Happy Women’s Day from South Africa.

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On the August 9th, 1956, over 20,000 women marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria, to protest the ‘Pass Laws‘ during the Apartheid era. The women stood there in absolute silence for 30 minutes and then started singing the protest song, Wathint’Abafazi Wathint’imbokodo! (Now you have touched the women, you have struck a rock.)

An adaptation of this phrase…

“You strike a woman, you strike a rock”

…has since come to represent a South African woman’s strength and courage.

National Women’s day has been celebrated every year on August 9th, since 2004.

It was then even more special that I had the privilege of photographing Deolandre: a strong, confidant young lady, on the eve of National Women’s Day as she prepared for her Matric Farewell.

(For our international readers, a Matric Farewell is South Africa’s version of an American Senior Prom.)

It marks the end of her high school career, the ceremonial coming age, the growth of an independent woman, the flourishing of hopes and dreams, the world in the palm of her hands. In South Africa it is a gift longed for by many, yet awarded to only a few. The moment I was tasked with, to freeze in frames for a lifetime. A blessing and a privilege indeed.

Camera: Nikon D4S

Lens: 50mm

Location: Clients home, Centurion

Time: 3 – 4:45pm

Lighting Conditions: A few indoor photos with good natural light, althogh most of the photos were taken outdoors with good natural light but before sunset. No flash.

Kids in tow, but I’m super thankful for the client’s little brother who did a superb job of keeping my 3 minions entertained and out of harms way.

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It’s a delight for me to be able to share a few of these photos with you. To celebrate this strong, confident woman and shine a light on many like her who are going through life changing moments. As women we need to lift each other up. We need to be each other’s biggest fans. We need to appreciate our differences, while at the same time enjoying our similarities.

This is one of the greatest parts of the friendship I share with Katie. She is always the first one to offer advice, guidance, and a prayer. She encouraged me even though we were in the same industry, she never once saw a competitor, she saw a friend and ultimately – a partner.

So, if you have a woman on your heart who has played a significant role in shaping the person you are today. Give them a call, give them your words, give them your love. It goes a long way.

Happy Women’s Day, wherever you are.

la

CrossFit with a view

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This past weekend we had the opportunity to experience CrossFit culture in all its glory. We ventured to the little town of Clarens for the Clarens Winter Games. And what a gorgeous setting it was.

We have close ties to the CrossFit Tiger Valley Box here in Pretoria and it was amazing to not only watch the members compete, but also passionately cheer each other on. As Katie noted in her post Strength and Beauty, it’s not just a physical strength that is at work, it’s very much a mental strength too.

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It was hugely inspiring to watch individuals who have trained up to 2 hours a day performing with machine like abilities, and it was equally inspiring to watch the beginners in their first ever competitions leaving all of themselves on the open fields.

Well done to all those who took part.

My biggest challenge of the weekend was trying to photograph the event while keeping an eye on 3 rather needy minions. The lens I favoured was the Nikon, 105mm prime. If I was able to bring my 80-200mm that would have been the ideal lens for this event, but the 105 was a pretty decent 2nd choice. My 80-200mm was simply too big to travel with on this trip.

We had the privilege of staying in self catering units at Kiara Lodge, which was about a 10 minute drive past Clarens itself. This family friendly accommodation is set between the Maluti Mountains and Golden Gate. Another true gem of the Free State. Being only a 3 hour, 30 minute drive from Johannesburg, it really is an ideal getaway for a long weekend, especially with little children who don’t sit well on long road trips.

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The kids had an absolute blast at the lodge. They were in kiddie heaven. Giant blow up floor bouncy pillow, large colourful wooden climbing frames, large hanging tree swings, miniature golf, trampolines, and the highlight of the weekend – bunnies everywhere.

Note: If you do make your way there, please take lots of carrots for hungry bunnies, they are very friendly and this little activity keeps the kids busy for hours.

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I have come away from the weekend with a greater understanding of the CrossFit culture and a better appreciation for the depth of their passion. I come from a sporting family and have been involved with sports all my life, however I now manage an auto immune disease which limits my abilities and if it wasn’t for this, boy, I’d be right along with them.

If you have ever been tempted to give CrossFit a try, go for it! It will change your life for the better – this I am sure of!

Cheers from SA,

la

 

 

Moolmanshoek – Free State

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This past weekend we had the absolute joy of visiting the beautiful Moolmanshoek Private Game Reserve in the Eastern Free State in South Africa.

