Tuesday 30 June 2015

Initial thoughts about America

We are visiting my brother in San Antonio, Texas. It is such a treat!
It is an one-in-a-lifetime experience, and Little Miss keeps on saying, while hitting her head: "Word wakker! Word wakker!" (Wake up! Wake up!)
It feels like a dream...

The Riverwalk in San Antonio. 

With my brother at the Statue of the patron Saint Anthony. 

1. The Americans are very friendly! You always get a "You're welcome!" When saying "Thank you!"
You do not feel as if you are doing them a favour while visiting their establishments. Exactly the opposite!

2. The Texan accent is a bit difficult to get used to. I only caught half of what our River Guide told us yesterday. 

2. The food is definitely bigger here! It is lovely and delicious as well! We are sharing our orders at restaurants. 
I am surprised that the Americans are not bigger because of this! I don't know how they eat that much and stay as thin! 

A lovely quacomole that was prepared in front of us.

3. Pancakes here are what we call flapjacks. Rusks are scones. They don't have Ouma Rusks. 

3. It is hot in the summer here! But there's luckily aircon everywhere! It is especially great since we left a cold South Africa coming here.

4. You drive on highways whenever you are going anywhere. (We tend to avoid our highways because of the e-tolls.)

5. The houses are big, without being fenced in.

6. The cars are big.

7. Everybody is walking around with an iPhone 6.

 8. There's wi-fi everywhere, and it works! Fast! It's the first time I am seeing videos playing automatically on my Facebook feed. I was not aware it was supposed to be doing it! 

9. The cosmopolitan nature of the people here makes us feel very welcome. 

10. The sun sets at half past eight in the evenings in summer! 

We love it here! 

Happy holidays! The 4th of July is coming up!

Monday 22 June 2015

Thankful for great fathers

Father's Day card made at school

Little Miss is very lucky to have a great dad and two grandfathers in her life!
We also got to spend time with both grandfathers this weekend.
It is a blessing indeed!

Father's Day card for Oupa James
My father, Oupa James, was and is a wonderful supporting father and grandfather who is always willing to help! He is always on the go doing something for someone, or working in his garden! Running (he can't walk slowly) is how we know him, and you will always find him first at an event! That's why he is still active and loves spending time with the family! He is always game when we want to visit, and he gave up his church service yesterday morning to have breakfast with us!

Oupa James second from left next to my mum
Oupa Dries, Hubby's father, also got to spend the day with his children and grandchildren. We don't see him that often, but he loves seeing his seven grandchildren! He is also still very much active in the lives of his grandchildren which stays nearer to him!

All of Oupa Dries's grandchildren 

Father's Day card for Dad
Little Miss is very lucky to have a great Dad who does everything a modern day dad is supposed to be doing. He is a truly hands-on dad who is there for his children! He also is a great dad to the eldest who calls him "Dad" as well! He is always willing to help and drive her around!

A Father's Day is important, because it reminds us again of how grateful we should be for having great dads in our lives!

I have an experience from a previous life where the same could not be said, and that's why I am truly grateful that I am able to say thank you to the fathers each year!

Father's Day certificates printed from yourparenting.co.za

Friday 19 June 2015

Write your own children's book

Katherine Graham on Amazon

Do you have a children's book inside of you, just waiting to be converted into words and images? Self-publishing could be the best route, but don't worry – it's not as scary as it sounds, writes guest blogger Katherine Graham.

It's funny how having a child can be compared to a near-death experience. Not something you'd see in a feel-good nappy ad, for sure, but with both my pregnancies as the due date approached, I felt some of the fear that you probably experience before dying. And then, once the baby makes its entrance into the world, it's like you're given your life back again, albeit with dirty nappies, sleep deprivation and all the rest.

I also felt that with this near-death experience, I gained such a clear sense of what my purpose in life was. Up until then, I'd had a foggy sense of what I should be doing, but when I became a mother I-knew-like-I-knew-that-I-knew that my God-given purpose in life was to write. Not just articles, which is what I'd been doing up till then (and still do to make a living), but to write books. And so my journey as an author began.

