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“A portrait of our children, once a week, every week, in 2014”

Willow: We licked the bowl after making chocolate brownies
James: He’s discovered how to pull out the plug. And turn on the tap.
Bailey: She went camping with dad on the farm this weekend
Robert: Cheeky chops

— Liza

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a mom daughter date

It was school holidays last week and although Emily and I have so much work, I decided I had to take some time out to spend a special day with Bailey, just the two of us. She has been unusually needy lately and I feel like I’ve neglected her a little bit – probably due to the amount of stuff going on with work and everything else. There is no guilt like mom guilt so I’m glad we got to have our special day, it made a big difference. She was delighted to have my undivided attention.

First stop, some I Heart Vintage deliveries then to Bread, Milk & Honey for coffee and hot chocolate. We took Bailey’s hot chocolate away in a take away cup and she was so excited that ‘people will think I’m drinking coffee and I’m only five!’. The rest of the morning we spent exploring at the museum. It was Bailey’s first trip to the museum and she loved it. I thought she’d be blown away by the enormous whale skeleton but she was more intrigued by the taxidermy bears and ‘reindeer’ that we spotted through a small glass partition of a locked room. Too funny. We also watched a show at the Planetarium and I got reprimanded by the man in charge for taking my phone out my bag to snap a pic of the fancy machinery (name?) – in front of everyone. Blind. After the show we checked out the reptiles and mammals, did some colouring in in the activity room and then headed to the Waterfront for some shopping and lunch. I hinted that sushi would be nice for me (Willoughby forever!) and Bailey could have a plate of hot chips. But she was having none of that. It had to be spaghetti bolognese. So we ended up at San Marco with all the tourists and shared a bowl of overpriced pasta. Last stop, Charly’s Bakery for a fancy iced biscuit. Bailey picked a girl covered in pink and purple icing. Five minutes later she dropped it on the floor and it broke into pieces. But I reassured her it would get mushed up in her mouth anyway, so there were no tears.

day out

day out

day out

day out

day out

day out

day out

day out

day out

What a lovely day, lots of fun and cultural too. When the weather’s a little better – we picked a rather chilly day – I’d love to spend some more time in the Company’s Garden. It’s just too beautiful not to appreciate more often.

— Liza

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poppet post surprises

Don’t you just love the idea of receiving a surprise package in the post for your little one every month? Poppet Post curate a box specific to your child’s age and pack it with fun, educational toys, books and activities and then have it delivered right to your door each month. Sounds lovely doesn’t it?

This month we received the Bath Time Fun box, which was perfect for Robbie seeing as all the toys he plays with in the bath (apart from his stacking cups) are all Bailey’s old ones. His Poppet Post box was packed with bath salts (magnesium based for a calming effect), a star shaped bath crayon, fun stickables, a bright sponge as well as a little book of noisy ducklings to read before and after bath time.

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poppet

poppet

poppet

Thank you Poppet Post, bath time is now even more fun! To find out more about this great concept, visit Poppet Post here.

— Liza

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how to streamline your schedule

At the beginning of every year I vow that this will be the year I’m more organised – where I’ll make extra dinners to freeze, I’ll never oversleep, I’ll get fit, I’ll take more care of myself, the house, the garden… and then work gets crazy, kids get sick, I get sick, life happens. And all my heroic plans fall to the wayside.

The other night I stumbled upon my collection of Real Simple magazines (don’t you wish it was still sold here?) and an article that really helped me, called The (no) Time Management Guide. Busy mamas, here are some tips for you to streamline your schedule…

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1. Learn to single-task

Because I work for myself, I’ll often be cooking supper and checking emails with my laptop on the kitchen counter. I only end up getting annoyed because I can’t give my work or my littles my full attention. According to a study by a university in California, it can take an office worker almost half an hour to get back on task after being interrupted. So rather focus on one thing at a time, and when your littles are more settled after supper and bath time, then you can focus on your work.

2. Make extra meals to freeze 

When you do have a bit more time in the kitchen, it’s a very good idea to make another lasagne or soup that you can stick in the freezer and take out for those nights that are more manic.

3. Delegate 

If your kids are old enough, get them to make the salad for supper or set the table, even pack the dishwasher after supper. Don’t take on all the tasks yourself, even if you’re a perfectionist.

4. Set boundaries 

If you simply don’t have time to help your mum plan where she’s going to hang her new painting or meet your friend for that long overdue coffee, don’t beat yourself up or feel guilty about it. Give yourself and your immediate family the attention they need, and when you have a moment, then organise to do those things you haven’t had time for. Also remember that you are important and if you need to book that hair appointment or manicure, make time for it. You’ll be happier for it.

5. Consolidate your calendars

If your husband or partner has just as busy a schedule as you, it’s probably a good idea to have one calendar that you share. Print out a weekly calendar and fill out all the activities and appointments that are happening, then stick it on the fridge for all to see. Personally, if we have stuff on the weekend or during the week I’ll input it into my phone calendar and then share it with my husband so that it’s in his calendar too. That’s one way of avoiding the double-booking dilemma.

I hope these have been helpful. Do you have any points that work for you that you’d like to share with us?

 

— Liza

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autumn mornings

Even though I’m not the greatest of morning persons, I do love the mornings and the possibilities that a new day holds. Robbie usually wakes up at around 6am (sometimes as early as 5), and that’s when our day begins. He gets his bottle on the couch and I make my coffee so I can sit with him while he drinks and just enjoy a few minutes of peace and quiet and the beautiful sun streaming in through the windows before the mad rush begins. Then it’s getting Bailey ready for school (eat, dress, brush teeth!), feeding Chuck, making school lunch, feeding Robbie his porridge, waving goodbye to Bailey… and suddenly it’s quiet again.

