If a job is worth doing…

Yoh! I got into trouble the other day. It was my turn to wash dishes and I did a rather sloppy job because I wasn’t in the mood for dishwashing. I don’t see why we can’t have a dishwasher like some of my friends have, but mum says we don’t need one and there is no space in the kitchen anyway.

Mum unpacked the washing up rack the next morning and had to rewash most of the dishes. Luckily I was at school and she had calmed down by the time I got home. She was also annoyed with me for piling stuff on the rack higgledy piggledy – so it nearly all came crashing down when she removed one dish.

The first thing she said when I got home was… “Sibo. If a job is worth doing – it is worth doing properly!”

I gave her a hug and said sorry – I’d been trying to save water. She wagged her finger at me and said it was a lame excuse – we did not live in Cape Town and there was enough water in Gauteng to wash dishes properly. As punishment she was making me wash dishes three nights in a row and was going to be doing an inspection every morning. If she found one bit of dirt – she’d dock my pocket money.

Eish – it’s nearly holiday season. I need every bit of pocket money.

According to Google there are rules about washing dishes.

The first thing is to scrape all the left over bits into the bin.  If a pot or dish is really dirty, you may need to soak it first.

The water needs to be nice and hot with dishwashing soap in it. (Duh!)

This is where it gets sticky. Some people say you should wash the flatware (knives and forks etc) first because you put those in your mouth. Others say you should wash the cleanest things first, like glasses – because they don’t muck up the water too much. Then you wash plates and dishes and lastly pots.

Cutlery gets stashed with the handle facing down.

You are also supposed to rinse the soapy water off in clean hot water.  Apparently if your water is the right temperature, the dishes almost dry themselves.

I guess mum was right. If you’re going to do something, you might as well do a good job of it!

Sibo

Use time wisely

You often hear people saying that they wish they had more time to do something – be it homework, making dinner or spending time with friends doing something fun.

It is the one thing that we cannot change. Those minutes tick by relentlessly, never stopping for a moment.

Seems like when you are a kid the time takes forever to pass, but somehow when you get a bit older it feels as though the time whooshes by. One minute it’s the beginning of the year and suddenly the year is finished and it’s time to look forward to the holiday season again.

I guess we should all think about using our time more wisely.

Sometimes that sounds easier said than done. Exams are looming and studying for them is not really a very attractive prospect. Often you tell yourself you’ll just “do this quickly” and study later. Then suddenly the time has disappeared and you are unprepared.

That old saying – procrastination is the thief of time – might be tired – but it certainly is true.

I’ve decided to try and plan my life a bit better. I’m making lists of the stuff I need to do. I’m putting the important stuff on the list along with some smaller tasks – which are easy to get done. Then I feel great when I see things crossed off and it galvanises me to do more of the things on the list. I reward myself with some play time every so often for being so productive.

I’m really hoping it works because I’m rather good at dawdling!

Talking about time and how valuable it is – it’s really rude to keep somebody waiting.

Often we agree to be somewhere at a certain time and then get there several minutes late. In South Africa it is jokingly referred to as “African Time” but it does not make it right.

It sends the signal that the other person’s time is not important – to you anyway, and it shows a complete lack of respect. Being on time requires proper planning – like being aware and factoring in anything that might crop up causing delays and making one late.

It’s sometimes hard to predict traffic and often one gets to a place way too early and then you have to wait around but it is better than being late. Take a book or something.

Plan carefully people!

Sibo

Smarty Pants

I read some stuff about being smart the other day – with exams coming  up we could all probably use a little extra smarts!

English is a strange language because “smart” has four different meanings.

It can mean a person is clever and quick in thought or action. For example, Mpho is really smart – she passed all her exams.

It could also mean that a person is well-dressed. For example, Mpho looked really smart in her new outfit.

Another meaning is to feel a sharp, stinging pain. For example, Mpho’s arm smarted for ages after the wasp stung her.

Lastly, it can mean that you feel annoyed or resentful after being insulted. For example, Mpho smarted for the whole of break time after Sandile said she was fat.

We are talking about the first one… here are some ways to help make us smarter.

