Sunday, 25 January 2015

Three respite care visits, and going strong!

It’s Trav’s third weekend in respite care at Oakhaven, and I have got to say: why didn’t we do this sooner? Okay sure, Oakhaven only opened its doors in December and we were looking for the right place for about a year before that, but all those years when we were so adamant that “over my dead body will we put Travis in a home.” Why did we let pride get in the way?

This sounds heartless, like we’re happier when Travis is away. The truth is ‘yes we are’ – but it’s more complicated than that. So perhaps I should start with this simple fact, and take it from there.

Travis is happier when he’s not around us.

He can’t talk, or communicate his feelings in any straightforward way – so how do I know this?

When I went to collect him on his second visit from Oakhaven, Travis cried. He dropped down to the ground so that I couldn’t walk him to my car, where I had already stashed his weekend bag in the backseat. He went limp in my arms when I tried to carry him to the car. It couldn’t be more clear: he didn’t want to come home with me; he’s happier at Oakhaven; he feels more at home there.

A few days later, I went to collect him from his school in the afternoon. Travis now stays at his school until 4pm on weekdays, because well, he’s happier there too – there’s more to do, more stimulation and interaction, than when he comes home from school earlier in the afternoons.

Same thing. He cried, threw a tantrum. Travis did not want to get into the car with me; I had to do an awkward carry-drag-shuffle to get him strapped into the backseat with his seatbelt on.

Now, I could take this personally. I could wail about how I am failing the Lionheart as a parent. I could ugly-cry all the way home after these awkward pickups.

But I don’t. 

Because I remember the comments from family, friends and blog readers. Those of you with the balls to suggest to me: “Stacey, have you ever considered that it’s easier for Travis to be with other kids who are more like him? Have you thought about how hard it is FOR HIM to try fit into your ‘normal’ family every day?”

You were right on the money, I just did not want to see it that way.

And I’ve been selfish for trying to keep Travis under my wing for so long, forcing him to fit into a cookie-cutter suburban household. And equally as bad, for saddling his two younger brothers with this complicated situation.

I don’t write about it, but being raised side-by-side with a mentally disabled big brother, and two stressed-out, stretched-thin parents, has had a devastating negative impact on Trav’s brothers. I don’t write about it because I’m trying to maintain some level of privacy for these two little guys. 

I have no right to dissect their childhoods on this blog, splayed out for all the world to read. (Expect more blog posts on this soon.)

Travis, sure – I made the decision to share his story openly and it’s helped so many families these last four, five years. But his little brothers? Na-uh. No go on the over-sharing.

Moving on. The plan for Travis is to keep sending him to school during week days for the next year or two, and to let him spend as many weekends at Oakhaven as possible. So far it’s every second weekend. Then every weekend. Then weekends and short holidays. Then entire holidays. And eventually full-time.

At some point in this grand plan I either win the Lotto, or we rob a bank. But I am working my toosh off to make this a reality for our family. The great thing about working for yourself is (no - not more freedom; entrepreneurs work around-the-clock) that YOU get to decide what your salary is. I am in control of my time and my income. If I'm not earning enough, it is because I am not working smart enough.

Anyway. I’m going to collect Travis at 3pm today (Sunday). Here’s a photo that the lovely team sent me a little while ago of the Lionheart playing in the ball pool. They keep us posted all weekend with updates on how he is doing. Looks like this weekend was a fun one!

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Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Our Obi-wan is going to be the best dressed kid on the playground in his Naartjie tees...

They say it’s hard being the middle child, but in our family I can’t help but feel that our youngest Obi-wan (that’s what we call Oliver) got the short end of the fashion stick. He doesn’t just get hand-me-downs. Obi has to wear hand-me-downs that have been worn, washed and outgrown by Travis the Lionheart, and then worn, washed and outgrown by his brother Ryan. By the time clothes make it to his shelf in the cupboard, they’re threadbare and sun-bleached.

Naartjie launched it’s new website just before the December holidays, and while we were away at the beach for all those weeks, I spent many an afternoon “window-shopping”. They even sent me a voucher – thank you, Naartjie! – so that I could test-drive the new site and its functionality now that it has been optimised for mobile.

I was all like: “One voucher. Three boys. Who gets what?!”

It was a little scene that played out last year at the boys’ nursery school that made up my mind. Obi started school last week, and we’d been taking him along to collect Ryan in the afternoons towards the end of last year so that he wouldn’t feel so strange when his First Day came around. 

A teacher at the school spotted Obi digging in the sand pit, and she said to me: “Oh, that must be Oliver.”

How did she know, I wondered.

“Because he’s wearing Ryan’s old T-shirt,” she said.

Aah, man. Swallow me now, playground.

So Obi was spoiled this weekend. I used my Naartjie voucher (added in some extra bucks from the family budget), and had a ball shopping online for our littlest cub. I bought him SEVEN new shirts, one for every day of the week.

It helps that Naartjie is having a 20%-off special on their new Autumn range, and a whopping 40% off selected items from their Summer range.

