Kid’s Fun at the SA Book Fair

we had fun at two kid's workshops at the SA Book fair 2015Nicky and I went off to the SA Book fair to attend two workshops. It was a fun outing for us as well as a good insider look at how a children’s book gets illustrated, and a look at real dinosaur fossils.

The first workshop was led by children’s author and illustrator David Melling. He has been involved in children’s books for a long time, but this session was about his well known creation “Hugless Douglas”. The story is about a bear who needs a hug and tries to hug a whole lot of other objects and animals before settling on the best hug of all – from his mom!


process-of-children's-illustrationHe took us through the process of how he draws. He uses real pencils and paint; not a computer program. He says he also uses a hairdryer in between each stage of painting. He says there’s a baby who lives next door to him and he wonders what they think of all the noises!

drawing-hugless-douglasAfter this we all received a piece of paper and crayons so that we could draw Douglas too. He showed us step by step how to do it and I’m quite pleased how mine turned out. Of course Nicky just scribbled  but made a real effort to do the scarf (if you look closely) so I’m happy because that’s totally age appropriate for him.

david melling drawing next to NickyNext he laid out sheets of paper for the kids to colour. Nicky had fun doing more scribbles too.

Afterwards we received a book, “Hello, Hugless Douglas!” which we got the author to sign. I have to say I think this workshop was real value for money, considering all the bonuses and skills (for both adults and kids) that were involved.

I think I’ll always remember this man with his paints and hairdryer and the baby crying next door every time I read the book. It makes him more human and I’m glad we attended.

019Next up was “Dem Bones”. We had a reading, first of all, from a dinosaur book. They also had a competition to see who could roar the loudest in order to win plastic blow up dinos.

Nicky shaking his fossil026028After this we were introduced to a real paleontologist, Ian McKay, who showed us some real fossils. Nicky was really excited to get a fossil. There were puzzles and colouring in and creating with plasticine. Nicky really liked the plasticine and firstly broke it all into pieces. I told him he was making bones, probably ribs by the looks of it. Then he realised that I’d given the fossil back and was a bit distressed so I said we would make one out of the dough. I pressed it between my hands and showed him how to roll it. He liked that.


Nicky and plasticine

I was just a bit disappointed that there was no digging for bones, as was promised in the program. The paleontologist said there had been a miscommunication and that there would be another opportunity to dig for bones on Hertitage Day, the 24th of September at Wits. So hopefully I’ll hear more from him about that.

After two sessions in a row we were hungry. We had some sandwiches and iced tea. Nicky fell asleep on the way home. Too much excitement in one day!

PS If you want to read about how to publish your book in South Africa, read my other post over at SA Mom blogs here.

What I’m grateful for today

gratefulLately I have quite a few good things that have been happening to me, so I thought I’d share some news about it.

1. My husband has moved offices and is now getting lifts to and from work. I no longer have to do the driving. This is making a huge difference to my life, time wise, and also to Nicky’s sleeping patterns.

2. Sleep is getting better around here! This past week I had two whole nights in my own bed. He did not have afternoon naps, but that meant that he went to bed early. I won’t complain. He did get a bit cranky towards the end but we rode it out.

3. So much exciting stuff is happening with SA Mom blogs. Laura and I are planning the relaunch and we are officially registered as a business.

kick-ball-on-trampoline4. I’m grateful for the outdoors and our trampoline. Nicky has invented lots of games to play on the trampoline – not just jumping. He likes to jump with a ball, kick the ball out and jump with cars as well.

5. Speaking of cars – I’m grateful for these toys that keep him busy and happy. He likes to have a few to take around. Sometimes I have to get creative and bring a bag or packet so that he doesn’t drop them all. But he sure loves his cars.

6. I’m grateful for the IPad for keeping him busy as well, and giving me a break on those non nap days.

7. Most of all I’m grateful for my family and my little miracle child that reminds me every day what fun and joy are all about.

Nicky likes Jam

nicky likes jamI have fond childhood memories of jam and cheese sandwiches which my mom lovingly packed for my school lunches. I have continued the tradition, mostly because I like them. But as it turns out, Nicky really likes the jam most of all.

