Posted in Life with my bears

We are moving but my nostalgia is making it bitter sweet

Brent and I moved into our apartment in March 2015.

It was the month of his birthday and we had been dating about 6 months. At that time one of my sons moved in with us.

In that time this little 2 bedroom home has seen all of my children, except my eldest daughter, live with us, at some point. Some permanent, others just needing a place between jobs.

We have had many family meals, birthdays, Easters, Christmases and holidays all in the crammed little lounge.

Brent and I have planned our own wedding here, as well as hosting my eldest daughters bridal shower and getting everyone ready on the morning of her wedding.

We celebrated our gender reveal and that of my eldest son and first grandbaby here.

We’ve welcomed our own little boy and watched him pass all his milestones from his first smile to learning to walk up and down these horrid stairs and potty training in the bathroom where we had to change the toilet seats.

It’s seen loss and tears but also known friendships and joys. There has been laughter and fun and of course fights. But mostly it has felt love.

It’s here that I broke my leg on the steps whilst Hamish was 3 weeks old and here that I, through many frustrations, learnt to walk again after many months.

It’s a home that has known bad health but one where we have healed.

We’ve seen career changes and unemployment and weathered it all.

It is also here that I started not one but two businesses, turned the lounge and garage into a costume shop and painted murals on the wall.

It’s been a home for us to express ourselves from painting the glass windows with Hamish and crafting with the teens.

It’s been a home …

My first consistent home ever in my 45 years. The first home I’ve not had to pack up and move from in a year.

It feels strange to write that and I think I never truly understood the sentiments behind why people struggle to move, as I’m most likely one of the least materialistic people I know.

But, two weeks ago I decided to look for a new home and by the Saturday we had found one, were signing a lease and preparing to give notice to move by July.

We have long outgrown this home. We have wanted to move for 4 years and have been in a month to month lease since then. We no longer fit in the space.

But, as I start to pack up, I’m also holding on. Not to physical items but to memories.

That time I crawled up the steps with hot coffee and a leg cast because I’d be damned if a broken leg would stop me, only to drop it all at the top.

Hamish’s first steps in the lounge.

The boys helping me to hang pictures or fix a cupboard.

Kerri coming in after school, leaving her stuff all under my feet in the kitchen.

Friends birthdays, baby showers and so many coffee mornings.

Brent and I sharing a bed picnic, eating sushi off of the smallest ottoman and our first braai in the yard.

Our lovely elderly neighbours and the rather odd families too.

I’ve loved this home, it has been good to us.

And now that we set sail to make new memories from next month, my nostalgia is making this moment bitter sweet.

Posted in Covid-19/ Coronavirus, Family Life, Family Time, Life with my bears, Mamma bears, Parenting

One day

As I scrolled through my Facebook feed, I came across this beautiful reminder of where we are right now, as people, a country, the world.

I wanted to preserve these beautifully written words to one day look back one and remember to always be greatful for what we have.

One day

Author: unknown

A year the world will never forget.

A part of history our grandchildren and those that follow them will learn about in the years to come.

2020

– Lockdown started March 26, 2020, 00:00. – – – -We’re stuck in SA as all borders are closed, no flights in or out, except repatriation of visitors to their home countries

– Part 2 of SA “Lockdown” has also been announced and extended with another 2 weeks… Until April 30, 2020. However, this is only from level 5 to level 4.. still a long way to go.

– Cannot leave your house for any reason except for essential shopping or medical reasons.

– The petrol price is R13.76, the cheapest in a long time.

– School closed, some learners doing online classes.

– Self-isolation measures in place.

– Adhesive tape on the floors at grocery stores to keep shoppers 1m distance from each other.

– A limited number of people allowed inside stores, so queues are outside the store doors and inside too.

– Non-essential shops and businesses are closed. No alcohol or cigarettes for sale.

– All sports cancelled… Olympic games postponed to 2021.

