940 Saturdays…that’s all you get

And may I remind you that 260 of them are gone by the time they reach 5 years old?

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If your schedule is anything like mine, meaning anything like that of the average mother, you know that time with your child during the week is something that myths are made of – very much like fairies, dragons and well-rested parents.

My son attends an amazing nursery school, with so much that they offer and teach him, yet there are so many days that I feel like his teachers get the best of him and my colleagues get the best of me, and what I give to my son at the end of each day is the proverbial “rest of me” and not the “best of me”. (I hate that saying and can’t believe I just used it, but unfortunately it is the most applicable to the point I am trying to convey.)

I have recently decided that I want to start doing fun stuff with my son over weekends and spend time doing things that he would find enjoyable and would allow us to bond.

MUSIC BOX

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When I was offered the opportunity to enjoy a Music Box (Music-Box Website) demo-class at Bub Hub Pretoria (Bub Hub Pretoria East) with my son, I was so excited. My husband is in the music industry, his mother was an amazing singer (Irene van Wyk Song), my mother played piano (classically-trained) and attempted to get me to play piano, but I enjoyed dancing to Tchaikovsky rather than playing Beethoven – so when we got an opportunity to send Kian to a Music Box Class it was the perfect opportunity to experience something new, which is educational yet fun, and something that my son and I can enjoy together.

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Music Box is grounded on the belief that children learn most effectively through play. During the classes, interactive stories are told where children can learn and enjoy imaginative play. Karen van Vuuren, who presented the class at Bub Hub Pretoria, brought several different items such as shakers, brightly coloured cloths, sticks (which my son – as any boy would – loved) and sponges. Through imagination, creative play and songs she let the little ones identify different body parts, learn about up and down as well as fast and slow. Karen shared many positive words of encouragement as well as that excited tone of voice we all get when trying to impart our absolute pride towards our little ones in order to encourage and motivate a specific behaviour (you know that voice I’m talking about, hun, we all have it in us).

BUB HUB PRETORIA

Bub Hub Pretoria, situated in The Village Centre at Moreleta Park, is an absolute risk to my budget because, although they are reasonably priced, everything is just so stunning. Bub Hub Pretoria is such a gorgeous, serene boutique store with a large studio committed to helping parents (both moms and dads) by offering a range of fun mom and baby classes including Preggy Yoga, CPR Certified Courses, Baby Massage, Baby Rock Milestone Courses and Mighty Mess for older babies as well as talks by professionals in the industry.

When Kian was just born I longed to go for any and all classes in a beautiful, tranquil and conveniently-located environment so that I can offer my child the best of everything, or at least a bit of everything in order to see what works for him and what he enjoys or does not enjoy. Bub Hub Pretoria offers just this!

I am looking forward to the classes that Bub Hub Pretoria has to offer, which will not only cater for babies and new parents but also for toddlers. I will also definitely be doing the different “baby courses” with my second child (once again, not pregnant and won’t be expecting any time soon) that I was not able to do when Kian was young because no one quite seemed to make me comfortable enough to entrust my parental development with them. Jennifer (owner of Bub Hub Pretoria) on the other hand, is such a well-connected, warm person who will immediately be able to help you with courses that you are interested in and will source professionals to assist in your and your little one’s personal needs.

And while you are waiting for your class to begin, take a wander around the beautifully set-up store with all their locally sourced products. Ob-sessed!!

(PS: Kian’s afternoon nap lasted three and a half hours after the Music Box, and if all else fails, that should be reason enough to attend the classes…)

Contacts:

Bub Hub Pretoria082 288 0910 / pretoria@thebubhub.co.za (Jennifer)

Follow them on Instagram: @bubhubpretoria

Like them on Facebook: @bubhubpretoriaeast

Music-Box: 072 446 0147 / karen@music-box.co.za

Follow them on Instagram: @musicboxsa

 

 

 

Fit to Fat to Fries

I have a theory: people who crave starch over something sweet are predisposed to picking up weight, above those who choose sugar as their weakness.

It isn’t because they crave starch that they tend to gain weight easier, it’s just a body type theory I have. I have tested my theory on many different people and time and again my theory has rung true.

I was always the sweet-toothed person described by others as having a fast metabolism and the perfect body, until recently: something changed, I don’t know if it is because I am nearing 30 at the speed of lightning, or because my body has been through the creation of a human-being (okay, being the vessel in which creation took place), or because the gods are crazy and are enjoying some humour at my bum’s expense, BUT…I have become my greatest fear: I crave starches, fries, pizza wraps, anything with carbs and cheese (and obviously a side of Coke). I am eating more than my husband, and he gyms likes a crazy mofo so you need to know that this girl’s appetite is currently a cause of concern.

