Category: Review I Giveaway

Stop The Roundabout, I’m Getting Off!

Most days my life feels like a playground roundabout – the kids are spinning out of control, life is NOISY and someone has lost a shoe – and I wonder how I will survive my afternoon with the kids, let alone parent them to the teen years. Gosh, the pages of my calendar just keep flipping over and it’s already June and so I’ve made the call to hop off the roudabout and just take a minute to figure out how to be present in the moment and not wish away this season of whining and kids chaos

After we adopted Kira we made the decision for me to scale down my formal work hours so that I could be home with the kids in the afternoons. We felt that as a family pieced together through adoption it was especially important for us to create opportunities to establish family attachment and grow sibling relationships by letting the kids spend more time with each other and at home with us (me). It’s been a crazy ride and its meant a work transition from Physio to independent Event Manager. I love the flexible chaos that working from home brings, but it has made my work-home boundaries a little blurry as I’ve constantly got my phone and emails at arm’s reach and have often dragged the kids along to my commitments. In many ways, it’s added to my stress.

Experts say that little kids need quantity time over quality time and so I’ve rested easy knowing that a slightly distracted mom at home is still worth the work from home sacrifice. But now that the kids are older, I’m trying to be more deliberate with my parenting choices and free up some time for them to #playmore, both independently and with me.

Here are three ways we’re trying to create more moments to #playmore:

  1. Limit screen time and let them be little – Yes, my kids love ‘Trolls’ and ‘Storks’ as much as the next kid but I’ll admit that we only recently discovered the wonders of ‘PJ Masks’, after a kid’s themed party. We’re a bit out of the loop, but that’s ok. And as much as my kids love superheroes, they’re living vicariously through their friends when they adopt ‘the pose’, as they’ve never laid eyes on an episode of ‘Superman’. The time will come for ‘He-Man’ and ‘Harry Potter’, but my six year old is happy to watch Barney from time to time at the moment. For now I’d love my kids to create stories in their heads and enjoy imaginative play rather than just reproducing scenes from their favourite shows.
  2.  Avoid over-scheduling – We let Ilan choose one extra mural this year and he chose Tag rugby. I love that he loves tag but my mom heart would love him to be exposed to cricket, soccer, karate and science too. Nope, my boy needs time to play at home and play with his friends. Moms, I know we want to give our kids the whole world but our kids can’t do it all. It’s ok. Let’s keep life simple.
  3. One hour of green time – We live in a three bed townhouse with a small garden – I love our space but my kids often pace up and down like caged lions ready for their next kill. I read an article recently that suggested parents include an hour of ‘green time’ or outdoor play into their days. I think this is a great idea! We don’t get this right all the time, but the other afternoon we went down to Keurboom Park and collected pinecones and there wasn’t a single squabble for at least an hour. They didn’t even ask to go to the ‘real park’, you know the one with the slide and the nausea-inducing roundabout.

One of the biggest perks of being home with the kids in the afternoons, besides for creating space for play, is that I feel that I’m pretty in tune with each of them emotionally. I try my best to be emotionally available right then and their in the middle of playtime. I love having the space to talk about feelings with my kids and get to the bottom of why my son is crying about his Grandpa in heaven for example, a man whom he has never even met.

It’s never too early to start learning about emotions. I love that Fisher Price are on the same wavelength and have developed a new toy – the Fun Feelings Monster – that helps little ones identify and process their own emotions. A simple swipe of the hand can send the monster’s roller face spinning through different expressions and shows your little one that feelings can change quickly. Each expression plays a sound that helps reinforce the feeling, encouraging kids from 6 months and up to listen & respond. Nice one, Fisher Price.

If our youngsters have the time and space to process their emotions on their own and with our guidance, I’m certain that we can raise more balanced, centred kids who are less likely to fly off the handle when life gets unavoidably busy.

So moms, who’s with me? Join me as I hop off the roundabout and slow down, simplify, snuggle more and allow the Fun Feelings Monster to help our kids recognise and talk through their feelings with us.

Visit the Fisher-Price website and like their Facebook to explore the full #PlayMore product range.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. 

