Holiday Fun – Short Story Writing

It’s school holidays again and whilst it is great not to have to get up early on cold winter mornings, I bet some of us are going to get a bit bored somewhere along the line. Especially if we are staying home and our friends have gone away.

When I get bored I like to read. It’s hard to stay miserable if you have a great story to get lost in. If you don’t have any nice books to read you could maybe swop with a friend or even ask your parental agent to take you to the closest library. Libraries are awesome places, full of fabulous things to read and some of them even run holiday programmes that don’t involve only reading but doing lots of fun stuff too.

If you do get fed up and have nothing to do, think about writing your own short story. It could be about anything – your life, your pets, your family or even something crazy that you just thought up in your head.

Remember though, stories have a structure. They have a beginning, a middle bit and an end!

Before starting to write a story, think about the stuff you like to read… probably most people are not that fond of boring old blah blah blah stuff that puts one to sleep. Mostly we find that something that‘s exciting and makes us wonder what is going to happen next is much more interesting. The ones that have us turning the pages in a hurry to get to the end to find out what happens.

Here’s another idea… think about writing a story from a funny point of view.  Just imagine if you were a bath plug… you could write a seriously wacky tale. Or maybe a tree – a tall skinny one that can see incredibly far and has odd wavy branches that point all over the place. Think what fun a person could have writing a story involving all the creatures that live in that tree.

Go nuts and use your imagination. You could illustrate your story too.

Email your stories to sibo@sibo.co.za (or click on the email icon above) and we’ll publish the best ones on Sibo’s website so that other people can also read them. (Keep your story between 400 and 1000 words please. Remember to include your name and age.)

Happy holidays everybody – get your creative writing hats on!

Sibo

Sniffy Season.

It’s that time of year when people get sick with colds and flu. Here are some rather simple ways of avoiding catching those dreaded lurgies …

Wash your hands – we are always touching things and people. Our hands are a prime spot for germs to hang out. If you wash them often, with soap, this dilutes the germs and they go scooting down the drain along with the water. While you’re about it – give up gnawing your nails too. Germs lurk under your nails and when you nibble them – you ingest the germs.

If you need to sneeze – sneeze into the crook of your elbow. It sounds funny but actually we don’t touch things with the inside of our elbow – right. So it makes a lot of sense.

Try not to touch your eyes and nose. These are common places where the germs sneak in.

The experts also say that our bags and suitcases pick up germs the same as we do. It’s a good idea to wipe them down every now and then to get rid of any little suckers that might be hanging around.

Get enough sleep – at least 8 to 10 hours a night is what the doctors prescribe.

Exercise! Working out helps our immune system function better – this is what we all need to stay healthy.  And smile – being happy boosts the immune system too.

Eat healthily. Stock up on Vitamin C naturally – this is not a cure for a common cold but it also boosts our immune system and helps prevent catching cold and flu bugs. The daily recommended dose of Vitamin C is 60mg.

We all know that oranges are full of vitamin C, but there are many other things that also have loads of the same vitamin – more in fact. A medium sized orange has around 70g. A cup of strawberries yields 85mg, 2 kiwi fruits equal 128mg and mango has 122mg per fruit. Pineapple is rich in the good stuff too. Bell peppers range from 95mg for a green pepper to a whopping great 340mg for a yellow pepper. (Plus those are low in calories so are great to snack on.)  Brussel sprouts are also rich in Vitamin C and are delicious roasted in the oven with bacon. Broccoli (raw) is another veggie that can be nibbled to get our daily intake. Don’t forget about kohlrabi – not such a pretty vegetable – but can be used instead of cabbage in salads or in stir-fries.

Stay well and be happy everybody!

Sibo

Friends are Fabulous

The 30th of June is International Day of Friendship.

I’m reminding you nice and early in case you need to make a plan to make a plan to get together and have a lunch date or something, or even just to remind yourself to call somebody.

Friends are good for a person’s heart and soul. Literally!  But friendship is very much a two-way thing.

One has to give as much as one gets – and I don’t mean “stuff” here either. I’m talking about time spent together, laughing, sharing experiences, chatting and more importantly, listening to the other person. Really listening to hear – and not listening to talk when they’ve finished speaking. Often friends just need to talk to somebody that they know really cares about them – they don’t want to hear how the same thing happened to you.

If a friend tells you a juicy secret, don’t go blab it out to the world in general afterwards. That’s not what real friends do.

