Day 161 10 June – ouma’s chocolate jar

My mother always had a glass cookie jar at home, filled with an assortment of cookies with one of my favourite being the chocolate coated digestives. I remember as a child how my sister and I tried to sneak cookies from this jar, mastering the camouflage sound effects of coughing to hide the clanging of the glass jar lid as we carefully placed it back. You know you were unsuccessful when your attempt is followed by “Anli…Joy…sit die koekies terug!”

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Now my mom has a chocolate jar, where all the birthday and Christmas chocolates are stored. Today I taught my daughter the skilful act of camouflage coughing while we tried to sneak chocolates, but it ended up in laughter and we were caught out.

 

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Day 159 8 June – sweet sixteen

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My gorgeous niece turned 16 today!! Honestly, where has the time gone? This photo was taken at my wedding in 2003. She was one of our flower girls and was such a precious poppet. Clearly the day was too big for such a little person.

Sweet 16

Rosy cheeks baby girl,

sunflower headband and carefree giggles,

you crept in my heart ever so gently.

Soft blush cheeks teenage girl,

nail polish, fishnet stockings and boyfriend kisses,

you are finding your place in the world.

Day 156 5 June – family

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My sister made the most of her time here with us by taking the kids out for a morning shopping spree. It is that quality time that no material gift could replace.

My sister and I have a close bond with each other’s children. My sister is 4 years my senior and got married and had babies in her early twenties. I was still a university student and when she had her first daughter, I stepped in (almost as a surrogate mother) for the times when my sister needed some t.l.c and when she returned to work I looked after my niece several days a week.

When her second daughter arrived 16 months after baby #1, I was there more than I can count. I loved watching both the girls grow up and discover the world. They were a handful together, but they surely were a whole bundle of love.

By the time I had my first daughter my sister was so excited to finally become an aunty and while I was on maternity leave we spend many a day shopping, talking, having tea treats, taking the kids out and just enjoying each other’s company. I think we both knew that this time will not only fly pass in a blink of an eye but we may not have these opportunities soon as life tends to throw us all curve balls.

We both had 1 more child each (both boys), so when these monkeys get together, it is a wild-roller-coaster-fun-challenging-memory making occasion…even if 3 of them are now teenagers.

I love being an aunty!

Day 149 29 May – camping

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Gosh, it is that time of the year again when the kids head off to school camp. Both their classes attend the camp but my son’s class stays for 2 nights and my daughter’s class for 3 nights. The packing usually comes at a whirlwind speed as we are never prepared! Sorting clothes the night before, ticking off the last of the list the morning of. And once finished and loaded into the car it seems like they are off for a month with all the gear.

I remember my school camping days. I went on several as I was involved with an outdoor program developing leadership skills. I don’t think we were really ever prepared either for these camping trips as we were ill-equipped with camping gear, but I thoroughly loved the experience. Meeting and making new friends, challenging myself with activities I would never have dreamed of doing, and receiving recognition by peers and teachers. I was a bit of an odd ball but was very sociable and thrived on doing things differently. I was always surrounded by a large group of friends and together we made memories.

 

 

Day 142 22 May – life lessons

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My daughter competed in her first competition as a Junior International athlete. I can’t even begin to explain how nerve wrecking the preparations has been for her. She is surrounded by an immensely talented group of girls this year. They are all determined, focused, flexible and ruthless on the rhythmic floor. She usually gets very flustered and nervous during warm-up but once her first apparatus is done, she manages to calm herself. Now, I need to emphasise that the last time she competed was at Nationals last year and she ended with a disastrous ball routine. I can only imagine the mental battle she had to go through to walk out and perform this weekend. But unfortunately her ball routine was a bit of a train wreck as she lost her ball off the floor, twice. Her score came down to a high 5 and is her lowest score yet while in the pre/international stream. Obviously she was disappointed and very upset with herself. But what made the situation worse was that her coach, the person she relies on in motivating her, ignored her when she walked off the floor. She didn’t give any feedback and told her to get changed for the next routine. My daughter was certainly not the only one who made mistakes during the competition but she was left feeling like a huge failure. When my daughter returned from the change rooms, she joined her team mate and started practicing her next routine. It was here when her coach looked at her and told her that she most likely holds the record for the lowest ever score by a gymnast from their club. This is what broke my daughter’s spirit.

Today’s photo is a quote suited best for the scenario my daughter found herself in. This is relevant to all people in leadership and facilitating positions. Be aware of the ears listening when you speak.

Day 136 16 May – solace

I clearly remember while visiting my ouma and oupa in Pretoria as a young girl, how often we used to walk through cemeteries. Ouma gave us the freedom to wonder around, reading the names on the tombstones, when they passed and how old they were. I tried to find the youngest child, and the oldest date. She told us that there is nothing to fear amongst the dead.

My slightly over-active imagination played out scenery of beautiful gardens, picturesque homes, floral dresses, picnics by the lakes, old cars, dust roads leading to fields of wild flowers, visiting loved ones by candle light. I wondered who these people were, did they come from a big and loving family, did they have siblings, were they in love. And often I wondered how they died. I wasn’t saddened by these thoughts. It was more as if a sense of gratitude and self awareness settled over me. I felt calm.

I admired the tombstones more than anything else though. Some were so old you couldn’t read the inscriptions. Others were huge, looming over their neighbors like giants in a chest match. Then there were those graves who had a single cross, old, chipped with no name, no identity. This is the only thing that will sadden me; the thought that a family might not have been in a financial position to afford a significant tombstone to honor their loved one.

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Today I wondered into our local rural town and decided to walk around the small cemetery. The one tombstone in particular caught my attention and as the grey clouds rolled in, bringing with it a cold snap, I stood in silence and solace admiring the life beneath my feet.

Day 123 3 May – pass the parcel

“Pass the parcel” is a classic child birthday party game played here in New Zealand. We didn’t know about it until we arrived and my daughter was invited to her first birthday party. The concept puzzled me at first but when you give it some thought, it is actually a kind gesture that all the party goers gets a small gift with 1 big winner (usually the birthday boy or girls if sneakily tweaked).

How to play pass the parcel:

  1. Buy 1 larger gift (be it either a toy/book/lollies/chocolate) and several smaller gifts.
  2. Get your wrapping supplies out. You need enough wrapping paper for all the items you bought.
  3. First wrap the single large gift.
  4. Place one of the smaller gifts on top of the first wrapped gift and wrap it up.
  5. Repeat this process until all of your gifts are wrapped.
  6. When the party guests are ready to play, hand one of them the parcel and start playing music. An adult (or older child) should be in charge of the music to make sure everyone gets a chance to open a gift.
  7. When the music starts the parcel gets passed around the circle of friends. When the music stops, the person holding the parcel gets to open one of the layers and keeps the content.
  8. Repeat the game until everyone has at least received 1 gift.
  9. If you want to give the birthday boy or girl the last larger gift, make sure that they do not get a chance until right at the end to open the parcel 🙂

 

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My post entry has nothing to do with pass the parcel though, but we did receive a HUGE parcel today. My excitement soon faded when I read it was addressed to my daughter and not me. It is all the sponsored gear from Keep New Zealand Beautiful for the beach clean-up she is arranging. I was happy for her though as she is single-handedly arranging this as part of her EMR action project. And every little contribution helps.

What birthday party games were your fav to play?