Category Archives: South African Travels

Our South African Summer – Part 2

Following on from Part 1, Miss E and I recently visited my family in Cape Town. And it was glorious. But it was also a little challenging. For more on that, read Part 1 here. For the most part though, I enjoyed the time spent under the African sun, with my family. Miss E was able to spend a proper summer, getting to know the side part of her family.

My German Safari - South African Summer

Family…

I grew up surrounded by lots of people. Blood relatives as well as ‘uncles and aunts’ who just happen to be part of our everyday lives. Both mum and dad have several brothers and sister. And this meant loads of cousins for me and my two sisters. I don’t think we ever had one weekend where we were just us, alone. I remember actually having one cousin live with us for a few months – this brings back memories of pretend-playing Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (I was Trini, the yellow Power Ranger).

Now that I have my own family, quality time spent with family is extremely important to me.

My German Safari - South African Summer

So of course, on our recent trip, it was a main focus for me: to have Miss E spend quality time getting to know her cousins, spending quality time with her aunts and uncles. And of course, build on her relationship and bond with Grammy and Grampy.

Summer sun…

I had a difficult time adjusting to the heat wave that had spread across the Western Cape. And I tried really hard to ensure Miss E was still comfortable and enjoying the weather. It wasn’t difficult: what with my parents having a pool in their yard! We also bought a slide which she enjoyed as well. We spent lots of time at the beach as well. And this brought back so many good memories for me. I sure do miss the ocean.

On the odd occasion that we went to the mall, I found it a bit strange being back. When I still lived in Cape Town, my younger sister and I would go to Canal Walk almost every Saturday. It was like a ritual for us: take the bus early morning; have breakfast at McDonalds; play a few games at the arcade, usually billiards after putting coins into the jukebox for some pop music; then head to the movie theatre to watch the latest movie release.

My German Safari - South African Summer My German Safari - South African Summer

So it was really awesome to take Miss E to the exact same arcade (lots has changed though) and have her play some games or go on the rides. It was great to experience this with her.

Beach Days…

We spent almost all our beach days with my older sister and her family. Miss E loves the water and at first was very excited to run out to meet the waves as it crashed against the sand. At a certain point though, she didn’t want her feet touching the sand – I think this was due to several small creatures jumping up out of the sand each time she took a step.

My German Safari - South African Summer My German Safari - South African Summer

I really enjoyed those days at the beach, because I could spend this time with my niece and nephews. And I was also able to have proper conversations with my mother and older sister. We haven’t not spent this much time together in a long time and I had not realized just how much I craved it. I have come to understand now just how much I miss my family.

My German Safari - South African Summer

Ratanga Junction…

One thing I really wanted to do on this trip was visit Ratanga Junction. It’s a Theme Park in Cape Town. The Park used to be operated all-year, then it only opened during the school holidays. Now, however it will soon be closing its doors completely. It is a shame, because there are not many Theme Parks in the Western Cape and I’ve only been there once before. So we decided we would go for one last visit.

My German Safari - South African Summer My German Safari - South African Summer My German Safari - South African Summer

Grammy tagged along with all three of her girls and all her grandkids. It was such a great day! I went on some rides with my niece and nephews, and even Miss E could do some. She got her face painted, we ate junk food and enjoyed some entertainment in the main hall. All in all a wonderful day was had.

It is very sad that Ratanga will be closing it’s doors. I am very happy that we managed to go one last time.

At the end of the day…

Family! That is what I got out of this trip the most. The importance of having loved-ones around you, who still care. No matter how far away life takes us, family will always be there. Skype is great, but being in the same room with these crazy people is priceless. And my first post was all about how I didn’t get to do exactly what I had planned with this trip. But I soon realized that it was in fact the need to be with my family that made this holiday perfect.

My German Safari - South African Summer My German Safari - South African Summer My German Safari - South African Summer

I can’t wait for us to all get together again. And make memories!

My German Safari - South African Summer

Miss you guys!

A very huge thank you to the Williams Family for some of these pictures!

Our South African Summer – Part 1

Miss E and I have just returned from a lovely South African Summer: nearly 2 months of sun, fun and relaxation. And I guess it sounds super glamorous and all. But really, it wasn’t as fancy. It was meant to be a relaxing vacation for me to kind of get back to who I used to be. This Mama has been an exhausted zombie for all of 3 years, suffered from PPD and still has seasonal depression at times (living in Germany can have that effect with the dark long winters).

