Progress is impossible without Change

Hello Friends! I’ve got so much to share but don’t know where to begin. It’s been a while since I actually sat down with my laptop to write anything and I’ve missed it terribly, but time has been very scarce and I’m sad to say, my priorities have been forced to shift over the last few months.

Firstly, our Summer has been dismal. It rained and was windy and very un-Summery throughout December. I can handle that – just about, because the relief, sunshine and heat that normally arrives in January is always something to look forward to. Unfortunately, the Weather Gods have had other ideas. The weather seems to be reflecting my life at the moment. Or perhaps my life is reflecting the weather…I’m not sure, but both have been incredibly changeable, calling on inner strength, resilience and a positive outlook to face whatever each day has presented to us.

You may recall that in August last year, after months of deliberation, prayer, consultation and introspection, we decided that my husband would leave his well-paid but highly stressful corporate job. SCARY! I am so proud of him. He isn’t a shmoozer or politician. He doesn’t “network” to further his own purposes. He refuses to build his own empire by creeping, running, climbing and back-stabbing his way through other people’s dreams, careers and ideas. He is honest, hard working, loyal and has the utmost integrity. He believes in good old-fashioned values, which sadly, these days, are severely lacking in today’s society. So what next we wondered…would he look for alternative work? Would we buy a business or start something up? I was working part-time and about to begin studying, and although our little man is getting bigger and more independent by the day, we still need to be able to provide a stable home, school and social environment for him, with all that that entails. The plan was set in motion. Well, a basic plan but a very open-ended one with so many opportunities, stresses, challenges, decisions and outcomes; some we expected and others we’ve discovered along the way.

Over the past 6 months, we have dreamed together, laughed together, cried together, stressed together, talked, talked, talked and talked. It has been an amazing journey and we still have so many unanswered questions. Thankfully we have alternated our “good days” and “bad days”, pouring energy into being positive and supportive of each other, but by being honest, patient, kind, tolerant and understanding, we are getting there. Sharing our fears, concerns, joys, dreams, wishes, beliefs and allowing each other the space and opportunity to rage, release the negative energies that build up over time and grieve as we’ve had to make very tough decisions, has been enlightening and uplifting.

For someone who has been in a corporate environment for 30 years, suddenly having the time to ponder what he actually wants to do with his life has been therapeutic and devastating at the same time, as it has opened up internal discussions about lost dreams, talents and time. Learning about who we are and what is important to us and what we actually want to achieve in this life, means asking ourselves, and each other, some very tough questions. Taking stock of physical possessions and how we feel about them, what they mean to us or represent in our lives; the sacrifice required to maintain them, or the implications of releasing some of them – wow! It’s like ripping the very face off yourself and staring into your heart, your inner being, questioning everything about who we are and what is important to us. Enriching, enlightening, eye opening.

In order to help us along, I gave up my part-time work and was lucky enough to find full-time employment closer to home in a role which allows me to grow professionally while utilising what I’m studying – and they’re really nice people. It’s been tough. Deciding to walk away from afternoons with my boy, after school activities, school pick-ups, etc. was heart-wrenching but I have been incredibly blessed to be able to do this for almost his entire life. Now, for the first time, my husband has been able to enjoy school pick-ups, class trips, after school activities. He is learning where the tupperware or cheese grater is stored in the kitchen; how to make the perfect toasted cheese and tomato sandwich; which way to position a karate Gi and how to tie the belt. I’ve watched my husband laugh again. His skin has changed colour, becoming a healthier shade as it breathes in the simplicities of every-day life and leaves the automaton life behind. We’ve had to cut our cloth accordingly which is a very humbling experience, taking discipline to an almost tangible level.

And we’ve decided to sell our home. Our beautiful, much-loved, recently renovated home. I love my home. This is our first home we lived in on moving to New Zealand. It is the longest either of us has ever lived in the same home, ever. A year after renting it we made the decision to buy it, sacrificing much and both working full-time to achieve our goal. And then our beautiful baby boy arrived. Bringing him home that day was exciting and daunting. We’ve watched him take his first steps, heard him say his first words, experience first Christmas, Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny within these walls. It was here that I learned that my beloved sister had lost her battle with MS, where my father called me to say my brother had been killed in a car accident. It was here we were told of the death of my wonderful father-in-law, a generous and kind man. We’ve experienced 3 pregnancy losses here. Cars have come and gone, the lawn has been mowed season after season. One much-loved family pet, our dear Ozo, is buried in the garden and friends and family have travelled from far and wide to spend precious time with us here. This has been the toughest decision of all of them for me. But in order for us to achieve the goals we’ve set for ourselves, we need to do this and I admit, I cried after the estate agent left. I cried when the For Sale sign went up outside. And I’ll most likely cry those horrible, embarassing, raw kind of tears when we eventually pack up and leave, but I’m hoping that another family will come along and love it as much as we have. We’re often told that our home feels happy. And I’ve realised that that is partly because of us and the love and happiness we share as a family, not only because it truly is a beautiful home. We’ll take that with us wherever we go.

