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

How to create a perfect, Pinterest inspired kids room in South Africa

Clever Little Monkey is definitely the best kids furniture & decor shop in South Africa. You’ll find the most beautiful collections to transform and kids room in to a Pin-worthy masterpiece that your kids will LOVE. You can shop everything from wall art, decals, bunting, bedding, scatters, furniture, beds, accessories – literally everything you need to create the perfect look for your child’s play or bedroom. I wanted to quickly show you a few of their goodies.

Kids-furniture

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 10.36.53 AM3bcd001a-db8c-49b2-881e-c43428f5dae8Pastel-WebheaderANIMAL_FARM_BEDDINGskandi-webbanner

The best news? You can shop all of their beautiful items and curated collections online. Check out Clever Little Monkey here > https://cleverlittlemonkey.co.za/ and some of the items are currently on sale! Happy shopping, friends!

1
0

31 is the new 21

I turned 31 yesterday and I’m so excited and relieved. When you turn 30, there’s all this pressure to be new, improved, changed and suddenly mature. Your 20s are flipping hard, and Graeme and I did it with two babies and then toddlers in tow. Somehow. We started playing house from the age of 23, and at 23 you don’t even know a single thing, never mind how run a life properly. We grew, we learned and through all of it we never let go of each other. I’m grateful. I’m proud of us. 8 years and 2 cities later, we have our solid family unit; a beautiful home, established careers and a mountain of things we still want to achieve. Like everything finally fits. So here are a few reasons why I think that 31 is the new 21.

1. I can barely remember who was at my 21st ten years ago, and I’m hardly in touch with most of them anymore. People who I thought were my BEST, forever friends. While most of my current besties are from my childhood, I think you make your solid friends in your late twenties, and another group after you’ve had kids. Friendships change, careers move at different paces and having a family shifts your priorities. When I say “shift”, imagine a construction site and a very large bulldozer pushing your old priorities off a cliff. In my 20s, I let go of BEST friends who weren’t even friends at all. There’s sort of a “ek vat nie kak nie” attitude that comes in your late 20s and you realize that not all friendships will survive these years. And that’s okay!

vurl

2. You have more money. Scraping by in your 20s and sending your parents please call mes to help with your rent is something that most of us went through. The best of us. In your 20s you learn about credit and savings and investing and interest rates, insurance and bonds and taxes. You make some pretty expensive mistakes. I remember I BLEW my first credit card when I was 20 like why would you even give a 20 year old a credit card. I spent years tidying up my credit record and then years trying to build credit to qualify to buy a house. In your 30s everything sort of evens out, you might stop living month to month and debits off your account no longer break your heart. Sometimes.

tumblr_ljpx0ilnLe1qj06xbo1_500

3. I am personally in better shape right now than I was in my 20s. I eat right. I care. I train. I run. In my 20s it was all big macs and 24 hour steers and now it’s all juices and water and salads and wholewheat everything. I never cared about my health, I was like WHATEVER I’M YOUNG I’LL EAT WHAT I WANT and now I’m like “Okay so I really want to live a long and healthy life and not get colon cancer.” I’ve also become more responsible. I used to party like a crazy girl and now I’m like “WHAT IS THIS 3 DAY HANGOVER.” Seriously – what is that?!

anigif_enhanced-4155-1429879642-3

4. Your soul sprouts. I was pretty selfish in my 20s with very little regard for others, the earth or consequence. In your 20s your heart will break. You’ll disappoint yourself, and others. You’ll gain an awareness of others that you didn’t think possible. Only when your heart is truly and completely broken will it be vulnerable and susceptible enough to comprehend how you’ve affected others. There’s a sensitivity and humbleness that arrives in your 20s somewhere, and you’ll never shake it. It will make you a better, more sensitive and caring human being.