I had hope that going to stay with my family, that I would get a bit of rest and recuperate. One of the main goals was to learn to let go of the negative energy that had been building up in my life over the last few months. I tell you: Motherhood is one of the hardest jobs around. There is no clocking out at the end of the day; no vacation; learning to enjoy hours-old cold coffee and tea; I can go on and on. And as rewarding it is, sometimes you just want to take a step back.

And when my mother offered to have Miss E and I come to visit them – of course I took her up on that. Here is Part 1 of our 2 month vacation in Cape Town.

Our flight…

Eurowings had just started a direct overnight flight from Cologne-Bonn Airport to Cape Town for a reasonable price. So we just decided to go with that. I will admit, I won’t be flying long-haul direct again, and certainly not with Eurowings. For us it makes better sense to break up a long-haul into two legs.

Good job, Eurowings 🙂

I had decided to take the Car Seat into the cabin and strap Miss E in for the flight. I had hoped that she would sleep most of the way, as it was an overnight flight. But she only slept about 4 hours and also only in bits and pieces. And she hated being in the car seat as well. The service on board the flight was also not the best. I guess you get what you pay for. If I were to travel by myself, it would be fine, but I will definitely not be flying with them again with a toddler in tow.

Our arrival and adjustment…

Miss E didn’t need any adjustment. It took her about 5 minutes before she started just talking with Grammy and Grampy (of course in German and I had to translate). It took this Mama a while to adjust. We had left a 2 degrees in Cologne and arrived into a 27 degrees, blue skies heatwave. And as much as I was looking forward to spending some time in the sun, at the pool, I wasn’t looking forward to the heatwave. Also, I think that I have acclimated to the temps in Germany and I was not coping with the heat in Cape Town. My parents have a large house with no AC. Some mornings we woke up at 6am and it was already 29 degrees outside.

Here Miss E was giving Grampy instructions on how to build her step for the bathroom...

It was super hard, and I don’t know how I got through the 2 months. I spent most days indoors with several fans running , when the temperatures got unbearable. But that also meant that Miss E was inside and that was no fun. Taking a drive anywhere was also torture, because just being outside and moving made me sweat like crazy and it also made Miss E very miserable.

My goals for this trip had gone out the window...

I knew that this vacation wasn’t going to be like a regular vacation where we do the tourist thing and go lots of places. It was supposed to be a time for me to rest. But rest didn’t really come. Miss E still needs lots of attention, in that she can’t entertain herself. She can’t play by herself for even 10 minutes. So any sort of rest and relaxation I had planned went out the window.

When it was super hot and Miss E wanted to play outside, we bought a 'sandbox' and put it on the covered porch where we added water and she could still splash about without being in the direct sun and Mama could watch her through the living room window...

I was up at 5am and literally ON until 7pm. And by that time, after Miss E fell asleep, I too was ready to call it a day, which meant I wasn’t really getting any time to myself to kind of enjoy anything. I would sit with my family and try to keep up conversation, but was so exhausted I couldn’t keep up. We would watch a movie and I would not be able to follow along.

I felt like my entire purpose of this trip was crumbling. And I was beginning to doubt myself as a mother. I was getting frustrated with Miss E for not giving me a break. And with all of that, I was (I realized later) not enjoying my time with her or my family.

Lightbulb...

And then as I was lying awake one evening, not able to sleep, I had a mental lightbulb moment: Either I could accept my circumstances and enjoy what I am able to enjoy; or I could let the frustration take over and be miserable and miss this time with my family.

The days we did go to the beach, Miss E wanted to go straight to the water. It was such a relief to be in the cold water, even when the wind was quite rough...

And so even when I was being woken up at 5am most mornings and not getting 5 minutes to myself during the day, I was still able to close most days with a full heart. I switched off my phone most of the time and didn’t turn my laptop on until Miss E was asleep.

On the rare occasion that we did venture outside the house, we would go to the beach – which was often windy; or visit a mall and Miss E and I would go to the arcade and play games. The only tourist thing we ended up doing was visit the Aquarium at the V&A Waterfront (more of that in another post).