Cocoa from Cocoa Cherry is dark & lovely just like your daughter

Social media is just crazy, I love how it makes the world a smaller place and how I’ve been able to connect with so many other adoptive moms. It helps to know that I’m not alone on this journey as a heart mama. I recently spotted Cocoa Cherry on Instagram and ‘met’ Liz who makes the most gorgeous range of fabric dolls and animals. I was so excited to learn that she is also an adoptive mom and this is the story behind the Knysna brand Cocoa Cherry:

“In 2010, my daughter asked me for a doll that “looked like her”. I couldn’t find a dark-skinned ragdoll for my adopted daughter, a beautiful African girl, so I decided to make her a “Cocoa” doll. She loved it! And hence “Cocoa Cherry” was born. The Cocoa Cherry range has expanded over the years to include “Cocoa” and “Nilla” dolls, as well as the smaller “Nandi” and “Rosalie” dolls. African animals are also part of the range – I revel in my African heritage! Cocoa Cherry has expanded its range to include African dolls (which represent all children of Africa), African animal toys, and baby rattles too. Each creation embodies the bright, bold and colourful spirit that is Africa. Our chameleon, sea horse and elephant toys are especially special. These creatures, endemic to Knysna, inspired the ‘Knysna range’.”

“The dolls and toys are made using 100% cotton Shwe Shwe fabrics which are made in South Africa. The bright colours and beautiful, bold, eye catching designs are perfect for our dolls and animals!”

“To make the Cocoa Cherry dream a reality, I work side by side with delightful and joyous local seamstresses from the Knysna community who are passionate about toy making. The work provides the ladies with an income and they have expanded their skill set somewhat.”

“Through the Cocoa Cherry brand, I make dolls that girls can identify with. I want to raise awareness of adoption and educate people about the blessing of each and every child. I want children to play with the dolls and toys and have fun and enjoy the beauty of African heritage – the people and animals that make Africa the most incredible place. At Cocoa Cherry, toy making is our passion and we take both pride and joy in creating each and every doll and animal. Our toys are of the highest quality and are durable for little hands to play with. They’re soft and cuddly and are bursting with endless imagination and adventures to be had by all who play with them!”

Liz, your dolls are so beautiful and Kira just loves snuggling with her baby Cocoa and her pink bow puff balls. Thank you!

Meet Cocoa.
Meet Nandi, Cocoa’s younger sister and Rosalie her light-skinned friend.
Kira and Cocoa. They look so sweet and innocent in this photo, but these two really get up to a lot of nonsense together.
If you think your child needs a Cocoa in his/her life, email your order directly to liz@cocoacherry.com with the code ‘heartmama’ to redeem the special price of R350 for Cocoa and R230 for the smaller doll, Nandi. Price inclusive of door-to-door courier delivery.

*This is not a sponsored post, but Cocoa Cherry sent Kira a gorgeous Cocoa doll as a gift.

Black Dolls Matter

When little girls are little, they want to look just like their moms. And so as a white mom of a black daughter, it is especially important for me to do everything I can to help Kira love her brown skin and her curly black hair, even if it is different from my long blonde hair. One of the ways that I can do this is by finding her black dolls to play with because when black children play with black dolls that reflect their beauty they develop a healthy and robust sense of self. But black dolls aren’t just for black kids – when white children play with black dolls they become familiar with racial and physical differences which is so important.

I love that there are more brown-skinned dolls on the market in South Africa these days – we recently discovered the gorgeous Buhle doll from the Sibahle Collection, designed by two local moms whose business model is to encourage black girls to embrace their natural beauty.

This is what mom bosses, Khulile Vilakazi-Ofosu and Caroline Hlala, have to say about their dolls, “Sibahle is a Zulu word that means ‘We are beautiful’. The Sibahle Collection was born out of a need to encourage our black children to be comfortable in their own skin. Our first doll is called Nobuhle, Buhle for short which is a Zulu name meaning ‘the one that represents beauty.’ Her hair is the most distinguishing feature of this doll. The child gets to experiment with the hair, wash it, care for it as their own hair. We hope the doll’s hair will teach our children how to take care of their own natural hair from a young age. Up until recently, the European market attempted to fill the gap for black dolls with western dolls just painted black with hair nothing like the typical African kinky hair.”

“The dolls under this collection have features that resemble more African children’s facial and body features. The flat nose, the fuller lips, the kinky hair, the dark skin, the more pronounced cheeks etc. We want our children to know that they are beautiful the way they are.  The princess theme is meant to reassure our children that no matter what shade of black they are, in our eyes they are perfect African princesses!”

Kira just LOVES her new baby, Buhle. After she stopped sniffing the vanilla scent of the doll she said, ‘This baby looks like me, Mommy.’ I agree that it’s so important for little ones to see themselves represented in their dolls – not only does Buhle have perfect brown skin like Kira but she has a soft, curly babyfro like her too. Buhle has been part of our family for two weeks now and I can already notice the difference she’s made in the way that Kira feels about her hair. On wash day this past Saturday, Kira played with Buhle’s hair for almost the entire time that I was styling her hair and even requested ‘magic powerpuffs’ so that she could ‘look like Buhle.’ This is huge progress for us!

