Decorating our Playhouse

We recently installed an outdoor wooden playhouse, designed and manufactured by the amazing Charlie’s Playhouses.

We have been having a ball decorating the playhouse, adding little touches and generally making the interior a pretty space for the Twincesses.

I must say I probably enjoy the decorating part a bit more than the girls, and as I add a new decor piece, I always think back to how awesome my own childhood would have been with a dreamlike playhouse like theirs. Living vicariously, I guess 🙂

So I wanted to share some of the cute and functional details we added, but bear in mind, this is still a work in progress. I doubt it will ever be complete, really, as I’m sure the furniture and decor will ‘grow’ with the kids, and we will add and remove as we go along.

For now, this is what the interior looks like:

  1. DECOR PIECES:

We went with cute little sleepy eyes in pink and gold and a beautiful dream catcher in pink satin sourced from Shongweni market. A grey bunny door hook and a ‘love’ plaque from MRP Home.

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Adorable self-adehsive Ballerina sticker collection, ‘LOVE’ wooden letters and Princess canvas from MRP Home.

Pink and grey bunting custom made locally by Heather’s Buntings.img_6098-2

Pretty heart stickers in silver (made these myself) and happy cloud cushions, also from MRP Home.

The kiddies ottomans were bought second hand.

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2. STORAGE:

We always knew storage was going to be a major concern, as the Twincesses have TOO MANY TOYS. I didn’t want the playhouse to look cluttered and chaotic, so we have not one but TWO toy storage organizers.

The first one from MRP Home is a pretty pink design with convenient plastic storage boxes that can be used to not only store, but also sort toys. The girls are then able to just take their favorite box to their desk to easily access their chosen toys.

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Their other toy organizer was gifted by their aunt, and they love it because its FROZEN!

The boxes are fabric, but durable and the side panels are in rich, glossy color and is scratch-resistant.

3. FURNITURE

One of the first items we purchased for the playhouse was a large wooden kitchen from Kings Toys. We had looked at the options in stores and Takealot, but they were just so small! I wanted the girls to have something they could enjoy for years to come, and Kings Toys provided just that! Their kitchen is made in pink and white with an oven, stove top, microwave, fridge/freezer, clock, chalkboard, hang rail and plenty of storage.

We kitted it out with an array of toys: toasters, coffee machine, pots and pans, fruit basket and lots and lots of dishes, all found within the aisles of Toys R Us.

We invested in some beautiful wooden items like the Melissa and Doug 3 layer birthday cake. The cake comes with decorative items, , candle, cake board and server. The girls love singing Happy Birthday to everyone and offering them a slice of cake. This particular cake can be ‘cut’ and velcro-ed back together.

Theo from Mr Tickles also went out of her way to source the Viga wooden eggs for me, and I am so grateful. I highly recommend the store for beautiful and quality toys. img_6124-2

The playhouse wouldn’t be complete without a spot for the Twincesses to draw, colour, do puzzles and ‘eat’ whatever they ‘cook’.

I found this table and chair set on Takealot and was so pleased when I saw that it matches their FROZEN toy organizer exactly, right down to the same high-gloss, scratch-resistant finish. We do have some squabbles over who gets to sit on the ‘Elsa’ chair, but they generally don’t last long as there is so much to keep the girls busy.

There are still two items I am yet to source, which I think will make perfect additions to our playhouse: One is a few floating book ledge shelves. Because the Twincesses love their books!

The second are these gorgeous house shelves for storing pretty keepsakes and adding another decorative element. I’d welcome recommendations for a local company that makes these items.

If you are looking for a way to keep your kids entertained for hours on end, I’d definitely recommend giving Charlie’s Playhouses a call on 076 106 0612.

And if you do, please do share your decor ideas with me! 😉

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A silent ‘Thank you’ to Woolies

My kids are super sleuths. They can locate with the accuracy most GPS programs only wish to possess, the tiny piece of  (grated) carrot in their homemade, organic, preservative-free cottage pie.

And that’s when the whinging begins: “but I don’t like carrots” “carrots smell funny” “carrots are for bunnies” “I’m not eating that”.