Research has shown that people who have lots of friends are much more likely to survive a major illness than somebody who has no friends. This is because the loving support (both physically and mentally) of friends helps a person get better

Companionship is also known to reduce stress. People, who are married to a person that they both love and are friends with, are more likely to stay married. (Yes – it’s very possible to love somebody and not like them very much!)

In your life time, you’ll probably make around 396 friends, but according to research, only 1 in 12 friendships last and of those, only about 4 will be really close friends.

These days, with social media – it’s easy to think you have loads of friends, but this is not always the case. Next time you meet up with your friends, put your cell phones away and talk properly to each other, instead of chatting via text messages.

Amazingly enough, scientists have also discovered that there are animals – like dolphins, bats, chimps, baboons, elephants, horses and… wait for it… hyenas that have been known to form friendships for life with individuals that are not the same species. (I was quite surprised to see that they did not mention dogs and cats – specially seeing as how they have bonds with their humans.)

Remember people… in order to have a friend, you have to be a friend!

Sibo

Saving the Environment

Because the 5th of June was World Environment Day thought it might be a good idea to share some tips on saving money and the environment.

These days many people use toothpaste, facial or body scrubs with those teensy plastic micro beads in them.  Well… those little plastic toxic bombs go down the drain from your basin, shower or bath and eventually land up in rivers, lakes and seas. Very simply, the fish cannot avoid them and we eat the fish. These things are causing untold havoc in the environment.

By now we all probably know how useful bicarbonate of soda is for cleaning stuff around the house – but you can also use it instead of various beauty products. Here’s an alternative for your various scrubs. A much cheaper and more environmentally sound one.

Use an old spice jar – one of the ones with little sprinkle holes in the top and fill it up with bicarbonate of soda. Make sure the lid still seals well – you don’t want the bicarb to get wet. Keep it in your bathroom or shower where you can easily access it.

This alkaline substance has antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties. But before you start using this – try a test patch on your skin to check that you don’t have any bad reactions to it.

In addition to being antiseptic and anti-inflammatory it helps balance the skin’s pH – so if you have acne or spots you can mix a spoon of bicarb with a bit of water to make a paste. Apply the paste to the affected area for a few minutes and then wash it off with cold water. Do this until your skin clears up.

You can whiten your teeth by sprinkling a bit of bicarb on your regular toothpaste and brushing your teeth once a day. Only do it for a few days though – not all the time – otherwise you can hurt the enamel on your teeth.

Get rid of residue of hair products on your hair – put a blob of shampoo in your hand and sprinkle some bicarb into it. Wash your hair as normal. It removes all the yukky stuff very effectively.

Sprinkle some bicarb onto a face cloth and use it as a body scrub to get rid of all the dead skin and flaky bits. Rinse well when you are finished.

Or simply sprinkle some bicarb into your hand add warm water and gently use it as a face wash/scrub. This works especially well if you don’t wear a lot of make-up.

Take care,

Sibo

To sea or not to see

The 8th of June is World Oceans Day.

Thought to celebrate this day I’d share some cool facts.

Did you know that around 70% of the world’s surface is covered by oceans?

There are 5 different oceans – namely the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean , the Arctic Ocean and the Southern Ocean.

The largest is the Pacific ocean and it covers around 30% of the Earth. The name “Pacific” come from the Latin word ‘pacificus’ – meaning peaceful.

Incredibly, around 70% of the oxygen that we breathe is produced by the oceans.

Only 5% of the oceans have been explored. Not surprising really when the deepest known area of the Earth’s oceans is in the Pacific, near Guam in the Philippine Sea at the end of the Mariana Trench, and its deepest point measures nearly 11km.

The Great Barrier Reef (the largest coral reef near Australia) measures about 2,600km and it can be seen from the moon!

We all know that oil spills in the sea are terrible and kill lots of sea life, but waste matter from sewerage and agriculture gets dumped into the sea too. This sometimes had all sorts of toxins in it that can cause dangerous types of algae (sea plants) to bloom in water near the coast. When these blooms die and rot they use up all the oxygen in the water and then there’s none left for the fish. These are called “creeping dead zones”

Some people just think of the sea as a huge dumping ground. Lots of other stuff (like chemicals) are chucked into the sea – and get eaten by the fish that you and I eat, which causes illness in humans (never mind what it does to the sea life).  It’s very scary how polluted the seas have become.

312 million kilograms of sea food is consumed each year! Our ocean resources are being depleted daily. People often imagine that the sea is full of a never-ending supply of fish but this is simply not so.

Please remember you can consult the SASSI website   and find out which fish are endangered or not.