I learned two things: Naartjie does flipping awesome clothes for boys. The size 24-36 months sells out fast! So if you’re shopping in that size, don’t dillydally if you see something you like. Buy it before someone beats you to it!

Here’s the link to the new Naartjie Kids website. When our order arrives I’ll post a couple of Instagram pics of our Obi looking fly.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Back when the Lionheart was little

You know how you blink, and then your baby is 7 years old? I realised this weekend that if Travis was a regular kid, a ruggle, then he would be in Grade 2 already. It feels like time has been slurped up like a long piece of spaghetti!

I was digging through my Facebook albums last week looking for my first ever profile pic - you know that meme going around - when I found a few photos of our Lionheart looking very small and squishy. I have (barely) survived two hard drive crashes in recent years, and I have lost so many photos of when he was still a baby. (And the video of his birth. And our honeymoon photos. And our professional family photo shoot we did after Ryan was born.)

Anyway, bygones. I present to you, Travis the Lionheart, from birth to age 3, in no particular order.

Excuse the quality, Facebook compresses photos to hell and gone. But is not my eldest son just the cutest thing. And to think, back then I honestly thought he would never walk. Guess he showed me. This year we are teaching him to hold a cup of juice. Travis will drink from a bottle, and hold it himself, but refuses to hold a cup. Baby steps, baby steps, towards more independence.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Pop into Menlyn Park for a Cheap Thrill – no, really!

Sponsored post

Menlyn Park’s asked me to spread the word about a new special they’ve got going on in the food court. It’s quite a clever little combo deal if you have a big family like ours. Seriously, we are a family of five. FIVE.

It’s called Cheap Thrills (you had me at ‘cheap’), and it’s a variety of combo deals that cost R250 for two people, R500 for four, or R750 for six. So when next you’re popping into Menlyn Park Shopping Centre to catch a movie with the kids, and maybe grabbing a burger afterwards, this is the deal for you!

Included in the price of your combo is:

  • Food! Your pick of food deals in the food courts, from Steers, Debonairs, Mio Col’Cacchio, Karai, Fishaways, Subway, KFC, Anat Falafel & Shwarma, or ChesaNyama. (There’s a whole list, so ask to see what you can eat where, before you buy your combo).
  • Fun! 2D movie tickets or vouchers to spend at the Fun Company.
  • Yum! After the movie or gaming at the arcade, pop into Filo for some waffles. Or get some ice cream, chocolates or a bag of candy from Sweet Fantasy.

Ask to see the full breakdown of what the combo deals include, and then mix-and-match to make the perfect day at the Centre for your family. Or friends, of course, cause that works too ;)

You can buy your Cheap Thrills combo deal cards from the Menlyn Info Desks in the Maxi’s Court and Top CD Court. There are lots of different Cheap Thrills combo deals to choose from. Find out more at

Thursday, 15 January 2015

The Girl With No Cake

You know that moment when you come back from holiday, and the scale – the one you bought in sunshine yellow, because you thought it would make you feel more Julie Andrews about weight loss – well that scale tosses you a big 80.6kg in January. And then you find yourself in Woolworths trying on shorts in the granny section, and you end up buying two pairs in size 40, because the size 38 is a bit pinchy round the muffin top?

Size 40, people. FORTY!!!!

Anyway, it turns out spending R550 on two giant pairs of summer shorts was the best thing that ever happened to me, because here I am spending a quite Wednesday evening in a coffee shop waiting for the rotisserie chickens to finish at Woolies so I can grab the family some supper.

I’ve been a good girl for two weeks. I’m down a couple of sandbags sticks of lard kilograms, and I’m sipping on a cappuccino with no sugar. But man, the temptation. I’m parked right by the cake display, and a choir of angels dusted in icing sugar is singing (ahem) sweetly in my ear. When I turn my chair slightly so that my back is to the cake display, I’m looking at this cheerful little Rolodex of new menu items on the table. (I’m at Mugg and Bean, by the way.)

It reads: Upside-down Marshmallow Hot Chocolate, served in a cute jar with cream frothing out the top.

It reads: Chocolate Honeycomb Layer Cake, with a light lemon cream cheese frosting.

It reads: Cinnamon Sugar Pops, hot-buttered with a salted caramel dipping sauce.


Mentally, I am using all my powers of the Dark Side to reach through space and time and throttle the copywriter, who is obviously skinny and was eating blobs of peanut butter on celery sticks while writing this. (I am also wondering if they’re freelance and are looking for full-time work, but that is Rational Stacey thinking, and her voice is tiny like a cricket’s right now.)

I mean, look at them. LOOK. AT. THEM.

I nabbed this off the M&B website. Please don't sue me for coveting your balls Mugg and Bean.

PS: I added a picture to my ‘Year of the No Jar’ post. I did manage to say ‘no’ to the cinnamon sugar pops. I should probably add the price of those hot-buttered balls of sin to the jar.