  • Ask questions. It really is good to ask if we don’t know or understand something.
  • Get some exercise. This is a no-brainer – we know we feel better when we get out into the fresh air and start moving. Cycle, jog, walk briskly, hula hoop…
  • Eat healthy. Crunch apples and carrots instead of chips or sweets for snacks.
  • Keep a journal. It’s good to sit at the end of the day and reflect on all that has happened. It makes your memory work a bit harder too.
  • Learn a new skill. It does not have to be anything fancy – learn to knit, to code, or maybe how to bake – go nuts and try something new. Nothing ventured nothing gained!
  • Hang out with other smart people. This is so true – if we spend time with people who are interesting and interested – we feel smarter too.
  • Challenge your brain. Do crossword puzzles or Sudoku’s. Play memory games.
  • Change your routine. Try not to do things the same old boring way every single day – vary the order in which you do things, or eat lunch outside instead of inside. Sit in a different spot at school break. As the saying goes… a change is as good as a holiday.
  • Get enough sleep. Do it! Go to sleep at a decent hour our bodies need time to recover from a busy day.
  • Read more. Join a library or swap books with friends. There are also plenty of eBooks free on the internet that are available to read on cell phones too.

Think smart peeps!

Sibo

 

Safe Travels

Since 2005 South Africa has been officially celebrating transport month in October. I thought we’d celebrate buy making not one, but two of my books available to read online.  Both “Sibo Looks Right” and “Sibo on the Move” involve transport. Head on over to my website and click on the links to read either book.

Road safety is such an important topic. Every year thousands of people die on the roads. There are various reasons for this – some really stupid ones like drinking and driving, speeding, talking on a cell phone or texting and often un-roadworthy vehicles are also to blame.

Sadly, often children are fatally involved in accidents and they are totally blameless – just in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s not like we have control over who we drive with. Wish our parental agents would be a bit more responsible when it comes to taking chances with their children’s lives. We only have one, after all!

But children also have to take ownership of their own lives and make sure that they know the rules of the road and use it responsibly. 

If you are not sure what these are, ask your teacher or an adult. Or you can read all about them in my book. If you can’t be bothered to read the whole book – there’s a list at the back that is easy to read.

“Sibo on the Move” deals with etiquette when using public transport – especially things like the Gautrain system – buses and trains. They have some rules to specifically keep people safe – like standing behind the yellow line when the Gautrain is approaching. Did you know that you should always wait for passengers to get off the train first, before you get on? A thing like putting your feet on the seat is a real no-no too – you would not like to sit on a dirty seat – would you? Sticking chewing gum under the seat is also just revolting. Listening to loud music on your cell phone is rude because it disturbs other passengers. Being kind and considerate on public transport is important.

If you have not already been on the Gautrain – you should make a plan to go on a little trip – like my class did – we went to the National Zoological Gardens for a school outing. It was such fun!

Be safe and take care.

Sibo

Spider woman

Okay – so this was not the spider – I missed getting a shot of her! Ginny took this.

The other day I heard a terrible yelling coming from Mum’s bedroom. Dropped what I was doing and ran to see what on earth was going on.

She was a quivering, jabbering screeching wreck! I looked at her with big eyes – whatever was the matter?  She pointed at a little splodge on the duvet.

It was a spider. Not a particularly big spider, but not exactly small and sweet looking either. One of those hairy dudes that look like it might want to pounce on a person.

Of course I know that’s complete nonsense – they are a lot more afraid of us than we are of them. Mum was heading off to the kitchen to get the Doom. I stopped her and told her to rather make a cup of tea, sit in the lounge and drink it. I would deal with the spider.

Okay – I am not a big fan of spiders either but I really don’t like killing stuff, so I yanked up my big girl broekies and grovelled out a spider busting kit.

Very simple really – a thin piece of cardboard and a clear plastic bakkie.

First I snuck up and slapped that bowl over the spider. It needs to be clear preferably because then you can see where the spider is (on the bowl or on the surface) when you slide the piece of cardboard carefully under the bowl. There is no point in saving the spider and knocking off a couple of her legs in the process.

Once you have the spider trapped between the cardboard and the bowl, you lift the whole thing up and take the little intruder outside. I like using a plastic bowl because sometimes the spider tends to get a bit friendly and wants to run up your arm when you open up the bowl.  Then you can toss it into the garden and run away shrieking!

Mum thought I was very brave.

Did you know that the 11th of October is International Day of the Girl Child! We get to have our own day – how cool. This is a pretty good time in history to be a girl too. We are encouraged to do anything as far as careers go – the sky is the limit.

