{Week 10} Grateful for freedom of speech.

Gratitude Freedom of Speech - Harassedmom

As I type this I am listening to the podcast of the interview Gareth Cliff had with Steve Hofmeyer. It was a really interesting debate. Say what you may about him but Gareth can hold a good debate, he removes emotion which many of us battle to do when we are trying to arguing our point.

In between writing and listening I am also taking part in a discussion on a Facebook group about monetizing your blog. There are differing views and opinions. Some I agree with some I don’t.

I have been lucky enough to engage in some really healthy debates and discussions online and in person. Ansie and her husband and David and I have the best debates and discussions. We argue and fight and try to get our point across. It is really great isn’t it?

I think we are all so privileged to live in an era where we have this totally freedom of speech to express our opinions, thoughts and beliefs. We are never all going to agree and that’s ok but the fact that we can voice that is awesome.

The fact that we can say we don’t agree with our president or that journalists can chant in parliament or that we have blogs where we are able to share our stories honestly and openly is pretty special.

So this week I am grateful that we live in a time where we have freedom of speech.

 

You will always be the one they look for in the crowd.

A lot of fellow bloggers have stopped blogging all together or stopped blogging about their kids the older they get. I totally understand that but I am finding there is so much more to blog about Cameron than the younger three at the moment. I am trying to keep it more to how I feel and how I am reacting rather than sharing his story.

Cat wrote yesterday about how the stage will pass when her child will hug her in front of everyone, and a few other things. The older my kids get and we pass from one stage to another, the more I am realising how parenting changes and for me, gets so much better.

As you know by now we had a big gala this weekend.Cameron spent most of the time with his team or strategising with his coach. After every race, he would head straight to his coach to do a quick post mortem and get his time if we missed it. Despite this, he (and all the other kids actually) always looks for me (or David).

Cameron - They will always look for you in a crowd

There may not be cuddles on laps or long hugs or public displays of affection but there is still a very real connection that our kids have to us, even as they grow up. The moment his name was announced for the finals on Sunday, he stood up to head to his coach but not before he had caught my eyes and smiled the hugest smile ever. It is like the pre-teen version of a toddler hug.

I suppose you never really know whats around the corner when it comes to parenting so we mourn the loss of cuddles, little hands holding ours, loud little voices saying “I love you mom!”. We mourn the loss of our children’s innocence in a way but I don’t think we should because what lies ahead is actually, for me, much better.

Of course we miss the physical closeness of hugs and cuddles but let me tell you something – the moment your child seeks out your eyes and finds them – it is a moment that is as powerful as any hug. It is my child being confident enough to be on his own, to compete, to achieve, to be a part of something separate to me but still needing to know I am there.

That really is what being a parent is, isn’t it? Don’t we still phone our mom when stuff goes wrong? Or need to know they are there when we get married?

We are separate but always connected!

The Dad Network

 

{Sponsored Video} Crumpets Taste Like Home

I come from a family that enjoys food dare I say we are comfort eaters. We all enjoy good food and aren’t shy to go back for seconds, which may be why I cannot lose this last 8kg!

Birthdays and Christmas are always a big deal, punctuated by good food. Cakes, cookies, gammon and roast turkey. My mom is famous for her Christmas feasts, I tried one year to replicate it but nothing ever compares to my mom’s Christmas feast. They were very much a part of my childhood and are a very important part of my kids year, Cameron’s in particular.

Christmas Roast Tastes Like Home

She wasn’t all about the roast meat though, my mom makes the best crumpets. I remember having them over weekends growing up and she would always make different shapes with the last bit of batter – she would make snails and the letters of our names. I have tried to make shapes but I can never get the batter the right consistency to do this.

Another one of my favourites is the cookies my mom bakes en masse over the festive season. We got this recipe for these German cookies, hildebrotchen, from my aunt and after years of trying my mom has perfected them with gluten free flour (if you have ever used gluten free flour, you will know that it can be a challenge.).

