Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Are you a special needs family in need of a short break?

If you live in Gauteng, and are considering respite care for your special needs child, then this is for you.

Our Lionheart goes to Little Gems Residential and Respite Care​ every second weekend (the actual house is called Oakhaven), and it has changed our lives, and his.

He is so happy there: the care is high quality, and there is so much to do.

Little Gems has a special offer for you, if you would like to give respite care a try. Every month, Kerry will give away a weekend stay to a family in need.

(If you just want to skip this lucky draw option, and go ahead at book your special kiddo in for a night or two, the rates are R500 per night Monday to Thursday, and R650 per night Friday to Sunday.)

Check them out at www.little-gems.co.za, and visit their Facebook page to see behind-the-scenes photos of the facilities and the children who visit there. You might just spot Travis the Lionheart in some of them.




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Friday, 13 February 2015

3 pocket-friendly kids activities in Jozi

Sponsored post


I’m still feeling my short change shaking after Januworry. It really is the most dreadful month of the year. My pockets are as flat as my practical ‘mom’ shoes. Still, that doesn’t mean you can’t still have some frugal fun with the kids over the weekend.


King Price knows this very well. You know how King Price works, right? It’s those super cheap car insurance premiums that decreases every month, so your February doesn’t turn into January déjà vu.




In the spirit of saving your pennies, King Price asked me to share my hot list of pocket-friendly kids activities for the month of February. These are obviously Jozi-based, because the Lionheart family lives in the best darn-tooting city in South Africa. Sorry for you, Cape Town.

  • Sci-Bono is still crazy value for money. I mean, the entrance fee is R20 for kids and you can watch a magic science show, explore the exhibits, and aeroplanes suspended from the ceiling.
  • Throw a blanket on the grass and have a picnic at the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens. We live pretty nearby, and there is a waterfall and a choo-choo train that you can hop on. Entrance is R12 for kids, R35 for adults. That’s right, I said choo-choo.
  • Planetarium. Any excuse to go to the planetarium. It’s R27 per person and for the next three Saturdays they are doing a show called “Space Travel!” for 5-8 year old kids. And big kids. 

Where’s your favourite cheapie family outing in the city? Tell me, so that I can take my boys one of these weekends…


Find out more about car insurance and how to save every month so that you can enjoy these outings even more, contact King Price for a quote.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Elephants, Amarula and the magic of the bushveld

It was like stumbling across a marble palace hidden in the dry brush of Limpopo – that’s the only way I can describe the eye-goggling moment that we arrived at River Lodge at the Kampana private game reserve on the edge of the Kruger national park. The Husband and I were there at the invitation of Amarula, for a three-day, two-night encounter with elephants and to find out more about the relationship between these African giants and the marula fruit. (I was covering the story for one of the magazines I write for, by the way – I don’t think Amarula even knows I have a blog.)

Here is a look at River Lodge, which was voted in the Top 25 Hotels in South Africa in the TripAdvisor 2015 Traveller’s Choice Awards.



The Husband gave me a few lessons in chess while we were waiting to go through to the Amarula pulping facility. Turns out that I am terrible at strategy games. 


The little sign on the wooden post on the right says Wi-Fi Hotspot. I was thrilled.


Bathtub overlooking the bushveld.
These wooden fishes in a riverbed of stones. Loved.
When my article hits shelves I’ll share the link, but I couldn’t wait to put a photo story up so that you can share the experience with me. There were game drives, elephant rides, a visit to the pulping plant in Palaborwa, and Amarula – so much of it. Amarula milkshakes, Amarula fudge, tastes of the new Amarula Gold mixed with ginger ale, Appletiser and Red Bull. We were spoiled, entertained and educated.

We got a full tour of how Amarula is made. I found it interesting that there are no plantations of marula trees – they grow wild, and for two months a year when the marula fruits drops from the trees, the communities of surrounding Hoedspruit and Palaborwa gather the fruit in 50kg sacks and bring it to collection points near these towns. You’d think that the trees would be picked bare, but not so – only 1% of all the marula fruit produced in the area during the season ends up at the pulping facility.


Just look at the beautiful elephant mosaic.


This is what a marula fruit looks like.

These ladies sing while they sort through the marula fruits. 

This is what the marula fruits look like after they have been pulped. Then the pulp is cooled down as it ferments very quickly, and taking to the distillery in Stellenbosch where it sits in casks for two years.

Some of the locals who have brought their marula fruits to the collection point. I felt kind of shy taking photos of them, even though they happily posed for us.


This gentleman checks all the bags of fruits, and allocates each person a colour-coded card, for them to collect their pay.
Do you know what marulas taste like? Like miniature oranges, maybe a bit more of a tropical taste. But never in my wildest imaginings did I think that marula was a citrus fruit. If you roll it in the palm of your hand, and make a small bit in the peel, you can suck the juice out. It is delish!

But most of all, there were elephants. Did you know that the sound an elephant makes is called a ‘rumble’? That elephants have a vocabulary of up to 100 words? That you can tell them apart by their footprints and the edges of their ears? I could write 1000 words about all that I learned about these incredible creatures, and still not cover it all. The herd is a female-centric society, and because elephants live so long, they pass down their knowledge from generation to generation – like humans.

I could write 1000 words about all that I learned about these incredible creatures, and still not cover it all.

Also, sidenote, this was the first time since our honeymoon that The Husband and I had gone away together sans children, which I’m thinking is our Valentines Day and upcoming anniversary present rolled into one. When we travel, we usually fly solo or with the whole Lionheart clan.