No…I’m not pregnant…and yes, I’m 100% sure.

This morning at breakfast (where we went to dine out at the insistence of my appetite) I looked at my plate and all that went through my mind was: “…this feels like an episode of Fit to Fat to Fit except I am not sure when the “to Fit” part starts and I’m grossing myself out”.

For those of you who have never watched Fit to Fat to Fit, the episode follows personal trainers who literally want to know how their fat clients feel by becoming one of them. The specific personal trainer dedicates four months to eating whatever, whenever (they have a target of how many calories they want to consume a day) and they are not allowed to exercise at all. After the four month period the personal trainer commits himself to losing the weight with his client for another four months and both the trainer and the client have phenomenal results (very often the trainer looks better than (s)he did before).

So now that you know what I am referring to when I describe my current lifestyle as being one of “fit to fat” you can just imagine what I have been eating: fatty, oily starches, meat and meat and more meat (and I tend to steer away from meat as far as possible). I am a health-conscious girl and I like feeling in control of my plate and what goes into my mouth. It’s second nature to me to know whether something is healthy or not and how my body will react to what I am eating.

Lately I have just let go and the dream of fitting into my honeymoon jeans have alluded me.

So, in the middle of our South African winter where soup, pancakes, melkkos and cinnabons are a staple food for the months of May to July, I have decided to set a goal for myself:

MINDFUL EATING

That which nourishes me should not destroy me. I will not deny myself anything, instead I will feed my body that which makes it feel better (physically, not emotionally). I will not starve myself and I will not calorie-count. I will listen to my body and I will be good to it.

Although I like (read: love and am obsessed with) pizza wraps and loaded fries, I will remind myself that I am not a dog and therefore I don’t need to reward myself with food. So on the brink of a new week, I ask you to please keep my expanding love handles, cheese sauce obsession and Coke (drinking kind) addiction in your prayers…may winter be kind to us all. 🙂

Why Nothing Else Worked…

Introspection is to an introvert what a social event is to an extrovert,

it revives us…

Every now and again I enjoy reflecting on where I am in my life, what I can be grateful for, what I am not happy with, what I want to change and what lessons I’ve learnt along the way.

For quite some time I have been searching for that “thing” that sets my soul on fire, a reason to wake up in the morning.

I often joke that I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I am, presently, a lawyer and am grateful to have employment. There are days where I enjoy what I do and days where I need a bit of extra motivation to be productive. I am not as passionate about the law as some other people in the field who eat, breathe and sleep law, but, I am passionate about being busy, keeping my mind busy and being mentally stimulated and law has always offered me just that.

Yet, it hasn’t been enough and the past few years I have attempted to find what that one thing is that will fulfill me.

**Kindly note that I am not talking about my personal life and that I am eternally grateful for my husband, my son, my mom and friends and feel so fulfilled in those areas of my life**

I have wanted my “9 to 5” to be my passion and to make and keep me in a state of euphoria. Law does not quite seem to do the trick because it is an ugly industry, where your desk is your battlefield and your mouth and quick wit are your weapons. It gets tiring and draining to be in constant conflict.

So I was searching and I tried a few things by trying to assess what my passions are and finding things to fit into my ideas:

Fitness 

I understand nutrition and I know the human body fairly well. I enjoy working out and I understand what to do to achieve certain goals. So I started my own company “The Movement Pretoria”. I gave classes twice a week to ladies working at a Tertiary Institution and I enjoyed it. I enjoyed seeing them become fitter and I enjoyed engaging with them about a topic that I knew a lot about and had a passion for. My long-term goal was to be able to open my own studio, work for myself and determine my own hours while doing something I enjoyed. Yet, the mental stimulation wasn’t there for me. I think after so many years in law I enjoy those urgent, last-minute deadlines and the adrenaline that comes along with it. The Movement Pretoria did not ignite that same feeling within me, and I decided to move onto the next thing.

I started prepping for a bikini contest and realised that I enjoyed Coke (the drinking kind) waaay too much. I think after having denied myself so much for three (3) years while dancing, I was over it. So we moved onto our next idea…

(PS: Yes, my diet was as short and fleeting as the previous paragraph.)

Wedding Planning

I like beautiful things and I like making things around me beautiful. What better way than to plan weddings and events? You are around people who are busy creating their dream day and you are helping them achieve that dream. I decided to open White Veil Weddings with my friend and we started out with a mutual dream of (once again) determining our own hours, earning a living and spreading joy. However, after the first conversation about flower arrangements I realised that maybe this is not entirely my area of interest. So WVW fizzled even before it really got started.

