With Compliments

My mum went to some or other women’s thing the other day. She came home and told us about how everybody had been encouraged to say something nice to a random stranger before they all settled down for the day.

I asked her what she meant by “random stranger”. Was she talking about going up to somebody in the street or what?

“Don’t be silly Sibo,” she replied tartly. “Why would I just go up to a person in the street and say something nice? They were talking about approaching somebody at the gathering that you didn’t know. It was a safe space. The person was not going to think you were a demented lunatic for arbitrarily accosting them.”

“Aww rats!” I replied, “So I can’t just go up to anybody on the street and say ‘Hey! I love your skirt.’”

“Don’t be ridiculous!” Mom spluttered in outrage. “That would not be safe!”

Hmmm… I wasn’t so sure I agreed with her, but she had a point about safety and kids approaching strangers.

So I started thinking and came up with a good idea for Women’s month—August!

So! Here’s the plan people… every morning, pick a lady / girl at school or work—or even on the bus, train or taxi if you see them regularly, and say something nice.

Here are some examples to get you started:

  • “You look nice today.”
  • “Oohh – I love your nails!”
  • “That’s a gorgeous dress/skirt/bag.”
  • “Your hair looks fabulous!”

But it has to be genuine. You can’t say “Love that hairstyle” and then go snigger because you actually think it looks weird.  That’s not being kind. That’s being horrible. Horrible is nasty—don’t do it.

If you really can’t think of something lovely to say – just smile. Smiles work too.

All the bitchiness that goes on is so tiring. People (females especially) are always judging instead of supporting each other. Enough! The world is messed up enough without us making it worse.

Be nice people. Be kinder to one another. One really doesn’t know what the impact is of a few kind words on another person. It could totally brighten their day and make them feel good. How many times has it happened to you? Somebody says something nice and you think… Oh wow. That’s so great to hear.

Pay it forward people – in nice words!

Sibo

xxxx

Spiked

I know I’m only a little kid and I’m not supposed to worry, or even know about stuff like this, but it seems as though it happens often, or certainly a lot more than people realise.

My friend Ginny and her husband were privileged to go to funeral in a township last week. That probably does not sound very good – the fact that it was a funeral was terrible, but the type of funeral was completely different to any they had ever attended before. Everybody really celebrated the life that had been lost to the fullest, on a very different level to what goes on in traditional Anglican, Catholic, Seventh Day Adventist or NG Churches—where everything is usually very restrained and goes by the book. There are no unexpected incidents. The longest a service will ever last is around an hour.

This funeral started at 08h00 and carried on until 13h00. After all the speakers had had their say, then it was the preachers’ turn and he was totally marvellous, in a scary kind of very loud way. The temperature was approximately six degrees in the school hall, and one of the other congregants said that they could go outside and warm themselves up in the sun if they were cold (which they were – freezing in fact, despite being bundled up in numerous layers of clothing) but they were unwilling to miss a single thing. After the funeral, which included going to the grave site, everybody was saying ‘that was a really good send-off’ and they mostly seemed to be at peace.

But Ginny wasn’t. She was really unhappy that the guy had died in the first place, because it was so unnecessary and sad. He was young and had not even hit a quarter of a century yet. Both he and his friend had been coerced into having drinks that were spiked with something nasty. His friend luckily survived, but tragically, he didn’t. Worse, the callous floozies who forced the drinks on them stole their cell phones, wallets and other personal possessions while they were in a deeply drugged state.

You always hear about this happening to girls and ladies, but not often to men. But here it happened, with heart-breaking consequences. Bottom line is, don’t leave your drink unattended at a party or a bar – and never, ever let yourself be forced into drinking something against your will. There are unscrupulous people out there who will do anything for money.

Please take care people!

Sibo

xxxx

Pop-Up Book Fair

Last Saturday Ginny and I got to do some exciting stuff. We went to an Indie Pop-up Book Fair at the Alklantrant Library in Pretoria. Ahem… I’m not exactly an indie girl myself, because my Sibo Series are published by Lets Look Publishers, but Ginny writes other stuff (Dog’s blogs, Imaginaeries and The Kindness Book)  that she does publish herself, so she asked if she could take me along too.

