WHY WRITE?

I have been writing for most of my life. I have always had a love for words, for the English language. When I was in my early teens I had already completed my first anthology of poems. I dreamed of being an author when I grew up. I continue to write – I am a children’s book writer. I would one day like to write for adults. An so like so many, I took to blogging. And being a mommy blogger, I have been graciously invited to many events.

It was at one of these events that I was asked whether or not blogging had been good to me, whether it had paid off and if I had received goods for my pregnancies, my kids, myself etc etc…. The same mommy blogger quipped later on into the event that she would not write about any experience she had at a place or with a product, if she was not being paid for it.

Wow – it made me step back! It made me stop and put down my pen – or rather in today’s’ terms “my phone” and consider why I write.

My absence from Mumziboo has been a reflective one. And this is what I now know for sure!

1 I write because I love to write.

2 In the famous words of Steve Biko – “I write what I like”.

3 I write because inherently, it is part of who I am.

And so at the end of this fast – I know that while its GOOD to get goodie bags and freebies, and be paid to write positive pieces on prams and other bits of mommadom – its NOT why I write.

Hey – I like a “like” as much as the next person. But I also know that thousands of likes don’t equate to good writing. People “like” bloggers because they associate with the whole package – the writing, the pics, the promos, the lifestyle or whatever that blogger is about. I don’t write for “likes” – I write because I am a writer. I am a mommy blogger because my kids inspire me and I enjoy the community of mommy bloggers. It comforts me to know that I am not alone in the mayhem of parenting! Mommy blogging is the equivalent of Rachel in Anne of Green Gables, running over to Merilla to drink tea for fortification, before she carries on with the rest of her day. Only we tap a screen.

I don’t write to be followed either – though its nice to know that people follow you because they’re interested in what you have to say. But again, I will say “it” regardless of my following.

I write because that’s what writers do! Why do you write momma?

BATH TIME WONDERS

I love using ordinary mundane moments to connect with my kids- it’s a bonus when you can use it to play, teach and develop them at the same time. These are just a few bath time wonders I’ve enjoyed creating:

 

A VISIT TO THE AMAZON JUNGLE

 

I got so stuck in this one!!!! Ha! It was awesome. The thought grabbed me and I went running wildly through my garden with a shears 20 minutes before bath time. I cut the largest branches I could find and quietly decorated the bath tub with them. I ran the shower on hot for a while to get as much steam into the bathroom. And of course I ran the tub. Then I googled Amazon jungle sounds and played the music from my phone. I closed the door and told my girls they were visiting the Amazon. They loved it. They spent a lot of time in there. And wanted to know more about the Amazon:

 

Play: imagination and role play just flowed natural.

 

Connect: We just giggled and chatted.

 

Fun: loads for both them and me.

 

Learn: about the jungle, about the Amazon jungle, a specific place.

 

Develop: sensory touch – steam, nature, darkness and light. Bonus: Interest in nature- now they want to watch planet earth more and more. Plus memories made.

 

Your kit: leaves, real ones, Amazon jungle sounds, a music player (my smart phone worked wonders), a shower in the bathroom with the bath tub.

 

I also plan (perhaps I am too ambitious) to do the following:

 

SPACE

The tub will be the space ship. Lights off. Glow in the dark stickers stuck on the walls and ceiling to create the cosmos. Ah the. Blue water and an under water torch. Lights off torch on. Space music playing. Simple enough, I think.

 

ANCIENT EGYPT

Palm branches, the blue rive Nile, face paint to paint each other like Egyptians. I plan to build the pyramids out of towels in a corner and play the Prince of Egypt sound track.

Or

BEACH PARTY WITHOUT THE SAND

Drinks, sun hats, water toys, arm bands, swim wear and the sound of the ocean. I plan to go all the way with this one – mock-tails and of course boiled colorful spaghetti floating in the water for seaweed. Shells from our last visit to the ocean will line windowsill.

 

Tell me what you’ve done to make bath time interesting for your kids! would love to hear from you.

Now to find the time!!!!