Salon

I even looked into buying into a franchising opportunity – which I still think I would do very well in, but the financial exposure would have landed either me or my husband in some or other mental institution or a street corner. (Ok, I’m exaggerating, but it was a substantial amount of money and I think my husband is so grateful I did not go down that path.)

 

Any other ideas?

I did research on possible courses to do, which possible career paths to follow: importing and selling of clothes, fashion design, interior decorating, makeup artist, the list is never-ending.

Until, one day, without putting much thought into it, I decided to create my blog:

Defendants, Dummies and Dresses.

I have always enjoyed writing. I am better at writing my answers or feelings down than I am talking about them. I have always received a myriad of compliments on my writing and have been asked by many to write something for them, ranging from a WhatsApp to an article to a press-release.

Without really thinking about it or making a fuss about it or making hundreds of plans around it, Defendants, Dummies and Dresses was born.

Something changed. I felt like I had a reason to wake up in the mornings that was all my own. I felt recharged, excited and happy. I looked forward to writing and I looked forward to thinking of ideas of what to blog about. I started looking at my Instagram account as a marketing tool. My creativity which, for such a long time was suppressed, could finally find its outlet.

Moral of my very long autobiography

I sincerely apologise for sharing my whole long story prior to sharing what I actually learnt through this whole process:

I didn’t have to look for another job or find another career path to be happy. I didn’t have to spend thousands or take out an additional study loan to study something else. I didn’t have to put our house and / or family at risk by opening a new business.  I didn’t have to do something phenomenal to experience something life-changing.

I had it within me all along. My passion and that which comes naturally to me was the exact thing that I had to do to be happy. I had to be myself to be happy. That’s all.

You know what? I’m actually enjoying my “9 to 5” again. I enjoy setting new goals for myself within my current workplace and I feel like I’m not a nagging, drag anymore.

If you, like I did a while back, feel unaccomplished or incomplete or as if you need that something “more”, maybe you should stop looking all around you, stop wondering what your passion and interests are, stop doing research on the highest-paying jobs, and ask yourself one question: What am I good at? That thing you could do when you were eight-years old and everyone thought was so awesome about you. That hobby you had at school before the world told you what you had to do or had to be? Do that.

Find what sets your soul on fire, and do that. Even if it isn’t the thing that pays the bills, you’ll be happier for it.

PS: Baby, not rugby. 

 

Tonight I will be more present…

As I write this blog my heart is broken into pieces. I just read an article about a baby who died in a Pretoria East Nursery School (Click here to read the article). According to the article it was a freak accident, which could not have been prevented. Each person is entitled to their own opinion about what should have or should not have happened, but that is not what this post is about.

All that has been going through my mind is: What if today was the last time I got to drop Kian off at school? What if I was the parent who had an article written about my son? What if I had to get THE phone call? 

What I will be doing differently tonight

I promise that tonight I will put my phone away. Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat and other messages can wait.

I will not be working late today.

When I get home tonight I will leave my phone in the room and spend quality time with Vaughn and Kian. I will pay careful attention to each minute spent bathing Kian, listen to what he has to say and sing along with him. I will read his favourite story as many times as he asks me to before bed. I will give him extra kisses tonight before saying our night-prayers and putting him to bed.

I will set the dining room table instead of eating in front of the TV. I will make an extra effort with dinner tonight (and not just Woolies microwaveable everything) and I will look my husband in the eye and remind him of what I appreciate about him. I won’t nag or complain – I will be fun, or at the very least pleasant, to be around.

I will rub my husband’s feet without him having to ask me first.

I will stay up just a little bit later to spend extra time with him instead of rushing off to sleep as soon as possible.

I will check up on Kian several times so that I can be in his presence as much as possible.

What I will be doing differently in the future

Admittedly, I will not be able to keep the aforementioned routine up and I won’t be able to be so selfless and invested every single night (at least I’m honest), but I think the principle remains the same. Let’s put our phones away for at least an hour each night where we are PRESENT in the company we find ourselves in. I tend to agree with the fact that those you are with are more important than those you are not with.

I will stop trying to rush through everything each evening and to make everything as convenient for myself as possible. I will slow down. I will concentrate on where I can serve and not where I can be served. I will invest in quality time with my people and not try to be at several places at once, or do 20 things simultaneously.

Moms, slow down. I know you have a million things to do. I know a messy house annoys you. I know you have to be up early tomorrow morning. I know that if you don’t do it, then no one else will (maybe because it’s not all that important to be done, anyway). I get it. I know that your files are heaping up on your desk and that your emails are waiting. I know that after a long day you just want to switch off and have your brain go into mush-mode.

