Friday, 25 September 2015

A Blog Quickie



Since I started blogging, I have been diligently posting three to four times a week. Then this September came and things got busy, really busy and I have only managed to squeeze in a few posts.




So this is just a quick catch up post from my side.  I have been working- a lot, but have finally met a deadline that has been taking up all my time. I did not realise how much time I had been spending on it until I told Noodle that I was done with it yesterday and she came and gave me a huge hug and said 'I am so happy because now you can do things with us again'. Guilty mommy moment- check.

As for Noodle and Squish, I am amazed at how they seem to have sprung up like little flowers this spring, literally and figuratively. They both needed entire new wardrobes since they both seemed to have major growth spurts (P.S. I have seen a lot of posts complaining about how inappropriate the stuff they have for kids in the clothing stores is at the moment and I must say I agree.) Noodle has matured a lot and starts big school (well grade R, in just a few months). Squish has shocked me with the amount he has learnt this month. Still a few months shy of two, he can count, knows the A, B, C song and the National Anthem. He also seems to have picked up the lyrics of a few popular songs on the radio.

We have just had heritage day on the same day as Eid ul Adha (what better way to celebrate heritage?). 

So, that's about it from my side. Sadly, I am going to be missing in action again for the next week again. The good news is that I can share a brand new face book page just for mommies where you can catch up with a bunch of really amazing South African Mommy bloggers and their posts all in one place. Check out Mommys ME Time on Facebook- you won't regret it.

Be back soon! 

P.S. It is not too late to enter our Kids Book Club Giveaway. Just scroll down to the page below this one.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Giveaway- Win a Kids Book Club Subscription!

It is no secret that I am a complete bookworm and that my kids are avid readers too. While Squish still enjoys the pictures more than the contents, Noodle loves listening to stories (and is starting to identify a few words in the books as well).


Every week, Noodle has 'book day' at school, when she needs to take a book to be read and shared with her friends and I often feel like I have been sending the same books over and over a few too many times. 

Given the above, I was very excited when I heard about what Kids Book Club has to offer. As a Kids Book Club subscriber, you get a special delivery directly to your door each month containing:
  • two age appropriate books;
  • magazines for mom and dad;
  • downloadable colouring sheets (available from their website);
  • a themed carry bag for your books.
Part of your subscription will go towards donation to the Bokamoso Educational Trust. Find out more at www.kidsbookclub.co.za



We just received our first delivery. I opted for a subscription for Noodle only as we are still building up our book collection for older kids but already have plenty of toddler books for Squish (but if you do take out subscriptions for more than one child this is discounted). I also know that he will be listening in when we read the books at bedtime, so they will both benefit from it.

This month's carrier bag has a 'spring' theme- perfect for this springy month! Obviously, what is in the bag is age dependent. The Waybaloo book is definitely up Noodle's alley as she is a fan of the television version. I think she said thank you about twenty times!!! This month, there is also a sticker activity book and a smaller story book, "Night Train Adventure" (a humorous tale about a family of cats and a clumsy hippo who go take an overnight train to their holiday destination) which we read last night and which both little ones enjoyed.


So I am sure you would love to get hold of some awesome Kids Book Club books for your kids, right? Well, you're in luck as we are giving away a one month subscription to Kids Book Club.  



All you have to do to enter is to comment below with the age of your child and what your favourite children's book of all time is. (We would love it if you would share this competition with your friends via Facebook and Twitter too, this is entirely optional though).

Please note that this competition is only open to individuals who reside within South Africa. The prize is sponsored by Kids Book Club, who will be solely responsible for delivery of the prize to the winner. The winner will be selected randomly using online digital software. The winner will be announced on 7 October 2015.

Good luck to all who enter!!!

Monday, 14 September 2015

You know you're getting older when...



So I despite being in my early thirties, I have still considered myself as being fairly young. After all, I still haven't sprouted a single grey hair (touch wood... some of my friends my age have not been as fortunate).




However, lately, I spotted a few tell-tale signs of my impending slide into the old age home. The below have ALL happened to me. 

