Tuesday, 6 December 2016

The School Year That Was






I have heard that as we get older, the years seem to go by faster and faster and if 2016 is anything to go by, this is certainly true for 2016.


It seems like just days ago that the school year began and yet tomorrow marks the end of the school year for both my little ones. Soon my little ones will turn 6 and 3- I cannot believe how time flies!


Not so long ago, it was Noodle's first day in Grade R. I remember that day so clearly, putting on her uniform for the first time. It was miles too big for her,even though we bought the smallest size and she did not want to wear it as it was green- previously her least favourite colour. Now, at the end of the year, her uniform is a perfect fit and the colour green has grown on her. I remember her biggest fear on the first day was getting lost in such a big school but now she is a professional at navigatng her way through the corridors.


My little baby has grown in confidence this past year- she can dress herself, read surprisingly fluently (I even have to change the passwords on my phone so she does not eavesdrop on my Watsapp messages), add, subtract and colour in the lines. Her big challenge this year was religious classes- she is much younger than the other children in her class and battled at the beginning of the year but she was determined to figure it all out. I can remember hearing her practice her work long before we even woke up in the mornings and her hard work and stubborn determination has paid off.


As for Squish, the first few days of creche this year were tough- he was used to having big sister by his side so it was an adjustment. Now, he has his own circle of close friends and has become so independent. His language has grown in leaps and bounds as has his imagination. He has had and outgrown an imaginary friend. He shocks me everytime I see how precise he is in drawing pictures or putting together Lego blocks.  


For both my children, 2016 was the year of the fire engine. Both little ones are obsessed with fire engines in every form. Even their TV viewing is dictated by this, with Paw Patrol and Fireman Sam being firm favourites. They recently got to ride a real fire truck- a real dream come true.


Both little ones participate wherever they can- from school galas (yes, with a pool Noodle) to inter-school competitions. They both just had their school concerts and dazzled us with their tirelessly rehearsed performances- definitely a highlight for the year.


What has the highlight of your childrens' school year been? I would love to hear from you.































Monday, 24 October 2016

I Have A Secret and I Can't Keep It Any Longer



So I have a little confession to make. Okay, maybe not so little. Or maybe not that big- it depends on your perspective I guess. Uhmmm, where do I start?





I have been avoiding this blog a little bit this past month, partially because I felt a little bit guilty about being potentially perceived as being disloyal to my readership. What am I on about?



I spent a lot of time on this blog advocating the work from home lifestyle (it is even embedded in my blog name and persona!) and to a large extent, that is who I was and what my blog was always all about. I loved working from home and getting to spend time with my little ones while earning a living.


Then recently, something HUGE happened. Out of the blue, I got an offer for a dream job (or what seemed like a dream job) at a time when my bank balance was looking a tad bit deflated- working from home means that there are months of earning a lot and months of earning very little and I got the call during one of them. Part of me missed the corporate world, being able to apply my mind to real challenges and getting to go to the bathroom undisturbed and I sometimes felt like I was wasting my qualifications with my part-time work at home. Coincidentally, around the same time, my mom, being the only other person in the world that I trust completely with my kids, stopped working full time and found herself with lots of time to spare. She eagerly volunteered to take up the task of looking after my little ones after school and chauffering them to extra-murals in the afternoons. It all seemed to make sense and to fit into place at that moment. So, after much deliberation, I took the plunge and went back to work full time.



Yikes, what was I thinking, I ask myself some days. Going back to work full time has been much more challenging than I anticipated! I forgot how nasty corporate politics can get and came to find out how it came to be that such a great position became vacant in the first place. I swopped little kids with little tantrums for grown up kids with grown up tantrums.  The little ones battled slightly in getting used to a new routine but have since settled down well, although it is a struggle to fit in everything we need to in just a few hours in the evenings. The hours are less flexible than anticipated and while I have a boss who will let me disappear for an important school event or sick child, not having the ability to do things when and how I want has definitely taken some getting used to.



Have I made the right decision? For now, probably. I loved every moment of WAHM'ing for the last three years but this is where life has lef me now. I am challenged and stimulated and thinking about far more complex issues than before and I have the chance to influence a much larger sphere than previously. I am gaining valuable new experience and learning new things. I am not broke. My children are still well taken care of and my mom loves getting to spend extra time with them. Is it worth it? Only time will tell and if not, it will be easy enough to go back to WAHM'ing- I have allowed enough safety nets to enable myself to do so should I so choose.



So for now, here is my big question...