– Concerts, tours, festivals, entertainment events cancelled. Some celebrities have done online performances.

– Weddings, family celebrations, holiday gatherings cancelled.

– Churches are closed.

– Beaches are closed.

– No visits with anyone outside your house.

– Children’s outdoor play parks are closed. May not go for a walk with your dog, run or cycle.

– Lack of masks and gloves in the country.

– Government closes the border for all non-essential trips.

– All flights based, locally and internationally on hold until Sept?

– People wear masks and gloves outside.

– Permits needed to be able to go to work (only workers who qualify level 4)

– Army and police in the streets to make sure no one is outside.

– Everyone gets sanitised when entering a shop. Home deliveries dropped at your gate, no personal contact in any form.

– Rand has weakened to R19,15 against the US dollar. R20,60 to the Euro. R12 to the Aussie Dollar. R23,16 against the GBP

– Repo rate the lowest in decades

This is the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic,

Why, am I writing this?

One a day, this will appear in my ” Facebook Memory,” and it will be an annual reminder that life is precious and that we should not take the things we love for granted. We have so much to be thankful for.

Be friendly, love each other and support where you can. ❤

Posted in Crafts, Education, Family Life, Family Time, Life with my bears, Parenting, preschoolers, Toddlers, Tweens & Teens

Our Covid-19 lockdown time capsule

This weekend we started our Covid-19 lockdown time capsules.

Why a time capsule ?

“A time capsule is a historic cache of goods or information, usually intended as direct methods of communication with future people ” according to Wikipedia

We are currently living through a period of history that our children will learn about in years to come.

I wanted to preserve a box of mementoes for Hamish to remember this time.

How to make a time capsule

To make a time capsule you will need a container that will preserve over time and a selection of items that would tell future people about you, your family and the year you make your time capsule.

Containers like:

  • Metal boxes
  • Coffee tons
  • Glass bottles ( although these can break if buried)
  • Little wooden suitcases
  • Wooden boxes
  • Cardboard boxes ( although these wont last as long as others if buried)
  • Old ice cream tubs

What am I putting in our capsules?

  • A letter to myself. This will include a few random facts about myself like like age, family, where we live, my occupation and how I’m feeling.
  • Family photos
  • A group photo of the family we are in lockdown and one of each of the other kids where they are in lockdown.
  • A drawing by the kids of our family
  • Newspaper headlines or printed social media updates that are relevant to preserve about the Coronavirus.
  • An object to remember – for me this is a braclet with each of my childrens photos.
  • A painted rainbow rock

For Hamish

  • A copy of the Covid-19 time capsule printables by long creations
  • Information about the Coronavirus
  • A heart from his window
  • A photo of his chalk my walk
  • A photo of his teddy in the window
  • A few of his artworks
  • Some photos
  • Two of his dinosaurs as those are his favourite toys

Other items to include

Our time capsule will only be completed after the lockdown as I want to add a small item from each of his siblings into the container.

Other items you could include are :

  • Calendar
  • USB with movies or music
  • Items from nature
  • Toys as these change with time
  • Food items or sweets you enjoy ( but package these well in plastic)
  • Jewellery
  • Handmade keepsakes
  • Sports items
  • Or something that represents a hobby.

Building a family time capsule is both fun and a lovely way to spend time as a family.

Posted in Life with my bears

An interview with Hamish age 3

CHILD INTERVIEW

I saw this on Facebook and thought it was a wonderful way to document how Hamish grows and thinks.

Try it with your kids today.

Ask your child these questions and write their EXACT response.

