Cows, tigers, elephants and free-range chickens – 3 reasons why it doesn’t really matter what type of parent you are.

If you google parenting styles you will find millions and millions of links to a variety of parenting styles.

IMG_2808

There is the helicopter parent, the tiger mom, the free-range parents (not to be confused with the hippy mom) or you could be an elephant or maybe even a cow.  We are no longer just moms and dads. Every decision we make, everything our children do is analysed, checked and put into one box or another. We are constantly trying to find, misguided, justification for the way we chose to raise our children. Before we have kids we decide we want to be free-range or tigers but then we actually birth the child and suddenly you turn into a helicopter elephant. You are suddenly at war with yourself – I don’t want to be the hippy mom, the tiger mom seems to have it all together or the elephants are having a lot more fun than the cows – I want to be one of them.

The problem with all of this is that none of it matters. It honestly doesn’t matter what parenting style you have or if you even have a style. Here’s why..

IMG_3910

Cows can turn into elephants. Parenting often changes when the needs of your child change or when you, as a parent, change. You may start out as a cow but may discover that you are more of a tiger. So putting yourself into one box never works.

Tigers can give birth to calves. Every child is different. What works for one child won’t work for another child. You need to adjust, change and evolve to find a way that bests suits you and your child.

People will judge you regardless. Sounds harsh but its true. People judge other people all the time, it happens, it is who we are as the human race. However you chose to raise your child, someone will judge you, probably a few people actually. So it doesn’t really matter in the bigger scheme of things what you chose.

Parenting is not always a walk in the park, don’t add more stress by trying to be what you aren’t or what you think you should be. Just parent your children the best you can.

2014 – A quick roundup

1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?

I went on an overseas trip with a brand I work with.

I flew in a 14 seater airplane.

IMG_4365

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Without looking back to last years blogs I have no idea what my resolutions were, so I am not sure if I kept them.

3. How will you be spending New Year’s Eve?

With my family at Theewaterskloof.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Not close to me but there was the death of a fellow bloggers husband. It shook our little community.

5. What countries did you visit?

Tanzania and Zanzibar

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?

A permanent job – not necessarily full day though or even in an office away from home.

7. What date from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

10 February – the day Emma was born.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Earning money from my writing and being invited on the CocaCola trip.

9. What was your biggest failure?

I don’t know. Parenting really is a series of small failures isn’t it?

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Thankfully NO! There were no major illnesses or operations this year.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Little elephant ear rings I bought in Zanzibar.

12. Where did most of your money go?

I have no idea – we are still searching for it.

IMG_2949

13. What song will always remind you of 2014?

Budapest – George Ezra – Jack and I sing along every time it comes on.

14. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Exercise! Yoga!

15. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Worry. I spend a lot of time worrying unnecessarily. I need to stop doing that.

16. What were your favourite TV shows?

Homeland, Scandal, Criminal Minds

17. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

Nope

18. What was the best book you read?

I can’t remember reading anything except the book I read last week “One plus One” by Jojo Moyes – I loved it.

19. What was your greatest musical discovery?

George Ezra

20. What was your favourite film of this year?

How to Train A Dragon 2

IMG_4613

21. What did you do on your birthday

I spent it with friends.

22. What kept you sane?

My friends. My Moms and Babes friends and Ansie (always Ansie :))

24. Who was the best new person you met?

There were 3 ladies I bonded with at Moms and Babes, we are the crazy 8 from Spud except the crazy four!

25. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014

It will all work out.

Word of the Year – I accepted

Looking back I actually think that I lived my word of the year a lot better this year than I did last year.

IMG_2601

It wasn’t always easy, because accepting things we would rather change but I do think I did manage to accept a few things that I have been struggling with.

I accepted that Cameron wants to swim. Three months in and each time he competes it reaffirms that we made the right decision.

I have accepted the uncertainty of our monthly income. I hadn’t realised I had done this until last month when there was a slight hiccup and I didn’t freak out like I would have earlier this year. It is what it is and we are always ok.