When I first started making the sandwiches for him I folded a slice in half, did the jam and cheese and sliced it into segments. Nicky would try different ways of eating it. Sometimes he would open it up and take the cheese out and lick the jam. I guess those would be the times where he’d had too many biccy’s. (By the way no biccy’s the past week! Just crunchies…)

One time we went to the Wimpy he wanted the jam sample. I gave it to him and he played with it but I didn’t click that he actually wanted to eat the stuff.

Next time I got the message and he had jam on his toast.

This last time we went even further and he actually got a knife and spread it on himself. This was lots of fun for Nicky.

At first I held the jam for him but by the end he was spreading it himself quite capably. My big boy.


2015-07-25 09.32.08-2three year old getting jam out of a samplethree year old spreading jam

2015-07-25 09.31.08



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Afterwards he zoomed in for a kiss and to be honest I wasn’t keen with those jam sticky fingers and face! But how could I resist that cute little boy.

I guess now we know. Nicky likes jam. He likes to spread it, lick it and taste it. I see lots of sticky fingers in our future.

The South African Book Fair

book-fairWe have a great love of books in our family (you can verify this by the expanding number of books and bookcases in our home) and I am committed to raising a reader too. The South African Book fair is not just an event catering for adults, but also will feature entertainment for children.

Here is the kid’s line up:

● Hello, Hugless Douglas! – Join the creator himself, David Melling, as he reads his delightful story, shares the history and making of the huggable Douglas and shows how he comes to life. Suitable for 3 – 6 year olds.
● Be taken on a magical tour of African folktales by famed storyteller, Gcina Mhlophe.
● Jurassic Park is coming to Joburg – In “Dem Bones” children can listen to the best dino tales, meet a real paleontologist and dig for bones.
● Beautiful me! – Join Alan Glass, the creator of Beautiful Creatures and Oliver’s Outline, as he talks and sings about self-esteem and loving yourself. For ages 6+
● Books and ballet – come dance with words! – Every little girl, at some point, dreams of being a ballerina. In collaboration with the Joburg Ballet, enjoy a ballet story and mini class with a real ballerina who will tell you all about life behind the curtain.
● Become a detective for a day! – Join Jenny Crwys Williams, Elizabeth Wasserman & Dog-detective Willem on a mystery solving adventure. You’ll also get to win books for your school library, learn how to train your own dog-detective and get a photo of yourself taken with a guide dog.
● A dress-up Mad Hatter’s Tea Party – In celebration of Alice in Wonderland’s 150th anniversary and the launch of Alice in IsiZulu, with readings in both English and IsiZulu. The Queen of Tarts, Tina Bester, will be serving it up and prizes for the best-dressed are on the cards. The guest list includes the Gruffalo, Wally, Floppy, Peter Rabbit and more. It promises to be the grand finale to the SA Book Fair.
What interests you and your children? You can pick and choose from the program on their website here.
The items that interest me involve publishing your book – traditionally, and by yourself.
For the kids the ones I think we could go for are Hugless Douglas and Dem Bones (digging in dirt is generally a cool thing for Nicky…)
Kim has also published which items she will be looking forward to here.
The South African Book Fair is organised by PASA (Publishers Association of South Africa) in association with FP&M SETA.  It will take place at Turbine Hall, Newtown, Johannesburg from 31 July to 2 August 2015.

SA Book Fair entry tickets are R50 each and R30 for students and pensioners.
There is an additional fee of R15 for entry into the workshops and events except where there is additional catering involved.
For more information on entry and event tickets please visit

Labels for Boy’s Toy Boxes

labels for  boys who love cars, trucks, trains and constructionWhen your home is overrun by toys, and especially those of a vehicle variety, you know you have a little boy who is obsessed by anything that goes. I have been trying to organise the chaos into plastic containers from West pack, but now I’m taking it one step further by making labels for boy’s toy boxes. If you have a boy who loves that Cars movie, you can use these too!

I have put all the big cars and trucks in two big plastic containers. Then I put the smaller ones in a smaller container. I then have a construction set and train set equipment in smaller containers too.

So the labels are:

Big Trucks and Cars x2

Little Trucks and Cars

Train Set

Construction Set


Don’t you just love containers with wheels? This doesn’t only work well for dragging heavy objects but it doubles as a fun thing for toddlers to drag around. When I first got the first container with wheels Nicky enjoyed pushing it around quite a bit.

