5 Things to do in Bloemfontein

5 Things To Do In BloemI was recently in Bloemfontein with the Nickelodeon Genius team. I have driven through Bloem a fair amount on our annual trek to Cape Town but we don’t stop and I have definitely never really considered it a holiday destination. But I discovered that there is actually some really cool stuff to see in Bloem.

  1. Naval Hill Planetarium. This is in a small nature reserve and well worth the visit if you can make one of their show times. There is a lovely restaurant in the reserve so you can make a whole morning/afternoon of it.
  2. There is a huge statue of Nelson Mandela in the reserve that is well worth the visit. You also get to look out over Bloemfontein from the view point.
  3. Boyden Observatory. This was an experience and a half. They have the third largest telescope in the Southern Hemisphere here and it is HUGE, it weighs 40 TONS and it is only the 3rd The biggest two are both in Sutherland, incidentally. We got to see Saturn and its rings through the smaller telescope but it was still such a surreal experience. Definitely worth a visit.
  4. Cheetah Experience. I didn’t get to experience this but we stayed next door to it and I would have loved to have visited it.
  5. The Anglo Boer Museum. I know this doesn’t sound riveting but it is interesting to give some insight into the history of South Africa.

I doubt Bloem is every going to become a holiday destination but many of us stop there en route to somewhere, so it is definitely worthwhile remembering some of these things when you are planning your next trip.

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South African Mom Blogs

Our Favourite Reads

How freezing has it been the last two days! I am literally hugging my water bottles. We got some really cute books in our KidsBookClub pack this month, it was hard to chose our favourite reads.

Noisy Jungle – This is Emma’s favourite but she has always loved these types of books but this one has very realistic sounding sounds and has the cutest little story that encourages the reader to press the different sounds. It is a board book so easy for little fingers. Noisy Jungle|HarassedMom

Bruno’s Box – I loved this book. It is a wonderful story about a little boy who uses a box and his imagination to turn it into a variety of things. It is a really lovely little story with the sweetest pictures.“She turned to the sunlight And shook her yellow head,And whispered to her neighbor- -Winter is dead.” (1)

My Book of Animals – The images in this book are so stunning, it features a variety of habitats and the animals that live there with a few fun facts about them and some questions to answer. The kids both really enjoyed this book. My book of Animals|SA Mom Blogs

I Wonder Why Ponies Wear Shoes – We love this series, we have a few other books and Kiara enjoys reading them. This one is all about horses and there are loads of interesting facts about horses and ponies. I wonder series|SA Mom Blogs

Have you read any of these books?

You can sign up for your subscription at KidsBookClub.

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5 of our favourite holiday crafts

Holiday Crafts|SA Mom BlogsWe are in the 2nd week of our 3 week winter break. Fortunately I am at my mom with the youngest three, so there is an extra set of hands to help and also lots of space for them to run around.But they do get bored and we get tired of taking them out or finding things to entertain them. Kiara loves crafting and she is always making something which is really great because it keeps her busy!

I have put together 5 of our favourite crafts that are easy for everyone to make. 

Holiday Crafts|SA Mom Blogs

These are one of a few things you can do with egg cartons. This is a nice craft for little ones though. Let them lose with the paint or crayons to decorate the cartons for their flowers! It should keep them busy while you get a cup of coffee in.

Holiday Crafts|SA Mom Blogs

I love this idea! The girls have white letters in their room, I may just add some colour and do something like this. It is pretty easy to do and you can do it for everyone in the family or make their entire name, not just the initials. You can also really go wild with the decorations and use pretty much anything.

Holiday Crafts|SA Mom Blogs

This craft does require some skill, so better suited to slightly older kids but with some guidance it is really pretty simple to make and it is ideal for all those lone socks that always end up at the bottom of the washing basket.

Holiday Crafts|SA Mom Blogs

All you need for these are a pile of toilet rolls, some paint and your imagination. You can make forest animals, farm animals or even sea animals. The little ones will love this craft.

Holiday Crafts|SA Mom Blogs

And finally, a craft that uses all the odds and ends lying around the house. You can use any and all pieces of ribbon, buttons and hair bands. This is a pretty easy one as well. You may just need to help sew the ends for them.

Share with us some of your favourite crafts?

You can find links to all of these crafts on our Pinterest Craft and DIY board.

5 Of Our Favourite Ted Talks

TED Talks|SA Mom BlogsI love Ted Talks. Listening to them are now a part of my Sunday routine. I get up early to get some work done and listen to as many as I can before the kids wake up.

Some of them are educational, others inspirational and others are just interesting.

These are a few of my favourites. 

I LOVE Shonda Rhimes. She has created some incredible TV shows with some really strong women characters. I loved this talk she gave, she owns her success, admits it is not easy to juggle it all but shares how she tries to.

Who hasn’t read (or at the very least watched Eat, Pray, Love) and who didn’t resonate with so much of it? The author, Elizabeth Gilbert, really spoke to me in this talk. She discusses why creatives are generally tortured souls and why we take failure, or the idea of failure so personally. 