It is a place where families and friends get together and appreciate mother nature at her finest. This magnificent reserve is nestled in the heart of the sand stone mountain area, and home to over 200 horses. The open bush veld is home to Springbuck, Antelope, Ostrich, Waterbuck, Wildebeest, Jackal, and many more of Africa’s beautiful creations.

The bed and breakfast retreat is beautiful and old. With all the original charm of the early 1900’s. It has not yet lost itself to modern amenities like wifi. While the rooms themselves have no cellular connection to boast or wifi availability, the main house does. So while you appreciate the pockets of isolation and being cut off from the rest of the world, calling home and checking emails really is just a little walk away, up to the main house.

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It’s at this main house that we were treated to a buffet breakfast every morning, beautiful farm home made soups for lunch with home made fresh bread, and a thoughtfully put together dinner in the evenings. They even went out of their way to accommodate my gluten-free child and my own vegan preferences.

My dad and his wife, Anne, are amongst the fittest people I know. Every morning they went out on their bikes with a few friends and rode through the bush for miles, getting right up close to the reserves wildlife. If they weren’t on a bike, they had running shoes on to see what nature to show them by foot. While they went about their physical explorations of the area, the kids and I went for a gorgeous 2.2 km trail walk, perfect for my 3.5 yr old. The kids loved it. They really felt as if they had the freedom to go exploring the bush on their own trail, yet I knew that it would not be too strenuous for them – it really wasn’t. They really LOVED it! This reserve really has something for everyone, for all ages and all physical fitness levels.

The highlight for the kids and I was the horse riding. On our last night there, we went for a magnificent 1 hour horse ride as the sun was setting. Not to mention the play gyms set up for the kids that litter the grounds with childhood charm.

Yes, Moolmanshoek has something for everyone; for me and the kids and for our family and friends. It gave us precious memories and for those few days we were there, everything seemed right with the world again.

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For more information about Moolmanshoek, click [here]

Cheers from SA,

la

Sensory Overload, and our first misty morning.

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There’s something about going home. Whether it’s just to your childhood house you grew up in or your home country you travel back to.

And then there’s something extra special about coming home to Africa.

The minute I step off the plane, it’s like breathing out. My shoulders get lighter and my troubles seem far away.

It’s winter here now and it’s spectacular. The temps are so wonderfully mild. Our middays are reaching 22’C (70’F), but the mornings bring with them that winter chill I still fondly remember.

What strikes me the most about my first few days here is always the sky. The air is so clean and fresh. Such contrast to the desert life. I posted about our famous dust storms in Kuwait a few weeks ago and how, for the summer seasons, it seems that we live in a sepia world. When I land in South Africa, all my senses come alive, as if every colour is showing off. Every landscape is standing proudly at attention. I hear every single bird chirping, I have no idea what birds they are, but oh boy do they serenade. I smell every flower in full fragrance, the rains on the horizon before they fall, and every earthy grain of sand. Textures are in abundance and the influence the land has over it’s people and local design is unmistakable.

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My children are filthy. I’m talking about scrub them in the tub and leaving a dirty ring in the bath kind of filthy. And I LOVE it! They are out the house and exploring their environments every single day and I couldn’t be happier about it.

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This past week we woke up to one beautiful misty morning. It was magical. My eldest ran outside to share in my joy and found her very first dew drop.

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Aside from the land and her people, being around all our family and friends again is so special. Listening to the cousins playing outside, the familiar belly laugh of my brother and the kind words of my dad. The sweet giggle of my new niece and the warm comforts and hugs from loved ones who truly know you.

Yes, going home is special. 

Love from Johannesburg,

la

 

My Africa, my home – for the next 2 months at least

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By now you know I am a South African girl living in the deserts of Kuwait, raising my children and supporting my husband to the best of my abilities. It’s not an easy journey by any means, but one that is well worth it. On Katie’s post An American Patriot Abroad, she put it beautifully when she said:

“Living the expat life may even strengthen one’s patriotism as we experience life away from all that we know and love.”

One of the joys about living abroad is the luxury of travel. Living here means we get 3 months of school summer holidays. With the temperatures reaching unbearably high, everyone who is able, escapes the country with kids in tow for the bulk of this period.

I have been travelling between countries for the past 11 years. All my children were born in Kuwait and have been travelling since they were at least 3 months old. That said, flying is not something that comes naturally for me, and for this reason I feel I have to over prepare in order to cope. This girls feet prefer to be planted firmly on the ground, but alas, my life story has been written a little differently to what I expected and I have been ever so blessed for it.

