Monday, April 21, 2014

The wonder years

Here are some of my baby photos I stumbled across yesterday while I was digging through my childhood treasures. It is weird to think that these photos are over 30 years old! Guess that makes me vintage.

Blogger Tricks

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The hollow chocolate bunny who wanted to be a Caramello Bear

It’s possible to know exactly where you are going, and still feel… lost. Got my map, got my five-year-plan, got my hipflask of firewater for when the road gets all hopscotch. Tick, tick, tick. And yet, something is missing.

I’m talking about my work, my job, my business, my career. FYI: that’s where I disappeared to this last while. I have been Making Something of Myself, people.

These last six months I have thrown every ounce of my time, energy and creativity into propelling my little one-woman, occasionally outsourcing, copywriting studio into a small agency. I have a business partner. We have the loveliest intern. We’re going from rent-a-desk to looking for permanent office space. We have 22 freelance writers on our books and counting. We are chasing the holy grail of digital media: creating content candy, not just copy candy.

Things are going gangbusters. Freaking awesome. Hot-firemen-with-nipple-tassles good.

But the price of this first taste of success has been terrible: for my friendships, my marriage and my children.

You didn’t think I was going to say that, did you? You thought I was going to say something along the lines of: “Yes, working moms – you can have it ALL!”

You can’t. It’s a steaming cowpat of bullshit.

My husband has done everything to enable me to chase down my dream: during the week he drops off the kids at their respective schools in the mornings, does the grocery shopping, works on his own stuff during the day (we are both self-employed), picks up kids at 1pm and then again at 4pm, makes us all dinner...

All this to buy me precious extra hours behind my laptop every day, to surf the churn in my inbox, write, write, write, project manage, write, write, edit, do the books, write, edit, project manage (look more emails!), write, write, edit.

 - But let me not overindulge in my tale of how ‘busy’ I am, because etiquette insists that this is a distasteful display of ‘bragging’. -

Where was I? Write. I mean, right – the rock star cult of entrepreneurship needs to be squashed. There is nothing glamorous about the kind of hours it requires to build a business, and almost NO ONE becomes a millionaire.

The real cost nibbles away at the edges of all you hold dear, the core of you – heart, home, the humans that live in your heart and home. It was only when I tried to apply myself to this mommy blogging business that I have been neglecting of late that I realised that a big chunk of my life had been eaten away by work.

Blog post after blog post has been binned, because I have nothing to say about motherhood anymore. In my head, I’ve been laying my writer’s block at the feet of that label: mommy blogger. “It diminishes my reputation as a professional. No one takes mommy bloggers seriously. It doesn’t earn me an income so it’s not deserving of my time,” and so on.

This has been going on for days.

I woke up at 3am and – maybe it’s the chill in the air that cleared my head – I can see so clearly now what the real problem is. I have nothing to say about motherhood, because I haven’t done much ‘mothering’ these last few months. I’m still packing school lunches, bathing kids and tucking my boys in at night. Physically, I’m going through the motions, but mentally I’m not in the room.

So there it is. It’s not pleasant, and I’m not proud of it.

Given it’s Easter weekend, I can’t shake this mental picture of a milk chocolate bunny, and when you bite into its ears – I always start with the ears – it goes ‘crack’ and it’s hollow inside. I’m always disappointed with hollow chocolate eggs and bunnies and whatever… I mean, stick some Smarties or salted caramel in there, stingy confectioners.

I want to be a caramel-centred mom, you know? I used to be plenty gooey on the inside.

This weekend has been a good start. I haven’t done a stitch of work. Okay, that’s a lie – I wrote a short article on Friday morning, and have some editing and editorial planning to do this afternoon – but I have been able to spend some much-needed time with my three amazing sons.

And I took down my old photo albums from the top of my cupboard, prepared with love and hand-scribbled, humorous notes by my dear gran, who raised me. I always ruffle through my childhood memories when I need to ground myself. Later I’ll post some Polaroids of baby Stacey – I can’t believe my chubby cheeks in the one photograph I found.

