Friday, September 24, 2010

Mooching, Mumps and Moving

Well this week has been a little different. Braveheart and I got bees in our bonnets and decided very swiftly to go on holiday. We needed some R&R, and we needed quality time with the kids too. We found a great mid week special at Montagu Springs, getting two nights for the price of three, and off we went!

We had a great time, as did the kids, and it gave me the head space we needed. The highlight was Aragorn realizing he could float with armbands, a huge breakthrough, and King Arthur spent 5 hours in the pool the one day. Swimming in heated pools makes all the difference in the world to my kids!

We got back ready to move...and Aragorn has mumps. This poor little fellow!
Check out these jowls!

He is being very brave and handling it all well. I had mumps as a kid, but none of the rest of my family has had it yet. Tis a waiting game to see if any of them succumb!

So we aim to move tomorrow, somewhat thwarted by helpers what with the mumps and the threat of sterility in adult help, so we'll see how far we get!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Marriage Matters

Funny how as parents we can spend endless hours seeking the best advice on how to bring up our children....and forget that our marriages need as much tender loving care as our children do. Funny how we expect our marriages to look after themselves when they really are living, breathing entities that need to also be fed and nurtured. Funny how we can prioritize giving the kids time, or spending time together as a family, and forget that we, as husband and wife, also need time to grow together. Funny how when we first met we spent time doing what each other liked, and now, with time being spread so thin with family responsibilities, it's easy to settle into a selfish routine of doing only what you like.

Except I'm not really laughing. Our marriage, is the foundation on which family life is built. I forget this far too often, and am feeling very challenged over the last few days.

Marriage matters - more than I think we realize...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Truly A Different Drumbeat

Sometimes along life's journey you are privileged to meet people who also walk to the beat of a different drum ... and today I want to take the opportunity to introduce you to my good friends, Mark and Laura.

You can read about their tale here, but I marvel at what they have chosen to do with their lives. They've given everything up in the UK - safety, security, to go back to the sticks (Zim slang for rural areas) and serve people. I am humbled by what they have chosen to do, especially in light of the fact that I am moving into a bigger house, whilst they have yet to find a home in which to live in the mining village. They've been offered a room in a house....picture dust and gravel, and the equivalent of a domestic quarters.

(How is that we have come to picture being blessed equals a nice place to live? Surely being blessed means something our Christian culture has missed only has to think of the beatitudes and realize how far we have fallen from the truth.)

But here's the thing - to them, it feels completely normal, and in their heart of hearts this is where they want to be. I can do birth in foreign countries, I can do financial hardship, I can do making movies, but I'm not sure I can do what they are doing.

And dear friends, that is the beauty of grace. His grace is enough for what we are all called to do. But if we are hoodwinked into thinking we all have to do what each other is doing, then we lose sight of the bigger picture, of the freedom that Christ has called us to. Let's just stop looking at each other, keep our eyes on him  and let Him do the work - let him lead us and guide us. And let us be willing - to reach out and support those who are doing something completely out of our comfort zone.

Their journey has also made me question education and teaching AGAIN! Education, in the third world, can be such a stepping stone for people out of poverty, and I think I easily forget that. These children's parents are desperate for them to have a better future than they themselves have had - they want them to have opportunities they never did. How else are these children going to receive that unless through school?

Food for thought huh?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Lens of Truth

I read this post over at Generation Cedar, and I note Kelly Crawford has actually changed the purpose of her blog now - she now writes to equip families with truth. Her blog has completely challenged me in the past, although I don't read her very often anymore, her blog has challenged and altered my world views on a number of occasions.

