Monday, 18 May 2015

The List of All the Stuff that Trav Broke

It was a tough weekend for this family, a real shitty shitty bang bang one. More for Mom and Dad than the kiddiwinkles, to be fair. Because we are the cleaner-uppers, you see.

I’ve written many times now how destructive Travis can be, but Friday through to Sunday night he took it to a whole new level. Here’s the list of casualties:

1 x brand new bottle of Sunlight dishwashing liquid, poured on the floor in the kitchen right through to his bedroom.

1 x cupboard door ripped off its hinges in the middle of the night. Unfixable.

Several balloon decorations, ripped to shreds at a mom-and-kids media event. Plus 1 x balloon animal ripped out of a little girl’s hands, much to my very public embarrassment. Followed by 1 x screaming tantrum at said media event, right in the middle of the speeches, because he had run out f balloons to eat.

3 x bottles of nail polish, emptied on floor next to mom’s bed, and smeared all over sheets and pillow cases

1 x 2L bottle of foam bath emptied on the bathroom floor and poured in the basin.

1 x purple flyswatter chewed and ripped to shreds with teeth.

A flyswatter, people! The thing that you use to mash flies to death with. This list wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t an appendix to last week’s list, which included:

1 large bottle of pasta sauce pilfered from pantry and smashed on bedroom floor

1 x smashed Consol jar with a candle in it, which rolled off the table after Travis decided that all glassware now must rest on its side and not standing upright

(Almost) 1 x smashed genuine crystal champagne glass, rescued in the nick of time when mom heard Travis applying the above rule to one that was accidentally left within his reach.

There were two other incidents where I had to sweep glass shards up with a dustpan, but in fairness I can’t remember what was broken or if it was perhaps one of Trav’s little brothers.

The thing is, I can’t get mad at Travis – he doesn’t really understand what he’s doing, and it is my responsibility to keep him in my sights at all times. But, I just can’t. It’s not humanly possible for me to be there all the time, it really isn’t. Not with two other kids, and a tonne of work to get through over the weekend and The Husband being away for work events on Fridays and Saturdays. No nanny to help, nothing (Saint Irene has been on maternity leave since the end of Feb).

On Friday night while I was cleaning up dishwashing liquid – which, by the way, does not leave your floor sparkling, but with a weird scummy residue – I forced myself to be calm and just get on with it.

One cupboard door and three nail polishes later, I completely lost my shit.

By the time I walked into the bathroom that had been liberally painted with the blue foam path, I was every shade of depression. I didn’t even shout. I just walked back out and sat on the couch, numb.

It’s Monday morning and I still haven’t cleaned it up.

Six more weeks until Travis moves to his forever home at Oakhaven, where there are more hands on deck to keep his busy little hands occupied and supervised…

And I think it is time to admit in my heart of hearts, that one of the emotions I’m feeling, under the sadness and guilt, is relief.
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Friday, 15 May 2015

What did you get for Mother’s Day?

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So, Mother’s Day, huh? Went by in a flurry of fluffy gowns and breakfasts in bed. I’ll confess: I actually spent a great deal of the free time afforded to me on Mother’s Day scrolling through Instagram. It was straight-up adorbs seeing what my fellow moms received as prezzies.

(Mother’s Day has clearly turned me mushy because I don’t think I have ever used the word ‘adorbs’ in a sentence until now.)

Did you know? After Christmas, Mother’s Day is the second most commercially, um, I think the term is “successful” annual celebration for retailers? Sorry, dads. And bunnies.

That means moms got a lot of sugar and spice and all things nice. Me? My boys made me hand-painted candles with glitter and ribbons, and a little sticker on the bottom with their name on it that says: “Made with love”. And then our national energy supplier graciously hit our suburb with load shedding all week so that I would have plenty of opportunities to use them.

Oh wait, I also got a tiara! A plastic one! But still: irreplaceable.

Spare a thought for Kim Kardashian though. Last year North gave her a one-of-a-kind hand painted Prada bag!

Image source
If you received a Mother’s Day gift that is rather valuable, the kind of item that has a lot of sentimental value but will also be expensive to replace if it has been stolen or damaged, then you might want to get an insurance quote with King Price.

For more about how you can insure your personal belongings and how to save that little bit of extra cash and time, contact King Price and discover super cheap premiums that decrease every month.

You never know when you will need to replace these precious items. As you can see (ahem), my tiara has already been stolen.

Someone took your tiara? Don't know what you are talking about!

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Crushing on Sugar and Vice

I’m going through a monochromatic doodle phase. Maybe it’s because winter is here and it’s all stark skies and bare branches. Or maybe I’m cultivating a love affair with illustration and local talent. But I’ve fallen head over heels with Sugar and Vice.

