Tag Archives: memories

My 1 year old. I miss you.

Earlier this week I sat with my 1 year old on my lap, and cuddled koala bear style – something she never, ever does. It was such a (rare and) beautiful moment, I didn’t want to flinch in fear she would decide this was not her preferred resting spot. I looked down at her eyelashes which were stuck together with fresh tears from the minutes before, and gave her a firm squeeze soaking up the moment, breathing it alllll in, and the words ‘I miss you’ whispered from my mouth. I miss you?

She hadn’t cuddled me like that since she was a newborn. She is not the sit-still cuddly type. My mom always used to say how I just ‘sat’ on her lap. No fuss, no rush, no fidgeting. How I wish my daughter would do this. But once on me, she wants to climb off me but then straight back on and roll off the side and squeeze through that and then back on but this way… and by then my wrists are aching… again.

I miss you? What a weird thing to think. I mean she was right there. With me. Tummy to tummy, arms tucked under mine, head nestled under my chin.

A thought hit me. We recently had our floors redone. The guy who helped us was wonderful, but he was rushed. Always. He did a fantastic job and I’d definitely recommend him and his company to anyone in need of new floors – but I always felt like I was interrupting him when I had a question. We couldn’t verbally process the change, bounce ideas, brainstorm thinking (sure, it is just a floor so it’s not like I was dealing with an architect) and while he was happy for us to try samples and take them home and sit with them and offer advice, I always felt like he was in a hurry. It always felt like he had something on… something next. At the end of the day it was business.

And THAT IS ME. I’m busy. I like being productive. The next thing that needs to happen – that’s on my mind. I like feeling like I’ve accomplished something. I’m a 7 on the enneagram which means I’m go-go-go. I want to do-do-do, experience-experience-experience. I want to swell all experiences to their absolute maximum; ice cream on the beach walk, breakfast after a Saturday morning run, a hot coffee en route to work, a sneaky glass of wine with a girlfriend. Optimistic, spontaneous, a joy-scout, ambitious, and certain we can always squeeze in a little more of something.

Am I too busy ensuring my child gets an invite to Uncle Paul’s Christmas Party that I don’t actually enjoy Uncle Paul’s Christmas Party? Am I too busy filling a schedule I have not a hot clue whether we’re off to swimming or tennis (we don’t play tennis, so it could only be swimming but you know what I mean). Does this contribute to my impatience at car seat buckles, my perceived stressed-ness come school time and my frustration at my kids not.being.fast.enough. Am I about to looooooose the plot because Brea is crying, again? The need. I’m always fulfilling a need. It’s transactional. Is it all businessey like my floor friend? I know my answers are not dire. I know my kids get a better version of me that I sometimes give myself credit, but why did I miss her? (On a practical level I’m with her all morning and then every afternoon, I’m still breastfeeding her to sleep and having tea parties and trying to brush her 5.5 teeth and in reality she lives on my hip like velcro. So why miss her?)

This long cuddle was something surreal. This warm little body, clinging to mine. Her arms wrapped around my front. Her little snuffly sounds as she tired to breathe through her snotty nose. No phone, no noise (fortunately I’d just made meringues and the boys were happily preoccupied with those), no rush. NO NEED TO DO OR BE anywhere else. No need to do anything BUT BE THERE. I need more of those moments.

Let the floor guy and my blissful cuddle remind you to stop. And be there.

Because you can’t push pause

So today, my eldest finished Playschool. And this is only Playschool number 1, as in, his first, before his next. We’re not even heading to Gr R or Primary School yet. And oh man, it was emo.

I’ve LOVED this school. Like a heart and soul gushy love.  It genuinely seemed like yesterday we’d paid the deposit from Canada and were so stoked our eldest was booked into this epic, rustic farm-school for the upcoming 2 years. 2 YEARS! That’s an eternity. Considering the kid was only 2.5 when he started it was pretty much the next half of his life I had planned. I remember the first day – so clearly – thinking to myself ‘we’re sorted. For the next TWO WHOLE YEARS. I don’t need to think about anything school-ish for a looooong time’. And here we are.




THE BIGGEST, most irritating cliche of alllllll time, is how fast time flies. But it’s sooooooo truuuuue. Time is a total conundrum. I can’t even remember being pregnant, and I was pregnant 11 weeks ago. It baffles us, confuses us, shocks us and freaks us the heck out.

