Camping is not for sissies

I have only once been camping in my entire life (when I was 30, skinny and childless), so when my friend Rose asked if we wanted to go camping for the long weekend I thought Hey, I’m all for new adventures. Besides, I knew the kids would love it!

Beaverlac has intermittent (warm) water and no electricity for the camp sites, but not even knowing that deterred me. I was determined to have a great time. The most bizarre thing was that I felt like the last person on earth that had ever heard of the place. Absolutely everyone I spoke to either knew about it or had camped there to varying degrees of success.

So, armed with a tent, a gazebo, a coleman, 2 camping chairs, many bottles of wine and a big blanket for the kids to sit on we hit the road on Saturday morning (after a swimming costume crisis which called for a hasty stop at Woolworths)

I learnt some really important lessons this weekend:

  • Dirty feet are inevitable
  • There will be sand.
  • The sand will get into absolutely everything
  • Get a good ground sheet
  • Relax and let the kids play
  • Blow-up mattresses suck, we’ll be replacing those with other mattresses as soon as we can. I don’t want to shout at children to not jump on mattresses the whole time, they are also there to have fun.
  • Invest in a trailer. It’s easy to leave everything in there and better on the back to get stuff in and out.
  • And lastly: even though they say you can drink the tap water, don’t.

I only managed to read Cat’s post on camping this morning, go and have a look at what she says, she has some great pointers!

We all had a great time and I’m definitely doing it again, very soon!

Edit to add:  I compltelely forgot to add!  There was NO cellphone signal.  Nothing, niks, nada.  Every time I would reach for my phone to tweet something I would realise I couldn’t.  Did me the world of good!

Here some pics of the trip:

Our fabulous tent!
Daniel the first morning. Can you tell we had ribs for supper?
My lovely friend Rose explaining to Isabel that the doggies are very friendly.
Little A drawing watches on everyone's arms. How gorgeous is their Retriever?
Walking to have a swim. How cute is that bum?
Isabel eating breakfast. I just loved the colours and she looked so serene.
Mignon contemplating life
Just a cute pic of Isabel, she has this habit of walking behind you, holding onto whatever top you are wearing. Check out the cute little plaits.

Thank you and Good night

The Living and Loving Magazine is doing a feature on Mommy Bloggers for their May edition and Tanya Kovarsky, their Editor, kindly asked if I would participate.  (I suspect my friend Tertia paid her, but that’s another story)

I haven’t been on a photoshoot in, well, ever.  Unless you count my wedding pictures, but those were in a Kir Royale induced blur.  My jaw still hurts from all that smiling, 10 years later.

I went by myself with the kids as my Mom’s away and Etienne was working.  I was a little very nervous about not having anyone with me, but they were absolutely AWESOME.  Yes they were extremely loud and energetic and ran around like mad, but they didn’t argue with each other (or me!) once.  There was a little moment when the photographer was busy when Mignon was not keen on sitting on her chair, but we managed to smooth that out.

Here they are before they were all dressed up:

Check how dirty Isabel’s feet are, we had to wash those before getting dressed..

When the stylist put Mignon and Isabel’s outfits out I said, and I quote: “put down the two outfits and back away slowly” Which she promptly did and the girls chose an outfit each and were very happy with what they were wearing.  There were also the most delightful little pink pumps, Mignon now keeps asking for ballet shoes.  Sigh.

Daniel was The Man.  He smiled and laughed and posed like there was no tomorrow, he kept everyone entertained!  He was wearing a really cool outfit, in fact we all looked like a gazillion bucks.

It was great to have someone else do my make-up and fuss over beads of sweat and hair that ‘minced’ in the heat.  I could seriously get used to it.  I wish.

And here is Isabel about 15 seconds after we hit the road:

big big thank you to the team that made us look so pretty and took such great pics today, we felt very special!  Oh, and please just photoshop out at least a couple of my chins please?  Ta.


One for the boys

There are so many cool things I want and need to blog about, but I would like to send out a little plea today instead.

