a little bit of us

We had such a great weekend. Really, these good weekends seem to come out of nowhere these days. Maybe it’s because winter is approaching and we’re making one last push to enjoy the outdoors before the rains and cold and lazy days consume us. We found a sweet little beach in Milnerton called Lagoon Beach. We’re all about the lagoons these days in search of warmer water! Not much swimming going on in Cape Town beaches unless you have skin of steel. The boys love swimming and splashing around at the beach, so lagoons are our little haven. Wait, I need to start at the beginning.

On Friday afternoon, we watched this great new movie called “Home” and found a bit more info about it. You have to have to take your kids. Mine loved it, and I cried all the cries at the end. Such a fun story!

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HOME is the latest offering from Dreamworks Animation (The Croods, How to Train Your Dragon) and  features an array of well-known voices including the likes of Rihanna, Jim Parsons, funnyman Steve Martin, Jennifer Lopez and Matt Jones.

After an overly-optimistic, yet inept alien race called the Boov led by Captain Smek (Steve Martin) invades Earth to make it their new home and to hide from their mortal enemies, a resourceful human girl named Gratuity ‘Tip’ Tucci (voiced by Rihanna) avoids capture and embarks on the road trip of a lifetime with a banished Boov named Oh (voiced by Jim Parsons), who accidentally notifies the enemies of their whereabouts.

Through their unlikely friendship, and a series of comic adventures with Tip and her pet cat named Pig, Oh comes to understand that being different and making mistakes is all part of being human. And, while he changes her planet and she changes his world, together they discover the true meaning of the word HOME.

View the trailer for HOME here:  http://sterkinekor.com/?cinemaID=11#/trailer/6856/Home%20/

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I really love my movie dates with the boys. I especially wanted to take them over Easter weekend, but we’ll be away. Over Easter weekend and school holidays, Ster Kinekor has loads of fun planned for kids. Home, Cinderella and Fast & Furious 7 are all releasing now. So, whether you’re into fairy tales and dreams coming true, or animated aliens looking for home, or you’ve fastened your seatbelt for the ride of your life, there is loads to do. For HOME, The cinema foyers at certain Ster-Kinekor cinemas will be transformed into a carnival of colour and activity over the Easter weekend, with face painters, jugglers, bubble machines, tasty treats, prizes and so much more. Take the kids to Ster-Kinekor cinemas at Gateway in Durban, Cape Gate in Cape Town, Brooklyn and The Grove in Pretoria, and Cresta and The Zone in Johannesburg, to join in all the excitement from 03 – 06 April.

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For Disney’s Cinderellasome of the cinemas will be transformed into a fairyland over the Easter weekend, so definitely dress your girls in their favourite princess outfit. Follow the fairy lights to the big screens at Ster-Kinekor cinemas at Gateway in Durban, Cape Gate, Tygervalley and Cavendish in Cape Town, Brooklyn in Pretoria and The Zone, Sandton and Cradlestone Mall in Johannesburg – and, on Thursday, 02 April, the palace’s footmen will welcome you to the land of Cinderella. I’ll admit, I’m dying to see this movie, and I AM dragging the boys along.

If you fancy yourself as a would-be Fast & Furious driver, you can test your skills in the racing simulators at select cinemas from 03 – 06 April. The racing simulators will be in pole position at Ster-Kinekor Gateway in Durban, Tygervalley in Cape Town, Sterland in Pretoria, and at Cradlestone Mall and The Zone in Johannesburg. Phew! That was a lot of info, but well worth it. The kids are gonna LOVE me for telling you about all this. The boys always have a great time at the movies with mom, I love having this one on one time with them. They feel so special when mommy takes them on a “reeeal date!”

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Noah had his first ever Sports Day on Saturday. Graeme and I volunteered at the Tea Garden and Braai Station and got busy with helping sell some treats and raise money for the school. We managed to watch all Noah’s races and we were so proud. He is a master crawler, and super cautious in egg-and-spoon situations. He kicked butt in the sack race, and Benjamin loved cheering him on. It was such a fun morning in the sun and I really missed that school spirit from my schooling days. We watched all the house captains lead the teams around the field with a marching band playing and everyone was all competitive and excited and super passionate about their races. It was incredible. I’m so grateful to be part of this wonderful school and all the bright and feisty children.

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We headed to the beach with the dogs. We really can’t leave our pups for more than a few hours on weekends – they must have been going mad with jealousy and boredom. We hurried home and packed a bag and cooler box and headed to Lagoon Beach for the afternoon. There are always so many dogs there for ours to play with and so much space for them to run, play and swim. Oh, the kids had a good time too :0 hehe. You know what I mean!

