What’s on for families this weekend in Gauteng (25-26 March)

This weekend in Gauteng the main attraction is NickFest! So much to do and the best part is that it really caters for all ages. We also have the other on going events we have mentioned before, such as the transformers and some theatre productions.

  1. NickFest Ticket Pro Dome 

I’m very excited about going to NickFest again; last time we went it was two years ago when Nicky turned three, so it was kind of a birthday celebration as well. He had so much fun. Read the post here. I am looking forward to him being older and being more adventurous on all the climbing apparatus as well.

This time there is so much on offer, including a pram park, mom and baby room and changing area plus 55 child minders on site.

To put you in the picture here are some stats:

   5,000 Visitors per day

3 X Performers per session

7 X Balloon Artists

  4 X Stilt Walkers

1 X Magician

7 X Face Painters

 2 x Soft Play Ball Ponds

 30 x Pedal Go-Karts

30 x Character Cut-Outs

55 x Child Minders

10,000 litres of Slime including a 625 m2 SlimeFest Slime Zone

1,280 giant construction blocks from Everblock

5000 m2 of carpeting

NickFest 2017 promises an amazing weekend of fun for all the family as Minnie joins performers Shekhinah, Nasty C, and co-hosts Jason, Nicholas and Donovan Goliath to welcome kids and families to the TicketPro Dome.  An amazing combination of music and family oriented entertainment, NickFest is packed with live performances, interactive zones, kid-friendly activities, and themed areas where Nickelodeon characters and programmes will be brought to life.

Don’t miss the exciting character shows and appearances by Nickelodeon superstars SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, plus loveable pups Chase and Marshall from Paw Patrol. Or why not play on the Magic Kinder app in the KinderJoy interactive area, and hang out with the KinderJoy mascot Kinderino.

Get your tickets for NickFest 2017 at www.ticketpros.co.za and select Edgars, CNA and Postnet outlets, priced at R290 per head or R270 per person for a family of 4-6 people. Groups of 10 or more people enjoy a discounted price of R250 per head.  Entrance is free for children under one.  Entrance to the Slime Area costs R150 per person (tickets sold separately; kids under 12 must be accompanied by an adult).

 

 For more information on NickFest 2017 please go to www.nickelodeon.com, join them on Twitter @NickAfrica and on Instagram@Nickelodeon_Africa, or like them on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/NickelodeonAfrica. To join the conversation about NickFest 2017,please use the hashtag #NickFest.

 

2. Transformers Animatronics

We mentioned this last week and it is still going strong. 

Young and old can see Optimus Prime, Megatron, Bumblebee and the Rescue Bots as well as an impressive arsenal of weapons used by the Transformers characters. This travelling exhibition features 12 animated Transformers, sculptures scaled between and 2m and 11m made from car parts, and other statues varying in size. Children are able to build their own Transformers using waste materials in the activation zone.

Autobots and Decepticons will also feature prominently, accompanied by the latest Dino Bots and famous Rescue Bots, the famed pre-school series that has expanded the Transformers fan base. Kids (and those young at heart) will get to enjoy a dedicated kids’activation zone, where they can build their own Transformers using waste materials.

 

Exhibition dates and venues

Johannesburg

  • Emperors Palace The Big Red Shed
  • 11 March 2017 – 28 May 2017
  • Visiting Hours: 10am to 7pm

Centurion

  • Centurion Mall
  • 10 June 2017 – 15 October 2017

Cape Town

  • GrandWest Casino and Entertainment World
  • 10 November 2017 – 21 January 2018
  • Tickets are on sale for all shows at www.webtickets.co.za and search “Transformers Animatronics”.

Ticket prices

  • Adults R155
  • Children (4-17): R100
  • Pensioners: R100
  • Students: R100
  • Family of 4 (2 adults and 2 children): R440 
  • Children under 5: free
  • Box Office Tickets available at on site box offices
  • Schools: Special school packages are available in all cities Contact: Linda@exporsa.co.za

To find out more about the exhibition, venues, tickets and for FAQs, visit https://www.transformersafrica.com/ and www.exporsa.co.za

 

3. Freckleface Strawberry

This children’s theatrical production is based on the book by actress Julianne Moore. It tells the story of a red-haired, freckle-faced girl who learns that beauty lies not in the mirror but in the human heart. Times vary. Bookings essential.

 
National Children’s Theatre, 3 Junction Ave, Parktown
R110 for adults and R90 for children
011 484 1584
 
4. Winnie the Pooh

You’ll appreciate Pooh’s sunny nature and his love of honey. Pooh and his friends go on expeditions, muse about honey and birthdays, tell jokes and sing songs. There are two shows daily: 9am and 11am during the school term and 10:30am and 11:30am on weekends, public holidays and school holidays. Bookings essential.

 
Peoples Theatre, cnr Loveday and Hoofd St, Joburg Theatre Complex, Braamfontein
R130
 
 
If you have any events you want to share email heather@samomblogs.co.za. If you would like your event in the top slot you can reserve it for R250.   
 
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The next #JoziMeetup on 13 May is about Building Relationships with Brands

#JoziMeetupIt’s that #JoziMeetup time again! Time to meetup with your blogging buddies and listen to some inspiring speakers assisting us to blog better. We have an awesome lineup of speakers and brands taking part in this event, so you can sit back and enjoy!

The theme of the event is “Building a relationship with brands” and we’ll hear from both the blogger and the PR side about what works and doesn’t work when establishing a productive affiliation with brands.

The speakers are:

 

  1. Mike Said: Daddy Blogger: “Around South Africa on 80 brands”

Mike will be talking about how he utilised brands to sponsor his trip around our country. How he proceeded from idea to implementation, and from blogger to traveller. He will be sharing the power of leveraging social media in the new economy.

Mike blogs at Daddy Blogger.

2. Nicole Sparrow:  Autograph PR: “Please remember to iron your sheets”

You’ll remember Nicole from our last meetup chatting about some make up items from Dischem. Nicole runs a PR agency with quite a few cosmetics that she represents. 

