Why kids and parents love PediaSure Complete

I’ve spoken about this a lot over the years, but our little Noah is a self-proclaimed vegetarian and has been since he was three. It happened when we had the general food education chat with the boys. It’s so important that they know where their food comes from, how it is sourced and what the nutritional benefits and downfalls are. I regularly talk to them about ’empty’ foods such as macaroni and cheese that might taste really good, but it doesn’t have a lot of vitamins to make them big and strong. Literally all that little boys want to be is ‘big and strong’ and I love that after a good home cooked meal, they run to me and show me their muscles.

Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 3.11.13 PM

When I explained the origin of meat to the boys – they each processed the information differently. Noah became increasingly aware of food processing. At school, they were learning about carnivores and something just started to make sense for him. He decided that he wanted to be a herbivore and not ever eat animals. I thought that it would be a phase, but FOUR years later, he has remained firm in his convictions, beside the odd food item. He could eat a 2kg steak if he wanted to, but he just doesn’t. Supporting him is key, both emotionally and physically.

On the flip side, Benjamin is a meat, rice and potatoes kinda kid. He’s (sort of) (okay not really) good with vegetables but after school, the ONLY thing he wants to eat is bread with melted cheese and tomato sauce. Noah is good with his grains, cereals, yoghurts and fruit but right now he’s losing his milk teeth and all his front teeth are wobbly, so he doesn’t want to eat anything hard. He hasn’t eaten apples for weeks and for some reason he despises bananas and genuinely hates citrus. So right now I have a boy who needs a supplement for fruit, protein and iron and another boy who needs a supplement for everything other than tomato sauce. While I make them nutritionally balanced lunches most afternoons, some of it gets left untouched or little excuses come up like them being ‘too full’ or not liking lettuce and today, this sandwich which contained absolutely no pepper at all, apparently had too much pepper on it.

Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 3.12.17 PM

When the PediaSure team asked me to share my story on how I’m raising boys with dietary needs, it was a no-brainer because this is real life and something that I’ve been wrestling with for years. I want them to have the freedom to experiment with food, new tastes, cravings, phases and favourites. While we’re enforcing, encouraging and creating healthy eating habits, I need their nutrition bases covered to buy me some time and alleviate some stress. You cannot force a child to eat something that they have decided they do not like. Sometimes I can convince them, like: “Broccoli are mini trees, oh my gosh how cool that you’re eating a baby tree?!” and other nights I am just like “Who wants cereal for supper?” Graeme is a grown man and I can’t get him to eat brussel sprouts, marrows or patty pans. You should totally come ’round our place at supper time because some nights it’s just plain funny.

Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 3.11.57 PM

I’ve given the boys this PediaSure milkshake as a supplement when they’ve been sick and don’t want to eat. When I say “milkshake” just remember that this is a powder that you mix with water – so it’s safe for lactose or gluten intolerant children. I love the vanilla one and obviously so do the boys. It’s creamy, sweet and filling and honestly tastes like ice cream. Inside each ‘milkshake’ you’ll be feeding your kid 16 vitamins and minerals, including Iron, Zinc, Calcium and Omega 3. Each serving is 225ml and contains 225 calories which is about 940 kilojoules. That’s about the same as 3 pots of kiddies yoghurt, so don’t worry about solely this product causing weight gain. It does serve as a meal replacement and the boys prefer having it at breakfast or as a mid-afternoon snack. Sometimes I put a few sprinkles of cinnamon on top because then it tastes like actual milk tart.

PediaSure Complete is a balanced nutritional supplement (scientifically-proven) and is ideal for the picky or fussy eater or even kids that need additional support in their diets like children with allergies – or little vegetarians like mine.

They have this whole website with myths and facts about fussy or picky eaters and how to manage their nutritional needs. If you’re worried about your kid missing out on essential nutrients for growth, then you can check out their Facebook Page which has a few tips > www.facebook.com/PediaSureSA and you can do some research on their website to see where your children might be falling short >  www.pickyeating.co.za

Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 3.12.30 PM

This post is sponsored by PediaSure®Complete. The comments on this page do not constitute medical advice.

Your healthcare professional is best placed to evaluate your child’s growth and development. Should you have any concerns or questions, please seek advice from your healthcare professional? For product-related questions, contact the Abbott Nutrition Support Line on 0861 22 68 87.

0
0

A little piece of our home, the rabbit haus

The nice team at Builders came over to our home to see what Graeme has been making and what sort of things we’ve been up to around the house. I am VERY lucky that G is so handy and especially lucky when he gets bored (literally always) and starts chopping and drilling and cutting and sanding things together. I also really like that our boys get involved and are slowly learning a trade. Noah helps with drilling and tends to our vegetable garden. He sometimes holds planks that Graeme is sanding or cutting and gets super excited when dad is out and about in the shed. Over the past few weeks, G made us a very gorgeous vegetable garden and I got to plant watermelon, sweet melon, tomatoes, cucumbers, patty pans, mielies, chillies, pumpkins, sweet potato, beetroot and a whole lot of herbs. We put a fence around all of it this weekend, so I’m REALLY excited about having a corner of garden that our dogs can’t get to.

