to do because one search and everything he has said and done online will come up.

It is something I think I am going to do regularly to make sure that for now whatever footprint they are leaving is as private as I can make it….for now!

Have you googled your children?

Are you exposing your kids to other cultures?

We attended a baptism in the Greek Orthodox church on Sunday. It was the first time my kids and I had ever been in a Greek Orthodox church. It was the first baptism they had been too so it was a bit of an educational event as well. Kiara, in particular, had a lot of questions about the religion itself.

It got me thinking about how exposed I was, growing up, to other cultures and I realised that I wasn’t really. I think it was largely due to the fact that I grew up during apartheid South Africa, so there was already a very clear divide between black and white and Durban isn’t really the most diverse province we have, even now.

Fast forward to today and without even really trying to hard my children have been exposed to a wider range of cultures in their 12 years than I have in my 36. Cameron goes to school with many of the diplomat children, so he is surrounded by children from all over the world. David works very closely with a gentlemen from Nigeria who we had around for dinner recently and he chatted to us about how things are done in Nigeria, in particular in families. Through blogging I have met people from all walks of life who have become close friends, which means my children have been exposed to a variety of cultures and traditions.

One of the definite advantages of the digital age we live in is that we are, and by default our children too, exposed to so much more in terms of cultures and lifestyles than we were before. Our social circles are bigger and more diverse. In my social circle alone there are Black people, Coloured people, Greek people, Catholics, Afrikaans people, people who have adopted, gay people, people from other countries, divorced people, single people, Jewish people, mixed couples and more.

To be hones this isn’t really a part of my parenting I have given much thought to because it has just happened but it is actually something I think is important, making sure our children are exposed to as many different cultures and traditions as possible. Having an understanding of a culture builds tolerance and a realisation that while we may be different religions or colours we share many of the same beliefs.

Is this something you actively try to do? Or is it more passive (like we have been)?

How important is exposing your children to other cultures?

 

 

 

The day the bus was late

It has taken me most of the year but I am finally in a nice rhythm. We have our routine, the afternoons are busy and there is lots of driving around but its manageable and its all been working nicely. I don’t have that “rushed” feeling as much as I used earlier this year.

But yesterday the bus was late!

Not my bus. The bus that was bringing Kiara back from their school outing.

Jane isn’t here on a Thursday so generally Emma and I chill at home in the morning. Believe it or not we actually have a little nap routine now but something happened yesterday and she didn’t nap well but she did at least still nap. Back to the point. We needed to leave at 13h30 tio fetch Kiara and Jack, Emma woke up at 13h05 so there was time for a quick lunch. Obviously she hates the food I am trying to feed her so purses her lips and refuses to eat the healthy organic, preservative free home made food. By now its 13h20 and we need to get going so I squirt a Barney berry smoothie into her mouth because obviously she loves all the sugar, preservatives and other stuff that makes it taste nice.

Race to school, park the car and notice the playground is empty. I have flashbacks to a few weeks ago when I arrived an hour early to fetch them but then I notice the parking lot is full. So I walk in only to be told that the bus with the children is running late, their ETA is 14h30. Fantastic!

It is now 13h50. Cameron needs to be fetched at 14h45 so I can’t go and fetch him. It is 10 minutes to our house, 5 minutes to unpack the babies, and then 5 minutes to get them bacj in the car and 10 minutes to get back to school – so no real point going home.

So I get Jack and decide we are going to go to Spur at the bottom of the road and have a plate of chips while we wait. I tell Jack this (rookie mistake) and off we go. As soon as we can all see the Spur, I realise I don’t have my purse because this was supposed to be a 20 minute trip to fetch kids and go home! A quick trip home means we are now not able to sit down at Spur but I tell Jack we will get a take away box.

The sound that came out of his mouth after I said the word “box” is something that will haunt me forever! The amount of tears that sprayed from his eyes had me convinced he would need a litre of rehidrate. The child was traumatised beyond words. I was traumatised beyond words and was wondering how much I would need to bribe the waiter at Spur to give a take away bottle of wine!

Fortunately the fact that we had to sit down and wait for the take away calmed him somewhat but my blood pressure spiked immediately when the waiter brought me the bill – R100 for a kids burger, toasted cheese and two cold drinks – ok then Spur, thanks for that!

