{Five on Friday} Back to school

I feel like I need to say more about going back to school. The last two years have been pretty uneventful in terms of back to school. We have a big year next year though – Cameron goes to high school and Jack to Grade 0, so there shall be lots to share then.

Sharon shared her list of must-haves and so I thought I would share my top 5 must have back to school essentials. (After reading Sharon’s post I developed a severe case of label maker envy – I NEED ONE.)

1. Pens (or pencils of you are still junior primary). My kids need pens constantly. They lose them, they get stolen, lost or eating by the dam cookie monster. I try to keep a stash of blue and black pens in my desk because when they ask me, usually at 19h55, they have NONE.

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2. Plastic! Those of you who are covering books for the first time, don’t fool yourself, it will not end there. They come home throughout the year needing books covered in plastic. Cameron is very good about reusing the ready made covers but often the books aren’t a standard size so keep a roll or two of plastic (and sellotape, washi tape won’t work, it doesn’t stick properly).

3. Rulers! This may just be my kids but they go through rulers at an alarming rate.

4. Pencil crayons. These are like the pens. You can never have enough. Kiara sharpens hers a little compulsively so by June She needs more. Cameron loses particular colours. They use them daily so you need to have some on hand.

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5. Exam pads. If your kids have homework avoidance like mine then the excuse “I don’t have anything to write on” comes up often. So keep exam pads on hand so they have something to write on. Also as they hit Grade 4 they start using these and they go through them super fast!

What are your five must haves? Whats always in your stationery draw for your kids?

{Week 2} Gratitude and happiness


Give Thanks Thursday at Mummy from the Heart
 

It is already the 22 January – can you handle that?

This week has been a little bit flat, I am still battling low blood pressure which is very frustrating.

I have had a good week though with lots to be grateful for.

  • All 3 kids have settled nicely into school.
  • I did some major de-cluttering this weekend. I cleared out the garage, toy room and the cupboard we have under the stairs. I was ruthless. Only things that we use stayed – everything else went either to Jane, the hospice shop or in the bin.
  • I am swimming twice a week. I think it may be my running. I am really enjoying it.
  • We received a school bag full of stationery from Woolworths – who does not love a bag fulled with stationery.

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  • After trying just about everything to get rid of the millions of flies that descend on my kitchen while I am cooking, I bought one of those Mortein spray things and it is working really well. I don’t particularly like the idea of a chemical being sprayed into the air every 15 minutes but the cloves in fruit, coins in bags and vinegar on counters were just not working.
  • I had a lunch date with two friends on Monday. It was great catching up and getting out a little bit.
  • I have been saving to finally redo the kids bedrooms and I managed to get all the paint yesterday.

How has your week been? What’s making you happy?

The day the baby ate cheerios off the floor (and other interesting stories)

I am the oldest of two, my brother is 3 years younger than me. Being the oldest is my only frame of reference. I don’t know what it is like being a younger sister or a middle child or one of many. I often wonder what it must be like to be the youngest or the “laat lammetjie” especially for my own kids. What must it be like to be the oldest of four or the fourth of four?

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Sometimes I think Emma got a raw deal being the youngest of four. Everything they say about the fourth child is true. They do sort of have to bring themselves up in many ways. Earlier this week I went to lunch with some friends, both have babies the same age as Emma but it is their first baby. Emma wondered around the play area, unphased by me or the fact that she was not near me, she was happy to explore on her own. Independence survival is probably one of the better things they learn as the youngest.

Now that she is mobile, she is into all the cupboards, she has smashed a purity bottle already, which lead to a quick cupboard rearrange. The other morning I was upstairs and she was downstairs with the kids. I walked into the kitchen and found her sitting on the floor in a pile of cheerios having breakfast.

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Instead of scooping her up, disinfecting her, stressing about the about the amount of sugar in the cereal and the fact she was eating stuff off the floor, as one would do with a first child, I tried to mentally work out how many cheerios she had eaten and would that qualify as enough breakfast. Then I grabbed the camera and had a little chuckle at how different life must be for her compared to when Cameron was a baby.

Even when I was pregnant I referred to her as the “forgotten child” because life was so busy there was very little time to focus on my pregnancy and even less to focus on buying her cute clothes and doing the nursery. As she gets older, she is not so much forgotten as she is sidelined. She gets dragged along to galas, strapped in the car for school runs, left with granny when we need to go places that aren’t baby friendly and she has to eat her breakfast off the floor every now and then. (Ok seriously it only happened the one time…..that I know of…….no really it was just the once.)

The one thing that appeases my guilt somewhat is that she has the best wardrobe out of all of us. We had no clothes for her so everything had to be bought and we have been super lucky to have received prizes and vouchers from the likes of Naartjie, Phoebe and Floyd and Earth Child. So while she may be the forgotten child, she is at least the best dressed forgotten child!

Where you the youngest? Oldest? Middle?

 

Where does your motivation come from?

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One of the problems about working from home is that there are distractions everywhere and because you don’t have a “boss”, there is no one checking up on you and depending on what you do there may not be a constant flow of work (that’s where I am now) so the room to get distracted grows and grows.