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We had a braai when we got home and a few sun downers while the boys played and watered the garden. Graeme made Noah and I some delicious veggie burgers, a big chicken roast / braai and some salads. I know – it really was the most perfect day, just us. On Sunday we were so lost on what to do. We wanted to go for a hike along the mountains, but so many parks and trails were closed due to fire damage. We thought about a fishing trip and a little Sunday road trip, but in the end all we wanted to do was go back to the beach! We got some bodyboards and snorkel sets for the boys and headed back for another sunny day, because really – winter IS coming. I can feel it in my bones every morning and getting out of bed at 6am is becoming a real and painful struggle at the rabbit haus.

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Graeme was itching to make something (anything) and I had a few things to do around the garden, like re-pot ALL our house plants that were getting too big for their pots. I’ve been walking around for like a month wondering why all our plants suddenly look miserable and near-dead. WHOOPS! Anyway, they’re pretty happy now. I also got a bunch of new house plants because I love love love greenery in every room. I also put a bunch of flowers that I planted back in to pots because Daisy is a sneaky little naughty and has a huge appetite for flowers, it seems. Funny cause her name is Daisy. Maybe she’s angry about her name choice and this is how she’s taking it out on us. Graeme and the boys made us a standing veggie crate and we planted a bunch of delicious herbs and lettuce. We’re gonna try make one every weekend. The research I did said that it’s better to have veggie gardens in raised crates or boxes as it protects them from more pests and things. So you don’t have to spray all those gross poisons and things on your food. So far – so good! It really was a fun weekend and I’m struggling to get through this week already. We’re going away for a few days and I can’t wait because we’re in for MORE summer vibes and beach and family. Also, the Easter Bunny is coming soon!

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a very merry un-easter, to you!

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We had our friend Renee and her little Bobby over for an Easter picnic this weekend. I love anything to do with bunnies (have you not noticed) so I really love making it special for the boys. I have so many fun memories of Easter from my childhood, and I hope that the boys will have fun memories too! We’ve created our own traditions throughout the years, which are: The egg hunt, baking (usually hearty bran muffins), picnic, crafts and games. We usually make Bunny Bunting and Bunny Paper Plates. This year, the boys helped me create a family Easter Treat Table that centered the celebrations quite nicely. I got all my goodies from In Good Company. They have stores in Cape Town and Johannesburg, and if you don’t live there then don’t fuss – they have an online store. View their Easter goodies here.  I LOVE this shop and it’s where I get all my decor things from for every occasion – Christmas, parties, birthdays, kids stuff, gifts – if you need anything pretty, you’ll find it here. So I got ALL my table decor things from their shop and set up a really fun party table that the boys really loved! Food-wise, I got all our picnic goodies and the bunny biscuits from our new favourite deli: Brooker and Waller. Find them on Cavendish Street in Claremont (hint: RIGHT next to In Good Company!) Here are some fun pictures from Saturday.

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how many vegetarians does it take to cook a steak

One of our boys has been vegetarian for 3 years now. My brother has been vegan and/or vegetarian for 8 or 9 years already. Over the years I’ve done some research, created recipes and had many long chats with both these guys. I have vegetarian and vegan friends that I’ve had the most interesting conversations with, and Graeme and I have watched so many documentaries on the subject – from Earthlings to Food Inc and so on. Nowadays, it seems like more and more people are making the switch. Recently, my friend Keri has joined the clan. As more of my family and friends are ‘crossing over’, I’ve started clicking on more links that I would otherwise ignore. Did you know: Noah had a vegan baby shower? My friend Kate is vegan and threw the loveliest shower and even baked vegan cupcakes for the guests, and for me. Kate has always been extremely earth conscious. And what I’m about to tell you could go either which way, but…

Kate is sort of a genius. No really, on paper: she is a genius. My brother is one of the most intelligent guys I know and my son is, well… he’s got the paperwork too. Looking at other vegetarian friends and conversations we’ve had… I have noticed that some of the most intelligent, successful and creative, strong people I know don’t eat animals. And it’s something that other people have noticed too. Worldwide, it seems apparent that veganism and vegetarianism is more prominent in higher LSMs and amongst people with an above average IQ. A bold statement, I realize… but you can’t argue.