Just remember where your priorities lie:

When you are with your families, be with them. Don’t reach for the phone. Don’t think about tomorrow. Don’t go over your to-do list or to-buy list or to-remember list. Be there.

Make memories by living in the moment.

 

Getting real…

There is a profound quote that finds itself from my subconscious to my conscious every now and again, at a time when I need it the most and want to hear it the least:

What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?

It’s so easy to ramble off your “I want” list to God, to your husband, to your friends and about your work. I want more attention, I want people to make more of an effort, I want more money, I want a better body, I want a higher-paying job, I want more time, I want one day of peace, I want to sleep longer, I want to eat whatever I want and stay thin, I want those pants, I want that relationship, I want that car, I want that job, I want, I want, I want. The list is never-ending. We go through each day coveting what other people have, wear, do and earn.

When last did you wake up and not moan about having to wake up for work?

When last did you thank your chosen deity or the Universe (whoever / whatever):

  • For being able to wake up (instead of moaning that it’s too early),
  • For being able to be healthy enough and able to get out of bed (instead of complaining that you’re too tired),
  • For the privilege of still having your husband lie next to you – at least you know where he is (instead of complaining that he can still sleep in),
  • For the sound of snoring in the house – they are all still breathing and you’re not alone (instead of complaining of the noise),
  • For a cellphone that you could conveniently set your alarm on (instead of complaining about your alarm),
  • For the financial and physical means to go gym (instead of complaining about having to lose weight),
  • For your son who is awake waaay earlier than you would choose, but HE IS AWAKE – do you know how many people would offer two (if not all) of their limbs to have their child wake up one more time?
  • For your husband’s clothes that are next to the laundry basket and not inside the laundry basket – hey, you can still get him out of his pants 😉

You get the idea?

I am very guilty of being ungrateful and self-centered. So many times I want more and feel I deserve more, because, according to me I give so much more. Yet, when I take a step back and start seeing the small things to be grateful for, I find that there is actually so many blessings in my life that I take for granted everyday.

Both my mom and husband have been really amazing in helping me to look at things from another perspective and seeing the positive aspects of a particular situation.

So my challenge to you is that you don’t only say thank you for the big things, but that you will start being grateful for the little things as well, even those things that are apparent annoyances. Have “on-purpose” gratitude.

After all, it is not happy people that are thankful, it is thankful people that are happy. 

 

 

Why I am a taxi-supporter

This is an article for South Africans specifically, because I doubt that there is another region that has taxis that could even slightly be compared to the phenomenon of the South African Taxi.

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The 16-seater is usually filled with double the allowed passenger load, and then a few more. It follows no road rules and I am almost certain that it has a “Make a Random U-Turn Now” button. If you are fortunate enough to drive in the vicinity of a taxi, you need to bear in mind that at any moment, without any hesitation or indication, it may stop, accelerate, make a u-turn or push in front of you. You live in anticipation of a random surprise, which by now, is not at all random or surprising anymore. And then there’s the hooter – the national sound of South Africa – a bleating hooter acting as a marketing mechanism.

Taxis carry 65% of the 2.5 billion annual passenger trips in the urban environment and serve as the base-load public transport carrier in South Africa. Although many South Africans lose their cool at the sound of the word “taxi”, never mind the sight of them, in 2014 they transported an average of 15-million passengers a day.

So why do I support them? Why do I, an average white, middle-class South African female who has never utilised the services of a South African Taxi (and in all likelihood never will), give them way to drive in front of me, not get mad when they stop dead in front of me, or when they make a random u-turn, and why do I laugh at people who get infuriated by them when they do any of the above?

  1. They are the reason my domestic worker and gardener arrive at my home in the mornings and arrive at their respective homes in the evenings.
  2. They are the reason why so many low-income households can arrive at their respective places of work and earn a living, thereby reducing the unemployment rate in South Africa.
  3. At taxi-ranks there are not only queue organisers, but “spaza” shops and other hawkers earning a living and also reducing the unemployment rate in South Africa.
  4. Taxi-owners (not the drivers) have such stringent rules and requirements that their drivers have to abide by (road safety, unfortunately, isn’t one of them) and violence within the industry is rife. Then there is also the rivalry between taxis, which has caused violent “taxi wars”. I have respect for the drivers who risk a lot to commute people who add value to our economy every single day. After all, it is a money-making business, with an annual revenue estimated at R 39.8-billion in 2014.