I've copied her post here, as it's just really thought provoking - her entire site is:
My mom gave me $40 on my new pair of jeans, but she still thinks they’re too expensive.”
Fourteen-year-old “Amy” told my daughter.
“They cost $150 but everybody has a pair and I’ve been wanting some for so long.  I (interject squeal) loooooove them!”
My bugged eyes matched my open mouth as I listened to the conversation.
This is what we call “the real world”?  This is *not* “the real world”.  This is one we are fabricating.  A world that is being perpetuated through childhood and on into adulthood.  A world where adults are slaves to debt because they *must* have what everyone else has, no matter the cost.  A world where one’s identity is wrapped up in the name on his label.
Another overheard conversation involved the recent break-up of a young girlfriend and boyfriend.  In the prime of their youth, when life offers so many opportunities for growth and preparation, they are distracted, consumed and wounded with premature romance.
Preparing for the real world? What, a world where a boy has practiced leaving the one he “loves” when he gets tired of her?  A world where a girl is always looking for a “better relationship”?  Do those habits just give way to fidelity once the vows are made?
No.  And you can confirm that with about 60% of the population.  This is our reality.  This is the world we’ve created.
If you say “I want my children to be prepared for the real world”,  you had better define which world that is.  Because this world is not a world where the principles of God reign.  It is not a world where wisdom is exalted.  It is not a world where children are grown into responsible, productive adults who love Heaven more than earth.
I watch a family frantically shuffling their schedule to figure out when they might eat supper.  “I’ll pick up Tyler at 4, but you’ll have to take Katy to her soccer practice and I won’t make it because Tyler’s team has pictures afterwards.  Oh, and don’t forget Katy’s game is tomorrow night.  We’ll just pick up a burger.”
Is this the real world?  Every ounce of time, money and energy poured into a recreation that will most likely be a distant memory in a few years? Preparing them for the real world?  A world where the family table is only a place to hold the clutter of going and coming people?  A world where people are so busy they don’t notice how little they know about each other until it’s too late?  A world where our children learn where our hearts are because of where we spend our treasure?
Yes, I’m afraid that is exactly the world we’ve created.
Welcome to the “new real world”.

Just plain food for thought huh?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I should have been a Sloth

Seriously. Do you know that sloths sleep on average, 18 hours a day? My day began with a sleep in till 7 (aren't I married to a honey?) and then lifting for King Arthur's class outing to the Scratch Patch. By 0830 I could not stop yawning, and then by lunch time it was all I could do to keep my eyelids from drooping. A nap was not to be sadly, as it was King Arthur's gymnastics watching day - he did brilliantly - teaching him about commitment to something is paying off!

Some background to my slothful tendencies - my nights are very broken at the moment. I need some serious solutions to snoring, as Braveheart seems to be journeying down this path. A friend suggested ear plugs, and in all fairness, I can't really seem to get them into my ears to really try. I also think I have supersonic hearing. Quit laughing, it's true! A few years ago I had terrible ear ache, and had to see an audiologist as well as the ENT, and she was very impressed with my range of hearing - apparently I hear through the bone behind my ear as well as my ear drum or something like that. (So now it makes sense my earliest memories of asking my folks to turn down the radio in the mornings, and my kids incessant requests to turn things up! Often when we watch TV it feels like it is blaring to me, yet Braveheart is quite fine.) I could be the next Bionic woman!

Okay, but enough with the bragging. The point is, I tried these things in my ear (the foam ones) and could pretty much hear everything as normal. So that doesn't really seem like it's going to do much. My solutions at the moment are to keep prodding poor Braveheart ( he seems to snore less on his side), and to sleep with a thick pillow over my head, but with summer approaching I think it's going to get a bit hot. Are any of you married to snorers? Help dear friends. Help!

(I feel i should, to Braveheart's credit, note that for the record, when I am asleep, I sleep soundly. I do not stir. I do not wake. Nay, I am dead to the world. And so it is this man that ends up getting up to the kids 9 times out of 10. Just for the record!)

Beddy byes people. Beddy byes.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Weekend Wrap-Up

My grand plan worked on Friday evening, and I had the kids in bed by 615 - utterly shattered. They didn't make a sound until we got home at about 10! We had a lovely time out - I made the mistake of trying to drive like lady when the boys were driving like maniacs! A great outing!

I made these kebabs for dinner - a great make ahead thing for nights like this. I marinaded cubed chicken breasts in this:
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soya sauce
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fruit chutney
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tsp curry powder
for the whole day. Then cut up red pepper into cubes and a red onion into quartered slices. The kids loved helping me to make this just before dinner. For theirs I threaded just chicken onto toothpicks, and the adults ones I used the pepper, onion and chicken on larger kebab sticks and then grilled them. And you know what? the kids devoured them! Oh yes, this one's a winner!