Until then, think gooey, caramel-centre thoughts, moms and dads.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

GIVEAWAY: A momi ‘O Baby’ accessory bag worth R300!

This competition is closed: the winner was Mariette.

It was only when I had my third baby that I could finally afford a really gorgeous ‘baby bag’. (And they say that the youngest child only gets hand-me-downs: not true baby Oliver, you spoiled little sproglet.) So I was thrilled, right in the beginning of January, when momi baby bags got hold of me to show me their range.

One of the things I love about their brand is that that are called ‘momi bags’... because, frankly, these are bags for grown women who aren’t letting motherhood cramp their style. You want to be able to stash a couple of disposables and some formula powder in there, and probably (if you are anything like me) your phone, your purse, your make-up bag and your car keys.

This is one of the bigger bags, and you can see how well it is made.

Momi Bags is giving away an ‘O Baby’ accessory bag to give away to one of the Lionheart readers. It’s worth R300 and it is just so classy and practical. It’s the perfect size for when you quickly need to nip out to the shops, and you just take the basics with you. I love the style; it’s Chinese silk brocade.

Simply leave me a comment below and tell me: what is the strangest thing that is in your handbag at the moment? If you like, you can also join the momi baby bags and Living Lionheart Facebook pages. 

I’ll announce the winner on Wednesday 19 March at 5pm. This competition is open to residents of South Africa only. Winner drawn randomly.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Shark teeth

I've been writing professionally for 15 years. It's my career. I've always shown an aptitude for it. I trained and qualified accordingly.

Parenting is a whole other bowl of nachos.

I do not know what the @^%%# I am doing.

And the funny thing is, no one does.

And then you're given this fragile bag of skin and bones and heart and brain to care for, and inside you are FREAKING OUT. But you kiss ouchies and read bedtime stories, because you have got this parenting thing in the bag, right?

And when your 6-year-old autistic son suddenly sprouts a tooth behind his baby tooth, you try not to hyperventilate in front of him (because you've got this, remember) but inside you're like "Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit..."

So that was my day. How are you doing?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Take a 'shelfie' and win a 2-min dash through Exclusive Books

Books, glorious books. What is it I love about books so much? It’s more than the fantastic tales pressed between their covers; I even have something of a paperback fetish. I’m not one of those who freaks out when a page is folded over in a corner to mark a place, because I believe a book tells two stories – one by the author and another is told by the hands that have paged through it. I especially adore old English set-works and poetry collections where little notes have been pencilled in the margins.

I was in book nirvana when I was invited to the media preview of the Exclusive Books Summer Sale. This year the Summer Sale has over 115 000 titles to choose from, with the average price being R60 a book. If you are a coffee table book collector, your heart will pump chocolate Pinotage when you see the incredible selection of hardcover, beautifully photographed titles this year. Ever the science nerd, I nabbed a copy of the National Geographic’s hefty The Big Idea, which is on sale for a whole R125 – a steal. I also found a few books for the boys by our favourite illustrator Axel Scheffler, and I found more than a few novels by some of my favourite sci-fi and fantasy authors China MiĆ©ville and Peter F. Hamilton.

The Summer Sale kicks off tomorrow evening, 25 Feb, with a Fanatics-only preview at all stores (excluding airport stores) from 5pm. The sale officially begins on Wednesday. One of the best things about sales at Exclusive’s is that you still swipe your Fanatics card at the till and hoard more points.

They also have a fun competition on where you can win a two-minute dash though an Exclusive Books, and grab as many books as humanly possible in that time. About two years ago I won a 60-second dash through the Exclusive Books in Clearwater Mall, where I grabbed as many books off the sales tables as I could. I actually arrived a full 30 minutes early and planned which books I would take before letting the store manager know I was there. Sneaky strategy, hey? I think I left with 27 books, so imagine how many you could get in double the time?

How to enter

To enter, take a photo of yourself in front of the sales tables on the night of the Fanatics Preview on the 25th of February. I know...a ‘shelfie’, brilliant! Email the photo along with your Fanatics number to to stand a chance to win. Goooooood luck.