Dear... Place of Peace

25 May 2015


A powerful message in this months letter with Amber.

May Letter Prompt: A Place of Peace

Dear MC,

This prompt could not come at a more fitting time - a time where I am really struggling to find places of peace (in every sense of the phrase!)

The world can be a nasty place - a society filled with hate and jealousy and mistrust which leads to crime and war and discrimination. Just yesterday, we spoke about our country and the world we live in. We spoke about where we feel safe and how to make ourselves safe. Is there somewhere else to live that could shelter us from all the wrong in the world? No, we don't believe the grass is greener. Every country has it's pros and cons, it's ups and downs. And we love our country. But more importantly, we love our country together. We could live in any country together and we would feel safe because you are my place of peace. 

Home is whenever I'm with you.

And just as their physical harm and destruction going on around us, so is there emotional destruction and betrayal too. We have learnt recently, that you cannot trust anyone. Besides you and me. We can trust each other. We find peace in knowing that neither of us is holding a knife to stab each other in the back. So many people that we assumed and presumed were friends for so long, that are nothing of the sort. The type of people that have so much to say behind our backs but are pretty silent when in front of us - even worse, sickeningly sweet in front of us. But we have each other, and that's all that matters. We have so many amazing friends and people so true to us and our hearts. Those people matter.

As we embark on this new journey of making more time for us and what matters to us, rather than pleasing others. I am so grateful and so proud to call you my place of peace. My place of love and joy, laughter and special moments. Also my place of trials and tribulations and hardship and tears. But I have peace during those moments, because I share them with you.

Together, we can face and conquer any one and any thing.
You are my place of peace.

I love you MCR.
x

Read April's letter here.

Meet the Momma: Caley

21 May 2015


And the final guest for Meet the Momma series is... Me!

Meet the Momma: Caley

Introduction.
Hi! My name is Caley - wife to my gorgeous MC, mom to two precious daughters: SJ (3) and EN (1) and lifestyle blogger living in sunny Durban, South Africa.



Did you experience easy or difficult pregnancies and births?
My first pregnancy, with SJ, brought 12 weeks of horrible nausea and  bouts of vomiting, I struggled to keep much down and I slept as much as I possibly could. I had a good second trimester and I enjoyed exercising, having my energy back and my growing bump. Unfortunately, my third trimester brought along pre-eclampsia and bed rest and from 26 weeks, I started to gain weight quickly and started to retain water and swell.

At my 37 week check up, my blood pressure had hit 140/110 and my gynae called for an emergency c-section. I drove home, packed my bags, collected MC from work and we drove to the hospital to have a baby. My c-section experience was amazing - we settled into our hospital room, I was gowned up for theatre, I had my spinal block with MC holding my hand, my legs and pelvis went numb, I lay back, was cut open and within minutes our precious baby girl, SJ entered the world with only a tiny cry and weighing 3,4kgs. I was stitched up, sent to recovery for the numbing to wear off while MC went to give her SJ her first bath and we met back in our hospital room for cuddles and helping her latch.

My second pregnancy, with EN, brought a bad dose of hyperemesis gravidarum. I managed to not eat or drink (or keep a crumb down) for 6 weeks. From the day after we found out we were pregnant, to the morning of 14 weeks, I was extremely sick. I was hospitalised twice and spent weeks in bed in a dark room unable to eat or move without fainting. It was horrible and something I never want to experience ever again. I also had a little toddler at home who had no idea why Mommy was missing and always sleeping... My second trimester brought rays of sunshine and from week 14 to week 35, I loved my pregnancy. I was able to eat and drink again, I had lots of energy, I was busy with SJ and moving into our new home and I managed to keep my exercise regime up until the day before EN was born. I felt good!