It was such fun meeting all the other people who write South African children’s books. There was quite a selection. One young lady, Pamela Ngubeni, has written a little pocket-sized book about being bullied and what to do if you are. She herself was bullied when she was younger and she has risen above the situation and gives talks in schools now too.

A fabulous book by Soraya Hendricks, called ‘The Legend of the Gilded Scroll’, covers the topic of stranger danger. It’s an awesomely illustrated fantasy story that incorporates the topic in an exciting manner.

There were the Sir Chocolate  stories for kids (that include recipes) by Robbie and Michael Cheadle.

and a series of Akiki books by Fatuma Abdulla that had a lovely doll (from the illustrations) that was also for sale.

Yet another remarkable book called ‘Be Amazing’ by Doloros Oldjohn, was all about being different, making a difference, having respect, going the extra step and being nice whilst you go about it.

‘Liam goes to the game reserve’ – written by Christina van Straaten is a delightful story that introduces wild animals in their natural habitats to children. It’s a hardboard book – durable and easy to keep clean and great for small kids.

Cora Groenewald, author of Salome and Gogo visit Soweto (also available in Afrikaans) was there too.

If you like adventure novels with a twist then Everdeen Brickwood’s books are for you.

There’s a series by Jann Wereatunga that involves a pirate parrot called Polly (also a puppet) having all sorts of adventures (with life lessons), where you can use your imagination and draw your own pictures in the books, instead of the books having ready-made illustrations.

Sandy van Zyl has a series of beautifully illustrated books ‘The Travel Buggz’ that are based on the adventures of the author and her two children when they went travelling around South Africa.

Martie van der Walt, a first time author had her stand next to ours with a delightful Afrikaans book -‘Kiekie en Wiekie, Die avonture van twee kroonkiewiete’. These were stories told to her by her father, that she has recorded so that the tradition can live on for future generations. The illustrations in the book were just lovely.

The lady who organised the pop-up book fair, Sabine Lehmacher (JOE), has a book called ‘The Moonling’. It’s a story that she found when she was sorting out her late mother’s possessions. Her mom had written it in the 1950’s already. Sabine’s family members have spruced it up and illustrated it and it’s now a fabulously relevant book (involving a moonling and an earthling) instead of being a few bits of papers hidden away.

Ginny’s stand was obviously in the kids section, but she stole away and snuck downstairs to the adult section for a few minutes – and got bust when Uncle Pete and Sharon from Lets Look Publishers popped in to visit!

Ginny and Peter Sanderson from Lets Look Publishers

There were not only children’s books at the book fair, but all sorts of other interesting titles – poetry, novels, science fiction, horror and autobiographies too. To name a few, Karen Coomber has written ‘100 Minutes of Grace‘ – a book about a mother’s road to recovery (she tragically lost her daughter in an accident). Whilst there were many books that took her fancy, she ended up buying Adam Alexander’s ‘Garage Band’, which she has yet to read.

A couple of interesting talks were also thrown in for good measure.

There’s going to be another pop-up book fair in September, so if there’s anybody out there who has published a book(s) – shout and we can put you in contact with Sabine.

Thanks very much to the Alklantrant Library for hosting the pop-up book fair (to make it worth their while – 10% of all the proceeds of the books sold went to the library).

Read more people!

Sibo

xxxx

Magic Stuff

Last week we talked about tie-dying. Hope you used gloves because that paint can make quite a mess on your fingers. But if you didn’t, you can always give your hands a scrub with baking soda.

Baking soda is truly marvelous cleaning stuff. We’ve talked about that before too – especially how it can unblock drains and clean gunk off irons.

One of the best uses I have come across for baking soda is as a beauty product.

Reuse an old spice jar – fill it with baking soda and stash it in the bathroom or the shower cubicle.

When washing your hair, sprinkle a little into the shampoo in your hand and then wash your hair. The baking soda strips away all the hair products that you might have used the last time you styled your hair. Plus it makes it feel nice and lessens the tangles too.