I settle Jack in his car seat with his food but obviously the smiley faces were cooked in molten lava which meant no one could touch them let alone eat them. Cue weird traumatising howling from Jack.

By now we are late for Kiara which means we will be late for Cameron but we have our over priced burger!

Off we go. Wait patiently for the parents who don’t understand the ONE WAY arrow or the PICK UP ONLY sign in the school parking lot. Kiara jumps in and off we go.

Emma, not to be outdone by her brother, lets out a blood curdling scream, arches her back and looks like she is about to transform into Wonder Baby and burst out her car seat and smash through the window! We try to distract her with a smiley face which has now cooled to luke warm molten lava.

There is calm.

Until Jack tries to take a bite of this burger and the bun breaks. Now Jack has these severe OCD issues. He can only eat fixed stuff. Do not even try to convince him otherwise, you will come off second best. Thankfully there is no howling instead he is now sobbing like he has lost his best friend into his broken burger bun which obviously results in burger sauce all over his shirt which cued the crazy crying again.

At this point I actually started crying a little.

Kiara wrestled the broken burger from him, because you know how it goes, he doesn’t want to eat it but he does want to hold onto it and remind me repeatedly why he can’t eat it. She wiped the burger sauce and gave him the smiley faces.

I thought we had reached calm again but then Emma did her “I am going to transform into a crazed baby” thing again.

At this point Kiara started crying a little.

Fetch Cameron, he has these crazy skills with Jack so we manage to get Jack to eat the sandwich I got for Cameron and he eats the burger. The four of them share the chips because once the smiley faces had cooled Jack breathed all 8 of them in in one breathe but is still hungry for chips.

Finally with some food in his tummy, Jack is calm. Kiara and I have stopped crying and Cameron is rambling on about something I should have probably been listening too.

Emma is still not on the same page. It is at about this point in our journey that I realised that I hadn’t changed her nappy after her nap because the school pick was supposed to be 20 minutes and NOT the 110 minutes it ended up being. I start crying again!

So I try to get to swimming as fast as possible but obviously every slow vehicle in Pretoria is on Garstfontein Road and when I do get passed them I get a red robot. I throw Cameron out at swimming, race back home and change the nappy which I realise is actually FINE because you know Huggies really are a great nappy and there was no need for me to be berating myself for being a bad mother.

I did the only thing left to do – I grabbed the wine.

All of this because the bus was late!

 PS I left out the part where we discover the Captain America DVD is missing. This is Jacks current favourite movie, he needs to watch it at least once a day. It appears David took it. I am actually not sure our marriage will survive it if he doesn’t return it ASAP.

 

 

Why my children will compete

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I am not really competitive. I never really have been. I don’t have this overwhelming need to be first or win all the time. That said, however, I do think competing is important, even if winning is not.

Kiara hates competition, she doesn’t care if she wins or not and she doesn’t actually care if you win or not. She doesn’t see the point of it all. I generally leave her except for twice a year when she has her dance exam and competition. If she had a choice she wouldn’t do either of them, it is the one thing I have to almost force her to do.

I don’t do this because I want her to win or get the highest marks. I think it is important for her to compete and take part for the sense of accomplishment. Competing isn’t just about winning, it is about achieving something. She can dance and dance all day and she will obviously get better but by doing an exam she has something to measure herself against, she gets feedback and where she can improve.

Competition is often seen as a negative thing, something that places too much unnecessary pressure on children. There is a strong case for that argument, we have all seen children burn out, parents destroying their relationships with their children for a gold medal. It is a very real reality. These cases are extreme and I don’t support that sort of pressure. Competition does not have to be like that though. It does not have to be something negative.

Competing doesn’t have to be about winning. It can, simply, be about achieving a goal, doing better than you did the last time, improving your time, setting a goal and working towards that.

I don’t expect Cameron to win his races, but I do expect that he improve his times, set himself goals and work towards that. Otherwise what is the point of the training and the sacrifices he is making?

There are some life lessons in that, wanting to better yourself, achieve something that you can be proud of. Competing isn’t just about winning.

That is why my children will compete.

Are you competitive? Do you put pressure on your children to compete?