Because my son is turning 5, and heading to a bigger Playschool next year and WHEN WAS HE EVEN BORN? I can barely tell you that.

Sure, my memory is way below average, and so I don’t have that in my favour, but I just can’t wrap my head around it. How do I slow down and embrace this all? Because I swear, next minute, our daughter will be an angel in that nativity play and the disbelief will be real.

Often when it’s inappropriate to be on your phone at the dinner table or out with friends or when your kid is painting the walls behind you, that old quote by Jim Elliot comes to mind. “Wherever you are, be all there”. This is one of the few things I can hold onto when these days FLY past.

Jim Elliot

Wherever you are (esp. with your kids), be all there. Put down the phone, talk in the car, build his Lego, paint her nails, walk slower, bake, dance, read, engage, interact, absorb, embrace, feel the feelings, hum the tunes, create the rhythms, start the traditions, write down the memories. Live IN that space. Because it’s moving. The sun will rise and the sun will set. And you can choose how to invest yourself while it’s up.

(Cue the tears… and the wine).

A good time or a good story

This post is nothing other than a rambling that I started this morning while dropping my toddler off at school (and I’m posting it here for the sake of it being stored in some archive which the kids and I can read at a later stage). Can I even call our toddler a toddler? I feel like with the smart-ness of his specs and his un-be-liev-a-ble memory, I can’t actually call him that anymore.

A great life motto we picked up from a dear friend in Vancouver when something doesn’t go QUITE like we planned is this: It’s either a good time or a good story. Store that gem in your brain files.

So while dropping off my post-toddler toddler at play school this morning, our past weekend experience popped up in conversation. You know the one about the flea infestation, the buying of 4 doom foggers, the family camp out in the kitchen and the vomiting? No? Oh well – brace yourselves.


Our family was DESPERATE (read: des-per-ate for more effect) for a weekend away. There is WAY too much going on in our lives and the Bainskloof family cottage was our light at the end of the tunnel. Change of jobs (involving some shenanigans by the ex-company which we are VERY glad is an EX), on-going building renovations, constant drilling and noise, and and and… called for some very much needed time.out. The week leading up to Bainskloof started with vomiting from the youngest, then conveniently passed to eldest (post-toddler toddler) which then settled, and juuuust when we thought we’d dealt with it, nope, it came right back. Great. Then hubby started, and let’s just say the next few days were a blur of all things we dont like to admit we have. Let’s just call it gastro-esque.

I’d been in emergency at hospital that week myself at 5:45am one morning (long story, it’s all good) and so listen, with the family barely holding on by a thread, as Thursday night/Friday morning approached, we had our eyes on the prize – a weekend at Bains. Just us, no noise, only sunsets, braais, hammock sleeping, the river… bliss. Did I say no noise?

So, even with hubby and I both functioning around 50% of normal capacity, we did it. We packed the car to.the.brim. Food, clothes, nappies, camp cot, bedding, pillows, linen, swimming cossies, bikes, toys, books, balls, running stuff, mozzie repellent, fan to keep mozzies away (I HATE mozzies), sunscreen, medical aid kit, not enough warm clothes, our kitchen sink – you name it, we’d packed it. We loaded the family in the car, handed them some milk tart to stuff in their faces and off we set for the 1hr15min drive which only took us 2hr30min on a Friday leaving at 2pm. Yup. We should’ve known things were going south. But let’s stay positive.

We ARRIVE. Hallelujah. Let’s all get out the car and kiss the dusty, dry Bainskloof ground.

Here’s where I’ll speed up the weekend for the sake of you all reading the longest post ever.

Drop bags/beds/linen in cottage. Find flea on smallest child. Think nothing of it (other than I hadn’t seen one since we had a dog). Find flea on post-toddler toddler, think “that’s strange”. Find flea/s on myself. OH SH*T, the cottage is infested with FLEAS. Hubby and I look at each other in despair. Hubby frantically removes bags/beds/linen from cottage. No energy in reserve tank for this. Big undies need indeed be worn (if they’re not flea infested already). *Sigh.