‘ECHAD’ – A STRONGER ME IS A STRONGER WE

It was with mixed emotions  that Sean and I stole away from our cherubs early on Sunday morning. We woke at five and were dressed and ready just after 6. Destination: Cape Town. Only for the day – a much needed couple time day.

 

We’ve never done this. We have very young children and they need us. But the trade off was their immediate needs vs our family’s’ long term wellbeing. Every couple needs to stop, take time, take stock, touch base, connect, plan and refocus – so that they can move in unity and in the same direction. That’s what we did on Sunday. I felt guilty leaving two sleeping beauties and two crying princesses. I closed the door with a sore heart and thanked God for Sharon our nanny who comforted Zaza as we drove out the gate. We returned as a stronger team to take our family forward.

 

I like the Hebrew word “echad”. It’s got a hard sound to it but I think that that speaks to its meaning. It means “one”. That’s how Sean and I returned late Sunday night to our restless brood. And I’m grateful for it because a strong united parenting team translates into a secure family where children feel grounded, certain, safe and loved.

IF I COULD CHOOSE, I’D BE A LADY AT DOWNTON ABBEY

Watching the royal wedding this weekend made me think about how slow and luxurious life could be if everything was done for you. Ha my kids are Royal for sure!!!! For Sean and I though, parenting, life in Jo’burg in general is such a rush. I try to consciously do things slower to enjoy them,’ savor the precious moments – the look of  Zaza’s cute puffy face as she says: “one more huffy mummy, one more kissy”. The naughty “catch me if you can” look on Ellie’s face before she darts off with a forbidden sweet. The feel of a Teh’s tiny body clinging to mine as she falls asleep and Tali’s flashing smile when she figures out something complex. These are the everyday mundane things that are extraordinary in little people. These are the ordinary memories that make up the rich tapestry of our family life. And I choose to savor them because they disappear as quickly as they come.

But try as I might, I live life on the run. Perhaps it’s the lifestyle we’ve chosen. It’s high impact and fast paced. Sean works hard and arduous hours and so though we see one another we don’t have time to talk about stuff – the stuff that requires attention for us to manage our lives and the lives of 4 other people. It’s not the first time that I’ve had hubby on speaker phone while driving the kids to school to tell him about how one of the bairns broke a frame or about leaking pipes or a school event or or or…..

 

It’s not ideal. I know many people who have opted for a quieter life out in smaller slower places than the city. We haven’t set our sights so far a field yet. Perhaps because this is where family is, our bread and butter is, our friends are, or perhaps we’re city people.

 

If I could choose though, I think I’d like to be a grand lady at Downtown Abbey and have the butler Carlton manage our home affairs. Imagine that! Mrs Patmore, planning our family’s lavish dinner EVERY NIGHT!!!!

 

But as it stands, we’re not gentry. We’re working class – who live a lot better than Mrs Hughes and Carlton I might just add – and that means that I get to be Lady of my own manor, the wife, mother of many, the butler, nanny, driver, housemaid and cook all in one too.

 

In the end it’s a balancing act, and a strange kind of contradiction: – slowly savoring the moments, enjoying being the Lady, without allowing the mad rush of life’s management to swallow it all up.

REFLECTIONS ON PARENTAL TAX

If you are a parent of many children, as I am – you will be familiar with the usual phrase that follows  the gasp after you say that you have FOUR children. It goes like this: ” shoo, I’d have more but it’s too expensive”, or “yoh, but kids are expensive” or even worse: “its way too expensive, I don’t want to struggle, so we stopped at …” and so on and so forth.

 

I give you and unequivocal YES with a nod – it is indeed expensive. I thank God, that Sean and I are not struggling, but that doesn’t mean we don’t feel the pinch. Yes we feel that very specific ‘eina’ (Afrikaans word for pain – for our non South African readers) when the school fees invoice arrives or at the beginning of term when new extra murals are to be paid. But we feel it acutely when  costs escalate for unforeseen unplanned circumstances.  I like to call it the parenting tax. It’s the one that is levied against you by the natural laws of life, and the more kids you have the higher tax to be imposed.   A  classic example took place over the last two weeks when blogs from this site were scant. Why, some readers asked, have you not been blogging. And my mental answer was I was busy paying a parenting tax. One of my 4 delights, found their way into my “off-limits” office and dropped strawberry milkshake on my laptop keyboard.

