Archives for the month of: January, 2012

What the heck – I can’t sleep – so I may as well blog. And there’s so much to blog about, maybe that’s why I can’t sleep. Or it could just be the Nandos indigestion. It IS the Nandos indigestion. The only thing about being awake now is that I dread facing tomorrow. A walking grumpy zombie, who absolutely can’t cope.

I’m learning that my coping skills aren’t as great as I’d like to believe.

Proof in the pudding. I’ve yet again made another birthday party. This time for Prince No. 3. I stuck to certain principles beautifully.

1. Keep it small.

This was very difficult to do because I love inviting all my friends and their kids. But I stopped myself and focused on Prince No. 3’s class and anyone his age whom he played with. And trust me it turned out big enough.

2. Ask the birthday boy what ‘he’ wants and forget about ‘my’ wants.

Ever smiling Prince No. 3 wanted a car party, and he dragged up from his memory the time he went to a party with small electronic cars, like traffic land. So a car party he had! And he was very happy.

They got their licenses!!!

Rocket Pinata! (From China City - Thank YOU Tali!)

What I didn’t stick to, even though I desperately tried is – DON’T STRESS.

I stressed and stressed and stressed. On Friday I was already in hysterical tears – although that was because Prince No. 1 came out late from school to go to his vision therapy and we were half an hour late. (Luckily they were very understanding and said it was no problem. But I am learning that I have real anxiety issues about being ‘late’ and facing retribution.) Of course the tears are heightened by overwhelming pregnancy hormones. But it didn’t also help that I was running around trying to get a party organised, and I wasn’t contained or held or any of those ‘safety’ things that I’m meant to use to self regulate and not lose the plot completely.

I laugh to think how we all walk around looking like we are holding it together so beautifully, when behind the scenes we’re really not. Or am I the only one???

Come Saturday night – birthday cake decorating – my favourite bit – I got to bed 11pm, which is a good sign.

Ice Cream Car Cake for Mr 4 Year Old

Come Sunday morning the sky is GREY and I flip out of bed and out of my mind as I think, ‘Oh no this party is going to be rained out.’ I quickly make my, clear the patio, contingency plan. Run out to buy butter. Without which I cannot ice cookies (cupcakes for all those non-South Africans) or make scones. The scones flop. The cookies don’t – but I know that I chose way to healthy a recipe for a birthday party and the only thing the kids are going to eat is the smarties and chuckles on top. (I was right.) I didn’t make the veggie pie I was meant to. I began setting up and freak out (as I can’t keep a clear functional thought in my porridge brain head) and send a major SOS to my sister in-laws. But sister-in-laws pitch last-minute with their baby and toddlers. Not good setting up material. (Although by no fault of their own. Said sister-in-laws were setting up with babies and toddlers on their hips.)

Needless to say it’s not healthy to be so stressed. Nothing is worth it. With or without the stress everything got done. It didn’t rain. My mother in law made an amazing spinach bake (the recipe is on this blog space somewhere, you can search it) and a cherry pie. My amazing, baker, neighbour made the most gorgeous cheesecake (which was just as well because everything I do seems to flop these days). The tables were set up. The cars arrived. Prince No. 3 was happy as, and I was happy too. Just recovering from my adrenaline ordeal, but happy.

For a stress free party I need to ‘harness’ the troops. Make sure there’s a set up plan and enough hands to get everything done. Standing there alone before a party and thinking ‘I have to organise all this by myself’ is way too much. Even with staff it’s difficult because I like things done in a particular way. And I’m not even that fussy, but tea cups plopped on the table haphazardly, just doesn’t do it for me. I like the neat rows. I like the savory to be placed together. I like the jam and cream next to the flopped scones.  (Is that so unreasonable?) I would love to have ten pairs of hands… and I’d love to set up hours earlier but in this heat I feel like everything goes off. (Which it does.)

The good news is that I still like my birthday formula. (See past birthday blog in which I outline basic foods to make an easy party.) I did add Bar One cookies which were ‘YUMMY’ and very not healthy, which is why they were so ‘YUMMY’. See very easy recipe below.

Now I just need to get onto my next project which is a series of 2 lectures that I’m having at my house by counseling psychologist Mano Naidoo. I really, really recommend her. I’m posting the information for the lectures at the bottom of the blog. (It’s worth a read. I love the way Mano has written up her talks.) And I will be using my party formula for catering so there will be cheesecake and my ‘lovely, lovely, lovely’ friends have already offered to bake yummies. (So there I am calling in the troops, and not going it alone.) Please email sarah@sarahsassoon.com if you want to come and I’ll send you my address.