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If you’re in to celebrities then you’d be interested to know that Alanis Morisette, Alicia Silverstone (not clueless after all, right?) Ashley Judd, Diane Keaton, Ellen DeGeneres, Ellen Page (can you tell I found an alphabetical list?), Jared Leto, Joaquin Phoenix, Michelle Pheiffer, Paul McCartney, Russel Brand, Brad Pitt, Stella McCartney, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale, Betty White, and more are all non meat eaters. Even Abraham Lincoln was rumored to be a vegetarian and famously said in one of his speeches: “I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being” Albert Einstein also became vegan toward the end of his life, stating: “So I am living without fats, without meat, without fish, but am feeling quite well this way. It always seems to me that man was not born to be a carnivore.” Some of my favourite authors and musicians are also vegan or vegetarian such as JD Salinger and Jack Johnson. Even one of my favorite artists, Leonardo da Vinci, was a vegetarian. Truly man is the king of beasts, for his brutality exceeds theirs. We live by the death of others: We are burial places! – from da Vinci’s ‘Notes’. And yes, even some famous sports stars are vegan too, like Serena and Venus Williams who are both 100% raw vegans.

Now talk to me about how we need to eat meat and animal products to survive. Tell me how it makes us smarter, more creative, stronger, better at sports or more successful. I realize that I am coming on a bit strong right here, because man… it is the silliest statement when people say that vegetarians and vegans are ‘weak’ or malnourished in some way. Jissie. I get cross when people say this, because sometimes (not often) I get kak for ‘letting’ Noah not eat meat. Noah who literally never gets sick and thrives in every way, plays sports and is extremely bright. And people look at me like I am literally abusing my child for not blending and juicing meat and sneaking it in to his meals somehow.

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So I started small. I’ve never been a big meat eater, so to be honest – the switch was pretty swift. I stopped eating red meat, pork and poultry. I still eat fish now and then, which apparently makes me a “Pescetarian.” So fancy. It’s been 3 weeks and I am feeling better. Red meat specifically, is high in saturated fat and cholesterol. I’m also feeling a bit more confident about my health, as there are so many studies linking processed and red meat to cancer (specifically, colon cancer.) I’m sure that there are many other facets of my diet that needs improvement and tweaking (like that neat tin of condensed milk I ate the other day) but for now, I want to do this. I want to feel good about what I eat, I want my digestive system to operate at its best and I want to eat more fruits and vegetables. That is just what I want for myself. Just because I don’t eat meat anymore, doesn’t mean that I am automatically healthier. I am figuring it all out as I go, with loads of help from my brother, and from Keri. You should read her posts.

Do I frown at Ben or Graeme when they’re tucking in to their roast chicken? No. I do not judge, condemn or lecture anyone on what they eat. What other people eat is mostly none of my business (apart from the kids cause that really is my business) but I am not here to change your life or make the world a better place. I just want to make my world better, so maybe I am a selfish pescetarian / vegetarian.

I will say: An educational factor for me, was understanding the meat factory process. Watching footage, reading articles and chatting to friends who have done lots of research. Listening. Learning. These videos aren’t shared as ‘scare tactics’, they’re shared to show people how it works. I guess there’s just no way to sugarcoat a slaughter. I find that hardcore meat lovers are the loudest and also least educated on the matter. I get very anxious talking about things I don’t know about; in fear that I sound like an idiot, but there are so many people who will lambast you for simply not wanting to eat the same food as them. You don’t see heated arguments at dinner tables over chocolate cake VS carrot cake but man alive I have seen people literally un-friend over these type of arguments. I have seen people be verbally attacked over wanting a veggie burger over a bloodied burger.

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I don’t know how long I’ll still eat fish for. I’m putting my body through changes so I am listening to it. I am training it. I am adapting. (Sometimes I pretend that I am stranded on an island and can only eat off the earth and ocean to survive. Like if I can’t decide what to eat for lunch, I am like “What would I do if I was on an island right now” and sometimes my thoughts go a bit Lord of the Flies but that’s a blog post for another day) I am listening to my body. The other day I made a hot dog for Ben and I thought MAN ALIVE I WANT A HOT DOG. Lots of butter, mystery meat vienna (used to love those) – all of it. I was convinced I wanted a hot dog. Instead, I made a hotdog roll with lots of butter, caramalized onions and tomato sauce and I was like HECK YEAH and I think I had three. I wasn’t craving the erm, sausage. So many meaty foods are associated with their side dishes, sauces and condiments. Sometimes it’s not the beef we’re after at all. Well, I find that to be true for me. When we have a braai, Noah and I heat up some veggie patties and lather our burgers with all our favourite things. I still like the meat ‘flavour’ like barbeque sauce and that zesty braai taste, but I’m doing it with protein-rich plant-based alternatives. I’m getting all crazy in the kitchen, like making veggie patties out of beans, chickpeas and peppers. It is so delicious I cannot even explain. Like, tonight I’m making roasted, stuffed butternut with mushrooms, onions, peppers, spinach and tomatoes like a frikkin’ veggie kitchen ninja.

