Tag Archives: parenthood

Adventure Clubs Unpacked – and WIN!

If you’re a parent, have a smart phone and haven’t been living under a rock, you would know all about Adventure Clubs. No?

If you don’t have that there app on your phone, it’s time you downloaded it. Adventure Clubs offers exciting planned experiences (outings/adventures) for families with young kids. Fun is had, memories are made – and it’s all planned for you! What Adventure Clubs are trying to do, is facilitate a lifestyle of community and intentional parenting… which I couldn’t agree with more.

It’s easy as pie to get involved. You download the FREE Adventure Clubs app, scroll through all the available adventures in your area, pick the ones you’re keen to join in on and book your place (obviously, get your fellow mama friends in on it because all adventures are more fun with a friend!). You pay for each adventure using your credit card, which is saved on the app for future bookings. It honestly takes a few minutes to book yourself in on any adventure.

So far, we’ve been to watch the ducks parade at Vergenoegd Wine Estate, hopped on the Cape Wheel at the V&A Waterfront after dark (followed by a mug of hot choc), and most recently built a Gingerbread House at Vovo Telo Artisanal Bakery in Steenberg. SUCH FUN! You rock up, meet the adventure leader, get going and ENJOY! Also, they don’t cost the world.

Research shows that the number one indicator of the future happiness of a person is the happiness found in their childhood relationships. Adventure Clubs exists to support the parent-child relationship by building strong families through intentional memory making. And what makes it all the more fun is that adventures are experienced together with other families.

A First: 

Founded by mom-and-dad team, Janelle and Jedd Schroy, Adventure Clubs is a ‘mobile first’ tech company with the only child-focused, group experience based app for both Android and iOS. Parents can turn on their location and browse the various adventures based on a 150km radius of their location to find the adventures that are the best for their family’s interests, schedules and budget. Adventures are offered at all different days and times (and are often repeated), so regardless of each family’s school, work, or extracurricular activities, there are adventures available for everyone.

We had a ton of fun (and mess and some sucking icing straight from the piping bag) on our gingerbread house building adventure. The kids shared a house (lesson 1: in sharing) and tried not eat the sweets before the house was even up (lesson 2: in patience). And then once built, we had to get it home (lesson 3: in growing 4 more arms to ensure our masterpiece did not cave in on drive home). So really, there was parent-kid bonding and so much more. And it DID NOT involve me IN the kitchen (or cleaning up!) WIN!

And now, it’s your turn to WIN!! Adventure Clubs would love to spoil YOU with a free Adventure for you and your kid/dies.

* Like the Our Greenish Life page on Facebook
* Comment on the Facebook thread mentioning one of the three outings we’ve already been on with Adventure Clubs.
* Entries close on Wednesday 20th December, 2017 and the winner announced on my Facebook page.

(Adventure to be redeemed by mid Feb 2018)

For ant more info, and to download the app, find Adventure Clubs here: Website, App Store, Google Play, Facebook and Instagram.

Come on! Join in the adventure!!

3+ months in with 3 kids… and this is what I’ve learnt 

Had you told me 5 years ago that I’d have 3 kids under 5 I would’ve laughed AT you (that crazy, ‘you’re ridiculous’ kind of laugh). But here we are. And I’m so fortunate.

Looking at my littlest bub, I’m OVERWHELMED by her perfection. Her beautiful strong fingers, the perfect veins on her eyelids, her chubby legs and gargly smiles. Ah. I’m completely smitten. My kids are just incredible. And I remind myself of this often, especially during the times of silently and inwardly screaming pretty profane language in my head.

And so it’s becoming more and more clear, as we grow into this family rhythm of 5, what exactly I’m learning. I’m winning at times, and failing a lot. I’m drinking a fair amount of wine and am currently completely addicted to Masterchef Australia. It’s ‘mommy’s show’ and the family knows not to bother me. Well, all except for Brea.

So here it is. My list of what I’ve learnt in 3 months with 3 kids.

It’s loud. Kids are loud. It’s like they’re attached to amplifiers. They scream. A lot. My kids like to scream to the North Pole for Father Christmas. Yep. Noise. All the time.

