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Drama party

28 Sep

Léa has been doing drama for a few years and it has become one of her highlights in the week. Last month it was her birthday, and going from a superhero party (don’t ask me where it came from) to a hamper party (which excited her – and me – as much as going to the dentist) to no party at all, I finally had a lightbulb moment and thought of a drama party! It turned out to be the easiest party to organise and probably the one that she enjoyed the most.

The idea with our drama party was to put into practice everybody’s acting skills. Most children are drama queens anyway, so it was  a matter of putting structure around these theatrical little people.

We started with a few rounds of charade to get warmed up.

Stella acting ‘going to bed’,

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Léa acting ‘catching a big fish’,
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Rachel acting ‘a hook’,

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and Kiera wondering how to act something that seemed to scare her 🙂

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Our second short game challenged them to line up first according to height, then in alphabetical order of their first name. All that without being allowed to speak! They struggled a bit with all the ‘Ks’: Killian, Kaira, Kiera, Katie!!

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They clearly needed some fresh air by then. We went outside where they had to act according to how they feel about words I told them.

Here they are expressing their feelings about ‘bananas’: one happy chap, others…not so much,

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their feelings about monsters (not sure about Léa here),

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and their feelings about birthdays.

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We then moved on to acting different emotions. Rachel and Kaira being sad,

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Kiera, Dayna and Léa being tired,

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Killian and Matt being angry (my boys are familiar with this feeling as you can see by their great acting face),

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Cass and Kaira being bored (to death for Kaira it seems),

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and Katie showing surprise.

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After some well-deserved refreshments, the part that Léa had been looking forward to for weeks and weeks was a showcase of a short scene. She wrote a script of an argument scene between four people (a convenient writing assignment for school taken care of). The kids were then split into 2 teams and each team had to prepare and perform their scene in a different style.

Here they are preparing their lines (so professional).

Team 1: Léa, Kiera, Kaira and Rachel

Team 2: Dayna, Stella, Katie and Cass

Team 1 was given the style Downton Abbey – british and aristocratic (Yes, Léa might have watched an episode or two…).

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Team 2 was given hip-hop style – the yoyo-dude and what’s up-sister style. They definitely looked the part!

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They really had a lot of fun all together, a real creative and teamwork outlet for a 10 year-old birthday party.

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A month full of Jion…

14 May

Three times a year, at Jion, the karate school that my kids attend, there is a grading. A grading allows a child to get his next karate belt if his Sensei (teacher) thinks that he is ready to grade.

Before sending your child off to grading though, they have to go through what is called a’ mock grading’ – which is almost like the idea of a ‘staged combat’. In the Middle Ages, the jousting games were also referred to as ‘mock fights’. So there you have it, a piece of not-so-useful information to drop at your next dinner party. A mock grading is therefore like a dress rehearsal before the premiere of a theatrical play. Stress levels are on a rise and performing at your best is important if you wish to prove to your Sensei that you are in fact ready to go to the real grading.

A few weeks before the mock grading, in our house, we live through a lot of karate moments. Over and above their twice a week karate lessons, there are moments of practicing their kata (organised moves that represent a fake fight), moments of staged fights with dad, teaching and teasing each other and of course a lot of hope and expectations to get the ‘Oss’ signal from their Sensei.

Between the mock grading and the actual grading, there are usually only 5 days (from the Saturday to the Thursday). However, the first grading for this year happened to be over some public holidays which meant that between mock and grading, we had almost 2 weeks. Two weeks over which a lot of bargaining and rewarding could – and did – happen.

‘Mmmh no, you can’t play on the iPad until you practised your karate.’

‘Ooh I don’t think you should behave like this. A genuine karate-kid should know better. Maybe you aren’t ready to grade to green belt… ‘

Aaaah, happy days these were…

These days of easy bargaining came to an end  beginning of May when the kids from Jion that were ready to grade, graded.