Things are looking positive for my husband, partner and friend of 21 years too. He is itching to get back to some kind of work and has been able to work out where his strengths lie and what he enjoys doing. There are a few opportunities on the horizon for him too. What seemed very fractured a few months ago all seems to be falling into place, piece by piece. I like to think it’s all about timing. Good things happen when we’re open, positive and honest. I’m still a little nervous about the next few months but excitement is setting in. And I promise I’ll be sharing a few more recipes in the coming days. Delicious salads I’ve made throughout January, even though the weather continued to be annoying. We had a few weeks of pure glorious Auckland Summer but then that disappeared in a deluge of rain and cloud again this past week but sometimes we have to make our own sunshine.

To special friends and family who have been generous with your guidance and emotional support, we love and thank you. Your texts and messages of friendship at unexpected times are worth millions. It’s been a Hull-of-a-Summer :). Watch this space. In the words of George Bernard Shaw, “Progress is impossible without Change”.

Have a great weekend.

Advertisements

My Top-10 pre-holiday checklist

I was lucky to be able to take a two-week holiday over Christmas and New Year this year; between ending one job and beginning the new one but it was just the right length of time to be able to enjoy being together as a family both at home as well as squeezing in two mini-breaks out of Auckland, exploring, exploring and exploring some more.

It got me thinking about all the things to consider taking care of in preparation of being away from home, so although some of the points I share below may be more relevant if going on a longer vacation, it’s a great place to start to avoid last minute panic or completely forgetting all-important tasks.

  1. Re-direct your mail:
    New Zealand Post offers a great service where you can redirect your mail, or they can hold onto your mail until you return. There is a fee for the service and you have to schedule it with them in advance, supplying “from” and “to” dates, i.e. the last date for mail delivery and the first date you want the service to be re-instated, but it’s well worth it, knowing that your mail box won’t be overflowing, which is one of the most obvious clues to would-be thieves that there isn’t anyone at home.
  2. Junk mail and newspapers:
    Sadly, many of us can’t avoid receiving junk mail. It mysteriously materialises in the mail box. In our home, once cleared, it goes straight into the recycle bin. Can’t begin to imagine the number of trees used in this useless cycle of trash, but I’ve given up fighting it and now accept that I’m doing my bit to recycle. Ask a neighbour to clear the junk mail while you’re away. Besides the obvious point of notifying would-be thieves you’re not at home, it often ends up blowing around the neighbourhood creating a mess.
  3. Garden services:
    Arrange with your garden service to continue taking care of your property while you are away, or if you normally mow the lawns yourself, perhaps enlist the help of a garden service if you’re going to be away for a while. That way it keeps everything neat and tidy so you don’t get back to a jungle.
  4. DON’T blab on Social Media:
    OK, so we’ve all done it. We’re excited to be planning a trip and we’ve all seen the family selfies taken in the car as we set off to the airport or on our road-trip. But think about it. Honestly? It’s a really silly thing to do notifying everyone and anyone that you will be away. Even though you trust your friends, people you don’t know very well or even at all might get ideas about visiting your home. Just use common sense. Share your memories once you’re back or a random photo now and then, but take care who you tell and how that you will be away for any extended periods of time. Unless of course you have arranged a house-sitter so there will still be someone coming and going at home while you aren’t there.
  5. Place subscriptions on hold where possible:
    Subscribed services, like satellite, cable, newspaper deliveries, etc. can often be placed on hold if you plan to be away for a few weeks or more. Money saved on these services can be enjoyed during your holiday instead of paying for something you won’t be using.
  6. Insurance:
    A MUST for any traveler. Update your insurance before you travel as well as take out specific travel insurance. I find that letting our insurance provider know that we may be leaving a car at the airport is also a good idea as sometimes your policy fine print doesn’t cover the vehicle unless it is locked up in your garage and by notifying them, you ensure continuous coverage. Travel Insurance came in very handy for us a number of years ago when we went overseas and my little man, who was 3 at the time, was bitten in the face by a friend’s pet Jack Russell. As traumatic as it all was, our travel insurance took care of everything, even continuous care for his ongoing treatment once we returned home. Invaluable!
  7. Travel wallets:
    By this I mean a folder or plastic envelope that either clips or zips closed. I always travel overseas with one of these. That way I know our passports, itineraries, tickets, copies of travel insurance, emergency contacts, etc. are all together in one place. One person is tasked with carrying it, or the bag with it inside so we know where it is at all times. The feeling of arriving at the airport and being about to check-in and having to do the pat-your-pockets-dance to find each of your travel documents is not only a panic-filled waste of time, but annoying for other travelers waiting in the queue behind you who might have been more organised.
  8. Preparing the car for a road-trip:
    As a child, we did many road trips around South Africa and my Dad always filled the fuel tank up the day/evening before our scheduled departure. My husband is exactly the same. He prepares the car the day before by checking tyre pressure, filling the fuel tank, checking engine oil, etc. In the week’s prior to the trip, he always has it serviced or checked over so he is confident that we won’t have any unexpected issues along the way. Look, problems may still arise, but at least we aren’t driving on a wing and a prayer.
  9. Pet sitters or kitty/doggy hotels:
    You know your pets best. If you think keeping them at home and having someone come in daily to walk, feed and play with them for a while will work, then save yourself some money and make the necessary arrangements with a family friend or kind neighbour. If you can afford it and your pets are sociable and don’t mind being in new environments, book them into a Cattery or kennel. If you aren’t sure of how to go about selecting one, I suggest the following:
    – Check with your vet to see if they have a preferred cattery/kennel.
    – The vet may offer these services themselves.
    – Make a list of local sites and take the time to visit them.
    – Ask questions, don’t be shy. You wouldn’t palm your child off on a stranger so why do it to your pets?
    – Most places will want your pet’s injections to be up to date so allow time and money to schedule this so it isn’t a last minute issue.You don’t want to have saved up for a trip of a lifetime only to spend it worrying about your pets.
  10. Tell a trusted friend or family member your travel plans:
    Someone should know where your are and how to contact you if there is a problem with a loved one or your home. Give them a copy of your itinerary and contact numbers, as well as details about your travel insurance in the event that they need to do something for you in the event that you can’t.