tumblr_mwrz03Lf6I1t1k6qho1_500

5. Your career will change maybe three times. You might not be working in the field that you studied and by now you’ve probably realized that your degree means very little in the greater scheme of experience. I made monumental professional mistakes in my 20s. I took jobs I didn’t really want, I worked insane hours and I said yes to a lot of things that I should have walked away from. You learn that passion is the very core of any kind of success, and you will never succeed at anything unless your heart is in it. At my 21st, I had just left my Journalism studies and I was working in an old age home and night shift at a hospital’s Emergency Unit. I wanted to be a nurse, and work in pediatrics. I wasted two entire years in the medical field, which I would eventually walk away from. I worked as a TV producer and Multimedia Manager until I found what I was passionate about. You will never feel as confused, lost and desperate as you do in your 20s. Eventually you’re like

giphy-88

6. By the time you reach your 30s you’ve developed your personal style. Sure it might change later, but you start to build a wardrobe. You ignore trends and fashion and focus on yourself, dressing for your body shape and investing in good quality, timeless garments. What looks good in a magazine or on your best friend won’t necessarily suit you. You discover which colours and fabrics and cuts flatter you. I’ve thrown and given away heaps of clothes over the years and I’ve learned that it’s better to buy one expensive item a month than 4 cheap ones that won’t last three washes and definitely not to the next season. You go from cheap clothes to good clothes like

tumblr_mnhkluP1Sz1s25avjo1_500

7. For some of us, we learn about motherhood in our 20s. You learn a love beyond your comprehension or understanding. Your heart and soul leaves your body and probably never comes back. You become a nurturer, not just with your own kids but with all others. You will never walk past a crying child and you will appreciate and understand humanity in a much deeper and connected sense. Motherhood is amazing. It will test, grow, fulfill and break you.

robin-llorando

8. You will fall in love. With yourself. Your body, your heart, your personality. You’ll accept all your own flaws and setbacks and mistakes. You’ll work through your dark bits and you’ll reach a point where you don’t need recognition or validation. There’s a confidence that emerges somewhere along the line that will really change your life. You’ll start saying no to things, you’ll stand tall in your convictions and you’ll appreciate yourself for who you are. I was really insecure in my 20s and I wanted everyone to like me, agree with me, stand by me. As you grow, your confidence does too.

giphy

I usually get sad around birthdays. Another year of life cut short. A year less with my children, and theirs. Another year closer to losing loved ones, but today… I feel good. Relaxed. Like my wild spirit has silenced and evolved in to a deeper consciousness and understanding of everything around us. I feel… satisfied. Now that all those BIG boxes are ticked, I’m excited to start enjoying life more. I want to travel and expand my studies and keep learning about myself and our beautiful world. I want to kick back and really enjoy my husband and focus more on him and watch him go through his own journey. I love that man so much. He fills my heart with a thousand sunny days, ice cream cones, forests and sunsets. I want to watch my children be children and spend less time consumed by my to do lists and deadlines. I want to write books and stories and poems. I feel ready for anything right now and I really do believe that 31 is the new 21, at least today, right now. Happy birthday to me, and happy it is indeed.

IMG_20150703_163139

16
0

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.

Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 8.08.00 PM

Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 8.17.36 PMScreen Shot 2015-02-28 at 8.14.06 PMScreen Shot 2015-02-28 at 8.16.22 PMScreen Shot 2015-02-28 at 8.16.59 PMScreen Shot 2015-02-28 at 8.14.51 PMScreen Shot 2015-02-28 at 8.18.10 PMScreen Shot 2015-02-28 at 8.15.45 PMScreen Shot 2015-02-28 at 8.08.18 PMScreen Shot 2015-02-28 at 8.11.33 PMScreen Shot 2015-02-28 at 8.11.07 PMScreen Shot 2015-02-28 at 8.09.50 PM

 

0
0

so long and thanks for all the fish

This year was filled with incredible blessings and opportunities. Sometimes I feel like there is a theme to each year – set lessons to be learned and things to be accomplished. Things decided by someone else holding the strings that often has very little to do with us, you know? Looking back at 2014 I just feel… exhausted. Astonished. Proud? Sad. Perhaps these were the most notable achievements, celebrations and heartaches this year.