IMG_2682

I have accepted that I am not ever going to post stuff about how organised I am with pretty printables for “what to pack” or how to meal plan in 2 easy steps. It is not me. I have a system, only I know how it works but it works for me.

I accepted I can’t make lasagne or briyani! Don’t even try to offer me tips – I have tried and tried.

IMG_2887

I have accepted I have four kids and that for now, life is all about them. Despite the fact that 3/4 kids were planned, this did take some accepting.

I accepted that David is never going to hang his towel up properly, Cameron is always going to shove stuff under his bed and Kiara will always share her mess joy throughout the house.

IMG_3080

I have accepted that dealing with schools is not fun, I don’t think its meant to be but it is something we have to do. So we suck it up and deal.

I have accepted that I am not able to complete a photo challenge, monthly blog prompt or anything else that lasts longer than three days. I just don’t have the attention span, it doesn’t matter how many lists I make or how well I plan.

I have accepted the nature of certain relationships in my life. They are not ideal, they aren’t necessarily what I would choose but they are what they are and I have made peace with that.

Have you lived your word this year? Do you have one for 2015? I hadn’t even thought about it until I was having my underarms waxed and a word popped into my head.

 

2015 – Whats the plan?

Every year since David and I met we have had some life changing event happen every year (and in writing this post I discovered they have all happened around May/June).

We met on 26 June 2009.

June 2010 we moved into our new home together.

June 2011 we had Jack.

May 2012 I had my hip replacement.

May 2013 we got married.

February 2014 we had Emma.

10509729_364773920343813_8724686057824759496_n

Each year we have had something major to focus on. We have had to organise, plan, welcome, save and prepare for something for the last 5 years.

2015 is the first year that there is nothing major planned. We have our house, we have our babies, we are married and my hips are all still working.

I think David and I are both looking forward to a year where nothing dramatic (or expensive) happens.

We have talked often about what we are actually going to do next year.

Possibly we will spend the year pool side watching Cameron work his way up the rankings.

Or maybe I will finally figure out the dancing make up.

We could even go all tiger parents and enroll Jack into mini soccer.

David could sign all those deals he has been working tirelessly on.

Emma may start playing the piano (she seems set to be an over acheiver).

Maybe I finish writing a book.

Who knows the possibilities are endless.

All I know is while I know small things change our lives as much as big events, I would prefer to not have anything major happen. We need a bit of a chance to catch our breathes and to just be for a bit.

It is sort of exciting to have nothing planned for the 12 months that lie ahead. It means we can focus on each day, rather than one event.

Whats planned for your 2015?

A few things

I opened my laptop on Saturday morning for the first time in a week. It was the longest time I had gone without blogging or even checking in via my laptop. So needless to say once I got over the tiredness from the trip I had lots and lots to say. (LOTS) Writing here every day has become so much a part of me that when I don’t do it for an extended period I feel almost incomplete.

So this is a catch up of sorts.

Heather from SA Mom Blogs is running a small competition. I made the finals with my post about parenting Cameron. So if you are a blogger then please vote for me.

Louisa won the Ever After Doll – sorry for the late announcement but I think she has already been contacted.

I have just finished reading One Plus One by Jojo Moyes. It is the first book I have read in ages and totally loved it. I cried real tears. It really is a great book. I loved this excerpt.

“Because she knew that something happened to you when your mother didn’t hold you close, or tell you all the time that you were the best thing ever, or even notice when you were home: a little part of you sealed over. You didn’t need her. You didn’t need anyone. And without even knowing you were doing it, you waited. You waited for anyone who got close to you to see something they didn’t like in you, something they hadn’t initially seen, and to grow cold and disappear, too, like so much sea mist. Because there had to be something wrong, didn’t there, if even your own mother didn’t really love you?”
― Jojo Moyes, One Plus One

Cameron’s relay team won a medal on the last day of the gala. I am not sure who was more excited, him or me. He did so incredibly well at the gala, bettered all his times.

