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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Only old ladies knit!

Why do I knit? I was once told I look like I should be dancing in a night club and not knitting. Was this because I have pink hair and am not an old lady? So why do I knit?

Knitting on Table Mountain

Knitting on Table Mountain

K – Knowledge: because I can. My mother taught me how to knit as a young child. I grew up surrounded by crafts and saw their value as I watched them being created. It all starts with being taught. Sadly so many have a bad start at school and are put off for life. Find the right person to teach you. Once you have the basics, the options are limitless you can just keep adding new skills. The list of things you can make is endless. Learning and challenging our mind is said to keep Alzheimer’s and Dementia at bay – bonus.

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Wedding Dress – I need your opinion please

I love my dress I found for our Pinky and The Geek wedding. It is not traditional at all, but I think it makes my boobs look good.  After spending so much on them, it is, in some very vain way important to me. We are not religious or doing a religious service so I don’t need to worry about modesty. But seriously while my boobs looks look good, I don’t think the dress is too revealing.  But ask Carlè, Carlise or Andre they have seen it on.

I have this overwhelming desire to show The Geek. He is not that keen, but he wanted to know a bit about it so the outfits he gets for himself and his brothers are in keeping.

So my question:

Ladies
Did your husband see your dress before?
Did you like the surprise or value his involvement?

Guys
Did you see the dress before?
What way do you prefer, should it be a surprise?

Or am I over thinking this and placing more value on a dress than a man will ever attribute. And really they don’t care that much?

Oh and what do you think of a first look before the service, so he sees you without the need to keep emotions in check in front of the masses? Or again do I ascribe female emotions to guys, and really they are not capible of the same excitement over how you look?

Please be honest here folks, this is one if you read it please give your 2c

Thanks

Can I have your number?

Is there still a place for old fashioned dating?

I have a non blogging friend that is keen to know if people think there is still place for old fashioned dating, where the guy ask for girls number and ask her out on a date. Social media seems to play such a big role now a days that asking for a number seems less common than sending a FaceBook friend request, or BBM contact or following twitter

I am a social media girl, I met The Geek and most of my friends here in Cape Town through my computer, in one way or another. I actually love that you can chat on places like twitter and have contact with people you might never have crossed paths with otherwise.

When I separated from my ex and started the long divorce process I remember the thought of dating was terrifying. I did not want to have to go hang out in club/bars like when I was 20s. I had no idea how to date as an adult. How do you actually meet people? And having kids added a whole new complexity to this question.

A friend introduced me to twitter and my world just opened. Granted twitter was slower and smaller and the SA tweeters knew each other and chatted often then. Naturally these friendships spilled over into real life and tweetups happened. Through one of these in Cape Town, I met The Geek.

I am quite glad that there was this way to meet people and that I did not have to go out and spend evenings in bars. Or enduring the horror of blind dating. I liked getting to know people first. I also think that it levels the play field a bit. The Geek is awesome, but not always socially confident. He is a true Geek and so asking for someone’s number is not something he did. I wonder if he had spotted me across a bar if he would have ever asked for my number.

But as social media explodes now, it is becoming less personal than a few years ago. I wonder if in some ways it has changed dating, for better or worse I am not sure. At some point people have to step out from behind social media screen and risk getting to know people for who they are. People can be very different on line.

So what do you think, is social media detracting from old fashioned dating?
Did you meet anyone on line or using social media?
Do you wish things were more like they were before?

Envelope Budgeting

I am not bad with money and I am not extravagant in my spending and yet we seem to be getting deeper into debt, there is just never enough. We don’t have a lot of money and what we have is just not going far enough. Slowly the credit card balance is creeping up and I was starting to feel quite anxious and upset every time I thought about the money.

I read a few things on line where people mentioned using the envelope budgeting system. I knew we needed something drastic, a physical way to see how much we have, how much is going out in debit order and what is left to work with. I usually never carry cash. It is always safer not to but at the moment I think it is safer for my mental sanity to get out of debt.

How to Envelope Budget to get out of debt
– The idea is that you make a note of all the debit orders that come off your account and that money gets left in the bank to pay these accounts.
– Critically assess these and see if there are any that you can cut. Phone your car insurance and ask for a better deal, reduce medical aid stop DSTV if you have it or move to a lower package.
– Write categories for all the things that you spend money in the month and also annual expenses. Remember to add car services, car tax and other annual expenses.
– Allocate money to each category – these become your envelopes. It does take some shuffling around to make sure that you cover everything with the amount that is left after the debit orders.
– Draw money and label enveloped with category names and store the money in each envelope, then when you go to buy or pay for that item/category you have to use the envelope.
– Make sure that debt becomes the focus and is paid off as fast as possible

Why it works is that there is no room to guess how much you have left in a month. You quickly see how a coffee here or a quick treat for the kids when out all adds up and busts the budget.