Nicole often giggles at bloggers and vloggers who do stunning makeup tutorials but all she focuses on is the creased sheet they’ve hung as a backdrop!  So she will be dealing with little details like that as well as how PR agencies work, the importance of having a rate card and media kit and what they look for in bloggers they want to work with.

You can find Nicole’s PR website here. 

Two brands will be also be at the meetup to showcase their products:

  1. Prima Baby will be at the event to showcase some of their products to keep your little ones captivated and having fun. You can find them on Facebook here.

 

2. MatsiMela will be there to show off their body care and skin care products, as well as give some pampering to the bloggers.  You can find them on Facebook. 

Details of the event:

Date: 13 May 2017

Time: 10am

Venue:  Cafe Zing, The Regent Hotel, 21 West Rd South, Morningside, Sandton

Cost: R250 plus R5 for Quicket = R255 

Bookings: through Quicket: Click here.

 

(If you are in PE you can join in the #ECMeetup on the same day. Read Luchae and Eleanor’s post for further information.) 

Any more brands who would like to get involved please email heather@samomblogs.co.za

Link for tickets again: Click here.

{Guest Post}: Why I Homeschool

South African mom blogger Lucia shares with us her reasons why she has decided to homeschool.

 

I got into a debate with a close relative recently about my choice to Home-school my children. She thought it an interesting subject, mentioned concern for the children, and we had a relatively unheated debate about my choice. I took no offence, I don’t anymore because I’d live in constant offence if I had to take offense every time someone questioned this choice of my parenting.

I don’t have to defend many parenting choices because for the most part people seem to agree that as a parent I have the best interest of my kids at heart – just not so convinced that choosing home schooling as my kid’s primary education method that I could be thinking with my kid’s best interest at heart. I find it fascinating and disturbing that this is a perception.

My relative pointed out to me that most home schooling parents she knows are doing it for their own sake, to have time to go to the hairdresser or beauty salon. Apparently, they do it so their kids could fit into their schedule. Gasp. I can’t remember her exact words, but she felt that most home school parents don’t do it for the benefit of their children, but more for their own benefit.

I sure must have hung out with a different set of home schoolers because I’ve yet to meet a home school parent that are doing it for their benefit. It’s a sacrifice as a mother to take time out of your dreams and career to bring up your young ones. To be at home so they can learn and play at home. It’s a sacrifice we’re not allowed to talk about because then what about the working mothers’ sacrifice. Let me just be clear here. I think working mothers are great mothers and women and wives. I don’t take away from their sacrifice of time without their kids so that they can provide food and housing and whatever else they deem necessary for their families. I respect that they have their reasons for making the choices they have made, all I ask in return is a mutual respect in trusting my reasons are as valid as the reasons you use to make your choice.

I listen to most working moms and they all feel they don’t have much choice in the matter, needing to support finances in the house, and at the same time they don’t feel that they would be able to live a fulfilled and busy life as a mother at home. They say they won’t have the patience or the ability to teach their children what they need to learn. Every mother that has asked me about my choice to home school has told me that it is not for them because they’re just not ‘made’ for it. I always wonder what exactly that means? You’re not ‘made’ to teach your child the things in life you’d wish for them to learn? You’re not ‘made’ to face the fact that you’re not as patient as you’ve imagined yourself to be, or your kid is not as clever as you’ve told yourself they are, or your idea of what’s important to learn is not what your kid deems as important? You’re not made for spending your days at home with the little people you’ve created?

I believe that if you’re a mother you should accept that you were made for more than just your own dreams and aspirations. I guess I can say that I wasn’t ‘made’ to be a working mom. I shiver when I think that if I was in someone else’s shoes I’d have to be up by 5am to get my kids ready to get to school on time, as well as get myself ready to get to work, be separated from my kids 5 days a week for at least 8hrs a day. I wouldn’t know if they were getting hurt, playing with friends, getting bullied, being a bully, learning new things, getting into trouble. I would only hear about it at night, hopefully. I would have to come home tired from working all day and must help each child with homework, should make dinner, bath kids and get them to bed – hopefully having had an hour or so of meaningful family time, but more than likely it would be spend looking at a screen.

Mother Helping Daughter With Homework In Kitchen

You really get to know your kids when you spend 24/7 with them. And they get to know you, and you discover new things about yourself and that little army you created. They outnumber you and they are growing up into little people full of their own ideas and wishlists. I want to be in the know of their ideas and wishes. Not so that I can grant them their wishes and ideas like a fairy godmother, but because I want to be there to help them try their best to fulfil their dreams, as best I can. I want my kids to achieve the most they can – but I really want them to just enjoy each day and each moment as it happens. I want them to chase after moments and not after money. I want them to chase after family and friends and spending time with people that make you laugh, people that make you think, people that make you angry and people that you can just be all you are without judgement. Because all those groups of people create an emotion in you for a reason. It makes you question yourself, your ideas or ways of thinking. It makes you put yourself in someone elses’ shoes, or if you’re a narcissist it only validates your own way of thinking.

I am fortunate enough to be able to choose to work or not to work. And in that I mean that if I had to work I would have time to my career and myself but any money I make would have to pay for my kids to go to school. And do I want my kids to go to formal standardised schooling? No. I choose to work from home, using my skills and passion as a photographer. I am currently pursuing writing as another option as a source of income. Having chosen Home schooling as our way of living has also given me the opportunity to explore areas of myself that I haven’t previously considered as a means to earn and contribute to our life as a family. It has also allowed me to show my daughters that the boxes the world wants to put you in doesn’t have to define you. If you don’t fit into the box someone is forcing you into, break out and shape your own box.

Strangely enough, formal schooling is not that old. In fact it only became popular between the 17th and 19th centuries.