Yummy Bar One Biscuits (From Yeshiva Cookbook)

4 x 65g Bar Ones broken into pieces (Bar Ones can be substituted with Mars Bar)

200g Butter

4 Tablespoons Syrup

5-6 mugs Rice Krispies (Rice Bubbles)

100g Milk Chocolate Slab

Method

1. Melt the Bar Ones, butter and syrup on low heat stirring constantly until mixture is smooth.

2. Stir in the Rice Krispies.

3. Press mixture into a greased Lamington tin (19cm x 29 cm) or glass dish and refrigerate.

4. Melt slab of chocolate and spread over base. (You can use white or milk chocolate or both. It looks great with it drizzled across.)

5. Allow to set and cut into squares or fingers.

These can be made in advance and frozen. I like how they taste frozen as well. They go down like a storm!

Bar One Biscuits on Kiddies Table (before they were gobbled up)

MANO NAIDOO

Counseling Psychologist • Certified EMDR Therapist• Clinical Hypnotherapist

M.Soc.Science/Psychology Univ. Of Natal• Prn: 086000 007 1102

Address      89 Langerman drive • Kensington • Johannesburg
Email           antarik@telkomsa.net
Tel               (082) 325 7904
THE NEW PARENT – A fundamental process of releasing your childhood and parenting from choice
This is an introductory talk for parents and prospective parents who wish to raise their children free of their own childhood hurts and habits. “Our earliest experiences with our caregivers determine core beliefs about closeness, trust, and self worth” Debra Wesselman. It has become apparent that our initial interactions with our immediate environment during our early childhood unconsciously affect how we bond and relate to our children. How we felt and interpreted the world as a child and what our parents communicated to us forms the data base from which we respond to our own children. During times of stress we tend to dip into that data base which results in automatic reactions. If our parents smacked when they were frustrated we would likely smack our own children, if our parents insulted us when we did not do as they pleased we can find ourselves doing the same to our children. If we have made a vow to never do those “bad things” we may be over compensating in the opposite, like not setting enough boundaries or hardly disciplining. Either way, it creates chaos for our children and passes down negative data for them to store and use on their children. Many of us do not even see the negative messages we are passing over to our children because we are on autopilot, life is so hectic and demanding that we simply recycle our parents’ habits without a second thought. Becoming aware of what content lies in our data base that drives our behaviour, releasing the emotional wounds created by our childhood environment (parents, school, community);and learning healthy, conscious methods of raising our children can free us from our past, empower us to have real choices in life and connect us to our children in the closest way possible. Very importantly, this process of healing the parent and “immunizing” the child against emotional wounding breaks intergenerational family dysfunction. Join me in opening new doors and closing old ones as we make our way to empowerment, for us and or those to come.
Date: Wednesday 1 February 2012
Time: 7.30pm for 7.45pm (45min talk) discussion to follow
Cost: R50pp or R75 per couple

Social and emotional skills are the building blocks of the modern world

“Tens of thousands of schools worldwide offer children SEL”(social and emotional learning). “In the United States many districts and even entire states currently make SEL a curriculum requirement, mandating that just as students must attain a certain level of competence in math and language, so too should they master these essential skills for living. Around the world Singapore has undertaken an active initiative in SEL, as have some schools in Malaysia, Hong Kong, Japan, and Korea. In Europe, the U.K. has led the way, but more than a dozen other countries have schools that embrace EI, as do Australia and New Zealand, and here and there countries in Latin America and Africa.” Daniel Goleman

Countries around the world are taking social decay of the modern world seriously by implementing mandatory social and emotional learning programs at schools. This subject has been made examinable in various schools in the U.S. reflecting the vital importance of these skills, yet there seems to be an overwhelming lack of these fundamental tools evident in many South African children. A large part of my therapies in my practice include developing social and emotional intelligence in both parents and their children. These are the basic building blocks for mastering oneself and life. Social and Emotional intelligence has been shown to be a most powerful tool both professionally and personally. As adults we must be lacking in these skills if bullying, teenage suicide, peer pressure, promiscuity, substance abuse, low self esteem, and childhood depression are a high amongst children. There is no longer a natural process of developing a wholesome identity with strong moral principles unless parents proactively teach their children how to cope using social and emotional skills. If not, the barrage of poor role models and values depicted in culture and media today will more likely shape your child, and no matter how much you try to shelter your children this is a digital era where current trends spread through various mediums and manage to reach just about everyone.
I will be discussing the basic skills necessary for parents to impart to their children to begin the process of mastery over their emotional and social world.
Date: Wednesday 8 February 2012
Time: 7.30pm for 7.45pm (45min talk) discussion to follow

Cost: R50pp or R75 per couple

I didn’t have much sleep last night. I remember, as a child, how boring grownups were. They were always going on about how tired they were (not to mention what they could and couldn’t eat). How they’d sleep in the day (at least my parents did on the weekend). I wanted to shout at them, ‘Hello, life is to be lived. There is so much to do. How can you sleep it away?’ I swore never to turn out like them. Never to sleep in the day, and never, never to go around complaining how tired I am.

