Sunday, 29 March 2015

Bacon, and the everyday apocalyse

We’re big on our Sunday breakfasts. No one can put away a plate of scrambled eggs like our Lionheart. And then there’s the bacon – the glorious, lard-streaked, umami of the gods. Who can resist a side plate of bacon?

Travis can. He’ll look at it longingly, he can see himself eating it up with those brown eyes of his. But he won’t stretch out his hand to take a piece off his plate. Why? Because silly, silly mom. She’s doing it all wrong. She’s not sticking to the Rules.

The Rules of Trav, which state: “If mom picks up a spoon and spoon-feeds me my scrambled eggs off my plate – because she knows it’s a bit too messy for me to eat with my fingers like I eat most of my meals – then she has to feed me everything on the plate with that same spoon.”

“She can’t just walk away to eat her own breakfast, and leave me alone with a small mountain of bacon. How will it get from the plate to my mouth? Maybe if I just stare at it, a piece of bacon will levitate off my plate and into my mouth? And it looks so delicious. Hmmm, bacon. Get in my belly. Somehow. I’m just going to stare at it some more. Delicious bacon…”

I’m imagining Trav’s internal dialogue, of course. I have no idea if he even has a voice inside his head. Does Travis shape his thoughts with language, like the rest of us, or does he use “urges” and colours to shape what he is thinking? 

Come to think of it, I have no idea if Travis can see colours. I do know that he has several hundred thousand less optic nerves than the average 7-year-old boy, and I know that it affects the quality of his eyesight, but not if affects the spectrum of colours he can see. Does it even matter to him, if this is the view of the world he was born with?

Back to that plate of bacon.

At first I held out. I watched Travis grow more and more frustrated, trying to figure out a way to get the delicious bacon from his plate – which was right in front of him – to his mouth. It would not compute. There was just one way for it to happen: mom had to put it on a spoon and put it in his mouth for him. Because she can’t just change the system mid-way during breakfast. 

“First I’m being spoon-fed eggs, and now I must use my fingers to eat my bacon? Has the world gone mad?”

Eventually I put down my own plate of food (I always eat last because I feed Travis first) and speared some of Trav’s bacon with my fork and fed it to him. I’m amazed he let me use a fork, when we’d been using a teaspoon before – so he is becoming less rigid in his ways as he gets older.

In case I haven’t mentioned this before: Travis still doesn’t use eating utensils of any kind. He refuses to hold them in his hands. No knives or forks or spoons. 

Although he does have a habit of taking knives from the kitchen counters or drying rack and hurling them to the ground, so we’re very careful not to leave them lying around. All our sharp knives are kept in a plastic jug on the top shelf of a kitchen cupboard. 

He uses a teaspoon – but not in the way a teaspoon is meant to be used. Rather, Trav uses a teaspoon to stim with, tapping it against his lips for hours at a time.

But no cutlery for eating. Nada. Zip. Zero silverware.

I don’t know why I feel compelled to share this on a Sunday morning. I haven’t been writing about what it’s like raising a mentally disabled child for a while now, because all these oddities, these “bonus behaviours” that come with raising our Lionheart, well – it’s situation normal. An everyday apocalypse.

This morning’s Battle of the Bacon was the first time I’d noticed for yonks just how fucking weird Travis makes things for our family. Daily.

You know what else he did this morning? He went to the pantry, took out a box of chicken stock, and took it back to his room, where he bit into every single one of those blocks of dried stock. Peeled the silver foil off every one, chewed some of them before spitting the goopy yellow stock on his bed and the floor.

What was he thinking? Maybe that it was chocolate?  

“Let me eat this block of chocolate.”

“Ugh, it’s so salty! Throw it away!”

“I wonder if this one is a block of chocolate?” 

“Ugh! Also salty! Yuk, throw it away!” 

“I bet this next block is chocolate though – it’s just got to be…”
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Wednesday, 18 March 2015

I want your time-saving tips, moms

You’ve just got to ask yourself one question: what are you going to do with your time, punk?