Robbie will then mission around the house for another half hour or so before his morning nap. Often he’ll ransack Bailey’s room – much easier to do when she’s not around – or he’ll toss sand out the pot plants (naughty), pull the toys off his shelves in his room, chase his ‘ball-y’, play with the wheels on his skateboard, head outside to the garden. And every few minutes he’ll come over to give me kisses and cuddles. Such a sweet boy this one.

love baby

love baby

love baby

love baby

love baby

love baby

love baby

Robbie is wearing a Sticky Fudge shirt, from Love Baby. You’ll find all of the cutest kids’ clothes possible over there.

— Liza

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a photo an hour

It was my birthday last week, hooray! I documented the special day with a photo an hour…

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6am coffee in bed // 7am Robbie and his favourite toy // 8am dropping off recycling // 9am painting my nails // 10am shopping with Emily // 11am tea break (and Banting break) // 12pm more shopping // 1pm chuck // 2pm birthday cake at Four & Twenty // 3pm presents of the best kind // 4pm more presents of the best kind // 5pm my hot date // 6pm on top of Table Mountain // 7pm love my city // 8pm First Thursdays art walk is the most fun // 9pm bubbly // 10pm rabbit at Bistrot Bizerca // 11pm the end

— Liza

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goodbye summer

sunday lunch

Last year in September, Summer, our precious bulldog, was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer. I still remember the night we found out. I was about to leave for a launch when John-Louis came walking in from being on the phone with our vet, looking pale and shocked. All he could manage to say, before he broke down in tears was, ‘Summer’s got cancer.’ We both just sobbed and sobbed and I was suddenly in no state for socialising. We were told that Summer had maximum six weeks left and we needed to make the most of our time with her. And we did. She got a ton of extra love, every treat under the sun – nougat, cupcake batter, Bailey’s unfinished breakfast cereal, Robert’s food which he kindly handed over, biltong, biltong, biltong, Bailey’s apple cores, cake, Lindt and the list goes on. We hugged her, we lay cuddling her, we spoilt her, we let her sleep on our bed, on the couch, we cried on her. I know she understood.

As the weeks went by, Summer didn’t seem to be getting worse, except for the lumps in her body that started to increase in size, she was still running and barking at everyone who walked past our house or rang our bell, charging innocent dogs on our walks, begging for treats, playing with Chuck, rolling around on her back on the lawn like she had not a care in the world.

Six weeks passed and still we had our Summer girl. There were a few scares, when John-Louis would take her for check-ups and we thought, ‘Okay, this is it now’. We even missed a friend’s wedding thinking it was our last weekend with her. We took her to the forest, the beach… all her favourite places.

When we booked our December holiday, we only paid for Chuck because we didn’t think she’d be around. Turned out, we had to pay for her too in the end because she was still going strong. Looking a little weaker, a little bloated, but still eating, barking, walking. It was so special to have her with us for Christmas with both kids, and to watch our kids with her. Robert would climb all over her, pull her ears, poke her eyes and she’d just lie there and let him explore. At night, she’d jump up on Bailey’s bed and sleep next to her.

January rolled around. Our lives started to get busy again as we returned to work and school. Summer started to look a little worse for wear, one of the lumps in her eye grew considerably, the lump in her tummy was the size of a mini rugby ball, her tummy was very bloated, her spine was sticking out. But still… she was eating, barking, enjoying walks. Our vet said we were getting lots of ‘Bonus Days’. And we cherished every single minute. On Valentine’s Day, the weather was just showing off so we went to Tokai Forest for an evening family walk, making the most of our last days of summer and, unknowingly, our last day with Summer. It’s never as serene and peaceful as we think walking two kids and two dogs will be, but we let the dogs swim in the river anyway, we did a short walk and then we came home to put the kids to sleep. In the middle of the night, Summer was pacing the passage. When we woke up in the morning she wasn’t in our room and we found her on the couch in the TV room, feeling very hot and not wanting to move. John-Louis tried to give her some biltong… she didn’t even lift her head.

And then we knew. The day had come. The day we’d been dreading.

I keep reliving those last moments we had with her at the vet. She stared straight into our eyes, we broke down on her and hugged her so tight and she just lay there calmly, letting us get it out. She knew. That split-second moment when she left us was heartbreaking. I can’t even put it into words. Just intensely heartbreaking. Although we knew it was the right thing to do, and that we’d given her the best life a dog could have, and all the love in the world, it was impossibly sad to say goodbye and walk away from her still warm yet lifeless body.

Since that Saturday, we’ve had some good cries. I’ve thought of Summer every passing moment, the early memories and all the little things I’m gonna miss about our girl. She was like a first child to us… the newlyweds with a new puppy who went everywhere with us – the beach, the market, friend’s houses, work, holidays. I thought of how graciously she just adapted to our expanding family and still managed to remain in charge. Summer was an extension of us, a symbol of our little life we’d built together. The first loss we suffered as a family.

She had so many little quirks, like waiting for us to give her the ends of the chopped tomato while we made supper (her favourite); barking like crazy and charging up the passage every (!) morning our nanny rang the bell and every time we ground the coffee beans or used the Soda Stream. She’d roll over for us, extend a paw for treats, whine like crazy when we drove to the beach and she caught that first whiff of the salty sea air. She defied all theories about bulldogs not being able to swim that time we were at the Breede River on holiday and I went canoeing and she swam after me. I could go on and on. I’m grateful to have such good memories.

It’s devastating knowing that she’s never coming back. RIP Summer girl, we will always love you and always miss you.

— Liza

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