To be honest there is not actually enough for all the envelopes and some are way less than they should be but the focus is to pay off the debit and then hopefully the disposable income will increase and we can beef up some of the envelopes.

It has made us very much more responsible with our money. Not that we were irresponsible before and we always had a rough budget but we got busy and we always thought we were being careful, when in reality with the money coming in we were not being careful enough.

I am also trying to get all our credit card debit in one place. We both had cc from other banks and now we have all these bank accounts that cost money every month just so we can pay off these cards. I want to move them all to the bank we use and then close all the other accounts. I think just doing this will save us R200 a month, every little bit helps.

The most contentious issue has been the smoking envelope. I don’t like that The Geek smokes, he knows that. He wants to stop but there are always life stresses that stop him. But I think seeing the envelope full of money for cigarettes when we can’t pay everything else is harder than he thought it would be. I said when we started that if he got a cigarette envelope then I wanted one for yarn to feed my knitting addiction. Well needless to say there was nothing left for yarn. I joke with him now that he is smoking my wool. But I think it may have actually motivated him to try and stop or at least cut down.

The thought of getting married is actually making me sad, no matter how many corners we cut and how cheaply we do it. Even if we do have it at home to save on venue costs, we still actually don’t have any extra to have a wedding envelope. I think it is going to have to be called off for the foreseeable future.

I will let you know how it goes but I highly recommend using this system to help control the downward spiral, especially if money is tight.

Now the crafty side of me ( not the sly fox but the creative crafty) thinks we need some pretty enevlopes and that my paper ones are not going to last very long. Hmm maybe felt?

Have you tried the envelope system before?

Dear Skin I am 35 not 15

Pimples might be part of what you have to endure as a teenager, and while it is not fun, it is almost bearable when all your contemporaries are as spotty as you are and bad skin is par for the course.

But roll on 34 years 11 months and 4 days, and well, the bad skin problem is getting old. Wrinkles and pimples are not things that I thought I would be combating at the same time. I thought I would have packed away the teen skin products and moved swiftly to the anti wrinkle creams with not too much over lap between the two, but alas this is not the case.

The fact is that if life was fair, I really should have been able to leave pimples behind after high school, or at the very least been able to wave them good bye by the time I got the plonk on the head and accepted my degree after university. The normal amount of time that one expects to be plagued by pimples, spots, zits, blackheads, chorbs. I am sure that there are many more gross names for them, and please feel free to share them with me in the comments, but I am grossing myself out now already with that list. If you could have a webcam shot of my face you would see my up turned nose and grimace at even having to type the word chorb! It was one I hated from school, it is just so repulsive in its entirety. Certainly not a word I thought would feature in my life in any way shape of form at almost 35.

But enough moaning, I still have bad skin. Not the worst ever, and I guess a lot better than some of my teenage years, but enough to be embarrassing at times. Enough to make me frustrated with being my age and even needing to think about acne treatment. I know I am not alone, I have seen others moan about it on twitter and blogs,so it seemed like reason enough to blog about it and what I discovered recently. If only, to share what I found, and to help anyone else feel less alone, if they too still have skin issues.

I googled adult acne one night when lying in bed, after my evening skin care routine had left me feeling very despondent. I was looking to see if there was anything new, anything that might help. I came across a site called acne.org

I was looking for what was new and ways to treat my skin now that might be different from when I was a teenager and no it seems that actually nothing has changed the same thing that helped teenagers – benzoyl peroxide is the same thing that helps now. I found Dan’s Regimen very interesting. The biggest thing that I took from it was to stop rubbing, scrubbing and any type of facial exfoliation. The touch needed was very minimal and as light as possible and he has a whole range of suggestions for products that can help.

While there seems to be a limited number of things that actually meet all the requirements I did manage to find some stuff here in SA. Granted that I have not had enough time to trawl the shops kid-free and read all the products and ingredient lists to find the perfect ones, but I think I have found some that just might work. I have yet to find benzoyl peroxide in 2,5% but I did find 5%. I read somewhere else on the web, that you could dilute it with water so that is what I have been doing for now but I will look for the 2,5% version and if anyone see it or has found it here please let me know.

So far I have been doing this for just under a week and even though I am pre menstral, usually a skin disaster time, I am seeing a slow improvement rather than a steady getting worse of my skin. The results are slow but he says that you have to start slowly so your skin gets used to the benzoyl peroxide and then build up to the doses that actually help.

My main motivation is to have clear skin for the wedding. I can not get married again and still have pimples! I will even settle for clearer skin.

Wrinkles… well lets not even go there. I am saying that they are all laughter lines and are therefore supposed to be there.

Do you have a love hate relationship with your skin?
Have you even suffered with adult acne?
or are you amongst the lucky ones with clean clear skin?