I have a pretty long to do list, things I need to plan, articles to write, a first birthday to plan – basically there is stuff to be done but this week I am really lacking the motivation.

I met a friend yesterday for lunch and they came back from their holiday 2 days before us and she said she still feels like she is on holiday. I am feeling the exact same thing, I think it is because we had such a long holiday and this week is really my first “back to normal” full week so I am still finding my feet in terms of our routine.

My very low blood pressure is also not helping, all I want to do is sleep. It actually got so low on Sunday that I had to lie down.

Both those things aside, lack of motivation some days is one of my biggest challenges being at home. This lack of motivation results in a lot of things being done at the last minute which isn’t ideal and I really don’t enjoy it. I can make lists, set reminders, have deadlines but if the oomph isn’t there, it isn’t there!

It is something I would like to work on this year because I waste a lot of time staring at a blank screen. It should be as easy as “just do it” but it isn’t or maybe it is?

What do you do to keep you motivated?

Do you have these dips in motivation?

 

{Giveaway} Little Miracels Zippy Babygro

Spree have joined forces with Joanne Strauss and Keedo to bring moms the new Little Miracles Zippy Babygro.

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The limited edition, easy-to-use, baby zip onesies make those late night nappy changes easier. Jo-Ann, a new mom herself, says she knows all about this, “sleep deprivation is part and parcel with being a new mom, but struggling while trying to put your wriggling newborn back into his or her babygro after a night-time change shouldn’t have to be.”

Aptly called the zippy grow, the babygro has a zip that starts from the toe and zips up to your baby’s neck, snug and tight while still safe and comfortable. The new range, named ‘Little Miracle’ and launched in December, consist of 1 000 of the onesies and are available to purchase from Spree.co.za.

For every one of these limited edition babygros sold (and in this case, given away), you will be feeding an underprivileged family of six a healthy balanced meal via the meal packaging programme by Stop Hunger Now. In total the 1 000 zippy grows for sale will feed 6 000.

The zippy grows are available in three colours: blue, pink and neutral stone; and are woven in 100% cotton. The sizes available for your little miracle are newborn, 0-3 months, 3-6 months and 6-9 months and comes with a matching bib that is exclusively available with your online purchase.

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I have one of these stunning babygros to giveaway – you will be able to choose pink or blue.

To enter this giveaway leave a comment telling me your babies age and gender.

Competition closes on the 23rd January at 12h00

{Five on Friday} Update on us

I haven’t really shared much about the kids recently, there has been posts about specific issues but not really updates so I thought this was the perfect time to update you.

Emma. Gosh Emma is cute. David and I may have even said that she may be the cutest of the lot! She is a little actor. We ask her to wash her hair and she rubs her hands over her had. She plays peek-a-boo. When you ask her what sound a duck make she says “quack quack”, she also goes vroom when she is playing with a car. She is also doing that thing we do at night (I don’t want to say the word for fear of jinxing it) and is having good morning naps. She doesn’t eat particularly well so she is still eating far to many purity meals. I offer her what we are eating every night, some nights she will eat it but most nights she doesn’t. She is also still drinking more milk than I think she is supposed to – we are working on that. She hates the car again, so school runs are a bit of a challenge. She really is the sweetest little thing though and she is bringing much love and laughter to our house.

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Jack. Jack is doing well. He shocked us all in the holidays by recognising a J and telling us that’s his name. He can identify his name, that T is for Taylor and that K is for Kiara. He makes a J out of buttons, stickers, coins, whatever he can find. His tantrums are still there but not as bad as they were during the first part of our holiday. He still freaks out over things like what shirt he wears, how high his socks are pulled up, he will only eat “fixed” things – so the biscuit can’t be broken, the bread can’t have a whole in, the muffin must be smooth. He started Grade 00 this year and from February they have to start wearing a uniform. Its very sweet actually, little shorts and a t-shirt. He is still super hero obsessed – our house is covered in Captain America’s, Iron Man, Batman, Hulk, Superman and Thor.

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Kiara. Kiara is Kiara. She spent hours (this is not me being dramatic) last night and this morning doing her hair for their class photo today. She is glad to be back at school and has decided she wants to join the debate club. I suggested drama but she wasn’t keen at all, eventually she says to me that acting is like “fake dancing” when I suggested acting is similar to dancing. She is in Grade 6 this year and we have a tough year ahead of us, we have isolated a learning issue so we will be focusing on that this year, much to her protest.

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Cameron. He started Grade 7 this year, so he is a senior, a big fish in a small pond. Swimming has started already and the first gala is today, so no rest for any of us. He is growing up, developing his own ideas and opinions about things. He spends a lot of time googling stuff, reading up on things, playing games on his phones – usual tween stuff! I am enjoying him, he has a good sense of humour and its nice to be around him.

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David and I. We are in a really good space as a couple. It has been a rough few months and there has been much stress but we are dealing with it together and we are both pretty positive about the year ahead. Life is pretty good at the moment, we are moving forward, doing what we do.

Day 20

What’s new with your kids?

{Week 1} – This business of being happy.

Are you happy?

Am I happy?