What do we do? With one Doom fogger on hand we fog the place and decide to leave that night after sunset. We thought we’d hit the river, have a braai, leave after dark with sleeping kids in the car. Then we decide we don’t actually WANT to go home (besides the fact that we’ve mustered all our energy to just GET THERE). Decide to check out some chalets across the road for the night. Decide to not pay R400 to sleep for 6 hours. Neighbour offers flea-free mattresses. We gratefully accept. We camp out on the floor of the kitchen (a separate flea-free dwelling) – a family sleepover. The things kids’ dreams are made of. Kids are LOVING it. There are only about 5 things to do at Bains: braai (and eat), go throw stones and swim in the river, melt marshies, watch the sunset and sleep. We’ve done them all. Kids think we’re winning.

After another session of Doom fogging (apparently one wasn’t enough for the buggers – the greenie in me screaming inwardly at the thought) and proper ventilating, we managed to move back in the following night and enjoy the rest of our weekend, along with some projectile vomiting from both kids (ahhh good, seems we brought the bug with us) and more than our fair share of necessary nappy changes on the youngest. Gross. Both kids poopy and vomity and refusing to eat their boerewors rolls, but desperate as desperate gets for s’mores. Do your kids also not swallow over-chewed meat? Mine neither. Do you also try enforce the no dessert without dinner rule? Us too. Makes for a good time. S’mores consumed, then vomited, then time for bed. No bathing, no teeth brushing (and certainly no flossing), barely a change of clothes was had – how we roll in survival mode.

Sunday morning brought with it more joy and happiness (and less projectile anything). Lots of cuddling in the hammock, story reading and counting gum tree pip/seed things. Post-toddler toddler content as. Pancakes, milo (bad idea in retrospect) and left over marshmallows filled the morning with delight. My phone had died the Friday night (and we’d brought the wrong charger) so the entire weekend was phone free (and this post clearly photo free). Something I struggle to force myself to do, but when it’s forced upon me, it’s FAN-TASTIC.

So just when you think your day is going bad… ask yourself? Did you have a flea infestation and two vomming children with you?


On the bright side, let’s think about what we learnt:

– all jobs are better with a friend (such as cleaning vom or shoving the post-toddler toddler to your spouses side of the bed).
– s’mores solve a lot of things
– Bainskloof has the most incredible sunsets
– watching our kids throw stones into the river and splash about makes it so worth it
– the smell of a wood braai out in nature releases happy hormones I’m sure
– the thought of how content our kids are in silence and with no toys
– getting away from noise really does clear your head
– the EXPERIENCE is (almost) ALWAYS worth the effort.

Your turn! Tell me your good story…

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One year on…

And so here we are. Today, we are 1 year back in South Africa. And we’re a bit more worn, a bit more tanned, a year older (and hopefully wiser), and reflecting on what a wildly immeasurably beautiful 4.5 year stint in Vancouver did to us, and who we are today.

Backdrop 1

cuuute pic of clay

family shoot
KF family

I’m an idealist. I grew up in one beautiful, warm, safe and happy house (which coincidentally, my husband I are about to buy from my parents and where we hope to raise our kids). Growing up, my friends, church and school were all around the corner. Life was happy, simple, neat and tidy.

And then I met my now husband and traveled with him, moved to Durban, traveled more and then took the big leap to Vancouver. Life got a bit messier.


Neat and tidy and messy were all good. But as I’ve grown, I’ve had to tone down on the idealism and accept more of the realism. I can’t commit myself to living in one house my whole life (which is only 1 of the things I naturally expected to happen).

I think that’s one of the deepest lessons I’ve learnt. Life is messy and not straight forward. It can be hard, raw, challenging, joyful, beautiful, mysterious, and unknown, and often (always?) out of our control. Admitting that is hard for me. I like control. And so, if I have learnt ONE lesson over the last year it’s this – while life is beautiful, it is not wrapped in its beautiful perfectly square box, with crisp neat corners, its Pinterest style (as much as I LOVE Pinterest) paper with its ribbons and raffia. We might move, we might stay, we might travel, we might change. We roll with the punches. And I’ve learnt that there is a very beautiful depth to the mess. And often, we NEED the mess to keep us real.

But even more pressing is my other HUGE life mantra: experience trumps stuff. EXPERIENCE TRUMPS STUFF. No question. Hands down.

So here they are… MY OBSERVATIONS… 1 year on.

In South Africa there are so many good people doing so many good things.

It is harder to stay green.

It is easy and important to be growing your own food. I can’t wait to get chickens.

Traffic is hectic.

Coffee is better than it was 5 years ago.


The mountain is extraordinary. Life here is in full colour.

There is no place like home.

Crime is real, and it makes me concerned.

People don’t change, are loving, caring and look out for each other.