I listened to this talk, not really sure what it was going to be about but it really really hit home. I am not really a misfit, I try hard not to conform and stand up for what I believe in, but I am not really a misfit. Why this resonated though, was because we are all or have all tried to fit in and be something we are not. This reminded why we shouldn’t do that and  that your big break could be around the corner.

For so long I was trying to find the ONE thing I wanted to do! I felt like I wasn’t doing it right if I didn’t have ONE thing I wanted to be. This talk argues that it is ok to want to do more than one thing! 

This is the most serious out of the five I love but it is extremely powerful. Listen to right until the end, you won’t be sorry.

Do you listen to TED? If so share some of your favourite talks.

Five Things I learnt from my Google Workshop

I recently ran a campaign with Google, it was super cool and an amazing brand to work with. We were invited to a workshop at their offices on Monday, as a way to say thank you for taking part in the campaign.

Apart from them having the most incredible offices (that can accommodate both dogs and children and have food everywhere), the workshop was really informative and helped me to connect a lot of things and understand how SEO works a bit more as well as adwords.Google|SA Mom Blogs

There was a lot of information, so I am just going to share five of the things that stood out to me.

  1. SEO is not as complicated as I thought it was. Obviously we didn’t really go into it very deeply but I am not sure, as bloggers we need to be super focused on it to be honest. One thing that was mentioned and I saw it mentioned somewhere else as well was page speed. Apparently google favours sites that load quicker, so perhaps that is something to look at if your posts are image heavy, try reduce the size of the images AND also check the mobile responsiveness.
  2. We had a very heated discussion in one of our groups about duplicate content recently and so I asked about this. Basically if you copy and paste a post and share it somewhere else and that site is reputable and credits you saying “Laura wrote this, with a link back to your site”, google doesn’t penalise you. So it could be a nice way to repurpose old content BUT you need to make sure the site you are sharing it on is reputable and has a good ranking.
  3. The more specific your keywords are the more likely you are to appear closer to the top of the page. So instead of trying to make “children’s parties” your keyword try make it something more specific like “how to plan a rainbow birthday party”. Yoast was mentioned, so if you are a WordPress blogger and don’t have it already I highly recommend you add the plugin. Also you don’t need to load your page with your keywords, space them out and focus on the content being high quality rather than repeating the words over and over.Google|SA Mom Blogs
  4. Google AdWords, in my opinion, are not ideal for bloggers who do not have a product they are selling in conjunction with their blog but if you have a business then I can really see the value in it, if you run your campaigns cleverly and focus them well. 
  5. Google SA have amazing offices and they really do seem to be very focused on employee wellness and look after their staff really well.

There was so much more that I learnt but I don’t just want to randomly share it without thinking it through first.

Our Favourite Reads of the Month

sa mom blogsWhen our Kids Book Club pack arrives, the kids can’t wait to see what books have arrived for them. This month’s pack was particularly well received and they couldn’t wait to read them.

One of the books that has really got the attention of all of them is the Body Works book. Initially as Kiara was paging through it, she said “oh gosh this book is so gross”, which it is but it is also really interesting.

It is all about the Human Body and includes in detail pictures of things like the lungs, the brain, the guts and even a picture of some poop!

The images are pretty simple, fun and easy for little ones to understand. There are also a series of activities in each section where the kids can test out things like how their lungs work and it uses pizza to explain the different food groups.Favourite Reads|SA Mom Blogs

We love this book. Jack and Emma page through it and ask lots of questions about the things that they see and it has given Cameron a few ideas for a project he had to do.

(Also maybe my children are a little bit too preoccupied with poop).

Emma is all about learning and soaking up information at the moment. She is obsessed with names, numbers and colours at the moment. So the My Book of Words was her favourite. It doesn’t just have colours and numbers but also words of body parts and everyday things like blanket, swings etc. It is also a lovely book to use for young readers who are learning new words.

There really is a lot to talk about in this book and the illustrations are bright and colourful.“She turned to the sunlight And shook her yellow head,And whispered to her neighbor- -Winter is dead.” (14)

Mister Kinds Incredible Journey Activity Book is ideal if you are homeschooling little ones and dealing with the sea/ocean or if you are heading to the coast for a holiday. It is an activity book that encourages children to draw shapes, numbers and letters by following the lines. There are colouring pages and stickers for kids to add onto the corresponding shapes as well as interesting facts about the sea animals. We are a little bias towards books with stickers though, in fact it is a bit of a fight to see who can get to the sticker first.Favourite Reads|SA Mom Blogs

If you enjoyed this post, we would love it if you could share it or pin it. If these books look like something your kids would enjoy then why not join KidsBookClub.

SA Mom Blogs Favourite Soups

Soups|SA Mom BlogsI know home made soups are the best but sometimes it is just easier to grab a pack of veggies from the shop and throw it in a pot.

I have been trying out a few of the ones available, mainly because I am lazy and it is just easier to buy one. These are a few of my favourites.

Checkers have a chilli bean veggie soup. I am not sure the exact name but it has chickpeas, sundried tomatoes, carrots and chilli in and is really really yummy. The recipe asks for cream to be added, I added some plain yoghurt and it was divine!