And so I coax, and bribe, and threaten and eventually cry. Yet the lovingly prepared (and did I mention organic) meal goes uneaten while I eventually cave and pop a frozen pizza into the oven.

So last week I spotted an innocuous square container in the refrigerator isle of Woolworths, and decided to give it a try.

Butternut mash, with 2 big blobs of salted butter sitting pretty on top, that melts and oozes into the creamy mash once heated.

I spooned 3-4 heaped teaspoons of the butternut mash into the Twincesses macaroni and cheese, gave it a quick stir, crossed my fingers, and said a little prayer.

To my utter amazement, they ate it. They ATE IT ALL!

Dumbfounded, I tried a bit myself and was pleasantly blown away by the taste. It was delicious!

So the next day I went back, and got the other 2 variants: Sweet Potato mash with salted butter and Baby Marrow & Sweet Potato Mash with herb butter.

I’ve had phenomenal success with both. I just stir in a few spoons into whatever they’ve having for dinner and voila, the girls don’t know any better, and they enjoy delicious veggies daily now when I previously used to struggle to ensure they were eating enough of the ‘good stuff’.

Yes, yes, I know its easy enough to puree these veggies myself; this is not some major discovery. But I have tried and have failed to attain the creamy consistency, and the amazing taste that Woolies packs into these. Not to mention the absolute convenience of it all!

Whats more, they make great side dishes for grown-up dinners too! I paired the Sweet potato mash with grilled fish the other day and loved it!

This post isn’t sponsored, I’m just hoping that other moms who struggle to get their kids to eat veggies will maybe benefit from it.

Thank you Woolies for providing wholesome food that is just so convenient!

5 Tips to keep kids Rear Facing as long as possible #CarSeatFullStop

You’re probably already aware that having your kids in a rear-facing car seat is much safer than forward facing, right?

A 2007 study in the journal Injury Prevention found that children under age two are 75% less likely to die or to be severely injured in a crash if they are rear-facing, while other studies have confirmed that riding rear-facing is much safer than forward-facing.

American Academy of Pediatrics now advises parents to keep their children in rear-facing car seats until at least age two, but preferable longer (until age 4) if your car seat weight and height limits allow for it.

But one of the biggest reasons that parents (even those in the know) prematurely forward-face their care seats is that their toddlers just don’t like it. I’ve heard friends tell me about the epic tantrums their kids throw when their seats are rear faced.. One even had to stop her car en-route to the grocery store, just to turn the seat around because her daughter would not stop screaming hysterically and she just couldn’t concentrate on driving with her daughter in that state.

So I’d like to share 5 tips on how to keep your kids Rear Facing for as long as safely possible:

1. DON’T Forward Face. It may seem like a no-brainer, but if your child doesn’t know of an alternative, they can’t as well protest!
It’s import that family members, babysitters and anyone else who may drive your kids, are aware of this strict policy… as having your child ride forward face – even once – lets them know there is another option available.

2. Sing along songs/ audio books. Distraction is key. Whether it be their favorite nursery rhymes CD, or their most loved story in an audio book format, I find that distracting my kids on their trips usually means I face less protest about being in their car seats.

3. Rear view mirror. Available at most baby stores, the mirror allows you to keep an eye on your child whilst rear facing, but also importantly, allows your baby to glimpse your face when positioned well. We used ours to calm fussy babies, by making brief eye contact and as they’re older, letting them play peek-a-boo!

4. Big Girl/ Boy discussions. I find that my girls just love when I sit them down for a “Big Girl Talk”. They get all serious, like they’re being allowed into the inner circle of grown-ups, and they seem to take the lessons handed out in our “Big Girl Talks” very earnestly. Big Girl/Boy topics can include all the serious matters you want to discuss with your child, from Stranger Danger to the importance of sharing, and how to treat animals. But why not also include a session for Car Seat Safety? During our talk I stressed how much we loved them, how people can get hurt very badly in car accidents, that we didn’t want them to get hurt, and the best way to stay safe was to sit in their car seat facing the back as it was the safest way to travel..
I found they appreciated being trusted with that knowledge, and I rarely have any qualms about them getting into their car seats now.

