Saturday, 31 October 2015

Week 44 - Project 365

Sunday was supposed to be a day of rest and recuperation after a busy weekend collecting and processing 900 christmas gifts for Santa Shoebox, however it started around 6am packing and pledging boxes for this weekend's collection of 7000 boxes. I then spent the afternoon with friends for sunday lunch and a catch up after being in Dubai for the past 10 months.

Day 298 #onedailypositive #Uisfor #fmsphotoaday #shadow #snaphappybritmums #project365 my feet were getting hot under the South African sun

Monday I went to SABC to finally sort the TV licence, however I am stillwating for confirmation that it has been cancelled. i then drove north of Pretoria to supervise Laser Logisitics collecting the cartons for Santa Shoebox. I then went to Menlyn Mall for a bit of shopping, before going to physio.
Today's blog post was the gentle art of persuasion with teens.

Day 299 #onedailypositive #Visfor #fmsphotoaday#autumn #snaphappybritmums #project365 well it's spring in the Southern Hemisphere and the violet blossom of the Jacaranda trees in Pretoria are falling to the ground

Tuesday morning took me to Reitvlei nature reserve again and on this visit for #TimeTraveller I photographed the birds. I spent the evening in the bar with my friend, eating and drinking.

Day 300 #onedailypositive #Wisfor #fmsphotoaday#boots #snaphappybritmums #project365 finally some rain in South Africa now if we could just arrange some for when I return to Dubai

Wednesday was spent shopping in preparation for this weekends drop off, sorting and packing the van and collecting the last few donations from store_age

Day 301 #onedailypositive #Xisfor #fmsphotoaday #SelfPortrait #snaphappybritmums #project365 messing about with the camera apps on my MacBook Air

Thursday was D day, the start of collecting and processing 7000 santa shoeboxes. I was baking cakes and gluten and dairy free brownies at 6am and then I arrived early for drop off to find a pile of boxes at the door. By 7pm we had collected and processed 1347 boxes.
This weeks #HDYGG showcases Halloween in the UK.

Day 302 #onedailypositive #Yisfor #fmsphotoaday#writing #snaphappybritmums #project365 it has to be YOUR turn to write by now . I send far more letters and cards than I receive (@catherine_alwaysaredheadyou're excluded from this rant as is my mum and Louise) everyone loves to hear from The Chicken on her travels. The Chicken would love to hear from everyone else.

Friday was stressful, i'll not lie there was some tension between 'us' as the full time committee volunteers and 'them' the volunteers who come for a couple of hours, who we couldn't do without, well we could do without a few of them, telling us how to do things, which in their opinion can be done much better. I spent Friday night carving squashes ready for halloween tomorrow.

Day 303 #onedailypositive #Zisfor #fmsphotoaday#scarf #snaphappybritmums #project365 I was looking for a zebra print scarf, but thought this was better

Saturday and the last day for most people with the drop off, I'll have to tell you more about today in My Sunday Photo as we will be working from 8am till maybe midnight, using donations to make up whole boxes that either a) haven't been pledged or b) people have failed to drop off. I'll also add my photo prompt later on today.

Day 304 #onedailypositive #one #fmsphotoaday #trickortreat #snaphappybritmums #project365 I can't decide which ONE is my favourite and that green was difficult to cut so I had to abandon don the design and go simple

It's when I have weeks like this that I wish I wasn't doing the daily photo prompts and that I could instead use a PAD based on what I've actually been doing, so i've added a few more pictures to show you what drop off, processing and collection of Santa Shoeboxes actually involves.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Halloween with HDYGG?

I miss having seasons. This is our first autumn in Dubai, there aren't many trees around to watch the leaves fall from. The trees we do have lose their leaves all year round due to the heat and no rain.

In South Africa the seasons were the opposite than they are in the UK. It's spring now in South Africa. Take a sneak peak at the Jacaranda's, there will be a post dedicated to them soon.

It took a while to get used to spending Christmas in the middle of summer, yet last christmas despite us now being back in the Northern Hemisphere and Christmas being in winter, we spent the day on the beach.