Aragorn avoiding having a picture taken!

Little Boys Bible Storybook for Mothers and SonsOn Saturday morning Braveheart had some things he needed to do at Canal Walk - it pains me to be in a mall on a beautiful day - truly it does. I'm fine to be at the shops on a windy or rainy day, but on a  beautiful wind free sunny day in Cape Town - aaaagh!  I did score though - CUM books has a green dot sale, and I managed to buys the Little Boys Bible Storybook for Mothers and Sons for only 20 Rand (it was 129!) I intend to use this for our Bible Studies next year.

Later on Saturday we attempted Fishoek beach, as did everyone else, and it was most unpleasant. We all had an ice cream (nyum) and left as soon as we could! I'm funny - I love crowds at certain places - the fan walk for example, didn't phase me at all. But this beach on Saturday afternoon made me feel very uncomfortable. Funny huh?

Sunday dawned,  another wonderfully beautiful day, and I went off for my first ride of the season. It was beautiful. Truly, (and no, I won't be taking my camera with me every ride!). It was however quite disappointing  - I have spun throughout winter (that is the right past tense of spin hey?) and yet I found this ride over Chappies and into Hout Bay so tough! Lucky for me I still have a good few months to train for the Argus!

My riding partner loves stopping for coffee, which drives me mad! Nothing
quite like just getting into a rhythm and sitting down for coffee.
However, I will say this - this little spot, Deli Delicious
is just lovely! (Hout Bay)

I got home to find Braveheart had taken the kids to Fishoek beach, so changed my shoes, had a quick shower and joined them there...
Belle loves the beach!

Aragorn and photos - sigh!

Sunday afternoon was lazy - we had the future tenants of our house round for tea, and then signed the lease for our new home (cue to celebrate here!)...but sadly won't get the keys until later this month. And  family round for a braai. So lovely really!

Oh, and this? This is how my week began this morning - how stunning is this day?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

House - to - be Soon - to - be!

Yes, it all seems to be coming together really. We met the landlady again, had another walk around the house which seems to be even bigger and nicer than we remembered. I'm feeling very inspired and motivated to transform this house into our home...although that will be a somewhat slow transition I think!

She's agreed to let us paint the kids rooms which is a huge plus for us, and is fine for me to put in a veggie garden - planning to do raised beds - anyone done this before?

A few nights ago we attempted to bring up the themes for the boys room at dinner time. See, ever since I did Belle's room a while ago, King Arthur has been asking for a black room so he can have 'space'. Literally. He wants to make all the planets and hang them from the ceiling. And wants black walls. And a yellow cupboard. Oh yes, he's got it all worked out in his little mind.

Aragorn on the other hand, had been talking about a Lightning McQueen room. Now, the thing is, (a) we weren't very convinced he actually really wanted that (he's very easy to please), and (b) we weren't sure about the longevity of Lightning and (c) we suspected he'd really like a dinosaur themed room. Now before I go any further, bear in mind that they are sharing the room. And although I would very much like to be as talented as the people on Extreme Makeover (my favourite home decorating show) I am quite frankly not (yet) that gifted!

Aha, so we calmly told Aragorn we'd been thinking about his room, and wanted to suggest a dinosaur room. He was as chuffed as anything, but then King Arthur started sobbing. Truly. So to cut a long dinner time down into a few lines, it appears that they now both want a dinosaur room, which makes my life supremely easy. (Aragron has since whispered in my ear on numerous occasions that he would actually like a space room now- you just can't win!). If I could recount the conversation to you word for word, you would be rolling on the floor. Sadly I can't, my brain has stopped functioning! But needless to say that by the end of it, Brent and I looked  little shell shocked and just had to smile!

I guess I'm apprehensive that King Arthur will regret his decision, and that Aragorn is just trying to make everyhting smoother like he always does. Yes, the decision is ours ultimately, so I just hope we can hear their hearts!