Our children go to a farm school.  To get to the farm school in the Durbanville Winelands we battle through suburban school traffic in the morning and travel first on a 2 lane road with NO shoulder and then on a road passing horses and cows and vineyards with a speed limit of 80km/h.  I love traveling to the school, it’s so good for the soul to see such beauty every day.

Lately however it’s been marred by, for want of a better word, ASSHOLES.  People that are in a terrible hurry to get to whatever is so important in their lives that they end up endangering the lives of children.

Yesterday morning there was a guy in a white BMW that overtook me, the 3 cars in front of me and 2 trucks into oncoming traffic over a solid white line at 110km/h.  I still shudder just thinking about it.

This morning, after dodging the guy on the bike that decided that it shouldn’t be my turn to go because I should have a 360 view of absolutely everything on the road and because he is clearly so much more important than me, I am driving along merrily on the 2 lane road that has NO shoulder when another guy in a large white bakkie also overtakes 4 cars coming straight at me and pulled in front of the front car just in time.  The worst of it is that he would have ended up in that school traffic about 50 meters down the road anyway so that manic overtaking was completely in vain.

So now my children can ALL say ASSHOLE, in unison, at the right time.

Guys, please.  Breathe before you get in the car in the morning.  Think about the potential impact of reckless driving especially at that time of the morning when people are dropping children off at school.


The Sussies turn 3

Remind me again why I don’t outsource parties?

Oh yes, my terribly misguided sense of responsibility and wanting to make a fuss of the kids and make their birthdays super memorable.  And trying to convince myself that I’ll save money doing it all myself.  Which is just bollocks, actually.

Friday and Saturday was unmitigated chaos.  Angie, one of the teachers at school that has become part of our family, is a cake fundi so she came to help and make flowers for the cakes.  Yes, cakeS, I refuse to make one cake for two people, it’s a thing.

Most things were home-made for the party, which I was quite proud of (another sentence I never thought I would utter.  What has my life come to?)

I got so wrapped up in getting everything done that I ran out of time,  so when our friends arrived they all jumped in to help, bless them all they know who they are.  But I almost died of embarrassment, my Mother would have had a lot to say, but hey, she’s away on holiday at the moment so it will just be our little secret..

It was a cake decorating party and I wanted to steer away from the traditional party packs as we end up sending children home with more sweets usually so I decided to rather give them something tangible to take away.  Enter aprons which my Mom made and I painted.  I think they went down very well.

I wanted to make a flower cake with a fairy on, but those friggin fairies were like Chucky’s Brides.  We couldn’t get a dress sorted with the plastic icing and they ended up popping up all over the show, even in the cake halfway through the party.  Whatever.  There were 2 beautiful mushrooms and many little flowers.

Blue cake was Mignon and green Isabel.

























Each little party pack had containers with decorations for the cupcakes (baked by Etienne) some sweeties and bubbles.  Every party should have bubbles!

Here is Mignon at the table, check out the lovely Guardian Angel she got from a friend around her neck.

And here’s Isabel eating the top of her cake’s mushroom:

And here is Daniel not posing for a pic with his sisters.  Poor Caz battled for ages to get something of the 3 of them together, to no avail.  He wanted nothing to do with the camera so eventually Etienne went to fetch him and this is all she could get.  Hilarious!

Once again a big thank you for all the sms’es, tweets, phone calls and Facebook messages we received and to everyone who helped us make the day special!

The Sussies

When we had twins we made ourselves some promises. It was really important for us to raise them as individuals. To dress them differently, never refer to them as ‘The Twins’ and some other things we felt were important at the time.

I have a friend who used to hate that she and her sister were referred to as ‘The Girls’ and this made me even more determined to not refer to Mignon and Isabel as a collective.

I’m afraid we might have failed a little.

It started very innocently. From their arrival we spoke about ‘Sussie’ (sister) and ‘Boetie’ (brother) as part of showing love and affection. Somewhere along the way they became a Collective, ‘The Sussies’. At school they talk about the Sussies, at home we tell Daniel to say goodnight to the Sussies.

In the back of my mind I have wondered about this, but not really ever got smacked with the way other people perceive it until this past week.

