Author: cutenessandchaos

Summer Sun: a Poem for Solstice

Today is the Northern Hemisphere Summer Solstice. I am celebrating the longest day of the year with this beautiful poem by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850 – 1894). The long summer days here are still such a novelty for me – I grew up in South Africa and the difference there between summer and winter daylight is not that much. The African sunsets are breathtaking, but sink so quickly. Here in the UK, the sun shines bright into the night and dusk is a slow burn before twilight. Summer Sun, Robert Louis Stevenson Great is the sun, and wide he goes Through empty heaven without repose; And in the blue and glowing days More thick than rain he showers his rays. Though closer still the blinds we pull To keep the shady parlour cool, Yet he will find a chink or two To slip his golden fingers through. The dusty attic spider-clad, He, through the keyhole, maketh glad; And through the broken edge of tiles, Into the laddered hay-loft smiles. Meantime his golden face around He bares …

Happy Father’s Day: With Love from a Preschooler

In celebration of Father’s Day this year, I ‘interviewed’ Jasper (age three – very nearly four) with 20 questions for him to answer about his daddy – brilliant father and my partner in crime, Neil. These two have such a beautiful relationship and I just know that they are going to be best friends for life. 1. What is your daddy’s name? J: Neil. 2. How old is Daddy? J: He’s big, but I just don’t know how old. 3. What does your daddy look like? J: He has a head, a body, a belly button and a winky wonky [bursts into hysterical laughter]. 4. What is Daddy’s favourite food? He loves apples, cheese and cake. 5. What is Daddy’s favourite thing to drink? J: Beer…. and tea. 6. What does Daddy do in his job? J: He has his lunch there and works on a computer. Daddy does nothing else at his work, he only eats his lunch and works on his computer. 7. What is Daddy’s favourite colour? J: He likes green, but …

May Retrospect

A little later than planned, but here is my second monthly bulletin for the Cuteness & Chaos blog. May. Unpredictable, floral-filled May. This year, however, we have spent the month of May in South Africa. There it was autumn – the days were short, but sunny and warm. At night it was chilly and the first fires of the season were lit. We spent the initial weekend in Johannesburg, then travelled down to my family home in KwaZulu-Natal. May 2017, thank you for family-time and all these special holiday memories: While in Johannesburg I was able to have a reunion with my two oldest friends – we met on our first day of primary school 30 years ago. Despite living on opposite ends of the world from each other, and the pressures of life as working mothers, we have kept in touch after three decades. It was also really special for our five children to hang out together at the picturesque Irene Dairy Farm. In sunny Durban we enjoyed a return visit to uShaka Marine World. It is …

Moving House with Small Children? 10 Survival Tips…

Moving house is stressful and exhausting. It’s unfortunate then that a lot of families find themselves in this position during pregnancy or with the arrival of a new baby. When we found out I was pregnant with Jules, we put our two-bedroom house on the market and started the search for a bigger home as we knew we needed more space in which to raise our family. We finally moved (read more here) and these are my 10 top tips for surviving this hectic time when you have small children: 1. Hire a removal company Unless you have very few possessions, get a removal company to do the moving for you. Get at least three quotes from different removal companies – this should involve someone coming around to your house to meet with you and discuss your moving needs. You may find that you will receive very different quotes, so choose a removal company that can work to your budget AND which you feel most comfortable with. In the UK, choose a company that is BAR registered (British Association of Removers). The …

April Retrospect

Looking back over the past month is my new exercise for the Cuteness & Chaos blog. In the craziness of motherhood, this will give me an opportunity to record what my family has enjoyed, achieved and celebrated before time whizzes by and we forget. April. Beautiful, blossom-scented April. You are usually a special month for us (read more here), but this year you have outdone yourself. April 2017, you have exhausted, delighted and indulged us: At the start of April we exchanged contracts on the new house and ten days later had moved in (read more here). In all the frenzy of packing Neil and I remembered our sixth wedding anniversary. We hope to celebrate it properly at some point soon! Our first week in the new house was capped by the long Easter weekend. The Easter Bunny paid us a visit and so we scoffed chocolate eggs for breakfast. To escape unpacking boxes for a day, we enjoyed a sunny family outing to the Tallships Festival at Royal Arsenal, Woolwich. Jasper and I had some time out together as we watched Peppa Pig: My …