With the above 10 items all taken care of, you have every reason to kick up your heels, relax and enjoy your holiday.

New Year, New Beginnings

What will you do differently this year? Do you set New Year Resolutions? No? Me neither, because with as much enthusiasm as one can muster, they normally last a couple of weeks if that and peter out once the year gets going. But there are a few things I want to focus on this year and I’d like to share them with you. Perhaps you’ll have your own to add or some of these might help you, but I plan on coming back to read through these suggestions often to remind me of my goals for 2017.

Yesterday was a quiet day. Being the first day of the year and after having a relatively late night watching the fireworks in the local village from our front deck, even the neighbourhood was quiet. We decided to use the time to begin sprucing up a few of the rooms in our home that weren’t included in the renovation of 2015. So out came the paint brushes, ladders and ground sheets. I realise we could have given ourselves a day to relax and welcome in the new year, but not known for sitting still for too long, we were off to a flying start. Continue reading

Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017

2016 has been a very strange year for us. And I thought it was just us until I began seeing friends’ posts on FaceBook about what a gnarly old year it’s been for them too. I can’t say that I’m sad to see it go – good riddance! Although I have a feeling that 2017 is going to be a continuation of the roller-coaster ride, at least for a while.

Change can be a nasty old hag. She either creeps up on you and hits you in the chops when you least expect it or she parades herself in front of you while you try very hard to ignore her taunts, but eventually she slaps you in the face anyway and you have to accept it’s time for something new.

Change is inevitable. It’s a part of life that some handle well and take in their stride while others fight it or try to control it. I don’t do too well with the whole stride thing. Going with the flow doesn’t come naturally to me as hard as I try and as long as I’ve been alive. I like order. I like neat piles. Lists are good. Change messes with my plans. And the worst kind of Change is the kind where I (we) have to make decisions. Big decisions. Life changing decisions. The kind that will set you on a whole new path to glory or see you sitting in the rubble of shattered dreams. Not to be pessimistic, but Change can be brutal. It can suck the life out of you and make you question everything: your choices, your behaviour, your Wants vs Needs, your Dreams. 2016 has been one of these years and I’m tired. To be honest, a part of me is dreading the first few months of 2017 while decisions made this past year continue to play out, but sometimes we find ourselves in a situation where we have tried our absolute best, often selling out on what we believe in to try to keep the peace or maintain the status quo, but we realise that we can no longer ignore the Change that is on the cards, no longer the neat writing on the wall but yelling at you in all it’s new-found graffiti-style glory that if you continue to dig your heels in and not take that leap of faith, Change will roll-on without your cooperation and you’ll be dragged along anyway. All the kicking, screaming and crying in the world won’t help. I know, believe me.