My daughter you are fearfully and wonderfully made and you deserve to grow up in a world where your beauty is celebrated and your brown skin is represented wherever you look. My girl, you are an African Princess just like Buhle.

You can purchase your own Buhle online here  (sign up for the newsletter and get a 10% discount) or at selected Kids Emporium stores.

*This post was not sponsored, but Kira was sent a Buhle doll by the lovely ladies from Sibahle Collection.

Photography by the fabulous Sachi Saville.

Because best friends are furr-ever – WIN a Build-A-Bear experience this festive season

If bear hugs are your thing, you absolutely have to pop in to your local Build-A-Bear workshop with your kids this festive season, or perhaps save it for a ‘Build-A-Bear Workshop Party’ for your kid’s next birthday?

Ilan, Kira and I were treated to an afternoon workshop experience at Build-A-Bear, Canal Walk a few weeks ago and it was just magical. The kids were able to customise their bears from scratch – they could select their bear (there are superhero choices for the boys!); record a voice message or choose a scent for their bear; stuff their bear (see video below) and then ‘make their bear come alive’ through a little heartwarming ceremony full of kisses. Before they left they were also led in a little chant: ‘Best friends are furr-ever, so I promise right now to make my bear my number one pal’ and given birth certificates for their bears. A sweet afternoon from start to finish.

Build-A-Bear has a special story in our family because Judah was given a blue dragon Build-A-Bear with a personalised message for his first birthday before he left the La Lucia Baby House to come home with us. I was told that this bear-giving is a tradition for little ones that turn one while still in their care. Judah presses his dragon’s paw for his ‘God loves you’ message almost daily. And now I have THREE talking bears in my home. Well, one purple bear named ‘Princess Maya’, one Ninja Turtle called ‘Ninja Turtle’ and then Judah’s blue dragon. I recorded a message for Kira and I can hear her playing it on repeat before she goes to bed every night and Ilan recorded his own Ninja Turtle message – ‘Cowabunga dude! Let’s dive for pizza’. Less nostalgic, but that’s ok.

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Kira and her ‘Princess Maya’.
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Princess Maya and Kira were given matching pink bows. They both love pink (and purple).
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There’s a big smile hiding behind that bear.
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Ilan and his Ninja Turtle with the same name.
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Boys. You’ll be glad to know that T-Rex did no permanent damage to Mr Ninja Turtle.
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Thanks to the fantastic Build-A-Bear staff for a fun afternoon!

For more info check out the Build-a-Bear Website and Build a Bear Facebook Page or enter to win a Build-A-Bear Ultimate Experience valued at R599 right here, right now:

  1. Like & Share the pinned Facebook post on Heart Mama Blog.
  2. Comment here on this post with the name of your closest Build-A-Bear Workshop.

The competition closes on Friday 2 December at 12h00 and the winner will be selected via Random.org. The winner drawn must have followed all necessary steps above in order to qualify for the prize. This competition is open to South African residents only. Good luck!

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We finally got a puppy! Does a Laugh & Learn pup count?

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So our kids have been begging for a puppy for the longest time but it’s just not going to happen for them right now – we live in a complex with a no dogs rule and to be honest, I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready for the barking and constant poop scooping that comes with the territory. Enter a special delivery from Fisher Price to save me from their constant nags and voila, my kids are overnight pet owners – to a Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Puppy! (And this particular pet is cute and fluffy and has an off button.)

Our much loved Laugh & Learn pup has been given the name ‘Puppy’ and is the toy of the moment in our house. He’s not only teaching our kids colours and parts of the body but is teaching them how to SHARE too. I’m a long time Fisher Price fan as their toys are educational, durable, built to last and there is definitely a degree of sentimentality attached to the brand for me. This toy is no different and just see how much Kira loves playing with Puppy:

Want to see what our new @fisherprice Laugh & Learn pup can do? #fisherprice

A post shared by Jules Kynaston (@heartmamablog) on

 

Puppy is for kids from 6 to 36 months and has three different age appropriate stages (there is a button on the left foot to switch between the stages) and you can also press and hold puppy’s heart to play all 20 sing-along songs in a row. Even though Kira and Ilan are both over 36 months, they still love taking turns pressing the buttons and singing along with their pup. Judah who is two and half is beyond besotted with Puppy and when the novelty of the new toy wears off with the others, I think he will claim it as his own.