IMG_7830

Both kids ended the year off really well. They both got good report cards and both received awards.

Jack shocked us all the other day by identifying the J from his name. He actually made it from some sticks he was playing with and said “That’s my name”. He can also identify his full name and says “My name starts with a jay”. It sort of came out of nowhere which is why we were so surprised.

Emma is communicating with us. It is so cute. She points and says “this this” and Kiara and Jack.

IMG_4518

Most importantly – we are FINALLY relaxing. We are here in Montagu, doing lots of NOTHING. It is so great. We have even managed those long naps like we did last year. It has been an exhausting few weeks and I am so glad we have finally stopped running from pillar to post.

How are things in your world? Tell me whats happening?

10 tips to Survive an 18 hour car ride with kids

A big part of me wants to yell - DO NOT PLAN AN 18 HOUR CAR RIDE WITH KIDS EVER! But when you have four kids, a budget and family who live 18 hours away you often don’t have much of a choice.

It was an experience. That really is all I have to say about that! But we did, as you do, learn a few things along the way.

IMG_7489

These are a few tips I have for traveling long distances with kids (FOUR of them to be exact).

1. REST the day before. Obviously things worked out a little different than what I planned with the last minute trip to Tanzania and it was not ideal getting an early start after a full day of traveling through Africa. I was tired. Not dangerously tired but I could have been a lot more rested.

2. Pack snacks you know the kids will eat. Stopping isn’t always possible and kids often get hungry when there is no stop in sight. Even if it means you all have Flings for breakfast, pack stuff that they will eat. A hungry child confined to a car chair isn’t much fun.

3. Be flexible. Obviously we all have the trip planned. We leave at 5, first stop at 9, second stop at 11h30 but then someone needs to wee urgently or the baby needs a nappy change or you are just gatvol of watching the endless road in front of you. Stop when you want, don’t stop if you don’t want to.

4. Swap drivers. I drove the whole way on my own and it was tough. My mom was great with the kids which really helped but even with the regular stops and overnight rest, by the time we were half way into day two I was ready to pay someone else to drive.

5. Pack an easily accessible medicine kit. Focus on stuff like meds for food poisoning, tummy cramps – that kind of thing. (Yes we ate some dodge food at Middleburg).

6. Remember the music! I forgot to pack CDs in so when we lost signal we listened to Nianel on repeat until eventually we had all had enough.

7. Accept the mess. We did a clean out of rubbish at each stop but the car looked like we had lived in it for a week. There was toys, dummies, bottles, scooby wire, loom bands and glitter everywhere. I think I stopped caring at Bloemfontein.

8. Drive carefully. I find it hard to not just put my foot down on the open road but there were speed cops almost the entire way (I learnt this the hard way). We also saw a lot of people doing silly things, like over taking 3/4 cars/trucks at a time or being indecisive which often causes more chaos. Maybe you have to sit behind the truck for 30 minutes longer than you would like, but at least you will arrive.

9. Remember that kids are kids. Being stuck in a car for 4 hours at a time is not fun for anyone. As adults we are able to suck it up but kids, especially babies aren’t so they will cry, get irritable and moany. Be kind with them.

10. Enjoy it. Our trip was long, very long. I was tired most of the way. I just wanted to get to our destination, despite that I think we still had a relatively good time. We made some memories, saw a lot of South Africa and even managed to find 4 elusive Captain America’s in small coffee shop in De Rust.

How are you getting to your holiday destination? 

 

Tanzanian Trip – Part Two

I have told and retold stories of this trip a few times over the last few days to family and friends but I still find it hard to put into words how positive the experience was and how much I loved being in Dar Es Salaam and Zanzibar.

The projects we visited were spread all over Dar Es Salaam so we saw a fair amount of the city just through traveling from one place to the other, which was really great.There was a nice mix of rural and urban life. Dar Es Salaam has a lot more infrastructure than I suspected. There are high rise buildings going up, shopping malls and even a Smooch, Rhapsodys and Spur. The roads are good in the main city and it is super clean.