Léa and Killian graded to, respectively orange and green belt and Matty got 2 stripes on his white belt. Not yet ready to grade to yellow, his grading stopped at the mock grading. It’s always a positive life lesson when hard work is rewarded with the coveted result and for that day at least, their world remained a just, fair and fun world. Long may it last…

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More than ever before I am convinced of the right choice of sport for all my children. Whether they are competitive, perfectionist, low-confident or just floppy, the values of discipline, respect for each other, hard work, healthy body development and a fun Sensei really build them up and make for a holistic approach to what is good for them.

And the best part is that they love it!!

If you’re interested in finding out more about karate in Cape Town, you can contact Sensei Dirk by going to the website

I promise I don’t have share in the business!! 🙂

Take 2 – Surprises work better when people show up!

19 Apr

So after being left in the dark, in the stairways, behind a closed door, disappointed and forlorn, we heard footsteps from below. Recognising the mother’s footsteps, Claude quickly opened the door and we shoved ourselves into the living-room for a Take 2 -Real surprise!

Things I learned from this video:

1. The dog is very important (Just kidding. I already knew that!)

2. Man, but I have big teeth! I never took Phillip’s teasing seriously but he’s got a point!!!

3. My mother is more resistant than I thought! Fair enough, it’s not like I came back from the dead, but coming all the way from the bottom of Africa unexpectedly, I thought she would be more flabbergasted!

4. Last but not least, it was so flipping nice to surprise my mum like that!!!! I love surprises!!!!

Surpriiiiiise!!!! NOT.

18 Apr

Well it only took me a month to get back into the swing of things after my little escapade in France and around.

After struggling with YouTube for a day or two, I managed to upload the first of the two videos I want to post. Here is the story of the first one.

On the Friday, Lea and I finally arrived, with only one hour of delay. Claude, secretly, fetched us from the airport. After ignoring my mum’s frantic calls, panicking about the whereabouts of  Claude (Frejus is a very dangerous town. Who knows what can happen to a fully grown man in the middle of the afternoon downtown??!!), we finally parked at the back of the residency to avoid being spotted from the balcony. We walked like spies on a mission, clucked like excited chicken as we climbed the 3 floors to my mum’s flat, knocked on the door and…



France baby!!

3 Mar

Tonight it is from France that I’m writing. I know that you’ve all been dying to hear from me because my life is that interesting. Usually it would be a sarcastic comment (because my real name is Inks Sarcastic VB – I know you’re jealous right now!) but today, it is not. After all, I am in a hotel, in Carcassonne, with my only daughter, and my mum and Claude in the bedroom next door. Not too shabby!!

Rewind a few couple of days and the beginning of the big surprise for my mum’s birthday started. In a plane from Cape Town to Nice. Without a tribe to look after, only my very compliant, easy going little girl. What an easy trip it would be: no running after an hyperactive boy, no troop-motivating-general for my I-prefer-the-sitting-position other boy and no holding the vomit bag for my motion sickness husband. No wonder people think women should rule the universe!!

Anywhoo, I wondered who would be sitting next to me in the plane. My daughter’s only request was the window seat so I feared sitting next to a smelly man or a chatty woman. Don’t you hate people that try to make conversation in a plane? I’m not a fan, trying to hear what they say and smiling and nodding. But luckily, the Lord knew that my biggest need at that point was a quiet trip. The guy that sat next to me was a man (grandpa age, to reassure my jealous husband who thinks that men are just out to get me!) who was neither smelly nor chatty. In fact, I seriously doubted he was alive, were it not for him making a move towards his fork. He didn’t move, he didn’t look at his tv screen, he didn’t go to the toilet nor did he use his blanket. The only proof I had that he was in fact human was that he ate – everything on his tray.

Lea stared at her screen and slept. And I stared at my screen and tried to sleep.  I envy all those people who can sleep seated. Maybe my neck is abnormal but my head falls forward making me look stupid and half dead.

Otherwise apart for the hour late departure from London to Nice, it was a very uneventful trip.

That's us - 20 hours after departure. It's our best side.