As a South African female, you know you are getting older when:

* You spot an item of clothing in the shop window at Milady's... and say, wow, that is stunning, I have to have it.

* They play golden oldies on the radio and they are songs that were popular when you were a teenager. Is 'I'm Blue' by Eiffel 65 really a golden oldie?


* The music is too loud. Everywhere.  



* You voluntarily give up killer heels for comfy flats... every day.


 
* You spot those first under eye creases.




* You wear foundation to hide dark circles. (In my twenties, I used foundation twice a year on average, now it is more often than not.) 

* You look forward to a quiet night in and going to bed by 10p.m. 

* Your children are astonished to discover that cellphones once had black and white screens with no touch screen.


* Your children are gobsmacked when you tell them that when you started school nobody had cellphones.

* You remember the kids stuff on the SABC encore channel from when they were first aired. Pumpkin Patch and Kideo anyone?


*When you were in school, you owned a Tamagotchi, your worst fear at school was Pinky Pinky and not Charlie Charlie and you collected Simba Tazo's and not Stikeez. 


Who is joining me in the old age home?


Thursday, 10 September 2015

Noodle says...



I haven't done one of these posts in a while. My little Noodle, now closer to age five, is as candid as ever. The snippets below are just from yesterday and today!



Noodle: (Pointing at mansion in an upmarket part of town).
Let's buy a house here. Then I can roll down the hill to school in the morning instead of sitting in traffic.
Dad: We don't have enough money to buy a house here.
Noodle: It's easy. We just sell our house for loooooots and lots of money, enough for this house and then we go to that house with the money and say 'Hello, I would like to buy your house today'.
(Sounds great. If only our very ordinary house was not worth just a tenth of those ones.)



Noodle: Don't call me 'my baby'. I am not a baby. I am four years old.
Me: But you will always be my baby.
Noodle: When I am ten years old I am going to move to a new house and I won't give you my address, so then you won't be able to call me 'my baby'.


Me: Wow, that is a beautiful drawing. You could be an artist one day!
Noodle: What is an artist?
Me: An artist is someone who draws and paints really well.
Noodle: Oh. Is that all? I am already an artist then.



(Driving past a vendor selling flowers)
Noodle: Mommy, I am so sad that I have no money today. If I did, I would buy you all those flowers, because they are beautiful just like you. 


Oh and I can't forget my little Squish now that he is talking a lot more. He has full sentences now, a post for another day. I just have to share my favourite word of his right now... WATER-MINION (watermelon). 


What interesting things have your little ones had to say lately? Please share!

Monday, 7 September 2015

Planning a Holiday With Kids

I have dreaming-of-vacation brain right now. So I will dedicate a post to the topic on my mind. When going on holiday with little ones, there always seems to be about a thousand extra things to think about, not to mention a thousand extra things to lug along with you.

Here are some tips on planning for your journey so that you can actually enjoy your trip when the time finally comes. Yes, this means more work for you before the holiday but it will pay off in the long run.


PLANNING ON WHERE TO GO

The age of your children will be a big determining factor in where you spend your vacation. You will need to consider whether your planned destination is child friendly, has enough activity to keep your little ones entertained and whether it has all the facilities that you will need for them (eg. if you need to prepare bottles you may need somewhere to warm and sterilise them etc). Consider safety (for example, you might not want to take your newborn to a malaria area or to a remote jungle area). Websites like tripadvisor.com or booking.com are great for getting reviews on hotels so that you know whether or not it will meet the needs of your little ones and be in close proximity of the destination features that most interest you.


Also consider whether the journey itself is child friendly (I am sure you do not really want to negotiate a twenty hour flight with two stopovers with a screaming baby).

ALL THE ADMIN

Book hotels and any flights required well in advance so that any specific needs (eg. a bassinet on your flight or a hotel room where you do not need to climb lots of  stairs) can be met.