 

I swooped off to my repairman who called me back with the cost of repair at R848. A week later when the new keyboard finally arrived they called me again and said they had to rerun all the software and do extra repairs because the milkshake had done more damage than expected. The extra repairs would cost a further R848 and now the costs had mounted to R1696.

 

And so it is with so many things, broken chains, smudged lipstick, sandy swimming pools etc etc. Sigh!

 

My children never did own up to who dropped the milk shake, but after R1696 it doesn’t really matter. I am told by older wiser parents that “they’re alive and its all part of the journey” or  “they’ll grow and it will get easier”. So for now I’ll take a deep breath, have a “patience pep talk” with myself and move on.

 

BIRTHDAY PARTIES – A FRENZIED AFFAIR

Is it just me, or does everyone find birthday parties a mad rush.   Tali’s eighth birthday celebration turned into a  roller coaster.

It was supposed to be fuss free,  we had it at a venue for that reason. And as per usual, the latest craze for kids was served up as the main course. This time round it was Emoji’s. My daughter is at the age where everything technology (from tablets, to phones to computers) is all the rage. She’s become adept at  sending and receiving whatsapps with Emojis.

Tali also loves – as do most little girls – painting her nails. And so its was with much excitement that she agreed to a nail salon as the venue for her party. Admittedly Emoji’s and a nail salon are an unlikely pair. Not so when the nail polish has little shiny emoji’s’ embedded in it.

And so my only job for the day would be to supply a few eats and a bit of decor for the space. The plan was helium balloons, a large Emoji cake, a few Emoji biscuit pops, party favours, stylized cups and paper plates and voila – Emoji party. I would relax with a cappacino served by the salons waiters and engage in chatter with family and friends. Wow could anything fall further from the plan.

Lets start with the night before. Expert fondant roller granny arrives to cover the cake. Its around 5 in the afternoon and a large yellow pancake of fondant lay beautifully on the counter ready to be flipped. I bring my freshly baked cake around for the flip. And “snap” – just like that the electricity cuts out.  AAAAAAH. We wait a few minutes. Nothing goes back on. We wait again, and again. Its late. We fold up the fondant. Granny heads home to bake a few more cake treats for the party. My heart begins to sink as I watch valuable time slip away. All the other eats will not be finished on time. Hummus, baba ganoush, zacusca, falafels, biscuit pops etc etc stand about incomplete. My sister Ros arrives for her customary cup of tea to console me. She stays until 10 when the lights go on. I roll the Emoji out again. Its winter and for fondant lovers, we know that winter is not kind to fondant. Its not kind tonight. The fondant gets flipped with my sisters help and cracks around the edges. It feel  just like that fondant – about to crack. Its very late. Ros heads home. The lights go out again.  On. Off. On again like some evil game of ping pong. Defeated, I put the unfinished cake away in the dining room and close the door to ward off any curious little people. Its past 11 and I begin melting chocolate for biscuit pops. I’ll fix and finish the cake in the morning, I think.

Morning hits. Sean is away on a Harvard programme in Rwanda. I am alone in the milieu of party day. I take Tali to school.  School ends at 1:30 and the party starts at 2:15. So Ellie (4) and Zara (2) stay home to avoid any pick up delays. On my way back  from drop off I call a caterer and organize 2 platters at astronomical prices.  I get home. The kitchen looks like a bomb exploded with a whole bunch of half made things. Sharon, my nanny, asks me to look in on the cake as somethings happened. TERRIBLE. JUST TERRIBLE. Ellie found the  cake and dug into the fondant, pulling out pieces to consume. I cry. I sigh and call my mother.

Expert roller granny arrives with a new batch of yellow fondant. The party is now costing a small fortune. We save the cake in the nick of time. My brother arrives to do the cheese platter and help load the car. We fly to the venue to set up and fly home to change. Tali’s home, family’s packed in and its 2:15. We’re still on the road and Tali screams “I’m late for my own party”. We pass guests along the way and meet others as we enter the salon. At least most of the eats are on the table.

