Thursday, 31 July 2014

Why it is not okay for under 18's to drink #SAB18Plus AND win an experience voucher with your teen

The South African Breweries (SAB) launched a new responsible drinking campaign called 18+

I am one of the parents that think it is okay to sometimes pour a little bit of the wine for the teens as well. As teen growing up we always thought it was gross, and my Teen also did not like the taste of wine. Maybe we were just lucky?

Apparently it is not a good idea!
Parenting fail! (*insert red face*)

Why it is not okay!
No one under 18 should be drinking alcohol and it is up to us to stop our denial about the situation and do something about it.
  • 1 in 2 teenagers in the average South African home is a user of alcohol.
  • Yet the vast majority of parents think their teenagers don’t drink
  • Around 15% of boys and 8% of girls said that they’d had their first drink before age 13
  • People who begin drinking before the age of 15 are four times more likely to become alcohol dependent than those who have their first drink at age 20 or older
  • Teens that use alcohol are three times more likely to be involved in violent crime
  • 67% of teens who drink before the age of 15 will go on to use illegal drugs

The U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) stated in a 2010 publication that most studies show the benefits from allowing children to drink in the home or controlled environment are non-existent. In the same report, NIAAA cites a 1997 article from the Journal of Substance Abuse that says that starting to drink earlier increases the chances of developing alcohol problems.

We need to start the conversation amongst South Africans, raising the following points:
  • It is not okay to give your teenager a drink so you can “control it” 
  • It is not okay to send your child to the local tavern to get alcohol for you;
  • It is not okay to take your child to a pub with you;
  • It’s not okay to do nothing when you see teenagers drinking; and
  • It’s not okay for alcohol to be a taboo subject that we don’t discuss with our children.
One reader of this blog can win an experience voucher with your teen to use anywhere in South Africa and you have a choice of over 200 activities. Valued at R500!

The purpose of the voucher is for you and a teenager to do something you love together. While you are bonding, this is a good time to open the channels of communication and discuss underage drinking with them.

1. Please leave me a comment about what you think about underage drinking?

2. Copy and tweet the following to get another chance to win this experience.

Why it is not okay for under 18's to drink @SABreweries & Win an experience with your teen via @karentoittoit #SAB18Plus

I will notify the winner next Friday 8 August at 9am.

Twitter: @SABreweries and #SAB18Plus
To add a 18+ Twibbon to your Facebook / Twitter profile:

For the latest 18+ news, follow on: 

Photos: The two 18+ ambassadors: Melanie Bala and Robert Marawa

Monday, 28 July 2014

In search of a Spider-girl costume

We spend a good deal of our Saturday searching for a Spider-girl costume. That is for a Superhero theme at school this coming Friday.
I was not even aware that Spider-girl is a superhero, but now I know!

I thought it would be easy going to the local China Mall, but we found (of course!) some of the other superheroes costumes, but not Spider-girl! And Little Missy was adamant: Spider-girl or nothing!

I could not even convince her to use the Batman mask we exchanged at McD's to become Batwoman, or to create her own Superhero! No! Spider-girl!
(I thought it was only our Teen that was difficult shopping with, but it seems we've got a match in Little Miss!)

After much searching we found a cape with spider webs, and a mask. We will dress her in black and red. She is happy with the outfit, and yesterday we were looking at videos on how to create Spider-girl make-up. We practised painting some spider webs and spiders on her face last night!

She is counting the sleeps to Friday!

Who would have thought that parenting includes shopping for Superhero costumes and practising make-up techniques which includes spiders and spider-webs? 

Friday, 25 July 2014

Seeman's Deck & Deli - great for the kids

Seeman's Deck & Deli

We are always searching for new places to go with the Little Miss.

The preconditions include the following:
  - Great food
  - Great play area
  - Safe play area
  - Good service

We found this spot last Saturday on Beyers Naude at the Heathway Centre. They are still busy finishing off the playground on the other side. But there was more than enough to keep the children busy.

I am not that much into Seeman's, because they have a lot of meat, but most of the people that I spoke to don't have a problem with it. The food is very tasty, and for breakfast we had a great spread.

The play area definitely gets a thumbs up!

Little Missy climbed to the top,
but she felt a little bit unsure going down

We told the waiter we were in a bit of a hurry, and the service was prompt.
It was a cold day, but the parents with children were sitting outside to soak up the little bit of winter sun!

We will be going back!
Little Missy wants to try the tower slide again!

Thursday, 24 July 2014

No, today I will not stand up!

The students are protesting today about change at the North West University. They are doing it under the banner of  "Sal jy opstaan?" #saljyopstaan (Will you stand up?)

I personally won't be standing up today!

As a parent I am extremely grateful that they are finally doing something at the university.