Interview with Mommy

1. What’s your name? Hamish

2. How old are you? 3 years old

3. How old is Mommy ? 20 years old

4. What’s your favourite color? Black

5. What’s your favourite food? Peanut butter and sandwich

6. Who’s your best friend? Arsalan

7. What’s your favourite song? I love you ( Barney)

8. What do you like to watch on TV – my movies about dinosaurs

9. What’s your favorite ANIMAL? Wild pig

10. What makes you happy? Dinosaurs

11. Where’s your favorite place to go? My house

12. What do you want to be when you grow up? Grown up enough to drink hot coffee

13. What does mommy do all day? Works and plays with me

14. What are you scared of? Real dinosaurs

15 Where does money come from? I don’t know

16. Where did you come from? The Tots brought me with the crate that holds babies

Posted in Crafts, Family Life, Life with my bears, Parenting

We are the family who paints windows

I recently decided to let Hamish paint the sliding doors with some Dala finger paint as a sensory activity.

It started off very innocently. We called over his little friend and I set out a few paint tools and paints.

The boys were really excited and quickly set to work choosing a paint brush or roller and painting the glass.

Hamish and I will often paint the sliding doors and use a variety of materials to do so. Some of the things we use are:

  • Paints
  • Shaving cream
  • Flour paste with food colouring
  • Corn flour mixed with food colouring and water
  • Custard
  • Instant pudding ( and then he licks it off)
  • Ice cream
  • Coloured ice blocks
  • Creams or lotions
  • Mielie mel cooked runny with cinnamon or nutmeg
  • Cream, especially orley whip
  • Yoghurt

I also like to mix up our painting tools and let him use :

  • Paint brushes
  • Rollers
  • Mini sponges
  • Stamps
  • Spoons ( plastic)
  • Forks or knives also plastic, to make patterns
  • Kitchen utensils
  • Cotton wool
  • Pom poms
  • Feathers
  • Our hands
  • Toilet tubes as stamps

The most beautiful pictures are designed and if you want to keep a copy of your child’s masterpiece you can place a piece of paper over the image and take a print.

We were having a lot of fun, encouraging the boys to paint the entire window pane when Hamish suddenly decided he was going to paint ….me!

We will often have mini paint fights and I always use a non toxic and non staining paint as we very seldom use art aprons.

So, when he painted me I wasn’t worried about the mess and quickly met him in play and painted him back.

These are the moments I believe he will remember.

The moments that will make him unafraid to try new things and explore his creativity.

These are the moments I can show him that it is just a little paint and we can always clean a mess.

These are the moments where our spontaneity shines through and there is pure joy in the moment.

After many giggles, lots of paint and excitement we were both pretty colorful and decided to stop painting each other and concentrate on painting the window.

I showed the boys how to drive the toy cars through the paint and make tracks onto the glass. Another firm favourite boy activity.

You can read about how we were painting with cars when Hamish was much younger.

And then I went behind the glass doors and the boys painted my face. This activity we do quite often.

This is a great way to teach facial features and for little ones just learning to draw faces.

All in all it was a fun afternoon, the kids needed a shower and I was incredibly happy to wash all the paint off me.

Until our next paint explosion that is 🤣

Posted in Cape Town - Things to see & do, Education, Family Life, Life with my bears

Homeschool open day at Butterfly world

On Monday we attended our first Homeschool event for 2020.

Butterfly world hosted a homeschool open day at their beautiful grounds.

We rounded up fellow homeschool mom @parentingbarely and her little boy and my friend Colleen and we set off for a morning of adventure.

About Butterfly world

Butterfly world is the largest butterfly park in South Africa and is situated near the quaint little town of Klapmuts.

Open Monday to Sunday 9am to 5pm*, with friendly and knowledgeable staff to make your visit educational, entertaining and enjoyable.

(*The only day they are closed is Christmas day.)

All the animals at Butterfly world, with the exception of the butterflies, have been donated to the centre.

Butterflies

Within the 1000 square meter greenhouse are hundreds of free flying butterflies. Some of the exotic butterflies are from a far afield as Costa Rico.

We used this chart to try and find each butterfly and I will print a butterfly treasure hunt for Hamish to check off before our next visit.

I was interested to read that the Butterfly world team fly pupae in from around the world to hatch in this miniature tropical paradise.