Nicky on top of plastic boxes of toys

sitting on boxes of toy cars

labels for train set, construction set and little cars and trucks

label for big trucks and cars









boxes of boy's toys with labels








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Becoming Separate: Individuation and Us.

a toddler's strong willI’ve been pondering the growth of my child from the time he was a little dependent baby, to a more separate little boy. I’m feeling the swing lately, between clingy, crying child and a mindful boy who knows exactly what he wants. I was wondering if this process had a name, and I found something that could describe it. Margaret Schönberger developed a theory of separation and individuation: where she tracked the way a child separates from its mother. Perhaps this may help me in the puzzle how how we are becoming separate and working through this process.

These are the phases she outlined:

1. Normal Symbiotic Phase: (until 5 months) The infant and mom are as one and the baby does not feel separate at all. It’s like they are in a separate little bubble apart from the rest of the world. I know I felt like this, especially in those early winter months. We were in our little cocoon.

2. Separation (from mom) -Individuation (development of ego, identity and cognition) Phase: Begins to connect with environment:

This phase is further broken down into:

-Hatchling: (5-9 months) Infant is interested in surroundings, but uses his mother as a point of reference. This is the baby wearing phase where baby can peek out and see the world, so long as mom is close. I actually wore Nicky until 18 months. By that stage he was really getting too heavy!

-Practicing: (9-16 months) Although the infant still sees itself as one with mom, he can now explore the world. I remember when Nicky started crawling, he had a lot of fun, crawling in the dirt. It was a real milestone when he managed to walk.

-Rapprochement (15-24 months) The child once again becomes close, although able to move to create separateness. He wants mom to be in sight.

The reason I started thinking about this process was that it was mentioned in Jamie Glowacki’s book Oh Crap Potty Training.

This was her argument against “waiting until they are ready” which may be when they are three:

Once a child is 3, they hit individuation…the process by which they begin to realize they are their own person and have their own free will and choice. Hmmm. What do you suppose will happen if they decide they don’t want to use the potty? That the diaper is working just fine for them? I’ll tell you what will happen: you’ll have a disaster filled with drama. It’s really hard to potty train children over 3. They have free will and choice and they know how to use it.

Well it seems to me that Jamie had her timing all wrong, if we follow Margaret’s theory, which started alot earlier. But she’s right about potty training and the exercise of the will.


It sure feels to me like Nicky is asserting his will.

– Refuses to go to the potty first thing in the morning, (“No pee!”) just because I’m taking him there. He manages to hold it in the car trip to dad’s work and back.

-I will ask him repeatedly when I go to the toilet does he want to go? Sometimes he does let me know and we go. Other times? Just pees in his pants.

-Refuses to pull down  his pants because I am asking him to. But won’t let me undress him because he wants to get out of his onsie himself. (Okay he didn’t do the whole thing by himself, but he managed to pull the zip down and take his arms out).

-Refuses to wear a jacket. “No jacket!” even though it’s cold and he is not well. In fact I had to dig my heels in when he really got sick. “No outside without a jacket!” We made a game of it and he got to put two jackets on!

-Refuses supper and wants his own kind of food. Since I’m trying to phase out the biscuits (can I get a whoop whoop! No biccys at night this past week!) his new thing is bananas. So for instance, he won’t have his noodles but he will eat three bananas.

-I’m not letting him have juice at night,only water and boob. He was not impressed and threw the water across the room. If he’s really thirsty, we look for the water.

-He has a ritual when he gets out the bath of holding his towel together in a certain way and putting objects of affection in his hands in a certain way. If the towel does not line up right we have tears.

-Nothing can be “broken!” (sob, sob!). Even if it looks a bit broken, it will not be eaten. The banana broke in half: forget it – he will not eat it. And don’t get me started on “the perfect biscuit“.

I’m sure there are a lot more examples of how Nicky is showing me that he is a separate little being with certain ways of doing things, and wanting to do things his way. The one thing I am noticing, however, is that I get less of the clingy baby behaviour and more of the growing boy I love if I give him some attention first. So if I have to move bath time earlier so that we can spend quality time together in the tub, rather then him crying while I put away laundry, so be it.