5. Make it a habit. Consistency is vital! Again, kids should not be given another choice but to ride rear facing in their car seats for ALL car trips. I find that toddlers lean towards receptive behaviors and by enforcing the rule, they more often give up the fight when they realize this is not something that is up for negotiation.

#CarSeatFullStop Every Child. Every Time. No matter what.

Mind your own uterus

When news broke yesterday that a third royal baby was on the way for William and Kate, social media was awash with messages of congratulations and well wishes for the royal couple. But among the tweets of cheers and felicitations, there were also ones that went like this:

“Don’t they have TVs in the Palace?”

“Do they even know how birth control works?”

“She’s been pregnant for like….4 years straight”

“#RoyalRabbits”

Can someone please tell me how it is acceptable to comment on anyone else’s reproductive choices? Have William and Kate asked for public opinion on whether they should have more children? I guess being “celebrities”, their personal choices/decisions for always up for public scrutiny, but what about the average woman?

How many regular women like you and me, are judged daily for our reproductive choices?

When are you going to settle down?

Are you gonna have a baby soon?

The clock is ticking…

You’re not getting any younger…

And then the flip side of the coin when you’ve had ‘too many’ kids by someone’s random standard:

Are you secretly Mormon?

Trying for a soccer team?

You guys don’t waste any time, do you?

Apart from being incredibly rude and downright hurtful, these types of comments can do a lot of damage because we may not have any idea about what someone is going through in their personal lives, behind the closed doors.

That woman married for 5 years without any children…?; she may be undergoing infertility treatments, trying and failing month after month to have a baby of her own.

That couple with their fourth child? Maybe they always wanted a big family after growing up incredibly lonely. Maybe they planned and longed for every child they were blessed with.

You just never know. Which is why, the best thing to do is to always – ALWAYS – mind your own uterus and just keep any comment about someone else’s reproductive choices to yourself.

If in doubt, just keep your mouth closed!

 

* Photo credit: Mind your own uterus pro-choice by Boogiemonst

How we beat the winter colds and flus

Spring has sprung! And we have emerged from an uncharacteristically cold Durban winter relatively unscathed.

We have taken special care this winter to ensure that mild colds and early flu symptoms were kept at bay, and didn’t have the opportunity to develop into anything more sever. And while we had the occasional snotty noses and fevers, we avoided numerous trips to the doctor and thankfully did not have a repeat of last years hospital stay.

So I’d like to share the flu-fighting formula I swear by, hoping it will help you stave off the bugs next winter!

  • 5 ml Zinplex Junior Syrup (we use sugar free)
  • 1 TurboKidz Smart Multi Chew
  • Sterimar baby nasal spray at the first signs of blocked nose

beat colds and flu 1.jpgZinplex Junior syrup is a zinc supplement which has been proven to be a highly effective immune booster and support mechanism. a 5ml daily dose is said to keep colds and flus at bay while combating oral thrush and runny nose and incidents of diarrhoea.

TurboKidz is a Nativa product which I simply love as it is one of the only multi vits I found that also contain probiotics. In addition to this, it contains the necessary vitamins and minerals in far superior quantities than other leading multivitamin brands in the same price range. I am also thankful for the 1 a day formula that makes it easy-peasy to administer to the girls each morning.

Sterimar Nasal Spray is a staple in my home and we usually ensure we have at least 2 on hand in case we ever run out! A blocked nose can turn into something more severe, so a safe and effective nasal spray is our first line of defense. Sterimar is 100% natural purified sea water and contains no preservatives or additives.

The Twincesses were born at 36 weeks and although as healthy as horses, I always tend to worry that their premature birth may leave them prone to immune weaknesses or health issues… typical irrational mom fears, I guess.

But I truly believe the simple combination above has helped us through this winter, and now we say hello to Spring and hopefully and wonderfully long Summer ahead!

 

Disclaimer: the information provided here is merely a review of my own experience with these products. Please consult your doctor prior to commencing any new treatment.