Someone asked me in what context and why we call them Sussie and it was really hard to explain. We have so many names for them that aren’t their own names: Liefie, Skattebol, Pokkeloks (no idea where that came from!), Pop, Koekeloeks (once again, no idea!), Monkey. The list is endless.

So, this weekend I was thinking about how they would feel about it in the long run and if they would be mad that they are referred to as ‘Sussies’, which technically they are. And I’ve decided that for now it’s ok. Sometimes it’s just a little easier to talk about ‘Sussies’ if you are in a hurry and just need to get the words out and I am very comfortable that everyone that matters at school understands our way of thinking and celebrates their differences the way we do at home.

What do you think?

Sick children stories

The school called this morning, please come collect Isabel, she’s not well. Whilst I was out with my Mom trying to sort out birthday party stuff for next week.

As you do, I dropped everything and dashed off to the school where I found the following: 1 crying sick child (Isabel), 1 snotty happy child (Mignon) and 1 totally healthy child that simply refused to stay at school (Daniel). So I now find myself blogging from my phone whilst lying entangled in 3 sets of arms and legs on the couch amidst much coughing, sniffing and spluttering.

Part of me is really annoyed that most of my day is now cancelled, but a much bigger part of me is really chuffed to be spending the afternoon with them.

I’m going to stop writing now, my arms are sore..

Living proof that I will never be a hairdresser

If you know me in real life or used to read my other blog you’ll know that I’m not only notoriously bad at baking banana loaf, I’m also notoriously bad at cutting hair.  Here is proof: (no judgies please, ok?)  Besides, to take 3 kids for a haircut is very, very expensive.

Daniel at about 16 months old:

Daniel, May 2008, just after the girls were born.  Hey, the hormones were rampant.

Daniel, late 2008.  Don’t even ask.  I picked up the #3 instead of the #4 to cut his hair.  It’s hard to focus when the child’s screaming and being pinned down by his father.

Daniel, early 2009.  This time I took the #3 out of the box so I wouldn’t get confused with the #4 and the #3, but ended up using the #2.  Shameful I say.  Please see story above.  I’m sticking to that.

Mignon and Isabel’s first fringe cut (taken with Grannies, they were NOT happy with me.  The Grannies, not the children)

Eek.  That one’s really bad..

This one was July 2010.  By this time I had learnt that less really is more, but not always in a straight line:

And here the hairdresser messed up their hair in December 2010: (she had to run after them and cut over their heads from the back.  It was not pretty)

And lastly, my most recent ‘work’.  Done this week.  Don’t ask about the outfits, they picked and dressed themselves, who am I to complain? I also have to confess that I am known to do what I can with Daniel within the limitations of home-based-hair-cutting-hysteria and then cart him off to school where his lovely teachers keep scissors at hand and snip stray hairs to fix my work.  Love it!  (Mignon in pink top and Isabel in white top)








Can’t say I didn’t warn you…

Overdue weekend post

This past weekend (that started on Friday morning) we squeezed in so much fun it felt like it should have lasted for at least a week!

It was Etienne’s birthday on Friday and we were staying over in town for the U2 concert on Friday night, our first night away from all the kids.  How sad is that?  They were at home with Angie, our superhero and the only person able to take care of our mad bunch.

By now you would have seen all the comments about the Cape Town concert ranging from bad sound to too many smokers, so I won’t bore you with that.  I will say that it was a very long, hot day, but well worth it.  The fan walk was amazing as always, here’s a pic of Etienne in front of one of the big posters on the way:

I never ever post pictures of myself, but just to give you an idea, my hair was beautifully straight and I was wearing actual makeup when we left the apartment and here we are, Etienne looking beautiful and me, well, no makeup and ‘minced’ hair.  Oh well.

On Saturday we headed through to Kleinmond where Etienne’s BFF is spending some of his honeymoon with his folks that retired there.  He lives in Taiwan and got married in the Philippines recently to his lovely wife that Daniel calls ‘the little girl’ because she is so petite.  To say our kids were spoilt is the understatement of the century.  They were doted on by everyone from the minute they set foot in the door and rewarded us by being pretty well-behaved (well, most of the time anyway).