What makes you happy? What makes me happy?

What is this thing we call happiness?

happiness
ˈhapɪnəs/
noun
  1. the state of being happy.
    “she struggled to find happiness in her life”

That’s what the dictionary says. It is still a little bit wishy washy isn’t it? A state of being happy? What is happy?

happy
ˈhapi/
adjective
  1. feeling or showing pleasure or contentment.
    “Melissa came in looking happy and excited”

So based on that definition if I (or Melissa) walk into a room laughing because my baby did something cute or I heard a joke then it is assumed I am happy?

That assumption would be incorrect. Maybe I (or Melissa) was just retrenched or maybe the car just broke and there is no spare money to fix it or maybe a family member is sick or maybe you suffer a deep dark depression and were just faking the laugh.

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It is such a difficult thing to define this happiness thing and an even harder thing to achieve. I am not talking about feeling pleasure, that is easy to feel in the moment but to feel a sense of contentment and pleasure continually, that is a little bit harder. It is hard because life isn’t all about happiness. Things happen, bad, negative, frustrating things happen that make us feel unhappy. We find ourselves in abusive relationships, soul destroying jobs or caught up in family dramas. This is the nature of life – we need the good with the bad, how then do we manage to reach a state of happiness?

We embrace it!

We focus on it!

We find the happy in the everyday, in the mundane, in the negative!

I joined a group on Facebook last year called Embrace Happy. It is the brain child of Karin and I am enjoying the group so much. One of the quotes Karin shared was “Not every day is a good day but there is good in every day“, this was my light bulb.

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I have a slight flair for the dramatic, I had a whole blog post in my head about the walk into school yesterday morning in the rain. It was a 5 minute little trip but I could have written a 400 word post about it. I do tend to focus on the drama of a situation. I feel sorry for David sometimes, I think I exhaust him. Like Tuesday, my car wouldn’t start, I was at the kids school, Cam was at home with Emma (it should have been a 10 minute trip). I phoned David in a state shouting “My car won’t start! Cam is at home with Emma and I am here and the car won’t start ever and I am going to be stuck here forever and my 12 year old will have to look after the baby and I am a terrible mother and no one can help me”. Ok so I didn’t really SAY all of that but I might as well have because that’s what was going on in my head!

Anyway the point is, instead of getting out my car, asking the school for help, I have a small dramatic break down in the parking lot. Three months ago this little incident would have ruined my day. I wouldn’t have gone to gym because I got home later than planned (and obviously now I needed to spend the day finding money for a new car because my car was broken), I would have wallowed in the negative way too long. I didn’t do that this time. I went to gym and swam 30 lengths, I focused on my to do list and ended up having a really good day.

Everyday all the members of our Facebook group share 3 good things from the day. It is very similar to a gratitude journal but with support because some days, despite our attempts to focus on happy, are just rubbish but even on those days there are always 3 good things.

I am consciously focusing on the good, the happy, the things that bring me pleasure (like hot home made bread).

How easy is it for you to keep the focus on the happy? Do you also have a flair for the dramatic?

I am joining in on a 52 Weeks of Gratitude challenge, this challenge appeals to me because there are no rules, set time lines (if I miss a week, its ok).

 

Clearing the clutter that is my timeline.

Sheena recently posted on Facebook that if she gets a FB notification of a birthday and she doesn’t feel close enough to the person to wish you then she unfriends them. At the time I thought “Shame, imagine being unfriended on your birthday” but it stuck with me and got me thinking about my Facebook friends.

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I don’t have many Facebook friends and I have come to realise I actually ok with that. When Facebook came out, we had a massive class reunion of sorts. Suddenly I was friends with almost everyone I went to school with, people I hadn’t even thought about it 10/15 years suddenly had a front row seat into my life. Then I started blogging and readers and fellow bloggers were suddenly my friends. After my appearance on 3Talk, random viewers were suddenly asking to be my friend.

Friend requests were coming from all sides, even a few desperate solider’s from Afghanistan wanted to be my friend. I was finding myself scrolling past feeds of people I had nothing in common with, didn’t know or didn’t even want to know.

I share my life online, I share here, on twitter and on Facebook but I share different things on the different platforms. I am all about the noise on twitter, its where I get my news from and where I catch up on whats happening in the world and where I go to for quick crowd sourcing. I share stories from our lives on my blog, offer advise and build relationships with my readers. Facebook is somewhere in between all of that but I do feel it needs to be, for me, a little more personal than twitter and should enhance existing relationships.

Some time during last year Facebook introduced the unfollow button, we all cheered and unfollowed everyone we didn’t want to be friends with but couldn’t unfriend. Very passive aggressive of Facebook, and us! But I unfollowed people but it still felt wrong. So I have started, slowly cleaning up my friend list. There has to be a real connection between us, we have to connect and talk to each other.

I am also clearing out the negativity and drama. If all you share is negative stories about South Africa, or moan constantly or are just in general negative about life, I don’t want to be Facebook friends with you. The same applies to pages I follow that are constantly negative or promoting drama.

I am clearing the clutter out of my timeline!

How do you decide who you make friends with? Do you accept all requests?