Never say never…. here I am a ‘grown up’ typing and wondering if there’s any chance I can slip some shut eye in between this afternoon of lifts (three school pick ups, Kindermusic, Judo, Dentist).

I remember making a pact with a dear friend of mine when we were 12, that we’d never become grownups. (Roni do you remember?) In my mind Roni has become the best kind of grownup. The smiley, happy, sunny type, who does light up everyone’s day. I’ve become a grouchy dragon – complaining about the school system and every other system that exists on this planet. With all the agendas, politics and lack of forward thinking action. Of course, deep down, all I really want to do all day is write and make people laugh and feel and think.But I have kids so my life has taken the trajectory o f dealing with reality.

Of course reality isn’t so bad and my aim these days is to transform the ordinary into the fun and enjoyable. This is no mean feat when it comes to things like home work. But believe it or not I’ve managed to take the pressure ‘off’ Prince No. 1. Last year homework was a tiring, boring and plain traumatic. I took homework seriously and I wanted him to do it as soon as possible when he got home. Now I’ve taken all the pressure off. He’s at school from 745am to 330pm – surely that’s enough of learning for the day. So I give him nourishing, yummy food – fruit, ice lollies (homemade made from frozen juice), and yes sometimes he grabs chips but I’ve also relaxed on that. And I spend time with him playing or just giving him free time to chill out. Yesterday he participated in his brothers puppet show. (Okay, I’ll be honest, disturbed.) Then he made his own tent in his room out of sheets and chairs which he was so proud of.

And homework….we got to it. Yes it was 630pm 7pm after supper and bath. But he was refreshed and we worked out a system that for every piece of homework he did he could skate around the kitchen on his J – Board (it’s like a skate board and brilliant for balance) this motivated him and refreshed him in between the chunks of work. He also learnt his Hebrew words that way. I’d quiz him as he wizzed around and it became FUN, instead of the classic fight.

And for those days where he just can’t do his homework… I’m afraid to admit that we just won’t do it. But amazingly enough since I’ve made that resolution (without telling him about it, otherwise he would insist everyday that he can’t and won’t do it) we’ve managed to do the work. Taking the pressure off somehow creates the space for ‘want to’. I don’t know why…

Meanwhile I’m late for my lift it’s 1229 and I’m meant to fetch 1230…. so I really have to go.

NEW RESOLUTION – blog more even if it’s less words…

So and…and…and my mommy story is going. Excuse all spelling errors whilst I post without a check. As I said I really, really have to GO>

One week into school already and I’m tired. Is it turning 30 and becoming older? I just want quiet and it’s certainly not what I’m getting. Or what I’m not allowing in my life. I seem to spend some days – go, go, going….and then crashing. So I’m learning that I need to self regulate and watch out for the burn outs. Which means saying goodbye to the family during happy hour and disappearing beneath warm bubbles in a bath. This is so I don’t become demented from tiredness and undo all the nurturing of the day by screaming and screaming and probably more screaming. The bath is the nicer option for everybody. (I’ll leave power hour, as my husband has now called it, to him.)

Today was an interesting day for me. I had no appointments for the morning. Nowhere to run to. No one to meet. Utter hours of potential. I chose to do what would feed me, rather than my ‘to do’ list (which is very, very long and grows steadily longer as I type). I chose not to sit at my computer and email and catch up, I did this last night, which wasn’t really the time for it either. I think I had better set up proper emailing times, just like they’d have letter writing times in  those good, old, non digital days. Then I’d get everything done without having this dread of ‘to do’ loom over my head every time by blackberry pings.

So what did I choose to do this morning? I went for a walk with a friend who just had a baby. It was so great to stretch my legs in Johannesburg’s leafy suburbia. I have a mental block against walking in Johannesburg, and every time I walk I realise how very ‘mental’ that block is. Owning the streets with my feet feels like I’m owning my life more. (Sometimes I can feel ownership of my life slip from beneath my fingers as I tend to the Princes’ hefty needs.) So thumbs up for walking and chatting with a good friend. And I didn’t take my cell phone with. I allowed it to accumulate all the messages it wanted to.