I breathe and settle down.  The Beauty Box Northcliff salon is amazing. They’ve spelt out “happy birthday” in rose petals for Tali. She loves it. Twenty kids have mani’s and pedis and a blast. I drink cappucinos and wait for the treatments to end. Parents begin to arrive and the treatment hasn’t ended. It goes on and on and one dad begins to look very irate. We sing happy birthday, dowl out emoji ball party favours, pack up and leave.

“Thank God its over and thank God for family” is all I think as we leave. I’ve pulled off enough parties to know that they require planning. But I now  know, that pulling off even the simplest of parties requires a specific state of mind – the state of mind that plans but also holds the expectation to adjust expectations. Its a metaphor for life. I realize that curve balls  can pitch up at any time in life – the way to deal with it, is to go through it calmly and still enjoy yourself at the party.

 

MUMMY, WHAT’S PROTEST ACTION?

We received a letter from the principal of my daughters’ primary school yesterday. He wrote of how the board considered closing the school on Friday in light of the expected widespread protests against the president’s cabinet reshuffle.

 

He told us that learning would go on as usual because the school did not associate with any political group. However, he went on to say, the school would respect the decision of parents who chose to protest with their children. He stated that the school would use this as an opportunity to engage learners on issues around protest action. In other words, they would use it as an opportunity to educate learners (at their level) about the demonstrations.

 

Should we be teaching our little people about politics? Are we not politicizing our kids at too young an age? Are we teaching them a culture of unruly behavior, of rebellion?

 

These are hard questions but we have chosen to discuss it with our 7 year old. We want her to learn that she has a voice and she can use it to express her opinions. Her opinions matter, both her assent and disagreement – even with her leaders. We want her to learn that her disagreement can be a tool to effect change but that it should never be accompanied by destructive behavior.

 

So in the conversation with my daughter yesterday, I explained that people march because they are unhappy with government. “Government, I thought it was because of the president that they are marching”, she said. I thought I was teaching her. But right there, was a lesson for me. The lesson that if I don’t teach my children, someone else will. The playground or some or other influential person will teach them how to perceive the world. Most parents would agree that not having control over what your kids take in, is placing them in harm’s way.

 

It also came to me that what we teach our kids about protest action will determine what kind of citizens they will become in future. And that’s all the more reason to engage them in the discussion now. We engage them to make sure that we raise involved concerned citizens. We do it to mould our children into conscientious leaders (different from our president) who understand that in the counsel of many there is wisdom. We do it teach them that their VOICES MATTER!

 

Mumziboo – That’s me!

Mumziboo – that’s me, written by a mum of 4 little girls who is married to an awesome guy. All my tutus are under the age of 8. Tal is 7, Ellie is 4, Zaza is 2 and Tey  is a wee bairn of 4 days old. This is my journal, tribute, moment, downtime, cry time and whatever shape or form this blog may take.

It was before the birth of Tey and shortly after Sean and I decided that I would quit my legal practice and stay home to raise our brood, that it hit me. I realized that this was me. Being an attorney never defined me- it was my profession for a large part of my life, being a dancer was not me – it was something I did and loved. Being a cake baker or pottery maker or whatever I engaged in with great gusto, shaped my identity, sure, but it was not intrinsically me.

Motherhood is different though. At least it is to me. I can’t separate my self from it. It’s not a department in my life, a time when I am scheduled to do it. It’s not me practicing my talents or enhancing my skills. No, its what I’ve evolved into. Everything else that is me is still there. My heart, my personality, my natural abilities, strengths and weaknesses together with my core values are still there. All of it  – only now, its become a mama bear. And it’s amazing and weird at the same time – because “me”, my life, has through motherhood, extended into the lives of 4 others. They are an extension of “me” – and that will never change.

Any mum out there will agree with me – it’s a hair raising roller coaster. And I’ve decided – amidst the exhaustion, messy house, incessant worry, cost of living and school fees – I am going to hold tight and enjoy the ride!!!!!!

Chat soon!!!!