Whenever you start something new in life, you have to brace yourself for the challenges that go with it. You have to expect a certain level of resistance to your ideas. After I'd written my first two children's books, The Dummy Fairy and Alfonso the Tooth Mouse, I had to endure months of waiting and rejection letters that came from publishers. I suppose that is the point at which many people give up, but something told me I needed to carry on fighting.

I had engaged the services of an illustrator friend, Wendy Paterson, so I had a bunch of great illustrations for both books, plus I had the text which I had written. I got an e-mail from writeforkids.org telling me how now was such an exciting time to be self-publishing children's books on Amazon – it's easy and free and the royalties are better than traditional publishers – so I figured, Why not?

That's how my journey into self-publishing began last year and it's been an interesting ride. Yes, it is fairly easy to get published on Amazon, I've learned, but marketing your own books comes with its own challenges. It's been a very steep learning curve for me, but I'm happy to say that I now have three children's books under my belt – The Poofiest Pong is my latest release and is a huge hit with young kids – and am busy working on my fourth, a magical story set in Lesotho about a flying unicorn called Moonshine. I'm hoping that once I get into a routine and rhythm, the books will just keep popping out and more and more children will read them and enjoy them.

If you'd like to write your own children's book, here are some tips for getting started:

1. Keep a journal where you write down ideas for stories and characters.

2. If you have children, pay attention to what they say and what engages their imagination. Use those ideas to fuel your own creativity.

3. Join a writers' group and try to nurture your writing skills. Remember, talent is an asset, but skill as a writer will always trump that.

4. Flex your creative writing muscles by “working out” i.e. writing for at least half an hour every day. (You can take Sunday off!)

5. Look at the work of other children's writers – Julia Donaldson, Roald Dahl and Shirley Hughes come to mind. What do they do in their books that makes their stories so appealing? Is it the rhyme, the plot, the characters? Bear in mind that children relate most to stories which are told from a child's point of view.

6. Once you've written your story, show it to others whose opinion you value. Read it to your kids or kids you know. Make changes if necessary. It must be thoroughly polished and error-free before it goes to print.

7. If you're going the self-publishing route, you'll need to find and pay for your own illustrator. (A traditional publisher would source one for you.) Contact the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators to find a good one – www.scbwi.za.org – or perhaps you could do the illustrations yourself to keep costs low. You might even know a friend or family member who would be willing to help you.

8. Download Kindle Kids' Book Creator, which is free software, onto your computer. This will help you build your book for Amazon.

9. Next, you'll need to register with Kindle Direct Publishing – www.kdp.com. Once you've done this, you can upload your book title onto Amazon.

10. You'll need to be responsible for your own marketing, which means you'll need to build up a social media presence – a Facebook author's page, Twitter account, Goodreads author page, etc. Having an active blog also helps to engage with your readers. Organising readings at schools or libraries is another great idea.

A journalist by training, Katherine writes regularly for a number of South African magazines. She has published three children's e-books, The Dummy Fairy, Alfonso the Tooth Mouse and The Poofiest Pong. The Lemon Tree, which was longlisted for the Golden Baobab Prize in 2014, is due to be published by Penguin Random House next year. She lives in possibly the world's most beautiful city, Cape Town, is married with two boys and a ginger cat, and loves peaceful, uninterrupted moments sipping tea and reading. She blogs at www.wordcount.co.za.

Related posts:

Thursday 18 June 2015

Plot twist

When something goes wrong in your life
just yell
"Plot Twist!"
and move on.

I love this quote!

It is usually not about the wrong turn, but how you approach life after that!

I am writing this for the eldest.

The Student had a big disappointment yesterday. She heard she failed her accounting subject for the semester. She won't be able to do the rewrite, because we won't be here. She has known this since the beginning of the year, that she would have to pass the first time!