I’m learning that time is all about self regulation. Something Prince No. 2’s school, Bellavista teaches so well. And something my school obviously never taught me. I struggle with schedule, with balancing friends and times to see them. Balancing when to do what. I’m good at focusing on one project at a time. Making time for everything, like yoga, art, things I enjoy alludes me. I’m good at the ‘have tos’  like meals on the table and the kids are at school on time.

Somehow taking care of myself is not a ‘have to’. I as a mother really struggle to balance all the elements of a happy, balanced life. I go on the back burner. Time needs to be justified in order to spend it on myself. To indulge myself. Which is crazy. I’m only going to live once. And it may as well be a happy life. I’ve been conditioned that I must be productive to be valuable. Surely I need to feel worthwhile in myself and then naturally I’ll be more productive. Without giving myself the nurturing and time that I need to self regulate and feel truly alive, I burn out. And when I burn out, boy do I burn. Not taking care of myself  comes at a hefty physical and emotional price. And I know I’m not alone.

This is a big theme in many women’s lives. (It’s a big theme of this blog.) I believe that we are waiting for someone to give us permission to nurture ourselves and take care of ourselves. No ones ever going to do it for us. No ones running around to make us cups of tea and tell us to go sit in the garden.

I could give you permission and tell you to do it – but will you listen? Why not? We are all our own worst prison wardens. It’s a fact that fascinates and frightens me. It’s scary because it’s so deeply unconscious.

Sure some women manage to do it all. Like that movie with Sarah Jessica Parker – ‘I don’t know how she does it.’ Personally I don’t really think it’s possible for most mothers to work full time, especially in high powered careers and enjoy their children, and take care of themselves. Of course it depends on how many children you have. It’s all relative. But I would like to defunct the myth of the perfect mother/woman. It’ll take me time though because deep down I still think it exists. (And it doesn’t – it doesn’t, damn it! I even tried it again this week with a planned healthy menu of dinners. Did it work? One night out of four – Nandos was a welcome break last night. A well run house with perfect, healthy meals is a myth I tell you. Unless you want to be a slave to the stove. Which I don’t.)

For now we’re all just fine as we are. Good enough mothers.

So me quietly sitting with a cup of Rooibos Chai and a bowl of porridge and blueberries is a simple way of being. The only thing is, I need to stop blogging so I can enjoy it…and my gardener just walked in to tell me we have a burst pipe, so out comes my Blackberry.

I can dream can’t I, of being balanced, of quiet fulfillment and serenity. And in the dream I can catch brief moments of it. And moment by moment maybe it’ll become my life. At least I’ll try self regulate when it’s not, and have lots and lots of aromatic bubble baths.

Let this be a lesson to all procrastinaters in 2012, from a fellow procrastinater. The more you delay the worse it gets.

All us procrastinaters know it, so why oh why do we do it???? I haven’t blogged for a month. A record for me. I’ve been on holiday in Australia with the kids. My husband called it boot camp. He even had to unclog a toilet – with his bare hands. And I had to load the washing, one load after the next. (And that’s with my mother and her housekeeper doing the bulk of it. I quite liked it actually, besides all the pants I managed to ruin. Prince No. 3 stuck his bubble gum everywhere! He’s now banned.) Of course that wasn’t the whole trip. Sydney is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It’s just very different going ‘home’ rather than being a simple vacationer.

It’s complicated. Too complicated to write about… Which brings me to an issue that’s come up for me. How much does a blogger blog about personal information? It’s a haunting question… On the one hand I love sharing ideas and funny experiences. On the other I’m an extremely private person. In fact my introvert half has seriously raised it’s head in the past few months. Which has culminated in this blogging hiatus. My other half, the extrovert, that just wants to go out and connect with the world, with a party hat on her head to the sound of fireworks, is missing the fun.

Caught between two halves (and I kid you not, on the Myer Briggs test I come out exactly half half, with a bit of a percent over – making me an official extrovert) dealing with challenges which feel big to me, but are small in the big scheme of things….

