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A weekend away as an Experience

A few months ago, I got an “Experience Days” voucher to try out. They’re a company that lets you buy experiences for people, – instead of presents. I happen to be big on this; I would much rather buy someone art lessons, a weekend away, bungee jumping etc instead of a random, heartless gift. So “Experience Days” is how you can gift someone things like horseback riding through the winelands, weekends away, shark cage diving, a supercar driving experience, a flower arranging course – etc. If you’re stuck on getting something for ‘the person who has everything’ then this site is for you. They’re big overseas and have just launched in SA. The company asked me to pick an experience for my family to do… just to get the feel of it and how it works. Check them out here > Experience Days.

I chose a night away, ‘Glamping’ with the boys in Montagu. You can find the listing on their site here. The place we stayed at was really, really cool. A few things I loved:

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  1. They’re totally affordable. It’s R800.00 for the voucher and you get your own, private campsite for a night, that sleeps 4
  2. They’re dog-friendly. It’s so hard to find a place where we can take Jack. I hate leaving him behind
  3. There’s a working farm on the premises with chickens, sheep, goats, geese, and alpacas. The owners live nearby and they give you food to feed the farm animals. The boys got to hold a 3-day old goat, see a 4 HOUR old lamb and baby geese too. They fed the Alpacas which was so sweet.
  4. There’s a dam there for fishing/swimming. We didn’t catch anything, but it was fun trying. Sort of!
  5. There are braai facilities, and you can order wood (R25 per basket) Your campsite has its own private kitchenette (with gas stove) and a bathroom with a shower.

The boys really enjoyed playing in a proper tee-pee. We slept in the handmade gypsey wagon which was pretty darn cool. There are beds with bedding and towels in the ‘rooms’ so you don’t have to worry about dragging your entire house along to go ‘camping’. It was a short stay and we definitely could have stayed an extra night. The drive is pretty far from Cape Town (about 2 – 2.5 hours) so pack entertainment for the kids.

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We fished, and Francois braaied for us. The boys played ball on the lawn and we felt like we were a million miles away, which was really nice. I made a big bed under the stars for the boys and we all laid there watching the sky together. Even Monkey (our new baby lovebird) joined for the weekend. He’s super tame and hand-reared – but I’ll tell you more about him another time!

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So check out Experience Days if you’re stuck on a gift for someone. What I like about them is that you can send gifts to friends and family in other provinces/countries without relying on the post office or a florist. The prices are good and there’s a big range of things to choose from. E.g. my dad lives in Durban, and I can send him a voucher to go River Rafting for Christmas. It’s something that I know he’d never do on his own, and I think it’s more special than sending a bottle of whiskey or similar, you know?

 

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The boys in their Winter Country Road gear!

I haven’t done a little shoot of the boys for such a long time. With the move, renovations and work, I’ve barely got their winter wardrobe sorted and find myself fishing through cupboards trying to find snuggly gear that still fits. Growing kids are the toughest, because when they were younger they needed a new wardrobe every single year. Can you imagine that for a second? That everything you own in your cupboard needs to be replaced every year from your shoes to your shirts? Actually, that doesn’t sound bad at all. Now that they’ve settled in to their growth, I’m getting 2-3 years of wear out of items (especially when I’m sneaky and buy a size too big hehe) so I’ve really enjoyed dressing them more lately. I love it when they look good and people stop and comment on how stylish or adorable their little outfits are.

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I shopped at Country Road V&A Waterfront as they have a huge kids section. They had a 20% sale on some winter items, so I did go a little bit mad. I love the quality of Country Road’s clothes and have a few of their items in my own wardrobe too. When I went to Melbourne in January I came home with the most beautiful Country Road dress you have ever seen – but more on that another day / post. Extending my favourite brand in to the boys’ wardrobe makes me happy and I can see how proud and different they act when they’re dressed well, you know? It has begun! I really love the kids denim range. The fit is so snug and lightweight and makes them look like proper little tiny grownups.

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We took a walk down to our favourite sushi spot the other afternoon, so I took some fun pictures along the way to show you how sweet the latest kids #Countryroadstyle gear is. The boys are so good on camera and love playing along. They do drama at school, so I totally take advantage and say things like “show me happy” okay now “show me serious or excited or fun” like really, they are always so keen to play pretend and will be on a ramp in Milan or at least in Vanity Fair in absolute no time. KIDDING. Am I? How cute are these outfits!

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PS Check out sweet Nina’s new outfits on Angie’s blog if you have a girl and want to play dress-up too > Lucky Pony 

 

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Cotton On Kids: Playground Approved Denims

Last week the nice people at Cotton On Kids sent the boys some very cool outfits and an invitation to put them to the test at our local aquarium. Basically, “Playground Approved” a 40 piece collection in the latest styles, made with with premium stretch fabrics. The jeans are definitely more comfortable for them (they said) with more wriggle room for running, jumping and playing. There was definitely a lack of denim apparel that is suitable for the every day life of a kid. These denims have (discreet, sewn in) elasticated waistbands so you’ll get more wear out of them as your kids grow. The new range is available for boys and girls up to 14 years, in store at Cotton On Kids now. Here are some fun photos I snapped of the boys at the aquarium last weekend. Aren’t they just the cutest, coolest kids in town? I think so!

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You can check out more of the range on their website over here > Cotton On Kids and a major thank you to the team for the boys’ new little outfits. They had a really fun day!

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My top beach prep & packing tips for families

We’re planning our December holiday and I’m sure that you are too. Over the years I’ve become quite the bag-packing expert. I wanted to share some of my essential (and also favourite) items that need to be in your family beach bag this festive season, as well as some beach safety and convenience tips.

