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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Places Of Beauty And Peace

Tonight we've put on pretty dresses and cute, sparkly shoes

to dine at a very fancy restaurant!

The trip home was breathtakingly beautiful!

I reflected on today's meditation -

My Inner Home

And My Outer Home

Are Places Of Beauty And Peace.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tea Time

It was a crazy morning and I literally had the cookies out on a plate while rearranging sofa cushions scattered around the family room floor five minutes before she arrived.   It was time for tea with a friend.

We talked and we talked and we talked - from parenting issues unique to raising twins attending kindergarten (she has twin boys, I have twin girls); to visiting family overseas (she's from Switzerland; I'm from South Africa); to politics!   One cup of tea turned into four cups of tea and tea time ran over into lunch time. Earl Grey and Irish Breakfast turned into cups of Rooibos tea.  We had so much fun hanging out without the kids!

Now we have lunch set up next week with the hubbies in tow.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Friends & Food

When I was growing up family meal times were spent around the kitchen table or dining room table.  We always ate together as a family -  breakfasts and dinners, sometimes even lunch.  So, having kids of my own this was just a given.  Of course we are going to eat breakfasts and dinners together as a family!!

What I did not realize being a new parent was the huge change that was about to take place in my cooking and attention to the food we eat.  My daughters had constant ear infections (every other week one of them had an infection) and it was not just mild symptoms.  They had the worst kind ever every single time.  I grew tired of the pediatrician sending us home with a bottle of antibiotics as a solution to the problem.

Out of pure morbid curiosity I made an appointment with a naturopathic physician.  I had nothing to lose and I thought if his suggestions do not work it's a lesson learned.  After working through a list of questions he suggested we cut out cow's milk from their diet and see what difference that makes.  And what do you know.  No more goo draining from their ears every other week!

It blew me away that something so simple as changing one or two things we eat can have such a profound impact on our wellbeing and my sanity as a parent!  So I embarked on a journey researching various topics about food related conditions.  I even started researching acupuncture and stress and how that impact our physical health.  It totally changed my outlook on food and preparing meals.

Initially it was hard and I had to make lots of changes, but  now I cannot imagine starting a day without baking something from scratch, or eating a meal without two or three fruits and vegetables on the plate.  Canned food is almost nonexistent in our home and I reluctantly buy anything coming in a box.  Why, you might think "lady you are just full of it" and "that is just utter and total nonsense".  I might have thought the same way until I was face to face with a situation that required some out of the box thinking and I'm glad I did, because it made a huge difference in my children's health and it sparked the growth of a whole new creative interest I enjoy - cooking!

We stayed home this weekend.  We roamed around the house in our pj's till noon, played games,  read books, put our Halloween stakes out by the front door and Saturday afternoon I chased hubby out the house with a request to find some flowers.  "Something autumny!"  were my exact words.  He shot back "What does that mean?"  Then disappeared and came back with these.

Good job hubby!

We congregated with friends around the dining room table, sharing thoughts and updates on our lives while enjoying a simple home cooked meal.   It was an "autumny" kind of gathering with red wine, pork ternderloin with an apricot fennel ragout and a delicious Caramel apple cake.

I had to count all my fingers to make sure all ten were still there after eating a slice of this delicious cake.  It definitely will be added to the "Please Make Again" recipe box!

Now what to do with the sisal rug that fell victim to a glass of red wine?

5 Minutes for Mom

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Our Fairy Garden

Shrooms have been popping up in our garden; even bursting through the playground mulch!  Crickets have taken to the stage being the latest fad;  cicadas now a thing of the past!  It's another sign that fall has taken the baton from summer's hand.

 Hubby has been telling the girls that we have a real fairy garden and they need to look around for them.  Who knows they might be hiding under the mushrooms.

So sweet.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Winston-Salem Air Show

I turned to hubby and said:  "Wow!!  It is just like a cat!  It comes into sight so fast you don't hear it until it is right on top of you!"  That's when the sound catches up with it and what a sound it is.  Ultra loud!  Like-my-little-girls-spent-half-their-afternoon-covering-up-their-ears loud!  Yes, I'm talking about the stealth bomber!