Going to the arcade was one of her favorite things to do whenever we headed out to the mall...

All in all, we had a lovely time with the family. Miss E had started speaking mostly English the last month and she had this amazing bond with her Grammy and Grampy. I may not have spent time on my writing (as I had planned); I may not have done too much reading; and I may not have fully recuperated; my body still very much exhausted and I have definitely picked up a few kilos. But having had this time with my family has taught me loads about myself. Spending this time in the house I grew up in and also showing Miss E things I used to do as a kid and games I used to play. That! That was all worth it in the end.

After this vacation, Miss E has no fear of the water...

Parenting is hard work. It is exhausting. It is often thankless and without reward. And I may never really get back the energy I used to have pre-kid; I may never again know what it feels like to go to the bathroom alone. I do know though that I would not trade in any of those for the hugs and love I get from my kid. Sometimes, when I am having a bit of a rough day, she would come to me, out of the blue and give me a hug – just because. And for that, I would give up the perfect, quiet, calm life I had once hoped for.

More on our Summer Vacation coming up soon. And the next post will be a little more lighthearted 🙂

Cheerio,
Zee

Miss E turns 3

I can’t believe it! Where has the time gone? Miss E turned 3 and I’m over here trying to slow down Time. With her first birthday, we celebrated first with our family and I made a cake resembling a bear’s head. We then had some friends over a few days later and I baked a ‘healthy’ Banana Cake shaped as a Monkey.

Last year I planned a themed birthday party that centered around one of her favourite books: The Hungry Caterpillar. Everything had an element of the book: the décor; the food; the obviously the cake.

I had the idea that as long as I still had an influence over what theme would be used for her birthday party, that I would make the most of it. And I thought I would have a few more birthdays to influence. I think though that this 3rd birthday will be the last where I can make the big decisions. And so of course, I chose to go with a Minnie Mouse / Disney Inspired Birthday Party.

Usually Miss E has her birthday in the middle of winter. So this 3rd birthday was extra special, in that we were in fact visiting my family down in Cape Town. So that means: SUMMER BIRTHDAY!!! Also, my parents have quite a big garden / yard which allows for a little more ‘room to play with’ in terms of ideas for the big day. I knew I wanted to get a Jumping Castle – in fact, this was non-negotiable.

About 10 kids were invited and about 15 adults came as well (I was also celebrating my 35 birthday, so wanted to have some adult fun too – more on that in another post).

I also hired a Face Painter as nothing says ‘fun’ quite like getting your face painted and getting glitter everywhere. Here’s the lowdown on our Minnie Mouse Themed Birthday Party!

The Décor…

In terms of actually making this birthday party ‘Minnie Themed’, I really wanted to bring out the Red, Black and White in everything that I did. And since I had a budget for this party, I wanted to make sure I spent more on the ‘Fun’ aspect of the party. So mum and I headed to Sable Square in Century City for a few cheap items at the Chinese Market there. I got a couple of red garlands with white polka dots. We hung one up near the Jumping Castle and one at the Buffet Table.

I also bought a Minnie Mouse Garland that says Happy Birthday and hung that up inside the house where the kids would be seated to eat. We had black and red balloons all over the house as well as few Minnie Mouse Balloons outside. I hung up red and black tissue paper in strands to keep with the Minnie Mouse Theme.

I also used a Red Table Runner, bought white round stickers and stuck them onto the table runner (for polka dots). For the kids table, I had black plates and made my own ears using black stock card paper. We had red party hats and stuck those round white stickers on them as well. And we did the same with the red cups.

1pm start…

The kids started arriving with their parents from around 12:30pm. And the first ‘activity’ was for each child who wanted to get their face painted, to go out to the Gazebo and choose their design. Miss E of course chose Minnie Mouse. Face Painting was not limited to the kids, I was the first adult to get in line to get my face painted too – no picture taken, but I was a Ladybug!

Of course the other attraction of the day was the Jumping Castle. It was quite a hot day, and Grampy and the uncles pulled a cover over the Castle to give it some shade. I too spent some time in it…loads of fun!