Okay, enough now. More photos!


Game drives at the crack of dawn


These lovely hats we got in our welcome packs!


This is Jabulani, and he is the elephant that Camp Jabulani is named after. He is so attached to his human handlers that every day they go out into the bush together, and spend the day in the wild before coming back to the camp at night.




Elephant-back selfie.


This little guy followed us everywhere...

Monday, 2 February 2015

Here's your chance to win a Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet just like mine!

And the winner of this competition is: Naomi Cane.

THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED!


The thing about Mondays is that if you kickstart them right-way-up, then chances are you’ll sail through the week. So let me help make your Monday more marvellous (love me some alliteration).



You know that Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet that I have been gushing about? How would you like to win one? It is worth around R10 000, and it’s become indispensable to me since we got ours last year. I’ve been using it while I’m baking, taking photos of the kids, listening to audiobooks, and well, just about everything (I wrote a full review over at sister site DigiKids.) I even spilled a glass of water over it to see if it really is waterproof.



HOW TO ENTER

I’m going to make this easy. To enter, it’s a two-step process

1) Leave a comment saying what your favourite feature of the Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet is (for ideas, click to the full review.)

2) Tweet the following:

“I want to win a waterproof @SonyXperiaZA Z2 Tablet worth R10 000, with @MissStaceyVee. Enter here: http://bit.ly/169LOv6 ”


Terms and conditions
This competition is open to residents of South Africa only. The competition closes at noon of Friday 6 February. Winner will be announced at 4pm on that same day. Winner will be selected randomly. Good luck, pups!

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Ice-cream on the pier, hitting the jackpot and other big wins

I remember that moment when we brought Travis home from the hospital. We sat at the edge of our double bed, peering into his cot, and we thought: “Um, now what?” That didn’t last for long, of course, and parenthood gaped its jaws wide and swallowed us whole. Once you’re a parent, well, that’s pretty much it. Prepare to have years shaved off your lifespan, fed to the God of Small Things. Your time is never your own again.

(I’m being dramatic about this, but it’s not so much a hardship as it is a simple fact. Those jaws I mentioned are more like those soft, gummy Dracula fangs that you can buy by the bagful for Halloween-themed parties.)

We learned early on to snatch time for ourselves, The Husband and I. We called it Daytime Dating, and basically it’s catching a massage and a movie during the afternoon while the kids are in school or you have a nanny at home to cover you.

Today though, I took it to a whole new level. I had a date with myself. Just me. I took a 2-and-a-Half Hour Holiday from being a mom and a wife and boss. I touched down in Port Elizabeth in the morning for some client work that wrapped up at 1.30pm. And then, there I was with nothing but time on my hands for a whole 150 minutes before I was leaving, on a jet plane, didn’t know when I’d be back again.

My inbox didn’t even ding! Which for a while made me worry that something was wrong with my data connection or email settings. I kept checking my iPhone. And then my iPad. And then my laptop. But no, it was just that no one needed anything from me on a Friday afternoon (highly odd in freelance land – but then again, I am not really a freelancer anymore, am I?)

You know how they say you should dance like nobody is watching? Well sometimes you need to ladle on those frozen yoghurt toppings like nobody’s judging. I went to Wakaberry and dished up a giant bowlful; it had candyfloss, chocolate and vanilla froyo, with way, way too much fudge crumble on the top. And coconut. And crushed Oreo. And Cadbury Dream white chocolate sauce. I should have taken a photo, but it started melting as soon as I walked out into the Port Elizabeth sunshine.

Then I took my bowl of sinful calories down to the beachfront, where my legs were sandblasted silky smooth by those famous winds of the Windy City. Free dermabrasion, anyone? Seriously though, I’m a city girl. ANY excuse to dip my toes in the ocean and eat mouthfuls of my wind-whipped hair…


I walked to the end of the pier; watching all the couples (and weirdos) take photos. Nearly got myself ridden over by an enthusiast cyclist on the promenade. And then, fresh out of ideas – catch a movie maybe – I found myself in the casino. A casino!

Blast-from-the-past story: I once dated a guy who was a slots host, and spent many an evening on a casino floor waiting for his shift to end. Never actually playing the slots or the tables or anything. It seems like an insane waste of hard-earned money.

But I though, what the hell? I joined the legions of pensioners and other soul-weary perched on the stool in front of those cheerful money gobblers

And I won R800! From R80. Can’t you fucking believe it? It took about 5 minutes. (And then I cashed out immediately because this suburban mom was getting a little too charmed by those tinkling bells and happy chimes.)

So there I was with R800 in my pocket, and after wandering around the beachfront and the promenade for an hour, I gave up on finding a fun way to blow my winnings. It’s weird, that having a few extra R100s in my pocket didn’t give me a thrill. You know, it was about two years ago that we were so money-strapped that we were counting out silver coins to buy sachets of milk.

Not that we are rich now, but through good old-fashioned hard work and the support of my incredible family, we are firmly on our feet and seeing some of the rewards of all the long hours and short tempers.

You know what I did buy, though? There was a Bargain Books, and while browsing I found the second omnibus of the Aurora Teagarden Mysteries by Charlaine Harris. She’s better know for writing the True Blood books, but I have a soft spot for her feisty Southern-gal librarian that is Aurora Teagarden. That was my real win of the day.

So, goodbye beachfront and hello departures terminal. I had a great 2-and-a-Half Hour Holiday, but I miss my boys. And my Jozi sunset. And my bra is killing me.

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