As far as separation goes: I am going out more and more and he is doing just fine. He says “Bye!” and caries on watching his Cars movie.


But there is a part of me that clings to my child. I breathe him in, celebrating his miracle life and never want to let him go.

The other part of me just really enjoys having a break.


I’m sure we will continue on this path of establishing our separate identities as time passes. The truth is that both of us are growing through the process.


In other news DH is moving offices this weekend and Nicky reminded me what a cute kid he is by climbing into cupboards, climbing on top of desks and finding other interesting things to do. He found a flag to wave, a crown to wear and even some pencils to draw with. I am so blessed to have him around.



in cupboard


Bouncing and Playing in our #NewPampersPants AND WIN one of Five for Yourself!

new-pampers-pantsWhen Nicky was a little baby I tried different nappy brands and eventually settled on Pampers. We’ve been using them ever since. Now that he is older, our needs have changed. I’m working very hard to get him potty trained and he is out of nappies during the day. When night time comes however, we still need a safety net that both acknowledges his growing independence, as well as providing backup for accidents. We also need a nappy that can withstand the kind of movement Nicky likes to do when we put the pajamas on. Pampers new unisex pants are perfect for this need.

Potty training is just plain awful. We are still in the smelly middle of it. One day this kid is going to consistently poop in the potty instead of his pants, but until then I am resigned to cleaning up the mess. I need some light at the end of the tunnel, and these pants are what I am holding onto, because at least for one portion of the day (um, I mean night) I don’t have to stress.

Here’s my reasons why the #NewPampersPants are making my life easier at night:

– Security: The pants will securely capture any accidents at night. There’s an extra sleep layer that will absorb them.

-Comfort: There are micropores which make the pants more breathable and keep the child dry.

-Building independence: They aren’t nappies, they are pants: which helps in the transition to being a “big boy” who no longer needs nappies. He can even pull down his own pants if he needs to go at night.

-Toddler-proof! Any mom of a kid will know that little ones just don’t sit still. After bath time when I start putting on his #NewPampersPants and pajamas Nicky insists on jumping and playing on the bed. It is with great difficulty that I manage to get his clothes on as he prefers to be naked. Fortunately the pants have a stretchy waistband and leg cuffs as well as a less bulky design. If you want to know what I mean, take a look at this video of Nicky playing on our bed:


giveaway pampers pantsIf you’d like to give these pants a try #PampersSA are giving away five packs of their pants on this blog.


This competition is open to residents of South Africa only.

*I was provided with a pack of the pants for review.*

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Why Your Kids Will Love The Minions! And WIN a R500 Cresta Shopping Centre Voucher!

why-your-kids-will-love-the-minionsSaturday turned out to be quite a busy day. After attending the Huggies breakfast I raced back home so we could go off to the Minions function. We were very excited to receive an invitation to a family fun day at Cresta Shopping Centre. After watching this film, I have to say that your kids will love the minions. I’ll let you know, later in this post, exactly why.

minions kids activityWe started off with activities the centre had set out in their banking court.

minions-familyFirst of all we took a fun picture with purple hair and Nicky had a little minion hat. Then DH and Nicky had fun driving a minion around. You can watch the video of that.

2015-07-11 12.54.57There was also an area for craft and colouring in. You could cut out different pictures of minions and place them on a timetable. They also had a dinosaur to colour in which Nicky scribbled on.

eating pizzaAfter this activity we went for lunch at Panarottis. I have to say this was a super idea. Not only because pizza is a big hit with Nicky, but because they have a play area. With a trampoline. So of course he enjoyed jumping and playing on their jungle gym and slides. The manager was super friendly too, taking pictures and introducing us to his daughter who was also playing there.

2015-07-11 14.43.50

The actual movie was very funny. It isn’t exactly higher grade stuff; you have to be in that kind of childish mood, but kids will really enjoy it. The minions go through time looking for an evil master. They eventually find one (without killing her) in the 1960s and they have to steal the British crown.

So why will your kids love the minions?

It’s pretty obvious, actually. The minions are just like kids themselves.

-They talk a language which is never translated. That’s not necessary. There are enough gestures and expressions to communicate their intention very well. It’s like kiddie babble with actions.

