Being a person of colour

We’ve just come back from a really great 5night family holiday in Harties. When we left on Saturday, Riley commented that he can’t wait to make friends. I was quite surprised at the comment knowing that we were more than likely going to be alone in our Air BnB house with nobody else around, and that trips out in the area and dinners/lunches out would probably be just us especially because of COVID. Most places don’t have play areas open, and even if they do, the social distancing aspect is still high on our list of priorities during lockdown. Our rented house also had a pool in the massive yard, so I assumed that we’d spend most of our time there with temperatures reaching mid to high 30s for our entire stay which is exactly what we did!

Vintage soldier boys

But one afternoon, while the boys were playing on their tablets, I noticed two boys around Ethan’s age hanging around outside our house. I assumed that they had probably seen our boys and were “checking them out”. After some time of them walking around outside our house, I asked them whether they were looking for somebody to which they replied no. A few more minutes passed and they were still outside, so I suggested to my boys that they go chat to them. Riley – ever the confidant one, although being younger – ran out to make friends. Ethan is more reluctant to put himself “out there” so to speak, usually preferring his brother to do the dirty work for them both. So Ethan was still in the house and Riley was outside. I left him to his own devices preferring him to interact in his own way. About 10minutes later, he walked back into the house very sad. I asked what had happened. He said he waved at the boys (I need to say at this stage that both boys were white. My kids – in case you didn’t know – are coloured), the boys looked at him and burst out laughing. And then he asked: Mum, do you think they think that I’m invisible because my hair isn’t straight like theirs?

I then decided to take a walk with my boys around the estate. We walked past the same two boys who were still hanging around close to our house. We waved. They waved back.

When we got back to the house about 20minutes later, they were still outside on their own, and Ethan suggested to Riley that they go out again and ask the boys if they want to play. So off they went. 5minutes later, they both came in very sad. Ethan was really sad and he proceeded to tell me that he asked one of the boys if they could play with them. The boy said to Ethan that he’d need to speak to his friend and ask him. They then stood chatting quietly between each other and then turned and said to Ethan that they couldn’t play with them because it was home time for them. Ethan said he thought they were lying and that they just didn’t want to play with them. He indicated that he thought it was because of the colour of their skin and honestly, my heart just dropped.

Being a person of colour myself, I must admit that I’ve been very fortunate not to be a victim of direct race discimination especially as an adult. Well, nothing that I can particularly remember. I have a circle of friends of people of all different races and my kids have friends from different race groups. I see indirect race discrimination often, even in the work place and have felt this myself. I speak openly to my kids about race – they know that we’re coloured – I don’t believe in not speaking about races as I believe that you cannot help the race that you are or change it, you’re born that way. And it’s not something you cannot notice about a person. In fact, it’s probably the first thing you notice when you see somebody. What I do make sure that I teach them is that although we are all different races, it is completely unacceptable to treat a person differently because of the colour of their skin.

It’s funny how these things seem to be ingrained in the kids however without even speaking about it. Riley often says how he’s the “peachest” out of all of us. On our holiday, he actually asked me whether I was peacher then him or if he was peacher than me and I said I’m not sure, we’re about the same. He then said – mummy, you deserve to be peach. Weird coming from a 5year old who has 4 besties of different race – 2 white, 1 coloured and 1 Indian. But somehow, he seems to think that lighter is better, a concept engrained in people of colour for years and years.

I just don’t want my kids to be treated differently – especially in a bad way – because of the colour of their skin. I honestly wanted to go and have a good chat to those boys but hey, I don’t know if it’s just our pre-conceived self-imposed prejudices that come through every now and again…I mean, maybe the boys really did have to go inside, who knows. But my heart broke for my kids who assumed that the boys were making the decision based on the colour of their skin and the texture of their hair 😦 😦 😦

Perfect just the way we are ❤

My Analytics

Yesterday, an e-mail popped up in my “Other” i.e. not “Focused” inbox and for some reason, it caught my attention. I’ve seen this kind of e-mail plenty of times before, but have never actually even read it. I’m not sure what made me look at it in such detail yesterday, but it actually blew my mind. Firstly, that the computer is able to compile this information (the hubster was also quite surprised – I told him it’s all algorithms and he said that that’s what people say when they don’t understand how things are done… 😉 ), and secondly, I was astounded at the actual information…