That’s us – 20 hours after departure. It’s our best side.

Life. Hermione’s style.

22 Jan

Before I became a Potter, I had a normal family, with (a) normal children daughter. Little did I know how much I was missing out on the Hermione Granger’s phenomenon.

Hermione Granger: the heroine that saved my daughter from becoming another victim of, I don’t know, what’s worse than Hannah Montana??

Thank you Joanna Kathleen.  Thank you for Hermione. I’m sad they forced you to write J.K to hide the fact that you’re a woman. That sucks. But you saved us from another generation of girls thinking that the best thing after living with 7 dwarves is living, like Montana, a double life (school girl by day, famous pop star by night and NOONE knows?? The suspense is killing me!)

For more than a year now, my daughter morphed into a nerdy, bushy hair witch, professing freezing curses or invisibility spells, armed with a wand and a book of HP. What’s not to like you might ask? I’ll tell you what’s not to like: nothing!

#1. Nerdy is the new skinny.

Nerdy AND bushy. What a role model!

Nerdy AND bushy.
What a role model!

If you had read my post about losing weight, you’d remember that it ain’t easy. And if you haven’t read it, you are dead to me.

Hermione taught me essential things, like nerdy has nothing on skinny. In the Prisoner of Azkaban, she actually masters the forces of time and space simply to have more hours in the day  to study. Now, that’s what I call dedication! Plus her wardrobe would not get her in the ‘popular’ circles! When last did you see the Batman cape on the catwalk, hein?

As a homeschooling mum, let me tell you she’s my dream student! Aaaah, if only my children would be geeks too…


#2. Bushy hair is like soft music to my ears.

Like a real nerd, Hermione has no time for flat-ironing her hair. She is average looking really, and she challenged the long straight blond hair beauty stereotype. That’s right, all you with straight hair, make way for the frizzy bush.

This is a daily scene in my house:

Me: standing in the bathroom working with these cursed curls.

Léa: I love your bushy hair mum. You’re soooo luuucky!!

#3. A wand is better than a tiara – any day.

Tiaras are so yesterday!

Honestly, what can Ken do with a tiara?

Tiaras are so overrated. They just sit there (if at all…) Even Barbie rejects the look.

With a wand, pshew, the possibilities are endless! I’ve been frozen, rendered invisible, levitated; all that by a wannabe-Hermione (yes, that’s my daughter I’m talking about!). Hermione, well, no doubt she knows the value of a wand.

Hermione: “You — crawl — back — here — after — weeks — and — weeks — oh, where’s my wand?

Harry: “Protego! Hermione! Calm —

Hermione: “I will not calm down! Give me back my wand! Give it back to me!


#4. She is nothing special.

That’s a big deal people! Nowadays, everyone seems to have a really special talent, a visible sign that they’re just not your typical next door neighbour – if you don’t have one, you can be my average next-door-neighbour. Hermione is a muggle (Not a mogwai, no, those are the creatures that turn into Gremlins). A muggle is someone whose parents are the average Joe. She isn’t born with a magic wand in her hand. She has to work hard at becoming the best witch in her class. There is no prophecy assuring her that she might live. She is principled, hard worker and brave (It’s almost too easy to hate her really) There’s always a moment in the movies when they have to turn to the brightest witch of her age to save the day and that’s why her name is on every cover (that, and the fact that it’s probably stipulated in her million-dollar contract).

Now I hope I’ve made my point.Next time you hear your daughter complain about her hair or her lack of special talent, make her read Harry Potter. Twice. That’s what my girl did!


Some lobe transformation…

4 Jul

Because we were in France over Matty’s birthday – he got spoilt!!! – my mum wanted to spoil the other two as well, in advance of their birthday. So I thought and thought and thought and couldn’t find an interesting present for Léa. (I mean, does she really need another Barbie??). Until I got a lightbulb moment and had the best idea of a gift for Léa. She had been begging us ‘wheeeeeeennnn can I have my ears piiiiierced??!!’ so it was absolutely too special to do that with her and to do it in France where it will be a memory to cherish for ever!! It was extremely special for my mum as well to orchestrate and be there for that special occasion.