1. First thing that comes to mind is losing our precious Roger. That’s what you get when you treat a pet like family, with love. I miss that damn rabbit every single day. I don’t know why I loved him quite as much as I did, but some creatures jump right in to your heart with a blanket and magazine and just sort of stay there, you know? Something really stirred with his loss. I went from THESE ARE ALL MY EMOTIONS to “do not TOUCH, look at or come anywhere near my emotions!”  Losing him also brought back all these other feelings and memories from other people and things that I’ve lost over the years. When something you really really flippen love walks out, it’s like all the dead come alive again. Think Pet Cemetary but better cinematography.

IMG_20140218_175839 IMG_20140508_150125IMG_20140317_193310IMG_20140310_163907

2. The Birdhouse jumped right out of my hands and flew away until I almost couldn’t see it anymore. Man this year was busy and I feel like I really, really grew. My previous employed positions were managerial and mostly in leadership roles, so I had to delegate a lot. And you know what? Over the years, delegating makes you lazy. I got so bored. When I started out a year ago I had nobody to delegate to, and a very nervous looking bank balance. I had to build new skills, research, educate myself on the very basics again and really get elbow deep in my business in order for it to grow. I worked hard, heck we all did. I built a nice team of contractors, freelancers and interns and eventually Graeme got involved and invested in my business too.

The birdhouse CI-15

IMG_20140724_114015

3. Graeme resigned and started manufacturing and designing furniture full time with Graeme Bettles Design. How he managed to keep up with the demand this year is a modern miracle. His business savvy and skill set and expanded and grown this year too. Learning is incredibly thrilling, and new ventures are contagious. He’s in the process of launching something really big right now, but we’re urging each other to take a breather over the festive season. It’s an absolute must!

IMG_20140921_220716

4. I got fit. I didn’t realize just what a lazy and unhealthy bugger I was until I started running. I ran a 21km, joined a gym and really fell for all of it. I love gym, treadmills, running, eating mostly healthy things and feeling great. I have quads, abs, biceps and all these other things that used to just jiggle when prodded. Getting toned has really increased my confidence. Even if I always stay and fluctuate 5 kg here and there – it’s pretty cool when your body parts are a bit firmer and healthier looking – something I only understood and appreciated once I got in to it.

IMG_20140518_170139IMG_20140712_111125IMG_20141020_130222IMG_20140721_100455IMG_20140605_092738

5. Jack-jack-jack-jack-jack (said in a really high pitched voice really fast and in concession like that). That’s my boy. Then DAY-zee! Man I love our dogs. I love having dogs, in the house, in the garden, on the bed, on the couch, in the forest, at the beach. Having these dogs is maybe my favourite thing that happened this year. We were stuck between getting Staffies or Collies – our two favourite breeds. I’m so glad we went with these two, which we also call “Our black and whites” or “Itchy and Scratchy” PS I’m still upset that Graeme wouldn’t let me call Daisy “Jill”. Jack and Jill, you know? Come on it would have been awesome.

IMG_20140720_193522IMG_20140720_163532IMG_20140720_154506IMG_20140723_213944IMG_20140804_160411IMG_20140817_154455IMG_20140919_154748IMG_20140919_165042IMG_20140919_170050IMG_20141015_160644IMG_20141015_183436IMG_20141020_230940IMG_20141026_112209IMG_20141113_214848IMG_20141205_084632IMG_20141205_223540IMG_20141206_185648

6. I didn’t do a lot of things I said I was going to do. I had all these big plans and overseas travel lined up, but I had to make a few tough business decisions and ultimately, I followed my gut and chased a few pitches and leads that I thought would be more rewarding in the long run. Always follow your instincts because your little angels / spirits / dinosaurs / whatever you believe in will guide you when you start over thinking everything too much. However, it did SUCK to miss a few things that I was really, genuinely excited about. We’ve still got lots of life to live, so we’ll get there and tick all the boxes at our own pace. Still really sad that we missed out on so much this year!