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The most troubling right now is that there are people who do not want me or my son to be vegetarians. We had these horrid people in our neighborhood and when I mentioned that Noah is a vegetarian, the dude straight-up threatened to give him ribs behind my back to ‘cure’ him. At the time, I was a meat-eater but I still didn’t think it was alright. I mean, I wasn’t the one telling my son not to eat meat, he was the one complaining every time he found a piece of it in his stew – no matter how hard I tried to pick it all out for him. He wanted to be respected. He decided from a young age that he didn’t want to eat dead animals or have blood in his tummy and that ‘phase’ is still here, 3 years later. While Graeme and Ben do their own thing and 100% respect (ignore) us, you still get the randoms at dinner parties and in restaurants that want to challenge you on not wanting to be like them. It’s weird. It’s boring. I think I full-on skipped the phase of wanting to debate with people about my lunch. I always say the same thing, which is more or less this:

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So I wanted to tell you why I, ME, PERSONALLY do not want to eat meat. This is my main thing and it’s not about blood or decomposing flesh or the environment or saving the world (sorry). For me, it’s about…

1. The negative energy, hormones and adrenalin that gets transferred to the terrified animals. And like, I’ve heard people say ‘No it’s okay, they don’t feel anything” and I I try remember that not everyone is educated and I just nod my head and eat my ‘happy’ food.

2. The parallels between meat factories and wars (and dictatorships) (and racism) (human rights) (speciesism) (holocaust) (feminism)

3. There are people who make a living off of killing. And we are signing their paychecks every month. It freaks me out you guys.

4. The cowardice. If you had to personally take a baby from it’s mother, kill, shoot, gas, kill, boil alive or beat an animal for your lunch, would you do it? Would it be worth the chicken mayo sarmie or would you settle on peanut butter toast?

5. The heartlessness and ease of the staff that are doing these deeds. If you’ve ever watched a doccie or footage of these ‘workers’ who spend like 8 hours a day slitting throats, hitting, kicking, boiling, gassing animals without a moment’s hesitation or remorse, you would also be like hot dang that’s a serial killer and someone’s gotta call the cops.

(My friend Keri read this draft and added: In “Eating Animals” there is a whole chapter dedicated to the staff at slaughter houses and it is horrific. Basically, whats happening in slaughter houses now is that no one (read working class and middle class Americans) wants to work in slaughterhouses – obviously. Murder is a kak job. So big American slaughterhouses are employing illegal immigrants to do the  dirty work and these guys HAVE to work there to support their families, as its the only work they can get. They get depressed, come home unhappy and shout at/abuse their wives and kids. I mean, it can’t be great to spend your days killing 400 pigs a day as they actually try and run away from you screaming? Jonathan interviews a couple of ex-workers and they explain that they have to swear at, and mistreat the animals in order to dehumanize them and enable the killing to happen.)

6. The greed. In older times (have not done enough research to pin-point century) a family would have meat on certain occasions and sporadically. Meat was a treasure, a sign of wealth and it was sacred. Now it’s in bulk, and probably on special. Consumerism and capitalism has never resonated well with me, and I’m trying where I can to bring some good vibes to the table (see what I did there?)

7. The idea that some people or creatures matter more than others is the root of all wars and evil in the world. Animals do not ‘give’ their lives to us – we take it. Forcefully and brutally. Commercial factory farms do not say a little prayer or partake in any holy or traditional rituals before killing an animal for you.

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So these are just a few reasons why I think people should be thinking about these things, clicking on the links we don’t want to click on and educating ourselves. I am not saying you are a bad person if you eat meat. I am saying that I do not need to eat meat every day to survive or thrive or live your best life. I just want everyone to listen to each other, not judge and to be respectful. Sure, nobody has got angry or verbal with me (as yet) and I don’t get like that with meat eaters either. I am not trying to convert, judge you or change your life. I am asking you to open your mind and learn a little bit more about your world, every day.

If you want to learn something (even if it doesn’t change the way you live your life and cook your supper) then watch just maybe 10 minutes of Earthlings. The whole documentary’s available on YouTube. There are many others, but I’ve watched this one a couple of times. Watch ten minutes, watch the whole thing but (as Kez says) don’t give me kak if you don’t know what I’m talking about. Rather watch it, THEN give me kak. Now that’s a party.