In the last 4 weeks, it said that I’ve organised or attended 47 meetings – that’s an average of almost 12 per week. I think that’s actually quite low…for those who work at the zebra, you’ll know that we loovvveeeee meetings!! 98% of my meetings did not overlap (I cannot understand how people accept meetings if they overlap!! I can bet my bottom dollar that the 2% were urgent meetings set up at the last minute overlapping existing well planned out meetings set up with plenty of notice or daily standups meetings). 100% of my meetings were in work hours (I think that I’m really good at separating work from home time, so this one made me smile).

Apparently I had 12 quiet days – this one interests me…how do they determine what quiet is?! My assumption is it’s when there are no or minimal meetings, e-mails or chats as the feedback on the mail is all centred around these 3 things. Interestingly, these e-mails from time to time also suggest open spaces in your diary that you may want to book out to focus on whatever you’d like to set time aside for (obviously work!!) – I just noticed that this morning when I was looking back at my stats, but a colleague did tell me about this previously pre-COVID. I didn’t pay it much attention because this is something that I anyway do of my own accord.

The last bit of feedback which I found very interesting was grouped under “Communication habits”. It said that I sent (in the last 4weeks) 360 e-mails, I read…3,247 e-mails and I had 252 chats and calls. I assume that they can’t actually tell whether you read an e-mail right? Unless the algorithm says something like – if you scrolled down or had an e-mail open for more than a certain period of time, it categorizes it as read. I mean, think about it – you can mark an e-mail as “read” without even opening it. You can even just click on it once and the e-mail gets unbolded (is there such a word???) and it automatically gets marked as read. I highly doubt that I actually read so many also because I know that I often just open, scroll and quickly close e-mails, or even just click on them once and move on.

The 252 chats and calls I can believe. I spend most of my day communicating with my colleagues and even work friends via chats and calls. I have at least one friend call a week on Teams. And most mornings, I greet my buddies with a quick Teams hello or meme to get them smiling. I am afterall a people’s person, and this is the part of work (as I’ve mentioned many times before) that I miss the most…the social interaction. Having said that, the Teams chats and calls are just not the same as face to face interaction. So on that note, I am meeting two work friends for a quick breakfast tomorrow morning and I simply cannot wait!!! Next week, I am meeting another two for dinner after work.

Anyhow, enough useless information. I know that my friend Marcia the Organising Queen will absolutely enjoy this type of thing and I’m very tempted to start up a spreadsheet to track this information in true Marcia style 🙂 🙂 🙂

Bedtime

One of my most favourite parts of my day is bedtime! And I’m not even a night owl but rather a morning person…

Once the kids have gone to bed, I usually sit in my own bed and either read or from time to time, watch some tv, but it’s not the getting into my bed that I love…it’s when I’m ready to sleep. The actual switching off of the lamp, pulling the duvet up to my chin and settling my head down on my pillow that makes me really really happy. And I am not even a good sleeper shame. It’s not the sleep that appeals – it’s that moment of being cozy I guess. Laying in the darkness and the silence (I have to have complete darkness and silence in order to fall asleep!) and I guess the winding down from the day in the comfort of my bed that causes me to literally do a little jiggle every.single.night.

I don’t remember this being the highlight of my day when I was growing up. I specifically remember this becoming my “end of day ritual” when I moved out of the house and into res at UCT. A few years later when my sister and I lived together, we’d jump into our own beds for some years upstairs vs downstairs and then for another few in a different flat, across the passage from each other, and we’d both sigh in relief as we hit the proverbial sack! I would always shriek in excitement and do my bedtime jiggle.

Am I strange? Do you also do this at night?

Are you okay?

How often do you ask somebody how they’re doing and get “I’m okay” as a reply. I wonder how many times people just say they’re okay and leave it at that. How many times do you actually ask somebody how they are and actually want to know? Like what if they said I’m not okay…would you make the time to listen? I feel like so many of us just say I’m okay to appear composed and in control???