I was appalled at the initiation practices three years back when my daughter started there as a first year. I could not believe that the same initiation practices that we were subjected to in 1985 were still being practices at a higher education institution. I complained at that stage, but was told that it is not initiation! Orientation is not the same as initiation.
This was/is initiation!
I felt like we had failed our children by allowing them to be subjected to this!

Change is a difficult thing, but it is definitely needed in this case!

I wanted my daughter to study at an institution where they are focused on learning and developing a well-rounded person, but in the first year (and even after that), they were subjected to bully behaviour where they are required to conform to the norm, or being forced out of their residences.

I am also glad to hear that other changes about the language and the culture will be instituted!
You can't keep on living in a bubble!

I am glad that the next generation of students won't be subjected to this!
Thanks North West University!

I know I am not going to be popular by saying this!
But as a parent I have to!

Related posts:

- Initiation still ongoing at university

- Initiation update - as sick as a dog!

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Coffee & Chocolate Heaven

Coffee & Chocolate Expo at Montecasino

I love love love coffee!
I love love love chocolate!

Combine these two at the Coffee & Chocolate Expo and you get a little bit lot of Heaven!

I was so lucky to win two tickets through Waiting for Meg at The Sun House blog.
(One day I will win the big cruise, or the car, but until then this was a good keep-on-filling-in-the-competitions motivation!)

I did not think I could get too much of either coffee of chocolate, but it is possible! We did not explore all the options, or I and Little Missy would have combusted in sugar and caffeine overload!

Tasting Queen

Our first coffee stop


The outdoor area at Montecasino

We had an espresso chocolate beer here

One of the many many stalls here
We did not explore all the workshops and coffee and chocolate tastings.
Next year I also want to check out the app ( that they  helped us to download with all the info and news and navigation about the expo.

Did I mention there was wine as well? There was!

Next year, definitely!

Monday, 21 July 2014

Life lessons at Woodside Sanctuary

Icing sugar being mixed for the cake decorating
I took Little Missy along last week when our office did our 67 minutes for Mandela Day at the Woodside Sanctuary. It is a sanctuary for profoundly intellectually disabled people.

I did try to prepare her by telling her that Woodside take care of older people (and children), but who have the brain capacity of children. That there are many reasons why something went wrong with their brains...

Cake decorating
We first had to help with the preparations of mixing the icing sugar. I am sure that we gave Woodside way more work by asking to "help", and that they had to accommodated us more than the actual help we could give. They are always ready to welcome us with open arms.

Little Missy said afterwards that she should have been allowed to help with the cakes. But the ladies in the kitchen knew what they were doing!

After the cake decorating we had to help with feeding the children. This is where Little Missy came face-to-face with the children. I am sure that they just saw a new kid, and that the children got very excited and got a little too much into Little Missy's face.

Luckily one of the ladies opened up a separate room where Little Missy could get a glass of cool drink, and a colouring book. Little Missy said that the children were not what she had expected. They were not "mooi", translated as beautiful.

One of the eldest residents joined us later on. She always carries her handbag with her. She only talks with grunts (or that's what I heard), but she was immediately interested in my iPad. I opened up the Toca Tailor Fairy Tales and she was very excitedly choosing outfits and accessories. The iPad would definitely make a big difference here!

Little Missy looking on 

The Eldest knows how to swipe!

I think it is good that Little Missy saw the other side. Maybe she will start to understand how nice it is to be going to a normal school, and to be able to go around on outdoor activities and outings..

We went for a Spur lunch (her choice) afterwards, and there she realised that these kids can't just quickly go out to play at a restaurant! And then we made a list of all the things that these kids/adults can't do...


The Woodside Sanctuary provides full-time care for 100 residents with severe mental deficiencies.
30 of the residents do not have the means to pay for their support, and Woodside has to fund it from their own budget. They have a budget deficit of over R600 000.
They are asking for winter donations of clothes and blankets to help keep the residents warm in the large wards.

Donations can be made here:
Woodside Sanctuary
Standard Bank
Melville Branch:  006105
Account No: 201098784

Related posts: 

- It is in our hands #MandelaDay #Do67Minutes

- 67 minutes...

Friday, 18 July 2014

It is in our hands #MandelaDay #Do67Minutes

"It is in your hands to make a difference." - Nelson Mandela, April 20 2009
It is in your hands

This is the first year we celebrate Nelson Mandela Day without our icon.

His legacy lives on in the example and inspiration he passed on to us!

We will be giving 67 minutes of our time today. I am taking Little Missy with me today when we are going to help out at Woodside Sanctuary today. I hope we can pass on the good tradition to our children. And to not only do it on a day like this, but every day!


The photos were taken at Maropeng earlier this year.


Will you be doing something special for somebody else today?


Tuesday, 15 July 2014

The dog that we wanted to give away for free is still alive and living with us

We have tried giving our Miniature Yorkshire Terrier away for free, because he is some most of the times worse than a toddler.