Managing the Meal -Time Monsters

a friend sent this to me
sums up me to a tee!

Oh yes, the time has come! I am harnessing in these monsters (aka my children) and these monstrous moments (aka meal times) and this is how I am taming them.

After much deliberation and discussion (mostly with Braveheart, and a few child directed very leading questions) I have created a list of meals the kids will eat, no fuss ahem read ''very little fuss'' there!

  1. Macaroni cheese
  2. spaghetti bolognaise
  3. sausages/chipolatas
  4. grilled or grumbed chicken
  5. scrambled egg on toast
  6. crumbed fish
  7. 2 minute noodles
  8. pizza
  9. braai
Yip. So there you have it. I then sat down, totaled what I had already in my freezer and started planning a menu. Now I don't know about you, but I very seldom feeling like cooking at the end of the day In fact, if I can I prefer to make dinner at some point in the morning, or at least prepare for it - then my afternoons can be stress free and kid centered. I loathe deciding on a recipe or an idea and then finding I don't have half the ingredients. So that, coupled with the fact that I actually just find it way cheaper to plan meals for a week, and make a trip to the shops once instead of going to the shops every day to buy something means I have planned the next two weeks of meals and this week it looks like this (pretty much every meal is accompanied by raw veggies or most often salad, that's one thing my kids do eat well):

Monday : macaroni cheese
Tuesday : 16 fish fingers (half a packet of 32) (Braveheart and I will have crumbed fish. Fish fingers? Bleugh!) A quick meal as its park day, not that I've got there recently but still, the intention is there!
Wednesday : friends coming for dinner then will babysit kids whilst we watch my nephew's play, so hamburgers all round.
Thursday : chipolatas and egg (B and I will have a chicken/mushroom pasta)
Friday: Sausages (left over from previous night) and salad (B and I will have left over pasta)
Saturday: spaghetti bolognaise
Sunday: vegetarian toad in the hole

I'll keep you posted on the progress. In all fairness, they've been really good at watching their reactions to food at the dinner table - long may it last!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Pit - stop

I am writing this from the gym, where they very kindly offer to have my kids while I work out (quite frankly the only way I manage to) (and it's an awesome kids place - I must say, they get my 100% approval which I don't give out easily!). However, today, I am here blogging, catching a few deep breaths as I am on a mission to tire my kids out.

You see, tonight we're celebrating Braveheart's birthday by going go-karting. (A really cool outing if you're looking for something different to do as a group of adults). My neighbour has kindly offered to come over to babysit, except that the last time she did, we had to come home once to settle Belle, and then Aragorn woke up sobbing for over an hour and we came home to a worn out babysitter! So my grand plan today, has been to pick them up from school and keep them as busy as I can till I feed, bath and bed them at about 6. Then I hope that they will just sleep till tomorrow morning!

The only catch is keeping up with them. Seriously. Don't laugh. See, I am a routine driven person, and even though my kids are practically 6, 4, and 2, they're in a great routine of having "quiet time" after school. Quiet Time = doing anything they like in their room as long as I can't see them or hear them (they frequently make up excuses to come and show me things/tell tales, so it works as a rule). Belle still actually naps for a good hour and half. I find Aragorn definitely needs it - the time out after a busy, social structured morning at school. King Arthur could probably do without it, but he's great company for Aragorn. So on days like today, where that time is robbed, I have to make an extra effort to keep up with them and keep them going even though they are getting crankier by the hour. It's extra love, extra patience - and I can't say I get that right all the time :(

So fingers crossed! Still hours to go!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Books On My Bedside Table

As many of you know, I love reading and am passionate about books, and one day dream about having a library in my home! Ever since I was little I have been able to escape into reading, so much so that to the extent that a book grips me, I can completely switch off to the world around me, and not really even hear people's voices (I remember this driving my parents crazy when I was younger!) Now, need I say that that aspect seldom happens any more what with three children, but I do try to keep reading in between ... life! I hope to make this a regular post, and would love to know what books are on your bedside table too!