I do realize that it’s only a pair of ears being pierced (as I sound a bit over enthusiastic over the whole event). I really didn’t expect to feel so sentimental about it but it absolutely felt like a rite of passage for my little girl!! And I’m glad that I have footage of it 🙂

I do need to add that Léa was far braver than me at the same age. The lady that pierced my ear (no ‘s’!!) when I was about 8 couldn’t – wouldn’t – pierce my second one as I was screaming too much!! I’m so glad that at 36, I managed to have a second hole in both my ears!!!

Two minutes and forty-three seconds of smile on my face!!

Karate is contagious!

18 May

Our house has become very safe over the last month or so, thanks to these 3 karate kids! Léa and Matty follow in the steps of Killian. Matty with his I-don’t-really-mind attitude is decidedly the most chilled out karate person I know. Léa listens attentively and tried her hardest to look the part. Mmmh, she makes me think of the prayer mantis character in Kung-Fu Panda, with her long dangling body.

But they are all super motivated (Matty in his own way), they love it, they sweat at it (Matt comes at the end of each lesson and tells me “Look Mama, I’m nearly sweating!’). Léa is practicing practicing practicing. She is in the same class as Killian (white, yellow and orange belts are together) and wants to feel that she is good enough.

I love the structure of karate, the discipline it requires, the respect of others and the way the gradings are organized. If you work hard, whether you look good or not, you will move on to the next belt (well, in the early stages at least) which is great for young kids. It helps them to stay motivated and to know that they can do it. No doubt, Killian looks much better than Léa, but to a certain extent, it’s irrelevant.

Here they are, taking their role very seriously! Killian not flinching (apart from the oh-look!-a-butterfly moment), Léa trying to look fierce, and Matt and his cooler-than-cool attitude. Aren’t they cute!!!

The only downside is the washing. Lots of white, white and white!!

The day she cut it…

18 Mar

After months of threatening, bargaining, crying and begging, we both agreed that it was time. Time to let go of the long mass of hair that crowned her beautiful head. Yes. Léa had her hair cut.
Here is the before during and after.






Léa in September

24 Oct

In the past few weeks where it seems that I have disappeared from wordpress, life has actually carried on. Fast. And busy. And my poor family is complaining.

So this is what Léa has been up too.

Léa has ridden horses. By herself. Her birthday giftS were all combined to get her some horse riding lessons. She was delighted to get up close and personal with different horses. I realized that she is actually a bit scared of these big and tall creatures but loves being near them and groom them. During one of her lesson, she went on a ride with her teacher and her horse tripped, making her fall off the horse. Without me there,she had to be brave and get back on the horse (literally). And she did.

Life lesson 1. (the hard way) Perseverance.

Léa has taken part in the choir festival organized and hosted by Sweet Valley, including 2 other schools. Many rehearsals later, we enjoyed a fantastic evening at the Great City Hall. Beautiful venue but unfortunately neglected due to a lack of money. The choirs though were great. Beautiful singing does bring joy to the heart. Léa once again had to go out of her comfort zone. It’s a big group of kids, it’s very loud and it’s without me. She did very well. I so wish I could make her understand that she is such a great little girl, that she doesn’t have to worry so much but that is another life lesson that will take forever for her to completely grasp. In the meantime, we were so proud of her and she felt quite good about herself too 😉

Life lesson 2 (in progress) Confidence.

Summer came and winked at us for a few days; days during which Léa had her first swim, and her first beach outing of the season!

Life lesson 3. Summer is more fun than winter 😉

Now that days are longer and warmer, a friend of mine – whose daughter is great friend with Léa – motivated us to go run with them. Her 3 girls and my 3 kids started to run together, not more than 20 minutes, just in our neighborhood. We’ve only done it twice but the excitement is grand.

Life lesson 4. Exercise is good for you but it hurts less if you don’t moan while you do it.

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