Our Benji Boytjie is a dog that has one brain cell, and that brain cell is focused on scavenging for food. The rest of the times he gives us a bark when he wants to go out, and a bark when he wants to come in again. It happens about 100 times a night. And when we do not adhere to his demands, we are still sometimes rewarded with a puddle of a surprise.

He had a limp in his hind legs, but since we started feeding him with Fido (what the guy at the local pet shop recommended), he has shown remarkable improvement. (To great disappointment of Hubby.)

At the vet
He started coughing the previous week, and had to be taken to the vet. (And who took him to the vet? Hubby , of course! And he had to fork out the R650. Thank you, dear Hubby!).

Benji got kennel cough. Where, and how we are not sure, because he lives in an enclosed garden, and the other dog is not sick.

We are beginning to suspect that he has a separate life during the day where he roams around... (We have caught him getting out underneath the gate where he is not supposed to be getting out.)

Benji, you are Special!
We all love you!

Monday, 14 July 2014

Animals of the Amazon at the Johannesburg Zoo

We visited the Jo'burg Zoo this past weekend. We have heard about the Animals of the Amazon exhibition, and were pleasantly surprised!

The Aquarium was really worth the visit...

Especially the overhead  walk-through part!

There were a number of mean looking snakes, but they were all warming up underneath the lamps!

Little Missy got to see her elephants after that.
She was so excited that we get to them, but after two seconds of looking she wanted to move on again! She's seen them!

It was a bit of a chilly day, but in the winter sun it did not damper the spirits, and the Jo'burg Zoo had many visitors! I was glad to see that one of my favourite spots in Jo'burg still draw in the crowds.
It is such a great activity to do with children!

One of the many playgrounds where we had to make pit stops

This post is not sponsored in any way! 

Related posts:

- Going to the Zoo is a good second best

- Two-year old's first day at the Zoo

- Trip to the Zoo, by Millenium Lady

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Ipad learning for special needs - Autism #iPadLearningZA

With the most recent iPad Learning for Special Needs workshop, Elschen Kluge, an iPad Facilitator at Think Ahead, demonstrated three apps to use in the classroom with regards autistic learners.

Most recently I came across the YouTube videos of Carly Fleischmann, an autistic non-verbal girl whom they thought was severely mentally disabled, but she started to communicate through her computer.

It made me realise just how much innate intelligence can be unlocked through the use of apps like the following on the iPad.


Not one autistic learner is the same, but it is a neurological disorder which impacts the learner with regards communication and learning, to name but two of the learning difficulties.

The communication apps are therefore essential to establish basic communication in the learning environment.

Verbal Me
This easy-to-use AAC and choice board app was designed by special needs teachers to help nonverbal kids participate in class. Users tap a button and the iOS device speaks the button text aloud in either a boy's or girl's voice. Screen choices include yes/no, alphabet, numbers, skip counting, opposites, bullying, getting dressed, using the bathroom, seasons, emotions, BINGO, sight words, body parts, animals.

Tap on the pictures to hear the word being spoken
(Screen print)

Type your own message which is spoken by the iOS device
 in a pre-selected boy's or girl's voice

The alphabet is spoken when tapped

Tap to talk

Screen print of selections on Tap to talk

The portable, customizable communication app AAC for autism, Down syndrome, apraxia, cerebral palsy, aphasia, any non-verbal condition. All languages, all ages

Social Stories

An amazing app for easily creating and sharing educational social stories, visual schedules and beautiful memories. This is a very valuable tool for any teacher, SLP, OT, direct care staff or parent! Children with special needs often need more direct instruction of social skills. Teaching social skills to any child may be easier and less stressful when visual supports, like social stories are used. The social stories found in this app explain accurate social information and ensures that your child will know what to expect in different situations. 

Social Stories (screen print)

Social behaviour and how to is a big issue with regards autism. Learners are taught how to behave, for example sharing is not something an autistic child is keen to do. They also cannot cope with change in their routines. If there is a change, there is usually outbursts of anger and emotions.

Social Stories can be used for own children when they are struggling with something, not only autistic children.

Some of the Social Stories to choose from
(screen print)

More suggestions with regards autism:

  • The teacher or parent can make their own specific book in Book Creator.
  • Visual scheduling of different activities or daily events helps the learners who struggle with internal organizational skills. Pages on the iPad can also be used to create an interactive schedule, add pictures and text.
  • Popplet - handy for planning out the day.
  • Hundreds of AAC apps on the iTunes store.

Related posts:

- iPad learning for special needs #iPadLearningZA

- iPad in Education at Sacred Heart College #iPadLearningZA

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Wednesday Words - some random Little Hoots #littlehoots

I have been doing Wordless Wednesdays for years!
Today is a good day as ever to break that tradition...

I want to share these Little Hoots for future giggles:
Pointing to a lady in the change rooms at the gym

Favourite saying of Little Missy when she is "sharing"
(very reluctantly)

Little Missy is fascinated with the concept of graveyards...

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