This will be my last post or mention on the matter. Again, I am not obsessed with this discovery, although it’s something that I’m pretty interested in right now.  A few friends and followers have asked why I’m making the switch, so I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned and felt thus far. I have no intention of ever being pushy, and I’m not ‘put off’ or repulsed by meat – I see it and work with it every day. It’s just another thing that people eat, but something that I choose not to. I’ll still go to steakhouses with my friends and family, eat sushi and roast my butternut in the same oven that’s seen a dead chicken. I do enjoy being more aware, and having an open mind. So that’s just where I’m at right now.

PS How many vegetarians does it take to cook a steak? None. Graeme cooks his own. PSS I mentioned that I’m a pescetarian. I know how over fished our oceans are, I’m busy doing lots of research. I’m moving at a hungry snail’s pace over here, and I’m still learning every day.

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10 things I love about you

You’ve been at your new school for three weeks now. I watched you change a tiny little bit every day. You were excited and brave, then you got a bit shy and insecure about it. Being the new kid is tough – you don’t know where anything is and everyone else does. You don’t know anyone’s names or what happens on which day. I get it. And after three weeks I’d say you’ve settled in quite beautifully. Picked a few kids you like, toys you love most and you’ve slotted in to the routine like hot butter on toast. You’ve changed, you’re still changing. You’re six years old now, well six and one month and two days. Here are a few things I’m really enjoying about you lately.

1. Your insanely handsome face. Your stubborn, curly hair that you love too. You insist on doing your own hair in the mornings, and making a giant, flat curl across your forehead. You take such pride in your appearance. You love getting ready, looking good, brushing your teeth (you made me buy you mouthwash) and picking out a great shirt. I love that you’ve always cared so much about how you look.

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2. You’re still a vegetarian. Not that it has anything to do with meat. I just love that you have stuck to something. You stopped eating meat when you were three, and we all thought it was a phase. We still dished up your dinner as usual every night and I still put ham on your ham and cheese sandwiches. Every day I watched you pick the chicken out of your soup, tear the ham out of your sandwich and scrape the chops and steaks to the corner of your plate. For three years, you’ve stayed true to something you care about, regardless of anyone else’s opinion but your own. That’s incredibly admirable, my boy.

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3. You love solving problems. You keep telling me that you want to do this as your job, one day. You want to find solutions, solve things, be the hero. I love that from such a sweet, young age you’re enjoying challenges. I wonder if you’ll read this in ten or twenty years time and if any of this will mean anything to you. Did you end up being a problem solver little Nu?

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PS You just walked over to me and asked what I’m doing. I said I’m writing you a letter about how much I love you. Your face turned the colour of sunshine and you ran off. I asked what you’re doing and you said you’re trying to make a dog whistle for Jack that humans can’t hear.

4. You love putting on a show. No really – any show. You make tickets and invite us to magic shows, the circus and music shows all the time. You ask everyone to watch you, and you always start with “Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to my show!” And you’re pretty good, too!

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5. You love learning, understanding and solving. You watch documentaries, mostly about the human body. You love watching those little science clips on youtube on how things work and how things are made. You watch clips on the ear, the inside of the nose, the eyes. You understand how your digestive system works and you’ve even watched a clip on birth. Well, it was part of the ‘Human Body’ documentary and I wasn’t paying attention the whole time. You love that kind of stuff though!

PSS You’ve just walked down the passage shouting “Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s time for my amazing crazy dog show!” You’re blowing bubbles and Jack is jumping around trying to catch all of them.

6. The other day, we were talking about you and Ben fighting. I gave both of you a bit of a lecture on siblings getting along and how I really wanted you guys to stop bickering about silly things. You and Ben love each other so, so much but man you can fight over absolutely nothing sometimes. Anyway, after my whole little lecture, you kept quiet and solemn and you said “I’m trying to be better.” I was so taken aback by your maturity and genuinely wanting to be a better person. You’re wise beyond your age, little man!

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7. You love animals. When we wanted to get a dog, you fought us. You were so apprehensive about getting a dog and everything it would require. You were worried about your friends stepping in dog poos, you said. Once you met Jack you fell in love as hard as we all did. The same with Daisy and all our bunnies. You are such a dog person – you’re always looking for Jack and opening the doors to let the dogs in for a play. I have so many pictures of you two asleep on the couch together, playing on the bed, running around the house. I usually take the dogs with when we fetch you from school, too. Thinking about it now, Jack should be with us until you’re about eighteen. Oh I really hope so!

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8. While you’re quite serious, tidy and responsible in so many ways – you’re still just a silly kid looking for a laugh or a new game. Your charismatic, silly and goofy side has us in stitches on most days. You love making other people laugh! You like a good trick, tease and fart joke just like the next little boy.