If you have the time for an interesting read go check out this article about a brief history of education. It’ll give you a better insight into one of the reasons I believe home schooling to be a better option than formal standard schooling. Kids, especially young kids, learn through play. I can see by the interests that my kids portray what they would enjoy doing as a career. I don’t think that they can’t have careers if they choose to be mothers, but I hope they will know that balancing your passions in life is what brings happiness, not earning more money, or living in bigger houses or driving fancy cars. I am happy. I am fulfilled and when I’m not fulfilled I do something about it. We make time for ourselves as much as we make time for our kids. I didn’t become a home school parent overnight, but I always knew that if possible I want to spend the first 4 years of my kids’ lives at home with them. It’s become a bit of an extension in time as we’ve grown as a family and I’ve come to realize the time we have with our kids are so little. If we live to be 70 years we live with our kids less than 20% of our lives! Women often use their career as an excuse for not being at home with their kids, and in the unfair world we live in it’s a valid excuse. Most women won’t be able to get back into their careers at the exact point they left it to become a mother. Someone younger and probably male would’ve come along and taken her position. She’d have to start over again.

I know that choosing to stay at home with my kids until they are ready to head into the world as confident human beings doesn’t mean I must sacrifice my career. I can do what I love while being at home, study further myself, improve my skills or take a break if I feel I need to recharge and refocus. I know that by the time my kids are no longer at home to occupy my time I will be able to focus on my career and build it up to where I want it to be. I know I am good at what I do and can only get better with the time I get to practise. I might not have enough time to build a career right now, but I have enough time to build my skills. Having had this debate with my relative made me think…what would a parent who chooses to send their children to formal schooling do or say if I had to ask in the same tone about why they chose to send their kids to school? Are they really doing it for their children or for themselves? Using my concern for their children to pass my judgement on their choices? Would they walk away unoffended? It’s not only because of this recent debate that this thought came up, but being constantly asked in a way that makes you feel you are ill-equipped to make that choice – as if you just decided this on a whim, as if you don’t know what you’re doing and how could you?

I do hope this clarifies the choice of home schooling a bit. It’s a much longer and deeper discussion really than what is captured here or what was said during our ‘debate’. I can go back to my own schooling history, or mention the fact that people like Beethoven and Mozart was taught by their Fathers. In fact, just about any person born before the 17th century was more than likely home schooled. We are not all religious, we are not all hippies, we are not all weird. But most importantly of all, if we are any or all those things, we don’t really care that you see us that way, because we are, most importantly WHO WE ARE. Not who the world, or the system, or the government, or anybody else wants us to be. We are comfortable with the morals and standards that we live by, we are comfortable with the people our children are, we are encouraging individualism above reforming, we are encouraging our kids to use their special set of skills and knowledge and character to make the world a better place. To connect as families. To expand their horizons and think differently than everyone else. A kid’s intelligence does not rely on whether they go to school or not. Or in the speed at which they grasp a concept. Mozart was not interested in learning geography, and Michelangelo couldn’t care less about his grammar. We nurture the things that drives our children to want to learn, that make our children enjoy learning and we do it whilst allowing them room to play and be children. My relative agreed by the end of the discussion that she can see the benefit of home schooling during the foundation stages of a child’s life. And if that’s only a start to opening one person’s eyes to the benefits of home-schooling, I’ll take it. I believe there are equally beneficial reasons to home school high school children, but it’s a whole different ball game then, and one I’ve yet had to tackle. It’s one I’m scared of and excited by. It’s one I will face when we get there. Right now, we’re just learning to read and write and be kind and honest and confident and cook and bake and build stuff and grow stuff and care for each other and show respect and use our imaginations and design clothes and houses and care for animals and babies and clean our rooms and occasionally water some plants, sweep the house and dust every now and then. We learn to count by counting our blessings and we learn to divide by sharing our blessings. We multiply by baking and subtract by eating. We enjoy life with the people we love. And we love a big variety of people. People who home school, and people who don’t. People who go to church, and people that stay at home. People who have kids, and people who don’t. People with the same colour skin as us, and people with a variety of different colours of skin.

My kids will be fine, in fact they may even be great! And so will be all the working mommies’ kids. If we do what we do out of love, they will all be fine, or even great.

 

Lucia blogs at Fairies and Rock . You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

What’s on for families this long weekend in Gauteng and coming up in Cape Town (18-21 March)

With a long weekend coming up for many people with the public holiday on Tuesday, perhaps you’re looking for something to do. Many of these events we have listed before, but it’s good to know what is in town and happening!

  1. Blue Man Group

I have to mention them. You can read my post that I wrote on Monday about them.  They will still be in Joburg on Friday and Saturday and then they are coming back from 30th March till 2nd April. 

The Blue Man Group will be in Cape Town inbetween from 21 March. 

We are giving away tickets  to both Cape Town and Joburg productions – please read the post and enter!

2. Transformers Animatronics

Ok I feel really bad. I was invited to see this expo and I just did not make it.  But cars transforming into robots have to be awesome, right?

The exhibition’s scale is itself worthy of the Transformers themselves. A minimum of 2,500sqm of floor space is needed over a 20-day build-up to bring the sculptures and statues to life, displayed against the scenery of the legendary planet, Cybertron, all brought to life through eye-popping performance technology.

In addition, an arsenal of weapons used by the Transformers characters will be showcased. Fans young and old can immerse themselves in the incredible universe of these otherworldly creations, from their origins in comic books to the television series and blockbuster movies that have garnered billions of dollars in revenue.

Autobots and Decepticons will also feature prominently, accompanied by the latest Dino Bots and famous Rescue Bots, the famed pre-school series that has expanded the Transformers fan base. Kids (and those young at heart) will get to enjoy a dedicated kids’activation zone, where they can build their own Transformers using waste materials.

Following the sold out South American tour Transformers Animatronics: The Exhibition is currently travelling to South Africa in 7 shipping containers. After a 90 day transit from port to port Transformers Animatronics: The Exhibition will be in South Africa for 11 months, exhibiting in three cities, Johannesburg, Centurion and Cape Town.

Keep an eye out for the school competition! Pick ‘n Pay School Club in association with Transformers Animatronics: The Exhibition wants to see schools recycling. The school class with the best recycling campaign will win tickets to see Transformers Animatronics: The Exhibition.

Tickets are sold per one-hour timeslots. You can spend as much time as you like at the exhibition, but an average visit will take about two hours.

