The fabulous fours

As I sit planning my girls’ fifth birthday party I have been reflecting over the last year and age four. I can’t believe that in just a few short weeks we will have survived five years of being twin parents, and age four certainly was an interesting stage.

If you had asked me six months ago what I thought of age four, I would have had something very different to say. I would have said it’s tough, it’s hectic, it’s exhausting and the f*#^#ing fours are very real…

fabulousfour.jpgBUT, over the last few months life has become so much easier as a parent and so much more fun. I can honestly say that, so far, I think I’m enjoying the fours the most. My girls have really come into their own little personalities, they are so inquisitive about life, they are talkative and intelligent, and have the most amazing imagination and thirst for knowledge. Some of the questions they have about our planet, the universe, God, our bodies and how things work astounds me. Along with this, they are the best of friends and their bond is so special.

There is no doubt that we still have our difficult days, but as they get older they are finally learning to chill out a bit – the tantrums are few and far between and when things do get a bit out of hand, I’m more able, or perhaps now more equipped, to deal with it in a calm, loving manner. I guess it’s not only the girls who have chilled out a bit, but us as parents as well. This probably also has to do with the fact that both girls are finally sleeping through the whole night and our entire household is finally getting a full and decent night’s sleep, so we’re all in a much better mood these days. We’ve also seen how our hard work is starting to pay off when it comes to reinforcing good manners and respect, and I’m proud of their increasingly caring and courteous behavior.

Age four is loud, but it’s also fun and entertaining. Somehow my girls just don’t understand that they can get their point across without having to shout it. My ear is right there and it’s okay to speak, not shout. They’ll have a conversation with each other, but it gets very animated, and they can easily get carried away with their story. That’s one thing that AG is very good at – telling stories. She loves to tell fantastical tales, and even at bed time after I’ve read a book to her, she’ll then take the book and page through it and pretend to be reading the story herself. On the other hand, HJ loves to make us laugh – she’s our little clown and comedian. She loves to pull faces and act silly to get a reaction, and she especially loves to make her sister laugh. They both love putting on shows for us, whether it’s a puppet show or a ballet concert, they love the limelight and it’s very sweet to watch them plan the show and then act it out together.

One of AG and HJ’s favourite things to do is play with their Barbies and baby dolls. It’s been so sweet to watch and hear them play and let their imagination run wild. They’ve got all my old Barbies and, as you can imagine the poor dolls’ clothes were 30 years out of fashion, so recently I bought Barbie some new clothes and this was a huge hit – it was expensive but so worth every cent. They role play with Barbie going shopping, Barbie cooking, Barbie having a picnic and going to the beach, Barbie the doctor, Barbie the mommy, Barbie the teacher, and it’s lots of fun to play along with them – bringing back many fond memories for me of playing with these dolls, I can sit there for ages and act along with them. More recently, their cousin also passed on all her old hatchimal and pet pal collections and this has also been a huge hit, with the two of them sitting for hours on the carpet with these toys with their imagination running wild – I just love to listen to the chatter as they play – it’s too adorable!

The bond that has developed between my girls is the most precious thing to experience. They are always concerned about each other, always chatting to each other and never far apart from each other. They certainly do have their moments of friction, especially when they both want the same toy, but more often than not they’ll negotiate a settlement, or sometimes mommy or daddy will have to intervene, and then they get on with their game.

Every stage of parenting has its challenges, and age four certainly didn’t start out so great, but I can honestly say that the fours, overall, have been fabulous, and I can’t wait to see what the fives have in store for us.

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A weekend in marvelous Montagu

We recently enjoyed a fantastic weekend in Montagu. Located in the Klein Karoo, the town is about 187km from Cape Town and is a great option for a family getaway. I’ve driven through Montagu a few times, but had never spent a weekend there, so was really looking forward to something different.

We were not disappointed. Montagu is a charming little town. Although we found there weren’t as many things to do as our last weekend away in Stanford, this suited us just fine as we were super keen to just relax as much as possible.

We stayed at the Bon Accord Farm Cottages, located on a beautiful fruit farm in the Keisie Valley. This was honestly one of the most stunning places we have stayed at in the MontaguWestern Cape. The cottage was really lovely, spacious, clean and well-stocked. There was a big patio and braai in the front of the cottage overlooking the valley, and we just couldn’t get enough of the spectacular views, especially at sunrise and sunset. It was so peaceful and relaxing and we spent most of our time chilling on the stoep. Fortunately there was also a TV and WiFi for when the kiddies get a bit too tired of the farm life.