We were also extremely lucky to have spent the Tuesday visiting Zanzibar. David and I were there last year for our honeymoon but we didn’t really do much sight seeing, so I was really excited when I saw this was part of the itinerary and we saw a totally different side to the small island.

We took a ferry from Dar Es Salaam to Zanzibar and entering the country through the port was an experience and the start of what turned out to be a rather adventurous day. We spent the better part of the morning doing a tour of a spice farm.

IMG_4241

It was so interesting. I am not really sure what I expected, I think something a little more farm like and organised. This Spice Farm was literally on the side of the road and there were no neatly laid out fields, everything just grows naturally.

We got to touch, smell, taste and see so many spices and fruits and see them grow naturally.

Jack fruit - largest fruit in the world

Jack fruit – largest fruit in the world

Tumeric

Tumeric

Cardamom

Cardamom

Cloves

Cloves

Peppercorns

Peppercorns

Curry Leaves

Curry Leaves

Vanilla Pods

Vanilla Pods

Nutmeg

Nutmeg

Ginger

Ginger

Iodine

Iodine

Pineapple

Pineapple

We got to taste the Jack fruit which is very hard to describe, it is yellow inside, very sweet and the consistency of a kumquat almost but not really. We also tasted the most divine cucumbers that are grown in the mangroves and the sweetest pineapples.

Everyone of the spices we saw is used in some way or another in Zanzibar, most of them have a medicinal use and then obviously in their cooking and teas.

We also watched a local climb to the top of the tallest coconut tree. It was hectic. He just climbed and climbed and climbed. When he reached the top he sang the Jumbo song and then threw a coconut down, which we go to taste. Last year was the first time I tasted fresh coconut and I LOVE it so this was super cool.

Jumbo Song

We then headed to lunch at the beach which was great because up until that point we had just see it from the car windows

IMG_4297

The next part of the trip was probably my favourite. We did a tour of Stone Town. I fell in love! It is the most charming little town I have ever been too. We walked the streets, stopped to shop, walked in the rain, jumped out of the way of scooters, learnt about the doors of Zanzibar and visited the slave market site.

Doors of Zanzibar

See the brown doors, they have big round spikes on them? They look almost like juice squeezers, those doors came from India and were used in India to prevent the elephants from knocking into them. So they signal that Indians live in those houses!

IMG_4298

IMG_4301

IMG_4315

I have always actively avoided visiting prisons and things related to people hurting other people so visiting the site of the slave market was rather eye opening for me. Women and children were kept in tiny “prisons” while the waited to be sold and were chained to one another. We were 12 people and standing in the room, you can’t imagine how they fitted 75 people inside there. An Anglican church was built on the site where the slaves were traded when it was abolished and the church is still in use today.

IMG_4306

IMG_4332

Bike

This little island really does have a lot of rich history and culture to it. It was fascinating to learn about it all.

The trip home was probably the biggest adventure of the trip. We flew back from Zanzibar in this teeny tiny little plane. It seats 14 people in total. There are no overhead compartments, our bags we just piled at the back and one of the lady who got in last was asked to lock the door. There was much screaming and hysterical laughter as we realised that this was the way we were getting back to Tanzania.

Adventures

I think what made this trip as much fun as it was was that I traveled with the awesome Robyn and African Queen Lebo. They embraced the trip as much as I did and we had a really really great time together.

We were 3 of 10 bloggers/journalists on this trip and for more info on them, you can visit this page, it has all the links and info to their sites.

While this trip was sponsored by CocaCola, we were not asked or paid to write about the trip. The thoughts and opinions in this post are mine.

Tanzanian Trip – Part One – Coca Cola’s Intiatives

Its been a pretty crazy week. So much has happened that I am not even sure where to begin.