Scratch the punk bit. Sorry. I’m not cool enough to pull it off. But the first bit is important.

I don’t know if it’s my age – as testified by my gradually sagging kneecaps – or that I’ve been sucked into the Cult of Busy, Busy, Busy, but time is now the most valuable thing that I own*. 

*And whether I actually own any of own time these days is up for debate.

Mike Stopforth said something interesting on his blog in his latest post: “The wealthiest people I know own their own time. If the money you have (or don’t have) gives you a degree of freedom to do with your time what you will, then you are rich. At the end you’ll realise time is all you ever had, and all you want more of.”

Let me give you a moment for that to sink in.

Time is all you’ll ever have, Mike says.

If I could buy more time, I would.  But it’s probably more expensive than Bitcoins dipped in beluga caviar. 

What I am good at is selling my time. By the hour, to the highest bidder… Sometimes I sell hours that I don’t even have. Hours that I should be using to exercise, sleep and eat. Hours earmarked to spend with my family…

I find myself time-poor, scrounging around in the dumpsters of every wasted minute scrolling through tweets or reading Buzzfeed bullshit to find leftovers. Looking for ways to increase my output, squeeze out an extra 20 minutes, a “10 ways to boost your productivity” junkie.

It used to be simpler.

You know how they say if something is important that you’ll make time for it? Is there an instruction manual for that? Because if we can wave a wand and “make time”, I’m all in for it.

You all left such heartfelt comments on my Mom Bosses post that I was wondering if you’d share with me again. 

What are your time-saving tips? 

Stay at home moms, working moms, entrepreneur moms, hectic job title moms… Let’s pool our ideas.

I’ll start: I’m terrible at staying up late at night to catch up on work, so I set my alarm to get me out of bed at 4am so that I can squeeze in an extra 2 hours while the boys are still buried under their duvets. Although for the last few weeks, this has been highly theoretical.

Now you – how are saving time and (dare I say it – yes I do) cutting corners to get the most out of the measly 24 hours we have every day?

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Home is where the heart is. And your stuff, don’t forget your stuff.

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I can't believe it’s March already. We have made so many memories in 2015.

We kicked off the new year with beach sand between our toes, and then in February my other half and I enjoyed a pre-Valentines Day break in the bushveld with elephant-back rides and Amarula on ice at sunset. Then a couple of weeks ago we got to spend some time over the Cabanas at Sun City.

It sounds glam, but actually all these mini-breaks have been work-related. In reality, the purse strings are pulled tighter than ever.

It’s funny though, because I don’t think that’s how I’ll be remembering this year when I look back on it. For me, it’s been all about the quiet moments I have been able to spend with my boys. Oliver finally joined his brother Ryan in nursery school, so now I am packing school bags for all my kids in the mornings. Travis is now in respite care every second weekend, so when he is at home he gets extra cuddles. When he lets me, of course.

We all get stuck on not having enough cash in our pockets or time, and the fear of leaving our possessions at home for long periods of time. Whether you’re at work, or away for the weekend.

Take on this yea­r with a fresh start, do the little things, and with King Price’s super cheap car and household contents insurance premiums that decrease every month, you can insure the important things in your home so you don’t need to worry – you will also be left with that extra bit of cash in your pocket, so you can afford to take the family out for a froyo with extra toppings.

For more about how you can insure your household goods and how to save that little bit of extra cash and time every month, contact King Price for a car or household contents insurance quote.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Forget girl bosses. I want to talk about mom bosses.

I need to talk about something.

No, not about how Trav’s losing his milk teeth and swallowing them and I’ll never get the satisfaction of doing the Tooth Fairy song-and-dance until my ruggle kids start losing teeth.

Not about 3-year-olds and potty training and how everything smells like pee. Tiny underpants. Bedding. Towels. Everything. When does it end?

Not about first words, and separation anxiety and temper tantrums, and all those things that make up raising a 21-month-old baby boy.