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9. You’re loyal. An odd thing to say about a kid, I realize. You have a few close friends that you love very much. Particularly: Gia and Anna. On Valentine’s Day you made each of them a card and bought (mommy bought) them a chocolate. You insisted, and it was so sweet to help you with all of it. Anyway, I often tease you about your friendships with the girls and sometimes I’ve prodded about your little ‘girlfriends’  or asked “who do you love more” and you just won’t. You refuse to ever choose one friend over the other. “They’re both my favourite” you always say. In a world where kids can be mean and friendships are flippant and fleeting, I really admire how loyal you are to all your friends.

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IMG_20150207_17563210. You never take no for an answer. Frustrating as it is to parent this trait of yours, I also really respect it. You’re always asking for a compromise or trying to find some wiggle room on any rejections that come your way. No doesn’t mean “no” to you, and I think that’s something that’s going to take you quite far some day. Are you reading this as an adult Noah? Tell me… Was I right? Are you happy? I really hope so my boy.

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Spier, Cape Town

A few weekends ago, and after literally hundreds of recommendations over the years – we finally went to visit Spier. My mom is from Cape Town and says that she used to take us there as kids too. In fact, Spier was first established in 1692 and boasts the oldest wine cellar in the Western Cape. You have to take a quick look at the Heritage Timeline to fully comprehend the history of this pristine and luxurious estate.

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I want to quickly tell you that Spier has EVERYTHING. Everything. They have the hotel, restaurants, farm, swimming pools, kids play area (and babysitter / childminders) tasting room, picnic areas, dam, river, spa, art galleries, vineyard sedgeway tours, craft market, Eagle encounters, conference facilities and deli. For guests there are also bicycles and golf carts available to get to and fro with ease. The staff is incredible and very welcoming. The rooms are spacious, private, cozy and luxurious. Every little detail is covered, including little toy boxes for the kids!

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Spier is super child friendly! Not once did we feel that our boys were being too loud or busy. In truth, they probably were but there is so much space at Spier that they could just take off, run around and be totally free while having insane amounts of fun. They loved the kids activity / play room which is kitted with very sweet child minders, cartoons, toys, games, books, puzzles and loads of lawn to run on. They spent an hour or so here while we were settling in and having a quick look around. You can also let your littles play here while you do ‘boring grown up’ things like wine tasting or chocolate pairing – or even a long lunch! The kids can order meals and drinks to the kids room, which is super convenient!

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We spent day one riding around on the bicycles and exploring the estate. We went to a chocolate pairing (while the boys had a grape juice tasting – SO CUTE) They even bring treats, colouring pages and crayons to your table if you have restless little feet with you. The boys got really in to the grape juice tasting! They quite enjoyed being all grown up with mom and dad. We walked around a bit more, looking at all the dams, picnic areas, veggie gardens and the manor house.

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For dinner, the estate had arranged an in-room babysitter so that Graeme and I could have a romantic little dinner at the gorgeous “Eight” restaurant. They boys played in the play area some more, then went back to their room for an early dinner picnic. Have a look at Spier’s Kids Facilities and Daily Program for Kids. Eight is so. incredibly. beautiful. The food was among the best we’ve ever tasted. The menu is served tapas style and I was blown away by the selection, the flavours and freshness of every little mini meal. We had a very special time. I loved getting all dressed up and getting some one-on-one time with Graeme. I can never stay away from the boys for too long, so I ensured that we were back in time to tuck them in.

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On Sunday morning we headed straight to the hotel’s buffet breakfast, which we ate outdoors to the melody of the pianist. There’s something so romantic about someone playing the piano amongst muffled breakfast chatter, shuffling cutlery and taps of crockery. We had a solid night’s sleep and a huge appetite. Such a beautiful setting for a lazy, hungry breakfast!

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We were super eager to get to the Eagle Encounters, which we’d heard so much about. You need to go, and you need to take your children with you! They will be completely transfixed by the dancing owls, the bird show, the eagles, the petting farm and the friendliest of all the porcupines. You will love all of it too, of course. There are play areas and you can take your own picnic (or they will pack one for you) and settle along the dam, under a giant oak tree. Now, when entering the owl enclosures: I have to warn you that they are VERY friendly. Like sit-on-your-head friendly. One owl particularly took to Ben’s head, which gave him a huge fright. You’ll see in the photos below that he quickly recovers and laughs it off. The photo is, however, being printed and mounted on canvas for our home. Also… spot Noah covering his head! You have been warned. You will have fun.

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Spier’s entrance is opposite a train station, and on Sundays the vintage train makes its way down that route. Give Spier a call and I’m sure they’ll be able to help you with all the details. You can spend the entire day on the Spier Estate and not see all of it. There is so much to do! If you’re afraid of missing something, they’ve got it all planned for you.