The demand is high. Physically, be it for a toy, or some water, or to be fed, changed, or carried. To be rocked, or bounced, or sung to. Mentally, to negotiate eating noodles and salad and sibling rivalry. The logistics and importance of eating at the table, answering hard and ridiculously unrealistic questions while treating them as important, all the while encouraging number and letter recognition with a smile on my face. How to remember the wipes, nappies, a blanket, dummy, suncream, extra clothes and wrap before an outing. And that’s only for one kid. The bag packing, laundry folding, dry-Pronutro-stuck-to-the-bowl washing. It goes on, and on, and on… You get the point. Tip: just don’t ever sit down. It saves you inevitable disappointment. Trust me.

– The child in the middle seat of the car can quickly learn how to put the dummy in the newborns mouth. Win.

– Have a First Aid kit on you at all times. Your chances of needing it have skyrocketed exponentially.

Know your priorities/goals and gather as much energy as you can muster to CHASE THEM. Want to lose weight? Don’t even think about the run before hand, just throw your shoes on and walk out the front door. Grocery shopping: take a list (because baby brain x3 is outrageous) and hit it hard. Want to eat healthy? Just don’t waste time wandering down the sweet aisle. All it will result in is recognizing your incredibly weak self control and another voice message from your hubby of a screaming baby.

– As a mom, you can say no. “Can we watch TV/eat chocolate/beg for more treats/be demanding?” NO. And that’s that. Invigorating. (Why is this so hard to do?).

– You will love #3 as much as #1. It’s mathematical. It works out. It’s miraculous.

Expectation management. Be VERY realistic about expectations of outings, yourself, patience levels, frustrations with your hubby (internal ‘who is doing more’ calculations), potential sleep-deprived grumpiness, how much you can and can’t do in a day, how often you’ll have to reheat your coffee or never finish a sentence. We are not all Erin Brockovich.

– Always, always, always, ALWAYS use a breastfeeding pillow. I’ve learnt this the hard way THREE times now. Your functioning wrists, neck and back are essential for life. In case you were wondering. Also a yoga ball. Take my word here – just buy one.

– Make it a RULE to have ‘me time‘. Shopping, a massage, a haircut, a run, coffee or drinks with your girls. It.WILL.save.you.

Laugh at yourself. Enjoy a good cry in the shower. Roll with it. Wear that mom-bun with pride. Sleep with white noise on. Allow yourself to dream. Grow a Village. Pray. Sleep at every given opportunity.

Now I’m sure there are way more really deep, meaningful and profound things I’ve learnt, but obviously I can’t remember them – because I have 3 kids. That’s enough to remember.

DIY Dummy Clips

I have recently become good friends with someone who is a kindred spirit in every sense of the word. We are so like minded it’s creepy. When copy each other’s baking ideas, pinterested pins, home DIY and kids crafts. We also both also find it thrilling to score a good deal and stock up on our kids’ clothes a season in advance. The what’s apps fly between us, with quick online sales, ideas for Christmas crafts, the best place to get this or that, and a mutually shared celebration of a deal scored.

So this is the latest. Dummy Clips. I remember buying a certain brand named baby clip for my first born, and it was about R80 and I lost it a week later. Fail.

Not even being sure if my third would take a dummy (our second vehemently rebelled and re-fused) I wasn’t going to risk buying a dummy clip at that price.

My kindred spirit buddy showed me what she had done – made dummy clips for under R10. So I asked her to show me her ways… and here’s how we (she) did it!

What you need to buy: 

– Silver clip (R6.00)

– 20cm of fabric ribbon (R1.00)

– That plastic platted ‘rope’ (R0.30)

What you need at home: 

– Matches, scissors, needle, thread.

How to: 

Cut the ribbon to the length you want it and singe the ends with the matches. Hand stitch (or sew) the one end of the ribbon around the silver clip loop, and the other end around your rope…

Melt the ‘plastic rope’ together to form a loop. Hide the melted part of the rope where the ribbon has been stitched.

Attach it like follows and you’re done!

I can’t because…

One Saturday morning I was getting things ‘done’ with my 3yr old pottering about while my husband and youngest slept. I was doing the random stuff, the sorting and tidying kind, and while feeling somewhat distracted by my child’s needs, I found a colouring in book that I overemphasized the awesomeness of to try and distract him so that I could continue doing my thing. 

I managed to start colouring in a frog ‘on his behalf’ (as you do), ready for him to take over. “You continue coloring this buddy”, I encouraged. “No mommy, you colour it”. “Ahh, sorry buddy, I have – ” and I stopped myself. Because I was about to say “I have things to do.”