Here is a pic of our walk on the beach:

Our friend’s Dad also plays the keyboard and he entertained the kids for ages, check out this little video of Mignon playing and Isabel and Daniel dancing.  I’m so glad I caught it!

The longlonglong weekend

OK. Fair enough.  It was a normal weekend.  It was the first weekend in literally months that we had absolutely nothing planned.  No parties, no dinner parties, nothing.  (I’m almost ashamed to admit it)

We decided to give the kids a break from all their friends and have a lovely weekend to ourselves and the Grandparents.

We should have known that there would be trouble when we popped into our local Pick and Pay yesterday and they ran around the shop screaming and laughing and babbling like lunatics.  Generally they are a bit noisy in the shops, but yesterday they took it to a whole new level.  Yesterday we were ‘those’ people that you hate in the shops with the loud children.

And that’s pretty much how the rest of the weekend went.  With a little manic crying every now and again, jumping on everything, ignoring repeated pleas and just generally being little miscreants.  We tolerated it because Mignon and Isabel are under the weather with the snots, so we only realised it when we got to the end of our tethers on a Sunday evening and they eventually ended up in Time Out.  I’m surprised we lasted that long.

After Time Out peace descended.  They sat in a line all quiet and peaceful, little halos all bright and shiny.  Which makes me wonder: why did it only dawn on us then to draw the line? We just kind of sucked it up until then.

Don’t get me wrong, we had a lovely weekend full of hugs and cuddles and we chatted up a storm, but jeez, they’re a busy bunch.

Here is a conversation about party themes we had in the car today.  Just so you believe me when when I say it’s an ongoing conversation in our house:  (If you don’t understand Afrikaans, my apologies, but there’s enough references to popular characters for you to follow the gist)

Party theme conversation

Oh, and when you get given a box full of prickly pears that haven’t been de-thorned, do encourage your husband to peel them outside. On paper.  And not to use one of the kitchen cloths to wipe down the kitchen counter and then just chuck it in the sink.  Where Someone will use it later.  And end up with a hand full of thorns.  Just so you know.


The first time I heard “No” uttered by Daniel when he was around 2 years old I was simultaneously filled with dread and fear and powerlessness.  Because up to then I had control over him, but he had clearly decided that he had his own free will.  How bloody inconvenient.

Over time I have come to be able to push those feelings into a little corner as you learn coping mechanisms such as making a game of it and pretending that is doesn’t phase you and it’s all fun etc.  Or I just make Etienne deal with it when I know I’m about to crack.

I kept Isabel home today as she isn’t well and my Mom came to fetch her for the afternoon.  I had to collect Mignon and Daniel and then drive to my Mom’s house to collect Isabel.  As I arrive Daniel’s teacher says he’s been ‘otherwise’ for most of the day, refusing to pack away work when he is done and just generally making a mess.  And I already braced myself.

I put him and Mignon in the car and he refused to face the front after much cajoling and begging (I mean, you cannot be seen to lose your temper in the parking lot of the school now can you?).  So, I ended up strapping him in facing out the back window.  And then proceeded to say that if he doesn’t turn around in 1/2/3 counts he will not go with to his Ouma’s house to collect Isabel.  He remained stubbornly unmoved, which of course made me feel all the more powerless and generally pissed off.  And people in cars were pointing and staring at the child facing the wrong way.  Oh the shame of it.

I then went straight home and waited for Etienne to come home so I could take Mignon and leave.  And that 7 minutes of waiting went something like this:

  • Daniel, please bring your bag up from the car.
  • No. Never.
  • Daniel, please don’t make a mess in the playroom.
  • No.
  • Daniel, please close the back door.
  • No. Never ever ever ever.  I’m not your friend! I don’t like you anymore!

To which I of course said ‘Just wait until your Dad gets home!’  (which of course, was exactly what my Mom used to say)

So, ‘No’ is probably one of the most powerful words in the world.  And the most hated by parents everywhere.

If he weren’t so damn cute and sweet most of the time he would have been in BIG trouble.

ps My most heartwarming moment of the day was the reunion between Mignon and Isabel.  They love each other so much and gave each other a big hug and a kiss after spending the day apart.  And then proceeded to have an argument about a doll dummy.  It never ends.