I’m late to the party (again), but the first time I saw S&V was when I was trawling Instagram with the Kamersvol hashtag. You know, because wrangling three small boys by myself over a weekend means I’ll never get to experience Kamersvol and so all I have is Instagram to see All The Pretty Things.

We need all these mugs at our new Content Candy HQ.

I lean more toward the darker themes, so my favourite items in the S&V collection are the Sugar Skulls, Heart Crush and Bound Souls.

Rectangular platter - Heart Flush - R450 (aorta on a plate, anyone?)
Salad bowl - Protea Dreams - R620
I nearly forget to mention the proteas. I love me some proteas!

The good news is there is an online shop, and a custom gift wrapping services. Which is great because I can wrap anything that is a square shape, and that is about it. And I loved reading the About section, where Natalie shares her story - because part of the charm is knowing the why.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

The one where I try to tell Trav's brothers that he is disabled...

A couple of weeks ago I was putting the Lionheart’s two little brothers to bed – they share a room.

I kissed Ryan somewhere in the region of his head, cause he always hides under the duvet to avoid my kisses, and I said: “Good night, my special.” Then I kissed little Oliver, who always makes a kissy mouth, bless, and said: “And good night to you, my special.”

As I walked out of the room, Ryan peeped up and said: “Travis is NOT special! TRAVIS is not special! He is not the special one.” [more illegible mumble-rants from under the duvet]

SIDEBAR: outraged much, kiddo? Wait until you discover the Internet!

But I digress.

It seemed I’d finally been given The Sign. The one I’ve been waiting for pretty much since Ryan was born. The Sign that he noticed his big brother was a little, um, weird… in the Everything department.

I’ve been preparing for this conversation for yonks. I had this whole story about how Travis is a hair-dryer, not a toaster, but I was caught with my whimsical storytelling pants around my ankles.

So I explained to Ryan (who is 3 going on 4) and Oliver (who’s almost 2, but way too young to understand) that Travis is different, but that doesn’t mean he’s not special.

Which in retrospect is the exact opposite of what I should have said. I SHOULD have said that Travis is different, but that doesn’t mean he gets special treatment. But damn the Lego Movie that has me calling all my kids “The Special”. Which puts a pin in my no-one-is-automatically-special-just-because-they-are-breathing philosophy I was hoping to pass onto my kids.

Another important life lesson, hijacked by Hollywood.

But hey, we take the opportunities to teach wherever the Big Guy Upstairs sprinkles them.

Then today in the car, we’d just fetched the Lionheart from school and Ryan piped up: “Mommy, Travis can’t talk. Travis never talks.”

So he’s noticed that as well. 

I explained that while Travis can’t talk, but he still shows us what he means by taking our hands and pointing to what he wants. Which is actually a bit of a difficult concept to get across to a boy who is only “free” in finger-years old.

Ryan didn’t say anything to my awkward explaining.

Anyway, I’d thought I’d share with you the kinds of conversations that are starting to happen in the Lionheart household.

Once Travis moves to Oakhaven in July, it won’t be such a gently-gently-how-do-we-talk-about-this-with-sensitivity-so-our-ruggles-don’t-hate-us-forever issue, but I should probably start brainstorming more age-appropriate ways to talk about Trav’s disability to his two baby brothers.

Like, Travis is a Lego block. Not a special Lego block, just a different Lego that doesn’t get used in regular construction. But you still need one in your Lego box.

No, wait. That doesn’t make sense either. Sigh.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

The only crumpets recipe you'll ever need

Crumpets (also called flapjacks) remind me of my childhood. We would have these often on a Sunday morning – usually with syrup, but sometimes as a special treat, with jam and cream! They’re so easy to make. Much easier than pancakes, in fact, because you don’t have to worry about thickness!

Tip: You can make the batter beforehand, and keep it in the refrigerator for up to a week. The longer it’s in the fridge, the thicker the batter becomes – but you can thin it out a little with milk if you need to.


5 tbsp sugar
2 cups of flour (500 ml)
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp of melted butter
1 cup milk (250 ml)

  1. Beat the eggs and sugar together. 
  2. Melt the butter and add to the egg mixture, as well as half of the cup of milk. Mix well. 
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt and add to the egg mixture. 
  4. Then gradually add the remaining milk, stirring until the batter is smooth. 
  5. Rest the batter for 30 mins in the refrigerator. 
  6. Drop spoonfuls of batter into frying pan. Use oil instead of butter (as the crumpets soak up way too much butter while they are cooking!) 
  7. When bubbles appear, flip the crumpet over and bake on the other side. 
  8. Remove from the heat when the crumpet is golden brown on both side. 
  9. Serve with syrup, jam and cream. 
This recipe makes up to 20 crumpets, depending on size.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Review: In Gratitude And Love treatment at Africology Spa

I’m no stranger to the Africology brand. A few years ago, I edited the beauty and grooming pages for a publication, and we bumped emails a few times.