G has also made a sweet garden swing for the boys and yesterday we made hanging bulbs for outside using succulents and I’m super excited to share that with you. We’ll be sharing the Swing & Succulent Bulb tutorials over on Builders Warehouse’s twitter feed ( @buildersfan ) this Friday and trust me, you’re gonna want these for your garden and outdoor entertainment areas. If you have a little balcony and want to add some greenery that you can’t kill – this one’s gonna be for you.

Probably my favourite thing that Graeme has created is our dining room table, which I absolutely love. Our side tables in the lounge: G sourced / stole discarded tree stumps from a park and sanded them down. I also really love the hanging plants he made for our office, which look so great beneath the skylight. Noah, I really hope that you’re still passionate about woodwork and gardening when you’re older my boy. Ben is more in to daydreaming and animals and play pretend right now, so it’s going to be super interesting to see how their personalities evolve and how they build their own nests one day. Here are some pictures!

Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 9.56.06 AMScreen Shot 2015-10-26 at 9.57.10 AMScreen Shot 2015-10-26 at 9.57.53 AMScreen Shot 2015-10-26 at 10.04.45 AMScreen Shot 2015-10-26 at 9.59.40 AMBuildersFan_TheMakers_NatashaClark_LR_006

Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 10.05.47 AM

If you like anything you see, and to those who have asked before: We got our rabbit shaped cushions from Menagerie. Our kitchen stools are Coricraft. The “Let’s Run Away” talking banner was from Typo. Our lounge ‘feature wall’ items like the weaved baskets, vintage mirrors and the bokkie head are all from @home. Our bunny pattern cushion (above) was from Design Kist. The Nguni hide was gifted to us by my friend Keri. Our black and white carpet is from Weylandts and was super affordable. A lot of our accessories are from there, like our baskets that we put plants in to and the spanish carafe on our floating shelves and the mechanic lights above our dining room table. Our couches were custom made about a million years ago and we’ll need new ones pretty soon. I am sort of waiting for the children to stop messing cereal and tomato sauce on them, so I’ll hold back on that. The grey bird cushion is from Skinny la Minx and a lot of bits and bobs like the colourful vases oh and our dining room chairs are from Mr Price Home. We got the floating shelves from Builders Warehouse, and the perfect shade of grey paint on our walls is called “Cement” but I don’t remember which brand it was!

One day I’ll share some pictures of the rest of the house and the garden but I’m super lazy so thank you to the Builders team for stopping by and sharing your pictures with me! Here’s the man behind most of (all) the making, my Mister Graeme Bettles >

10305972_10152088970941296_6942018574479938230_n

9
0

Pumpkin bunny had bunnies.

Yesterday, 21 October I was watering some plants (you know the ones that the dogs haven’t eaten yet) and noticed the bunnies being a bit noisy like running up and down the cage a lot. When I looked, I saw a few mouse-like bald things crawling around the cage. They sorta looked like small versions of that monster in Pan’s Labyrinth. I won’t post an image because this is a family blog and I have a responsibility to not harm you, emotionally. Actually, maybe stop reading right here.

The thing with mama rabbits is that when they’re stressed out with their kits, they sort of eat them. The male (Buttons) was in the cage and this really freaked her out and her only solution was to physically decapitate her young. With her teeth. Motherhood is tough, so no judgies but I had to act super fast to save the remaining 6. Buttons was confused and a little bit frightened because A) his children were crawling around the cage and fatherhood is sometimes a bit of a shock to men and B) his wife was murdering their children.

Here’s an extract from a site on why a rabbit would do this > “If she is in the process of kindling or if she has a young litter, and then gets frightened for her life, it is well documented that she might eat her babies, destroying any evidence that would attract predators or reduce her chance of survival.”

I made a little nest box for her with ripped up blankets and some hay and moved her to a separate cage just to CALM HER THE F DOWN. Gave her some newspaper to shred, some water and food and covered the new family with a blanket in a quiet room. Amongst all of this I also took a really quick photo of the babies so I could remember them in case she ate them.

12109065_10153109925716296_223382535651300388_n

So right now I’m on mama and baby rabbit watch. This morning all the kits are still alive and squirming and she is feeding them (mostly against her will). I trick her by putting apples and spinach in the nest box and then the babies roll around under her and get what they can very quickly. One of the babies rolled around her face and she started licking it but I thought she was chewing it, so there is still panic. We had a really long talk about motherhood and responsibilities so maybe that helped.

We cleaned out her cage today and she made a little nest for herself and drank about (I’m estimating) 17 litres of water. She’s cleaning up all her own droppings and excretions and sometimes I catch her looking over in to the nest and rubbing her chin on the outside so maybe motherhood is growing on her. We’re keeping the dogs outside and trying to keep her calm and she looks pretty happy now, so holding thumbs!

PS Does anyone want a bunny? No really we have six and they’re hella cute. I’m posting a photo a day of them to track their growth if you wanna check it out on Instagram – @therabbithaus.