Last year we travelled to Portugal and this year we are going home to Johannesburg. We are simply so excited. We have a new little family member to meet, old ones to catch up with, friends to cherish, birthday’s to celebrate and a whole lot of new places to see and plenty of adventures to go on. I am even looking forward to the days where we don’t do anything at all. For the next two months I will be writing to you from a beautiful wintery South Africa.

In December, I made this journey alone with the 3 kids and we made it fine with no real drama to write about. Even so, with a very thankful heart my husband will be travelling with us and escorting us safely home this time.

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So to get to Johannesburg from Kuwait we will fly to Dubai (1.5 hours) and catch a connecting flight (8 hours) into Johannesburg (JHB). I choose day flights wherever possible which goes against what most of my friends do (including Katie). I generally, find that the travel is easier on my kids when they have a good nights sleep. We then travel all day and when we get home in JHB I put them straight to bed for another good nights sleep. This way we all wake up the next morning ready to start the day with no jet lag in sight. The challenge then becomes…

How do I cope with and entertain 3 small kids in the confined space of economy class all day long?

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Well, here are a few of my top travel tips when travelling with kids. We all know ever child/family is different, but these work for mine.

1 – Travel as light as possible.

2 – Each child over 4 (in my case 2 of them) carries their own little backpack. (As light as possible)

3 – My smallest (3.5 year old) and I share 1 backpack.

4 – My one on board luggage bag with wheels is strong enough to carry the weight of my smallest around the terminal. He loves to ride my bag at the airport and it saves me having to carry him or push an extra stroller as well. The girls are big enough to handle the airport walks and we simply walk at their pace, but my little guy is not. Especially if he has just woken up, or having one of his ‘moments,’ so riding the bag it is.

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5 – Kids should be comfortable. I’m talking sneakers and sweat pants when travelling long haul.

6 – Starve them of as much screen time as you can for the week before your journey, those little onboard movies will be a huge hit.

7 – Pack on board luggage carefully and intentionally. Remember, you’re trying to pack as light as possible. 

That leads me to some of my go to packing tips:

1 – Bring a ziplock bag full of a few of their favourite snacks. Yes, airlines have great options for kids foods now a days, but especially in the case of my one gluten intolerant child, the little comforts of familiar snacks go a long way. Of course, if I cater for the one, I HAVE to cater for the other two as well. I don’t need to be miles high with 2 tantrums and no where to hide. I traded the fancy lunch boxes for simple ziplock bags to help with the weight issue, I mean something that gets lighter while travelling can only be a good thing right?!

2 –  I pack a change of clothes, not just for each child, but for myself as well.

3 – Pack a small toy for each child.

4 –  I save yummy fruit gummy’s for landing, if any of them have fallen asleep and I need them to get excited about being awake, a little treat (which also helps with their ears and cabin pressure) is sure to do the trick.

5 – Wet wipes, massively important when going anywhere with kids.

6 – Lip balm, that recirculated cabin air can dry out your lips fast.

7 –  Empty packet (or baggie) or two, there’s nothing worse than little wrappers and pieces of tissue littering your seat for hours on end and those poor cabin crew members have more than one family to serve. I find a little empty packet very handy when you want to contain bits of rubbish here and there and it’s pretty easy to dispose of when you need to, keeping your area tidy.

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what’s going in the bag of my oldest

This is the first trip I will be trying out a little travel Play Doh kit from Sensory Play Kuwait. It’s small enough and light enough for the kids to carry, so let’s see what they think of it. I will keep you posted.

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In the spirit of being overly prepared I even mentally map out my morning-of routine and make sure that all luggage bags are packed up the night before. One of the key elements of  this strategic plan is meal times. The kids will have a bowl of plain yogurt, banana or oats before we leave the house. After we make our way through passport control we will head up to the lounges (or food court) for a  second breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausages and fruit. Honestly, well-fed kids are happier than hungry ones.

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Having said all this, no flight home is ever the same, I am constantly learning and refining this travelling process. I will recap once we have landed and update you all on how things went and what I would do differently. For those of you who pray, please pray for safe travels for us!

I look forward to showing you my neck of the woods. Come along for the ride, it promises to be a colourful one! I’d also, love to hear from you what you think of my country and I’m more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

Cheers from the skies,

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UPDATE: Our flights went well, the kids were super stars, not much sleep onboard to report but I really can’t complain. It’s a traveling game changer when your kids have their own seats on the flight! (And that only happens when they’re over 2yrs old on most airlines) 


Our first morning here is a special one, my middle child turns 5 and we were greeted with a spectacular African sunrise. It’s cold, and it’s perfect.