Cookies Taste Like Home

Living far from my parents, it is the small things, like baking crumpets on a Saturday morning or cooking a big Sunday lunch, that make it a little easier. It is not only me who has these moments, the older two kids will often say “This tastes like the stir-fry granny makes” or “Granny makes it just like this”

Cooking and baking are definitely something very emotive for us as a family. The smells, tastes and textures of things remind us all of our childhood, happy times, safe places and good memories.

This post was sponsored by Knorr but any thoughts and opinions shared are my own.

{Tastes on Tuesday} Eggy Toast with Syrup and Banana

This is another recipe from our #momblogmeet up at the Olive Branch Cooking School.

Eggy toast with banana

Ingredients
2 slices bread white or brown
1 egg, beaten, seasoned with sea salt
20g butter
cinnamon and sugar
Drizzle of Syrup
1 banana, peeled and sliced

Method
Cut out shapes you desire. Dip into the beaten egg. Melt butter in a frying pan and gently fry until golden. Place onto dish sprinkle with cinnamon sugar , drizzle with syrup and topped with sliced banana.

NB you could also use raspberries.

How are you and your children saving energy?

We recycle once a week at Cameron’s school. My folks recycle and have a worm farm and compost heap going on.  A lot of my friend’s recycle. It is something we often talk about and it is something we seem to all be concerned about. We worry what piles and piles of plastic are doing to the world.

What we don’t seem too concerned about though, even with load shedding, is power saving and being energy efficient. We reluctantly turn things off because we have to but not really because it will benefit the environment.

I have started making small changes in our house to try to cut down on the amount of power we use and part of that is also making sure the children are aware why it is important to switch lights off and not boil the kettle a hundred times a day (Cameron loves to do this).

There is a great ebook that is available to help teach kids why it is important to be energy efficient and what they can do to save electricity. The ebook is about Ruby and the Powerpals. They are narrated so the kids can watch them on their own and the images are really cute. Check them out, they are really very cute.

Ruby and the Power Pals eBook

So what are we doing to save power?

  • We bath/shower the kids together. Often an older kid will take a younger one and bath/shower with them. Saving both the amount of hot water and water in general we use.
  • When Cameron boils the kettle for coffee I make sure it’s full and then use the left over water for Emma’s bottle.
  • Kiara does still need a light on at night, we use fairy lights across her curtain rail, it provides just enough light for her.
  • We don’t use heaters in winter. Our downstairs area is all open plan so trying to heat it up is near impossible so we just use lots of blankets. There are wall heaters in the rooms but we seldom put them on anymore.
  • The kids only plug their laptops in when they are dead. They aren’t left plugged in all day. Same with the X-box and Wii
  • We switch lights on as late as possible and off as early as possible. We get a lot of natural light in the house so with all the curtains open we don’t need lights on until early evening.

Is saving energy something you do in your house? What do you and your kids do to save electricity?

Tiger Moms in action and some wise words from my 12 year old

Wise words from my 12 year old

Cameron is busy swimming a Level 2 Regional Gala this weekend. It is 3 days of pretty intense swimming. It is basically what they train for, I think there are 2 of these galas a year so it is a big deal.

Some days I do feel maybe we are a bit hard on Cameron but I saw a Tiger Mom in action today and it was not pretty. I actually felt rather uncomfortable watching her in action.

Disclaimer pause – her child seems happy and loved so this is not a judgement on how she is choosing to raise her child.

Her aim was to get her child to win (which they did and convincingly). Everything she did and said was done with that goal in mind – winning. The child was separated from their team, they were fed the right foods and energy drinks, they were reminded of times they were swimming for. There was no joking around with the other kids, no playing iPad games with them, no walking around for no specific reason.

The goal was a gold medal and they achieved that but when they did there was no real fanfare, which I think got to me the most. We praise all the kids if they tried, they don’t have to win but we are always there giving them a high five, even when Cam’s time isn’t what he hoped, we still make a big deal about it. Again this does not make a better parent than her, just different.

