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?

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?

Lets talk about this baby led weaning thing

I love the idea of baby-led weaning. It makes a lot of sense to me and in some ways I have done it with all the kids when they were babies and it has gone well, then came Emma (talk about dancing to their own tune, this child makes up the tune she dances to).

She is not really an eater, she is definitely not a sit in her chair and eat eater. She is more of a I will take all the food, take one bite and then feed the dog, kind of eater. We have at least now managed to get her off eating  only Purity, thanks largely to my veggie sauce. Even though she does now eat a pretty wide variety of food  and will try pretty much everything you give her, she never finishes anything! EVER! It does my head in.

Baby Led Weaning Emma

I know this is one of the principles of baby led weaning but I really would like to know what percentage of the food I put in her bowl ended up in her tummy versus the pile of food on the floor, in the dogs bowl, thrown in the bath etc. Obviously I can see that she is not under nourished but that is largely due to the fact that Jane spends ages following her around to feed her and maybe even the fact that she eats Lucy’s pellets!

Every night as soon as David sits down to eat, she is at his chair begging for food. When he lifts her up, she smashes her hands into his meal, causing chaos. She is happy to eat from his plate but if I try the same food in a bowl with her spoon, she refuses. So yesterday I decided to put her food on a plate and feed her with an adult fork. It worked for 2 mouthfuls, so I put the dog out and let her feed herself!

This brings me to the other issue with baby led weaning – the mess! Please tell me how do you deal with the mess? I am finding noodles all over the place and the rice! There is rice possibly in ever corner of my house! She won’t sit in her chair, she climbs out and stands on the tray, so she walks around with her food sharing her joy! I can’t deal!

Baby Led Weaning

This way of feeding her does actually seem to be working, she does eat relatively well when we do this but I may have to put the dog inside and her outside at meal times because I can not deal with the mess. I don’t mind an untidy house but not a dirty house.

How do you guys get your kids to sit in their chairs? (It seems a thing with my girls)

And how do you deal with the mess all over? (or is this just happening in my house?)


Sports Days creating pressure for kids and parents everywhere.

Despite what it may look like from Cameron’s sporting achievements, I have never put pressure on my kids to do sport BUT I do expect participation from them all.

It was Kiara and Jack’s sports day on Saturday. It was the first athletics day for the school so it was a big deal for everyone. Kiara was very excited, she was made a cheerleader and was running (she actually enjoys running) in a few races she knew she would win.

And win she did, she really ran so well. We were very proud of her.

Jack was another story completely!!!!!

They started with the sac race, he started off so well but then fell over (like most of them did) and that was Jack done. He cried, clung to David or me or his granny, whoever would have him and refused to race again. Not one’s to give up, David and I actually carried him over the hurdles, he cried the whole way. Not really our finest moment but we were hoping that once he got going he would enjoy it, we were wrong.

Sports Day

Long story short after some heavy manipulation, negotiation and the promise of a sucker, we did get him to run the last race, willing and happily. He loved it.

I am so torn about the way we handled it. On the one hand I understand that it was the first time he had experienced something like this and there was a lot of noise and people.

Sports Day Race

But on the other hand all his friends were there, there was absolutely no competition. The teachers stood at the finish line, giving each kid a hug and a high five. David was running with him.

I don’t expect him to win or even take up running but I do feel he has to learn to try!

We focused on the medal he got from the last race (everyone got one) and he was very chuffed so overall I think he had a good day.

Sports Day Medal

How would you have handled it?

I was awarded an award

This week feels so disjointed. I am still knee deep in application forms and getting ID photos and copies of this that and the next thing. The forms all require the same info BUT each one requires at least one item the rest don’t (WHY???). Our internet access has been super slow this week so getting anything done online is taking me double the length of time, it is extremely frustrating.

I am also having an internal battle with the fact that I had to draw up a CV for Cameron today.

A while ago Ella tagged me in the Liebster Award. Thanks Ella :)



  • Thank and link the person who nominated you.
  • Answer the questions given by the nominator.
  • Nominate 11 other bloggers, who have less than 200 followers and link them.)
  • Create 11 new questions for the nominees to answer
  • Notify all nominees via social media/blogs.


Here are your questions girls :)

  1. What is the lamest joke you know?

Gosh the knock knock jokes that happen in this house almost daily put lame to shame but I can’t think of any now!

  1. What is your guilty pleasure?

I think my baths in the middle of the day. Its why I am not prepared to put our geyser off. I often have a long bath just before I fetch the kids or on weekend mornings.

  1. Would you go shopping in your undies if it meant everything you buy is free?

Tough one but if you see our grocery bill you will understand why I would probably, provided the shop is Pick n Pay though because I can’t feed us with pretty shoes or fancy bags ;-p

  1. Would you rather be invisible or be able to read minds?

Probably invisible, I wouldn’t want people reading my mind sometimes. I would love to watch my kids during the day without them knowing I am there.

  1. If you could only have one breakfast for the rest of your life what would it be?

Hashbrowns and mushrooms and scrambled egg!

  1. What are you scared of but are kind of embarrassed to tell people ?

The dark. I am petrified of the dark!