Exhibition dates and venues

Johannesburg

  • Emperors Palace The Big Red Shed
  • 11 March 2017 – 28 May 2017
  • Visiting Hours: 10am to 7pm

Centurion

  • Centurion Mall
  • 10 June 2017 – 15 October 2017

Cape Town

  • GrandWest Casino and Entertainment World
  • 10 November 2017 – 21 January 2018
  • Tickets are on sale for all shows at www.webtickets.co.za and search “Transformers Animatronics”.

Ticket prices

  • Adults R155
  • Children (4-17): R100
  • Pensioners: R100
  • Students: R100
  • Family of 4 (2 adults and 2 children): R440 
  • Children under 5: free
  • Box Office Tickets available at on site box offices
  • Schools: Special school packages are available in all cities Contact: Linda@exporsa.co.za

To find out more about the exhibition, venues, tickets and for FAQs, visit https://www.transformersafrica.com/ and www.exporsa.co.za

 

3. Easter Chocolate Workshop

Easter  may still be a few weeks away, but do we really need an excuse to have fun with chocolate?  Kids can each make a chocolate figurine from modelling chocolate, finger-paint chocolate flowers and create chocolate leaf templates. The highlight of the workshop is when each child decorates their own chocolate bunny. 

 
For 4-12 year olds (older children accommodated by arrangement)
Snyman Sjokolateur Boutique Factory, Waterkloof Ridge
R250 per child
074 140 1087
 
4. Freckleface Strawberry

This children’s theatrical production is based on the book by actress Julianne Moore. It tells the story of a red-haired, freckle-faced girl who learns that beauty lies not in the mirror but in the human heart. Times vary. Bookings essential.

 
National Children’s Theatre, 3 Junction Ave, Parktown
R110 for adults and R90 for children
011 484 1584
 
5. Winnie the Pooh

You’ll appreciate Pooh’s sunny nature and his love of honey. Pooh and his friends go on expeditions, muse about honey and birthdays, tell jokes and sing songs. There are two shows daily: 9am and 11am during the school term and 10:30am and 11:30am on weekends, public holidays and school holidays. Bookings essential.

 
Peoples Theatre, cnr Loveday and Hoofd St, Joburg Theatre Complex, Braamfontein
R130
 

 

That time my mother-in-law broke her hip in Russia (Why you need travel insurance)

 

travel insurance

Pain. Agony gripped her hip as she lay on the bathroom floor.

All she was trying to do was figure out the Russian shower handles. Confounded things. And then the mat had gone one way and she had gone another, her head narrowly missing the toilet seat. But her hip connected with the floor.

Merle lay there calling for help until her husband helped her to the bed.

They were in a Russian town called Mougorob. Between St Petersburg and Moscow on a tour. Her husband, Tony tried to phone out from the room unsuccessfully. Merle survived on painkillers and got through that Saturday night somehow.

The next morning Tony met with the tour operator in the foyer of the hotel, where they managed to dial out to the insurance and medical assistance. They were told that Moscow would be a better place to receive the care that was needed.  The tour was headed that way anyway. Merle, together with her painful hip, clambered back on the bus. It was an excruciating trip that lasted one day.

Once in Moscow, Merle was admitted to hospital on the Monday morning. It had been a long hall but at last she received the attention she needed. They allowed Tony to move into the hospital to be with her the next day. After figuring out what would be best, to have the hip replacement operation in Russia or in SA, they decided to go ahead with the operation two days later.

About two weeks later they returned to SA, accompanied by a doctor on the airplane. This was also a long trip via Dubai and Cape Town before they returned home to East London.

A terrible ordeal it was for both of them, but the important lesson they took away from this experience was: travel insurance is just not negotiable. You simply cannot afford to go overseas without it; in fact it was a compulsory portion they had to pay for as part of their tour through the travel agent. Everything was paid for by the insurance. They only had to pay in an excess of R1000.

It’s very easy to buy Medifin Travel Insurance. In just a few clicks you can go online, get a quote and buy your insurance policy. Within minutes the policy documents will be emailed to you.

MediFin has Medifin Travel insurance which will protect you in a medical emergency and cover the loss of your personal effects. You can choose from a premium to a basic insurance cover when travelling. Find out more here.

Your holiday should be a carefree time to relax. You deserve that. And when that mat slips from underneath your feet, you will have the security of knowing that all your medical expenses will be taken care of.

 

This post is sponsored by Medifin.

 

{Guest Post} Minecraft – a stay at home mom’s view.

minecraft mom's view

This week we have a post from SA mom blogger Lucia who has some opinions on the game Minecraft.

Minecraft is a sandbox video game which enables players to build constructions out of textured cubes in a 3D generated world. 

 

I’ve read and heard various opinions about the video game, Minecraft, and it’s varied from good to bad to downright horrendous. There’s been instances of sexual abuse within the gaming platform as well as a report of a kid going into a comatose state from playing Minecraft. It’s scary stuff. The comatose kid had to go for therapy to get him off his addiction to this game, and the sexually abused kid had to also receive some kind of treatment as the gaming reality seemed so real and she physically felt abused. Some truly horrible stuff yes, and as a mother of four daughters it scares me to even contemplate either one of those possibilities. But can I voice my opinion…my humble no doctorate or phd or fancy degree, just staying at home 24/7 with my kids opinion? Because boy I really hate having to listen to everyone else bashing something that I truly find useful and helpful. Firstly, my kids are 5, soon to be 7 and 9, and the youngest too young to care. They NEVER play any online games, so the risk for sexual predators on these gaming platforms are null. And they NEVER play alone. They are not allowed to play games by themselves, because yes, inherently video games are anti-social. So, if they want to play, one of their sisters must want to play with them. And most of the time they’re only allowed to play an hour at a time, take a break, switch partners, play for another hour and then go play outside, draw, colour or do something other than stare at a screen. I’ve watched my kids play more often than not as well and if they do play unsupervised it’s while I’m around in the house busy with well, all those fun SAHM stuff we do….(yeah that’s right, we actually have other stuff to do besides entertain our kids) If they argue or fight over anything within the game it gets turned off. If they react negatively after being told it’s time to turn it off, they get banned from playing it for a couple of days. If they nag to play, they don’t get to play at all. They’re mostly, excluding weekends and some holidays, only allowed to play after 3pm. And they have to make turns. It might sound like a lot of co-ordinating, but they’re pretty good at keeping each other in check and balancing their times. We also give them tasks to do within Minecraft. Me and my husband plays as well, as I’m a firm believer that you should know what you’re allowing into your kids lives and minds. We started a “Dream house” world, where everyone had to design and build their dream house. Then we create tasks for them or create ‘treasures’ for them. A task might be something like having to build their dream playpark/restaurant etc within this world. My BH is busy building an underground railway to each house and we tell the kids there’s a secret within the world to go and discover…so we make it interactive and a family activity.