The farm itself also looked neat and well run. There were three cottages in a row, but they were far enough away from each other that you could enjoy complete privacy. I can highly recommend a weekend here, and we’d be happy to return any day.

Here are a few things we enjoyed in and around Montagu:

Die Kloof Padstal
Montagu3This was a lovely restaurant and farm stall just as you enter Montagu from the Cape Town side. It had a fantastic outdoor play area with lots of swings, jungle gyms and tree houses for the kids to enjoy. The food was pretty average but the girls had a blast playing there and we enjoyed a nice cold craft beer in the beautiful and relaxed surroundings. Definitely a great place for a family lunch out in Montagu.

Montagu Dried Fruit Factory Shop
Arguably Montagu’s biggest selling point is its vast fruit orchards which yield wonderful produce and, of course, which are used to make the dried fruit the town is known for. The Montagu factory shop is located by Die Kloof Padstal, so really convenient when stopping there for lunch, as you can stock up on some great dried fruit and nut specials. My girls’ favourite is the crunchy corn, while I was very happy to get a huge bag of Turkish apricots for a third of what I would have paid at Woolies.

Saturday Village Market
Montagu6The Montagu Village Market is held every Saturday in Euvrard Park, Bath Street. It’s not a big market, but we found some great local produce and home-made goodies. We enjoyed a relaxed stroll through the market to get a taste of Montagu village life.

Guano Cave
The Guano Cave Resort is located about 6km out of Montagu on the R62 road to Barrydale and offers a fun day out for the family. For a fee you can enter the resort as a day visitor and have access to the hot springs and animal farm. We enjoyed a morning there – didn’t bother with the springs, but the girls enjoyed a horse ride and looking at all the farm animals. The restaurant didn’t look too great, so we rather headed back to our accommodation for lunch.

We were also really keen to do the tractor ride and potjie kos outing at Protea Farm, but unfortunately the road was closed for maintenance so they weren’t operating, but we’ve heard it’s a great outing, so we’ll have to save this for next time.

If you’re looking for a no-frills, relaxed weekend away, I can highly recommend Montagu. Learn more about the town and what to see and do in the Keisie Valley on the Montagu Tourism website.

 

Appreciating the beautiful nature around me

I’ve become quite snap happy lately as I’ve become more observant about the beauty that surrounds me. Living in Stellenbosch, we are truly blessed with beautiful surroundings and it’s easy to become so used to the views that we stop noticing. I’ve been enjoying taking pics lately, and instagram has also been quite fun to play around with the images. Here are a few of my recent works of art.

Hope you enjoy!

 

If you’d like to see more of my images, check out Some Beauty and Inspiration and Some More Beauty and Inspiration.

Weekend escape to Stanford

We recently enjoyed a wonderful long weekend in Standford. We’ve stayed in the area a few times, but it’s always been in a cottage or guest house outside of town or in the surrounding area, so this was the first time that we stayed right in the town itself.

Standford, located about 140km from Cape Town, and just 20 minutes away from Hermanus, is the perfect spot for a family weekend escape. There really is so much to explore and something for everyone to enjoy.

Stanford4We stayed at Osborne Cottages, a lovely little establishment right in town. There are two cottages on the same plot, but they’re separated by a fence and situated far enough away from each other that you’re not on top of your neighbours and have complete privacy. The cottage was clean and beautifully decorated, and there was a braai and a nice deck, which we really enjoyed relaxing on. The location was perfect as it was within walking distance to the shops and restaurants. There’s a lovely play park across the road, which the kids really enjoyed, and the river is just around the corner for some lovely walks and exploration.

Here are a few of the places and activities we enjoyed in and around Stanford:

Klein River Cheese Factory
Stanford2This is a great place for the whole family, especially the kiddies. There is an awesome kids’ play area with big jungle gyms, tree houses and bike tracks and the girls had an absolute blast. They also enjoyed feeding all the local farm animals. You can buy some yummy cheese and other picnic goodies from the cheese shop and they have decent picnic tables to sit at. You can also borrow a picnic blanket from the shop if you forgot your own.