I did realise though, that we are not really putting that much pressure on Cameron and after a conversation with him I am actually ok with that.

A young girl passed out during the gala and a second had to be taken away on a stretcher after her race. We don’t know the details but I mentioned to Cameron that sometimes the pressure just gets to some kids. Do you know what he said?

“Why though? If you train properly and know what you need to do then you just do it? There’s no pressure”

Wise words from my 12 year old don’t you think?

I also did a small high five to myself because he swam so well. He made the final in a race that isn’t really his race so he doesn’t focus on it in training and I think has swum it once (when he qualified for this gala). He knew what he had to do, knew he had trained hard enough for it and just did it.

I hope that he maintains this outlook. I think it will stand him in good stead the older he gets if he can manage his pressure and stress this well.

Also it is in moments like this that I am a little in awe of this child. He just has his head screwed on right, sometimes it feels like he is more together than I am.

Did you have a good Friday?

{Week 9} 50 things that make me happy

What Katy Said

I saw this posted on a group I am apart of and thought it might be nice to see if I could manage it as well.

What makes me happy?

  1. My weekly yoga class.
  2. Honey and Nut latte from Woolworths.
  3. Watching Cameron swim.#embracehappy Cameron
  4. Listening to conversations between my kids.
  5. Enrista blue packet coffee.
  6. My pillow.
  7. Lindt dark chocolate with mint.
  8. Date night with David.#embracehappy
  9. Writing.
  10. Braai’s with my friends.
  11. Wine! All the wine! #embracehappy wine
  12. Lazy Sunday’s at home with no plans.
  13. Pedicures – these make me incredibly happy.
  14. Swimming. Not playing around in the pool swimming, but proper swimming lengths.
  15. Shopping at Type
  16. Reading a good book.
  17. My moms house.
  18. Crumpets with butter and syrup.
  19. Silence. Every now and then silence makes me happy.#embracehappy Me
  20. Coffee in bed while the kids are still sleeping.
  21. Stationery – pens, notebooks, washi tape – all of it.
  22. Scrapbooking.
  23. Christmas.
  24. The Western Cape.#embracehappy Cape
  25. Watching the kids grow up – seeing them learn, discover and grow.
  26. Hearing belly laughs from the kids.
  27. Whatsapp conversations about what Moses wore on his head
  28. Road trips – we don’t do them enough but I really do love a good road trip.
  29. The Timbavati – this has to be one of the most beautiful places.
  30. Talking – I enjoy talking to people!
  31. Cuddles from my little people.
  32. George Ezras
  33. Bags – I like bags but not really handbags but big bags.#embracehappy flowers
  34. Sushi – love me some sushi.
  35. Book shops, especially second hand book shops.
  36. Baking.
  37. Rain – I love rainy days.
  38. Aero dark chocolate.
  39. Scrabble.
  40. Getting into bed at night – feeling the cool sheets is my best!#embracehappy Kiara
  41. Action movies! Who doesn’t like a bit of skop, skiet and donner.
  42. Tracey Chapman – love her music.
  43. Pretty underwear.
  44. That five minutes after you have put the babies in bed, they are all asleep and you sit down. The best!
  45. Coffee dates with friends.
  46. Markets. Walking around markets make me super happy.
  47. Getting home in the evening after fetching everyone – I think that may actually be equivalent to ecstasy actually.
  48. Crafts – I love me a bit of a craft.
  49. Sally Williams Nougat covered with dark chocolate – HEAVEN.
  50. Finishing this list!!!

Can you list 50 things that make you happy?

Share the Joy linky at bodfortea.co.uk

When technology fails – you write a letter.

When technology fails, you write a letter. harassedmom.co.za

My laptop has been showing signs of old age recently. It is slow, it keeps freezing and some days, like today, it actually just refuses to do anything other than display that blue circle indicating it is thinking about something, some where!