-They are cute. Those little yellow bums are just adorable.

-They see the funny aspect of everything. At one point the minions are in a dungeon with the worst possible end in sight: the hangman’s noose. What do the minions do? Slip in and out the noose, giggling madly. I enjoyed the child-like wonder of them.

– They also have weird objects of affection. My kid might need all sorts of plastic cars and zebras to get him through, but Bob the minion not only has a teddy bear, he also picked up a rat somewhere.

-Little guys get to be the super heroes. Or is that villians? Watch the movie and decide for yourself.

After having a super time, we had to speed home with tantrum kid who was very tired by then. But he really enjoyed the movie! On Sunday he wore his minions T-shirt while playing cricket:

three year old with cricket bat and minions T-shirtt

So thank you, Cresta Shopping Centre, for the fabulous day out with my family! We so enjoyed it.



If you live in Gauteng you can enter my competition to win a R500 Cresta voucher.


win-R500-cresta-vouchera Rafflecopter giveaway

Nico Panagio opens up about his infertility struggle at the #HuggiesBreakfast

nico-panagio-huggies-breakfastNico Panagio is known for presenting the glamour show Top Billing and being the host of the Survivor reality series. But he had to do a whole different kind of surviving in the lead up to parenthood, and afterwards. The Huggies Breakfast was a wonderful experience, but it was his story that I really appreciated the most.

Nico and his wife tried naturally for a certain period of time. They were also sick of being told to “just relax”. They even followed that well meaning advice to “go away on a holiday” by going on a trip to Greece for a month (Nico is Greek). His wife Christi also had endometriosis, like me, and had to be treated for it. After natural approaches they tried artificial insemination three times. The devastation he experienced after that third negative result was truly awful.

He is adamant, however, that God was with him through these tough times and was speaking to him about adoption.  This is the route they followed and now they have two adopted children.

Parenthood has also been a tough trip, but he acknowledges the joys too. He says that it all gets very hazy until around three when you have this lovely sweet kid and then you go downhill with the fours again… Hmm, I find three year olds pretty challenging as well, Nico.

The worst test for him was when his wife went away for ten days and he had to look after the kids himself. He describes it as an experience like being kidnapped, tortured and urinated on.

The funny part was his description of how he manages to defuse a waking child in the middle of the night with an arsenal of bottle (in the mouth), dummy (in the hand) and a quick nappy change movement. He said if he completed this seamlessly in under ten seconds he could keep the child sleeping. The operation he talked about was accompanied by many movements and sounds – well, you just had to be there to appreciate the whole experience.

The breakfast was so delicious. A three course meal perfectly presented. The company was fabulous too: I sat with Shaney from You, Baby and I, Cassie from Life with a Ladybug and Nadia Williams. Also there were Funso and Lebo. I even met a mommy blogger that I haven’t before, newest to our blogroll, Thando from Modern Zulu Mom. It was just such a nice time chatting to these ladies while eating gourmet food.



Huggies used the morning to unveil two new products:

1) My First Nappy: a nappy for newborns that has a cut out area where the umbilical chord would be, a line for a wetness indicator and a runny poo pocket at the back.


21264 huggies NEW BABY PACKAGING sz1_26s_FA CVT


2) Nappy Pants: designed to absorb like a nappy, but with the fit like underwear so that your baby or toddler can move around securely. There is an elasticated area both in the waist and legs and you can tear the nappy off easily at the hip area. The pants come in male and female versions.


21416 Nappy Pants Boy Size4_FA CVT

I was also lucky enough to get a nice goody bag with some really cool gifts for Nicky. He just loves his truck and bucket, as well as the little plastic camera.


I’d say I was really spoilt today. Thanks, Huggies!

More thoughts on sleep

thoughts-on-sleepEvery parenting problem is like a complex puzzle that has to be solved. Sleep, for me, has become one of those intricate mysteries I am working on. I’m trying to be more observant about what is causing the problems this week and working out some conclusions to the problem. So I’ve come up with some more thoughts on sleep.

My last post about sleep was actually meant to be more of something to make you laugh (even though lack of sleep can make you cry, I’d rather laugh). But one of the comments got to me. It implied that I let Nicky do exactly what he wanted to do and that I shouldn’t be feeding him food at night.