This was one of the best weekends of our family life. If you’re going to splurge on a weekend away – you should come stay here. If you’re from Joburg or Durban and you’re looking to visit and stay in the wine route – stay here. We had an incredible and memorable time on this gorgeous property that none of us will ever forget. I hope that you’ll go through and create your own memories too!

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For Cape Town residents and Easter Holiday Makers:  Do NOT miss this deal:

SPEND EASTER WEEKEND AT THE SPIER HOTEL

Spoil the family with a weekend breakaway and experience the farm life at Spier. The experience includes:

  • Accommodation in a Signature room for two nights
  • Wine tasting for two adults with a grape juice tasting for the children
  • Farm-style dinner for the family at the Spier Hotel restaurant
  • A picnic for the family
  • Eagle Encounters day pass
  • Ice cream at Eight-to-go for each child (max 2 children)
  • Kids’ art kit

From only R 2498 per room per night for a family of four (children under 12 years of age). *Minimum of a two night stay for a family of four. Terms and conditions apply. Children under 12 stay free when sharing with 2 adults (max 2 children)

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Remember the good days

Last Saturday was one of those feel-good family days. We spent the morning buying new flowers and getting busy in the garden. After that, we headed to The Table Bay hotel for a delicious 3 course High Tea with dessert buffet. Feeling rather full and sugared up, we fetched the dogs and went for a long, long walk and swim in Newlands Forest – our favourite hangout these days. We let the kids and the dogs burn up the last of the day’s energy in nature, which always makes me really happy. I love watching the boys be little jungle book boys in the forest. They’re so sweet! Here are some pictures we took that I wanted to keep and share to remember this really awesome day! I have so many things to write down. I’m pretty behind on most things these days, and I’m sorta holding out in hope that life will settle down at some point. Hoping that I’ll wake up one day not feeling slightly anxious or stressed in some way. You know what I mean? This is our adult life. Anyway – Saturday was pretty special! More of this.

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Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve – kwa-zulu Natal

Over December we did a day drive from Empangeni to Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park. We needed to put in petrol a bit late, so ended up going past Mtubatuba and Hlabisa. By the time we got there, we had already seen 2 elephants, zebra and rhino along the side of the road. Like “omg close your window” side of the road. I took my camera out this day because I love Hluhluwe. My parents used to own a game reserve / bush lodge there called Landula. I spent many weekends there with my dad, taking out snares, going on hikes, game drives, exploring and hunting poachers. My dad taught me tracking, and all about the bush since I was a little girl. My mom ran everything and the place was always fully booked. This was a long time ago. I still love going back to Hluhluwe and it was the best day for game viewing: Overcast! Stormy. Moody. We saw everything – and even a leopard! No lions. Ever. I have never in my life seen a lion at Hluhluwe  (previously Umfolozi) Park! If you want to see lions, go to the Lion Park in Joburg.

It was such a fun day.

We had a car picnic going, we were keeping score on who had spotted the most animals and we saw more Rhino than anything else. I am not kidding. There were more rhino than warthog, zebra, buck and dung beetles. The rhinos are doing fine you guys! (okay not really but you can imagine all the tongue in cheek jokes after we’d seen our 17th rhino and like, 3rd zebra for the day) In all seriousness, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park is the oldest proclaimed nature reserve in Africa. It consists of 960 km² (96,000 ha) Due to conservation efforts, the park now has the largest population of white rhino in the world (maybe they took the lions away cause they were making the rhinos anxious) (I have many theories) (parksboard loves me)

I took some pictures that are more ‘me’. I take a lot of happy snappy family shots on my phone, but sometimes I like to play around and get in to it. Remember I said this is THE year to start playing camera-camera again. These are more the type of pictures I like, personally. The aim is to keep playing around and to eventually create something so lonely, naked, real and breathtaking that I’d want to frame it in the house somewhere. That’s the current quest! It’s pretty fun. Anyway – here’s a moody Hluhluwe Park in pictures.

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Tsogo Sun’s Cullinan Hotel – Cape Town Accommodation and hotels

We checked in to the Southern Sun The Cullinan for Valentine’s Day last week. The Cullinan is a super family friendly hotel in Cape Town CBD, close to the V&A Waterfront, Long Street and beaches. The hotel was 394 rooms with direct-dial phones, free WiFi, tea and coffee stations, an electronic safe, en suite facilities and super comfortable beds. They have a porter service, 24 hour room service and beautiful, luxurious decor. There’s a heated outdoor pool with deck and tanning beds, a gym, a stunning and spacious bar, terrace and The Peach Tree Restaurant. There are gorgeous touches in all the entertainment areas with giant bouquets of flowers, a pianist and champagne on arrival at dinner.