 

5
0

Every part of you is just another part of me.

I haven’t written you boys a nice letter lately; mostly because I’ve been so busy hanging out with you. I wonder when you guys will start reading these posts. Maybe you’re young men now. Or teenagers. Or fathers. Well, right now Noah: You’re six years old and you joined a new school this year. Your ‘forever’ school where you’ll be ’til you’re ‘big’ (standard five / grade 7) You had a pretty tough few weeks settling in, but you’re finally back to your ass-kicking, bouncy, happy, cheerful, chatty and bright self. You hang around mostly with girls and I’ll mention their names in case you remember or still know them: Claire, Ella, Fin and Ryan. And then with Dylan, Sam and Alfie too. That is sort of your squad and you guys are the coolest.

Benjamin you’re 5 next month and DYING to finish “baby school” and get to Grade R. You’re doing so well at art and your head sucks up information like a thirsty desert. Every day you have a new piece of information and you get SO upset when I drive you to school because you insist that my car is killing the earth and making holes in the Ozone layer. You love to sing. You love to watch television (Paw Patrol) and tell Noah that you just want to relax. You HATE it that Noah wants to play games like 24/7 when all you want to do is sleep late, watch TV and eat melted cheese on toast with tomato sauce. Mostly I think you’re missing out on solid friendships right now. At your school, all the kids are going to other schools next year. You’re really excited to meet your new, “forever” friends at big school. I’m so excited FOR you.

Noah right now you have 5 loose teeth and you’re about to lose a couple. Bunny (do I still call you Bunny?) we’re planning your 5th birthday party right now, which is obviously a Paw Patrol theme. You used to be obsessed with Spiderman, then Dora, then George in Peppa Pig and now it’s Marshall in Paw Patrol.

We’ve just come out of Winter over here, so right now you guys are really loving getting out the house and in to the forest, beach and and park. We’re doing a lot of gardening and planting vegetables – which you both love. Daddy just made you a big swing in the front garden with ropes tied to the bottom so you can pull each other and let go really fast. Do you remember that? Jack loves pulling you guys on the swing too.

I wonder what else you’ll remember about right now. Your tiny childhood. Your teachers, your friends, your school, your home. Do you remember the “N” and “B” lights I bought you for your bedroom? Do you remember us going on dates to the movies and sitting in the “red chairs”? Getting ice creams with flakes and browsing the toy shops? Do you remember baking muffins and cupcakes and me making you clean the lounge every afternoon. Do you remember all the times you got in to trouble for wetting the floor in the bathroom or the dogs always eating your shoes and me getting really mad. Do you remember climbing the olive trees in the garden, because pretty soon you’ll be too big to do it.

I miss you. I miss you being this small. Even though you aren’t big yet – it still hurts… knowing that you’ll grow up one day. You still believe everything I say and you believe in all the cool things like tooth fairies and Father Christmas and magic. All you want to do it play and pretend and make and create things and dream and listen to stories and colour and draw and eat sweets and learn. You’re so energetic and feisty and hungry for life, like every day is a brand new ADVENTURE filled with fun and excitement. Do you remember that?

I want you to know that whatever is going on for you right now – you were once a little boy with scraped knees and a heart filled with joy, happiness and energy. And I adore you.

 

Mommy bunny x

4
0

Stellenbosch is perfect for families this Spring!

We did some exploring in the Stellenbosch Wine Route last weekend! My mom moved closer to the area this week, which means that we’ll be spending so much more time in Stellies now. Obviously I’ve already started booking a few things for us to do. I wanted to tell you about a few favourite places that we discovered recently, in case you like them too. Or maybe you’re stuck on something fun to do with the kids these school holidays. So in no real order, we really loved:

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 4.26.38 AM

We did a walking tour of a vibrant township, called Kayamandi. Anyone can go, just take your kids or your family and book with Thembi, a registered tour guide. Thembi has lived in Kayamandi for most of her life, and even went to high school there. It seems she’s a bit of a celeb in the town, because so many people stopped to greet her and chat. She’s a most excellent guide and had all the inside stories on the development projects, and obviously all the good local skinner too.

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 7.10.06 AM

I really want the boys to learn about the Xhosa culture and way of life, so this was a really great experience for them. We weren’t perceived as tourists or outsiders at all. The kids meshed straight in to the community; challenging every kid with a ball to a soccer game, demanding treats at the spaza shop and wandering in to people’s houses to chat.

IMG_20150926_122830

I’m really jealous of the sense of community in Kayamandi. Here in the Suburbs, you would never dream of just walking in to your neighbors house and making yourself at home, or hanging up someone else’s washing just because there’s space on the line. Even in my ‘nice’ area and neighborhood, I wouldn’t let the kids run around the block to meet friends at the park, ride their bikes or play soccer without me. In Kayamandi, your child is everyone’s child. Even mine. Everyone’s doors are open as they cook, wash dishes or watch television. Even when they leave their homes, they don’t even close the front door. The area that we were in (close to the school) is the good or safe neighborhood. Thembi explained that the closer you get to the outskirts – near the shebeens, things start to change… but only late at night.