(and in case you were wondering the chemical thingy in the picture is benzoyl peroxide, see what The Geek has done to me, I put chemical thingy pictures into my blog, and now I am grinning thinking about his face when he reads then from his RRS feed and cringes inwardly at my use of the words chemical thingy. Well he might have served to add to my Geekiness but Pinky is still a little clueless about some of these things. But the picture was pretty and much better than what I could have put on here if I searched for acne pictures)

Love

.

.

Update on the Honeymoon and other news

Update Klaus was able to get the vendor to agree to let us go next year. I am sure it is in part because Klaus was willing to help and the only person that happened to listen to us and try help. No one we spoke to even bother to call back then promised. I also think that a large part of getting the problem solved was the pressure from twitter. There were a lot of retweets and bad press about Groupon flying around twitter. It was sad to hear how many people have had terrible experiences through Groupon. I personally will not use them again. I am just grateful to Klaus for sorting this out. I think Groupon got off lightly as it was the hotel that agreed to take us at a time when they had not actually offered the deal. Groupon did not take any responsibility for their mistake or bear any of the consequences.

– In other news we are all a bit sick, the first of the winter seasons colds have hit the house.

– The Geek is in Namibia and has been delayed and will now only be home on Saturday, this is of course when I am home coping alone with a house of sick kids and sick Pinky

– When I came home from dinner at Carle last night, we stayed on after our Wednesday playdate as The Geek was away. Titus cried most of the way home. I got to the driveway and had to get out to turn off the a,arm as Titus was cryng too much for me to hear it beep off. I get back to the car and it is dead. No idea how a car drives perfectly fine from the farm here and then will not start again in the driveway. I tried to push it in but with no luck. I then unpacked the whole car with Rachel holding a screaming Titus. I am not sure if other Mommy cars get like mine but it seems everything and the kitchen sink was in there. I just had to leave the car outside, it would be a day that The Geek was not here!

– I have a cold sore, I have not had one of these for years, maybe before the children. It is really ouchy

– I finished a fabulous neck scarf for myself which I totally love.

– Tanya from Snapping Turtle has designed the most amazing logo for the Pinky & The Geek wedding, so now I can get the save the dates out soon. We have done a trade ( I love trades) and so I need to get knitting on her order.

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Groupon ruined my dream Honeymoon

The Geek and I have dreamed of going to some small island or tropical get away for our honeymoon. The budget is tight, we can’t really afford to get married but we are making a plan. It was so important to us not to spend too much money on wedding or the ring as we are desperate to go away together alone.

We met when I had Pinklet 1 and 2 in tow. Soon Pinklet 3 joined the gang. We love our kids and having a family but we have NEVER been alone.

I dreamed of going to Mozambique to a place my sister told me about. But we could not afford it. I was beyond excited when I saw a deal for a 5 day trip to Mozambique for 50% off. The deal said low season January to March and then after Easter until before Christmas. But it had no end date.

Seeing as it was already the end of March I thought maybe the deal was available 2013. It was Sunday afternoon. I emailed Groupon and the hotel to check.

I never received a reply email from groupon. I phoned on Tuesday as I did not want to miss the deal. I asked and the phone consultant agreed the deal was unclear. He went to ask his manager and came back and said it was available 2013. I said I was very happy as we wanted it for our honeymoon but only if we could use it next year.

I bought the deal on my credit card and if we pay it off slowly we would be okay and could try get money for flights. I was so happy.

Later in the week, I get an email from the hotel saying no the deal was only for this year. I immediately phoned groupon, they changed their story and said it was not available. I was so upset and asked to speak to a manager. Klaus was lovely and I think because he was leaving the next day to get married on the weekend, he understood how important this deal was to us. He promised to negotiate with the vendor and try work something out. He left to get married and emailed me the details of the people following it up.

They of course never emailed or contacted me. I emailed them asking what was happening. No reply. The Geek phoned on last week, no one knew about it and had not followed up after Klaus left. The girl The Geek spoke to also promised to get back to us – nothing.

Until today when I get a email saying the deal has been refunded to me. I don’t want a refund! No one had the courtesy just to call us. So now I am tweeting and blogging and linking this on FaceBook.

The Geek just gchatted me ( yes we are very geeky during the day too, sometimes I can even make him blush. The best is when it pops up on his screen at work and a work buddy or client is looking at his screen and it is one of those messages, hee he bad Pinky) he spoke to Klaus who is going to try negotiate with the vendor if this does not work I am going to ask for you help. Klaus is the only decent one there who actually follows up on his word and does contact you back. Nothing happened the 2 weeks he was away. Poor man is only just back from his own honeymoon. But maybe that help him realize how important this is.

Can you guys please help me?
Tweet @groupon_za and say it is not right what they have done to The Geek and me.

FaceBook message them

Or if anyone knows if there is anything legally we can do, please let me know.

I am in tears. This was our dream honeymoon, they promised it was available and just with a cold clinical refund email my dreams are shattered.

We have this screen shot of the deal, and a close up of the dates