These are the Smart Stages of the Laugh & Learn pup, with learning content that changes as your baby grows:

  1. Explore 6 months + – Teaches first words, colours and parts of the body.
  2. Encourage 12 months + – Teaches counting and colours with sing-along songs.
  3. Pretend 18 months + – Baby enjoys roles play fun with songs, phrases and music
  4. Sleep – You can switch your pup to silent so that there are is no sound or lights.

Why I love this toy for my kids: You can select high or low volume (um, you can guess which one I chose!) and the sound is not grating at all. I generally avoid toys with batteries, but Puppy get the thumbs up from me. And because Puppy makes learning fun – it’s the sweetest thing to hear your kids singing together first thing in the mornings. We’re loving our new pet!

What’s your favourite Fisher Price toy?

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If you’d like to find out more about the Fisher Price toy range, follow them on Facebook.

This post was sponsored by Fisher Price.

Tasting adventure with Spur – All about the new #SpurGoggles

Are you looking for a great way to spend R20 and entertain your kids at the same time? Well, next time you’re at Spur (as if you need another reason), make sure you purchase the new #SpurGoggles which are now available with any Spur meal. It’s a simple virtual reality viewer that can offer a great deal of entertainment – both for the kids as well as any adult that is watching their kids experience virtual reality for the first time!

So, how does it work?

  1. Purchase a pair of Spur goggles and make sure that your phone is compatible – Samsung: Galaxy S4, S5, S6, S7 and Nexus; Apple: iPhone 5, 5s, 6, 6s; Google: Nexus 4 and 5; Motorola: Moto X
  2. Download free virtual reality games or videos – go to www.spurgoggles.co.za from your phone or take a look here for more details.
  3. Put your phone into the VR viewer and close the flap.
  4. Look around, explore and play!

Our favourite game so far is the VR Roller Coaster – Ilan says ‘It’s like going on a roller coaster for real life!’ And I’m telling you this game can make your stomach flip but it’s amazing how kids don’t seem to get queasy the same way us grownups do. Click play below to see Ilan in action:

The virtual reality #spurgoggles in action – 'round and round'! You can get yours for R20 from @spursteakranches.

A post shared by Jules Kynaston (@heartmamablog) on

 

Let me know if you’ve tasted adventure with Spur yet and share your pics to social media with the hashtag #SpurGoggles so that we can share a giggle or two in the name of entertainment.

Sponsored by Spur.

Listen up, Cape Town Dads: How to Dinner Date your Wife at Dash Restaurant & Bar

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This post is especially for the dads who may like some insider info from a mom who thinks it time for you to spoil your lovely lady (and mother of your little treasures) with a posh dinner at a fancy restaurant. Because you love her, obviously, and because she deserves a night off and a night out with your handsome self every now and then.

As we were recently treated to a date night at Dash Restaurant & Bar and loved it so much, I recommend you add it to the list of restaurants you’d like to try. This spot is at the Queen Victoria Hotel (from the Newmark Hotel group), close to the Waterfront in Cape Town.

Anyway, now here’s a guide to dating wife at Dash:

  1. Book a table at Dash – by phoning 021 418 1466 or booking a table online.
  2. Take a look at the menu and get excited (and perhaps start saving – this is fine dining! Main courses range from R140 to R295). Take a look at the new 4 course tasting menu option.
  3. Organise a babysitter. This can be an added stress for a mom, so be a man and make a plan.
  4. When it’s date night, sort the kids out and get them ready for the babysitter so that your wife can have a few minutes to get ready in peace. She will love you for this.
  5. Clean your cab so that you can arrive in style and then double check directions and where to park – the Dash entrance can be a little tricksy to find if you park on the wrong level. FYI: It’s is opposite the Watershed, above Cave Golf but you access parking from Portswood and take the ramp UP (not down which is what we did.) Or you could call an Uber and save yourself the hassle.
  6. Make sure you arrive in time to hear the live music from the piano man in the bar area. You will feel like you’ve walked into a movie and the tinkling of the old ivories definitely sets the tone for a romantic night out.
  7. Order a glass of bubbly at the bar and celebrate that you have managed to leave the house in one piece and feel those frazzled parent nerves fade away. (Confession: We cheers-ed our glasses more than once.) Enjoy feeling like a tourist in your own city as you hear the foreign accents of the hotel guests who are seated beside you.
  8. Appreciate the sophisticated decor and art that adorns the walls as you are lead to your table.
  9. Have fun browsing through the menu. (If your wife is vegetarian like me, there won’t be much choice for her but this won’t be an issue at all because the veg option on offer is incredible!). If you want to avoid order envy, here’s a heads up on what we ordered and LOVED:
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The souffle starter with biltong shavings.