minecraft and kidsBesides playing Minecraft they also play various Kinect games. We opted for the Xbox 360 with Kinect because of the physicality of the games and I’ve been quite pleasantly surprised at the variety of games available for this. We’re busy trying out a couple of demo’s and there’s dancing games, Star Wars fighting games, Boxing and of course all the athletics and adventure sports games – and it’s fun to watch them play, as well as joining in with them. I walked into the house yesterday after telling them they can try out one of the dance demos and they were just bouncing and laughing and getting a good work out to boot.

So yes. My humble SAHM opinion is that if you’re going to leave your kid to their own devices and not monitor their activity then you’re going to find trouble – or rather they more than likely are. Do I use the gaming console as a babysitter? No – if it was a babysitter I could leave my house. I don’t do that. I think irresponsible parenting is causing more issues than games and screens, but instead of monitoring and being present with children while they are using these devices, it’s easier to point the finger at the games or videos or whatever and say how bad they are for kids. Do we really need to read about the fact that there might be sexual predators in these online games to not allow our very young kids to play online games? Surely it’s naive to think your kid is safe online, in any game…or that letting your kid play games or stare at a screen minecraft and childrenfor more than 20% of their awake time won’t have an influence, especially if you’re giving them free reign on where and what and when they’re playing.

Be more involved with your kids screen time, interact with them, play the same games as them or play the games with them. Don’t let it be something that creates a barrier, use it to create a stronger bond…yes to some people playing video games might seem silly and a waste of time, but if this is the technology our kids are growing up with, then I see it more as an investment of time into my kids than a waste of time.

 

Lucia blogs at Fairies and Rock . You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

{Review and Giveaway} Blue Man Group – A Mind Blowing Experience

blue man groupThe Blue Man Group is an event you have to experience to fully benefit from what they are all about. Mere words are just inadequate to do this stage production justice, but I will attempt to give you a glimpse into their world. We are also giving away two double tickets to a Johannesburg show on Thursday 30 March. UPDATE: We now have another double ticket to giveaway in Cape Town  on Wednesday 22 March.

Being a Blue Man is an art in itself. Ex Blue Man Isaac Eddy spoke about the audition process and what they look for in this kind of performer.

blue man groupIt’s evolved slightly throughout the years because it’s tough to find Blue Men. About half of us are professional musicians who learn the character, and the other half are professional actors who learn the music. The thing that’s hard is that the character is not the kind of character that a trained actor can immediately understand, and that’s why half of the Blue Men we have aren’t even trained actors. It’s a ‘clown’ character for all intents and purposes, which is a term that’s kind of misused now. For the character to be believable it has to tap into an honesty and a sense of self that a lot of times, actors are trained to get rid of. There are some people who can access that honesty in the character, and there are other people who are basically trained in all sorts of acting styles that can’t really access it.      

There is something very quaint and curious about the Blue Man and the way he approaches the world. He is child like and funny, as well as being inventive and musical. He doesn’t speak: his facial expressions and physical movement is his way of communicating. I see on their website that they do special performances for autistic people: and their style and approach is something that appeals to those kinds of people too.

I think one of the really interesting things about the Blue Men is how they involve and include the audience in their performance. This happens with everything from the audience warm up messages to give greetings to certain people to a special interruption for late arrivals. Then of course there are two volunteers who actually take part in the show.

For the first volunteer, who was a smiling lady up for the challenge, they sat at a table. She had to help them open their Twinkie packets. Very funny and it reminded me of Mr Bean. The second volunteer was a man who completely immersed himself in the Blue experience, but you’ll have to watch the show to see how that turned out!

Something else fascinating about the Blue Man Group is their take on technology. There is one scene where there are images of texting people and the words and letters spew upwards into a spiral of colour. The colours swirl and come together and then find themselves on the outfits of the performers. 

blue man group

Members of the Blue Man Group play unique instruments made from plastic pipes, flexible poles and other unusual objects. (Anne-Marie McReynolds/San Jose Mercury News/MCT)

No matter how high-tech things get, there’s still something human there. We’ll always need other, always need to collaborate. People still need to come together and look each other in the eye. Through the Blue Man’s connection with the audience, we hope to encourage this human-to-human interaction, while helping people reconnect with their own sense of wonder and discovery, with their own sense of what is possible in their lives. Phil Standton, Co-Founder.

 

The drumming is also incredible. It adds to the force of the performance but the Blue Men have a unique take on the shapes of their drums. They use pipes. They make the point that pipes always flow away from the house. When they go backwards you get: interaction!  (And that’s what the Blue Men are about!) The other shape they use is to represent a nerve that makes you see in your eye. 

There is a scene whblue man groupere they move the pipes in the beat to the music which is quite unique. But also drumming on all the pipes produced some very rhythmic and musical tunes. They even played a few South African ones much to the delight of the audience.

Light, colour and paint are also a huge part of the show which culminates in a huge party atmosphere with streamers and large colourful balls all over the audience. My husband managed to hit the balls quite a few times but I didn’t quite reach! I came home with a pink streamer still attached to my handbag, a playful reminder of the evening.

 

#bluemanselfieAfterwards the Blue Men are there in the lobby for you to greet and take selfies with. A playful end to a lesson in what the Blue Man is asking of us.