One of the things I was most greatful for was the opportunity to explain metamorphosis in real life to Hamish as we have just finished learning about the butterfly life cycle.

We were able to see eggs, chrysalis and butterfly emerging.

Sadly no caterpillars but in the eco centre the kids were treated to a beautiful puppet show depicting the life cycle of a butterfly. This was certainly geared at the foundation phase children and Hamish was mesmerized.

Of the other highlights were having butterflies fly around them, watching a butterfly feed and getting to hold one.

The eco centre

As we have been to butterfly world as a family I was eager to view it from an educators perspective and the eco centre certainly gained my attention.

I love the rustic lapa feel and the few decorations that di not attract to much attention, allowing your child to focus on the person giving the talk show or demonstration.

It was amazing. We unfortunately left half way as a three year old does not have the same attention span as a 10 year old.

My only critique would be a love to see the talks divided into age categories and specifically geared to preschool, middle school or high school with the home school children slotting into their age or ability category. This would allow for smaller groups and less stress on the animals, and preschool moms.

Having said that, I’m really looking forward to the next Butterfly world homeschool open day.

Up close and personal

Whilst in the eco centre we learnt about two types of lizards and the information was child centered, interesting and factual.

Hamish walked away knowing a lot more about lizards and got the opportunity to touch them both.

He also got a quick lesson about salamanders

And we got to see an axitoli ( a Mexican salamander) up close. It’s been on my wish list to own one, until I read how endangered they are.

But how beautiful is he?

Other animals

Butterfly world is also home to many other animals.

You can see tortoise, lizards, spiders,lemur, Guinea pigs,monkey, scorpions, snakes, meercat, and many bird species.

There are some stunning viewing decks and one of those house two friendly owls that we were privileged to say hello to.

There is also a road kill museum where your child can view several skeletons and preserved butterflies.

Conclusion

In conclusion, this is a beautiful day out with a lovely gift shop and delectable restaurant with affordable pricing.

It’s incredibly humid in the greenhouse, as these are the temperatures that the butterflies need to survive, so I would suggest taking water with for the kids.

There’s an outside area, so it is also advisable to pack in a cap and some sunscreen and don’t forget the camera as there are many photo opportunities, both with the animals and with the unique art works around the grounds.

Posted in Cape Town - Things to see & do, fun runs, Life with my bears

The slave route challenge

Today, I headed down to city hall with my husband and 6 of my 7 children to take part in the 5km Slave route challenge.

Judy running
Ready to run

About the slave route challenge

The Slave route challenge is a Cape Town race. One rich in heritage and historical significance.

The event traces the old ‘ slave route‘ and honours those amazing people who physically built Cape Town.

Bringing together a diversity of people from all walks of life, the slave trade route offer’s a variety of races.

  • 21km marathon
  • 10km run
  • 10km big walk
  • 5km fun run/ walk

The first Slave route challenge was run in 2011 and 2020 celebrates 10 years of this unique race.

Route

The full Slave run route starts at The City Hall, through District six, Gardens, The company gardens, whale street, Bo- Kaap, Seapoint, Green point and the CBD before heading back down Darling street, through the Castle of Good Hope to finish on the Grande Parade.

This route was selected to highlight the historical landmarks along the way.

Some of the Landmarks you will see along this route are:

  • the whipping post ( where the slaves would be whipped),
  • the hurling slave pump ( where they had to pump water for their masters),
  • the company bell ( which rang to call the slaves),
  • Gallows hill ( where they were executed) ,
  • the Castle ( where the slaves were tortured and imprisoned)
  • and the Slave tree plaque ( where slaves were sold)
The castle Cape town
Runners entering the castle

In Bo- kaap runners and walkers can enjoy a traditional Cape Malay koeksister.

Hamish running
Hamish running

Children

All children need to be accompanied by an adult at all times.

We weren’t required to register for Hamish at 3 years old but did to ensure he too could get a medal.