I had a love affair with the Anti-Oxidant Serum in its hot pink dropper bottle.

So when I was invited to experience the In Gratitude And Love treatment, a special package for Mother’s Day, I moved heaven and earth (and a few meetings) so that I could try it.

I arrived on Tuesday at The Maslow hotel in Sandton, where there is an in-house Africology. The concierge rang up to the spa, and my therapist came down to personally collect me and book me in for my treatment.

PS: The Maslow and Africology go together like dark chocolate and orange. The only thing that I love more about walking into an Africology Spa, with its distinctive botanical scents and gorgeous d├ęcor, is walking through the swank lobby of The Maslow hotel, to go have a treatment at an Africology Spa.

PPS: You really will smell the Africology Spa before you see it. It is an olfactory explosion of fresh-cut grass and crushed petal scents.

I was almost an hour early, so changed in my robe and flip flops...

... and hung out in the private herb garden on The Maslow’s balcony, which is one of the best-kept secrets in Jo’burg.

I even spent some time in the hydrotherapy room. First walking my tired feet through the ice bath (which was colder than a witches, um, you know what!) and then soaking my legs in the Jacuzzi, while sipping on mint-and-lemon infused water. Fancy, neh?

My therapist was just the sweetest. She explained what to expect during my treatment, and then left me to arrange myself on the bed for my facial and full-body massage.

If you haven’t been to an Africology Spa before, or tried the products, then know that what sets it apart is that it’s a complete sensory experience. It’s less of a “treatment” and more of a “journey” (although the products are packed with all the good stuff – hence my love affair with the Anti-Oxidant Serum).

The lights are dimmed, you close your eyes, and a bell softly chimes – once, twice, three times. My therapist instructed me to breathe in, and a sharp smell (lemon balm maybe) cleared my head. I immediately felt centered and in the moment. What followed was 90 blissful minutes of being rubbed head to toe with aromatherapy oils and heated rose quartz crystals.

Two days later and my skin still feels baby soft, and no breakouts, which is what sometimes happens after my face is massaged with oils.

But what I love about the Africology brand is the story of Africology CEO Renchia Droganis. I don’t know what I love more about her: that she has four children, or that her surname is “Droganis”.

Renchia started Africology in a kitchen, and today she and her children have grown this small family business into an empire. As an entrepreneur and mother, I have so much admiration for this.

For Mother’s Day this year, Renchia created a special candle: In Gratitude And Love. It’s a limited edition, and costs R360. I keep mine on my bedside table and light it while I’m reading a few chapters before I go to sleep. It has these warm undertones of shea butter, with soft notes of peony. If a mother’s love had a scent, this would be it.

So if you’re looking to do something special for your mother this month, both the In Gratitude And Love treatment and the candle from Africology get a stamp of approval from me.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Cry the beloved mommy

I don’t know what it was about Monday. Maybe the moon was in Cancer, and Jupiter was wobbling through my First House… but I really needed a good cry. All day long I held my emotions in check.

Until I got home that is. By then, I was exhausted from keeping an even keel all day. I was feeling the “ugly cry” coming on. You know the feeling.

Burning in the back of the throat.

Your eyes start welling up.

Basically, you’re like a volcano about to erupt in… tears.

And then I didn’t. I just couldn’t. Because I was in the middle of organising supper and my kids were hanging onto my jeans and I just didn’t have the luxury of crying right then. Plus, I didn’t want my boys to see their mom just randomly burst into tears.

And I realised I have been doing this for a while now. Sometime after becoming a mom, I stopped crying. At first I stopped crying in front of my kids. I would have little pity parties while I was in the shower....

Or on a long drive home..

Or after everyone had gone to sleep.

And then, I just stopped crying all together because ain’t nobody got time for that crying shit.

The thing is, I’m not so sure that this is a good thing. How else do you let the feelings out? Should I start a contact sport – like… extreme scrap-booking?

So I guess what I am asking is: do you still have the occasional cry? Do you cry in front of your kids? Where do you cry? Like… do you have a secret spot where you go to just let it all out, dry your eyes, and come back into the room like nothing’s happened? How often do you cry? And why?

