Teacher Gifts

20 November 2014

As the year draws to an end, so does the school year close for our little kiddies (in South Africa, we run our school year as per the calendar - start in January and end in December) so our kids are about to start their long six week Summer break. 

SJ's little school is closing at the end of this year as her teacher is emigrating to Australia so she is moving to a new Play group next year. As her first year of school, I have loved thinking of little gifts for her class and teachers for the different holidays and occasions. As a teacher myself, I know how amazing it is to be spoilt at the end of the year - with thoughtful and meaningful gifts rather than quick store bought items that aren't going to be used (teachers are always showered with chocolates and soaps!)

These are a few of the cute teacher's gifts I have found to make for our sweet teacher Jennie:

via Pinterest

Do you make or buy teacher gifts at the end of each year?

Holiday Recap: New York

19 November 2014

Our second stop... New York.

We landed in New York on Wednesday afternoon, checked in at our perfectly located hotel: Park Lane with the most exquisite views of Central Park. A quick shower, unpack and stroll through Central Park before sushi dinner at Whole Foods - our favourite healthy food store. We were lucky enough to get tickets to the NY Knicks opening night game at Madison Square Garden - I love sport and basketball has to be of my favourites. The live games are electrifying with crowds going wild, crazy entertainment, epic DJ's and so many lights and sounds. Even though the Knicks lost - we had so much fun!

We all know I'm not a huge fan of running but with Central Park on your doorstep, you can't not. I really loved our beautiful, crisp morning run through the park. On our last trip to NYC, we found a quaint French cafe: Le Pain Quotidien (only to learn that there are cafes all over America and London). They serve amazing brunches and their signature chocolate spread (think Nutella but better!) on different breads. We are creatures of habit and enjoy a good thing when we find it - we ate breakfast here six mornings, out of six! 

We spent the rest of the day exploring the city: views from Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Centre, walking the streets, more shopping, frozen hot chocolates from Serendipity and then a quiet dinner in and a good nights sleep.

My SIL, Kerry arrived on Friday - she is the main reason for our trip as we went to support her running the New York Marathon (more on that later!) We spent the day sightseeing, visiting Grand Central Station (and all I could imagine was the date night in the empty station in the movie, Arthur with Russell Brand), visiting the marathon expo, canoli's from The Cake Boss Cafe, burgers at Shake Shack and then watching the musical, Matilda on Broadway. What a brilliant production!

Saturday was freezing cold and pouring with rain but this didn't stop us venturing out for a day of eating: brunch at Le Pain, best pizza in New York at Grimaldi's, shopping in sweetie heaven at Dylan's Candy Shop, hot chocolate at Le Pain (yes, twice in one day!) and then early to bed for the big marathon the next day.

Sunday was a cold and windy day - an early start for us to meet Kerry at her first point, 12 miles. A race through subways security barricades, traffic and so many people - all in the freezing cold! But nothing compares to how my super fit SIL ran her first marathon - in tough conditions and in 3h38m. I cannot explain how proud I was - sobbing at every check point and completely emotional when she ran past us towards the finish line. What an achievement! And so glad we could be there to support her. We celebrated that evening with a delicious dinner and cocktails at The Smith and Kez walked the city with her medal hanging proudly around her neck!

Our last day in the Big Apple was pretty chilled - a yummy breakfast, sightseeing on the big red bus, Wall Street and financial district, 9/11 memorials, a Paleo lunch and then early dinner and bed. We had tickets for the NY Giants and Colts football game but with the freezing cold weather, early flight the next morning and a long day in the cold - we gave it a miss! Call us crazy...

There is something about a big city that is scary and dirty and overwhelming but I love it. I don't think I could ever live in NYC long term but holidays are incredible and memories that last a lifetime.

Flying into NYC

View from our hotel room of Central Park
NY Knicks basketball at Madison Square Garden

Runs through Central Park

LOVE in the City

Frozen hot chocolate from Serendipity

Top of the Rock

Grand Central Station

Shake Shack

Mathilda on Broadway

So proud of our marathon runner

Dinner at The Smith

9/11 Memorial

Five on Friday

14 November 2014

Yay for Fridays!
This week, I am linking up with two Friday posts: Five on Friday with Christina and friends AND Oh Hey Friday! with new momma Karli and Amy.

1. No place like home! Words cannot describe how happy we are to be home. I am usually as tough cookie but after daily tears while we were on holiday, it feels so good to be home with our baby girls. And I have to admit, I won't be going anywhere any time soon. We are so grateful to our special friends for taking good care of them and taking on the big responsibility and so glad that our girls missed us too!

2. SJ's School Christmas Ring. This morning, we were invited to SJ's little play school to watch her Christmas Ring. The kiddies sang their favourite songs and a few Christmas songs and we got to enjoy an hour with the kids in their classroom and school environment (and learn that SJ is quite possibly a teacher's pet!)

3. SJ's new school. SJ starts Play Group at a new school next year, officially a big school. We had her first orientation morning today and she seemed to love it - she ran from the playground to each classroom, finding something new and exciting to play with. We are excited for her new journey and so happy that she is excited and happy too.

4. iPhone 6. Heaven. I am so happy with my new toy - bigger screen and clearer camera but most importantly a phone that isn't broken or have a cracker screen. Loving it!! 