Although this is not the case for everybody, in some countries girls and women are severely oppressed. Let’s spare a thought for them please.

Sibo

Spaced-Out

The 4th to 10th of October celebrates World Space Week. In honour of this I‘m making my book – Sibo in Space – available on the website to read freely for the next two weeks. Visit  Sibo’s website and just click on the link.

Thought for Space week this year I’d share some awesome (and slightly gross) facts that you could wow your friends with, unless they have also read the paper!

Did you know that if you were in space… the skin would be peeling off your feet? Eergh! Because astronauts are not actually walking on their feet, the skin starts to soften and then flakes off. Here’s an even grosser fact – because there are no washing machines in space, the dudes wear their socks and jocks for longer than they usually would on earth! When they take their socks off, they have to do it very very gently otherwise those yucky dead skin cells would just float around all over  the place.

How’s this… one million earths would fit inside the sun.

If you are vertically challenged… you should go to space. In micro-gravity, because the spine is not being pushed down, it straightens out and a person can become a whole 5cm taller!

One always imagines that space is really far away, but in actual fact – if you could drive your car 100km upwards, you’d be in space in about an hour. Makes you wish your car could drive upwards hey!

The solar system is around 4.6 billion years old… but scientists reckon it will probably last another 500 million years still – so don’t worry – there is still time to do stuff.

Space is entirely silent.

One day on Venus is longer than an entire year on earth!

If metal touches in space it will bond together and permanently stick together.

One day on Mercury last around 59 days on earth!

If you ever stepped onto the moon… your footprints would remain there for ever. Why is that… because there is no weather on the moon. No wind or rain to blow or wash those footprints away.

Neutron stars can turn at a rate of around 600 rotations per second! Enough to make a person really dizzy!

If you fell into a black hole… you would stretch like spaghetti!

So … if you have a choice of going to school on Venus or Mercury – which would you choose? Duh! Mercury of course!

Sibo

Avoiding a cat-ostrophe

You always hear funny stories about people moving house and having problems with their cats disappearing and finding their own way back to the old house. It’s pretty common and there are even movies about the topic.

Well… my friend Ginny was moving house and they have 2 cats. She was really worried about those cats doing something silly and getting lost in a new neighbourhood.

She did some research on the topic and found out that the general advice was to move the cats last. In other words – you move all your stuff and then when things are a bit sorted – you bring in the cats. Then you keep them in a room for two weeks. After that time you slowly let them out for a bit every day until they are used to the place and feel happy there.

Whilst this might work for some people – it is rather silly on many different levels. Firstly – when you move house you have to get out of the old house and don’t really have time to sort things out first. The cats have to come into the muddle and mess too. Also – you don’t always have a spare room to keep them in.

The vet recommended a product called Feliway Classic. It’s a bit expensive but it really worked. It’s a plug-in diffuser that contains pheromones. When cats feel happy in their environment they rub their cheeks on things leaving catmail messages which we are undetectable to you and me, but convey a good and happy message to other cats.  This stuff gave the same message to the cats. It lasts for a month.

It really worked too. She did keep them in a room, but only for a few days. They slept most of the time and were quite content. Then she let them out of the room and they walked through the house, sniffing everything. But their tails were up and they felt confident. That was the end of the room!

After living in a complex for years – they both sat transfixed at one window – watching cat TV. There are trees in the yard and they are full of birds fluttering around the place.

They are both very happy and have settled in well. Our animals are precious and we should ensure that they are safe and cared for at all times.

Lots of love

Sibo

Look where you are going!

The other day I had a bit of a crash whilst riding my bicycle round the garden! Thought mum would be very sympathetic but it turns out she wasn’t. She asked me how I crashed and I inadvertently admitted that I had not been concentrating properly. I’d seen a pretty bird fluttering around the place and was trying to check it out – did not see the hump in the garden, fell off and hurt my arm.

Instead of dishing me loads of love and tender words, mum yelled at me.  She said imagine if I was riding in the road and got side-tracked – I could get hit by a car.

I wanted to tell her that I’d never do that – but it was a bit difficult when I had already done it – although luckily not in the road.

She threatened to stop me from riding to school on my bike. That gave me a big scare. I promised to be ultra-careful in future.

My arm was sore for quite a few days and I realised how we mostly take our body bits for granted. I had trouble doing all sorts of things that I never usually even notice that I am doing – turning switches on, opening doors, writing, sleeping (it was the side I usually lie on), carrying my backpack, even eating properly with a knife and fork was a challenge.