You can also use it as a face-scrub – instead of those expensive products with little teensy plastic beads that pollute the environment and cause fish to die! Just pour some into your hands, add a bit of warm water and give your face a scrub. Of course, don’t forget to moisturise afterwards – especially in the winter when things gets so dry.

You know how your legs get all dry and scaly too? Same thing – sprinkle some baking soda into your hand in the shower and give your legs a scrub – gets rid of all the old lotion, bits of skin and other debris and your legs feel nice and smooth. Do it once a week.

Seriously people! Why waste money on fancy products if you can use stuff that is sitting in the kitchen cupboard. Although do remember to check with your parental agent first, before you help yourself. Remember how I got into trouble when I took the last loo roll!

You can also put a little pinch of baking soda on your toothpaste (on your toothbrush – duh) every now and then for whiter, brighter teeth – but don’t do it too often otherwise you might damage the enamel.

If you have gumboils – a spoonful of salt and one of baking soda, mixed together with half a cup of warm water, swished around your mouth makes it feel a lot better. Also gargling with baking soda and water can kill bacteria and freshen up your breath.

See – it really is magic stuff!

Sibo

xxxx

Tie-dying fun

Its school holidays and sometimes one gets bored – especially when it’s cold.

Assuming you have no desire to read a book (I never give up – do I?)— what about having some fun tie-dying a piece of clothing… or even your socks (cotton ones work best). Although please check with your parental agent first though, before you start adding colour to your wardrobe.

This is what you need:

  • Fabric paint
  • Elastic bands (you can use loom bands – they are cheap and work a treat)
  • Water
  • Old plastic containers
  • Black bag
  • Rubber gloves (or small plastic bags to put over your hands)
  • Paint brush
  • Old white or light-coloured t-shirt
  • Imagination

These days you get Dala fabric paints that actually come in little spray bottles. They make life super easy because you don’t really even need to mix paint in containers with water or extender.

Imagine you want to breathe some life back into an old grungy t-shirt.

First thing you do is make a little peak and wrap a rubber band around the bottom of it. Do many of these all over your garment (including the sleeves) so it looks a bit like a fabric hedgehog.

Put on your gloves, spread out the black bag (or any big sheet of plastic) somewhere where you won’t get into trouble for messing and lay your t-shirt on top of it.  If you’ve got the Dala fabric spray paints, go wild and spray colour all over your t-shirt.  Make sure you do both sides – you can always mop up any excess paint that you’ve sprayed on the black bag too.

If you have jars of fabric paint – put two teaspoons (make sure you wash the spoon immediately or use a plastic spoon) of paint into about half a cup of water, mix it up well and then use your paintbrush to slosh the paint onto your t-shirt.  Two or three colours works best, but one colour will still look cool because it will contrast with the original colour of the T-shirt.

Please ensure you don’t work on a carpet – fabric paint stains. Food colouring is even messier but can be used in lieu of paint. This is why you must cover your surface with plastic.

Hang your T-shirt on the line and wait until it is properly dry before you take the rubber bands off.

Iron it to set the dye – otherwise it will wash out.

Have fun!

Sibo

xxxx

No limits to learning

Yesterday my friend Ginny had a flying visit to meet with some people in Durban. Before you imagine she’s turned into one of her fairies or something – she really did fly and she was only there for a few hours. (Hahahaha – I’m a witty girl today hey!)

Seriously though, the reason she went is ultra-cool. She’s going to be involved in writing a series of short stories for little children. These will be based on various topics – lovely things like courage, joy, creativity, responsibility, kindness, caring, accountability etc.

These are values that everybody should be teaching their kids from a very young age. Also, if children from the age of 0 – 6 are not taught various concepts (colours, shapes, fine motor skills etc) it impacts hugely on their future learning.

The Unlimited Child is a national non-profit initiative that started in 2008. These guys are simply awesome. They have an early childhood education model and they provide training for people who work in/or own crèches – normally in really disadvantaged areas where finances are challenged.

But let’s rather use the correct terminology… these ‘people’ are actually known as practitioners. They are not teachers because they don’t have a formal qualification, nor are they care-givers, because they do more than just wipe bums and noses. They aren’t really crèches either… they are known as ECD Centres (early child development). Apparently crèches are places where kids play and don’t actually do too much learning. Not ideal if you want your kid to get the best possible start in life.

