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.

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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.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Frog hunt by flashlight

Last night the three boys and I went on a frog-hunt after dark in the Walter Sisulu botanical gardens. It was organised by Travis’s school, and his principal Sue and her husband Ryan (who I called ‘Big Ryan’ all evening because obviously I have a ‘Little Ryan’ in team Lionheart) offered to help me with the kids because my other half was in Welkom race-timing. There were about 45 of us all together, picnicking on those lush green lawns before the sun set and our talk started.

The Walter Sisulu botanical gardens, we are blessed that we live so close to Mother Nature’s pop-up gallery. How many of you can say you have a waterfall in your neighbourhood?

I’ve always believed that you can tell a lot about a person’s inner world based on the type of landscapes they are drawn to. For instance, I think the flat, yellowed corn fields of the Free State are stark and beautiful, but it’s not my kind of beautiful. It’s a Helvetica kind of beautiful. Some people have a penchant for succulents and cacti gardens, which is probably my least favourite type of flora of all. It speaks to me of thirst and lack, but for others it speaks of a store of potential. And I could go for hours about how crass the palm trees planted along the main roads in the west of Johannesburg are. ‘New Money palm trees’, I call them.

But give me green, rolling grasslands. Give me rocky cliff faces and trickling springs. Give me sweetpeas, snapdragons and climbing roses. Overgrown, forgotten gardens where the gates have rusted shut. (Not sure what that says about my inner world? Probably that I need to neaten up the flowerbeds of my mental garden and oil the hinges of my gates!)

Ryan and Travis had a blast exploring while a niggle-bug Oliver was glued to my hip for most of the day (he might be teething again). We arrived at 4.30pm, spread our blankets and raided each other’s picnic baskets.

What do you get when a bunch of special needs families get together for a picnic? I’ll tell you what… probably one of the most interesting picnics ever. One little guy hijacked Travis’s MacClaren stroller for a push across the grass. Travis kept trying to break into the book shop. “Is it okay if your kids eats Coca-Cola flavoured Cheerio’s?” I had to ask a mom, who’s inquisitive tot was scrounging in our cooler bag. You never know who is allergic to what in a special needs community. And everyone is just so helpful. Because we are all struggling. We can spot a code red meltdown brewing a mile away.

Travis with his beloved Sue, who is the principal at his school. They have such a special relationship.

Back to the frog hunt. After 6pm we went up to the Imbizo hall for a talk and a slideshow about frogs. Picture this: the lights are out and there are kids in wheelchairs, and some with funny walks. One kid kept asking about dolphins. Another in the back made chirping froggie noises. Travis stole a bunch of keys of the presenter’s table to stim with.

It was chaos and made me smile right from my bellybutton.

Speaking of chaos, imagine a troop of giggling, stimming, rolling special needs kids and their families, wearing Wellingtons, and armed with flashlights and nets, stomping down the pathways in the botanical gardens after dark looking for frogs and toads? It’s a wonder we found any at all!

Oliver refused to sleep in his pram, and I had forgotten to bring extra blankets, so I ended up sticking him underneath my shirt with his head popped out at the top and carrying him all the way to the waterfall and back kangaroo-style. It was cold, and it was crazy fun. It was exhausting (the walking part), and it was exciting. If you are looking for something different to do with your kids one evening, I highly recommend a night-time frog hunt at the Walter Sisulu botanical gardens.  

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Review: The Wolf of Wall Street

Hookers and blow. That’s my three-word synopsis for the plot of The Wolf of Wall Street, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, and directed by Martin Scorsese. It’s the true story of the rise and fall of stockbroker Jordan Belfort, who incidentally will also be in South Africa alongside Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak for the Success Summit at the Sandton Convention centre on 1 to 2 March.

There is a lot of #OscarBuzz for Leo to snag the gold statuette for Best Actor in a Leading Role for this one, but I’m not sure if it’s deserved.

Rather than present you with Belfort’s life story, Scorsese air-drops your right into the middle of the frantic hedonism of The Wolf of Wall Street, where you might as well put your feet up and immerse yourself in for the next three hours. In fact, ‘Recreational Drugs’ should have received an opening credit. The very excess that characterised Wall Street in the early 90s is the star of this movie.

To give you an idea, it opens with a scene of midgets wearing helmets being tossed at a giant bullseye while an office of hundreds of adrenaline-rushing stockbrokers cheer them on. I’d know this is a ‘mommy blog’, so you’d be forgiven for assuming this is too much for my genteel tastes, but I love a good sex, drugs and rock ’n roll flick.

I’ve always felt that Scorsese’s true talent has been in digging into dark characters, making them relatable and human, and then juxtaposing these characters with a flawed hero. I saw nothing human in DiCaprio’s portrayal of Belfort, and I felt that Kyle Chandler’s character, Agent Patrick Denham, lacked depth. I could never really lose myself in their cat-and-mouse chase. To me, DiCaprio’s performance of a ludicrously wealthy, drug addicted, excess junkie was almost comical it was so over the top – it reminded me distinctly of a rubber-faced Jim Carrey back in Liar Liar.

For me the best performance was a bespectacled Johah Hill as Belfort’s partner, Donnie Azoff. It was refreshing seeing him tackle something with a little more weight than his usual fare al la Superbad.

My advice is put all thoughts of this being a Scorsese movie out of your mind when you watch The Wolf of Wall Street. Don’t overthink it, just let yourself be sucked into the crazy ride.

We watched this movie at Ster-Kinekor Cresta Centre. I am mentioning this because the seats are huge. I have sat in aeroplane seats that are smaller. Not sure if the chairs are so large and comfortable in all their cinemas, but it was a treat.

With the Academy Awards coming up coming up on 2 March, I have also watched Gravity and I think Sandra Bullock has an excellent chance of winning some gold. The only other Oscar-nominated movie I’m still dying to see is American Hustle, which opens in cinemas on 28 Feb. Both Amy Adams and Christian Bale have received Best Actor/Actress nominations, and I’m so interested to see what Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper bring to the screen - they both have been nominated in supporting roles. (Here is a list of all the nominees here.)

PS: Ster-Kinekor Cinema Nouveau have a fun Oscar Buzz quiz up on their Facebook page. (I got 8 out of 12.) There are some cool DVD boxsets still up for grabs. 

And now, our man Leo...

Photo credit: Mary Cybulski - © 2013 Paramount Pictures.