Saturday Morning Market
The word market is perhaps not quite the right word to describe this – there were literally only about four basic tables set out on the stoep of the hotel, with some local suppliers selling their home made and baked goods such as cheese, sausages and cakes. The food was lovely, but it would have been so nice if there were some more products on offer. We were looking forward to a proper market, but we did enjoy taking a walk to explore the local shops after sampling the food. There are some great little gift shops in Stanford and they really weren’t expensive at all.

Zesty Lemon at Sir Robert Stanford Estate
This was such a peaceful and relaxing spot for lunch. The restaurant is set next to a little dam with big trees providing lots of shade. There is also a kids’ play area with jungle gym and the girls enjoyed wandering around the dam. The food was average and the drinks super expensive, but overall, it was a lovely spot to chill on a Saturday afternoon.

RePUBlic
We had supper here one evening and it was quite fun. It was very much the local hang out where everyone seemed to know each other and the kids had fun playing with some of the other kids. The place is pretty rustic and the menu was a bit limited, but we enjoyed the atmosphere and live music.

Misty MountainsStanford3
Home to one of our favourite local gins, we always enjoy a visit to Misty Mountains. They make delicious pizzas and offer craft beer and gin tasting, which is a very enjoyable experience. It’s not the cheapest of places, especially if you end up buying a bottle of gin, which will set you back almost R500, but it’s a great place for a lazy lunch, and conveniently located between Stanford and Hermanus.

There is so much more to enjoy in the town and surrounding area, and we’ll definitely be back. For more info and ideas of what all you can do there, check out the Stanford Tourism website.

Happy blog-aversary to twinmumtales!

This week marks three years since I started twinmumtales!

It initially started as a means for this mommy, who was on the brink of going crazy, to get her thoughts and feelings out there when she had no one else to talk to. Those first few weeks and months of being home alone with twin babies can be a very lonely journey, and there were many days when I had no one to talk to, and to share my thoughts and fears with, and I turned to writing. I’ve been a professional writer and editor for years, so I’ve always enjoyed writing, but it’s always been so formal, so it’s been so fun to be creative for a change.

This whole experience has been so therapeutic and I’ve loved sharing our experiences of being twin parents, from the good, the bad and the ugly. It’s been fun engaging with my audience, sharing stories that I hope many other parents can relate to, and hearing back from my readers.

Writing has certainly helped me process this new and amazing journey of parenting. It’s been a wonderfully creative outlet, and I can’t wait to share more stories with you all as our family embarks on some new adventures in the not-too-distant future.

Spaghetti Bolognese

Spaghetti Bolognese is a staple in virtually every home, and I’m sure it’s especially so for people with kids. It’s super easy to make and my girls absolutely love it, so it’s an almost weekly feature on our dinner menu.

We’ve all got that good old faithful family recipe that we’ve perfected over the years, but I thought I’d share mine for those seeking a bit of inspiration. It’s really simple but so delicious, and so perfect for the busy mom.

spaghetti bologneseIngredients

500g pack of lean mince
1 large chopped onion
Olive oil
2 tins chopped tomatoes (adding two tins makes it extra yummy and stretches it much further)
Small pack of tomato puree (can also use ketchup)
2 large carrots
15ml dried Italian herbs mix or dried origanum and basil
Salt and pepper to season
Garlic
Half glass of red wine (optional)
Dried spaghetti (how much you need depends on size of your family)

Method

Heat a good dollop of olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot.

Sautee the chopped onion in the olive oil until translucent, then add the mince to brown.

Once the mince is browned, add the herbs, plus salt and pepper to taste.

I usually then chuck in the grated carrots and cook for a few minutes before adding the tinned tomato and tomato puree. Once this comes to a nice simmer, I add crushed garlic (usually about three cloves – we like it garlicky!).

Turn the heat down and allow to cook slowly for at least 40 minutes, until everything is cooked through.

An option for a bit of extra flavor is half a glass of red wine. (I stopped adding this when we had kids, but there’s nothing wrong with enjoying the glass while you cook – in fact I highly recommend pouring yourself a nice glass of wine while cooking!)

While the Bolognese sauce is simmering, boil the spaghetti in a big pot of water with a pinch of salt until el dente.

Then serve up and enjoy!

P.S – It’s also yummy with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese (or any hard cheese of your choice – my kids like cheddar).