What’s on the Menu…

The food was not very themed this time. But still quite delicious. I opted for lots of finger foods: Samoosas; Chicken Pops; Spring Rolls, Cheese Puffs; mini Meat Balls; etc.

Throughout the day there was watermelon on offer as well as chips, sweets and nuts.

I wanted something a little fun and that would fit in with it being super hot out. So I had planned a ‘Pimp your Ice-Cream’ Stand. We had plain Vanilla as well as plain Chocolate. I set the table up with wafer bowls and wafer cones and several bowls of ‘toppings’: Smarties; Jelly Tots; Crushed Nuts; Chocolate Sauce, etc. This didn’t go as planned, but more on that later.

I was all over the place on the day, and completely forgot to take any pictures of the food and snacks 🙂

The Cake…

Now everyone who knows me, knows that the birthday cake is always a big deal for me. As long as I am able, I will always bake Miss E’s birthday cake myself. And so even through the heat, I managed to bake exactly the cake I had planned. And of course, Miss E loved it. This was the highlight of the day, I think. Even the adults loved the cake.

Time to end the day…

Our Minnie Mouse Birthday Party turned into a Pool Party. Miss E had gotten into the little Kiddies Pool, clothes and all. Even I had my feet in that little Pool. My ‘Pimp your Ice-Cream Stand, had turned into a mobile Ice-Cream station where Grammy was serving cones and everyone could add their own toppings. Soon afterwards I found myself in the big pool with Miss E. We had such a great time.

After the cake made its appearance, more swimming and splashing was the order of the day. Not too many painted faces were left. But Miss E was still having such a fun day.

And so after many faces were painted and much cake was eaten, families started to leave. Miss E bid farewell to the children (many of whom, she had only just met that day) by giving them a Goodie Bag filled with chips, sweets and a Disney Face Mask to remember their time spent with her.

And what better way to end the day than having a Braai (BBQ) with the family. Miss E was super exhausted after her guests left and went straight to bed after opening her presents. The rest of us, enjoyed some meat and salads and a bit of conversation.

I can’t think of a better way to have celebrated her birthday. All the elements were there and it all seemed to go according to plan. Everyone had a great time and I know it will live in my memory as one of the best birthday parties.

And with that, it’s time to call it a night. Cheers till next time.

Book Giveaway

Hi everyone

I'm very excited about this post. It is my very first Competition Giveaway – it’s a small one, but still a good one! And those who know me, will tell you that I am a sucker for a good read. Books used to be a very big part of my life. I say ‘used to’ because these days I don´t have too much time to get stuck in a good book. I still enjoy taking an hour ever second week or so and just emerge myself into some reading, but there was a time when I would finish a 300 page novel in about a day or two (brings back memories of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows)!

Anyway, since also becoming a mum, I believe reading plays an important part of Miss E's life. I was reading her books while she was still in my belly. Anything from Dr. Seuss to The Brothers Grimm; from CS Lewis to Bible Stories. At night I would read her bedtime stories or Fairytales. Once she was born, I didn't stop. I kept reading to her. And now at nearly 3 years old, her library is nearly as big as mine! She has her favorites, of course. But she often would swap old favorites for new ones.

And so that is how I decided that my very first Giveaway on my Blog would be centered around books. I have a firm belief that books shape the imaginations of our children: allows them to dream things more beautiful than what our world can possibly give them. Books is where we experience, with the lovable characters life in all the colors of the rainbow and share the innocence of childhood that is sometimes too soon taken away from us.

So here is what you have to do to enter to win my Bundle of Books Giveaway:

  1. Comment on this post what your favorite book is (can be a children’s book or adult) and why,
  2. Then head on over to my Facebook Page: Like my Page; Like the Book Giveaway Post and tag a friend who might be interested in winning a couple of books (great for Christmas!)
  3. Double your chances (this is optional) by heading over to my Instagram Account; Follow me and comment on the Book Giveaway Post

Competition ends on 11th December 2017 at 23h59. Winner will be announced on 14th December 2017 on my Facebook Page.

This competition is only open to South African Residence with a valid Postal Address, as I am currently visiting here. More Giveaways to follow for my German and other International Readers in 2018!

My Lovelies, I look forward to reading your comments and hearing what your favorite books are! Good luck and happy Reading!!!

Till next time!