Slave run medal
Proudly showing off his medal

Our run

As a family we signed up for the 5km ( mostly because most of us are rather unfit and also because that way we could run/walk with Hamish)

Waking everyone up was most likely the hardest part of the morning.

My family
My family

As we had checked routes and parking the night before, we had no struggle with leaving home on time nor finding parking.

Waiting the hour for the 5km race wasn’t that bad and everyone kept themselves busy. ( Big families come in handy at these events – we bring our own crowd)

After the hundredth selfie, our race began.

Selfie
Me and kerri

The route itself was well marshalled and not at all crowded.

It’s one of the most scenic routes I’ve done and was really enjoyable.

Hamish walked about 3km of the 5km, with big brother Shaun carrying him quite a bit of the way.

Carrying Hamish
He ain’t heavy , he is my brother

For R40 a person we had a wonderful family morning out, got some exercise, enjoyed a refreshing coke at the finish line, ( somehow I missed the koeksister) and collected the first of our run medals for 2020

We also discovered on the race number are free entry to both the District six museum and The Castle.

On collecting our race numbers yesterday we recieved tickets to visit the Jewish museum, so we will take full advantage of enjoying Cape Town’s museums this month.

Art gallery
Art gallery

This truly was a lot of fun, and I was amazed to hear that 9000 registered to run for today.

We look forward to booking for next year.

Posted in All about Mamma bear, Family Life, Family Time, Life with my bears, Parenting

If you see a mom playing with her child capture the moment for her

Today I popped over to a friend and we decided to take the boys for a bike ride.

Eskom was treating us to a few hours load shedding and my phone was at home, uncharged, which it normally never is.

We still remarked at how neither of us could record the moment as we didn’t have our phones.

At some point Hamish wanted a different bike so she ran back, while I watched the boys and ,not only grabbed the bike but her phone as well.

Boys on bikes
A fun ride … photo by @parentingbarely

It was a fun 30 minutes and we spent more time running after the two boys than we did walking down the path. ( Someone remind me just how fast threenagers can ride those little push bikes)

The boys were excited and we were truly just in the moment as the zipped and zoomed down the path.

She managed to grab a few pictures and I thought I’d pop her a message after Hamish had a nap and grab a picture keepsake of his playdate with his bestie.

What I got was this image ….

Boys and mom
Running with the boys … photo by @parentingbarely

I stopped and looked at it again and again.

Not because I was, as I normally am, highly critical of my extra weight or flabby arms. Not because I had no make up on or that my bra was at home. Not because I am running in pumps or sporting a super sporty mom bun.

No!

I stopped and stared because I don’t remember the last time someone caught such a candid photo of my very real and exhausting, totally fun and exciting mom life.

So, regardless of the fact that I am positive you can see the grey in my hair and my butt gives Kim Kardashian some competition ( in size not curves lol) ….

I think it’s my favourite photo this year.

Why?

So often as moms we capture everyone else. We are the memory makers and keepers. We go out of our way to preserve a moment, capture a sliver of time or take a photo because we know someone will want to look back at it someday.

But when it comes to photos of ourselves, we are not as generous with our thoughtfulness.

Our own photos are mostly selfies or posed portraits after we have bribed the teenager, removed the toddler from strangling the cat and threatened our husbands to ” Just smile damnit!”

My photos

I spend much time with Hamish but very few moments where I’m in the photo. Even fewer of the moments where I am playing with him, reading to him or baking mud pies.

We have no images of the countless books we read, or the bedtime snuggles. I have no photos of the towers we build or the flowers we have grown.

These are the moments I treasure. The moments he will one day look back on. These will be the unphotographed moments.

These are the moments, as moms we will miss and long for. These are the moments that as we, one day, glance through those albums of our child engaged with everyone …but us, we will wish someone had thought to take for us.

Give a mom a priceless moment

So, when someone catches a glimpse into my real mom moments ….that to me is priceless.

If you see a mom playing with her child, capture that moment for her . Help her see just how beautiful she is as she meets her child in play.