  • Expecting Adam: A True Story of Birth, Rebirth, and Everyday MagicExpecting Adam, by Martha Beck – My neighbour lent this to me. It's a tale of a woman and her husband coming to terms with expecting a Down Syndrome child. This has got to be one of the most brilliantly crafted books I have ever read. If you love to write, or easily recognise good writing, or want to read something really well written, then this is it. I'm ¾ through, and am loving her writing style – frank, honest and full of humour - honestly, have caught myself laughing out loud numerous times. I also appreciate her growing criticism of the academic world (her and her husband are Harvard graduates) – she echoes many of my frustrations about the trap academia can present to people. I also loved her honesty about spiritual things as well. Read it – you won't be sorry! (If you know me well and live close, my neighbour has said I can lend this out – just look after it as a piece of treasure! Email me and I'll make a plan to get it to you!

  • When Children Love to Learn: A Practical Application of Charlotte Mason's Philosophy for TodayWhen Children Love to Learn by Elaine Cooper – Charlotte Mason was one of the primary theorists of education in Britain, and her ideas have formed the basis for an entire home schooling philosophy. I had never really been a Charlotte Mason follower/believer/fan until I started this book. It's a wonderful collection of critical essays of various things she said. Did you know that Sunday Schools originally were started by the church in an attempt to help working children to gain an education? And they really were that – schools where children learnt to read and write on a Sunday.
Here are some more quotes I loved:
"People today are making a colossal pedagogical error. They are rather like an uneducated person who thinks that if one spoon of medicine will do good, then 10 are even better! Many children are being given too many hours of instruction per day – sometimes in schools, sometimes in homeschools. No one can do everything that can be worthwhile. The best of curriculum guides must be guides, not absolute directives. What you choose should be the very best and 'living'."
I could actually probably write out something from each page I have read – truly an inspiration, and a must for anyone involved in education in any way.

  • Jane's Delicious Garden: An Organic Guide to Growing Your Own FoodJane's Delicious Garden by Jane Griffiths – another neighbour lent me this. I must just tell you, that if you had ever told me I would read a gardening book, I would have told you that you didn't know me at all. But that was before I actually managed to grow some flowers and vegetables in my garden! This is a beautifully written and photographed book that is quite easy to read about growing your own organic veggies in South Africa. I have found it interesting and really helpful considering I know nothing! Each page has lovely garden quotes on it:

    we come from the earth,
     we return to the earth,
     and in between we garden
     – anon

    nature, to be commanded,
     has to be obeyed 
    – Francis bacon

  • Time (September 6, 2010). I bought this as I was intrigued by the title and by-line: 'The real Cost of Organic Food – everyone says it is better for you. But what does science show?'

    It was a fascinating article to read, especially in light about my recent-ish post about whose research you actually choose to believe. In the article is this quote -
      “we draw these bright lines between organic and conventional foods...but science doesn't draw those lines. They criss-cross, and you have people on both sides cherry-picking their data”.

    What I found most fascinating was the following verdicts:

    • on fruits/vegetables – buy conventional. One study (my aside, just one study? Is that enough to make this sweeping assumption?) found no nutritional difference between organic and conventional produce – and conventional even squeaked ahead in one category.

    • on beef – organic

    • on milk – organic because of the extra chemistry in hormones for milk

    • on eggs – organic, because of the treatment of the birds – seals the deal!
So, great bedtime reading – feel free to pass on great books to me, or to recommend some!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Weekend Wrap-Up

A quiet weekend actually, despite being somewhat social.

Satudrday morning included spinning with the notorius Mr Richard B (not to be mistaken with Richard S whose classes I have been known to walk out of!) -my legs happened to feel like jelly after that, and although it was a 90 minute class, I gave up after 75 mins! Then proceeded to swim with my children - I was as pleased as punch to see that Belle does not associate swimming or going under in a pool at all with the fall in the lake. Then a 4 year old's birthday party.

Saturday afternoon...hmmm, don't you just hate it when you cannot for the life of you get your short term memory to co-operate?! Is it a sign of age? Nope, even after a few moments of twiddling my thumbs I still can't think of what I did.