I struggle with this all.the.time. I’m such a do-er. And the podcast I was listening to the other day by our friends at Artisan reminded me how we naturally tend to do what we love doing. I like being busy. I like feeling productive. And while I LOVE (adore) my kids, an hour on the floor colouring is HARD for me. Who am I kidding… 10min on the floor colouring is hard work for me. The reading of the 8th story at bedtime is exhausting, and honestly I rush through it. All the while knowing my days of being invited to cuddle are numbered.

All this calls for sacrifice. Arghhhh. The dying to self kind. Something we’re not drawn to naturally.

(This is so evident in parenthood, but I think it spills over into anything. Working too much overtime for a bosses approval, earning more money to feel more powerful or validated, the accumulation of ‘things’ to feel successful).

I’m all about balance, but if I’m honest, I’m an awfully selfish person by nature. I hide chocolates I’ve bought from my husband so I don’t have to share, sneak in a secret brekkie with my friend Nats after our suuuuuuper long (emphasis added) early morning runs and even being an (extreme) extrovert by nature, I want my own quiet time. I want to go for drinks with my girls, and watch TV series in bed uninterrupted with my husband. I want to make good food with friends and go for a jog when I wish. I want to grab a coffee and blog. I want to create natural products while listening to the latest Sons & Daughters album. I want to make my garden pretty, plant new herbs and spring clean (often). I want to be productive. Soooo, building a block tower with my 1.5yr old for the gazillionth time (especially when he’s not really paying attention) feels hard.

I’m doing my best to say ‘yes’ more often. Within reason. I know full well that healthy mom/dad = healthy family and so I’m trying to give of myself, knowing I need to recharge and try to figure out exactly what that looks like for me.

With all that said, here are my top tips on how to bring about balance and diminish the guilt:

1. Create Rhythms: In our home, Friday nights are homemade pizza nights and Saturday mornings are pancake breakfasts mornings. (Saturday mornings were Park Run mornings but somehow we morphed it into pancakes instead – go figure.) We’re also trying to get the kids amped on washing our cars on Sundays. Hmmm… not as easy. I’m sure once they realize it’s something normal people pay for, an exchange of money will be involved.

2. Encourage Traditions: Be it on birthdays, anniversaries or the beginning of school holidays, have ‘your thing’ that is a constant. Maybe the first day of school holidays you pull out the annual pass to the Aquarium, hit the beach, or make a big ice cream, waffle and milkshake brekkie. Since our kids are Canadian, we make an effort to celebrate Canada Day and Canadian Thanksgiving (with some good old salmon, poutine and maple syrup ‘eh?).

3. Prioritize Values: Eat together at the dining room table, or go for a short walk around the neighbourhood just before dinner. What are you doing already that you can use to incorporate your family and have it be meaningful (such as time together eating or exercising)?

4. Play: Play ‘rough and tumble’ on the bed (thanks husband), or hide and seek in the house. Lie on the lounge floor and let your kids roll over you (for when you’re feeling particularly uninspired orrrrrr pregnant with your second and have as much energy as a kid post sugar-crash). Play sport, or dress up, or in the garden outside. Play with water, chalk, paint, on a trampoline or on a home-drawn hopscotch pattern on the ground. Play by baking – and reward yourself with edible treats (obviously).

5. Try put your phone down (and then give yourself time to use it!): Argh, I’m SO bad at this, but I recently read this article and it opened my eyes right up! WOWZER. Make certain rooms in your house or times of the day ‘NO PHONE’ rooms/times.

‘Starting your day by checking the phone is like flipping a switch from peace to productivity … from loving nurturer to grumpy manager … from present to absent. Reaching for the phone takes you out of your cozy pajamas-clad world and catapults you into the fast-paced, information overloaded world. Once your mind leaves your loved ones and fixates on all the things you need to do, it’s hard to come back—so hard to come back’. (Hands Free Mama)

6. Get the kids to bed early and then RE-LAX: You’ve kicked ass, or maybe not, but it’s done and dusted. Feet up, glass of wine, slab of chocolate, long chat with your bestie, put on a movie, eat comfort food, think, sing, write, read.