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1. Freeze bottled water the night before your day on the beach. This way, you can use the frozen bottles instead of ice to keep your other refreshments and snacks cool.

2. My favourite beach foods to pack that keep well in a cooler bag (and are easy to eat) are grapes, berries, naartjies, sandwich rolls, drinking yoghurt, dried fruit and nuts.

3. Always take wet wipes for sticky fingers (and bathroom emergencies) and a plastic packet for rubbish in case there isn’t a bin around when you leave.

4. Baby powder works a charm to soak up moisture and easily removes sticky sand off of legs and feet before getting in the car! The beach sand in some parts of KZN is the worst, but baby powder will remove every last grain of sticky black sand. Try it!

5. For safety at crowded beaches, I like to draw a big circle around our spot and tell the boys to stay in the circle unless given permission, eg to fill a beach bucket with water. It’s good to have a general ‘reminder’ chat with your kids in the car about petting dogs they don’t know, blue bottles and water safety on the way.

6. Remember to have some money on you to treat the kids to an ice cream. Sometimes you really just want a lolly to make you jolly on the beach. I mean, it’s the holidays, after all. Take cash!

7. Let the kids pack their own bag of beach toys, and don’t think conventional. Items like tupperware, plastic spoons, ice trays or plastic cups will entertain them for hours.

8. Apply sunblock to yourself and your kids before you leave the house or hotel. This saves you from spending your first 20 minutes on the beach struggling with wiggling kids and rubbing suncream on your husband’s back. Use a 50spf with kids – it just lasts longer.

Other than that, you’ll definitely need your essentials like towels, cozzies, spare clothes, music, goggles, a book, floaty toys, a camera and some sun hats. Moms might want to pack a nifty travel razor like the Venus Snap, as well as your tweezers for some last minute and on the go grooming emergencies. Here are some fun pictures that Graeme took of Noah and I at the beach this weekend.

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Keen to WIN a really cool prize? Venus is giving away a shopping spree worth R20,000 at Topshop to a very lucky girl! All you have to do to stand a chance to win is:

  • Buy one of their Venus Snap razors
  • Snap a flat lay image including your Venus Snap
  • Upload it to Instagram using #VenusOnTheGo. I made you a little example below. How easy?

I’ve got some more holiday vibes and ideas to talk about and share with you, but please go enter this competition in the meantime and tag me in your pictures. I want to see what’s in your beach bag this Summer!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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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Sophie and Lili dolls, please

I saw these Sophie and Lili dolls in my Instagram feed the other night, and fell in total love. They’re created by mother and artist Jennifer Vallez. Like all girls, each doll has its own unique personality. They’re custom made according to specs you choose – so you can even create a lookalike of your own daughter. They’re lovingly crafted using contemporary and bold fabrics and are timeless in their simplicity. They look so soft and Jennifer says on her site that they’re huggable and washable. Each doll embodies what a best friend should be – a companion, a confidante and playmate. I also LOVE her illustrations, which can also be customized so you can have a a doll-like portrait made of your family. Perfect for mothers and daughters to capture that special relationship between you.

She also creates boy dolls, including super hero ones. The boy dolls can also be customized according to your son’s skin tone, hair cut, colour and personality! I’m really sad that I’ve only found this now… I know that my boys would have loved these dolls as littler kids. I think they’re ‘just’ past that doll phase, which has me feeling a different set of emotions all on its own. Sophi and Lili ship worldwide and accept PayPal and all major cards like Visa and Mastercard etc. I can’t figure out where they’re based, but I’m saving this on the blog as an “in case we decide to have another baby that might end up being a girl”. You know? This is their website.

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Urban Walls – decals you’ll love

We’ve recently moved in to a beautiful new home. The kind of home where I want to live for years and years. It’s old, with wooden floors, a fireplace, lots of light and space. I’ve found some fun in creating pretty little nooks and living spaces for our little family. Areas I can unwind, where we can play and feel creative and inspired. I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve been finding all over the place. I really love Urban Walls. They’re based in Canada, and ship internationally. It’s important to note that Import duties, taxes, and charges are not included in the item price or shipping cost. These charges are the buyer’s responsibility. International orders can take 3 – 4 weeks to arrive.

 

Don’t you just love these? All images are from their blog, which is just beautiful. Take a look at their site over here for the most beautiful office, home and nursery decals. You’ll notice that I’m looking at a lot of nursery goodies lately. I’d love to have another little baby in the bunny house at some point. Maybe. I just don’t know. The new house has a beautiful spare room with lots of space, which is really pulling at my mommy strings. Like really. In the meantime, enjoy this gorgeous inspiration with me!

 

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Nina say happy 5th Cinderella Birthday party

My friend Vanessa is a photographer and blogger over at Ninasaycheese. We became friends a few years ago over a mutual love for beautiful things and our children. Vanessa always throws the most beautiful parties for little Nina. They’re in Joburg so we can’t join in on the fun, but I get a bit giddy every time we receive an invite to one of Nina’s parties (every year, dankie Vanessa!) because I LOVE watching and following the fun from afar. Here’s Nina’s 5th birthday party, and I promise you that this gorgeous girl is even MORE beautiful in person, with the sweetest and kindest little feisty personality. I love watching you grow little girl, you’re lucky to have such a creative and involved mommy. She’s the best! Happiest birthday from all of us – Noah and Benjamin too! Read more about Nina’s party from the insanely fun & creative Vanessa over here.

 

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