Without kids at home and no job and the weekends being Friday and Saturday, I have no idea of what day it is, let alone season anymore. I like to follow the seasons and decorate the house accordingly. The garden is proving slightly more difficult in Dubai and I'm currently in South Africa where it is spring.

And before I go any further, yes, they do have halloween in Dubai.

So I've decided to revisit our last halloween in the UK, were we had autumn and leaves on the ground

 Kids still at home who appreciated the decoration of the house.

I still bake cakes to hand out at Halloween even though my children don't take part in it anymore

I've also been known to dress up when we were in South Africa and scare the kids who knocked on the door

Finding Pumpkins large enough to carve has been difficult in Dubai and South Africa, so here are my favourite two carvings from the UK


Carved out of a Pomelo, a large citrus fruit.

I love the colours of autumn in the UK also, I love getting my boots out the wardrobe, putting wellingtons on to go for walks and adding some colour to the garden. Sadly I won't be doing any of this for a few more years, until we move back to the UK, but it's nice revisiting.

Sadly there is no/little trick or treat in South Africa, as unless you live inside a security estate it's just too dangerous to be walking door to door at night (and in the day, some places)

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

The birds of Rietvlei with Animal Tales in South Africa

Last week for Animal Tales I visited Rietvlei Nature Reserve, I returned again yesterday. At only R48, around £2 it is definitely somewhere I will be visiting as many times as possible during my trip.

There's a gorgeous tea room at Rietvlei and I need no excuse to stop and enjoy a cup or two.

I still haven't located a free bird, animal, plant app, but I found some boards in the hide with bird identification and I met a woman who helped me out naming a few.

It's spring in South Africa so there is lots of new growth and of course lots of off spring and I enjoyed watching these young birds playing in the water and cooling off.

Red Bishops and a Golden Bishop

There are several bird hides around the reserve but this one is the best as it offers the best views

White throated swallow

Goliath Heron

Egret's in flight

These two seems to be firm friends, more about the rhino's next week

Monday, 26 October 2015

The gentle art of persuasion with teenagers

The gentle art of persuasion with teenagers.

First things first…..
Stop challenging your teen
Stop treating them as an adult
Give them limited choices
Treat them as an individual
Don’t lecture

If you want their clothes picked up off their bedroom floor, ask yourself why you want them to do that?

What is the issue here? You dictacting how they live, your rules, it’s in their best interest, they need to learn how to look after themselves? What ever it is, you’re entering into a battle you don’t need to have.

I spent many years trying to keep up with the washing with 4 boys, school uniforms everyday, several types of sports kits plus mine and hubbies washing and what for?

When I left hubby boys for 4 months to sort out personal problems in the UK, it was simple. If they didn’t take their clothes to the laundry basket, they didn’t get washed and in the morning when all hell broke out and dad walked out the door to work saying 'they’ll learn their lesson and can go to school in yesterdays clothes' I should’ve just followed him. As when I wasn’t there, the teens just had to go to school in yesterdays crumpled shirt, made their own lunch boxes, walked the dog, locked the door and took themselves to school, I was so obviously over parenting them, so on my return, I changed tactics and the following happened.

Chaos, sheer chaos, I didn’t have a job to go to, if I walked out the door and took myself off for the day they couldn’t get to school as they needed the car and in South Africa walking wasn’t an option. So I started giving them limited choices. If they wanted dinner then they had to help prepare it, if they didn’t want dinner they could make their own after we’d finished but a) there would be no frying of foods, no take outs and they’d have to clean up after them which meant loading the dish washer. This option wasn’t preferred, so they’d agree to chores, I’d cook and then they’d follow through with their dinner chores.

Dinner was always served around various activities but always together, there would be 3 choices for dinner and agreement would have to be made on which dish was cooked, if an agreement wasn’t reached they’d take it in turns to decide.