  1. What is your favourite childhood memory?

I have lots of good memories but if I had to chose a favourite it would be the freedom we were given to explore the valley we lived in. There was a large open space, almost forest like and we would spend ages walking there, collecting tadpoles from the river, playing.

  1. What is the very first thing you do when you wake up

Check my phone – I know bad habit but it is what it is.

  1. What question do you dread the most?

So what do you do?

  1. Do you have any party tricks?

No I really don’t. I am pretty boring.

  1. If you could be remembered for one thing what would you want it to be?

I would love to be remembered as a good writer.

I am a bit late to the party on this so a lot of people have already been tagged so I am not going to tag anyone instead tell me something happy that happened this week?


{Giveaway} Mums on the Run Workshop

My mom is a teacher, I grew up around teachers, teachers who were passionate about being teachers, passionate about teaching and passionate about the children they taught. I was lucky enough to have some really great teachers, including a really dedicated extra Maths teacher who was the sole reason I got through my Matric maths. Obviously I did have some teachers I didn’t enjoy but they were still good teachers.

I think this is probably why I found it so hard to deal with many of the educators my children have had over the years, I come from the assumption that you become a teacher because you love to teach and at the very least you enjoy children to a certain degree. I have been disillusioned and have felt my children (and others) have been let down on more than one occasion.


I have recently crossed paths with some really passionate educators, including Raquel from A to Z Tutoring. Raquel is what teachers should be, she is passionate about teaching, passionate about the children she tutors and passionate about helping parents help their children.

Raquel invited me, and three other moms, to attend one of her Moms on the Run workshops.The workshops are aimed at helping parents to incorporating learning into every day life. We often associate learning with sitting down, doing homework, writing spelling words but it doesn’t have to be this formal at all and doesn’t have to begin once your child is in school.

The workshops are kept small so they can be interactive and intimate. Raquel has a wealth of knowledge that she shares openly and easily.

Our session was really informative and a few things I took away from the morning were;

  • Start early. Right now we are teaching Emma her body parts, shapes, colours etc because those are the basic things and we assume that that’s all we can teach them right now. Raquel suggested we start from early on (ok maybe not a year) talking to our kids about things like measurements, amounts, concepts etc. Baking is an easy one to use. Even at Jacks age start talking to them about kilograms, mililitres – get them to see how much 250ml is or feel how heavy a kilogram is. If you continually do this, by the time they get to Grade 4 when they start learning about it, it won’t be a foreign concept. Funnily enough I talk to Emma constantly about what I am doing. We discuss what items to buy while shopping, how far I have to drive to fetch Cam or what time we need to leave to get to school etc.
  • Make it fun. There is so much stuff around us that we can use. Make words from the letters on the number plates or add the numbers. Play iSpy in the car during traffic. Currently I am getting Kiara to write her extra spelling words with a white board marker on the tiles. She actually asks me what words are we doing this week and will sit and teach Jack the words.
  • Don’t transfer. I am very guilty of this, I often say “I couldn’t do maths, wait for David”. Its not a lie but it is not the best choice of words because it creates a negative perception about the subject. Chose your words carefully, focus on the positive.
  • Link motivation to emotion. Instead of motivating with money or a toy, rather try to motivate with something like “If you do all your homework without a fight this week then you get to chose dinner on Friday” and then make a big deal about why they got to chose the dinner.


Raquel have given me a spot at her next workshop to giveaway.

The next session is 13 March and it is specifically aimed at moms of kids in Primary School from Grade 1 to Grade 4. Focusing on starting school and then the adjustment to exams etc that starts from Grade 3 to 4.

If you have a child that falls into this age, then you want to attend this workshop, trust me the exam prep alone will make it worthwhile.

All you need to do to enter is leave a comment and tell me your favourite teacher at school.

Competition closes on Friday 20/02/2015 at 12h00.

Belinda also attended and shares her thoughts here.

This too shall pass – valuable advice

This too shall pass!

If I had a slab of chocolate for every time someone has said those four words to be I would be richer than Switzerland!

Usually people share those pearls of wisdom when you are exhausted because you managed to close your eyes for a total of 20 minutes the night before or you have just wrestled your toddler into the car or your teen has just slammed the door in your face, again! Instead of listening or accepting those words you imagine beating that person with a rolling pin or letting them try get the toddler to eat his dinner, then they will see just how quickly things will not pass.

While it may not always be received well, it is probably the best piece of advise and a mantra we, as parents, need to remember ever day. It always does pass!

Remember how Emma never slept? Remember my moaning, desperation, exhaustion and utter frustration? In those dark moments of weariness I was convinced that this is what life would be like, David and I playing tag team every hour with the baby, the two of us snapping at each other, me biting the big kids heads off for no reason, not wanting to go anywhere or do anything because the baby was miserable and I was tired.

Fast forward to yesterday, Emma’s first birthday.

Emma Sleep

I am in her room sorting her clothes out (for a fourth child she really has a rather large amount of brand name clothes) when she starts trying to climb up the side of her camp cot, she then starts moaning and is insistent that she go into the cot. I look at the time, its nap time! I make her bottle, pop in the cot and in 5 minutes she is asleep and she slept for 3 hours, like she does every single day now!