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

This is what I picked from CNA’s selection of Mother’s day gifts...

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Mother’s Day is always a bittersweet for me, because my own mother passed on when I was a baby. That’s the bitter part.

The sweet part is that I have been blessed with extra moms. Bonus moms! Strong woman, funny women, smart women – all who have contributed to raising me!

My family is awash with what you would call “Strong Female Characters”.

In particular, my grandmother who raised me after my own mother passed away. Darling Ma, everything I am today, I have you to thank for.

My love of the English language, the joy of losing myself in a book, my contentedness with a simpler life where we eat mince on toast and tinned peaches with custard. 

That core of inner strength that I have, that’s carried me through the death of loved ones, the challenge of raising a disabled child, the financial ups and downs… my grandmother put that there, and it is my single most important resource and her greatest gift to me. 

Even though she is no longer with me, she lives on through all the women in my family.

CNA asked me to take a look at the Mother’s Day selection and pick a gift that I think she would have liked. They have a great selection of gifts that includes books, sweets and stationery sets. I would definitely have given my gran some of this creamy fudge and butter toffees.

(And then she would have told me that it sticks in her teeth. And then she would have told me that I can’t have any, because I’m getting fat – because Ma would just tell you like it is, and I adored her for it.)

Go check out CNA’s selection of Mother’s day gifts and find something special for the mom(s) in your life.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

If you only buy one coloring book for adults, it has to be this one...

I don't think I have ever wanted something as badly as I want "Secret Garden, An Inky Treasure Hunt and Colouring Book" by Johanna Basford. 

Look, it has been out since 2013, and she been interviewed by everyone from the Guardian to Slate, but I have only just discovered her. I'm late to the adult colouring book party.

love everything about Johanna. I love that she calls herself an ink evangelist. I love that she doodled an entire dog statue. I love that she's sold a million copies - I hope she's bought an island.

I was reading an interview with her where she said that the best thing about her colouring books (there's another one called Enchanted Forest) topping the best-seller lists is that now she has her choice of briefs. She works on what challenges her, and inspires her creativity.

Johanna explained to Digital Arts: "I became a mum last year and nothing could have prepared me for the craziness that is trying to be a working mum. Before, I'd be loathed to turn a client away and – if I needed to work 20 hours days – that’s what I did. I have a little person to care for now and she demands enough all nighters without trying to add a deadline and a conference call into the mix."

Yes, please. I want that freedom.

I just wish I could get my hands on her colouring books. They are sold out at Exclusives, Takealot and Amazon.

In the meantime I'm trawling comments threads and forums and reviews, trying to decide which pencils to use when I do get my hands on a copy (I've heard that fineliners bleed through the pages, and I can't have that, no no no no). 

And dreaming about whipping out my matching set of three Secret Garden mini journals during meetings. Or that we become pen pals, and she agrees to design a tattoo for me.

Read all about the wondrous Johanna here.

Where to get your hands on Johanna Basford in South Africa?

You can pre-order from Exclusive Books (R199) or do a special order through Loot (R197).

Friday, 1 May 2015

Clean up in aisle 3!

If you have been following our family story for a while, then you know how tricky this shopping thing is for me. Particularly when I am flying solo. Like a momma duck in those watercolour-illustrated children's books from the 70s, with her three little ducklings waddling in a neat row behind her. Quack, quackity, quack, quack.

Except my three ducklings are running at 80km/h down the aisles - because "run" is the default setting for all kids, ain't it? - and repacking the tinned goods from the shelves into pyramids shapes, while stuffing Wonder Bars in their pockets when mom is not looking.

And the Lionheart, he is the worst. He gets all excited, and does his awkward run-walk-hop-shuffle in a tight circle while flapping his hands and giggling. I don't even notice when people stare at Travis anymore. Yes, he is mentally challenged. Yes, he is making weird sounds. Move along.

So imagine my surprise today in Food Lover's Market when a women, who had a little girl on her hip, tugged on my sleeve and asked: "You look like you have your hands full. Is there anything I can do to help?"

You could have knocked me over with a feather! And she had her own arms full with a squirming toddler, herself.

"I'm okay thanks. My husband is away," I mumbled. And then I felt compelled to add: "Isn't it funny how it's only other mothers that notice when a mom is struggling? Thanks for offering your help."

Good people are out there. And they buy freshly ground coffee beans at Food Lovers Market.

And just when you thought this story couldn't get any more heart-warming, here is a 4-second clip of the Lionheart pushing the trolley with his little brothers in it. Why just 4 seconds? Because I had to hit "stop" and rush to catch him before he ploughed into the shelves.

Cute kiddo.