It’s frowned upon for young women to hang out in Shebeens so girls in their 20s and so on have get-togethers at each other’s houses, which is viewed as more appropriate. Another normality at Kayamandi is that the older children are expected to help take care of their younger siblings once they start walking. There were loads of toddlers being dragged around by their annoyed older brothers who really only wanted to play soccer. Education is very important to the community, and schooling is free. The students get 2 ‘free’ meals at school every day. One of their greatest community development achievements is a colourful day care and creche that has been built opposite the local high school. Girls who fall pregnant in their teens now complete their schooling and get their matric, which Thembi says has changed the lives of hundreds of young girls over the years.

Screen Shot 2015-10-01 at 10.07.19 AM

It’s not really in the Xhosa culture to keep pets for companionship. Animals are kept for food or wealth or work. Kayamandi, like most informal communities (hell even here in Claremont) has a serious rat problem. The infrastructure of their homes makes them quite vulnerable to pests, so lately they’ve started keeping cats in an effort to keep the rat population in order. They don’t show any kind of ‘human’ affection toward their pets and don’t kiss and cuddle them, but they respect their position and purpose in the household. There aren’t that many dogs roaming about, but I did giggle at one young lady who was super keen to get in a taxi to go shopping, but her dog had followed her all the way from home and she had to turn around and take him back. She was trying really hard to be mad, but the dog was so freakin happy and victorious that he’d stopped her from leaving.

Screen Shot 2015-10-01 at 10.08.02 AM

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 4.25.52 AM

I really enjoyed walking around the neighborhood and chatting to everyone. I especially loved talking to the mamas, and getting their take on parenting. Every mama I spoke to was super shocked that Benjamin is only 4 years old; and such a big little guy. They all offered advice on how to raise such a strong boy and could not emotionally deal with the fact that Noah doesn’t like to eat meat. I also enjoyed how proud the mamas are of their homes, and how all the women work together and have wonderful friendships with their neighbors. I couldn’t believe that they hang their laundry outside their homes or on a hill for the day and nobody ever takes or touches their things. I mean, I’m a stone-throw from Bishops Court and if I hung our clothes outside, you must know that someone on our street will make off with my Country Road coat, you know? If you’re keen to go on a Stellies tour, whether it be a wine, town or cultural tour, then check out all the options here > Stellenbosch Tours

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 7.07.19 AM

Another really fun thing to do for the whole family is Middelvlei Wine Estate‘s Boerebraai. I am gutted that we only discovered this place now, and I’m so excited to go back. They have such an unusual offering in a beautiful, picturesque setting. Middelvlei is exceptionally family friendly with kiddies juice pairings, food boxes, colouring in, farm animals and loads of space to run around and play.

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 4.32.37 AMScreen Shot 2015-10-02 at 7.04.59 AM

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 7.04.27 AM

They have toys for the kids to play with on the grass and a big old sandpit on the edge of the lawn. Families can have a long, leisurely lunch without worrying about the kids getting bored or fidgeting at the table. The food is incredible, all prepared on a big braai out at the back. You’ll especially love the homemade Potbrood and Pampoenkoekies. The Snoek Pate is a game changer, and the Malva Pudding is exactly like your Ouma would have made it. Also, go here for literally the best braaibroodjies in Cape Town. You’ll pay R165 a person for a traditional, gourmet braai that includes literally everything. Take a look > here’s the Middelvlei Boerebraai full menu.

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 4.30.25 AMScreen Shot 2015-10-02 at 4.28.14 AM

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 4.28.58 AMScreen Shot 2015-10-02 at 4.30.44 AMScreen Shot 2015-10-02 at 4.34.34 AM

A word of warning, they’re pretty much always full and fully booked, so call +27.218832565 or email info@middelvlei.co.za to make arrangements. The kids can also braai their own marshmallows, feed the farm animals or go on a tractor ride.

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 4.33.49 AMScreen Shot 2015-10-02 at 4.34.17 AM

If you’re having a super good time and want to stay over or even do a midweek break with the family, then head over to Spier for a drive-in movie. We went last Saturday, and it was the boys’ FIRST ever drive-in experience. I know that there are loads of outdoor cinemas around, but Spier has the original offering. We reversed my car, put the seats down and made a little family bed from the back. They also have a little tuck shop going where you can buy wine, MCC and snacks. Even popcorn. It’s such a great atmosphere, with the kids running around or sitting on blankets in front of the cars. Again, they book up really fast, so get in touch here > Spier Events.

20150926_185747

We stayed at Wedgeview Country House and Spa, which was really central and super affordable, starting at R695 per night. Again, very family friendly. There are solar heated pools, loads of space and a lapa with a pool table. It’s beautifully decorated and the staff are super friendly too. The estate is surrounded by vineyards for as far as the eye can see, so expect spectacular views from every angle. Graeme had a quick nap before the movie because shame he can’t handle all this fun. Wedgeview is so beautiful that I went full-on ‘The Sound of Music’ all over the place.