In short my trip to Tanzania was amazing. AMAZING. I love Africa and I fell in love with Stone Town in Zanzibar and told David if there was an African city I would move to willingly it would be Dar Es Salaam.

There is just too much info to cram into one post so I am going to start with the purpose of the trip and talk about the three Coca Cola initiatives we saw. None of these initiatives are about Coke handing out money or donating portions of their sales to a charity or selling. Each initiative is about sustainability and enabling the people involved to grow and improve. Ultimately what they are doing is teaching people to fish rather than just giving them the fish.

#ProjectLastMile

This project is a colloboration between CocaCola, USAID, The Global Fund and the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation. CocaCola shared their expertise and experience in reaching the most rural parts of Africa to help the Medical Supplies Division  (MSD) of Tanzania do the same with their medicines, which is where the name for the project comes from – the aim is to reach the last mile. Coke has a team of experts who work closely with the MSD to improve the distribution of medicines, streamline their procurement process to ensure that no medicine is wasted because it past its sell by date before it could be delivered. This is a really great initiative that is saving lives and making positive contributions to rural areas of Tanzania.

IMG_4188

#5by20

A lot of Cokes initiatives involve empowering women. The 5by20 project is made up of women who touch the Coke value chain in some way. It could be the fruit pickers who pick the fruit used for the concentrates, the scavengers who collect old coke bottles and make jewellery or the women who actually sell coke. These women are identified and then offered classes in business, mentorship and financial services to assist them in growing their businesses. One of the projects we visited was this market place where women run these little stalls, they serve meals and sell Coke products.

Market

They have these solar panels that provide the stalls and coolers with power.

IMG_4193

We then met Lilian who is an Official  Coke Distributor. She has been with Coke for 10 years and has experienced some personal challenges over these 10 years but she has still managed to do exceptionally well. Her whole story is over here.

lilian

All the women we met who work with this project are extremely proud of what they have acheived. It is a really great project because it not only improves their lives but that of their community as well.

#ekocenter

This was the main initiative and the one I think the Coke team who were with us on the trip were most proud of.

The Ekocenters were designed around shipping containers and are little kiosks that almost become the city centre in the villages they are in. The village we visited was 3 hours outside of Dar Es Salaam, so very much in the middle of nowhere.

This ekocenter is the only source of power in the village and it uses solar power. The kiosk does not only sell coke but a range of other necessities and also has a panel with power points where things like cell phones can be charged.

It is a little strange seeing these ekocenters in villages like this because life is still so rural and then these centres have computers, printers and the internet.

IMG_4362 IMG_4363

These ekocenters were actually piloted in South Africa (did you even know that? I didn’t) and are currently in Ethiopia and Rwanda as well as Tanzania.

All three of these initiatives are having a positive impact on the communities they touch and every person we spoke to who was involved in the projects is really committed to making them work and very proud to be a part of them.

While this trip was sponsored by Coca Cola, we were not asked or paid to write about the experience. The opinions and thoughts in this post are my own.

Gifts for Guys

This is probably the first year in ages I haven’t bought any Christmas presents yet. Usually I have David’s gifts sorted well in advance but this year things are slightly choatic so we shall be doing some last minute shopping this side.

One of the reasons I haven’t got anything for him yet is because I am not really sure what to get him. I could get him sports stuff (again) or clothes (again) or socks (again) but really those are all boring and while he does need all of those, I would like to try and spice it up a little.

So I did a little brainstorming about things he currently enjoys which lead me to a list of whisky’s Makro offers! (YES the more shopping or even browsing I can do online the better – it can be done without subjecting the general population to my kids in the shops). While I was browsing the promotions I came across a R2 million bottle of whisky, its currently on promotion (no really check it out). I knew whisky wasn’t a cheap drink but had no idea just how expensive it was.

Makro Infographic (3)

I might not be able to afford the Royal Salute just yet but I have added a nice bottle of whisky onto the list of possibilities for David.

What are your gift ideas for guys?