7. Get Away: Most people know someone who has a little cabin in the mountains or a timeshare needing to be used up, some extra flyer miles or a camp site begging for a bonfire. Do what you can find these avenues and take time away. It absolutely doesn’t need to cost you the earth. It shouldn’t. And if you can’t think of anywhere to go and can’t muster up the energy for the mile long list of to-do’s before departure, then borrow a tent and camp out in your back garden (or lounge if you don’t have a garden).

Of the 7 suggestions, grab one or two things that stick out and that you know you can try implement without it completely killing your mojo and go for it. And, can I just say, life is hard. Life was not meant to be done alone. There is DEPTH and TRUTH to ‘being a Village’ and Ubuntu theology. We’re in this together. And you’re doing alright.


Being Silly and Being Called Silly

Today in the car on the way to school, our toddler called himself silly. He was trying to fit little square books into a little box and one fell out by accident and he said – “ahhhgggg I’m so silly”. No big deal, or is it?

Let’s not overthink this one, but in a generation of so much bullying, nastiness, self-esteem issues and peer pressure (from a horrifically early age) maybe we should be teaching our kids to think differently. I recently overheard an interview with a child psychologist and she was saying that self-talk is one thing we, as parents, friends, grandparents and siblings, can be extra aware of and encourage the health of. How your child talks to THEMSELVES is, quite obviously, very important.


So after I nipped the silliness speak in the bud, I went on and on, listing the things that he was: loved, kind, funny, smart, thoughtful, imaginative, fun, gorgeous, valued, important, caring, wonderful, and and and. I know, what a way to swing that one around huh?

kind words

While I’m most probably purely to blame for the silliness speak (I often call my husband ‘Billy’ as in Silly Billy) and while it’s not THAT big of a deal really, maybe let’s give some thought to how we talk to (and about) ourselves, our kids, our spouses (eek) and our friends, LET ALONE strangers; the petrol attendant, or the shop cashier, or the post office clerk.

Let’s find the balance between being silly (in an awesome, fun, laughter-filled way) and calling someone Silly (in a demeaning, derogatory way). There is a difference, even if it’s a little blurry.

Then this picture popped up on Facebook and it punched me in the stomach. Not because my toddler was calling himself silly, but because life is hard, nasty words get thrown around, and you can’t control it all. It’s heavy, but true.

How about we add some Dr. Seuss to the mix, to brighten up the mood. We LOVE Dr. Seuss in our house.

Dr. Seuss

And so while we work on the ‘silly’ word in our house, know we’re fighting the STINKY word too. Only bums and feet are stinky in our house. And the todd(ler), in his wildly sneaky wisdom, has started calling things sting – as in he’s leaving off the ‘keeeey’. Sting(keeeeey). Tough one.

As Ellen DeGeneres says, at the end of every Ellen show “Be kind to one another”.

unwholesome speak

Picture credit: www.etsy.com, www.thesimplybeloved.com, sweethoneytothesoul.com.  

The sky is blue and, well, grey

I’m currently reading Shauna Niequist’s ‘Bread and Wine’ and in it she talks about a New Years party that she planned, fairly idyllically, which turned out to be a bit of a mess and nothing like she imagined, but the real rawness of the experience trumped any previously wished-for perfection.

Today, was that day. A beautiful mess. And I think we need to hear these stories to be encouraged.

It all started yesterday when I dropped my toddler at school and learned about the pajama party that was to be held at school, the.following.day. ‘Dressing gowns and all’ she mentioned. Dressing gown? Clay doesn’t own a dressing gown. Bad parent. So, an urgent call to my mom on the side of the road rectified that – she was all over it. A gown, she would find. I could relax.

The dressing gown was located and purchased; crisis averted. We wrapped it up, and added it to the inappropriately large pile of presents for Clay’s 3rd birthday, the next day. Cupcakes were baked & iced, gummy snake sweets packed, balloons blown and streamers strewn. Supermom here, is all over it. Oh, and did I mention my husband is in Florida?

Birthday Day arrives (bearing in mind I’m leaving out the night before and HAVING TO sleep RIGHT NEXT TO the packed up gummy snake sweets, and frantically washing Clay’s winter PJs at 9:30pm because they had, should we say, a public bathroom stench and of course it was PJ party day that next day) aaaaand… we’re up, at 5:30am. Birthday Day.