Do I keep this blog as 'Jozi WAHM' or do I re-brand? Would keeping the name make me seem less legitimate? I would love your thoughts.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Our Favourite Family Friendly Movies This October



Given that it was school holidays, it was inevitable that we would watch a few family friendly movies this past couple of weeks. 


Last year we were invited to a couple of movie premiers that were a bit taxing as my son was still too young to sit still for very long. 
  
Now we are finally at a stage where both children are old enough to sit still for long enough to watch an entire movie and  without causing too much of an inconvenience to others and we have been taking full advantage of this fact.

Here is what we have been watching:

Barbie Starlight Adventure

Noodle is obsessed with everything Barbie related- the toys, the clothes and even the TV series so she was beside herself when I announced that we were going to the South African launch of this movie. The event was as much of a hit as the movie itself. We entered a world of pink, with an array of fun activities and delicious snacks to keep the kids entertained. Best of all, Noodle enjoyed meeting a real live Barbie and getting her personalised autograph.
Given the insane price of movie tickets these days, a free movie, slush and popcorn is enough reason for me to be singing praises. Besides the fact that I didn't have to take out an overdraft facility to pay for movie tickets, I can genuinely say the movie was actually quite cool. It was less stereotypically girly than previous Barbie movies and very futuristic- a bit like Insurgent or the Hunger Games minus the violence. Barbie, who has a few secret special talents (who lives in outer space) has to help save the universe.
I noticed that Barbie's look has changed a bit. Noticeably, she was sporting the famous Elsa braid. 

Both little ones loved it, even Squish, who said he didn't want to watch 'a girl movie'. He even turned out to like his new 'Popcorn' (Barbie's pet) toy. Speaking og toys, Noodle won a Sal-Lee doll in the lucky draw on the day (Sal-Lee is Barbie's amazing sidekick in case you didn't know). The Sal-Lee doll is something I would have dreamt about having as a child- just like a regular Barbie doll but she spins and makes different sounds depending on which way she is angled.
The Secret Life of Pets
Noodle stumbled upon the trailer for this movie, which is all about what pets get up to when their families are not around) about a year ago and has been watching the trailers on repeat ever since.

So when it finally hit the big screen, we knew we had to watch it. Noodle and I loved it while Squish and hubby were less captivated (though I can't understand why as the characters are just so cute and it has all the elements for a perfect family movie). We watched the movie in 3d. Have I mentioned how much 3d movies cost these days? Crazy!!! Luckily, there was enough action to warrant the 3d glasses.
There was also a short Minions movie before the main movie- always a hit with my bunch.

The BFG

This was one of my all time favourite books as a child so I was keen to watch the Big Friendly Giant movie.

My little ones were not as eager as the picture advertising the movie didn't quite grab their attention (come on, look at it, it is a picture of a weird looking old man) but I convinced them otherwise and they both really enjoyed this classic story. Noodle seemed to enjoy the fart humour the most (sadly).

Yes, the movie was almost as good as the book (movies are never as good as the book but this came close). Now that Noodle can read (and enjoys it so much), a set of Roald Dahl books is definitely on my wishlist for her- it might just be her next birthday present!


Three movies watched, three movies enjoyed. So if you are looking for a good child friendly movie, there is quite a bit to chose from at the moment. P.S. We already have plans to watch the Thomas the Tank Engine movie which is coming out soon and Storks looked super cute too.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Keeping on Top Of Being Supermom


Being a mom of younger children going to school or crèche means that, like it or not, besides your normal day job and seeing to your home, you also have an additional PA role.
Let’s face it, smaller children would leave their own heads behind if it was not screwed on so it is up to the parents (read in, the mom) to make sure that the right books are packed, that clothes for various extra activities are packed and that nobody forgets bakersman, an outfit for some or other fantasy dress up day (and there is always a dress up day) or show and tell.