Sjoe! All this terminology gets a bit confusing at times.

These guys (actually – they are mainly ladies) work with various government departments to discover which places really do need their help. Then they swoop in, a bit like guardian angels, and offer assistance in the form of this model.

Okay wait… ‘model’ conjures up a stiff image. Banish that picture from your head immediately! It’s more like cool, colourful stuff for the kids to play and interact with, accompanied by lesson plans for the practitioner’s to use along with the toys. Like I mentioned earlier – training is given on how to use the equipment. Thereafter the centres are monitored and follow-up assistance is provided when necessary.

In case you are wondering… NO! They do not provide actual financial assistance to centres.

In 2008 The Unlimited Child started with 5 ECD centres in KZN. Today they assist over 1729 centres in 8 provinces, including Gauteng. Their goal is to have 5000 centres by 2022!

Eventually Ginny’s stories are going to be read to all these kids!

Little kids are so precious – they should be treasured and nourished, on many different levels, to give them the best possible start in life.

 

Sibo

xxxx

 

PS – If you want to know more about The Unlimited Child and the thinking behind it – visit their website.

A Moving Story

My award winning book – whoo hoo!

 

I have to share this exciting news with you all. Last Monday we found out that one of my books “Sibo on the Move” got an award. Actually it got two awards – one national and one international. How cool is that?

The funniest was that we had no idea it had even been entered into any competitions. So the whole thing came as a total surprise when Ingrid Jensen (Executive Manager Reputation at Gautrain Management Agency) called to say that they had won awards for the book in the category of writing.

For those who don’t know, this book was commissioned by the Gautrain a few years ago and the topic was etiquette whilst using public transport.

In a nutshell – manners!

The Gautrain is very spiffy. Clean, safe and lovely to travel in and it’s important to keep it that way. People sometimes forget or just don’t care that they’re sharing a public space with other travelers and it is vital to be considerate. Little things, like not talking, or listening to music too loudly. Or not putting your feet on the seat – so that when the next person sits on it, they get their clothes dirty.

Worse… aaarrrgghhhh… seriously gross… sticking old chewed gum under the seat! Oh my word – that is just so gross.

There are also special spaces on the Gautrain for people with disabilities, to make life a little easier and safer for them. Able-bodied people should not sit there. Just don’t do it… okay?

Gautrain is very safety conscious too. If you have travelled on the train, you’ll know that there is a yellow line on the platform that you have to wait behind when a train is approaching. (This is for your safety – not because they want to be mean.) Once the train stops – the correct etiquette is to let the other passengers get off the train first. But all too often people are worried that they are going to miss the train – or they’re just plain rude – and they barge in without even thinking about the poor folk who are trying to get out.

Seriously people – it’s not hard. Just be considerate. Be kind. Be nice. It costs absolutely nothing and it makes such a difference. This goes for all public transport.

The National award was called the Silver Quill Award and the International one was called the Gold Quill Award of Excellence.

Quite spiffy hey, now I am an award winning girl!

Be kind please people.

Sibo

xxxx

History Lessons

It seems as though the powers that be are thinking of bringing the subject of History back into high schools.

It’s probably a good idea but the way it used to be taught was boring beyond belief. Literally!

Kids become disinterested and have no clue why they have to learn such ancient out-dated stuff.

Just reading from the books – blah blah blah… is not the way to teach history.

I guess they will also have to make sure that it is taught from different perspectives. There are always two (or sometimes more) ways to look at anything, no matter what it is. Different sides of the coin, so to speak.

Part of me thinks that schools should just show movies in history lessons. Lump all the history lessons together into certain time periods throughout the terms and show a movie that depicts some event in history. I’m sure there are probably plenty to choose from.

Then have group discussions and debates with the children and get their perspective on whether things happened in a good way or a bad way and what they would have done if they had lived in that particular time.

This way it makes the history more real – instead of a boring old topic that involves dead people – even if they were wonderful, powerful people who risked their lives (and sometimes gave them) to bring about change.