I just wish the adults in the room would stand up and make the darn decisions for me. At 40-something it amazes and humbles me that I sometimes still feel like a child in a grown-up world where I don’t know the rules or have the answers but I’m expected to play the game and am found to be sadly lacking.

Five months ago we took the difficult decision for my husband to leave a very stable and lucrative job that he’d been at for almost a decade, but the politics, games, ill-treatment and resulting ill-health and stress was no longer worth it. It had been building for years and I believe we made the right decision, but the domino effects are a little frightening. It’s been wonderful watching him learn to relax again, to laugh and play in a normal way instead of knowing that his smile hasn’t quite reached his eyes. He is my soul-mate. We’ve been together for half my life and I wouldn’t know what to do if he was no longer with me so I know without a shadow of a doubt that we made the right decision. But what next…

For a while it looked like we might have left our home of over a decade and moved to Sydney. I love Sydney and have been there many times, but did I actually want to live there? No. But if it meant good things for our family? Maybe. But I could only see more negatives than positives. Another big corporate in another big city. Longer commutes, higher living expenses, the cost to move lock-stock-and-barrel; not to mention starting again in another new country. But it looked so lucrative! Then one night after weeks of investigation we had one of those really good heart-to-hearts at a small local cafe on the marina close to home and discovered we both actually felt the same way. Yes! Decision made. Not moving to Sydney. So what now?

Investigate buying a business.  Oh my goodness! The prices people want for businesses, even the smallest, is crazy. And anything larger meant going into debt. We have a thing about debt, especially in these crazy times. Not a good idea or something we want to be lured into on our own. But do we want a partner? Hmmm. Weeks of investigations, meetings and discussions followed. Decision made – not the right time for a business.

So how about we switch roles then? I return to work full-time and my husband takes a few months off to think about where to next? OK. Deal with the feelings of fear building inside, put on your big-girl-pants and step up. Your family needs YOU (me, in case I’m rambling too much and it is unclear). I loved my part-time job. It has meant I can do school drop-offs and pick-ups, attend after school activities, have dinner on the table on time and feel like I’m having a life. But life is going to look a little different from January. I’m lucky enough to have found a job closer to home that is full-time and although I’m a little nervous, I am trying to be excited about something new. But I can’t ignore the other feelings either.

And just in case I forgot to mention it, I started studying back in October. I haven’t looked at my course notes in weeks as this new life and what it actually means, begins to emerge, and that will have it’s own ramifications, but understanding that we are human and can only deal with so much at a time is very important. Choosing to take time out to poke and prod our emotions can be a luxury for some, or a complete waste of time for others, but I believe that being kind to ourselves during a time of Change is healthy. Exploring thoughts and feelings is important. Try to put them in order or simply “feel” them. Take time out with loved ones and special friends. Quiet time enjoying the simple things is therapeutic. Exercising is a great way to release stress from anxious limbs.

It’s amazing at times like this who actually notices that something is wrong and is there for you. We don’t all blab our daily goings-on to everyone, and a note to those that do…people begin to see you as toxic. They don’t want to be drawn into your drama as they probably already have their own which they are trying to deal with. But it is good to be able to lean on friends and family when you really need to, and know you aren’t as alone as you might feel. There is nothing wrong with asking for help when it is genuinely needed. I have a couple of friends who have been amazing and have listened to me and sent texts of encouragement. A quick phone call to check-in is priceless. Or simply sharing a glass of wine while we take turns wading through the issues of the day. Other friends have run away – completely. Either their own issues are too big or when it isn’t all about them, they can’t cope. They haven’t the skills to be there for someone else. And yes it hurts, but it is also a valuable lesson to learn.