We went to see Winston-Salem's 100th Air Show this weekend and I took way less pictures than I should have.  Hence no picture of the stealth bomber!  The Skyhawk was a close second though!  I was so caught up in the sights and sounds staring at the magnificent planes and pilots overhead I often only managed a "Wow!" and nothing more.

 We broke away only to find something to eat and drink.  There were lots of lines, but the girls were perfectly happy waiting for food with their frozen lemonades in hand.

The idea was for them to share the monster size cups of frozen lemonade with us, but there were not a lot of sharing going on.  Caramel will soon after I take the cup from her yell (while jumping up and down):  "Mommy you are breaking everything apart!  Mommy!!!!"  Only when I hastily hand it back to her was she content with the fact that I did not do too much damage to the mountains and valleys she carved into the frozen concoction.

We never got round to the jumping castles and slides they've put out for the kids.  Rather we've spent our time sitting in cockpits pretend playing and watching real planes land and depart while young kids dressed in camouflage were patrolling the perimeter making sure no one gets onto the tarmac!

The aerobatic planes were absolutely fantastic.  I could not believe what these ex-air force pilots were able to do with the planes.  Unbelievable and just a little bit scary. Iceman and Maverick had nothing on these guys!

Sunday, September 11, 2011


I will never forget that fateful day ten years ago.  Hubby and I were just starting our journey living in the U.S.   We've just bought our first home in America and in hindsight we were like toddlers.  We barely learned how to walk;  teetering on our tippy toes and at any moment's notice our world could come crushing down. 

I was talking to my Mom back in South Africa on the phone when I noticed something was going on from the corner of my eye.  I will never forget it: "Mom, a plane just flew into a building in New York!"  I was dumbfounded.  I could not believe what my eyes saw.  She was stunned and did not know what to say.  Our brains were both in disbelieve!  "Mom, go turn on your T.V!"

When the second plane struck I slumped into a heap right where I was standing.  "I' don't believe it!  Another plane struck the building next to it!"  I remember grabbing my forehead and just crumbling into a huge ball.

I did not have to wait for an analysis or a reporter to investigate.  I knew.  I knew America was under attack.  But I was clueless as to who they were and why they did this.  My mind was racing trying to process what just happened running through a million unanswered questions at the same time.

I knew this was going to have a  profound impact on our country and on us being immigrants trying to start a new life living in the U.S.  I knew right then life would never be the same. 

 The process of becoming a citizen was put on hold indefinitely.  The IT bubble burst and hubby had to struggle find another job when the software company that employed him went belly up.  But when the going gets tough the tough get going and we've always had the tenacity of bulldogs and the work ethic of people who had nothing to lose.

We pulled through it.  Bigger, better and a lot wiser.

Today I saw a lot about "how to discuss this with your children!"  And I know we all should impart what our country stands for to our children.  But I made the decision not to discuss this with them.  I don't think their five year old spirits need to carry the burden of all that happened that day, but over time I know they will learn about it in history books and T.V. and friends and teachers. 

What is it we all need to learn from this?  Life is fragile, fleeting and at a moment's notice life as you know it;  could be over.  And even if just in a small way we all were brought to our knees to question and reaffirm our believes, our faith and our priorities.  I believe we all are wiser, stronger and more determined as a result of it.  Instead of becoming bitter and hardened by this cruel and senseless violence I would like for my children to stand strong and hold on to the fundamental belief - "But now faith, hope, and love remain--these three. And the greatest of these is love."

Friday, September 9, 2011

Things Are Changing

I almost want to say summer is officially over on this side of the world...........Will we maybe swim once or twice again?  Yes.......but I will not bet my life savings on it!

I was watching hubby drain the pool parked out on the deck tonight while the kids were jumping nonstop on the trampoline without getting heatstroke. And they've just handed me the fifth autumn leaf they've found in the garden.......Seasons are slowly but surely changing hands.

Oh and that lovely light!  That lovely autumn light has suddenly started showing up at 6PM.  It's the kind of light that makes you daydream while staring at it's soft glow, inhaling a little deeper while just being.

Our trip to the stores this weekend to replace the smashed patio umbrellas turned into an impromptu Halloween shopping trip.  That's what happens when you go shopping with five year olds in a store with TONS of Halloween decorations.  As we cruised aisle upon aisle I had two little girls hanging onto my hips laughing and talking about the outfits they would like to wear, but at times borrowing their faces in my sides, frightened;  begging me to leave while skeletons are laughing eerily from under googly-eyed masks.  I don't think they are ready for the really scary stuff yet;  but I'm enjoying these times with them knowing that their innocence and fragile imaginations will over time make way for the fascination with the scariest and grossest possible!