Today it Begins

Dear Jasper Today is the day we find out which primary school you will attend. For Mama and Daddy it has been a long wait for today. We started viewing potential schools last September. You may remember that we took you along to see some ‘big boy schools’, but most we visited while you were at preschool or tucked up in bed at night. Each school gave us a different welcome and taste of the education it might offer you. We filed into schools halls and poked our heads around classroom doors, while the children whispered and grinned at all the mummies and daddies looking at them like goldfish in a bowl. For many parents this was the first time they had been in a primary school since their own childhood, and the familiar sounds, sights and smells made memories of their school days come whooshing back to them. They remembered the class clown or their favourite teacher. They remembered the excitement of school trips and dress-up days. They remembered how scary school could be …

Goodbye House: Sentiments for our Home

Today is moving day. It has been been eight months since we put our house on the market and it has been a rough ride to get to this point. We’ve swapped estate agents, accepted offers, had buyers pull out, and have had complications up and down the chain. In short, it has not been a pleasant experience. I understand now why house selling/buying is considered to be one of the most stressful life experiences, after losing a child or going through a divorce. To top it off, then came the short turnaround time to get our belongings packed up – we have had only nine days since the exchange of contracts. Before Jules was born I packed up non-essential items, which have been held in storage since December. However, the bulk of packing has happened this last week around our work and childcare. Read here for my top tips on moving house with small children.  In all the frenzy of packing I have tried not to let the emotions of changing our home get to me. After …

Us Two: Celebrating our Marriage

Today is our wedding anniversary – I can’t believe Neil and I had our beautiful wedding in South Africa six years ago. I remember is rained and rained in the days leading up to the wedding, and we were so worried because we had planned for the ceremony to be outdoors. On the morning of our wedding the sun shone brightly and the weather was perfect for the rest of the day. This is an extract from the poem Us Two by A.A. Milne, author of Winnie the Pooh. We featured the whole poem in our wedding day Order of Service. Yes, it is a poem about Pooh Bear and his best friend Piglet, but I think it perfectly describes the way you feel when you find that special someone to get through both the scary moments and the fun times of life with. Photo: Our first dance, taken by the talented Sean Kelland.

1 + 1 = >2

Parenting involves a special formula of pure love and gut instinct. When you become a parent for the first time, this is what gets you through the sleepless nights, feeding schedules and endless nappy changes. Your instinct kicks in and you learn the nuances of your baby’s cries. Your devotion to your child is what pulls you through the exhaustion. This formula matures as your baby grows into a toddler and then a preschooler. You start thinking to yourself I am totally rockin’ this whole parenting thing, and then you have another baby… When I was pregnant with my second child (Jules) I was cautioned by friends and colleagues that ‘one child is one, but two children is many’. Chuckling in response while gently rubbing my blossoming bump, inside I was thinking Oh sh*t. And it’s true – one plus one does not equal two, it equates to a whole circus. Jules is now three months old and I’ve experienced a steep learning curve in my parenting. My special mama formula has taken on a great, big dollop of what is scientifically …

Spring: a Poem to Welcome Blossom Season

The clocks have ‘sprung’ forward and the days are getting longer. With early morning birdsong and fragrant blossoms on the trees, I’m celebrating the arrival of Spring with this poem written for children. The author is unknown, but I think it is lovely in its simple expression of the joy for this long-awaited season. Photo: I plucked this floral beauty from the little Camellia bush growing in our garden. I love the dark pink stripes against the pastel petals and the way the light catches the glossy dark leaves.

To Blog or Not to Blog…

… that is the question I have been asking myself for years. I have often considered starting a blog but never felt confident enough to start typing. Well, that is until now. So what has changed? With a new addition to the family (Jules) we are experiencing life in the crazy-fast lane. Weeks pass by in a blur and our baby girl is already three months old. I hope that blogging will encourage me to be disciplined about writing our stories and recording memories for family, friends and, ultimately, my children to enjoy. If my posts can provide some encouragement, humour or inspiration for other parents then that would be a wonderful bonus. Welcome to Cuteness and Chaos. Read more on the About page. You can also subscribe for updates on new posts and follow us on Instagram and Facebook.