To celebrate World Ocean Day we are going to make Sibo and the Sea available on the website  for you to freely read if you want to read more about the oceans.

Please only eat from the “green list” people!

Sibo

Pain in the butt

The last day of May is World No Tobacco Day.

Luckily I am too young to have to quit smoking because I’ve never started – but I know it’s a really hard habit to kick.

Truth is that smoking‘s bad for you. Not only can it cause lung disease, it can also cause heart problems and can cause cancer almost anywhere in your body too.

Luckily it’s now illegal to smoke with your children in the car – because second hand smoke is almost as bad for you as the real thing. At least people who smoke choose to do so. The kids who get to breathe their parental agents smoke have no choice. That’s just nasty!

Not only is smoking bad for people, it’s bad for environment and the animals.

Lately scientists have figured out that cigarette butts are one of the most abundant types of litter found around. That means there are plenty of butts out there. (Studies estimate that 4.5 trillion cigarette butts find their way into the environment each year.)

Worse, it’s one of nastiest, deadliest forms of waste.

People who would not dream of pitching a cool drink tin out of the car window will happily chuck a burning butt out. Not particularly caring that it can set fire to something. And they do too – burning butts are often the cause of serious veldt fires.

People also drop them on pavements or into gutters, where the wind will blow them into storm waters and all sorts of other places.

Beaches are ideal for putting out butts. One huge ashtray – right? Wrong.

Or… they flick butts casually into water – dams, the sea and rivers.

Cigarette butts are tiny little bundles of toxins. In other words… poisonous. They get into our marine ecosystems and cause havoc with the wildlife and the quality of the water.

And we all know that water is extremely precious – right?

You know what is also really scary – even those people who put their cigarettes out in the designated places have no guarantee that their butts won’t also end up in the water. The bins get emptied. Butts are chucked onto rubbish dumps. Then they get blown around and it’s highly likely that they also end up where they shouldn’t.

Take care where you put those butts please people.

Sibo

 

Go Nuts!

Go nuts!

The other day I went to visit a friend and we were walking in the garden when I felt something big crunch under my sneaker. I looked at my friend… what on earth was that.

The answer was pecan nuts.

I’m a fan of nuts. All sorts of them. I grabbed one and smacked it with a small stone – a bit hard because it shattered into many pieces. I decided to donate those bits to the ants and was more careful when I cracked the next one.

The tree was tall, taller than the house and laden with nuts. I could not believe that anybody could be so lucky as to live in a house with a ready supply of pecan nuts. Of course my friend is used to them and thought I was acting nuts (hahaha).

It was hysterical to see their little worsie dog merrily chomping down nuts too. She cracked them with her teeth and delicately ate the nutty bits.

So I started wondering (a) are pecan nuts good for people and (b) are pecan nuts good for dogs?

I googled pecan nuts when I got home and according to dear old Wiki they are pretty wholesome little snacks. They contain, amongst other things, Vitamins A, B-6, C, E, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Sodium, Potassium and Zinc. The nuts are also rich in monounsaturated fatty acids like oleic acid and provide an excellent source of phenolic antioxidants.

Goodness! It’s almost like eating the table of elements.

Originally they came from Mexico but they do grow quite well in South Africa – specifically in the Northern Cape, although the tree I saw was in a garden in Pretoria.

I also found out that as with all tree nuts, pecans are not really nuts – they are hard-shelled fruits. Did you ever?

As far as dogs and pecan nuts go… not so healthy. In fact, according to all the stuff I read this little worsie dog should be long since dead. If not from the Aflatoxin, then from tummy upsets from not digesting the nuts or even having shells stuck in her gut.  But instead the doglet is running around healthy as can be – she’s not even fat.

I took some nuts home – Mum thought she might make some cookies with them but Dad and I ate them all straight out of the shells. Yum!

Go nuts people!

Sibo

Celebrating Life

The 22nd of May is International Day for Biological Diversity.

Huh? I hear you say. Those are long words and what do they have to do with me?

Well… they have a lot to do with us all. If we break up the words – starting with diversity – it means is that there are different types of things. Like there are different… colours, opinions, shoes, people, dogs, cats, birds, buildings, houses, clothes… you get the meaning.

Biological diversity, simply put, means that there are different variations and types of all things living. Everything single thing – from humans, animals, vegetation, aquatic life, insects – anything that you can think of that is living, falls under this category.

Imagine if we only had one specific type of tree that grew everywhere. Or there were only grey cats. Or there was only one kind of flower.  Imagine if everybody looked the same. Life would be horrendously boring don’t you think?