This morning, I spoke to two mums outside school at drop-off. One said she’s okay when I asked her, but she continued to tell me how her dad’s been diagnosed with cancer during this lockdown period and her mum’s health isn’t good. Another mum said loud and clear that she’s not okay as her mother-in-law is here and is making life difficult for her. And this happened on the morning when I’m really not okay. After “holding it together” for the past month, last night I just cracked. I cried like a baby. Loud sobs, gasping for breath inconsolable crying. I woke up this morning and the minute I opened my eyes, I cried. Losing a loved one is really really hard.

I just want to remind you today that it’s okay not to be okay. You don’t need to appear to be composed just for sake of looking like you can hold it together.

How are you really doing – are you okay???

RIP brother

On Monday the 10th of August – the public holiday – we received a call to pass on the news that my brother-in-law (my husband’s brother) had passed away in a car accident. I think the call was made to me to softly pass on the news to my husband…it didn’t go as planned. I couldn’t hear the message clearly with my sister-in-law crying in the background, and had to ask for it to be repeated three times. When I eventually got the right message, I literally fell apart in tears on the floor. My husband came running in and took the phone from me and I still feel bad that I reacted the way I did. If I could redo it, I would have tried to be composed, tried to be stronger if at least only for my husband in that moment.

The thing is that losing somebody suddenly, unexpectedly, is a massive shock! A 35 year old man with two young kids, in the prime of his life…gone a week before his birthday. The thought that you will never ever again see that person. You will never hear their voice. You will never receive a message from them. Your kids will never again be spoilt rotten by him and look forward to seeing their uncle who always put everything aside to be with family. For my husband, his siblings are the closest family to him. Being the eldest, he practically raised them himself. He feels like he not only lost a brother, but a son as well. And the feelings are there all the time…every minute of every day. Almost a month later and it’s still so fresh and raw!

Of course, being Christians, we believe that we will see him again in heaven, that God has a plan for everybody and that it was his time. But human nature cannot purely believe in this and not feel anything. It’s natural to feel. A life snuffed away so quickly. A family torn apart. A wife with so many questions and kids with no father. To my brother, his family was really everything and he strived to give them the best of everything at all times. I’m not saying that he was perfect, but he damn well tried his best to be and put his wife and kids before everybody else. The photos of him are evidence of this. I am finding it very difficult to find any pictures of him on his own – most of his pictures are of him and his wife, and the others with his wife and kids. Not only did he give his all to his own family, but the community members and friends all speak so highly of him – he gave wherever he could – he had a really massive heart, and nobody even knew about it! A real generous spirit – he cared for others immensely and changed so many people’s lives.

Rest well my brother. Until we meet again. Your memory lives on and we cherish the time spent with you. You will forever be in our hearts xxx

Lockdown Meals

Well, after blogging about the baked goodies over here, I figured I may as well share the meals from lockdown that were a success.  The recipes are ones that I liked – they are not all the recipes I tried!  Unfortunately in this house, we have very different tastes, and so not all of these were enjoyed by everybody [read: 5!]

Note:  we eat a lot of chicken in this house, so the majority of these recipes contain chicken!!

Creamy Spinach Garlic Parmesan Chicken – everybody really enjoyed this and it was quick and simple!  I did put too much parmesan (I doubled the amount by mistake), but it still went down really well 🙂

Instant Pot Butter Chicken – I didn’t follow this to the T as I actually couldn’t find all the spices in Pick n Pay, but I did some variation of it and it was delish!  Having said that, I like to think that I make a really good curry, so I don’t think I’ll try another curry after this.  All I’m saying is…lockdown made me do it 😉

Easy BBQ Chicken – the kids didn’t enjoy this at all, and the hubster said it was average, but I thought it was absolutely delicious.  And once again, super simple.  I will definitely use the flavour combinations again and hopefully they’re grow on my crew.