Posted in Life with my bears

A few changes …..

Last year November, I took Hamish down to a local shopping centre, as I’ve done a thousand times.

One of my elder sons, 23, joined us and we were going to buy a few things to make breakfast.

Along the way we stopped to greet some people we know, also nothing new or out of the ordinary.

A huge shock

Inside as we went to the deli,we were greeted by a family who recognized us and as I had Hamish sitting inside the back of the trolley, they came over to talk to him.

Out of nowhere, a well dressed man bumped me out the way to peek into the trolley and talk to Hamish.

I watched as my elder son tightened his grip on the trolley and I saw my own hand protectively stop this man who insisted in trying to touch Hamish as he leaned into the trolley.

I don’t remember the exact words but I insisted we had to leave, as we walked to the furthest end of the shop away from the deli.

After what seemed like enough time for the man to have left the deli we headed back. As we approached he was with 2 other men, all well dressed. He turned to us and in his own language, gestured and spoke to his friends.

I forgot the deli and we made our way out the store but not before reporting the incident to the security.

My mind thinking it was most likely nothing but ….

At the till, the 3 man loudly joined the queue in front of us and I lingered at the till until they were gone.

My elder son following them saw that they went to a huge taxi type of vehicle outside. A few minutes passed and they were still there. Us by now, getting rather anxious inside the store.

Every part of my instincts was alert.

I realised there would be no way just the two of us could fight them off if they were indeed, as my mind was telling me, people kidnapping kids.

If I phoned my husband it would take too long for him to get the car out the garage, and then find parking to get to us.

But I had 2 more sons, 24 and 19, at home who could get to me in less than 10 minutes.

I called over the floor manager of the store and relayed our story, she called a store manager.

I then called my boys.

The store manager arranged a security guard to walk us home ! A good 15 minute walk. He also reported the car to the police, which was still sitting there with all 3 men in, and got a description of the men.

My sons had by now used their longboards to cut time and get to us faster.

With quick thinking we got home safe.

I was a wreck. Hamish was in tears as he had obviously understood what was going on and the boys were visibly shocked.

I’m not sure what the guys wanted but I also was not going to take the chance.

So, why write about this now?

I sat talking to a friend the other day and realised just how much this incident has affected me.

I no longer walk that way with Hamish, infact we usually have others with us and are always super aware of the people around us and our surroundings.

I’ve become super anxious if I’m out with him alone. I’ve always watched him like a hawk , now so even more.

But the biggest change has been my own online presence.

I don’t for one minute believe the two are related but I’m also not stupid enough not to change some of my habits to safe guard my child. So,although I’ve always been super concious of our online privacy , I am even more so now.

The last two months there’s been a little less of our lives out there.

No immediate stories of where we are or announcements of what we are doing. I now post things we did 2 or 3 days later, or after we have left the location.

I don’t think any South African parent truly relaxes when it comes to their children’s safety and our missing children statistics are horrific.

So, we are still here and we still love sharing our lives with you 💞, even if it is a few days later.

Posted in Life with my bears

Some days we get messy

We’ve started the week with quite a few arts and crafts projects because of Valentine’s day being on Friday.Today as we settled to make a foot print craft for an Instagram challenge we got messy !It started off well, a calm quiet activity.Some blue paint and a packet of wet wipes to wipe his feet after the print.ButThen I dropped a bit of blue paint, accidentally, on the floor.Now, in our home, you never waste paint!So, we started finger painting on the tiles.Of course, I also forgot Hamish had smurf colour feet and was now making the cutest foot prints along the floor.And as all good play moments go …It got messy!Before we knew it, we were both splattered with blue paint, rolling on the floor laughing and everything was blue.These are the moments I want Hamish to remember.The spontaneous mess, covered in paint where we laughed too loud at a bit of paint that was easy enough to clean.These are the moments, when he looks back, that I hope he remembers to always find the fun in every situation.