Woolworths have a Butternut and Chickpea soup that is divine. Also super quick and easy. My family don’t love this one but it is one of my favourites.

Pick n Pays bulky veggie soup is probably the best one because it comes in a nice big pack and is pretty reasonable. You can do pretty much anything with it, add some meat or even throw it in a stew.

There are a few potato and leek soups mixes but I think Woolies one is the best one and it is one of Davids favourites.

And my last one is pure indulgence and laziness but Woolworths have a  in a tin that I love. It is perfect for lunch for me. I prefer it to a cup of soup, it fulls me up more and is really yummy.

What are some of your favourite soups?

 

My Top Picks from Mama Magic

Every year the Mama Magic expo invite me to come and judge some of the products from the expo and every year I have had to decline but this year I was able to go.

This next comment is not a reflection on the expo or the brands or new parents but I am extremely glad that I am over that baby stage because honestly there are so many products on the market (often with conflicting information) that I wouldn’t actually know where to start. Also so much stuff is actually unnecessary. I have said it often and I will keep saying it (until I have grand babies and then I will buy all the random gimmicks) – all babies need are nappies, wet wipes, vests and blankets. Everything else is a nice to have not a necessity

I will say I was disappointed at the lack of local products and like Mariette said, there was very little in terms of innovative and exciting products – it was pretty much stuff we have seen before. There were various categories that we judged, travel, food, toys etc but these are just a few of my top picks from across the categories. 

  1. These Oogaa silcone plates were pretty cool. They have a variety of uses, which I always look for. If I am going to spend money on something I want to know I am getting my moneys worth and that it won’t last 2 months and baby will outgrow it.  So basically you can use it as a plate, with different compartments and you can bake in it and you can use it to freeze stuff in, so to make ice lollies or even jelly. They can go in the dishwasher and microwave. I really like these, they weren’t cheap but considering how much you can do with it, I think it is worth it.Favourite Products|SA Mom Blogs
  2. Sleeping bags for babies are probably one of the best things invented and something I only really used with Emma because we were given one. They help to keep baby from kicking off blankets, make it easy to take them out at night. These Love To Dream sleeping bags are really pretty and I like that you can take the sleeves off, so ideal for winter or summer and to use as baby grows.
  3. This product was a bit of a gimmick but it did appeal to me on a visual level so I am sharing it. It is a teething biscuit from Jelebebe made from silicone that baby can wear as a necklace or mom can wear if she is feeling funky. 
  4. My absolute favourite product was the Joki Hanging Nest. It was designed with kids with SPD, Autism and ADHD in mind. I have 3 kids with varying degrees of SPD and the minute I saw this I could see Jack and Kiara using it. (Emma would hang from it like a freaking monkey). I was really drawn to this product and I can see the value to a child with SPD and Autism actually because it creates a nest around the child. It is not cheap but honestly I would pay for it!      Favourite Products|SA Mom Blogs

We only judged a very small sample of the products at the expo so I am pretty sure there are loads more amazing products, if you went to the expo then please share with us some of your favourites.

 

 

SA Mom Blogs favourite lunch box ideas

Lunchbox Ideas|HarassedMomSo many moms get so excited about packing lunch boxes for their kids but that excitement is soon shattered when lunch boxes are returned – the perfectly packed food, untouched.

I recently reviewed the LunchBox Co and have actually started buying them for Kiara but I still struggle to make sure that Cameron has a lunch that will not only full him up, but maintain his blood pressure and is healthy.

There are a few things that generally are always wins when it comes to lunchboxes.

  1. Biltong and dry wors – these are winners for all of my kids. Currently they feature in both the older kids lunch boxes and if I have to pack padkos, they are the first thing I add. They are high protein which helps to full kids up for longer than something that has empty calories.
  2. Dried fruit – I know there is an argument for the sugar content with dried fruit and I do totally agree which is why we don’t give it every day but it is still a great addition every now and then.
  3. Nuts. Obviously this one poses a few issues around kids with allergies and I know some schools don’t allow them at all but if they do, nuts are a great thing to pop into lunch boxes.
  4. Pasta salads – this works well for Cameron and what I suggest to a lot of my younger members in my weigh-less groups. You can add in chicken, gherkins, peppers or whatever else you want to.
  5. Muffins – again this may not always be the healthiest option in terms of sugar and processed products but if you bake them yourself you have a little more control over what goes in them. They are nice, easy things to add into a lunch box and for the most part, kids will eat them.

What are some of your favourite items to pop into a lunch box?

Party Picks for April

Party Picks|SA Mom BlogsThis garden party is simply beautiful. This theme and decor is so versatile it could be used for a baby shower or a kitchen tea.

This mermaid party is a great idea for a summer party. I love the colours they have used.

 

If you have a sports crazy child then there is a great collection of sport themed parties over here. This soccer party is bright and fun and would work for any age child.

 

 

 

 

Circus themed parties are so much because there is so much you can do with them. They can be used for any event – a baby shower or a birthday party.

This baking party is my favourite this week. I love the colours and the decor. It is simply perfect!

What is your favourite party of the week?

 

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