I sort of have a system in place. I know that on Monday’s, Noodle needs to take an object starting with a certain letter and that Squish needs a book on Tuesdays. However, try as you may, surprises will always be sprung on you. Take last week for example. We thought we had spring day sorted- a plant for Squish to plant (as requested by his teachers) and lovely spring day outfits packed out the night before. Spring day arrived and I was super pleased with myself as it was seven a.m. and both kids were dressed and having breakfast- perhaps we would make it on time for a change! No such luck. Halfway through breakfast, Noodle pipes up “Don’t forget that we have a picnic today and we need to take picnic blankets and snacks for the entire class”. This was the first I was hearing of any picnic so had to spring into emergency action.
Then late last night, when Noodle was sound asleep, her class Watsapp group came to life, mommies scrambling to find out what was required for today’s homework. Now, Noodle did not mention anything about homework yesterday (it is very rare that they have homework per se). Which meant that this morning, during breakfast, she was scrambling to put something together.
As my children get older, I do expect them to take more responsibility for remembering their own stuff but for now, they are just too young.
So here are my ideas for keeping on top of being a super mom:
  • Keep a monthly calendar on the fridge with everyone’s weekly schedules and what has to be packed for each day.
  • Pack lunches the night before and refrigerate.
  • Have an emergency stationary stash. Ensure that at all times, you have a supply of coloured cardboard, markers and glitter glue. Keep this in one place, together with scissors, glue and tape.
  • ALWAYS have an emergency stash of quick baking ingredients, for example a cupcake mix. Oh and keep an eggless recipe on hand because chances are that when a mommy emergency crops up, it will be 10 p.m. and you will be out of eggs.
  • If your child has to take a set amount of money each week for bakersman or some similar activity, have a stack of coins stashed in a convenient place, already sorted into piles of the right amount so that you are not scrambling to find the exact amount of change during morning rush hour.
  • If you need to send nappies and spare clothes to nursery school, pack five piles with the right number of each item into individual Ziplock bags over the weekend and then just pop one bag into the bag each day.
Now for me to practice what I preach! What are your top super mommy time-saving tips?

Thursday, 18 August 2016

A Noodle Story



One of Noodle's favourite games is still the one where the two of us tell a chain story where each one adds a line and the next continues. Her tales continue to amuse.

Here is last night's bedtime chain story.

Once upon a time there was a little girl called Layla. She had a birthday party but it was not just any party. It was a princess monster party and everybody had to dress up as monster princesses.

First she sent out special invitations which only appeared on the paper when you poured water on it. She invited a few of her close friends. They played games and ate cake. The cake was a monster cake but it tasted yucky so everybody started throwing it at each other... until the birthday gilr said 'stop it, I don't like it'.  

Then they played some games. One of the games was building puzzles (I think I have a nerd in the making.) Then they hit a pinata. The prizes in the pinata were super special, better than any other prizes they had ever seen before. It has (wait for it) stationery in it. (See, nerd in the making... but hey, she may have got it from her mama.) It also had a few magic wands in it.

One of the girls used her magic wand to win all the games. The other children were very cross that she was cheating and started hitting her with their wands. (Yes, Noodle decided that this was cheating.) She felt really bad and wated to make it up to them so she turned all their cakes and sweets into giant cakes and sweets and made magical party packs with sweets that would never run out. They all enjoyed the rest of the party and only did nice magic tricks with their wands.

Then they used their magic wands to clean up all the mess (yes that was my contribution of course). 


THE END  

Friday, 12 August 2016

Just Catching Up



I just realised I have not blogged in two weeks. It has been a busy patch with lots of changes and lots of work and this one is going to be a quickie post too (especially since our WIFI is acting up as well). Where has the time gone?


My kids are growing up so fast! Squish is finally making progress with potty training- thank goodness as I am totally over cleaning up and disinfecting little puddles around the house. Noodle is very proudly reading books all on her own and she reads bedtime stories to me! 

Both kids are obsessed with My Little Pony (even my son) after we received a blog drop with some really cool toys and discovered that it is back on Nickelodeon. 

We are still stressing about grade one registrations as we have not received confirmation from our preferred school yet. 

I have fallen off the healthy eating and exercise bandwagon (again) this last few months but am trying to be good again because most of my pants will no longer close at the top. Hubby has downloaded some great exercise apps and we exercise together and I am reading a very insightful book by Deepak Chopra about changing your mindset when it comes to food. 

I am enjoying the slightly warmer weather and can't wait for spring and also to doing proper blog posts again soon. That's about it from me. What have you been up to?

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Saying No to Mommy Guilt

Part of the basic anatomy of being a mother is wanting what is best for our children. However, as parents, sometimes that comes with doubt as to what actually is best for our children and for our families as a whole. With every decision comes positives and negatives, and with the negatives comes the mommy guilt that so many of us are guilty of inflicting on ourselves. I know I am guilty of it. (Disclaimer: while I refer specifically to mommy guilt, I am certain that much of this applies to daddies too.)