First of all, Nicky is not in control. There are rules and boundaries. Trust me, so many times he says “no bath” or “no sleep” and we do it anyway.

Secondly, if my tired kid has fallen asleep in the car (say, after swimming) and missed supper, I am not about to wake him up from a deep sleep. I would just have a tantrum kid on my hands who would not want food. And I’m not going to deny him food when he wants it later if he missed his meal. It’s not like this happens all the time.

I guess everyone has their reasons for their decisions and for me, those are what is going to work for me.

However, that comment really got to me and I started examining everything I was doing in connection to the sleep process. I tried to be more conscious about it and make more of an effort to make things work. I moved the biscuits and the juice out of the bedroom.

I’m happy to say the first four nights of this week went really well. We managed to sync our sleeping. I slept with Nicky. It may not work for everyone the way we do it but to have our deep sleep at the same time is the best for us.

The only thing I noticed that was a disruption was the dog. He scratched on the door in the early hours and I just ignored him. I figured, letting him out was going to be a process of waking myself up and it would badly affect our sleep. So this time, Milo, you just have to suck it up (his water bowl was empty but I made sure it was full the next night). When he scratched on the door at 6am that was okay, I let him out.

I was just thinking how well things were going when last night happened. I guess it is just God’s way of humbling me. I think this is something else I am trying to do: to see the spiritual behind the problems. I have been reading “surprised by motherhood” by Lisa Jo Baker who blogs here, and it has been a good thing for me to be reading right now. (Got it at the Mandela Square closing down sale of Exclusive Books! They are still open till August!) This is just an opportunity to grow closer to my son by examining the problem more carefully.

On Thursday we had a fabulous morning out with our mom’s group and he came back exhausted and had a nap easily. It was a nice early nap at 12:30 so he woke up at 2:30. Fabulous! I’m going to have two set times to myself! (Lately it has only been one – either the nap or the evening).

It was really nice that he went to bed early and I savoured the time by getting a lot of things done.

But I paid for it at 3am.

Yip, Nicky was up and at ’em and asking for food.

I really tried to say no to the biccy.

I did.

I offered him yoghurt.

A decisive no.

In the end I just could not do it. I was tired. I was thinking, why am I doing this? The kid is hungry.

I was weak. I gave him the biccy. Peace at last. For a while.

I was so angry with myself for doing this I retreated to the far side of the bed while Nicky happily crunched his biccy. Then he wanted boob so I reluctantly went back.

We reconnected. There was peace.

I was hopeful for sleep.

It was not to be.

I have realised no matter what you do, it seems if Nicky is awake like this at night it will take two hours to get him back to sleep.

I told him how cranky we were going to be for the next day’s shopping. It would be so yukky.

Nicky started saying “Yukky” which reminded him about the yoghurt.

What the hell, I thought. Let’s have yoghurt.

It was during this time I started wondering why on earth it was that we often have such bad nights on Thursdays so that we have such a bad time with the shopping trip. I wondered about the food on Thursday nights. Perhaps he doesn’t like rice and sausage? Perhaps I should be giving him two minute noodles as well? (He loves noodles) If he was waking up for food maybe I should make sure he had more than his fill at night.

Such thoughts were little consolation at 5am when I was crying, desperate for sleep. But they are inspiration for me to make a better plan for the future.

In the end he bumped his head and cried and that’s what made him sleep in the end. Poor little bear…


In conclusion I have decided to try and be more observant about the surrounding circumstances of sleep as try and get better and better to give us both a good night’s rest.


By the way, do you like my new header? It is the work of the talented Andrea Barras, who has also made over our logo over at SA Mom Blogs. I just love all the purple flowers – it seems to express my personality so well.

Remember when I was Survive and Thrive? Searching for the positive in a flower?


Then I became a mom, with a kid on my hip, but the flowers were still twirling around, and joined by a footprint,in reference to this process of taking motherhood one step at a time, and still stopping to appreciate the flowers.


Well, now, I’m appreciating the steps and the flowers even more, appreciating the growth and the beauty that life brings.

I hope I’ll always be a student of this life, learning from my miracle son and the lessons he gives me, and that I will be open to understanding them better through God’s grace.