 

 

White Lies Parents Tell Their Kids

Ever noticed yourself telling your kids a random fib to get them to behave or calm down?

I’ve become quite an expert at this so I thought I’d round up my funniest white lies in a handy list form. You’re welcome.

 

  1. My food is too spicy to share with you.
  2. They don’t sell replacement batteries for that toy.
  3. Every time you touch something in a grocery store, a puppy dies.
  4. The TV has a time limit and can only work for 1 hour a day. Choose wisely.
  5. Coke is actually dirty water. That’s why it’s black.
  6. If you misbehave in a clothing store, you will freeze on the spot and become a mannequin.
  7. The sun won’t come tomorrow up unless you go to bed.
  8. Tooth fairies pay extra for clean teeth, so brush thoroughly.
  9. The candy by the pay points of the store are reject candies that people have returned because they taste bad.
  10. McDonalds gives sad meals to naughty kids. Sad meals don’t contain toys.

 

Finding Strength on the “I Can’t Do It Anymore” days

I can’t do this anymore”. It’s a phrase I find myself muttering at least a hundred times a day.

 

At 3:15am, when I’m standing alone in the darkness, patting, patting, patting the warm back of my tiny human. Exhausted and in desperate need of sleep because it’s the 4th time I’ve been awakened by her cries… I find myself holding back my own tears that threaten to spill their dam as I plead silently with God “Help me, I can’t do this anymore”.

 

At lunchtimes when we engage in yet another battle of wills, and I find myself bribing, negotiating and finally, pleading with my child to eat just one more mouthful … I mutter – defeated – under my breath “I can’t do this anymore”.

 

In the evenings when my already high maintenance child turns into the worst form of herself, throwing her head back screaming in yet another tantrum for no apparent good reason, I choke back hot tears as I contemplate running away and think “I just can’t do this anymore”.

 

On Sunday afternoons, after a long weekend of not having even a single minute to myself, still in pajamas because I haven’t found the time to shower, expired from the endless cycles of feeding, playing, singing, reading to the kids… all the while building a wall of guilt around myself for not doing enough, I find myself feeling drained and inadequate with only one thought:  “I can’t. I can’t do this anymore”.

 

If you’re a mom, I’m pretty sure you feel this way at least once (if not many times) a day. When the fatigue overtakes you, coupled with a healthy dose of guilt for good measure, it’s not hard to feel like you’re coming up short in just about every area of Motherhood.

 

But what I need you to remember is this:

In those dark hours of the morning when you feel all alone rocking, nursing, patting, lulling your baby back to sleep for what feels like the millionth time … You are NOT alone. I can guarantee you that a few hundred other moms are walking in your shoes at that very moment.

When your child won’t eat the meal you found time to lovingly prepare, and would rather spit it down the front of her T-shirt … know this: You are NOT alone. All over the world exasperated moms are fighting that very same war.

When your toddler throws down the mother of all tantrums because you won’t let him smack you in the face with the TV remote … stand strong – you are NOT alone. Parents have lived through their children’s outbursts since the beginning of time.

When the weekend seems never-ending and you feel like you don’t have a single thing good left to give … hang in there. You are NOT alone. Monday will come and Daycare will reopen; and as you sit at your office desk surrounded by the adult company you longed for, you will find yourself daydreaming about those sticky, chubby hands around your neck.

 

My point isn’t that misery loves company… but merely a gentle reminder that you are NOT alone.

The world over, moms have faced arduous moments. Moments that threatened to break them. Moments that seemed to expend all they had inside them. Moments that made them want to scream out loud: “I can’t do this anymore!” But they got through it… by sheer will, by insurmountable love; because no other choice exists but to keep ploughing on.

And when they had climbed their respective mountains and reached the other side where the sun shines so brightly, they realised that they COULD do it. They had it in them all along.

And so do you.

Exhausted, frustrated, sleep deprived mama: on those days that seem unending, in the groundhog existence of feed, change, sleep and repeat … just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Keep ploughing on. This too shall pass.