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Surpriso Box : Arts and crafts made easy

I like the idea of doing arts and crafts with my kids, but when it comes down to the nitty gritty of actually doing it this is where I trip up. Either we doing have all the supplies and I don’t want to buy 100 brown bags to use 3 or I don’t want 5 different colour rolls of celephane to cut out a small piece of each. Arts and crafts take effort and planning and I worry about the mess and cleaning up.

If you are like me and think you should do more crafts with your kids but always put it off with a lot of excuses then Surpriso is for you. Well it is for you if you are Super Mom, all organised and don’t mind mess too, it will just make it a little easier. But for moms who are a little frayed around the edges and the house is already a tip and the thought of adding paint and glitter makes you want to cry it is perfect.


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Girls can’t be astronauts

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“Girls Can”  T-shirts available here

Girls can’t be astronauts!” I hear Caleb emphatically telling Rachel. My heart drops and I silently I despair as I realise how far we have to go in gender equality.

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I am a slightly reluctant camper. I did a lot of camping as a kid with Brownies and Guides. We also went camping as as family and in university quite a lot. So I am no stranger to camping I just choose not to do it anymore. When The Geek says he wants to go camping with the kids I tell him to have a nice time, I would rather stay home and knit.

So when Karin asked me to be the camp nurse on the kids nature camp I was dreading the camping part a bit. But it turned out to be a lot more pleasant than expected.

We left Cape Town on the Saturday morning and the first stop was the shooting range. Both Karin and her husband shoot and feel it is important to teach gun safety to children and teach them respect and not fear for a weapon. Stuart gave the kids a very good talk on gun safety and especially what to do if another child tries to show you a gun. Many kids are hurt/killed when showing off or playing with a parents gun. Each child go 2 turns at the target and they all enjoyed it very much
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Step Parenting

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The Geek is Step Dad to Rachel and Caleb and biological dad to Titus. He has been the only father figure the kids have known since they were 5 and 2, they are now 10 and 7. They have occasional skype contact with their dad in the UK  and a short visit if they go over to the UK which will be once each in the 5 years.

I have heard differing opinions about how step parents should interact with step kids:

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Morning of Play Dough

I had a bit of a sad day yesterday so today I thought I would just make it fun for the kids and me and just enjoy stuff together. We built puzzles, I just gave them time and attention, instead of trying to juggle too many other things. I then made play dough.

All 3 had fun, Titus had to learn not to eat it 😀

I thought the things the older 2 made were so clever.


Caleb’s mince, peas, carrots, beans and lettuce

Rachel’s selection of cakes

Rachel’s chicken, peas, carrots, lettuce, beans and tomatoe

Rachel made a cake for Titus

Caleb’s Cakes

Rachel made a steak tartare, she watched the Mr Bean episode on You Tube and then we watched how to make it properly on You Tube last night. Hers has the capers and pickles and everything in it.

The danger of ‘Perfect Parenting’

Do you ever have that moment when you realize that some people’s perception on you is so different from reality or the way you see yourself? Two incidences recently made me see how dangerous perceptions can be.

I have been called an Earth Mother, and I guess it is understandable, we are doing the sustainability drive, I use cloth nappies and home school. It is not a title that I would give myself. I am very normal in most aspects, and to me an Earth Mother is so different, she wears tie dye, and only organic flowing clothes, she feeds her kids vegan organic food and colourants are evil, they don’t drink coffee and are even more conscious of their footprint on the earth than I am. They wear crystals, meditate and have no TV. That is just the stereotype picture in my mind of an Earth Mother. I think I am just a regular person trying to find easy ways to be greener.

And while I don’t mind being called an Earth Mom, what I learnt is that people have this idea that because I am more natural, that somehow I am a perfect mom. That being earth conscious makes you calm and never loose your cool. That you have a peaceful home and that somehow parenting is easy for you.

When I admitted to some friends awhile ago that I was having a tough time and just felt like getting in my car and driving far away, the response was not what I expected. There was no empathy or nodding agreement of how tough parenting can be. No, there was joy. Delight, that I am normal and have moments of not coping. They had this picture in their minds that somehow me being natural meant being perfect or always calm. I understand their reaction, because when we perceive others as perfect it highlights to us how much we are failing. We know we are not achieving these same levels of perfection. The problem is that we set them and ourselves up for heartache with these perceptions.

I know my friends did not mean to be unkind and they were just relieved that I was normal too, but in this laughing and joking about their perception of me they forgot that I was sharing something painful, my own feelings of failure as a mother. My own frustrations. The moment past and no one ask how I was. It was just enough I was normal, no one needed or wanted to know any more than that. It was a lesson to me that people’s perception of you can sometimes stand in their way of being able to empathize with you.