The Blue Man is reflecting the audience itself and the Blue Man is summoned by the audience itself. A primordial, psychological journey of the audience itself. Put more simply, you could think of it as, the color blue. It’s cased off that Yves Klein blue. That bright, bright cobalt that he created himself, and that he covered [a series of objects and paintings] with and nothing else. So the concept is that we emerged from a painting like that. Like our primordial soup is from the art world, and we are summoned by the audience to connect them and free them from this urban isolation. To have this single moment of connection. Isaac Eddy.

 

You might also remember them from America’s Got Talent:

 

TOUR INFORMATION

JOHANNESBURG

Venue:                   Teatro at Montecasino

Dates:                    From Tuesday 7th February 2017 until Saturday 18th March 2017. Then from Thursday 30th March 2017 until Sunday 2nd April 2017.

Off Peak Shows:   Tuesday Evening, Wednesday Evening, Thursday Evening and Sunday Evening

Peak Shows:       Friday Evening, Saturday Matinee, Saturday Evening and Sunday Matinee

Ticket Prices:      Off Peak: R370 – R595.

     Peak: R455 – R680

Bookings:             From Big Concert and Computicket

                              

Cape Town

Venue:                   Grand Arena, GrandWest

Dates:                    From Tuesday 21st March 2017

Off Peak Shows:   Tuesday Evening, Wednesday Evening, Thursday Evening and Sunday Evening

Peak Shows:       Friday Evening, Saturday Matinee, Saturday Evening and Sunday Matinee

Ticket Prices:      Off Peak: R340 – R570

      Peak: R425 – R655

Bookings:             From Big Concerts and Computicket

Follow the Blue Men on Instagram and Twitter.

***

Would you like to see the show? SA Mom blogs is giving away two double tickets to the show at the Teatro in Johannesburg on Thursday, 30 March 2017. To enter, leave a comment.

UPDATE: We now also have another double ticket to giveaway in Cape Town for Wednesday 22 March. PLEASE SPECIFY IN YOUR COMMENT: CAPE TOWN.

Terms and Conditions

You must be able to attend the show in Johannesburg on Thursday 30 March. (Or Wed 22 March in CT)

The competition will run for a week and the winner will be emailed and announced on our Facebook page. 

 

What’s on for families this weekend in Gauteng (11-12 March)

This weekend in Gauteng watch Winnie the Pooh or the Blue Man Group; visit the Animatronics Transformers Expo or go to a market.

  1. Winnie the Pooh Kids

You’ll appreciate Pooh’s sunny nature and his love of honey. Pooh and his friends go on expeditions, muse about honey and birthdays, tell jokes and sing songs. There are two shows daily: 9am and 11am during the school term and 10:30am and 11:30am on weekends, public holidays and school holidays. Bookings essential.

 
Peoples Theatre, cnr Loveday and Hoofd St, Joburg Theatre Complex, Braamfontein
R130
 
2. Blue Man Group

BMGOctober 21 2012Photos By Denise TruscelloLas Vegas Nevada USAPhotos By: Denise Truscello

Comedy, theatre, rock concert and dance party all rolled into one. The new world tour showcases classic Blue Man favourites along with brand new content as they continually update and refresh their shows with new music, fresh stories, custom instruments and state-of-the-art technology. Blue Man Group is accompanied by a live band whose tribal rhythms help drive the show to its unforgettable climax.

 
All ages
Montecasino’s Teatro, cnr William Nicol Dr and Witkoppen Rd, Fourways
R370–R680

JOHANNESBURG

Venue:                   Teatro at Montecasino

Dates:                    From Tuesday 7th February 2017 until Saturday 18th March 2017. Then from Thursday 30th March 2017 until Sunday 2nd April 2017.

Off Peak Shows:   Tuesday Evening, Wednesday Evening, Thursday Evening and Sunday Evening

Peak Shows:       Friday Evening, Saturday Matinee, Saturday Evening and Sunday Matinee

Ticket Prices:      Off Peak: R370 – R595.

     Peak: R455 – R680

Bookings:             From Big Concert and Computicket

Cape Town

Venue:                   Grand Arena, GrandWest

Dates:                    From Tuesday 21st March 2017

Off Peak Shows:   Tuesday Evening, Wednesday Evening, Thursday Evening and Sunday Evening

Peak Shows:       Friday Evening, Saturday Matinee, Saturday Evening and Sunday Matinee

Ticket Prices:      Off Peak: R340 – R570

      Peak: R425 – R655

Bookings:             From Big Concerts and Computicket

I recommend the Big Concerts website as I was unable to login to Computicket.

SA Mom blogs will be giving away tickets to this event next Wednesday.

3. Transformers Animatronics

We mentioned this last week and it is still going strong. 

Young and old can see Optimus Prime, Megatron, Bumblebee and the Rescue Bots as well as an impressive arsenal of weapons used by the Transformers characters. This travelling exhibition features 12 animated Transformers, sculptures scaled between and 2m and 11m made from car parts, and other statues varying in size. Children are able to build their own Transformers using waste materials in the activation zone.

Emperors Palace, 64 Jones Rd, Kempton Park
adults R155, children 5–17 years old R100, children under 4 years old free, family package (2 adults and 2 children) R440
See their website here.
 
4. Lots of markets this weekend, including the one at Field and Study. 

Large free play area for children and various entertainment activities; – Dogs are welcome but must be on a short lease and by your side at all times; – They do not have an ATM on site, please ensure that you bring sufficient cash or use Snapscan (majority of traders provide this cashless payment option, download and set it up on smart phone beforehand to save time); – The market is wheelchair friendly, please obtain information from parking attendants on arrival.   Opening times Market is open from 10:00 – 15:00. The coffee stall and a few food stalls are open from 9am if you want to come earlier.

 
 
 
If you have any events you want to share email heather@samomblogs.co.za. If you would like your event in the top slot you can reserve it for R250.   
If you found this post interesting please share it with your friends and remember to follow us on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram and join our awesome group called Mommy’s Me Time.

{Guest Post} 20 Days to 1000 Followers on Instagram with no Automation

Today’s  guest post is written by Lauren Kinghorn from Inspiring Mompreneurs. She shares with us how she grew her Instagram following from zero to 1000 in twenty days.