Chicken shawarma with easy flat bread – for this recipe, I swopped the chicken for grilled hake which the kids and I absolutely love (the hubster is allergic to seafood though, so I added leftover chicken for him).  What I enjoyed was the taste of the shwarma – warm and dough-ey.  I do think that I should try it a few times to perfect though as like with rotis, I think you need to have a certain knack to make this.   Riley and I absolutely loved it though.  We both love wraps too, and this was pretty similar, although a bit thicker in texture.  Ethan, my non-lover of wraps was not too impressed.

Honey Soy Crisp Beef and Noodles – I must admit, I think we kind of sat on the fence for this one.  The taste combination didn’t particularly go down well with the kids and I used 2-min noodles to accompany it, but it was relatively easy to make and made for a change from the “usual” beef recipes I use.

And for something different, I tried this Creamed Spinach Grilled Cheese Sandwich and I’ll keep it under meals successes, although it’s not a fully cooked meal…I made this one day just for myself as we had extra spinach left over and I thoroughly enjoyed it!  Nobody else in the family enjoys spinach though so I kept it alll to myself.  Nothing says warm, comfort, winter food like a grilled sami right?!?!

Then two of my “go-to’s” during lockdown were these…

Pancakes – we usually have “traditional” pancakes i.e. pancakes with cinnamon and sugar or nutella, however, in lockdown, we branched out a bit and had a few savoury pancakes especially the time when we attempted rotis and failed dismally!  So for those who have never made pancakes…easy peasy lemon squeezy…1 cup of flour, 1 cup of milk and 1 egg.  Whisk together.  Grease a small pan (the size of a side plate…I prefer smaller pancakes, but you can make bigger ones if you choose) lightly with oil and add about 1.5 Tbsp of the mixture to fry.  Cook until light brown, flip to cook the other side…and voila!!

Mini quiches – this one was something I think I saw on the net somewhere and decided to try out my own version.  Pity that nobody eats quiche in this house, but these are so good for a snack and you can freeze them fully cooked as well and quickly pop in the microwave when you feel like eating them again.  Ingredients…puff pastry, mix together egg, milk, salt and pepper and grate cheese (I usually use a combination of gouda and mozarella).  Fry together the ingredients of your choice (go wild – be creative!  I’ve even used butternut and baby marrow in mine before) – I usually use mushrooms, peppers, spinach and for meat – diced bacon, ham or chorizo sausage, fresh chilli and mixed herbs.  Preheat the oven to 180deg.  Roll out the puff pastry then use a big mug to cut out the circular shape for the base of the quiches.  Press cut out dough into a greased muffin tray.  Fill with fried ingredients.  Top with the egg mixture and sprinkle over grated cheese.  Bake for about 20minutes or until golden brown all over.  Serve with a side salad.

I hope that I’ve inspired some of you 😉  Did you come across any really delicious recipes for breakfast, lunch or dinner during lockdown???

Lockdown – baked goodies

Those of you who know me well know that I absolutely love being in the kitchen.  Whether it’s cooking or baking, I love me some good food and I love making it myself!  I can literally spend hours in the kitchen cooking up a storm and recently, my parents gifted us with a brand new stove and oven, so I’ve really been in my element in the kitchen 🙂

Anyhoo, as with just about everybody I know, lockdown has been a time for trying new things.  We were those people who “stockpiled” just in case, and one of the items that we had tons of (just in case we needed to make bread as bread is a staple in this house…) was flour.  That resulted in new baked goodies every other day – some successes and some not so great [read:  rotis, wraps, vetkoek to name a few].  But I thought I’d share some of the successes with you just in case you’re still in a baking mood…

Choc chip brownies – these are really really simple and super sweet and delicious.  And the best of all, all you need is a microwave and a whisk.  No whipping, everything really just goes together, and they bake really quickly.

Malva pudding – this is also incredibly simple but don’t forget the bicarb!  I learnt this the hard way a week ago when I left it out and my pudding basically came out like a flat compressed bread and butter pudding.  As with normal malva puddings, this goes well with ice-cream, custard or cream.

Crunchies and Banana Loaf – I got this crunchie recipe from my cousin during lockdown and the banana loaf recipe is a family one from my mum that we’ve made for ages.  It works well as a loaf, but I prefer splitting it into cupcake holders to make banana muffins.