Screen Shot 2015-10-01 at 10.10.12 AMScreen Shot 2015-10-01 at 10.10.22 AMScreen Shot 2015-10-01 at 10.10.31 AMScreen Shot 2015-10-01 at 10.10.48 AM

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 4.34.47 AM

IMG_20150926_181301

Another great family outing idea is Delvera, a little village created with adventurers and little ones in mind. Aside from the gorgeous restaurant, peddle-cart track, trampolines, the dam and lots of open space, I especially loved the Sustainable Living Centre. This is where they encourage and inform the public, especially the youth, how to live and work in a sustainable manner. This is probably the most important place to take your kids these school holidays, or over a weekend. Their ‘training’ takes 2-4 hours in the gardens, during which time you can have a stunning lunch at the restaurant next door. However, I think you’ll want to join in on the training – especially if you’re keen to have a food garden at home! This is what your kids will learn about >

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 4.38.56 AMScreen Shot 2015-10-02 at 4.39.06 AM

Soil care, composting, worm farming, creating seed banks, mushroom farming, how to create a hanging, raised or vertical garden. Aquacultures. Hydroponics. Organic pest control and how to successfully create, harvest and maintain a food garden at home. They’ll also learn about the environment, recycling and upcycling with Mark Heinstein, who runs the entire center. He is incredibly nice and packed with knowledge.

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 4.39.15 AMScreen Shot 2015-10-02 at 4.39.42 AMScreen Shot 2015-10-02 at 4.38.41 AM

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 4.39.58 AM

I think I asked at least three dozen questions and we left with a handful of giant pumpkin seeds and a few worms for our compost maker. Graeme was so inspired that he made a raised garden as soon as we got home. Once the kids are done with the business of learning about biodiversity and sustainable farming, they’ll love burning off some energy at the peddle carts. Delvera is gorgeous and has something for everyone – even full moon hikes. Get in touch with them to book your kids at the Biodiversity Center > info@delvera.co.za or +27 21 884 4352.

IMG_20150927_115754

If you’re still looking for something fun to do out of town on a weekend, then definitely check out the Lourensford Harvest Market. Great vibe, live music, kids activities, delicious food and lots of jumping castles and sports games for the kids. Open every Saturday and Sunday! You’re even allowed to take your dog. Also check out Millhouse Kitchen and most definitely go for wine tasting around the corner (I recommend the Turkish Delight pairing!) Get all those details here > http://lourensford.co.za/ Or mail info@lourensford.co.za or call 021 847 2333

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 7.03.08 AM

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 4.40.28 AM

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 7.02.53 AM

I hope that you’ve found something fun to do in this post, and that you’ll get exploring with the family this Spring. If, like me, you’ve been keeping a beady eye on the weather for next week – we’re in for warm and sunny days every day except Thursday. A major shout-out to all the other parents whose kids are on school holidays next week and have busy bodies to entertain. Have fun! (and good luck)

2
0

Family photos by Paul Clark – September 2015

My brother Paul (transmit@paulclark.co.za | 082 855 4379) is a photographer, designer, art director and video editor. He is most excellent at everything that he does (insert sibling rivalry undertones) and I am insanely jealous of his photography skills. Last weekend when we were both visiting my mom, he snapped some nice pictures of Benjamin being silly. I asked him to quickly take a picture of each of us to frame at home, and I’m so glad that I did. I’m going to frame a few of these for our corridor at home, along with some of my Paris art prints. Basically spending all my money at the framer’s this month. I love how dark and moody these pictures are, in contrast to our happy faces and dispositions. Also, how ridiculously handsome are my boys?

DSC_0246_F

Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 9.15.59 AM

tash-layout2_TG-5

Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 9.15.44 AM

tash-layout2_TG-3

Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 9.15.20 AM

tash-layout2_TG-4

1
4

That time I went to Paris – September 2015

Paris was an important milestone for me. At school, Art History was the only subject that really resonated with me. I loved the Impressionists; especially Degas. I developed callouses on my right hand from writing so many essays about their paintings and different movements and periods. Art history became my sanctuary. For as long as I can remember, I wanted to see the paintings that became so important to me, and I wanted to see them in real life. I held on to that dream for 14 years.

I went to Paris for the art, and the rest was just noise. The Eiffel Tower meant nothing to me. The vintage dress I bought? Just fabric. The bookshop that everyone raved about was quite… average. The Sacre Coeur? I didn’t bother. On the day I went to the Musee d’Orsay I was shaking while getting ready. I trembled on the train. In the queue. My legs wobbled through the corridors and galleries, like I’d just jumped on a trampoline for 20 minutes and suddenly got off. I walked in to the van Gogh room first and I’ll never forget what it felt like. How overwhelmed I felt. I mean, I don’t even like his work, but to see his paintings in real life made me feel heavy. It made me feel insignificant and important at the same time. I felt… heartbroken. Emotional. Like being in shock when something really terrible has happened and you don’t believe it just yet. I felt like that the entire time that I was in there. After I saw the first Degas I cried like a 4 year old girl that had lost her mother in a crowd. I couldn’t understand why people were just walking past the painting, as if it didn’t matter. It all meant so much to me.