That’s parenting stuff. And this is a parenting blog. But for months now I have been consumed with meeting the needs, and tracking the milestones, of my other baby: my business.

Is that bad?

I second-guess the wisdom of trying to build an “agency” out of a (previous) one-woman freelance-fantastic All The Time. As proud as I am of all we have achieved since moving into our offices in June last year – landing clients, scouting for talent, hunting for the perfect coffee table for our 41m2 space (yes, that’s a thing) – I also know this:

The first 7 years of your child’s life are the most important. And I’m not present, at least not in the way that I should be.

And I ALSO know this: at least 80% of parenting is just showing up. Being there.

I am so blessed to be part of a partnership where my husband can pick up the slack in the parenting department. He drives the boys to school and fetches them for me. He buys groceries and cooks dinner. Last night he told me that he’s added little reminders to his Google Calendar like: “Tuesday is Library Day for Ryan” and “Remember to pack mattress covers into school bags”.

I was touched beyond words.
Show of hands everyone whose husband has childcare-related notes in in their calendar.
I thought so.

He does all this while also seeing to clients of his own during working hours. Then he works on weekends at track events, and I get to spend some time with the boys.

There aren’t many businesswomen who have this kind of spousal back-up. Or are there, and I just don’t know about it? Does “it” only work when one parent focuses on childcare and the other on bringing home the bacon?

And this brings me to the point of this blog post:

Where are the women-run agencies in South Africa? Women running their own businesses in social, digital and media – with teams underneath them? (Obviously this is my field, but any industry, really. You know what I am talking about!)

Specifically, women who are also mothers. So not “Girl Bosses” but rather “Mom Bosses”.

WHERE ARE YOU? I need to talk to you.

I have so many questions. I want to know what you’re going through. I want to see you up on stage at events talking about what you do; I want to know how you manage your time; I want to know what your productivity secrets are – I want to know if you think it’s worth it and why, and how do you know?

Do you think that female bosses are different from male bosses?

What’s your morning routine – do you have a kick-ass gym playlist? Green tea? I start my day with Instagram and cheap coffee.

Do you feel the need to be well-groomed all the time to set an example? Even when you have a 90% chance of getting Weetbix goop on your pants before you leave the front door? Do you feel more judged on your appearance than male entrepreneurs do? (For some reason male entrepreneurs get to wear sneakers and T-shirts, and that just makes them cooler – but I promise you: that shit won’t fly with my clients.)

What sort of support systems do you have? Do you also get annoyed when colleagues say: “You have three kids! How do you balance work and family life?” (I mean really, is that a mandatory question to ask all female professionals who just happen to be mothers too? It’s a good question, I just wish it wasn’t the only question.)

Do you ever offer to leave work a bit earlier to fetch the kids from nursery school and then the teacher is like: “Oh, I haven’t seen you in ages!” and you want to drop a heavy backpack on his/her toe for rubbing salt in the wound? Somehow, I just can’t see them saying that to a dad.

How does your work affect your marriage? Power struggle, anyone?

What motivates you? Is it carving out a better financial future for your family; are you just really, really excited by the work you’re doing and your industry? Bit of both?

Do you ever worry that you are missing out on your kid’s childhood? That one day you’ll bank that million, and your sons will be angry teenagers who don’t give a stuff that they went to good schools that you sweated blood to pay for, because you were never around?

How do you retain traditional “mom” qualities like “nurturing” when you are chasing deadlines and bottom lines and managing a team of people? These are not things you can afford to be “soft” about. This is business.

Or am I wrong, and we can be nurturing in the workplace?

Where are you, mom bosses?

I’ve been sitting on this blog post for ages, worried that potential clients would read it and think: “Um, Stacey’s clearly a mess – let’s not work with her.”

But the truth is, I’ve never been more focused, organised and confident.

About work. I love what I do. I am excited about my industry.

But this tricksy working mom thing – now that’s what’s getting messy.

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, 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.