Seattle friends

Conversations with strangers are easy.

It is been hard hard hard HARD to find a church after our experience at Regent and Artisan. 

I feel really, really privileged to have had my kids in Canada.

debs pregnant

Don’t underestimate education.

I love how car guards interact with the boys and help them out of the trolley and into the car.

Runners/cyclists greet each other and encourage each other on the roads which is awesome. It’s not safe to run alone at night, which sucks. But running with old friends (my Natalie) is life giving.

People are generous.


Our government is abominable. Parliament is hard to watch at times.

My kids play in mud, feed farm animals and get messy and barely ever ever ever wear shoes.

clays first day at school

Internet and free wifi is scarce (and slow).

HEROES are born and raised here.

EXPERIENCES trump things hands down.

I LOVED Christmas in the snow.

christmas in the snow

Betienne Snow

Time and space between true brotherly and sisterly friends really doesn’t change all that much.

Watching your children play with their cousins is a gift.

We have amazing sports teams.

I have more of a hunger to see and do more (when my allergy towards all airports calms down – travelling for 6 weeks with two small children halfway across the world is still exhausting to think about).


Seemingly small things, can make BIG change.

Despite loving news and sport, I have no real interest in having a TV.

Community (be it local or international) is invaluable.

Community in NZ


And now since my husband Theran and I are so different (really, sometimes I wonder how we actually got married…), I thought I’d include his:

Education gives you new eyes and ears for the world. You cannot quantify its value.

White people in Cape Town need to catch a wake up. White privilege is not an attack on white people, its a reality needing attention.


The mountain is different every day.

You can’t over emphasize the value of friendship – whether like minded friends around the world or lifelong friends who share your story.

Jo, donald kids
Original OM

Don’t let 5 years of tax returns build up while you are away.

Seeing your children with their grandparents, cousins, and aunts and uncles is worth so much more than the alluring pull of the ‘first world’.


Work can take more than it’s ‘pound of flesh’ from you – you can quickly find yourself consumed by obligations to an employer, whether valid or unrealistic demands, and end up sacrificing important things you shouldn’t.

Young children grow and change every day.


Family stress and tension causes more anxiety than work tension.

A swimming pool is a waste of space and money (really Theran?).

Dentists don’t do unnecessary work on your teeth (well ours doesn’t).


I’m sure there are many, many more lessons we’ve learnt which we can’t articulate quite yet… but needless to say, it’s GOOD to be back. Familiarity is a GOOD and comforting thing. Moving to Vancouver for almost 5 years was by far the best thing we have ever done (besides the obvious God, kids, marriage decisions) and I hope we’re brave enough to make more big decisions when they come our way.

Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika

The Small Things

This one is for Beth, Carrie, Amy & Katie. 

Watching Facebook, I’ve seen a fair few comments about the shallowness (harsh term, I know, or lack of depth) of recent posts. Which, I can understand.

I’ve also found myself feeling sad that very often those Facebook memories that pop up, take you back to a time when we used to write on each other’s walls and almost interact as humans (albeit online). Now it seems we’re simply reposting trending articles and sharing humorous pictures, arb celebrity statements or competition entires (nothing wrong with that – I love winning a good compo).

But something new struck me yesterday morning when my friend Carrie posted an Instagram pic online, and it’s this: how the most beautiful and profound things are often hidden within the little (seemingly normal) things. It’s not so much the artistically enhanced Madonna quote, or the breaking news about the worlds biggest sandpit, it’s the glimpses into people’s lives – and the small, quite regular activities that are real and beautiful and emotion-stirring.

Of my 4 closest Regent-wives-turn-moms who were a huge part of my community in Vancouver (we all had our kids together), Carrie is last one standing and is due to bid Vancouver farewell in the upcoming weeks. The end of an era. And yesterday morning, when this beautiful friend posted a pic of her 6 month old daughter on a picnic blanket in Almond Park with a Grounds For Coffee cinnamon bun, my heart was stirred. It was simple, normal and deeply rich – an experience anyone who has memories of a certain place will understand.

Because when you embrace it fully, I find that life really is made up of very many small moments. And those small things really matter.

Thinking about this on my way into work that morning, I swung past the post office to pick up a parcel. YAY. I love parcels! It was unexpected one, and from my friend Jo in New Zealand. She had sent me a much anticipated book, along with a block (slab) of Whittaker’s chocolate and her 3yr old sons art. Just the writing on the package struck an emotion. Nothing needed to be explained, all the contents were fairly small, normal things but each held an immense amount of meaning, memory and intentionality.