At my 35 week check up, I was nervous of going into early labour and MC was out of the country on business. My gynae confirmed all was well with the baby and he booked my second c-section for the 27th May. That night, I went for dinner with a friend and when I got into bed, I had severe pain in my lower abdomen. I woke a few times that night with the same intense pain. I wasn't contracting, it was one long pain that never went away. The next morning, my in laws offered to have SJ for the day and for me to rest. By lunchtime, MC was on the phone, very concerned and begging me to call my gynae. I'm a laid back pregnant woman (and now mom!) and I don't call or visit doctors unnecessarily, especial on public holidays but my poor husband was worried so I called my gynae and went for a check up. Upon feeling my tummy, he noticed that my uterus was slowly thinning so he suggested admitting me into hospital with two cortisone injections to help the baby if I went into early labour. After my first cortisone injection, I was hooked up to the foetal monitors which clearly showed I was in labour and contracting at regular intervals (this one constant pain was preventing me from feeling the contractions!) An hour later, I was given a pethadine injection to help ease the pain. An hour later, I was checked again - the contractions had started coming quicker and faster and my uterus had starting thinning to the point of almost rupturing so I was rushed in for another emergency c-section (with my husband on a flight home!) My loving FIL managed to scrub up and come in with me to hold my hand and video our birth. After numerous failed attempts at a spinal black and a bit of a daze with all the drugs in one afternoon, our second baby girl EN was born that evening, weighing 2.8kgs. Whilst I was in recovery, MC arrived at the hospital and managed to get in a few cuddles with EN before she was sent to the NICU as her breathing was too quick. After a few hours of oxygen, she was given the all clear with her lungs but she wasn't able to feed from a bottle so she was hooked up to a feeding tube. After 8 long days in NICU, precious little EN latched like a champ and started exclusively feeding from momma and we could head home... 


Are you a stay-at-home-mom or working mom? How does this work for you?
I am currently a stay-at-home-mom and I love it! I am very grateful for the time it gives me with both our girls - being able to lift and drive around, attend and enjoy activities, playdates and parties as well as the flexibility it gives me to find time for myself and organising our home and to be there during crisis moments like emergency doctors visits and childhood milestones. I had parents that worked full time jobs my whole life and I really didn't like staying at aftercare and missing out on so much and getting home so late each day, but I understand that it had to be done to allow us to be financially stable. Every day (as tough as some days can be), I am truly thankful that I have this time to be at home. In saying that. now that I have two toddlers (almost!), I am looking for something creative to do and coming up with business ideas. Watch this space!

How did you decide on your child/rens names?
One thing that having kids has taught me is that naming a child is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do! Names are so important. 

Before MC and I even got engaged, we had a chat about children's names (as you do!) - I mentioned the girls name Sophie and he loved it too. Easy! Her second name is Jade, which is my second name too. Easy again!

Second time around, we were stumped! We had only ever liked one girls name and we had a string of favourite boys names. Right up until the week before EN was born, we only had boys names and I had a good feeling that she was a girl (we didn't find out the gender with both girls). We were away on holiday, thinking of different names but not agreeing on any when my FIL called to say he had heard a lovely name on TV, Ellie. A famous golfer had two daughters - Sophie and Ellie and he liked it. So did we... The next day, we were wondering through the hotel and a father called for his daughter: "Ellie" - it was a sign! Her second name is Nicole - named after MC's late sister, a very special family name.

*It must be mentioned that I never ever put Ellie's choice of name and the name of my blog together - until it was mentioned after her birth. The name of my blog has always been the shortened name for an elephant...


How has your life changed since having children - positive and negative?
Life has changed in so many ways... I have an instinct like never before, my heart feels emotions and feelings I never knew possible, I love two little humans more than I ever imagined, my body changed to grow and develop these little miracles in the most incredible way. Life is busy and fast and non stop but amazing and rewarding too. Every day, we are learning and teaching and watching these little people develop into their own personalities. I have always wanted to be a Mom and I love and adore my role as a mother - but there are also days when the time out and the peace and quiet are golden.

Where are your children at school, and how did you make this decision?
EN isn't at school yet, she stays at home with me and our domestic worker. She will start at a small play school in January 2016.

SJ is at a local co-ed private school that starts from Playgroup and follows through to a high school. SJ is a confident and outgoing little girl who loves people of all races, ages and gender. She thrives at school and she comes home with so much information and many stories from the day and what she has learnt. It has been the best thing for her. The school is very impressive too and we are very happy with the choice we have made - it is new and has great facilities, the  number of students is small and has big classrooms, it follows a great ethos and curriculum and SJ loves her teacher and peers.