Sunday morning I marshaled for the Camel Run - a 16km run through the heart of the deep south - through vineyards, farms, up Chappies and then along Noordhoek beach, and let me tell you, I was inspired. I was inspired by the beauty of the morning - I don't think I have been awake and dressed and outdoors by 7 am once this winter, but spring is surely here and it was BEAUTIFUL!

and the moon was just setting too!

 Now granted it was probably beautiful because of the fact that there was sunlight, and it is closer to spring, but it just felt like I should be up and about, and has made me realize training season needs to begin! I love the buzz of organised sporting events. Hmm, I wonder what I would feel if I went to a live rugby or soccer match - now there's an experiment waiting to happen! And I was inspired by the way those men and women can run. No really... I am not a runner. Never have been. But these folk, their legs just moved with such beauty! It may be something I look into this year as a cross training option (well, that's the idea anyway, let's see if it materializes into anything!).

Then a 3 year old's birthday party,

I'm not very good at taking photos at the actual events yet, but
this is Aragorn and Belle making wings to go on the wrapped umbrella
(it was a butterfly party!)

... a short lunch time nap for the littlest one (and Mom!) and then a friends 40th, where I had one of the most enlightening conversations in recent weeks - will post about that later on this week.

My posts have somewhat tumbled into a state of ''re-telling''....I'm hoping my brain will come back from la-la land so I can write intelligently about some of the things churning in my head!

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Let me try this again. (I've deleted this post a number of times!)

I made a shocking batch of fudge today. Seriously. It wouldn't set, so I put it back into the microwave and cooked it AGAIN. And still....NOTHING! Oh no. It is gooey. And un-presentable.

And coconut ice.Which honestly resembles breadcrumbs. O the horror!

All for a cake sale I don't really want to be at tomorrow. Under duress I agree to help. No really. Usually. Most times. But just not this one.

And on top of it, I am losing the dinner time battle. In an epic way. 

In such a way, that tonight, I fed my kids 2 minute noodles and even then, Jonathan almost went to bed without dinner.

Now before you call child welfare, let me explain. I am so weary of having my dinner time efforts complained about, and looked at disdainfully, that I have drawn a line. A line I'm not really sure I know how to cross. The line says,"I am quite honestly fed up of making an effort every night to make something healthy and nutritions that will feed your bodies and your souls, that will create fond dinner time memories...when no matter what I put in front of you causes you to complain, and wrinkle your nose in disgust. I am done. I will no longer make an effort. So be it".

See, here's the thing. Food easily bores me. I like to cook ... or liked to, pre kids, when I had all the time in the world. Time is of the essence, so now it's a matter of what is quick and easy to get on the table. But I am harangued by theses ...these....little voices inside my head that say things like

 "You can't possibly be feeding them carbohydrates and starch together"
or something like
 "where's the raw food in this meal?"
 "how is this building their bodies?". 

So I have that... and the pressure of also knowing that whilst I feed them, I also have to feed Braveheart, who a few months ago saw a personal trainer who told him he had to eat more as he was too thin, and thus I am supposed to (according to this guys research) feed Braveheart 225gms of animal protein at dinner (and again at lunch). Golly.

So.. after nothing short of  a week of tears at dinner because I had made a fish marinated with a honey glaze, or chicken in a sauce, or macaroni and mince (instead of spaghetti - the tears that flowed because of that!) and being constantly disheartened by my children's comments I have stepped back. In all fairness, King Arthur will eat whatever is put in front of him without verbalizing a complaint...but the puppy dog eyes....and I sit right across from him!

Now I know that this attitude cannot last. I know I am their mother and provider etc. But seriously. Do they need a lesson in gratefulness? Do I need to teach them that just down the road most kids only have one meal a day? Do I need to just find some really simple kid loving recipes? Am I trying to hard by trying to make something I enjoy for dinner?

And if any of you have boys out there....what do you feed them all day? And I mean seriously. I want detail people. My boys appear to be hungry ALL the time.And it pains me that they want to eat store bought bread by the slice. And this is after I have told them to eat about two to three pieces of fruit! Do i just need to get over this or what?