She has already started to make plans for next year, but now her plans have to be put on hold for a while...

She will have to get a job here in South Africa to finish the post-graduate! (She had plans to start travelling and working overseas!)

I have first-hand experience that even with the worst plot twists, I could see how it benefited me in the end!

Go with the plot twist, my Love!
I know it will be part of the adventure!

Tuesday 16 June 2015

The Nickelodeon Festival was a festival FESTIVAL! #NickFest

The Nickelodeon Festival at Silverstar over the weekend was a total blast! 
Little Miss could not believe how many cool things there were to do, ...and see! 
The queues were long, but somehow they fit us all in!

It's great that it was sold out shows for the whole weekend! The Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital Trust definitely got a great boost with 10% of the ticket sales and the celebrities being slimed. 

If they plan to do it again, we will definitely go again! 

Riaad Moosa being a great MC

Dora the Explorer on stage

The slime was really slimy!
We avoided the big slime pit. The children could jump in there as well! 
I take my hat off to celebrities such as Darren Simpson, Proverb and Sizwe Dhlomo who were brave enough to get slimed!

Catching a "wave" 
Family photo op
The mission was to have plenty of FUN!
We did!

Disclaimer: The MomAgain@40-family got tickets to attend. 

Sunday 14 June 2015

Behind the magic of Miles from Tomorrow

I was invited to a Disney Junior High Tea on Friday. Miles from Tomorrow is on Disney Junior in South Africa on the DStv Channel 309 every day.

Miles from Tomorrow cake poppers

As parent it is always comforting to know that I can safely switch on the TV on this channel and that it will always be the great Disney storytelling that we have become accustomed to. It is always about great Disney characters. Disney Junior is apparently the No 1 preschool channel on DStv in South Africa.

Christine Service, the senior vice president and country manager of The Walt Disney Company Africa, says that they not only make the programming for the children, but for the parents and care-givers that watch it with them! That's true, as we enjoy the shows with the little ones, and my school going Little Miss still very much enjoy the shows on Disney Junior!

"Miles From Tomorrow is a spectacular new cartoon series from Disney Junior. The animated action follows the story of a young adventurer called Miles Callisto and his intergalactic family. “Miles and his family have been sent into outer space on a mission by the Tomorrow Transit Authority,” reveals the show’s creator, Sascha Paladino."

A few magic facts about Miles from Tomorrow:


Miles and his family gets crazy adventures in stellar space with every show. It is filled with aliens, spage-age vehicles and the latest high-tech gadgets


There are crazy aliens in each of the episodes!


Sascha Paladino, the creator, wanted to be an astronaut when he was a kid. He would look to the sky and imagine what was up there.


They spent a lot of time researching and consulting with NASA for the show! The concepts of space, science and technology are spot on!


The name of the NASA consultants are Dr Randii Wessin, a rocket scientist, as well as space architect John Spencer, founder and president of the Space Tourism Society.


There are at least one space fact in every show!


They explore real planets like Mars and Neptune, but also imaginary planets with made-up aliens!


The intergalactic catchphrases such as "blastastic", "sunsational", "space-tastic", "stellarific" and "superstella" adds to the quirkiness of the characters and the show!


The groovy gadgets are a treat: The Callisto family lives on a floating space station The Stellosphere. They have a 3D printer called a Solidizer and the space vehicle is called a Starjetter.


Two of the coollest gadgets are Miles' Blastboard, which is a hovering skateboard. Phoebe has a bracelet, the Bracelex, which is an encyclopedia on her wrist!


Miles has a best friend who is a robot ostrich, Merc. He has turbo boosters and wing shields!


They have a team of 40 people working on the show in California, and another 400 overseas. They spent a year and a half working on the first episode!

Miles from Tomorrow is every day on Disney Junior (DStv channel 309).

Little Miss got the Callisto family, Merc and a Miles from Tomorrow Laserang.

Friday 12 June 2015

Winter is a drag!