IMG_20140528_135136

7. I hit (was punched in the face by) my 30s this year. I rolled in to it with a new perspective on health, a strong marriage, happy kids and a new home. That was pretty awesome. But you GUYS – I get super sad around birthdays because to me it just means less time with my family and the boys. I love that we had our kids young, I mean when we’re 40 the boys will be 16 and 15. I’ll take it! I’ve noticed a few creases on my forehead this year which is quite upsetting. If anyone reading this blog would like to sponsor me for botox / facelift / chemical peel in which case my email address is… KIDDING! (inbox me) I have to mention that it’s really true that you stop caring about inconsequential nonsense as you leave your 20s. I’ve parted with upsetting situations, challenges and people with hardly a flippant wave this year. The truth is – people will hurt you, use you, upset and abuse you but you’re the only one who gets to decide how it affects you. I’ve adopted a bit of a no-nonsense approach to many aspects of life this year. As long as you’re happy, who the hell cares. Related: I found a lot of happiness this year!

IMG_20140805_084109IMG_20140614_143707IMG_20140323_162337IMG_20140315_123226

8. I gained more confidence with my writing this year. I’ve also started writing for a few websites and publications. It’s much of what I do full time.  I write for our clients, and this year my words were published by Parent24, Women’s Health, Getaway, Mail and Guardian, Ackermans and Grootbos on travel. Adjusting my voice and style for a diverse audience has been a challenge, but it’s something that I’d really like to build on in 2015. I’d like to move in to business, politics, news and finance writing. Perhaps health too. I don’t have a picture to depict this so please see below: a picture of me on a bicycle.

IMG_20140426_143822

9. I think I’ll always remember this as the year that Noah and Benjamin really, really bonded! People said that having 2 kids is super hard until the youngest turns 4. I have to say that it’s true. Right now, with Noah at 5 and Ben at 4 we’ve noticed such an incredible difference. They’re really bonding now and cementing a friendship that will last their entire lives. Watching them love one another and grow together was an incredible experience this year. I love these boys.

IMG_20141206_221728IMG_20141018_114554IMG_20140922_132535IMG_20140607_171324IMG_20140517_133531IMG_20140227_222855IMG_20141206_165400

10. We finally, finally moved to the Suburbs. Being in a leafy, green and family neighborhood has really changed our lives this year. We have squirrels in our garden, birds, trees, fruit and vegetables. Grass. Flowers. I’ve always loved gardening. Even when we didn’t have grass, I created little potted gardens and filled our home with greenery. I think that’s what I appreciate most about the suburbs. The boys can ride their bicycles along the porch, feed the fish, play in the garden and throw a ball for the dogs. It’s so special. I feel better knowing that we’re in the school district for the boys. Next year is going to be pretty insane. I haven’t photographed our home or anything like that. I guess I don’t really see the need? We just enjoy being inside it. So much.

IMG_20140718_155408

So that’s it for 2014! I’m so excited for next year and all our little plans and changes on the way. I love looking at the calendar, not knowing what those days will hold. I don’t really make resolutions but I hope to read more, be more present every day and learn more about our world. I’m furthering my studies next year, publishing a few books and launching an additional business. Graeme’s got a whole lot planned but we’ll get chatting about it in the new year! Right now, I’m wishing my (and your) family health, safety, joy and togetherness this festive season. We’re headed to Kwa-Zulu Natal for my dad’s 60th and catching up with all our friends in the Midlands, Durban and Empangeni. The boys are going to sleep in my old room that I slept in when I was 5. Play in the park across our house that I played in. Walk to the same shop I walked to when my parents sent me to get bread and milk. I can’t wait to go home with my new family. Now put your feet up, open a book and open your heart to everyone around you. Merry Christmas everyone – make it wonderful!

IMG_20140418_131912IMG_20140315_123110IMG_20140316_153151IMG_20140404_134906IMG_20140817_150612IMG_20140823_142110IMG_20140817_180801IMG_20141210_201614

6
0

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.

 

unnamed unnamed3 unnamed4 unnamed6 unnamed7 unnamed8 unnamed9 unnamed11 unnamed22 unnamed33 unnamed55 unnamed66 unnamed88 unnamed99 unnamed555 unnamed666unnamed444

2
0