Have you heard? Kids eat free at John Dory’s on Sundays

Ilan and I recently spent a Sunday afternoon at John Dory’s in Canal Walk with a bunch of lovely bloggers and their little ones. It was my first time at John Dory’s largely because I’m a vegetarian and assumed that there wouldn’t be anything on the menu for me (I was wrong!). I also wouldn’t ordinarily choose a restaurant in a mall as my first choice for a family treat, but I was pleasantly surprised. Here why I’d take my family back to John Dory’s: Continue Reading

Meet the Mama – Nancy Barber, a Heart Mama who pursued adoption as a first choice

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This story is an extra special one for me. My hope for this blog has been to design a space to pop adoption onto prospective parents’ radars and to create a platform for adoptive parents to share their stories. Sometimes all it takes to encourage those who may already have adoption at the back (or front) of their minds to take that next step, is share with them that there is a wide community of like minded people out there!

Today we meet Nancy and her husband Dean, who adopted little Daniel when he was 4 months old. I met Nancy on Instagram and love the pics that she shares of her little one – yay social media! The Barber family story is a beautiful illustation of how God is always in charge and how He cares about the smallest details of our stories. Continue Reading

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.

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‘I’m adopted’ – A chat with Geoffrey Wardropper on World Adoption Day

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Today is World Adoption Day – a worldwide awareness campaign and celebration of adoption. It’s a day to celebrate the joy of adoption but also to remember the loss of first families and ‘honour the full range of experiences and feelings of adoptees’ (paraphrased quote from my friend and new Heart Mama, Erin Jegels).

I’m so keen to share this next adoption story – Geoffrey is a Durban-born Glenwood boy who was a student there when my husband was teaching back in the day which is how Geoffrey and I started chatting. And now we’re friends on Facebook which is legit. Geoffrey, thanks for sharing your personal story with us!

What is your definition of adoption? 

To me adoption is when someone is accepted into a family as if they were born from that family. They take on the family name and characteristics and are included in all aspects of that particular family.

How do you feel about adoption in general?

Adoption is great. They say blood is thicker than water etc but I don’t always believe in that entirely because sometimes people are meant to be in each other lives for many unknown reasons and adoption allows that to happen. It was like that for me anyway.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your family

I am 25 years of age. I am completing my second year as a candidate attorney at a prestigious Law firm in Durban, Shepstone and Wylie, specialising in the maritime department (International Trade, Transport and Energy). I am a sports enthusiast and currently compete in Powerlifting.  I have 3 sisters and one brother who are all much older than me. I am the only adopted child in the family. My parents played a huge role in raising a few of my cousins that live/ lived with us, so growing up there was always children my age around the house. At home now it’s just my mom, Brenda, my closest sister Michelle and my 14 year old cousin, Brian. My dad unfortunately passed on quite some time ago.

How do you feel about your parents?

Love my parents. That’s an easy one. I didn’t see as much as I would have liked of my father as he worked away from home a lot but I loved him, still do, miss him a lot, always respected the sacrifices he made to provide for his family and for me. I used to just sit and watch him, he wouldn’t always speak a lot but I learnt plenty from his actions and the wise things he did tell me. My mom, well she is just a gem. She is probably the only person that truly understands me, even emotionally, she’s my confidant, the number 1 lady in my life. We were meant to be in each other’s lives.

How do you feel about your biological parents?

I don’t know them. What I will say is that I am grateful that they allowed the adoption process to go through. I have never wanted to connect with my biological parents and family.

How were you told that you were adopted? 

My parents made sure that I knew from day one as far back as I can remember, that I was adopted. What is important to note here is that my family also always told me how much they loved me and physically showed me so I never once felt like I was different. I grew up thinking that I was one of them, part of the family, I still think that way even though I’m brown.

Has race been an issue? Has race affected your friendships?

Yes race has affected friendships but the friends I have in my life now, the longest standing friends, have never seen it as an issue and so I am extremely lucky to have a close group of friends from various race groups.

What has been the hardest part of adoption for you?

Hardest part of adoption for me has been the way in which society have looked at my family and myself. Lots of people are happy when they find out I’m adopted but unfortunately the majority of people are still very anti especially when I tell them I can’t speak Zulu etc. It’s funny because if I wasn’t adopted I probably wouldn’t be alive today yet they want to criticize a family who in essence saved a life and gave an opportunity to better their future. Its sad how backwards most people are in their thinking. I learnt from a young age to accept being different and have a tough exterior which has made me the strong secure person I am today.

Hmmm language, well I am a bit different. I have never wanted to learn to speak zulu, that’s my own choice. It might be because all my life people have been telling me to learn it and that it’s my duty to know it as it’s my mother tongue etc but who are they to say what my mother tongue should be just because of my skin colour. I hate being told what to do haha so it’s probably why I do the opposite.

Do you wish you had been taught Zulu as a kid? How do you think white parents of adopted kids should negotiate language?

I feel that because I am black it doesn’t mean that I must speak Zulu. I think it’s very arrogant for people to think that. I am black but I could be from France or Scandinavia etc especially in today’s world.

So to answer your question I think have your child speak the language spoken in the family home. And then expose them to various languages and let your child decide what additional language they want to speak if any. I used France because I would probably want to learn French or even a Scandinavian language before I learn to speak zulu. It’s just my preference. People might say it’s crazy because you need to learn Zulu if you are living in South Africa but honestly English is fine and who says your child will want to stay in south Africa. The world is so big, you never know where they could venture off to.

Is there anything in particular your parents did really well? Anything they could have done differently?

My parents never forced anything and allowed things to happen naturally. They showed me love like any other parents would show their children and I therefore believe there is nothing different they could have done.

How can adoptive parents best equip their children to deal with the hard parts of being adopted cross culturally?

I would say love them. Let them know that they aren’t different, that we are all human. Show that particular child their beauty or strong points and help them focus on those points growing up while minimising any weaker flaws they might have, just as any person would have.

Are you treated differently by people of your birth culture when they discover that you are adopted by parents of another race?

Yes, most of the time I am treated negatively. I’ve reached a point now where I walk away from them while they are in mid sentence if they happen to be speaking to me negatively.

Was/is “belonging” and feeling like you belonged ever an issue?

Yes, when I was younger, never at home but with society before I ‘found myself’ and realised the type of person I am. The process that every young adolescent goes through while growing up.

What would you say to other kids who have been adopted?

I would tell them to embrace what’s inside of them. Tell them that they should never change to be accepted by others. They must stay true to themselves and let people know who they are.|

What should adoptive parents say to their adopted child?

Tell them that you love them, that you are their parents. More importantly it’s what you do. Show them the world and try to teach them to understand it and that people will have negative things to say but let them know that they are stronger than those people or bad situations. Tell them to be proud. Tell them to reach for the stars.

What not to say to your adopted child?

Things like: ” your parents hated you” and “that’s why we adopted you” or “nobody loved you” etc.

Would you ever consider adoption in your future?

Yes, I hope to someday if it is meant to be.

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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.