Check that all your passports are in order (if leaving the country) with an expiry date of more than six months and sort out any visas required. Do not forget that South Africans now need to produce an unabridged birth certificate in order to travel abroad with children. If your child was born before 2013, there is a good chance that they only have abridged birth certificates, in which case you will have to apply for a new one.(The good news- I have recently applied for both passports and birth certificates and the process has become a lot more streamlined than in the past, with everything being logged electronically at the Home Affairs offices. There was just a mad rush recently due to the many people suddenly needing to apply for unabridged passports.)

GETTING THERE

Travel by car


Here are some things that you should always keep handy for long car rides:

1. I like to prepare a busy bag for each child to keep them occupied when required. I always try to include one or two new toys (something as simple as a new colouring book is perfect). Make sure that the toys included are accessible in the car and will not get lost and roll under seats easily. For your own sanity, omit any toys with annoying repetitive noises that will drive you crazy after a few hours. An old camera phone is also a good one to include- let the little ones take snapshots of interesting scenes passed along the route. Tablets pre-loaded with games and videos are also a good option (don't forget ear phones so that you don't need to listen to it). 
2. Plot your route and plan for frequent breaks. Remind kids to go to the bathroom before leaving. If you have a newly potty trained child, do not forget to make frequent stops (or if you are not in control of stops, consider pull up nappies, just for the day).

3. Wetwipes are always handy to keep in the car for any sticky hand situations.
4. Keep lots of snacks handy. However, try to pack items that are not too messy and for your own sanity, do not pack in too many sweet snacks (or if you do at least hide them from the kids!).
5. Keep a couple of empty bags in your car. One can be used as a dirt bag for any empty food wrappers etc. Keep a couple as barf bags (even children who are not prone to car sickness may feel a bit queasy on long journeys.
6. Keep a basic first aid kit handy. Do not forget to include painkillers and antihistamines. 
7. With younger kids our favourite trick is to dress them into comfortable day clothes the night before and then carry them sleeping to the car and leave just before sunrise. Hopefully, you can be halfway to your destination by the time they wake up!

Travel by plane

The busy bag rule above applies here as well.

If possible, try to book well in advance so that you can get suitable seats (it is a good idea to have isle access so that you can get up easily without disrupting fellow travellers). If you have a baby and are on a long-distance flight, especially overnight, enquire as to whether you  can get a bassinet (you need to book these in advance though and there are usually just a few on each flight).

Little ones often get crabby due to ear pressure issues. Allow older children to chew on some gum or anything else that can be chewed for a long period of time. Younger children should be provided with a bottle (or breast) to alleviate ear pressure (keep a small blanket handy for discreet breastfeeding if needed). If you can, time baby's milk feed around the time of take-off- hopefully they will fall asleep. 

Keep some antibacterial wipes and hand sanitiser as planes are germy! Keep a spare set of clothes for you and the kids in your hand luggage. Also, if you have ever had the pleasure of changing a nappy on a plane, you will know that it is a nightmare! Come prepared- bring disposable change mats and pull ups if your little one is old enough.

Check whether you will need a pram or car seat (often, it is an option to rent these at your destination point).

Now that you are 1000% prepared, sit back, relax and enjoy... you've earned it!!!!


Thursday, 3 September 2015

Book Review- Without Shame by Katherine Russell


I have become intrigued with South West Asian and Middle Eastern literature of late and when "Without Shame" landed on my desk, I knew it was exactly the type of book that I would love to devour while snuggled up on the couch with a steaming cup of coffee. 




While this book is set in the 1960's in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), many of the political, religious and cultural themes that run through this book are still pertinent today.

I found the following quote online by the American author, Katherine Russell:
"Many people ask why I chose to write a novel about 1960's East Pakistan. After all, I couldn't have been there. My answer is this: I didn't set out to write a novel; I set out to make better sense of our world through writing. I wanted to learn about Islam in a more positive context than our current media is giving. I wanted to walk in another woman's shoes in a culture with different - yet ofttimes very similar - values and truths from my own. And I wanted to understand what it is to be an imperialized culture in a neocolonial world, where my own country is ever the imperialist."