On Saturday night we went out to friends, we took the camp cot with, popped her in at bed time and she slept. We could enjoy ourselves without an over tired baby or worrying that she would wake up!

We still have wake ups at night but they are short and she settles again.

6 months ago I would never have imagined we would get to this point!

I am wary to tell people “this too shall pass” because often they would rather you say “Can I bring you some wine?” but the fact is, it does pass. Babies sleep, toddlers eat broken bread, teens pass Matric. We get through, sometimes a little battered and bruised but we get through, our kids get through.

It is a dry white season
dark leaves don’t last, their brief lives dry out
and with a broken heart they
dive down gently headed for the earth
not even bleeding.
it is a dry white season brother, only the trees know the pain as they still stand erect
dry like steel, their branches dry like wire,
indeed, it is a dry white season but seasons come to pass

© Mongane Wally Serote

Isn’t this poem beautiful? I first read it when I was studying English and varsity (I really don’t know why I gave that up).

What passed for you that you didn’t think would?


Burning the candle at both ends – a life lesson or a mistake?

It is not often I am really not sure what to do when it comes to parenting, that is not to say that I have all the answers or always make the right decisions. Rather it just means that even when I am not sure, I make a decision and go with it.

At the moment though I feel like I am wading in uncharted territory and I am at a loss as to what to do or even if it is my decision to make to start off with.

As you know Cameron is swimming now, he trains 6 afternoons and 2 mornings. On a Monday and Thursday he has school cricket training from 14h00 – 15h00 and then he goes straight to swimming. Tuesday he has cricket matches. Fridays are school galas and club galas (one a month). Every second Monday he goes from cricket to soccer. In between all of that he attends school!


It is a lot of physical activity, a lot of competition, a lot of hard work and dedication.

Is it too much thought?

Soccer started a term early because his team won the league last year so obviously have to step up their game and league matches are happening now! He is the goalie, the only goalie so dropping out now means he lets the team down and he doesn’t want to actually drop out.

Cricket is done through school and doesn’t really affect anything much except that it means he has a physical activity for 3 hours on cricket days and has to miss swimming if there is a match.

Swimming is where his heart is. It is what he wants to do if he is forced to choose, we have had discussions about him eventually having to decide and swimming always comes out on top.

BUT right now he doesn’t want to make that choice. On the one hand I understand that but on the other hand I am worried that he has taken on too much and it may come back to bite us all in the bum.

This year is the last year, realistically, he can try to juggle all of these balls. Once he hits high school things move up a notch and he will have to make a decision.

So my dilemma;

Do I let him try to do it all? Offer him support and teach him how to deal with it all and trust that if it gets to much he will know to ask for help.


Do I at some point step in and force him to give up something?

It may sound like a non-issue but it concerns me a lot that he has no time to just be. From the moment he gets home he does homework until bedtime. Saturdays he swims. Sundays are really his only free day.

He is only 12 – should life be this busy at his age? EVEN IF he enjoys it?

What would you do?

{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.


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.


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?

Babies – then and now

I was asked recently asked by reader about what it was like having babies 12 years apart, in terms of the types of things we had then versus what we have now.

So much has changed but so much has also stayed the same.

The biggest difference now is that there is a lot more choice. It is not just that there are more bottles and dummies but more everything. There are more nappies. Huggies alone have 4 different types of nappies under the Huggies brand. There are more wet wipes; Cherubs have 3 different types I think. Have you tried buying a baby feeding bowl? Or a baby feeding spoon? The choices will do your head in.  We never had these choices 12 years ago. There were different brands but not as many and within each brand there weren’t as many choices.


We have been convinced we need gadgets of every kind. There are thermometers in dummies or in plasters. There are attachments for the bath water tap. You can buy whole systems to make homemade baby food. There are singing potties. There are blankets that cool, blankets that warm, blankets that heat, blankets that stretch, don’t stretch. Even something as simple as body wash has become complicated. A lot of these things aren’t necessary; they are simply nice to haves.

The audience is bigger. I joined an online forum when I had Cameron but there was no Facebook, I didn’t know much about blogs back then. The amount of people watching me as a parent was smaller. The amount of people I compared myself to was smaller. My access to information was limited despite having access to the internet, I never googled as much as I do now.



There are few things I remember that we used “back then” that I don’t even think you get anymore.

  • Those green sterilising buckets that you put the red liquid in. You used to get them at Game. I had it for Cameron but stopped using it very quickly because it was such a pain.
  • HUGE prams. I know pram size is still an issue these days but I had this HUGE pram that was too big for my boot.
  • Carry cots. I think you may still get them but does anyone even use them? Why? I had one for Cameron but I think we used it once.
  • Safety pins and cloth nappies. Not the funky cloth nappies we have now but those Glodina “spit cloths” that we used to use with safety pins. You used to be able to buy safety pins in the baby shops – I don’t think you can anymore. (Yes there were disposables when I had Cam but we used cloth for a few weeks for our hip issues).

Those of you with older kids – what did you have back then that you don’t have now?