Note: they also have shuttles to and from the Waterfront if you feel like getting out a bit! There are so many kids activities at the V&A Waterfront such as the Two Oceans Aquarium, City Sightseeing Tours, helicopter rides, sunset yacht experiences, live entertainment, markets, exhibitions, shopping, cinemas and superb family friendly restaurants!

Don’t forget about Tsogo Sun’s SunBreaks deal: If you book 21 days in advance of your arrival, you’ll SAVE 15% on your accommodation. Whether you choose a Luxury, Southern Sun hotel or Garden Court, there’s a SunBreaks rate guaranteed to suit your pocket. Remember, breakfast is included and two kids under 18 sharing a room with two adults stay and eat breakfast free!

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Thank you to Tsogo Sun, Sheena and Garry for the incredible experience and for spoiling our boys. They were so excited to be back! View rates and more information on The Cullinan and other Tsogo Sun resorts and hotels here.

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All of my love

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It’s been a whirlwind past two weeks and my heart is SO FULL in every chamber. Popping, bursting, exploding – it’s been doing everything. Mostly, I am just so proud of my kids. I can’t commit a mother’s love to words, but that is just how I feel lately. I mean, we love our children (as mothers we sort of have to – in order for the human race to survive) but lately… I am just so IN love with them. I literally feel like I am falling in love. They’re past the sweet baby and cute toddler phases and they’re just charming little mini tiny men right now. And oh man, I tell them. They can’t even walk past me lately without a big embrace, a hair tussle, kiss, arm squeeze or starry eyed look from me. I tell them every day how special they are, how proud I am, how funny and sweet and kind they are. How much I motherflippin’ love them.

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They know.

Noah’s current school doesn’t teach reading or writing yet, but little Nu’s been teaching himself since he could grip a pencil (impatient) (like mother) His educational psychologist suggested I don’t wait on the schools, and start teaching him to read myself. It’s tricky – I don’t know how to teach, but he’s cottoned on pretty fast. At night, with bedtime stories, I sometimes skip a sentence here and there… you know (whatever… you do it too) just to make all 4 stories I’ve promised go by a bit faster. Last night Noah caught on to this, and I was totally busted. Then he told on me to BEN and you guys, we laughed. They found it SO funny that they’d caught me out on something and we lay there just laughing and chatting and reading in the glow of their nightlight for ages.

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Noah’s been accepted at his ‘dream’ school, and starts next week. We’ve been trying to get him in for two years and moved to the suburbs just to up his chances. He got offered the spot in his interview and the principal was very sweet with him. We are SO EXCITED about this school and for all the opportunities that will be available to him. He’s chosen so many extra murals, and the school is super close (walking distance even) so we are really excited in every way. Bunny will be going to another play school and will join his brother at his ‘big’ school again next year. It’s the first time that the boys will be in different schools, but they don’t seem phased a bit! I’m feeling so excited about this year, and so excited for our kids. I literally can’t wait for them to get home from school so we can finish building this car we’re working on. Noah and Bunny Banana: If you read this in 20 years time, you might remember mommy shouting or getting cross or skipping bed time stories, but my goodness I hope you remember how crazy I am about you two. I love you SO much (bigger than the moon)

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Ménagerie creatures for your home

If you’ve seen lots of pictures of our house, then you’ve noticed our ‘Bunny’ and “Cat” cushions that we have all over the house. I love our little animal cushions. I have a few from H&M and Urban Outfitters too. Well, my bunny and cat cushions are from a local artist called “Ménagerie” > an English word that was used to describe any collection of exotic animals that pre-dated the existence of zoos. It is now also used to describe an odd or eclectic assortment of things, which Cecile (the artist) I thought was quite apt for her animal cushions. She likes the name because it is derived from the French word ‘ménage’ meaning household, and says that hers is very important to her. You can read a full interview with Cecile over here

If you like her cushions (and I’m sure you will) you can purchase these handsome animal friends for your couch over here. You can view a list of her stockists here, but your quickest bet is probably shopping online with Hello Pretty who also stocks them. They cost R280 each which is super cheap in terms of designer cushions. I bought the ‘Espresso’ and ‘Peter Rabbit’ cushions about 2 years ago at a market in town. Lucky find! I know my friend Angie (Tiny Pony) has some too. They really are adorable, huggable and add so much character to your living space. We’re getting more to add to the boys’ room, but more on that soon. I’ve been working on the boys’ room in the new house for weeks to get it ‘just’ right for them. I can’t wait to show you! In the meantime, how sweet are these Ménagerie creations?

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