The mom who chooses to stay at home with her family may be filled with guilt about sitting at home all day, not contributing to the household income. She may spend her free time feeling guilty about having free time to do things on weekdays and wonder about whether she would have been able to provide more for her family if she had been a working mother. She may feel guilty about wasting any special talents that she may have which could benefit society at large by only seeing to her family's needs. She may feel guilty when she cleans the house instead of actively playing with the kids and she may feel guilty when the house does not look like something out of a magazine because surely as a stay-at-home mom she has all the time in the world to get it looking that way.

The working mother may feel guilty about not spending enough time with her children or about missing daytime sporting events. She may feel especially guilty if her family can get by without a second income but she chooses to work despite this, whether to provide for a better quality of life, for personal fulfillment or to make a contribution to society at large. Even the work at home mom might feel guilty about not giving her children her undivided attention while seeing to her work, or not giving her undivided attention to her work while tending to her children.

Even everyday decisions about what we allow our children to do may lead to feelings of guilt. Putting a firm stop on all sweets may lead one to feeling guilty about depriving them of fun and enjoyment while giving in will no doubt lead to guilt about enabling unhealthy food habits and possible health issues later on. You may feel guilty about sending them to play at grandma's house so you can sleep in a bit longer and just as guilty if you didn't, as you deprived grandma of the chance to play with them when you know she was looking forward to doing so.

Chances are, that as a parent, you will feel guilty sometimes about shouting your children too much or losing your temper when you shouldn't have. However, let's face it, children know how to press all the right buttons and it would take a saint to never get angry with her children. While we can all work on trying to control shouting matches before they set in, meltdowns (both of the child and the adult variant) are inevitable. The list is endless.
 
Personally, I often feel guilty about all these things, amongst many others (and I have not even started on the guilt that comes with being an imperfect spouse.) Today I am making a conscious decision to rid myself of mommy guilt, in the knowledge that whatever I chose to do today, it is what I feel will best benefit my family in the long run. I am making the decision to be firm against indecisiveness and doubt and to stick to my guns. I am making the decision to strive towards perfection but to accept and embrace the inevitable imperfection. I hope that some day, my children will come to understand the decisions that I have made and respect them as I have come to respect the many sacrifices that my mother made for us. 

Do you suffer from mommy guilt? Have you managed to overcome it? Or do you choose to embrace it? Please share your story.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

A Date with My Daughter

Do you ever spend alone time with just one child or go on a 'date' with your child alone? I have been reading a lot lately about the importance of spending one-on-one time with your children individually, to help them feel valued as individuals and to keep the lines of communication open. 



While I have lots of alone time with my son, who only goes to nursery school a few days a week, it is very seldom that I get to spend alone time with Noodle and I got the feeling that Noodle was craving some one-on-one attention. When Squish was younger, his nap time always used to be our special bonding time but he has dropped his midday nap a few months ago. We decided to declare this Saturday 'Noodle Day'- a day to do what she wanted to do (within reason). The two of us would have a girls morning together, while dad and son got some quality bonding time too.

The top item on her list, surprisingly, was to go for a haircut. She has been asking us to take her to get her hair cut for ages and her hair has grown super long, going all the way down her back so it was probably time for a trim. We went to Chop It, a child-centred hair salon at Lifestyle Centre in Randpark Ridge. It is a child friendly salon set in an 'enchanted forest'. The little ones get to watch a DVD of their choice while they get their hair done and they get treated to a lollypop and a balloon afterwards. It is a great place for younger children who are a bit nervous to get their haircut and you can even get a certificate for first hair cuts.

Besides the awesome hair salon, the other reason I picked Lifestyle Centre is because they have so many other things for children to do, making it perfect for our date. Noodle went on a couple of rides at the amusement park and had fun playing on the jungle gyms. We went for a walk through the nursery and the pet store (her favourite place) and had a good chat. Then we stopped at The Silver Birch for some hot chocolate (we couldn't finish them- they are huge!). Noodle and I had a good chat about anything and everything. 


After we had some family visit us in the afternoon, the fun continued in the evening with a visit to Montecasino- this time with daddy and baby brother too. We never go near the casino area here but there is lots of other entertainment for the whole family and the kids had a blast. They played games, had a bite to eat and ran laps at the big grassy patch outside. We have been watching Youtube videos learning about various geographical landmarks- the Kabah, the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, Big Ben etc. So my son was very excited when he spotted the clock tower at Montecasino, saying "look- there's Big Ben!".


All in all, it was a great day for the whole family and Noodle declared it the best day ever. Operation Noodle Day was a success!