Remember your children are not adults but at the same time they are individuals that deserve to be heard but not if it’s just whining and whinging and they need to be reminded that although something may not be fair it doesn’t mean they have the right to go and beat their younger brother up or trash their room because although you’ve listened to their opinion, you’ve not agreed and still said no to the disco, trip, time they can stay out till etc, etc

When they complain that child a, b and or c was allowed to do something just remind them that they are not child a, b or c and that each situation is judged on its own merit and you are the parent and the decisions are made by you with their input to best suit the finances and needs of the rest of the family unit.

Don’t tell you child that they are going to do something unless you are prepared to follow it through. For example ‘go get ready we’re going shopping’ is far more effective and leaves you more leaway to work with than ‘are you coming food shopping?’ because if the child says no, what are you going to do? What is the point in asking them if they want to do something then telling them tough, they’re doing it anyway and then if you say ‘oh go on then stay at home, or the other parent can go on their own so you can look after them at home, what then? What message is that giving your child? One that they are in charge? That just gives the message that the child is in charge and dictates the parents activities. But if having answered the question with what you perceive to be the wrong answer, what then? How long before you back down, drag the child out the house, offer a bribe, give in after a massive fight, because trust me these things escalate very quickly.

Don’t ask a child what they want to do unless you’re prepared to cover every single response they could possibly come up with, you’re not teaching them any valuabke skills they can take into adulthood with them other than he/she who shouts the loudest gets the most, but unfortunalty that may work in your household for the child, but not in the big wide world and what skill do you wish your child to take with them into adult hood……putting their clothes in the laundry basket or ones where they don’t have a tantrum when they’re asked to do something they really would prefer not to?

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Week 43 - My Sunday Photo. Volunteering in South Africa

62 Santa Shoeboxes, pledged, shopped, packed, labelled and waiting for drop off number 2 to start on Wednesday.

Pretoria North drop off processed 900 boxes on Friday and Saturday. Pretoria East/Centurion will be processing over 6000 boxes. Help us help as many children as we can.

I have the following boxes to make up, as I over pledged so if anyone wants to sponsor a box or two, please let me know. The average box costs £10/R200/AED56

Boy                                                                                      Girl
Nhlonipho aged 9                                                                Lebongang aged 12
Tebohos aged 9                                                                    Keneilwet aged 12
Tumelo aged 7                                                                     Gugukethu aged 12

Santa Shoebox is very special to me, it's where I first found friendship in October 2011 when I dropped off my 5 boxes, met Brittany, Janet and Dorette and ended up staying for 5 years. Sadly this will be my last year with SSB as I now have a job and live in Dubai, but I plan to carry on raising awareness and funds for these wonderful people and the rest of the committee and volunteers to support them in the valuable work they do in the community supporting vulnerable and disadvantaged children.

Want to know more?

How you can support vulnerable and disadvantaged children in South Africa

The charities and sponsors I'm working with in South Africa 

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Week 43 - Project 365

I took a few days to adjust to be back home in South Africa, I had my hair and nails done and restarted my sessions with the Biokineticist, drunk too much wine and eaten some wonderful food in some amazing company. It only feels like 5 minutes since I was last here and not 10 months since we moved to Dubai.

For My Sunday Photo I explained the purpose of my visit to South Africa. I spent the day with friends, wedding suit shopping, had lunch at one of the malls we visited and spent the evening catching up with a friend.

Day 291 #onedailypositive #Nisfor #fmsphotoaday#dark #snaphappybritmums #project365 you can't beat an African sunset.

On Monday I went for a drive round Centurion, popped in to say hi to a friend and spent a couple of hours in the local nature reserve. I collected my friends son from school, as I used to do and had the biggest hug a 13 year old boy could give. I'm struggling a little with being back here, it's all so familiar, but I'm really aware of my personal safety right now, I'm sure it'll become 2nd nature within a few days, but with living in Dubai, it's such a huge contrast to come back.

Day 292 #onedailypositive #Oisfor #fmsphotoaday#stripes #snaphappybritmums #project365 O is for open space and skies.

Tuesday saw the start of me doing what I came to South Africa to do and that was to spend the day in Stor_age packing shoeboxes and sorting donated items. I'm going to be really spoilt for posts for Animal Tales over the coming weeks, so here's just a little taster of what I've seen already.