I know we can't complain about winter, and that it is only three months of cold here on the southern point of Africa. But we don't like it, and we complain about it!

All the time!

We leave the house while it is still dark and cold. We get back when the sun dives back to the other side of the world.

The house is cold.
The sky is grey.
The garden is dead.

I can compile lists about things that makes winter worth the while, but I don't want to!
Because it won't change anything! It is cold!

All we want to do is cuddle up under blankets, and not move...

We are hibernating right now!
If you don't see that much of me, it is because you will find me under a blanket and near the heater!

Who likes this time of the year?
Please tell my why?

Photo: Little Miss could dress in normal clothes today and this is her outfit! (I could only convince her to put on the jacket, but the rest is her ensemble! Armed with an warm electric bag!)

Monday 8 June 2015

Children's Book Giveaway: The Poofiest Pong, by Katherine Graham

Katherine Graham, the author of The Poofiest Pong, which was featured here last week, is willing to sponsor one copy of her book to the lucky winner who answers correctly.


What is name of the main character in the story?

The answer can be found here:

MomAgain@40 blog post: Who makes the poofiest pong?

Katherine's blog: Letting rip with poofy pongs

Kindle Edition: The Poofiest Pong

Sketch from the book: The Poofiest Pong

It's the cutest "most stinky" little book which all children will enjoy!

The winner will be randomly selected by Random.org on 9:00 am SAST on Friday 12 June 2015.

Lynette is the lucky winner. Max is the main character!

Friday 5 June 2015

How to Plan the Perfect Playdates at Home: Building Lasting Friendships for You and Your Children

Guest post by Kaitlin Krull

Making friends with other children and their parents can seem even harder than dating. Juggling the social interactions of your kids as well as your own is a complicated dance, and many parents often end up feeling lonely and without support. Here are some tips to planning play dates in your own home in order to foster friendship for you and your children.

Build a friendship group

If you’re searching for friends for you and your children, consider local playgroups and preschools. Your children are most likely to play well with friends and kids they see often, so utilise the resources you already have and chat to parents at the school gate or playground. Playdates are just as much for parents as they are for children, so invite parents you’d like to get to know better or have things in common with already. If you can, arrange to meet parents one evening without your children, so you can get to know each other properly and start to form the bonds without little ones tugging at your sleeves. A wine bar, casual dinner, or movie night are all great bonding opportunities, or choose another event you will all enjoy.

via Local Ecologist

Rotate playdates

By setting up a playdate schedule, you and your children will feel a sense of regularity and come to expect and look forward to playdates. Scheduled playdates have the added benefit of spreading out hosting duties. When you play at other’s homes, offer to bring snacks or toys to help out other parents, but most parents will likely prefer to take turns and prepare their own snacks when they host. When your turn to host comes around, try to be flexible about your home: remember that the happiest homes are often the messiest, or your guests will pick up on your stress level. Keeping calm and relaxed helps everyone to have a great time!

via Creative Kid Snacks

Create a child friendly play space

If you have children, your home will likely already be set up for child friendly play. Designate a safe space for children to play semi-independently (a playroom or part of the living room work well) while adults chat and hopefully find a little time to relax. The best playrooms have separate areas for different kinds of play. Art stations, quiet/reading corners, dressing up areas, and building tables are all vital parts of the playroom. Set up a few activities at the separate stations to foster independent play for your children and their guests.

via No Time for Flashcards

Theme playdates

Once your children have met a few times and are comfortable with each other, a regular playdate may start to seem a bit boring. Spice things up by offering themed meetups, such as teddy bear picnics, tea parties, or dressing up parties. You don’t have to go to too much trouble to satisfy your child’s imagination, but the little details do make a difference. Cut the crusts off some cucumber sandwiches, dress up with your fanciest jewellery, and get involved with your children during snack time to make their regular play dates feel extra special.

via Lillypaul Designs
By planning your own play dates, you can control your social schedule and your children’s play environment at the same time. Find a solid and reliable social group, rotate play dates, and keep things interesting with themed events. With any luck, you and your kids might just make a few lifelong friends.