The second incident was when I met someone at a home school meet up and she made a passing comment about never having had a moment of not loving being a parent, it was such a blessing to her. My reaction was to politely smile and nod and inside I thought ‘gosh how does she love parenting so much all the time with 3 kids’ It made me feel hugely inadequate as I knew there were time I did not love it.

A few days later however I was angry. I am sure she did not mean to sound perfect and just wanted to convey that she loved motherhood. But to say you love every moment is a lie. I thought either she has some great drugs and I want some of those, or she drugs her kids, or she was trying to compensate for not always being perfect. She was more religious than me ( well more is a silly word to put in there as you can’t get any less religious than me, but you know what I mean) maybe she thought that admitting there are tough times is somehow detraction from the gift and ‘blessing’ that kids are supposed to be. But whatever her reason it was unkind to make yourself sound so perfect.

As mothers we need to think a little before we say these things, trying to convince ourselves that we are perfect means you miss that chance to get support when times are hard. Telling others you love parenting all the times makes them feel bad and you stop them sharing with you if they are finding it hard. And times will be hard, there is no one who can tell me that parenting is wonderful all the time. I don’t believe you. And if you think someone is getting it right and a perfect parent, chances are your perception is wrong and they have moments they mess up just like you do.

I think we can learn a great deal from other parents and the way others do things if we are open to admitting our failures and sharing our sucesses honestly and openly.

So here is my introduction. Hi I am Sally-Jane and I am not a perfect parent.

  •  I loose my temper, more frequently than I would like.
  • My kids eat sweets.
  •  There are days when I hate being a mom, I don’t stop loving my kids but I hate how hard and frustrating and difficult some days can be.
  • I don’t really like the baby stage at all.
  • My kids are not always polite
  • Somedays they go to be dirty and I forget to brush their teeth
  • I swore I would never smack them and I try very very hard not to but I have. And then I have said sorry
  • I apologies to my kids and tell them when I mess up, they need to know I am no more perfect than they are
  • I swear more than I should
  • There are days when I just want to send them all to school


There are list of other things that I do wrong but to balance these are times of fun, laughter and love than you will never find any other way than having kids. The bad moments pass, but the times that you are living through them are difficult and we need to support each other, not isolate ourselves with ideals of perfection.



Are there times that you have felt inadequate looking at someone else parent?

Or moments you have had where parenting was hard?


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What would you change?

There is a time machine in front of you right now! Imagine it as an old one like this, the steampunkness of it appeals to me, or a new fancy sci-fi type. In the air you can smell the heavy scent of possibility. If you step inside you get to set one date, you will be able to go back in your own life. Give yourself a pep talk and change the decisions that you will make. Would you take it? Would you go? Or could you walk away.

On twitter today I asked ” Do you regret more the things you did do or the things you didn’t”
It was interesting to see people responses. It was a mix actually. I then spoke to The Geek and being philosophical as ever he said it was pointless to regret anything. If carefully considered and made the best decision you could at the time with what you knew then you did your best. But he is not impulsive like me. I don’t always carefully consider anything. I am the typical embodiment of the saying “fools rush in where angels fear to tread”. Then he said if you don’t do something you don’t know how it would have been and so regret is again pointless

I had one conversation I had was about a single important regretted decision and faced with a time machine it would be very conflicting to decide what to do. It seems on one level easy to think that you would like to go back with what you know now and help yourself make a different decision. But that changes EVERYTHING, it changes who we are and who we become.

The hurt, even at its deepest, shapes who we become. Strength comes from enduring and character from making hard decisions.

For example I married the wrong person the first time, but without that I would not have my kids, but it is more than that, I would not have known I did not have them, if that makes sense. But there is so much more that it is taught me and moulded me that I think in myself I would be different. I would not have pink hair.

Things I do wish I could change involve hurting others. And at times I wish I could undo some of that. We are often selfish and we don’t always act thinking of others. But maybe it was part of their journey and lessons to learn.

To feel the really good, we have to be able to weather through the really bad. Otherwise we are just anesthetized and live through all experiences without really feeling them. The sadness that brings you to your knees and makes it hard to even breath, is balanced by the joy that makes your heart want to burst. If we undo the bad maybe we undo the good too.

So would you get into the time machine and go and do or undo something?

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Making a needle felted chicken

I am making us a Nature Table, I don’t really follow a Waldorf type home schooling approach but there are some things that I like and a nature table is one of them. It is just an area that they can have seasonal things and stuff they collect from nature, it can have a theme or just be random stuff, the possibilities are endless.