Day 293 #onedailypositive #Pisfor #fmsphotoaday#creepy #snaphappybritmums #project365 so it's spring in the Southern Hemisphere yet the pumpkins are behaving like its late summer. Winter in South Africa is cold, temps drop to zero. I've always found this weird/creepy

Wednesday was a pain in the backside. Prior to leaving South Africa we contacted all the companies we had accounts with to ask what they wanted us to do to cancel our accounts with them. SABC TV Company, failed to reply to our request and information that we would not be renewing our TV licence due in March as we were leaving the country in December. The only time they contact us, is in April via a debt collecting agency. The licence is in my name and they are demanding a copy of my work visa, which I don't have. I sent them copies of the export papers showing the TV had left the country but they want a signed affidavit and a copy of my exit visa, which I also don't have as I'm not South African. The debt company email every month threatening legal action, despite being told the above and keep telling me just pay and we'll go away. It's about £30, but the point is, they'll be back next year as I've been unable to cancel the renewal. Paperwork now sorted, but I do have to go back with a form signed by a Commissioner of Oaths and I happen to have one of them as a friend here.

SABC is in Hatfield a University area and one of the few places in Gauteng where you park your car and walk around the streets in relative safety. I blogged today about personal safety when solo travelling in South Africa and got caught up in the student protests.

Day 294 ‪#‎onedailypositive‬ ‪#‎Qisfor‬ ‪#‎fmsphotoaday‬ ‪#‎autumn‬‪#‎snaphappybritmums‬ ‪#‎project365‬ It is quite strange that I haven't had an autumn since April 2014 in South Africa

Thursday and I was off to SAB Miller to collect 1,700 educational packs on Underage drinking. I worked with SAB last year on a campaign to highlight the dangers of drinking underage and I'm pleased they want to work with me again on this visit. I spent the afternoon on a mammoth cake baking session to provide some treats as a thank you for all the volunteers who support us with drop off this weekend.

On this trip I've also been working with Ford South Africa who have let me drive one of their vans as I collect and ferry christmas gifts around Pretoria. Stor_age who kindly loan us storage space, as the name would suggest to use as a base and workshop. KFC donated 250 sets of bags, hats, straws and stationery and Visa gave us enough pen sets for every child on our Christmas list, totally nearly 7000 children.

Day 295 ‪#‎onedailypositive‬ ‪#‎Risfor‬ ‪#‎fmsphotoaday‬ ‪#‎practising‬‪#‎snaphappybritmums‬ ‪#‎project365‬ R is for Resources. Using every last ounce of energy I have to help an amazing team collect, check, scan and pack 7000 Christmas gifts for underprivileged children in Pretoria over the next two weeks. Although our first drop off doesn't open till tomorrow I've already had plenty of practice this week already.

Friday and it's drop off day at Pretoria North. We are only collecting and processing 900 boxes there this year as the venue really isn't big enough to collect more, but it does allow donors in the area not to drive so far. When you make a pledge online, the donor can choose the location of the drop off, the child's name, age and sex. We provide clothing sizes for each child also, which means on the celebration days we're not having to swop items of clothing around.

Day 296 ‪#‎onedailypositive‬ ‪#‎Sisfor‬ ‪#‎fmsphotoaday‬ ‪#‎shopping‬‪#‎snaphappybritmums‬ ‪#‎project‬ thanks to the generosity of our donors and sponsors we will be able to achieve our target of 7000 Santa Shoeboxes again this year 

Saturday last day of drop off here, it's been busy, tiring but very rewarding. Laser Logisitics will collect the cartons and take them into storage until the celebration days later this month and early December. Now it is time to regroup, tidy and clean, restock from Stor_age and go visit some more companies and individuals in regards to further donations ready for the next drop off next week.

Day 297 #onedailypositive #Tisfor #fmsphotoaday#MyTown #snaphappybritmums #project365 T is for Tshwane another name for Pretoria where I'm currently visiting.