In an impoverished Muslim society riddled with cultural superstition,  bold and intelligent Sariya was always different to the other girls in her village and was at an early age labelled as being a woman with no shame. "Shame was a virtue, a mark of high character and restraint that every woman should possess, but Sariyah always staggered over it." This deviation from expected norms was further exacerbated by a childhood event which left her with a minor physical disability.



While she was covertly educated by her uncle (bearing in mind that an education being seen as an undesirable trait for anyone, especially females on this society) and deeply inspired by the words of philosopher Tagore, the expectation was for the young protaginist to enter into an arranged marriage with a fifty year old with whom she shared no commonality. However, all this occurs in the midst of a Bengali revolution against colonialism, by which she is intrigued. In addition, she finds herself crossing paths with an American teacher doing relief work in her village, leading to a cross-pollination of ideas and perhaps a little more. How will Sariyah decide between living up to the expectations of her family and fulfilling her own goals?

This book feels like it is set out for greatness. The book is written in a beautiful, almost poetic style, with a complexity of themes that I can imagine perfectly fitting in to a heated literary discussion as a high school or even a university setwork. 

My sole critique is that towards the end of the book, it did feel like there was a chunk of the story that was omitted. I do hope that there will be a sequel to fill the gaps. 

I am sure you cannot wait to get hold of a copy of this gem, but you will have to be patient as it will only be officially released in October. Look out for the publication on Amazon or via FB Publishers.


*Disclosure: this was not a paid review but I was provided with a copy of the book for review purposes.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

My Favourite Reads for 2015

Possibly my favourite activities in the whole world is reading. When I was a full time working mother, I neglected this hobby for a while, but since being self-employed and the boss of my own time I have made a point of indulging in at least a few good books (admittedly usually while breastfeeding or putting kids off to bed).

Here are some of the books that I have enjoyed the most for this year.

The Divergent Series

If you liked the Hunger Games, you will love this one. 

This popular series by Veronica Roth was discovered on my sister's eReader while looking for something to read while on holiday. From the moment I started reading, I was hooked and completed the entire fast-moving trilogy within two or three weeks. 

Set in post-apocalyptic Chicago, citizens are placed into a simulated environment where they are split into five factions, according to personality type and dispositions. Our heroine, 'Tris' is a 'Divergent', which means that she does not fit neatly into one of these boxes and thus poses a threat to their conformist society.

I have since watched the Divergent and Insurgent movies and as is usually the case, the books were far better. I found that the movies, probably in an attempt to romanticize the main characters, painted the main figures as far less flawed and thus far less interesting characters.


I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban


As a South African Muslim,who only knows other Muslims who are the friendly, peace-loving, praying types, I often find it difficult to understand how it is that an abominable few can tarnish the reputation of an entire religious group. However, through books, I have gotten some insight into this unfortunate reality. 

This inspirational book is the story of a young girl, Malala Yousafzai, who was instrumental in ensuring the right to free education for girls during time when the Taliban took control of her area, being the Swat Valley in Pakistan. At sixteen, she became the youngest ever nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize.

This book is truly inspirational, showing just how much of a difference just one person, even just a scholar in a rural village can make.

Indian Takeaway

Hardeep Singh Kohli, while always labelled as 'Indian', is a proud product of Glasgow. Hardeep's passion in life is food- both eating and cooking it. Everyone thought he had lost his mind when he decided to take a trip across India, where he would introduce Indians to bland British food, but his true motive is to discover himself and what part his Indian heritage plays in his identity. 

While perhaps not the best written book (from a grammatical sense), I think this story resonates with me, being of Indian descent and labelled as 'Indian' despite having never set foot on the subcontinent and only understanding the very basics (and I do mean basic)  of Gujarati and Urdu. This book is both funny and interesting in the way it vicariously allows the reader to experience just a little bit of this unique country.



 
My Current Read

I have just finished an unpublished novel, 'Without Shame' by Katherine Russell, but this one warrants a post all on its own. Watch out for my review in the next couple of days!

What are you reading at the moment? What is your favourite book so far for this year? Please share!