5. Summer. It is here!!! Looking forward to days on the beach and in the pool, enjoying the warm weather, ice creams and Summer fun with our girls. My favourite season of the year!

Join in the fun and HAPPY WEEKEND.

Holiday Recap: Houston

12 November 2014

My love for the USA has never been a secret - I seem to gravitate towards their shops, their style, their food, their blogs, their sports, there-just-about-everything (I probably should have been American!) so it is no surprise that it is one of my favourite holiday destinations too.

MC and I travelled to New York and Florida in 2011 as our early anniversary trip but since having kids, it'a s little tricky flying across the ocean for a holiday. Cue work commitments and my special SIL running the NYC marathon - and we had the perfect excuse to head to the States...

Our first stop - Houston, Texas.
MC has been on three previous business trips to Houston and as he needed to go again, we decided I would go with as the start of our trip. He has always wanted to show me around town and I loved it - Houston is so much like home - warm climate, friendly people, pretty landscape and quite laid back - definitely a state I could live in.

We left SA Saturday evening and landed in Washington early Sunday morning, caught our 4 hour connecting flight to Houston and checked into our hotel: The Westin Oaks at lunchtime. After a quick shower, we headed into The Galleria - one of the biggest shopping malls with every brand imaginable, tasty food outlets and it's on ice rink. We spent the afternoon window shopping, me eyeing out my potential purchases for the next day and a tasty lunch. 

On Sunday evening, we went for a dinner at one of the outdoor pubs - sipping on Pimms and watching the sunset on a perfect evening. MC and been dead set on taking me to his favourite Honky Tonk: Firehouse Saloon (side note: I think I married a cowboy) but it was closed so we settled on Wild West. Sunday nights aren't very busy but we had fun - we were the youngest couple by about 40 years and we were in hysterics (and awe) of these two-stepping cowboys who swirl around the dance floor in cowboy boots and stetsons, swapping partners and changing directions with perfect choreography. We had a few drinks, played pool, tried one round of the dance floor but soon left after feeling dizzy and stepping on other dancers toes, haha!

MC had to work on Monday so I spent the day shopping and then meeting up with two special blogging friends: Steph (and her precious Miss Paisley) and Shay. I have read and followed these sweet girls for the past few years and been in touch online and over messages - weird how we feel like we really knew each other. Having lunch with them was pretty surreal but such a treat - they are both as gorgeous and sweet in real life and it was an awesome day together. Thank you girls for your generous Texan hospitality, the laughs and giggles, delicious Tex Mex and cupcakes and sweet baby snuggles with Miss P. It was so heart warming and touching that Steph drove in to town to see me, even with a newborn and Shay drove a few hours from Austin and stayed overnight - you gals are the best!

With the crazy schedule of work meetings and being in town for just two week days - I unfortunately get to see two other friends: Ashley and Karina and her gorgeous little man, Ryan. I am so sad I missed you sweet friends but I treasure our notes and messages, and keeping in touch. Hopefully, I will be back one day soon.

Tuesday was a lazy day whilst MC worked again - a hot and humid day of last minute shopping, and then exploring the downtown shops and villages, ending off with a tasty bespoke meal at Underbelly.

Wednesday morning, we headed to the airport - next stop... New York.

On our way... First flight of many

Chasing the light

Westin Oaks Hotel

View from our hotel room

Healthy green juices

Sun setting in the Lonestar State

Sunday night pub dinner

Shots at the Honky Tonk

Lunch with the girls

Yummy cupcakes

Meat board at Underbelly

Chicken Soup: All Those Years

11 November 2014

A few months back, I was blessed with a special gift from a blogging friend of mine, Gaelyn.
She spoilt my girls and I with pink goodies - a crochet hat and booties for EN, a pink pet book for SJ and a pocket size Chicken Soup book for me.

The Chicken Soup books were a favourite of mine growing up from: 
Chicken Soup for the Soul
Chicken Soup for the Kids Soul
Chicken Soup for the Pre-Teen Soul
Chicken Soup for the Teenagers Soul
Chicken Soup for the Teachers  Soul
Chicken Soup for the Wife's Soul
Chicken Soup for the Mother's Soul

They all have such beautiful messages in them, and some really stick in my heart.

I've decided to share a few stories from my new book:
Chicken Soup for the Mother's Soul


All Those Years

My friend Debbie's two daughters were in high school when she experienced severe flu-like symptoms. Debbie visited her family doctor, who told her the flu bug had passed her by. Instead, she had been touched by the "love bug" and was now pregnant. 

The birth of Tommy, a healthy, beautiful son, was an event for celebration. and as time went by, it seemed as though every day brought another reason to celebrate the gift of Tommy's life. He was sweet, thoughtful, fun-loving, and a joy to be around.

One day, when tommy was about five years old, he and Debbie were driving to the neighbourhood mall. As is the way with children, out of nowhere, Tommy asked "Mom, how old were you when I was born?" "Thirty-six, Tommy. Why?" Debbie asked, wondering what his little mind was contemplating. 

"What a shame!" Tommy responded. "What do you mean?"Debbie inquired, more than a little puzzled. Looking at her with the love-filled eyes, Tommy said, "Just think of all those years we didn't know each other."

 - Alice Collins - 

Is that not the sweetest story ever?!

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