My social media strategy is anything but typical.  I’m a Mom blogger who’s not on Facebook or Twitter.  Say what?!?   You won’t be the first to call me crazy, but I have my reasons.

Pinterest was my first love on the social media front.  Curious to know why?  I read a number of articles on social media strategy and summarized them in this article.  I think this is why it took me such a long time to buy into the idea of joining Instagram. I was so sold on Pinterest (still am) and they sounded so similar to Instagram on paper, I just couldn’t see the value in joining Instagram as well.   

I kept coming across articles on Pinterest about Instagram and I would just file them away in my board: Marketing your Online Business to read another day.  Friends and Mom Entrepreneurs I interviewed advised me to join Instagram.  I didn’t budge… until my hubby joined to keep in closer contact with his daughter (my wonderful bonus daughter) who moved with her mother to a small town 180kms away from us.

Initially I joined just as myself just to check it out and keep in touch with family.  I looked at few Instagram pages of influencers in my niche and some of them were gorgeous!  The penny dropped and I decided to go for it. 

For inspiration and some guidance, I had a quick read of this article by Chrystie at Living for Naptime:  How I got 1000 Real, Fun & Awesome Instagram Followers in 30 Days .

On 3rd February, I joined Instagram as Inspiring Mompreneurs and Happy Human Pacifier.

These were the steps I took on Day 1 on Instagram:

Step 1:  I took Chrystie’s advice and posted my first few pictures.

Step 2:  I searched for people in my niche (Mom Entrepreneurs and Breastfeeding Advocates) and started following them.  

Step 3: Whenever I found someone who appeared to be an influencer in my niche, I looked at who they were following and followed them too.

Step 4: Whenever I found a profile I thought was particularly helpful or pretty or well crafted, I liked a heap of their posts and/or posted some comments.

Step 5: I followed all the Moms who followed me.

Loads of likes, follows and comments later and…

Wow!  I was amazed! 

In 24 hours I had 165 followers on Inspiring Mompreneurs (I was following a whopping 613).

I also had 92 followers on Happy Human Pacifier (following 542).

My competitive spirit kicked in big time! 

Growing at this rate I could reach 1000 followers in a week! Easy!

Well, not so easy really.  It took time and work – a mad amount of work to grow at that pace. 

I started plotting my daily growth right away.   Here’s the spreadsheet (today is day 27):

  Inspiring Mompreneurs   Happy Human Pacifier
  Followers Following   Followers Following
Day 1 165 613   92 542
Day 2 247 946   136 739
Day 3 330 1158   173 886
Day 4 362 1192   183 889
Day 5 370 1200   200 940
Day 6 370 1221   209 1030
Day 7 373 1231   226 1078
Day 8 402 1370   240 1093
Day 10 607 2632   265 1318
Day 11 712 2802   306 1560
Day 12 745 2893   329 1665
Day 14 860 3393   352 1761
Day 15 899 3486   362 1810
Day 19 968 3709   485 2816
Day 20 1006 3822   500 2811
Day 27 1104 4033   554 2806

 

You’ll notice that some days I got a lot done, other days not so much.  Life happens.

Here are the Further Steps I took to reach 1000 Followers in 20 Days

Step 6:   Each day, if time allowed I posted some Instagram pics. 

I use the free version of Canva to create all my official pins and posts.  On my personal page, I simply upload photos, as is, from my phone camera.  Super quick and easy! 

Within these first 20 days my style has emerged. 

I usually post 3 pictures for each article up on my site.

The two on each side look similar, the one in the middle has a different design and is meant to be the one that stands out the most (although I usually seem to get the most likes on the picture on the left hand side – possibly because it’s the one I post latest in the day)?   

Step 7:  When I load up the Instagram pictures for an article I add hashtags relating to that article and look for other posts using those hashtags. 

e.g. When I uploaded my posts about this interview with Mom Inventor, Julia Christie – I looked for other posts on #mominventors #muminventors  #mominvented etc. 

Step 8:  I then go to the hashtags most relevant to the article and like, follow or comment on as many posts that show up under that hashtag as I can (time permitting). 

I figure these people will most likely be my target market for this article.

Step 9:  On 17th February (Day 14), I started adding some of the hashtags I found on these articles by Sarah at Venus Trapped in Mars:

INSTAGRAM HASHTAGS FOR BLOGGERS THAT WILL TRIPLE LIKES

30 MORE INSTAGRAM HASHTAGS FOR BLOGGERS THAT WILL TRIPLE LIKES

I think it has increased likes, but I can’t in all honesty say it’s tripled my likes, as I also get lots of likes on posts that don’t include these hashtags.

It has however, made me aware of the impact of hashtags.  When I look for the correct hashtag to use for an article I take notice of how many people have used these hashtags.   The more people using them, the more Insta traffic you could receive if you use them.

It’s also prompted me to start thinking of my own original hashtags, one’s that no-one has come up with before – as these will then be tracked back to me.

e.g. I’ve been thinking of doing a series on our favourite Toddler Play Spots in Cape Town for ages.  So I’ve created #bestplayareascapetown and kicked off my series with our visit to Warwick Wine Estate this week.

Here are my most loved posts so far:

1000 instagram followers in 20 days

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

186 likes – 11 comments

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 117 Likes, 8 comments

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

118 Likes, 10 Comments

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

114 Likes, 5 Comments

Step 10:   Step 10 has a few steps. 

You’ll notice that Instagram does not link directly to your website as Pinterest does. Nor, do you have the option of adding a clickable link to each image you post.   The only place where you can add a clickable link is in your Profile.

Of course there are ways to get around this irritation, but they cost money.  e.g. Later’s Linkinbio costs a minimum of $19 a month.

I devised my own way to get around this and it doesn’t cost me a cent.

Firstly, I realised that the titles of my articles were way too long for anyone to type in and they had all those pesky hyphens between each word.  

