It’s been a year… – Lessons from my cousin Maphanki  

It has been a year since my cousin Maphanki died. I remember a friend and colleague telling me that I will experience a lot of firsts now that she is not here anymore; the first Christmas without her, her first birthday without her and of course the first year without her. It’s a strange feeling. For me I guess, her absence is a lot less intense as I am away from home anyway and she is not a part of my everyday life.

When I was home for a few days in March and was looking for an oven dish to bake chicken for lunch, I nearly shouted out her name to come show me when my mother now stores her dishes. That was my first time really experiencing that she is not there anymore.

I think about Maphanki all the time. I think about what she would be doing if she was still around. She was saving to buy a car and was planning to get a place of her own. I think about her every time we sing ‘the wheels on the bus’ with Neo because she had her own remix of the song that she would sing.

On the lead up to a year after her death, I have been thinking a lot more about her; trying to figure out what the lesson is (if any) I can learn from her death. Maphanki was no saint, not by any stretch of the imagination; she was human and she had faults just like any other person. But she was also so funny and had a sense of humour that always had me laughing out loud. She was insightful and had the most beautiful singing voice. She loved helping out and was a people’s person getting along with most people. She cared for her family and was protective of them to a fault. She was ambitious, caring and generous.

When I think about her and her death, I keep telling myself not to hold myself back and not to postpone living. I have today and she doesn’t and there’s no reason to not fully live.

I realised this when we were away on holiday and we hired bicycles in San Francisco to cycle the Golden Gate Bridge. I am not a confident cyclist and I was absolutely terrified of getting on the bicycle. Of course I would not give up but that’s when I realised that fear is almost always present in my life. I am afraid that I am not a good parent; a good wife or a good friend; the list is endless. I am afraid of getting out of my comfort zone and trying new and completely different things. I am afraid of too many things and really this fear has to stop because I am holding me back.

Instead of looking at pictures of Maphanki and being sad, I am pledging to live a little more, do a little more and be harder on myself. I want her to be proud of me wherever she is.

Ah Maphanki… I miss you all the time.

 

Maphanki

This is the last picture Maphanki took for her whatsapp profile

xx

Listen and Watch. You gotta be… by Des’ree

You gotta be is a song by Des’ree which was first released in 1994. I heard the song again about a week ago after a long time and I liked the message of self confidence that the song is about. Neo is a little too young to get it but I hope when he is older, I get to teach him to challenge what the future holds, try and keep his head to the sky, release his fears and that love will always save the day. It’s a lot, I know!

Artist: Des’ree

Album: I Ain’t Movin’

I like this song, and hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

 

Thanks for stopping by!

Kgomotso x

 

Adding a bit of zing to our little corner of the internet

I decided even before the start of the New Year the blog needed a bit of work. It is our very own corner of the internet and I was beginning to feel like it was not representing me, Neo and PJ very well or that I was not taking it seriously. It was lacking personality, colour, fizz, pizazz, you name it! When I was picking my blog theme, I was thinking minimalistic but I ended up with boring.

 

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Valentine’s Day Children’s Books

I am not crazy about Valentine’s Day because I would rather we showed each other every day that we loved each other than just on the one day. Having said that, this year I have seen the value in using Valentine’s Day as a chance to reinforce and remember the message of love, compassion and family to Neo. For me, books are almost always a default way of teaching something or introducing something to Neo.

 

I looked through our books at home and brought out books for us to read this week about loving each other as our little way of celebrating Valentine’s Day. These are our favourite books that make the concept of love real and relatable:

 

  1. Guess how much I love you
Guess How Much I Love You

Guess How Much I Love You

This book was published more than a decade ago and is still a classic with its charming illustrations and the story of the little Nutbrown Hare who shows his daddy just how much he loves him. It is a sweet and endearing book and easy to understand why it’s still a favourite even after all these years.

 

  1. I love you stinky face
I Love You Stinky Face

I Love You Stinky Face

I was initially put off by the title but the book itself is touching and funny, that it has become one of my number one bed time books. The book tells the story of how much a mother loves her child so much, that even if the child smelt so bad that his name was Stinky Face, she would sprinkle him with sweet smelling powder and love him or her nonetheless.

 

  1. I love you through and through
I Love you Through and Through

I Love you Through and Through

We have been reading this one for a while now and it has simple and easy words that make it great as a read-along book. It’s a funny book that always has Neo giggling.

 

  1. I’d know you anywhere, my love
I'd know you anywhere, my love

I’d know you anywhere, my love

 

Our children all have qualities that will make them stand out of the crowd; it could be the twinkle in their eyes or the way they smile. It’s a bit long and Neo is only now getting into it after we have been reading it on and off for the past year or so.

 

  1. Why I love my daddy
Why I love my daddy

Why I love my daddy

 

I bought this book for Father’s Day because of the great illustrations and relatable words for children. It also goes without saying that it’s one of PJ’s favourites ;).

 

Do you have any favourite books on love that you read with your children?

 

Thanks for stopping by!

 

Kgomotso x

 

Our California Road Trip check list

I blogged a little while ago about our 2015 travel wish list and we decided to move our main trip to California in a few weeks!

 

So we are going on a road trip from San Francisco! I’m so excited; there are nights I actually can’t sleep. I am planning the trip myself and hoping to make it a really fun trip, not just filled with the usual posing in front of things and all that. So, here are key things on how I am getting on.

Map of our trip 

We will spend a few days in San Francisco and then work our way to Los Angeles. The plan is to not spend more than three hours in the car between the stops we are making along the way. I don’t think Neo, or either of us for that matter, will enjoy spending that much time in the car!

Pacific Highway Road Trip Map

Road Trip Map

Getting there

We are flying into LAX and catching a one way flight to San Francisco. Flights to SFO were a bit more expensive and seeing as we were going to take a one way flight, it made more sense to choose the cheaper option and fly into LA.

Tip: Flights to the US are cheapest from January to March. Unless you buy on sale, the difference can be large.

 

Car hire

We are hiring a car from San Francisco to LA. If you are ever doing this yourself, it’s important to pick car hire companies that will not charge you extra for one way travel.

Tip: In California, there is no charge to add an additional driver when hiring a car; double check this when you are booking the car.

 

Car seat hire

I found the cost of this to be a bit ridiculous.  If you have pre-schooler children, maybe consider getting the BoostApak instead of hiring a car seat. It is a back pack that also doubles as a booster seat that will be perfect for Neo to use. I bought mine for £15 off ebay.

 

BoostApak - image from www.trunki,com

BoostApak – image from http://www.trunki,com

GPS

Charges for a GPS can be a bit high even thought there is a limit of about $65.  We have a Garmin navigator and I would rather load maps and take that with me. If you are on Three network, like me, you can use your mobile phone in the USA without being charged any roaming fees. That means we can use google maps and Waze to help us navigate our way without any additional charges.

 

Things to do and see

I  will share the highlights:

Alcatraz – better to book this well in advance

Golden Gate Bridge

Cable Cars

Disneyland Resort

Hollywood sign

Universal studios

 

I am trying to find a reasonable compromise between planning the itinerary and leaving enough blanks for some spontaneous activities.

 

Have you been? Any suggestions of what to do as a family with a three year old?

Thanks for stopping by!

Kgomotso xx