This time of year we go bicycling, swimming indoors, hiking and playing on the white elephant we avoid during the sweltering summer days - the swing set!  I just chased them out of the house today:  "Go play and don't come inside until the skies go dark!!!"   "OK" they said with a smidge of hesitation.  Like I've just granted them the holy grail of privileges without any strings attached!

Apples, pears and pumpkins are starting to overtake peaches and strawberries, but in September I still grab on to the last straws of summer, proclaiming my defiance by purchasing a beautiful watermelon while loading a set of cinnamon spice candles into the shopping cart.

We love and appreciate what each season brings to the table and even though I don't like the winter too much, there is nothing like sharing the run up to Christmas and New Years with starry eyed little ones.  It's truly a magical time of year!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Apple Festivals and Cookouts

This labor day weekend was filled with lots of great and not so great moments.

Friday evening kicked off with the "not so great" when a storm moved through the area knocking out the neighborhood power and toppling over and smashing both our patio umbrellas to pieces.

After a restless night where the power came on for a few seconds at a time just to shut down again we left home early to eat breakfast at a restaurant.  Nothing that a few cups of coffee, toast, eggs, fruit and yoghurt could not fix!

We were on our way to see what the NC Apple Festival in Hendersonville was really all about.  We've been there twice before - once it was rained out;  and the other time the kids (two years old at the time) were so obnoxious we went back home!  Before giving up on this ideal I really wanted to give it a fair shake!

By the time we've walked the three blocks to the Main Rd, sweat was already pearling on our foreheads.  The girls were remarkably well behaved despite the humidity and a sea of people navigating a 1/2 mile stretch of the Main Rd eating, drinking and shopping for everything from mountain music to bags of crisp, fresh apples.  Roughly 250,000 people attend this Festival every year.

We were hot, sweaty, sticky and fed up with the large crowd by the time we left, but we loved it and will come again!  Next time though I will be better prepared with wide brimmed sun hats and lots of tissues to wipe the sweat from our brows and maybe one of those little fan thingies that sprays mist on your face!

We drove up to Chimney Rock while stopping over every now and again at an interesting looking apple orchard farm store.  We finally ended up at a riverside park where we got out to enjoy the delectable caramel apples hubby bought the girls at the festival.

It was a serene setting with small rapids gurgling in the background while leaves were rustling overhead in the light breeze.  But it was violently interrupted by two little girls, faces covered in caramel, shouting and pointing fingers at a huge snake swimming amongst a raft of ducks.  The ducks did not seem to mind it's company, but we decided it was time to leave as it headed up the riverside embankment!

Of course no labor day weekend would be a proper labor day weekend without some form of a cookout. Hubby barbecued us some delicious hamburgers on the boat and we decided to swim and float out in the deep waters for a change.

Normally the girls would be building sandcastles and running back and forth with pales of water to build a wall or some other magical mega structure.  But the lake water levels are extremely low and the sandy beaches are transformed into clay-rimmed forts not only discoloring bathing costumes into a "beautiful" mustard yellow but feet and hands as well!  If you want to look like someone who forgot to wash the fake tan lotion off go right ahead!!  Knock yourself out!

While floating out in the deep waters........

Fudge: "Are there sharks out here?"

Mom: "No dear!  There are no sharks in the lake.  They live in the ocean!"

Fudge:  "Whales?"

Mom:  "No whales!"

That's when they both relaxed and the fun began swimming around and jumping on and off the loungers.  I decided rather not to tell them we were in 15 feet deep water.....

Friday, September 2, 2011

Swimming With Manatees

It was the most amazing experience we enjoyed this summer vacation!  Although I highly recommend you consider doing this in the fall or winter when they congregate in the crystal clear springs of NW Florida!  Swimming with the manatees.

Gentle giants!

Summer Time Treats

With labor day approaching fast I wanted to post something about all the wonderful summer time treats we've enjoyed this year.

If there is one treat I can single out to be synonymous with summer time it is the watermelon!

And then there are several other close contenders.