I got to see the Louvre and Musee d’Orsay. I got to live in, and inhale Montmartre for 5 nights and 6 days. I got lost. I got emotional. I got scared and excited and overwhelmed and I got drunk. I felt more of myself than I have in years.

I had a really good time, and I would go back again right now if I could. I had so much fun. You can’t help but be floored by emotion when you’re in Paris, and I suspect that’s part of her appeal. Paris is disarmingly charming and you’d love it if you went – whatever your reasons for going. Wherever I travel to from here, I’ll seek out more art galleries and impressionist paintings. Maybe by the end of my life, I’d have seen them all. This was my personal impression of Paris.

Screen Shot 2015-09-27 at 8.01.05 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 8.00.54 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.59.24 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.59.40 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.59.00 PM

Screen Shot 2015-09-27 at 8.01.17 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.51.45 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.51.14 PM

Screen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.51.00 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.51.56 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.52.07 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.52.18 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.52.30 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.52.41 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.52.53 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.53.08 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.53.18 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.53.29 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.54.22 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.53.52 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.54.02 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.54.11 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.54.33 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.54.43 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.55.31 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.55.54 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.56.06 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.58.29 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.56.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.56.45 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.57.16 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.57.06 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.57.48 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.57.58 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.57.30 PM

I bought quite a few posters and art prints for the house and my office. I bought a Renoir print that I’m especially pleased with. A smaller Degas and a Monet. I sat for a portrait at Place du Terte and I have a hard crush on Neoclassicism now. I’ll see you again real soon, Parieee x

6
0

On being in Paris alone.

A few people (mostly Graeme) have asked how I experienced traveling alone to Paris. You need to understand that as a mother, wife and business owner, my life is pretty packed full of commitments and responsibilities. Obviously so is Graeme’s! The thought of being completely alone if even for a few days to do only what I wanted to do, was very appealing. I spend a lot of my time feeling guilty. If I take the boys to get new shoes, I’d feel guilty if I stopped to look at a cute top. When I’m working in the afternoon, I feel bad if I haven’t taken the dogs for a walk, or spent enough time with the kids. I feel bad when I ask Graeme to read the bed time stories because I’m too tired. Or if I wasn’t organized enough to get the kids bathed, lunch boxes packed and dinner ready by the time G got home from work. Of course he doesn’t expect all of that, and definitely not on the clock (and tells me frequently) but this is my family and I want to take care of them. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I like to have these things taken care of for the boys. I feel bad when I don’t hand school forms in on time, or forget the odd change for a bake sale. I can’t attend every school trip and cringe when I tick the “unable to assist” or “unable to accompany” boxes on the permission slips. I know that all parents feel this kind of guilt in some form, and I know that it bites in to all of us.

I feel guilty when I have to cancel a play date, or when I’ve forgotten the dogs’ flea and de-worming schedules. When I haven’t made a nutritionally balanced lunch for the boys and shove a bowl of noodles in the microwave. When I’ve broken a promise on taking them to a movie, or for a milkshake. It’s taxing, emotionally. It’s not a quest for balance, it’s about feeling okay with your efforts in relation to your results.

For me, the prospect of being freed from obligation even if just for 5 days was quite attractive. An actual holiday, from my emotions and the darkness found in the depths of self evaluation. It’s not that I was running from responsibility, because I completely love being a mother, wife and business owner. I ain’t no hussy. I really do love my life, if it’s okay to say that… without sounding conceited.

There’s a vulnerability to traveling alone. An excitement. A sense of anticipation. What will happen? What will I do? Who will I meet and how will I feel? In a world of responsibilities, routine and having Graeme available to run to at every opportunity – I craved a little bit of mystery and wondered how I would feel too. Would I get sad? Scared? What if I got lost or in to some kind of trouble. Being anonymous  and vulnerable in a foreign city filled me with anticipation. A sense of greatness. Strength. Independence. I wanted to learn, experience, grow and make myself susceptible and available to foreign experiences.

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

If Graeme was with me, he would have carried our backpack when it got too heavy. We’d dine together, so nobody would have approached me, or confided in me. I wouldn’t have got lost or missed that train because Graeme never gets lost. I would never have felt afraid or vulnerable, because G makes me feel so safe. I wouldn’t have struck up accidental friendships, or spent an hour at the Eiffel Tower taking photos for tourists, just for fun. I wouldn’t have sat in silence at the Luxembourg Gardens pond for two hours, feeling desperately lonely. I wouldn’t have cried at the Degas for 20 minutes, because being alone in front of my favourite painting with nobody to share it with… allowed me to experience and absorb it in silence and in solitude. Without conversation and company as distractions and comfort, I think that I felt and experienced so much more. Of myself.