So I thought I’d do a point by point catch up of the last month. What I’ve read and loved, watched and loved, done and loved. I’ll even add some pics along the way 🙂

  • Firstly and here’s the biggie which explains why I’ve been so weird – I’m pregnant. Is it the kind of thing I should be sharing with the whole world – I’m not sure. But all I ask is for lots and lots of positive thoughts because heavens I need it. This has been a very difficult pregnancy. And maybe that’s why I want to share it, because on pregnancy alone a blog could be written for a lifetime. It’s a saga of emotional roller coastering that I never imagined possible.
  • ‘Raising Boys’ – This is a MUST READ for all mothers of boys, by Steve Biddulph. (There is one for girls too apparently. Google it.) It’s available at Exclusive Books. I read it and desperately wish I read it years and years ago. It goes into bringing up boys as babies, toddlers, juniors and the biggie – teenagers!!!!

One of the major points it brings up is how boys brains work differently to girls. He says they should be kept back a year so they have an extra year to develop, play freely and just be. (I think he’s right. It’s awful seeing where I went wrong – be prepared for that feeling.)

Notably it’s also an easy thin book to read. Very well laid out. Go buy it, don’t borrow it, you need to read it and own it as your boy bible, and all fathers need to read it too. (No I’m not getting a cut.)

  • Drama Series – ‘Downton Abbey’ – A very well done British television period drama series which begins in pre World War 1 times with the sinking of the Titanic. Anyone who’s a history junkie will love it. The script is great, costumes amazing, and it’s an all round escapist watch. It can be rented from Craighall video shop, and maybe it’s even on DSTV. I loved it and am onto series two, which is in the middle of the war. I don’t watch these things very often, but am hooked on Downton Abbey for good.
  • Movie – ‘The Help’ by Kathryn Stockett. Anyone who hasn’t watched it must! I hear the book is also wonderful. I’m definitely going to read it. (The advantage of a fourteen hour flight to Australia is all the movies I got to watch. The Princes were also similarly occupied.)
  • ADHD research. An update on this is that two of my friends have put their boys on ritalin. I’m still puzzled as to why every second boy needs to be drugged??? Any answers out there are welcome. Am currently reading The Edison Gene: ADHD and the Gift of the Hunter Child – by Thomas Hartmann. I’m also trying to get hold of a very recommended book called – ‘Making ADHD a Gift: Teaching Superman How to Fly’ by Robert E. Cimera. Lots to read….
  • Gone back to Tanach – I’ve currently become involved in a new Jewish Learning program for adults teaching Tanach. I’ve begun studying the book of Joshua and am finding it very comforting. At least it’s keeping my brain whirring away with a different language.
  • Interview with Gavin Keller – I interviewed Gavin Keller for a Jewish Life article and was walking on air with inspiration and the will to change our redundant school system. It’s going to take a lot of brain change though. I really think parents need to start getting involved to create the schools they want.
  • PICNICS – are the best, best, best thing. In Sydney the Kosher eating establishments are really limited (worse than when I lived there) picnicing is the easy solution. From beach to park to beach again. (On the grass of course – sand and sandwiches don’t go.) My very easy picnic recipe is: Crackers (we love Corn Thins) or bread (we love Pita bread), cream cheese, mozzarella cheese, cottage cheese (although turned too messy), tuna in tins, veggies like tomato, peppers, cucumbers (depending how lazy you are, cut up, or just cut at picnic), chips, plastic knives, forks, paper plates and bottles of water. Voila a picnic to feed the hungriest stomach. Simple, easy, no fuss which means you’ll actually do it.

 

Nothing like a picnic!!!!

I’ve also decided that it’s worth getting out in Johannesburg and making the effort to picnic. Emmarentia is probably the best bet, Delta park is also lovely, and in the week if there’s time Zoo Lake is lekker (on Sunday it’s way too full). We never picnic in Johannesburg but here’s to 2012 and picnics.

  • Dogs – We’re going to get a dog. Two actually. Two big brown (well maybe golden) Labradors. The Princes went mad for their Great Aunt’s giant labrador, called Zulik. (With a name like Zulik, my boys had a soul connection. I don’t know what to do with dogs, but before I talk myself out of it again, we’re just going to do it!

 

Zulik at dog park!!!!

And to conclude – EXPERIENCES are in – things are out.

When I was in Sydney my sister-in-law (who was just fabulous to us whilst we were there) pointed out an article about the christmas shopping trends. It said that buying experiences, like tap dancing lessons, parasailing, chocolate making, was in, and buying ‘things’ was out. It tapped into what our holiday was about and what I want to bring up the Princes to appreciate. Experiences last a lot longer than things, and are worth a lot more.

What we do is more valuable than what we consume.

What we give is far more everlasting that what we take.

So here’s to a year of creating positive experiences, of learning, of growing, of loving.

Cheers with a proverbial glass of bubbly champagne!!!