The day started (early) with kids fighting over toys, bedding and trying to Skype their dad who was in a time zone 6 hours behind us. About 317 crackly frustrating calls later, dad was able to join in the birthday festivities on audio. Birthday songs were sung and presents were ripped open and barely looked at before the next one was pounced upon. Coffee spilled, carefully selected clothes given as presents ‘not needed’ apparently – announced by the birthday king himself – and the base plate of Lego (upon which one builds duplo) had a picture of a Lego house which was nowhere to be seen (obviously, because it’s just a picture illustrating the use of the base plate, not advertising a house that COMES with a base plate) – but try explain that to a toddler. On his birthday. When birthday hyperactivity is on overload, and no one is of sound mind. It was nothing short of a small World War. No one wanted to be changed (into clothes or now clean, barely dry, winter PJs). No one wanted anything but beautifully decorated cupcakes for breakfast, and, with a few fights and strong short phrases spoken (either threatening or bribing, I can’t remember), off to school we went.

Leaving 20min early, and driving at roughly 15km per hour to school with 16 delicately decorated cupcakes balancing precariously on the front seat of the car, I barely made it on time.

I joined in for the Birthday Ring at his school, armed with my iPhone to capture every precious, perfect, proud-mom moment. I arrived to see a dirty, crown-less Birthday Boy because why would you wear a crown with a huge 3 on it when it’s your 3rd birthday? Our little treasure had chosen a blue rabbit toothbrush from the school gift box as his present. Well done my son, that’s very practical, your father would be proud.

Since my folks had an prior engagement on the birthday evening (and hubby was away), I thought I’d invite my mother-in-law, sister-in-law and Clay’s 2 cousins for a post-school cuppa and play at a coffee shop around the corner. What construed between school and the coffee shop involved almost being attacked by a dog (jumping into our car off the street), driving back to draw money, fill up with petrol, have my bank card decline… AAAAAND now I’m running late. And then, because, well, why not… I happened to drive past the coin operated machine thing outside our local grocery store. Bad move Debbie, bad move. Worse than your son not having a gown mid-winter. I hate those coin operated things. Clay screamed for me to stop the car as if someone was dislocating his limbs, slowly, one at a time. I considered calling off the coffee date altogether and suggest we abandon the beautiful playground location I had chosen, and replace it with the plastic, dirty, paint chipped tractor outside Checkers. That would be nice.

Just as we pulled into the parking lot, I turned around to see… Clay fast asleep. By this time the blog post was writing itself. There were desperate phone calls made, the waking of sleeping children (as if I had missed that parenting class), tears, mess, spills, babychinos not big enough, very, very stinky diapers (I chose not to care); there was chaos, cold coffee, wet socks, and babies eating raw pizza dough intended for children to play with, and then cook. Just what I’d imagined this 3rd birthday to look like.

As we drove home, Clay looked out the car widow and said ‘mom, the sky is blue, and, well… grey’. That was just it. That was our day.

I’m just like Shauna. I like things neat and tidy (and in a box with a bow; raffia if we’re going rustic, ribbon if we’re going fancy). And today despite my desperate, genuinely pure and noble intentions toward a small human I adore with every cell of my entire self, was not neat, certainly not tidy, and in a box torn apart as quickly as birthday present paper is ripped to reveal its contents (albeit, not clothes apparently – gowns included). Daddy was far away, the red icing (which had to be RED RED and not just RED) tasted, to me, more like food colouring than icing, Clay guzzled his gummy snake with manners cavemen would’ve shunned, the stench of the day was of Clay’s unsavoury nappy (that I could not gather enough energy to change), and the conversation over coffee was disjointed, bitsy and desperate for adult connection.

But that’s just it. That’s us. That’s the real life underneath the Pinterest life. And it’s okay. The mess. The ideal is so seldom a reality, if ever. Be it in marriage, or vocation, in parenthood or trying to celebrate a 3 year old – so much of it is beautifully blue, wonderful, crisp, warm, clear, bright. And then there’s the grey. The hard, tiring and messy. Just as real, and just as okay.

And then out of nowhere (literally) my boy says ‘hey thanks mom for a wonderful day’ and then we headed home, quite weary. And as the lights switched off at 4pm (thanks to load shedding) we snuggled on the ground playing Lego on the new base plate that didn’t come with a house.

And it’s all okay, better than ok. It was beautifully blue, with a bit of grey.