So as 2017 dawns, we have a number of options before us. It might be time to sell our home and down-size, at least for a while. It might be time to move out of Auckland completely. It is definitely time to take stock of what is important – truly important – and realise that life isn’t about “things” or “roots we’ve planted”. We tried so hard to give our son the stability we didn’t have as kids, but perhaps this will make him strong the way it made us strong. What life is about is growing, learning, loving, exploring, adventuring. I had thought that my life to this point had given me more adventure than any one gal could have asked for, but it seems that I was wrong. Perhaps I’m just not one of those settle-down-in-the-same-place with a life-long-career kind of people. My husband and I have both lost a parent at a very young age, both been through our surviving parent’s re-marriages. I’ve had my fair share of half and step-siblings. We both moved around a lot as children, with me moving 9 times before the age of 12. I left my family in a coastal South-African city when I moved to Jo’burg to marry the man of my dreams. Eight years later my husband and I then left South Africa and immigrated to New Zealand. We’ve changed jobs, had our family, watched loved ones come and go, seen our group of friends reduce as we’ve moved around, often wishing we could have brought them with us. It is harder to make friends the older you get and the more you move around. So to expect that I could have lived in the same home and suburb for 12 years and never have more changes was perhaps a little wishful. Seems like some souls are born to explore. Whether we like it or not.

Looking at it another way, perhaps it’s a blessing. We’ve accomplished so much and are strong. I don’t mean strong physically, Lord knows I need a few more muscles. I mean the character-building kind of strength. Strong individually and a strong team, but sometimes we are tired. I’ve considered signing off and leaving Chocolate Goose behind me and maybe that will happen. With all the goings on I’ve not had the time or energy to be creative or share new baking. Gosh, I haven’t baked in ages. My poor son hasn’t even had a birthday cake yet and I’m the Queen of Cakes – at least according to him. I’ve shared what I can and sometimes shared too much, other times perhaps not sharing enough and some of you have stuck by me as I’ve rambled on over the past 3 and a bit years. Thank you.

I have no idea what 2017 will hold. All I know for sure is that there will be more changes. Major changes. And the sooner I embrace them, the easier it will all be. We have our health. We have each other. We have our memories and dreams. We live in a safe country where we are free. The fact that it is one of the most beautiful places I have visited is a bonus. So if I leave this tiny corner of paradise I’ve called home for the past 12 years, yes, my heart will almost break, but I know that I have been truly blessed and that I’m clearly going to be around a while longer as there are obviously more adventures planned for me in the stars.

May your 2017 bring you peace, love, health, happiness and success in whatever form that means to you. Look after each other and take care of yourselves. Watch this space.

Are you prepared for an Emergency?

A little over a week ago New Zealand experienced another devastating earthquake on the South Island, but as it occurred shortly after midnight with the epicentre in a rural farming community, hundreds of lives were spared. Sadly there were two lives lost and we pause to think of them and their loved ones. But had it been like the one which devastated much of Christchurch during lunch time on a beautiful Summer morning in February 2011 in which 185 people tragically lost their lives, it could have been very much worse.

household-emergency-checklist
Snapshot of a Household Emergency Checklist. Image courtesy of the website, http://www.getthru.govt.nz

Although it happened on the South Island, the effects were felt half way up the North Island and being islands, it triggered a tsunami warning. I’ve only ever felt one earthquake since living in New Zealand and it was more a tremor than an earthquake, hardly comparable to the recent event. The glass rattled in one of our cabinets and I had been trying to walk at the time. I remember grabbing onto a low wall to steady myself and looking up to see my husband and son also aware of the movement. My son had just learned about what to do in the event of an earthquake at school and immediately dived under the dining table saying Drop, Cover, Hold! I was more surprised than frightened. It passed very quickly.

The recent 7.8 earthquake was a timely reminder to take heed of warnings and get ourselves prepared. I always have 10 litre containers of water stored in the garage and keep tinned food which would probably last us for about 3 days, and we have a portable gas bbq and cylinder, but the poor people of Kaikoura, a small seaside town on the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island were cut off from would-be rescuers due to the damage to roads in and out of the town. They are simply impassable. Helicopters have been airlifting in supplies of water, chemical toilets and emergency supplies as all sources of running water were so severely damaged that they were initially cut off. Sewerage lines were damaged and the navy were despatched to rescue stranded tourists and locals wanting to leave by sea. Kaikoura is world-renowned for it’s crayfish delicacy and the seasonal whale watching.

The most basic Emergency items we should all try to have on hand are things like:

  • 3 days worth of water, approximately 3 litres per person per day
  • 3 days worth of tinned or dried food
  • torches with fresh packs of batteries
  • a battery operated radio with fresh packs of batteries
  • rain/wind-proof jackets
  • blankets or sleeping bags
  • toilet paper, plastic bags, breathing masks
  • nappies, wet-wipes and formula if you have little ones
  • and of course, a first aid kit

Have you got your Household Emergency Plan sorted? Does everyone in your family know what needs to happen and where to find supplies? Realistically, you may not all be together if/when a disaster strikes, or even at home, and Heaven forbid, you may not all survive, so it is a very good idea to make sure that every member of your family is well versed in case disaster strikes.