I sat down at 8h45 to write a blog post on BlogShareConnect – I published it at 10h45. Not because it was hard to write but because it froze about 6 times while I tried to create the images, add the images or just actually type. Eventually I shut down, threw my pen at the screen, made some coffee and wrote a letter!

My friend Suzanne recently moved to Dubai, her husband was out recently and bought with him a bag of goodies for me. It was such a lovely treat. I rarely get something purely for me, for no good reason. There was some gluten free goodies, some Hello Kitty toilet paper, green tea and a birthday gift for me for next month.

There was also a hand written letter from her, not just a “Hope you enjoy these” note but a proper letter about what’s going on with her life. Isn’t that so cool?

So since I could do nothing on my laptop I decided it was the perfect opportunity to write her a letter back! I wrote and wrote – before I realised I was on page 4 (and still my laptop was in indecision mode). It was actually really great to actually take a pen and some paper and write to someone. I think I need to do it more to be honest! We rely so much on technology these days but it is still nice to know, in the absence of technology it is still possible to keep in touch with friends.

When last did you receive a hand written letter? Do you write letters?

Our High School search and the lessons we have learnt

I have previously mentioned how stressful Cameron’s high school search has been. I was completely unprepared for just how much of a challenge it would be to get him into a good high school.

Our search is not over but it is now a lot easier and we have a few proper options now. It has been an exhausting few months but we have learnt a lot and hopefully when it’s Jack’s turn I will be more prepared!

Lessons we learnt applying for high school

A few of the things we have learnt;

  • If at all possible get your child into a school that goes from Grade 00 to Matric – this is obviously the easier option and is, ideally my plan with the younger two.
  • Do your research early! When choosing a primary school, do your research on high schools at the same time. Find out what your options are. Find out what sports they offer, when are their holidays (this is important if you have other children). What high schools will you be guaranteed acceptance into (St Albans automatically offer spots to boys from WPS and St Peters and obviously old boys, same with Pretoria Boys – old boy kids are in)
  • If you want to enter a school at Grade 8 that goes from Grade 00 – get in early! Chances are there will be a waiting list because their Grade 7’s will generally move up so you won’t necessarily get a spot.
  • Get your child’s input. We attended an open day recently and the Principal and head boy both spoke about the Robot system when deciding on a school – so basically a green is yes, orange is unsure and red is a no. Do this exercise with your child. Take them to the schools open days and then do the robot test. By 12/13 your child is old enough to form an opinion on a school so ask them!
  • Ignore everyone – sort of! This has been the hardest thing for me. Everyone (and I mean EVERY ONE) has an opinion on all schools. Even if they have never been there or done any research, they have an opinion. The problem with schools is that they are so subjective. It is possible for a child to have a terrible experience at a well known school. It is also possible the parents don’t feel they fit in but the child is extremely happy. So asking people their opinion on schools has actually created more pressure for me than provided answers. This doesn’t mean you mustn’t ask though because I have found out things I didn’t know through many of these discussions, just be selective in what you ask and make sure that person has had first hand experience.
  • Get your application forms as soon as the school will allow. So far only Pretoria Boys haven’t allowed us to even collect forms but the rest have been very accommodating. In hindsight, I would have actually fetched all the forms last year, so that this year all we had to do was drop them off. Most forms require 2 ID photos – work out how many you need and have them all taken at the same time with 2 to spare.
  • Find out what the financial impacts are. I am not talking about the fees but rather the registration fees – at private schools these can be high and if not paid in time you may loose your spot. Most schools require an application fee – it seems to be around R300 – R350 per application – keep this in mind. January is always a tight month, so maybe start a small “school application” fund as well as a “registration fee” fund. (Basically just say goodbye to ever having anything nice every again.)
  • Do not take anything for granted. Do not assume your child will get in somewhere, even if you check all the boxes. Do not assume you won’t get in somewhere, even if don’t check any of the boxes.

Who else is going to high school next year? Are you ready?