Are your kids more like you or your husband, and in what ways?
Often people say it is hard to tell when they are so young... But in our family, it is already very clear. SJ is my twin - both looks and personality. She is confident and outgoing, friendly and aims to please. She can be bossy but is a great leader. She is sensitive and emotional when she wants to be but can also be feisty and cheeky. She is very organised and together, and has slight OCD tendencies. Definitely my child.

EN is her Daddy's twin - again in looks and personality. She is quiet and reserved but also knows what she wants and will stand up for it. She is happy and has the softest, kindest nature. She is loyal and her face lights up when she sees the people she loves. We will see how her little personality continues to mature and develop as she gets older...

The above is also the reason why MC and SJ get on so well and EN and I click - the personalities complement each other, just as they do in our marriage. Quiet incredible to see.

Describe the "type" of Mom you think you are?
I like to think of myself as a loving, caring, fun, organised and laid back Mom who just wants the best for her children. I love and adore my girls with all of my heart and I will always put them first, but I also know right from wrong and will always discipline and guide them through life and their different phases of behaviour. I love to play and have fun with them and their friends, and always thinking of new activities and outings for SJ. My Type A personality brings out the organisation in me and I am never without my diary, phone and a list to ensure all is on track for our daily routines. I am also laid back and not phased by most parenting situations or the hectic task being a Mom entails, and it has been proven that I stay calm in panic or emergency situations.

In saying the above, I am not a perfect Mom. I lose my cool, I shout, I want to disappear at times, I forget appointments and important dates, I let my children down and lose perspective. But I try my best to be the Mom my girls need me to be.


How do you stay organised or in a routine - or do you live in organised chaos?
My Type A personality makes sure we live in organisation and a strict routine. But again, I am normal and some routines need to be broken or be adapted at times (weekends, holidays, sick days etc). Since birth, both our girls have been on a strict eating and sleeping routine and it has worked so well - they were both sleeping through (7pm - 7am) by 14 weeks and they have been happy babies and now toddlers. The routine allows us as parents to do the best we can, be on the same page when one is away and also get some quality time together. We have a calendar board in our kitchen as well as online synced calendar that is shared between us. We also have a weekly catch up to discuss plans and a weekly meal plan for easy grocery shopping and daily meal prep. SJ also has a daily routine and reward chart that she follows. Yes, I know I am OCD.

What is your favourite activity as a family?
Anything that we do together. It may sound corny but it's true. We love to eat meals together - morning breakfast and evening dinner around the table allow us to catch up after the day. We enjoy family walks around our Estate or on our beach promenade to get some fresh air. We love spending time in our garden on the weekend - in the pool or roasting marshmallows in the boma. We also love a good movie and pizza night on the couch. Driving together is also a great time to talk and catch up - on our way to and from school or longer distances on the weekend.



Describe your 'Mommy-me-time'? 
It may sound selfish to some but MC and I have always been very strict on our girls fitting in with life and not changing life to revolve around them. We still go on holidays alone, on date nights, on family weekends away and individual time alone too. This has been so important for us both, and it keeps us sane. 

My favourite me-time is spent being pampered - having my nails done, my hair done or a body massage at a spa. My lazy me-time is an afternoon nap or reading a good book with a cup of tea.

Describe your proudest moment as a Mom. 
Being a Mom brings so many proud moments - from carrying a baby to delivering a baby, to getting a full nights sleep, watching them reach milestones like sitting and crawling and first steps and talking first words (there is no sound more magical than the word momma from your babe). And as they grow, the proud moments multiply to listening to SJ count to 20 or sing her ABC's, to watching her setting and clearing the dinner table, to saying her Grace before dinner, swimming under water, hearing her good manners saying please and thank you without a prompt and getting a praiseworthy report from her teachers. The list goes on, and each day there is a new proud moment...

Any advice for other Moms or Moms-to-be.
Try your best - it's the best you can do. Your child is your little miracle and your responsibility and what works best for you, is the best way. Trust your motherly instinct, it is very strong and should never be ignored. 


Thank you for all the sweet mommas who joined in the fun and shared their stories. 
x

FREE Routine & Reward Chart Printables

20 May 2015

As mentioned many times before, I am a Type A personality with slight OCD. Organisation is one of my hobbies.
So it comes as no surprise that my children follow quite a strict routine - which they thrive on and hardly ever step out of (on their own accord). 