  1. So I uploaded the Pretty Link Plugin to both my sites (I’m using WordPress and the Pretty Link Plugin is free).
  2. Just before I load a new article on Instagram (post 3 new images), I create a Pretty Link for the article.
  3. I look for one word, if possible, that encapsulates what the article is about and will be really easy for someone to type in.

 e.g. This link:  https://inspiringmompreneurs.com/mum-invents-pacifier-for-weaning-a-toddler-and-its-selling-like-hot-cakes-on-amazon

Became this Pretty Link: https://inspiringmompreneurs.com/ditchthedummy

  1. Then I go to my Instagram profile and change the existing link to this new link.

Step 11:  At some point in my first 20 days I went back and re-read the Living for Naptime article properly and considered automating. 

I loaded the Crowdfire App and tried the free version for a day, but it didn’t make sense to me. 

The free version didn’t have the functionality Chrystie mentioned in her article and was asking me to post Instagram posts belonging to huge influencers (but not any of the one’s I follow). 

Now on Pinterest, StumbleUpon and Flipboard I happily post other people’s articles all day long as curating is an essential part of the strategy on Pinterest, StumbleUpon and FlipBoard.  But I just couldn’t see how posting other people’s posts would fit into my Instagram posting strategy.

So I deleted the Crowdfire App off my phone and continued with my usual steps.

On Day 20, a friend and fellow blogger, Lynne Huysamen, offered me a trial of Mass Planner. Lynne has training on Mass Planner on her site Small Online Business Opportunity.

We tried it out for a couple of days for Happy Human Pacifier, but I just couldn’t get comfortable with the loss of control.  While Mass Planner is switched on, I’m not able to follow any new people.  I wasn’t mad about “unfollowing” people either.

So for me, for now, automation is out.  It doesn’t fit into my philosophy of connecting personally with other Moms (see Golden Tip 2).

Step 12:

Once I reached 1000 Followers, I was able to join Webfluential and get an idea of what I could charge for sponsored blog posts ($150) and Instagram posts ($30 per post).  This was my end-goal.

Here are some Golden Tips you can keep in mind if you’re also keen on a speedy rise on Instagram:

Golden Tip 1:

When you’re developing your own posting strategy, remember: if you’re looking at 3 pictures in a row on Instagram, the picture you post first is going to be the one that lands up on the right hand side. 

Bear in mind that most people read from left to right, so if you’re telling a story in 3 posts, you actually start by posting the end of the story.  Make sense? 

In my mind this is a design flaw in Instagram, unless you’re used to reading Hebrew or Arabic. 😉

Golden Tip 2:

Connect, connect , connect… especially with influencers and Moms doing what you’re doing…

I went through the list of collaborators on my Pinterest board, Mompreneurs Unite and searched for them on Instagram.  These are all Mom Entrepreneurs I’ve already connected with on Pinterest. Why not build the relationship with them on Instagram where we can engage more?

I went through the SA Mom Blogs blog roll and followed everyone who had provided their Instagram details.  Yes, I’m following all of YOU.  And yes, I’m reaching out to you in this article to follow me back.  Pretty please?

Golden Tip 3:

So far I’ve taken no heed of the “don’t follow more people than follow you” rule. 

I might have to look at that at a later stage, if it becomes a “thing” but my process is working for me at the moment.  Plus I hand-picked each and every one of the people I’m following so I’m not going to let them go that easily.

Golden Tip 4:

A great way to ensure that your organic website traffic also joins you on social media is to install the Milotree Pop Up.  I’m using the free version and it’s working perfectly for me.

Golden Tip 5:

Another little trick I learnt that helps me on Instagram is how to re-order posts.  If you’re using wordpress and would like to highlight a particular post that you posted ages ago, simply install the Post Types Order Plug-in.  With this plug-in you can very simply re-order your posts so that the one you’re highlighting appears first on your home page.

Would love to hear from you – were these steps and tips useful to you?  What’s your social media strategy?  Do you think I’m crazy not including Facebook and Twitter in mine?  Share your views in the comments below.

Lauren Kinghorn – Mom Blogger in the Mother City

Lauren is a wife, mother, writer living in beautiful Cape Town.  She is mom to a lively toddler son and has a gorgeous bonus daughter who’s a teen.  Lauren is passionate about Shining the Spotlight on Mom Entrepreneurs and Breastfeeding Moms. 

Connect with Lauren on Pinterest  Instagram  Google Plus  Linked In  Flipboard  Stumbleupon

Visit her blogs:  Inspiring Mompreneurs and Happy Human Pacifier.

Win the cutest cloth nappies from Baby Bottoms

Cloth nappies can save you a ton of money, but the drawback for me has always been the schlep of washing them. Enter Baby Bottoms, who take care of that for you. You can even rent the cloth nappies from them. Today we are giving away a set of nappies for girls or boys – you choose the gender!

On Monday we met Courtney and she shared with us her story of how she started business, and how she uses routine to get it all done, as well as how supportive she finds both her husband and her mom.  You can also see in the picture how she uses her nappies on her own kids!

This is how her service works:

I think what I also like about the rental is that your same nappies will be returned to you, so you’ll have that same lot that will be washed together and not with some other child’s.  

They deliver everything you’ll need to start using cloth nappies- the nappies, a wetbag (a small travel bag to place used nappies in while you’re out the house) a dry bucket to store  them in between collection days as well as the nappy liners you flush down the loo.

The buckets will be collected every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and be replaced with a new supply of freshly cleaned nappies for the rest of the week.

They sell, rent out and clean nappies – the cleaning service is currently only in the East Rand but they will be looking to expand in the future. Rental and sales are nationwide.

You can check out further details on their website here. For a month’s subscription of cleaning, it starts at R629 and for both rental and cleaning it is R899. 

We are giving away

  • An All in One Nappy
  • An insert
  • A Wetbag
  • Total value = R285

If you win you’ll specify if you’d prefer the male or female version, and we’ll make sure you’ll have the gender specific pack!

All you have to do to win is comment below!

Check out Baby Bottoms website too! And find them on Facebook. 

This competition will run for a week and the winner will be announced on our Facebook page and emailed.  You must be a resident of South Africa to enter.