I tried not to show mum just how sore it was because I was worried that she might have a hissy fit all over again and really ban me from riding to school.

There are 206 bones in a human body – and any of them would hurt like crazy if you broke or cracked one. Well, actually we are born with about 270 bones but by the time we reach adulthood some have fused together and there are 206 left. The crazy thing is – more than half of these bones are in our hands (54) and feet (52).

Luckily I did not break anything – just bruised my arm and a bit of muscle or something.

Bodies are precious things – we should remember to take care of them, eat properly, exercise (and look where we are going) and get enough sleep.

You can read “Sibo Looks Right” – the road safety book – on the website (www.sibo.co.za) anytime you want to.

Stay safe!

Sibo

The last straw!

I know we’ve had this conversation before but truthfully – plastics are taking over the world.  Or rather, they are playing a big part in messing it up!

Why is that?  Petroleum-based plastics like PET do not decompose in the same way that organic material does. Stuff like wood, food scraps and grass gets transformed into useful compounds by bacteria – but this does not happen with plastic. Plastic never really goes away. After hundreds of years it might break down if it is exposed to sunlight – but even those tiny pieces are still floating around in the place. Of course, if it gets buried in a landfill – it never sees the sunlight and so it stays… and stays.

One way that we can help – I know it seems a teensy way – but every little bit really does help, is to say “No Thank You” to straws.

Seriously! We don’t need to use a straw to drink a cool drink. By the way – if the cool drink is in an aluminium can – that also takes 500 years to break down – so make sure you recycle those too please.

The problem with straws is that they are light and even if they do get disposed in the proper way, they get picked up by the wind and carried off to places unknown. Often they land up in rivers, damns and the sea and they cause untold damage to birds and other marine life.

Yes – I know it’s very cool to pull the paper off the straw so it’s concertinaed up, and then use the straw to drop a little bit of cool drink on the paper and watch it magically unfold all by itself. This drives my mum crazy if I do it when we are out, so she’ll be glad to hear that I am giving up straws in the interests of helping to save the planet.

Of course, if you absolutely must have a straw in your drink – then take it home with you and in another blog I’ll share some cool stuff to do with straws. Sciencey stuff!

In the meantime – I’m sharing my book – Sibo Tackles Trash – on the website  for everybody to read free for a few days.

Every little bit really does help people – let’s all try. Together we can make a BIG difference.

Lots of love,

Sibo

 

Growing succulents

A friend of mine recently moved into a house and they have a section of water wise plants in their front garden. To begin with I thought they were sort of ugly. But then I looked at them a bit longer and thought that maybe they were not so bad. In fact – some of them were quite pretty.

The thing about succulents is that they really do not need much water. Of course, if they get more water than they bargained for, then it’s not like they wither up and die either.

Did you know if you want to grow your own succulents it is really easy?

You simply lay a leaf or three down on a bed of soil in a little pot, with the pointy bit facing outwards, and give it a few drops of water every now and then.  They are not even too fussy about the water believe it or not.

Aloe

After a while teensy tiny little leaves start growing (in the middle of the pot). And it does not take too long either. Perfect little teensy weensy succulents. In fact, it is incredibly rewarding

The crazy thing about succulents is that some of them are good for various things – like Bulbinlella – a common garden plant.

Bulbinella is the ideal plant to have in the garden if you have children because it is a first aid remedy for most knocks and scrapes.

This hardy plant grows easily in many places. It has a nice bright yellow flower. The Bulbinella leaf can be crushed softly between fingers and the clear sap can be squeezed out from the leaf and used to smear on the following problems: wounds, rashes, burns, itches, ringworm, cracked lips, cuts, boils, eczema, insect bites, cold sores or acne.

The same goes for Pork Bush or as it is more commonly known by its Afrikaans name, Spekboom (Portulacaria afra), it is also pretty fabulous stuff. Not only is it Proudly South African but it is also a water-wise plant that can manage on less than a litre of water a year.

Poultices made out of the leaves can be applied to acne, blisters, corns, insect bites, sore feet and sunburn. It has also been said that chewing Spekboom leaves several times a day can successfully treat high blood sugar levels.

Great idea for Christmas presents – but you’d need to start growing them in little pots now!

Have fun.

Sibo