And that’s what counts. As a parent, it’s easy to click into autopilot. School lunches, bath time, brushing teeth, laundry, mismatched socks, squabbling siblings, toys EVERY-WHERE, unending mess, and nothing happening quickly enough. Then you stop, breathe and notice the smiles, the joy, the fun, the innocence in trying to pick up a snail and the winking eyes and loud giggles coming from these little humans. It’s the carefree ears-in-the-wind galloping of our dogs across the beach. It’s the warmth your lounge fireplace provides on a cold night, the getting lost in a good book or conquering of a crossword puzzle.

Sure there are the BIG things we can celebrate – and should celebrate; a new birth or adoption, the buying of your first home, or the finishing of a tough slog-filled degree. They deserve a huuuuge glass of champers. Absolutely. But I think those big ‘achievements’ often overshadow the very events that mean more (and often got us there in the first place), that occur continuously during the 24 hours we are given every day.

More often than not it’s reading the love letters from your then-boyfriend-now-husband or the taste of a $2 box of timbits that can inject one with inner joy. The sight of snow capped mountains or drinks off the back of a bakkie at sunset. It’s the endorphins that took you running around Stanley Park or climbing Table Mountain. It’s the sound of the bus stopping or the subway screeching; the smell of the sea or 7/11 (7/11 has a VERY distinct smell overseas – I think it’s that flavoured bottomless coffee). They’re like moments locked in time, all small and often mundane with deep meaning, memory, and enjoyment.

I think we forget that each and everything we decide to do, or decide not to do, collectively, forms habits, builds (or breaks down) morale, and paves a direction in which our lives then lead. And it’s the small experiences (and the gratefulness of them) that build upon one another and make all the difference.

And so be present during the weekend pancake breakfasts, the planting of herbs, jumping on a trampoline, the dripping of ice cream down a small hand, cuddling under a duvet, and reading of a storybook over and over and over again – make those moments count. Because they’re pointing towards something much bigger than what you imagine.

Don’t live on autopilot.

Starting New (Or Not)

This Valentines Day (which yes, is now like moooonths ago) for playschool, I had to dress Clay in Valentines colours, and, since I have this phobia about fairness between my boys, I dressed Ryler in Valentines colours too. I hunted through his slim selection of clothes currently available to us (most of his things are in a box on the ocean between Vancouver and Cape Town), I found one of my favourite red GAP onesies with the wording ‘Ado(RED)’.

As I dressed my little (then) 9.5 month old, I thought back to when I used to dress Clay in the same onesie, and then further back to where I got it from. In fact, I have no idea where it came from. You see my friend Beth had announced to her colleagues that I was pregnant back in the ‘Couve and being the generous Vancouverites that they are and the frugal international students that we were, a number of her work friends donated gently used baby clothes to me, via Beth. (Thanks Beth).

And so while this item of clothing has gone through 2 little people in my family, I have no idea how many it has gone through before us. I find this to be quite a beautiful thought, the idea of other little lives wearing this onesie as their mom or dad took them walking along the beach, or to the park, or to a coffee shop with friends, and how that baby could have fallen asleep on their chest like Ryler does on mine. I feel a sort of nostalgia with an unknown memory to hold onto.

Why do we glamourise consumerism so much? Needing new, and improved, and more… What do we have to prove by having more clutter, other than a gluttonous mentality and feeling as if we deserve better or newer (and I’m not judging here – I’m a great example).

The word recycling previously made me think of squashing cans between this fairly dangerous metal clamp in Primary School or smashing glass in those big igloos (what were they thinking having US Grade 6’s do that?), but has more recently challenged me to think of reusing, reducing and recycling more than my day-to-day food/packaging containers. Lets not just reuse, lets reduce. Lets share a lawnmower with a neighbour, or give someone a spare key to your swimming pool when you’ve gone away for the weekend. How about sharing a pot of soup when we have plenty to go round, buying communal land or a communal car? Let’s share our skills, and our talents, our knowledge and our spaces.

And please, let’s share baby clothes because there is honestly TOO much of it. I’m happy to pass on Ryler’s little Ado (RED) onesie to the next person in need – and expand the untold stories…

Ryler Starting New

My little Ryler in his ADO(RED) onesie