I decided to base our for the moment a bit on what we are doing in the garden with growing and with the chickens as the kids are involved and learning from what we are doing in this challenge.

Rachel had some wooden fruit and vegetables from her kitchen set which we put on the table on a silk which we dyed green. We added a family from her dolls house although I want to ask Ghilraen who make lovely felted figures (usually gnomes) if she will make me our family for our table. We needed a chicken so I thought it would be nice to needle felt one as I had a kit that I was keen to try.

This is how I made it.
Disclaimer: This is the second time I have needle felted anything so I just made it up as I went along. I am not sure if I did it right or if I broke some cardinal rules of felting but it worked.

I made a black and white chicken as I was making one to look like Jack Hen that is our new chicken that laying eggs. To make the black and white I took a bit of black and white fibre and layered it and then started felting. To make the ball I just kept felting around and turning it until I had a ball.

I then made another smaller ball the same way and felted it onto the bigger ball

I then took some more fibre and started making a flatter shape that I used as a tail. It was a bit big to start with but I know what to do if I want to make a peacock one day

I then felted it down and make it the curved shape like the chicken, I must admit that I did make a few trips outside to see the chicken. I did look on the internet for ideas but there were not many examples that I liked so I just kept looking at Jack Hen rather.

I was worried that it looked too much like a small bird and after a visit out to Jack Hen I decided that it needed to be a bit taller so I decided to make another ball to add on the top

I then added the comb with some red fibre

I then added a orange beak

I added some orange and red bits to the face after studying Jack Hen, I am not sure I got to totally right.

Rachel made a grass nest

This is the live model Jack Hen

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Alice in Wonderland Party

It was Rachel’s 7th birthday in September and we had an Alice in Wonderland Party.
A huge thank you to Catherine to the amazing pictures as always.

Alice the birthday girl






This way, That way, Up, down Sign

Some of the Guests

Brothers, much better than Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum



Mad Hatter Boys

The Cheshire cat with his grin


White Rabbit

Queen of Hearts Soldiers


Papa looking just down right odd 🙂

The Cake

My sister, Jenni, in the UK make amazing cakes and she found these figures for me to use as there was no way I could mold them. She then emailed me the design and talked me through how to make it. I think for a non cake maker it came out okay.




Party Bags
I used 2 liter milk bottles and cut the tops off to make the party bags which I then turned into white rabbit by attaching ears and eyes and a packet watch and drawing a face

Each bag had a bath fizz with hearts in which had made the previous week

A Mome Rath ( they are little pom pom head type creatures that make a arrow for Alice to follow in the forest) made from 2 different pipe cleaners gun gunned together with a pom pom head and googly eyes

 The rest of the bag was sweets and goodies

The Table Decorations and Food


I made a cake stand using odd cups and saucers and plates that I had collected at 2nd hand shops, they are slightly harder to find than you would think. Then I glue gunned them together ( well by I it is implied The Geek 😉 )

I found this Cheshire cat pattern on line and of course I had to knit it for the table. I did land up sewing him at after the cake and table was done the night before and the crown was made so I did not go to bed that night. *sigh*, I always try do too much.

I found these Eat Me and Drink Me signs from Pinterest here

Made Cheshire Cat Tails from marshmallows and chocolate, it was harder to make the purple than I thought it would be. Also saw the idea on Pinterest, not that mine looked even half as good


Our take on Bread and Butterflies

Queen of Hearts Jam Tarts

Heart Cupcakes

Rainbow Jelly, this was fun to make but took a long time

I found this little teapot with a hole in it and thought it would be cute for the Dormouse to sit in

Tea Party

Blowing out candles

All in all I think it all went well.

Dreams don’t lie


I was having a nap with Titus the other day and was in a light, almost awake state but asleep enough to dream. Does that make sense?

Anyway I was dreaming The Geek and I were on a camp somewhere and were desperately trying to be alone to have sex. It was not working, we were being interrupted a lot. Hmm no genius is needed for dream interpretation. Babies and kids, well parenting is general causes one’s sex life to take a nose dive.

It is not from lack of desire, want or need but rather circumstantial. One falls asleep early, or the baby is awake or the other kids are awake or we are just busy with household things that need doing.

It is a good thing they are so cute and we forgive them the damage they do to libido

I was teasing The Geek with a few seductive sms’s while he was shopping today. Let’s hope the kids, the energy levels and the hormones all play along tonight.

Do you ever have sexy sms conversations?
Do you also check the number 100% just to make sure it does not for some obscure reason suddenly become your mother’s number?
How has having kids affected your sex life?