Those who are not supportive of the taxi-industry often cite the fact that they are a danger on the roads as their main reason. According to Arrive Alive, of the 36 deaths that occur on average on our South African roads on a daily basis, 3 of them are taxi-related, while drunk driving is the most prevalent reason (65% of all accidents – i.e. 23 of the 36 deaths) followed by distracted driving (yes, your freaking cellphone!!). So, keeping the statistics in mind, taxis actually aren’t as responsible for our road accidents as thought – you should hate your phone more. As for a drunk taxi-driver on his phone (which is not an anomaly) I have no answer and hope that we never cross paths.

So, the next time a taxi annoys you or causes you to have to slam on brakes, take a deep breath, thank them for their contribution to society and let it go. After all, we don’t need another reason to raise our blood pressure.

Now, as for BMW-drivers…well that is a completely different breed of person… 😉

 

Wednesday Wisdom – all the pretty things

I’m going to make everything around me beautiful, and that will be my life…

Elsie de Wolfe

I am crazy about beautiful things. I will gladly spend my day helping other people be the best versions of themselves, but, since I am a full-time attorney and not a full-time BFF, let me share a few of my favourites with you, my already gorgeous reader:

I dislike my skin. I don’t like that it is fair. I don’t like that I have breakouts (and I’m nearing 30 – will the skin gods just bless this face already). I am blessed with an unbelievably dry skin. Luckily, I have found four (4) amazing products to help me love the skin I’m in:

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The Body Shop – Seaweed Deep Cleansing Face Wash

I know it says that it is for oily / combination skin, but this face wash has done wonders for my skin and I love how clean it makes my face feel after a full day of wearing make up.

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The Body Shop – Drops of Youth Bouncy Sleeping Mask

I am obsessed with The Body Shop’s (The Body Shop Official Siteproducts mainly because their ingredients are ethically-sourced and they stand firmly against animal testing. I put this mask on every night and it has made such a difference to the amount of breakouts I’ve suffered.

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Water

I can use the most expensive beauty products and follow an intense skin-care regime, but if I don’t hydrate my skin from the inside, it shows. The rule of thumb is to drink about two-litres of water a day. This does include water contained in other drinks and even food, but remember some foods (e.g. sodium-rich foods) will increase the amount of water you need to take in.

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FakeBake Flawless Darker Self-tan Liquid

FakeBakeSA (Fake Bake SA Official Sitehas taken social media by storm and it isn’t difficult to figure out why. This specific self-tan has a triple formula ensuring a long-lasting and seamless tan. It contains a bronzer, so that upon application it gives an instant colour. There are no artificial preservatives or parabens (this is important because we love the skin we’re in) and it doesn’t have that usual, gross self-tan scent, instead, it has a summery smell (does that make sense?)

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Karaja Make-up- Photo Finish Foundation

Karaja Make-up (Karaja Instagram Profiledoes not test on animals (yay) and is committed to including only quality ingredients in each and every product. The Photo Finish Foundation provides a full coverage, while allowing your skin to breathe, which is an absolute necessity if you tend to have breakouts.

I urge you to watch YouTube make-up tutorials (Lauren Curtis YoutubeChloe Boucher Everyday Makeup Look), identify your best features are and play around with that. I tend to focus on my eyes when doing make up, because I am secure (enough) about the way they look. You won’t see me contouring and highlighting like a MAC make-up artist trying to sell their contouring palettes, but I do take time to play around with different looks on my eyes. I enjoy the Essence range (available at Clicks and Dischem stores nationwide)

They have a wide variety of eyeshadow palettes, a stunning easy-to-use face contour palette, concealer that provide medium to full coverage and an extensive range of lipsticks. They are super affordable and also (you guessed it) don’t test on animals.

And then, our crowning glory. Our hair. The source of happiness and sadness alike. I love being blonde, although I am considering a new look pretty soon (if I dare).

I absolutely adore Hannon’s Platinum Infusion Shampoo (Hannon Online Store).

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Hannon – Platinum Infusion Shampoo

You guessed it, it’s not tested on animals, and it leaves my hair feeling clean and toned without making it purple. I know some people like a little purple shimmer, but I am not that person. I am also not a brassy-hair fan (who is??) and this shampoo has got me hooked.

My mom has recently started using amla oil (which is so cheap that I am in love), and it has made such a difference to the quality and texture of her hair:

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 Amla Oil – R 18.95 from Clicks

These are a few of the tried and tested products that I absolutely love. That I have sworn by for a good number of years and that, no matter what other products I try, I fall back on.

If you have any questions, feel free to send me an email or message me on Instagram (@esteblogger_official) or leave a comment. Let me know if there are other products that you swear by, and I will gladly post about them (provided they are swoon-worthy).