New Zealand has a great website called www.getthru.govt.nz which has check-lists and advice for all manner of emergencies. I particularly like this page as it includes the above emergency items and many more.

Another good NZ website for advice on what to do during an earthquake (the Drop, Cover and Hold mantra), can be found here: Drop, Cover, Hold

No-one wants to be an alarmist, but for all of us living in a country with 40+ volcanoes, being part of the Pacific Ring of Fire and having a number of fault lines run through the South Island, we are foolish if we don’t get ourselves at least a little prepared.

It’s at times like this that I marvel at human nature. There are those who literally give the shirts off their backs to help others in need, and then there are those opportunistic disgraceful thugs who steal from abandoned homes and families in the process of losing everything and having their lives turned upside down. Karma people. Karma! No-one is immune.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Get prepared while you still can.

Teaching Good Table Manners

As kids, table manners were drummed into us. Most nights we ate together at the table as a family, with each one taking turns to set the table before dinner, or clearing afterwards. And then, of course, came the washing up. These days, many families don’t eat at the table much, and for those that do, how strict are you where manners are concerned?

You may think I’m a little OTT here, but I’ve drawn up a list of my top 20 Table Manners. Seems like a lot, and it will take years of practice before good habits are formed and they become second nature, so I suggest that you start by focusing on one or two and as your little ones grasp those, add another couple.

20-table-manners-for-kidsAs the mother of a young child, I get to see kids eating all the time. It’s something I can’t help noticing and I believe that table manners, or should I say ‘eating manners’ should be just as important today as they were when we or our parents were young. Of course I’m not referring to table settings with bread knives, fish forks, and 7 glasses in a row ready for 12-course dinner menus, I’m thinking more about the basics: chewing with our mouths closed, not getting up until everyone is finished, polite conversation using inside voices and waiting for your turn to talk, etc.

Might sound awfully stuffy, but don’t get me wrong. It isn’t. It’s one of the easiest ways to teach discipline and self awareness. And if started from a very young age, habits form which help us through our entire lives. And as much as we hate to admit it, and disregarding the PC-ness of whether it’s right or wrong, we judge and are judged based on the manners we display.

Meal time is more than just about sustenance, it’s about relaxing together while enjoying the company of others and a meal which someone has taken the time to prepare, no matter how simple or fancy. It’s about enjoying conversation, possibly at the end of the day when we share experiences or thoughts. With our lives getting busier and busier, it’s often hard to set a specific time aside to eat together, but I believe it is really important. It creates memories, we share laughs and stories, traditions are begun.

The other day one of my son’s friends came for a sleepover. This particular little boy has always had lovely manners, but it was watching him that made me want to share this with you. He held his cutlery beautifully. He chewed with his mouth closed, mostly, but tiny lips navigating big, new front teeth can be a little difficult – my son is exactly the same. He remembered his ‘pleases and thank you’s’. It warmed my heart to see the two of them sitting next to each other and know that we aren’t the only parents in today’s modern world trying to instill a few of the “older” values into our child.

Little ones love stickers and reward charts, so perhaps a star or sticker for each child after they have displayed a particularly good table manner. Perhaps a reward of sorts as well – we all love incentives – maybe they get to start off the discussion the next night or choose their favourite meal. You decide, but as with most things, try to make it fun or it can become a huge drag instead of an enjoyable time for the family.

Some may think that the world has more important things going on and bigger problems to worry about than whether or not one’s elbows were on the table, but I truly believe that if we all tried to learn, practice and remember the basics that set us apart from the animal kingdom, the world would be a much better place. And why not start with table manners – which can be instilled whether there is a table in the vicinity or not!

 

Be the fun parent

I realise this is a strange title and can give the incorrect impression, so read on to see what I mean.

fun-parent
I’m one of those people who can’t sit still and do nothing. Put a different way, I seldom sit still…period. I always find something to do, or think of something I should be doing, or remember something I’ve been wanting to do for ages but haven’t had a chance to do – yadayadaya! So when my son says “Hey Mom, let’s go for a bike ride”, it’s a great opportunity to get out and about and do something active and enjoyable with him.

It finally stopped raining and we’ve enjoyed a week of warmer, sunnier weather so the other day after school was the perfect opportunity.
Continue reading