Now onto the savoury baked goodies…

Homemade Rolls – I have tried so many of Alida’s recipes.  They’re all super delicious and really simple, really Simply Delicious as her website is called 😉  This recipe says break into 8 pieces, however, I make about a dozen.

Focaccia Bread – OMW, this was delish!  And again, super simple.  We pretty much ate it like bread, but with the cooler weather this week, I think I’ll make this as a starter with some olive oil and vinegar.

Homemade Pizza – I haven’t stuck to a specific recipe for homemade pizza during lockdown, rather just made whichever one pops up, however, I think this was the first one I made and the reason why I remember it so clearly is because the recipe says to bake the base first for 5minutes and this work wonders.  I found that the key to a delicious pizza is the tomato paste/mixture that goes on top of the base and I think I pretty much perfected this, even adding chilli to some of our pizzas.  I must admit, the boys enjoy boxed pizza rather for some strange reason, but the hubster and I absolutely love homemade pizza with our favourite combination being savoury mince, jalapenos, mushrooms and cheese.

Have you made any really delicious sweet goodies during lockdown that you’d like to share?!

This feels like a very strange dream…

We’re on day 130+ of lockdown in SA and honestly, there are days when I still feel like all of this is surreal!  I mean, we’re in August and I was last in the office in MARCH!!  The kids have been home for forever.  Riley is back at school, but Ethan hasn’t been to school since March and he made a good point last week – when he eventually goes back to school, he’ll have been at home for almost half a year (5 months to be exact if he goes back on the date that’s been communicated with us – which for grade 3 has moved out 3 times already!!!).

Who would have ever thought we’d be sitting in a global pandemic.  Most countries have shut down.  Wearing masks is mandatory.  Sanitizing and washing hands is a must.

We haven’t visited friends or had get togethers in months.  We haven’t been to church – the actual building – for months.  We’ve seen the walls of our own homes more than ever…all day, every day.

We wished for days to stay home and work in our pjs and gowns…well, we’ve had that…for all.of.winter, we’ve sat indoors!!  We’ll never have this again ever in our lives – well, I certainly do not want to experience this again thank you very much.

We were tired of sitting in traffic day in and out and rushing to get the kids to school…that hasn’t happened in forever.

Nobody’s left the country, in fact, most of us in SA have not even left our cities, and travelling across provinces is not allowed.  My nanny hasn’t seen her kids since May as they live in another province 😦  I haven’t seen my parents who we usually see monthly since March and I miss them so much!

I honestly feel like somebody should shout APRIL FOOLS DAY in August!

Some of us have worked harder from home than we’ve ever done in the office.  We are craving a break and some leave but to do what…continue staring at the walls in our houses?!?!

I’m not complaining!  Really, I’m not.  We, as a family, are extremely blessed to have had two full salaries during this time.  We’ve been together with our kids – spent good quality time with them, time that we craved before.  We have a roof over our heads and food in our bellies.  And perhaps most importantly during this crazy time, we’ve had good health!  But there are days when I feel like somebody should pinch me so that I can wake up from this dream…

How are you coping?  Have you settled into this new norm?  

Do you think we’ll ever see something like this happen in our lifetimes again?

 

 

Spoilt for choice

When we grew up, my dad insisted that we have cereal for breakfast.  Having anything else was basically unheard of in the Tate house unless we went down to the beach with family or friends on the weekend (in which case, we’d have a full breakfast on the skottel braai), or we woke up feeling nauseous (in which case, we were allowed dry toast for breakfast).  We were never allowed to leave the house without having breakfast, even as a matriculant…skipping breakfast was not an option.  Breakfast was also pretty standard – not many options, and no sugary cereals.  I remember really wanting Coco Pops or the Rice Krispies with marshmallows…I wouldn’t say it never happened, but it was rare.  Remember those small little cereal boxes in 6packs – I wished I could have them in our house like I assumed some of my friends did.  But anyway, I digress…

When my kids were little, especially when we only had Ethan, my mum often told me that I give my kids too many choices when it came to food.  Ethan was a terrible eater until about the age of 5!  I often gave him scrambled eggs or noodles instead of what we were eating as he didn’t like what we had.  As he got older, and then when Riley came along – I eventually stopped with those choices.  I figured that giving them options was not really helping them and was basically driving me mad!