I know that sounds harsh, because history has shaped the world into being what it is today – which, let’s face it – is not always that great and could have been done differently.

Include a bit of everything too – so that maybe people understand each other better. It’s so easy to judge when you don’t understand where the other person is coming from.

Maybe it would be a plan to get an older person – who’s lived through some of the not-so-distant history to come and talk at schools. Tell the kids how things were. Make it real.

Most kids today would probably think that history was a few years ago when they had a cell-phone that was not smart. Ten years ago in a kid’s life is very very long time in the past. Something that happened 30 years ago is ancient history to a kid… but our parents can remember 30 years ago like it was yesterday – so everything is relative.

History is cool – but please people – teach it right!

Sibo

xxxx

The Blackboard Cat

The other day I took the last toilet roll to clean up a mess I’d made and forgot to tell mum. I didn’t think much of it at the time. In fact… I did not think about it at all! But when mum went to fetch one for their bathroom and found the packet was empty, she was as mad as a snake.

I confessed – mainly because there was nobody else in the house that could have taken it. Don’t think Dad even knows where they are stashed. Mum ranted, raved and performed. Really – you would have thought I had taken something very precious, instead of the last loo roll.

Luckily I still had half of it in my room which I could hand over.

I was telling my friend Nomsa about it at school the next day. She comes from a big family and they are always having some spat or another. Nomsa said that they’d had the same problem – someone was always finishing up something and driving her mum crazy – but they had found a solution that worked a treat.

They had painted a piece of hardboard with chalkboard paint and stuck it up in the kitchen. When somebody saw that the peanut butter was running low – they had to write it up. Or if her brother finished most of the bread (which he was always doing) he had to write it on the board. Her older sister was always making cookies, and used up the sugar at an alarming rate – that got written up too.

Then when her mum was going to the shops – all she had to do was take a photo of the board with her cell phone and she had an instant shopping list.

Their system worked really well – they hardly ever ran out of anything anymore. Even when her little brother ate the last apple – he could not write but he could draw – so he climbed up on a stool and drew a picture of an apple.

So I told mum about this idea after school. She thought it sounded quite good and said she had a piece of hardboard in the shape of a cat that we could paint with chalkboard paint and put up in the kitchen.

It’s still early days – so we’ll have to see if it works for us.

Have a happy day!

Sibo

xxxx

Monster Moles

My friend Ginny recently got a bit of a shock. She’s had a mole on her arm for a couple of years – okay – probably more than that – and her doctor has been keeping an eye on it. Ginny is not a very good doctor person – she hates going. But life is a sneaky thing! Her thyroid blew a couple of years ago and now she has to go every six months and lives on little white pills that don’t cost much – but basically keep her going.

Let this be a lesson people – look after your health. Ginny should read some of my healthy posts and take note of them!!!

Anyway, back to the mole… this year her doctor said it looked a tad dodgy and needed to be removed. But of course it had grown and was no longer easily removable in the surgery – so she was referred to a dermatologist. A lovely lady with the ironical name of Dr Carpenter! She did a fabulous job of carving up Ginny’s arm. A teensy little, very neat 15mm cut with three stitches that healed up fabulously after two weeks.

The bit of mole that was removed was sent off to be tested.

But like I said, life has other plans in store when you least expect them. Turned out the mole was a monster mole. Well – not really – it was an early stage melanoma. Could have been much worse, but it does mean that the cutie little cut will become a granddaddy of a cut (60mm).

When they find out that a mole is a baddie – they like to remove a largish area of skin around it to make sure that they have got rid of all the dodgy bits.

Good thing is – melanoma is really easy to treat if you catch it early enough. So check out your bods people and if you have any funny looking spots – get them looked at – because melanoma is also one of the biggest killers.

Through a series of events,  misunderstandings and a crappy doctor’s receptionist – Ginny’s operation was moved from this Wednesday to Friday – which made her miffed as all hell. But what she’s found very interesting in the last few days is that some people are incredibly blasé when it comes to cancer, and dealing with people who have newly acquired it.

Think before you speak peeps!

Sibo

xxx