IMG_20150910_184230

There were times that I really longed for Graeme. I had a particularly bad day when I really just struggled with everything. I got lost in translation between 6 floors and 2 information systems that gave me conflicting routes. I missed my train to Monet’s house by 6 minutes (there’s only one every 3 hours) and cried at the station for what felt like most of the day. I put my sunglasses on, I sat on a chair surrounded by strangers and foreigners and I just cried. I missed Graeme when I flooded my hotel room (a disagreement between a tiny shower and it’s curtain) and realized there was no towel in my suite. I missed him when I was queuing at the Louvre and had nobody to share the excitement with. When I saw something beautiful. When I went to bed at night.

IMG_20150910_200227

I feel like I really and genuinely connected and engaged with myself for the first time in years. It wasn’t just about the sites and the art or the people and the history. It was about adding another layer to my character, my experience. I feel different. Empowered. Humbled. Satisfied. I mostly think, act, plan and react based on what the people I love need and want. The kids, their milestones and achievements. My relationship with my husband. My business and other projects. Obligations.

IMG_20150911_174152

IMG_20150910_122025

Eventually, I’m going to tell you about the people I met. Conversations that struck up in ticketing queues. In bookshops. In cafe’s. While waiting for drinks or a meal. While being lost. I want to talk about the man from Norway who went to Paris to fulfill his dreams, and now works in a bar at the Moulin Rouge.  A 27 year old girl from Italy who was about to return home to break up with her boyfriend of 8 years. She drank a lot of red wine, and I kept her company until midnight. A 20 year old French girl with a broken heart, who doesn’t understand how young she is. A 31 year old man who was distraught after converting from Catholicism to Hinduism for his wife and was about to walk away, without their 2 year old daughter. A young boy who got lost in the Carousel de Louvre and cried desperately until I took his hand and soothed him, waiting for his mother to find him. A baker from Los Angeles who had traveled to Paris for a funeral. A lady from Milan who was visiting her oldest friend, and wouldn’t let her pay for anything at lunch. An American woman named Tasha who travels the world and hates it, and also cries in stations. Her dad likes to take a lot of pictures, and it embarrasses her deeply. A French painter who has been painting for 35 years, and now spends her days doing portraits of tourists at Place du Tertre, for 30 euros a piece.

I have so much to talk about, and so much that I want to remember about this trip. I haven’t even touched the photos and memories on my camera yet. I haven’t had time to absorb everything, but yesterday was probably my favourite day in Paris. We’ll talk soon.

4
5

Paris. The first few days.

I wanted to write this while it’s all still fresh in my head. I’ve been in bed by 7:30 / 8pm every night because the days here are pretty tiring, physically. Emotionally. I’m guessing that I’m walking about 10 – 15km a day, maybe? Including like 10 flights of stairs at stations. Talk to me about the walk from the Pigalle or Blanche station to the Sacre Coeur you guys. This is why I’ve been living on wine, ice cream, cocktails and cheese for like three days straight. I’m also drinking so. much. water. because the metro is hot and humid and the days are pretty hot too… around 22 degrees. When I tell Graeme that I’m in bed at 8pm he is like GO OUT and party and I’m just like zzzzzz. Also, if staying in Montmartre, you know that you don’t need to leave your hotel room to be at the party. Last night the Parisians were jolling ’til like 3am and musicians walk up and down the streets to serenade the patrons. I kept waking up to beautiful Edith Piaf melodies, which was pretty wonderful. It’s 8pm now and they’ve already started. I can hear people chatting, kids laughing and running up and down the cobble stoned streets. It’s still daylight here, up ’til about 8:30 or 9pm. It’s such a vibe and I would highly recommend staying in Montmarrrrt. I’m on rue des Abbesses which is prime Parisian real estate. I’m basically between the Moulin Rouge and Sacre Couer, and there are 3 metro stations within 5 minutes walk in opposite directions. There are I think like 27 restaurants and cafes on this street and a whole bunch of grocers. Every night I’ve been stopping at the same vendor for a bagel or burger. Also, please can we talk about the chinese food in Paris? Holy smokes you guys. I still haven’t eaten at a restaurant or cafe, but everything I have tried has been absolutely incredible. My hotel does crepes, french bread, croissants and pastries every day. Coincidentally, they also put a big bowl of prunes out with breakfast every day. Just that. Cheese, breads, meat, croissants, crepes and prunes. Good morning!

Paris is wonderful, and I am loving every single moment – even the metro, which I’ve started to navigate like a boss lately. I’m saving all my routes on my metro app and using those every day (thanks Rosanne and Mel) which is a game changer. I got really confused at one of the BIG stations today on a change-over, because the big stations are a bit tricksy with different routes per line. Gare de Nord will be the effing death of me. Seriously. Whenever a route takes me to that station I want to self harm.

I don’t know if anyone really cares about all the touristy attractions. Yes, the Eiffel Tower is big. The Musee d’Orsay is beautiful. That’s just information that you can find on google. What Paris actually does to you on the inside, is what this journey is all about. I’m not very geographically secure, and I’ve found a few places completely by accident. I have so much to write about, but right now I’m just bushed.