So, in actual fact, the 22nd of May is really one of the most important days because we are celebrating LIFE!

We are inviting everybody to join our world-wide event and read “Sibo Likes Life” free of charge on the website.

It’s really easy – all you do is click here   or you can simply visit Sibo’s website on the 22nd or 23rd of May (the book will only be freely available for these two days) and click on the cover of the book on my bookshelf.  If you find it does not download, you might have to try using a different browser.

It might also give ideas of what you can do to help celebrate life, not only on the 22nd of May but every single day.  We’d love to hear from you.

You could plant some flowers or veggies or even a tree. Or get a group of people together and help clean up a messy area. Or if planting or cleaning is not your thing, you could volunteer at the local SPCA or animal shelter and play with the cats, or talk to the dogs that are homeless and would adore having some love and attention. You could make a bird feeder for your garden and enjoy watching all the different types of birds that start using it. Or just go for a walk and enjoy looking at all the different trees, shrubs, bushes, flowers, birds, and insects that you see along the way.

Life is precious – take time to stop and sniff the daisies!

Sibo

Families are precious

The 15th of May is International Day of Families.

Sometimes, if one comes from a big household, it is easy to think that families can be a bit of a pain and actually lose sight of how incredibly lucky we are to have them. Many people are very sad because they either don’t have family or they have moved far away and they never get to see them.

If you have not spoken to a  family member whom you love dearly for a while…  why not pick up your cell phone and send them a WhatsApp or sms to tell them that you are thinking of them (or even better – call them) or write a letter. You could even make plans to go and visit them.

Don’t take people for granted. You never know when something might happen and you’ll never see them again.

Talking about families, the 14th of May is Mother’s Day.  Yup – that’s this Sunday. Still time to do something if you have forgotten about it.

Our Mothers really are special people. They do loads of stuff that we just expect and half the time never even bother to thank them for it. They are always there for us and sacrifice plenty for their kids and families that we never even think about.

If you are a tad financially challenged and don’t have money to buy your mum something special, you could make her a card and give her some special vouchers. Things that say you’ll “wash the dishes” or “make her a cup of tea or coffee” or “sweep or vacuum” or do something else that helps her out… then she can hand you a voucher at a later stage and you will do the chore with a smile on your face and no whinging!

Seriously – mums very much appreciate things like this.

It’s the little things that have to be done day in and day out that get really tiresome. And while you are about it – you could keep your room neat for a change, pick up any stuff that you leave lying around the house without her having to ask and nag.

Give her a fat hug too and tell her that you love her and appreciate her. You don’t have to wait for Mother’s Day to do this either!

To all the mums out there – we love and salute you. Thank you for everything.

Sibo

Don’t be bullied!

The 3rd of May is World Press Freedom Day. You might think this is a weird day to have and is not very important – but it is. Hugely so. It is critical that newspapers and electronic media are allowed to freely report what is going on in the country or the world, for that matter. Often journalists risk their lives in order to bring news of what is happening to the people. Just imagine if were not able to read your weekly edition of the African Reporter?  You’d have no idea of what is going on in the area.

Which brings me to my next topic – bullying.

There is way too much bullying going on these days. Not only kids are bullied – adults also get bullied.

Verbal bullying is just as wrong as being bullied physically. These days, with social media, you get cyberbullying too.

Sometimes people only properly recognise bullying when it’s physical. For example, when somebody pushes or hits you or hurts you in some other way.

The sad thing is that bullies are typically people who are being bullied themselves – usually at home. They then take it out on other people – normally smaller or weaker than themselves.  It makes them feel better about their own situation – but it is completely wrong.

There are a number of ways of dealing with a bully.

You can try and deal with it yourself.   Walk away whenever the bully approaches you. Pretend you are just walking away from a friend – that way your body language does not look like you are afraid. Bullies like it when you are afraid.

If the bully is verbally abusing you – think of something else – like what you are going to do that weekend or count in your head to 100.  Anything that blocks out what the bully is saying. If you don’t hear it – it can’t hurt you.

If possible, try to hang around friends all the time so the bully cannot get you alone.

Never forget that you are a valuable person and it’s the bully that has the problem. Not you.

Of course you DO NOT HAVE TO DEAL WITH IT ALONE. You can happily go and speak to somebody that you trust – a prefect, parent, teacher or other adult. If they don’t believe you, speak to somebody else that does. If you are being bullied at work you can speak to your HR department.

Know your rights – being bullied is wrong.

Take care,

Sibo