 

My order: Starter: Asparagus, olive toast, nut crush and parmesan snow Main: Vegetable terrine, smoked red pepper coulis, artichokes and hummus Dessert: Banana parfait, butterscotch sauce and banoffee

Husband’s order: Starter: Double baked gorgonzola soufflé, biltong shavings and hazelnuts Main: Lamb loin with pearl barley, beetroot puree and roasting jus Dessert: Hot chocolate fondant with orange ice cream and bitter sugar brittle .

 

What’s our verdict? We loved our unhurried dining experience and the beautifully presented food – each course was a complete work of art and almost too pretty to eat (almost). Thank you for having us, Dash!

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This post was sponsored by Dash Restaurant & Bar. 

WIN one of three copies of ‘The Lemon Tree’, an African story about pancakes & ubuntu

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‘How often do we read about bluebells and foxes and beavers to our children instead of things that are familiar to them?’ says author Katherine Graham. Her latest book, The Lemon Tree, is a really sweet story about making pancakes with Gogo with beautiful illustrations by Wendy Patterson.

It’s pouring with rain the day that Gogo decides to make pancakes. But she soon discovers she is missing several important ingredients. Helped by her two grandchildren, Sipho and Lungi, Gogo devises a clever plan in which the lemon tree comes to their rescue.

Our family loved being at the launch of The Lemon Tree at The Book Lounge
last month and I listed it as one of my ‘Best Buys for my Black Kids – Heart Mamas’ Guide for Adoptive Families.’ I was freshly reminded that representations matters when Kira looked at the cover pic and said, ‘Mom, that’s me!’. We also have a little lemon tree in our garden that has started bearing fruit and so I think it’s time for pancakes…

You can buy this book from Exclusive Books for R83, click here for details OR enter below to win! Here’s how:

  1. Like & Share the pinned Facebook post on Heart Mama Blog with the hashtag #TheLemonTree
  2. Tag a friend on the Facebook post to share the love!

The competition closes on Friday 9 September at 12h00 and the winner will be selected via Random.org. The winner drawn must have followed all necessary steps above in order to qualify for the prize. This competition is open to South African residents only and delivery of the prize will be made to your doorstep. Good luck mamas!

Predo nappies have arrived in SA – WIN 3 x Jumbo packs!

WIN 3 Jumbo Packs pngYou may have seen me rave about this newest brand of nappies to hit South African shores over on Instagram and I must admit that I am a proper fan. I was sent a pack to test out on my kids and I found that the quality matches the popular SA nappy brands already on the market. Predo nappies  offer a snug comfy fit with an elasticated band, are hypoallergenic and have that powdery fresh ‘new baby’ smell. (Warning: new baby smell might make you broody!) Oh and the Predo branding is gold and turquoise which is stylishly gender neutral and fab.

You can follow Predo Baby SA on Facebook to find out more about local stockists and specials. They are also currently available online at Takealot.com and retail for competitive prices. OR you could also just scroll down a bit and enter the giveaway to win a month’s supply of nappies right here!

So, hands up if you’d like to WIN 3 x Jumbo packs of Predo nappies? Here’s how:

  1. Comment on this blog post with the name & nappy size of your little one.
  2. Like & Share the pinned Facebook post on Heart Mama Blog
  3. Tag a friend on the Facebook post to share the love!

The competition closes on Friday 12 August at 12h00 and the winner will be selected via Random.org. The winner drawn must have followed all necessary steps above in order to qualify for the prize. Competition is open to South African residents only and delivery of the prize will be made to your doorstep. Good luck mamas!

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The Kynie Kids have new threads! Our online shopping Spree with See-Saw

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So I had my first online shopping experience with Spree recently and the Kynie Kids are now looking pretty sharp if I do say so myself. When my delivery arrived (a mere one day later), I announced to Twitter that ‘You know you’re a Mom when kids’ fashion is important, but your jeans are two seasons old.’ Yip, this is what happens when you’re a Mom!

We selected some gorgeous items from See-Saw and the best part is that everything fits! I’m always a bit wary of buying clothes online but the See-Saw range was spot on with their sizing. You can have a look at their range here: www.spree.co.za and by selecting ‘See-Saw’ under brand. Here’s what we chose with a budget of R800:

Spree order edit

Click PLAY to see some Boomerang smooches between siblings who are feeling pretty stoked with their new clothes.

 

If you’re like me and haven’t bought from Spree before, this is all you need to know: Free delivery for orders over R250. 30 days free return and R100 off if you’re a first time shopper and you sign up to their newsletter. What’s not to love?

Happy shopping!