I don’t ever let the kids starve but I can see how it makes sense for them to eat what’s being served or eat nothing at all!  Instead, I make sure that they eat what’s in front of them, even if we sit around the table for what feels like eons waiting for them to finish.  I love using that there are starving people in the world line.  And it’s really not just a line, it’s the truth.  They need to understand that they are spoilt for choice and that they are really blessed to have so much especially where food is concerned!

On Wednesday morning, I cooked a pot of jungle oats for breakfast.  We don’t have jungle oats often, probably because none of us particularly love it.  But from time to time, I enjoy a nice warm bowl with cinnamon and sugar (and sliced banana and nuts like Kauai make it!!).  The boys ate it rather reluctantly, but nevertheless, they ate it.  And afterwards, I sat thinking about how they have so many breakfast options, unlike when we were kids.

We have the usual cereals – All Bran, Corn Flakes, Weetbix and Pronutro (pink, strawberry and yellow, banana).  When it’s “holiday time”, I usually give them additional cereal options like Coco Pops, Oatees or Milo cereal as a treat i.e. very sweet, sugary cereal that changes the colour of the milk!  Riley doesn’t particularly enjoy any of these unless he can snack on them dry which I don’t really mind provided that it is a pre/post breakfast snack i.e. they need to eat proper cereal with milk for breakfast (I can hear my father speaking clearly here!) as that’s where the nutrition is.  Otherwise, other than usual cereal options, they also have from time to time;-

  • Jungle Oats
  • Muesli and Yoghurt
  • Toast with jam or peanut butter
  • French Toast
  • Pancakes
  • Scrambled eggs and toast (although Riley doesn’t eat eggs…)

When did we get to this level???  How is it that my kids have so many breakfast options???  

What do your kids eat for breakfast?

 

My God-moment

Have you heard about God-moments?  Recently, my mum shared a lovely video with us on this and I guess now that I’m more aware of them, I notice them more.

The Google definition:  When something happens in our lives and we can’t really explain it. — that’s a GodMoment. … We call them GodMoments because they are of GodGod is in them. Even if we don’t recognize them as such right away, when we do see God in our life then time seems to stop, or at least stand still – for a profound moment.

Well, today I had one and I really want to take this moment to share it…

Last week, the grade 1 applications opened for 2021.  Riley, my 5 year old (a.k.a. 5) is currently in grade R and I have been very patiently waiting for the online applications to open especially as things have been pretty much upside down during COVID with everything school related since March.  Thursday morning came and I was ready to log on and do a sibling application.  When I applied for Ethan 3years ago, the application was quick and easy.  No stress at all.  It literally took me all of 2minutes.  The only reason I felt a bit stressed out about the application process this year is because my neighbour experienced such issues last year with the sibling application, that she ended up having to go into the Department of Education herself to sort it out.  Given our current lockdown situation, I really wasn’t keen to do that.

Fortunately, although there were some general admin issues on the website and the registration part of the application was a bit of a pain, my application was completed relatively easily.   I submitted to the school of our choice using the sibling application and also applied to the school in our area as a backup.  I was relieved that it was done and I continued with everything else as normal not giving the application another thought until my neighbour asked yesterday how the school handled the handing in of the original applications.  I told her that I had actually completely forgotten about that part but I must call the school and ask as I know you can only go in if you’ve made an appointment.  And that was the last I thought of that too…

This afternoon, I went for a very quick short jog in between meetings and I happened to look up at the gate of the school in our area and saw a sign saying that application packs can be handed in between 10am and 12pm and that’s when MY GOD-MOMENT happened.  I rushed home and frantically messaged the school secretary and checked online…the original application has to be handed in at the school within 7 school days…phew, school days, not regular days…I still have another 2days.  Thank God, literally, for the nudge/gentle reminder.