For more tips and tricks, head to Modernize.com

Tuesday 2 June 2015

A wine scanner app that will up smart you from a wine pleb to a wine connoisseur

I hope!

I don't know why I did not learn about the existence of Vivino earlier, because it is a real treat to use!

I love red wine (that's no secret), and here I can compile and compare all my wines that I love and do not enjoy!  The app is for all wines, but I have been focusing on the red.

It is as easy as scanning the front of a wine bottle to get all the information of that wine. The year, the vintage and the price. It also shows ratings by other wine lovers, which gives a good indication of what is worth buying.

The Rustenberg wine was a present, and I was not aware of how much it was worth before I scanned it. This made me realise that it gives me the chance to say thanks again, and how much I appreciate it! I think there is nothing worse than giving wine as a present, and the recipients do not appreciate the real worth of it! (The wine plebs (commoners) that we are...!)

A friend recently said she stood in front of the wine shelves in the shop and she could not decide what was good or not! This app is perfect when you don't know if the wine is worth the price and if the vintage year was a good year.

I have also scanned a wine bottle that was much cheaper than stated in the app, and it made me buy the wine immediately!

You will find me between the red wine shelves, scanning.

Or else on the app as Karen Toit.

Vivino is downloadable on iTunes
                                         Google Play
                                         Windows Phone

Disclaimer: I was not given any wine to write this review!
                  I love it!

Monday 1 June 2015

Who makes The Poofiest Pong?

Katherine Graham has written the cutest little book about farts and outer space adventures. It is perfect for children age 4 - 8 years! What kid does not think a fart is a hilarious thing?

A journalist by training, Katherine writes regularly for a number of South African publications, including a monthly finance column for kulula's in-flight magazine. She has published three children's e-books, The Dummy Fairy, Alfonso the Tooth Mouse and The Poofiest Pong, all available on Amazon. The Lemon Tree, which was longlisted for the Golden Baobab Prize in 2014, is due to be published by Penguin Random House next year. She lives in possibly the world's most beautiful city, Cape Town, is married with two boys and a ginger cat, and loves peaceful, uninterrupted moments sipping tea and reading.
Visit her blog at www.wordcount.co.za

Katherine with Samuel (6) and Matthew (4)
The Poofiest Pong
How do you measure the poofiness of your pongs? This is a question that baffles Max, the budding inventor. But with the help of his pong-o-meter and his little brother's farts, Max and Billy are well on their way to blasting off for an adventure in outer space.

Here is a snippet from the book:

Billy Burnham makes the poofiest pongs. I should know, he's my little brother.

Now I know what you're thinking. How can you tell if a fart is stinkier than somebody else's?
Is your fart stinkier than mine or is my fart stinkier than yours?

Mom only occasionally farts. She is loud and proud. When she's made one, she giggles and says, “Sorry”. But we don't actually mind because they don't really stink.

Mine are also quite mild. There's a bit of a pong, but it doesn't hang around very long, and I always move into another room before anyone can pick it up.

But Dad's farts – boy, are they something! They are the kind of stinks that you can't get away from. He is silent but violent. If you're in a room full of people, they start to look around and screw up their noses. “Who did that?” they ask with questioning eyes. Dad's stinks are bad.

But Billy, my brother, takes the cake. He may not be very big, but his baffs pack the meanest punch. They are toxic. They are like stink bombs that go off and color the air green. Like sodium sulfide, Dad says. If Billy toots at the dinner table, you may gag on your food. They are his nuclear weapon.
One day I get an idea. “Eureka!” I shout. “There must be a way to measure farts. I know, I'll invent a machine... a pong-o-meter!”

I have downloaded the book from Amazon for $2.99.
I could not download it to my Kindle, because it says it is not supported (I have an older version Kindle), but there was no problem opening it up on my iPhone and my iPad.
Little Miss loves it!

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