I’m missing the boys so much, and they’ve been so busy with dinners and visitors every day that we haven’t really spoken much. Here are some touristy pictures. I’m off to Luxembourg gardens & the Louvre tomorrow, and hopefully Marais and Canal St Martin. I’ve packed my acrylics, so I don’t really know where I’ll end up. That’s half the fun. Goodnight, from Paris x

Processed with VSCOcam with q1 presetIMG_20150908_142718IMG_20150907_162246IMG_20150908_164709IMG_20150908_142945Processed with VSCOcam with a5 preset

0
2

Paris: The first 2 hours

I’ve been in bed since 8pm going through my maps and notes for tomorrow, trying to remember and figure out all the little details. This morning I sat in my hotel room ’til 11am because I was literally too nervous to hit the streets. Navigating the metro and Paris in general is pretty tricky, and getting lost is not an option. I am notoriously and devastatingly awful at directions, which increases Graeme’s fears of a “Taken” situation quite drastically. I haven’t switched to international roaming on my phone, and I’m currently relying on free WiFi to lead my way. This makes it quite tricky with saving offline maps and routes and also trying to understand actual paper maps you guys. Remember those? Every time I ask the hotel about a metro line or route, they shove more maps in my hands and I’m like THESE DO NOT HELP ME because maps just make me panicky. Another obstacle is asking for directions because like 97% of the people I’ve stopped are also tourists (I cannot Japanese) or are locals and can’t / don’t want to speak English. Not even the lady in the booth at the Metro today. I mean how dare you work in tourism if you can’t tell me which platform to get on for one of the main tourist attractions in the city? Another interesting obstacle is that I seem to be mispronouncing most of the towns and attraction names. I discovered this at the airport when asking which route to take to Montmartre (I said Mont-mart-tray) and the lady was like that does not exist who even are you get out of my French face. Eventually after pointing at my notebook she was like “Ooooh – Momarrrrt. Line 2.” Or maybe it was line 12. I have forgotten.

I mean even on my very first metro trip from the airport, I figured out that the dot next to the name of the ‘suburb’ would flash when stopping at that station. Stunning. Except just before my station, we stopped and it was flashing. I’d heard that the doors close fast so I stumbled as quickly as I could with all my luggage (big bag, backpack and handbag) but the door wouldn’t open. I started panicking and an announcement blared from the speakers in FRENCH and I was like “omg I’m never going to see my family again.” Nobody else knew what was going on either, but it wasn’t their stop so they were like… whatever. In the announcement, I understood the work “security” and I think someone without a ticket had been kicked off. We weren’t moving for a very long time and were in fact, between stations. Eventually when we got going, it was my stop, and again the door didn’t open. I didn’t know that you have to manually turn the handle, but someone jumped up and turned it for me before I missed my stop, and royally screwed up my arrival.

I got to the right station that (on the map) (stupid effing paper maps that don’t give travel times) looked pretty close to my hotel. I figured I could walk, even with all the luggage. I am notoriously stubborn and always keen to save money. Also, remember that I couldn’t uber because no WiFi.

You guys.

My hotel ended up being at the very top of a hill pretty far away from the station. I also didn’t realize that the streets literally have no names. Was that U2 song about Paris? Maybe they got lost too. I stopped so many people, and of course without WiFi, I was pretty screwed. Like 7 people tried to sell me kak because the only people willing to talk to me were the street vendors and gypsies. Another fun fact is that the metro doesn’t have (that I saw) wheelchair ramps or escalators. Instead, there were 4 – 6 sets of stairs to get to a street. My massive bag was on wheels, but at all the stations (all three) I had to pick my bag up with two hands and really struggled. This is a good time to point out how gentlemanly South African men are. Dozens of students and men jotted past me and nobody stopped or offered to help. I so badly wanted someone to take that bag from me. I also didn’t know that you have to push your bag through first at the metro gates, which open and close on motion sensors. This resulted in my main luggage getting properly wedged between the automated gates. A really friendly guy used his ticket to open the doors again, and pulled my bag toward his side of the gate. I had to kick it toward him from my side to try un-wedge it, and he had to pull a good couple of times. This meant that upon my arrival, my bag was with a complete stranger on the other side of the metro gates. He was really nice, and used his tag to open the gate again and handed my bag over to me. He was really kind. I wish he also carried my bag. Everywhere.

By the time I got to my hotel, I had callouses and blisters on my hands. It was hot, and I’d just had a 13.5h journey with very little sleep. I quickly unpacked and headed straight to the nearest bar for very many cocktails. They were so delicious. All like 7 of them.

It’s beautiful here, I’m having the most incredible time. I’m learning how to read the maps and I’m navigating the metro with a bit more confidence. My hotel and room is beyond any expectations I had. I’ll share all the GOOD and happy things soon. I spent the majority of today crying with joy, but more on that later. Goodnight, from Paris x

 

Pssst: Thank you Keri and Rosanne for helping me with directions the way that you have. You are both wonderful and lovely.

2
1