Now that SJ is three, she has left the terrible tantrum two's behind and is somewhere in the midst of toddler and teenager. Literally since her birthday, she is more mature, has great manners and understands the rule of consequences. Needless to say, her behaviour has been mostly impeccable. Like her mom, SJ is also a people pleaser and thrives on words of affirmation. And therefore a Routine & Reward chart was a no brainer...

I asked the lovely ladies at Glee Projects to help me with a design and they had a brilliant idea - a free printable for all my lovely readers.




These two talented ladies have helped plan and design all my parties and functions. No task is too big or too small and their ideas and creativity are mind-blowing. I have loved working with them both and no party is complete without them.

Go along and visit, like, follow and share (and don't miss their fabulous new Bash Box party kits and themes!)

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Our little SJ is obsessed with her daily charts - she cannot wait to get her chores and routine done to receive her stars each day! And her Sunday treat creates huge excitement!

What do you think about routine and reward charts?
x

World Baking Day

19 May 2015

Source

Sunday was World Baking Day - I may have been a little late to the party but I decided to try a new baking recipe... My younger SIL made this delicious recipe for Christmas last year and I've been craving it ever since. It is amazing!!

Gordon Ramsay's Pear and Amaretto Cheesecake
(Recipe found here)



Ingredients:
For the poached pears:
  • 2 large pears
  • 50g castor sugar
  • 100ml water
  • 1 vanilla pod


For the base:
  • 150g digestive biscuits
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp chocolate spread (nutella)


For the filling:
  • 300g full fat cream cheese
  • 125g castor sugar
  • 550ml double cream
  • 3 tsbp Amaretto liqueur
  • 100g amaretti biscuits


To decorate:
  • 120g good quality dark chocolate 
  • icing sugar, to dust

Method:

  • First, poach the pears for the filling. Peel, quarter and core the pears, then cut them into 1cm dice. Dissolve the sugar in the water in a small saucepan over a low heat. Split the vanilla pod and scrape out the seeds into a large bowl; set aside for later. Add the pod to the sugar syrup and simmer for a few minutes to infuse. Add the diced pears and poach gently for about 3 minutes. Drain and leave to cool.


For the cheesecake base, blitz the digestives in a food processor to fine crumbs, then tip into a bowl. Melt the butter in a small pan and stir in the chocolate spread. Add to the biscuit crumbs and mix well. Spread the mixture evenly over the base of a 23-24cm springform cake tin, pressing down lightly. Chill for at least 20 minutes until set.




For the filling, add the cream cheese and sugar to the vanilla seeds. Using a hand whisk, beat the mixture until well blended. Add 450ml of the cream and the liquor and whisk to soft peaks. fold in the crushed amaretti and poached pears.Spoon the filling on top of the biscuit base and level the surface. Chill for at least 30 minutes, or until firm. Spread over the remaining cream to form a thin layer and then chill again.




For the decoration, melt the chocolate into a heatproof bowl over a pan of hot water. then spread in an even layer on a marble slab or the underside of a clean baking sheet. Leave until just set, then draw a sharp knife across the surface at an angle of about 25 to shave of large curls. (or just drizzle over cheesecake).
To un-mould the cheesecake, run a hot thin bladed knife around the edge and remove the side of the tin. Slide a palette knife under the cheesecake and transfer to a flat plate. Arrange the chocolate curls decoratively on top, then dust with icing sugar. Cut into slices to serve. The dessert will keep in the fridge for a day or two.


This is honestly the most amazing dessert I have ever tasted.
A new favourite.
x

SJ 3rd Birthday - Food

18 May 2015

Food

Food is always a very important aspect of a function for me - no matter how big or small the event, I always remember the food. Was it cold or hot? Delicious or not so tasty? Spicy or bland? Too much or too little? Unfortunately, I have adopted the idea to always rather over cater as I never want my guests to go starving...

We hosted SJ's party at our own home and I decided that we would then cater for the party too - a little crazy as we had so many guests but we did our best. I made homemade sausage rolls, cheese and bacon muffins, cheesecake and chocolate brownies. 

Kiddies tables are always easy for me - chips, fruit, and a variety of sweets and chocolate. I also try my best to stick with the theme or colour scheme.

(Cake, biscuits and cupcakes made by Carrie Chelin)





















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