Getting Organised

Stress is a horrible thing. It often sneaks up on a person and causes all sorts of problems. There are many reasons why one gets stressed out but one of the worst causes of stress is being disorganised and finding yourself running out of time, or arriving at a place without important stuff that you need.

Like the homework you left on the dining room table or your PE clothes, or your permission slip to go on an outing.

There’s a relatively easy way to eliminate such stress.

Plan your day.

Ergh! Sibo. I hear you say… that’s so boring.

Not really—if you plan your day, you’d probably have more free time to do fun stuff.  

How many times have we all rushed around, looking for something at the last minute, panicking like crazy when we can’t find it—only to find that it’s right there, under our nose. Or even worse, having to leave the house without it.

Use a diary or planner and write down everything that you have to do the night before.

This way you won’t wake up in the middle of the night, think of something you have to do the next day and lay there worrying that you’ll have forgotten it by morning.

Part of planning, is developing a routine.

  • Try to go bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time in the morning. Set two alarms if you have a hard time waking up.
  • Have a shower, get dressed, and eat your breakfast (or the other way around if you are a messy eater).
  • Rather be ready to leave five minutes early than be running five minutes late.
  • Pack your school things the night before. Make certain all the stuff you need for the next day is in your case before you go to sleep. One less thing to worry about.
  • Create a routine for yourself as far as your homework is concerned too. Try and do it at the same time every day. Don’t leave it for after supper when you are too tired to think either.
  • Keep the space where you do your homework neat tidy so that you don’t get distracted.
  • Lastly, don’t multi-task. While you might think you’re getting loads of things done all at once, usually nothing gets done properly. Do one thing at a time and do it well.

Being organised means being in control.

Sibo

May you be in your element in 2019!

I know this is a tad late but here goes anyway… Happy 2019 Everybody! I hope it is going to be a seriously awesome one for us all.

This is the year we celebrate the ‘The International Year of the Periodic Table’.

According to the powers that be, i.e. UNESCO, the Periodic Table of Elements is “A Common Language for Science” and is one of the most significant achievements in science, capturing the essence not only of chemistry, but also of physics and biology.

The Period System was first discovered by Dmitri Mendeleev in 1869—which makes 2019 the 150th anniversary of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements.

So… what exactly is this table of elements?

In a nut shell, it’s a grid that organises and names all the elements. Elements are made out of atoms, which are made up of protons, neutrons and electrons. Each element has an atomic number and a name. Some of the elements letters are easy to understand, others not so.

It’s like the alphabet of everything that we can see, touch or smell. In fact, even those we can’t.

For instance, O (number 8) is for oxygen. We can’t see it, smell it or taste it—but it’s there, otherwise we would not be here! Oxygen is vital for all life.

Au (number 79) is for gold – but the Au comes from the Latin name for gold – aurum.

Helium (He – number 2) is the gas that gets used in those fancy floating balloons (which, by the way, are really bad for the environment because often they float away landing up in rivers and oceans causing huge amounts of damage to the environment).

Elements are like the building blocks for all the matter in the world. For example, when hydrogen and oxygen (H2O) are combined the result is water. This is called chemistry.

Fun fact: Hydrogen is the most common element found in the Universe.

We all do chemistry most days without even realising it, for example, if we bake a cake, ingredients are added together to make something new.

And yes! People are obviously made up of elements too. It does not matter where you live either–on earth or mars—the elements are still the same.

To help celebrate this year, we’re making my book “Sibo Mixes Things Up” a free digi-read on the website for January.

Chemistry is cool!

Sibo

PS Want to see how much you know about elements? Try my QUIZ

Pop-Art of a different Kind

It’s that time of year when school is finished and kids are on holiday. The first few days are fun because the alarm clock is on holiday too and there is no need to leap up early in the morning, but if you are anything like me – after a few days you start to get bored.

One way of keeping busy is to make awesome festive decorations using stuff like toilet roll cores, old magazines. Make your own glue too by mixing flour and water into a paste (don’t make it too runny or too thick – experiment).

It’s more fun to get a group of friends together, plus you can pool your resources and share – like paint, glitter and stuff like that.

Make a bowl of popcorn – either on the stove or in the microwave (yes – you can eat some of it). But remember not to put any salt or butter on the popcorn that you are going to use for your decorations. Ask your mom for a needle and some cotton and thread a length of about 60cm of popcorn.  Make sure to knot it properly (or glue it) at both ends so that it does not fall off. You can also spray these with some gold or silver spray paint to make them look even more festive.

Squish the cardboard toilet roll core slightly and cut it into strips of about half a centimetre. Use five strips to make a flower shape and either glue or staple them together at the centre. Paint them and string them up with the popcorn to make a fancy daisy chain.

Paper beads are also fun to make. Roll up a strip of paper (2cm wide x about 7cm long) into a tight thin little tube (use a tooth pick or twig to roll it around) and stick the end down with a dab of glue. Once the glue is dry you can paint your paper beads if necessary.

Other easy and really cheap but effective decorations to make are paper chains. Find an old magazine and cut strips of paper (about 2cm wide x 15cm long). You can either staple or glue them together to make a long chain. Try experimenting by making the strips wider or thinner and see which ones you prefer.

You could make one string of decorations using all of the above methods!

Have fun,

Sibo

Silly Season

No matter how good our intentions are during the year to start buying thoughtful little gifts when you spot them, somehow it never happens.

Even though the shops start sending out tendrils of temptation a few months before Christmas; reminding everybody that it’s just around the corner, dangling tantalizing goodies in obvious places, December always creeps up rather fast.

The reality is most people expect presents at this time of the year.

I was listening to kids talking at school the other day. The one kid was saying that he expected his father would buy him a play station for Christmas.

His friend looked at him strangely and said, “But how? Your father doesn’t have a job at the moment?”

The other kid just shrugged, “He’ll make a plan—he always does. Otherwise Mum knows I’ll sulk.”

What a brat! In our house, we receive gifts on our birthdays. That’s your time to get a fancy present, or something that you really want. Maybe.

When it comes to this time of year, limits are set for presents of R25 or less each.  It may sound completely crazy but it means that people have to put their thinking caps on and get creative. This takes time and planning, which is, after all, the point of a gift. It’s supposed to be thoughtful and meaningful.

For instance, my Gran bakes cookies. She uses recycled packaging attractively and hands out those for gifts. Her mince pies are legend, we all love them.

I usually make vouchers because even R25 is way too much for me. Fancy, decorated ones and I try to make them useful—even if I don’t like what I’m offering to do. Mum absolutely appreciates tea in bed on a Saturday morning. I offer to wash dogs, baby sit hamsters, rake leaves, water plants etc.

Mum makes little gardens in old containers that she jazzes up. She pinches bits of succulents from friends’ houses and collects interesting looking stones and twigs. My cousin makes awesome jewelry. Another cousin makes dream catchers. My auntie makes up interesting sweetie jars. My Dad scours second hand book stores.

Not only do we all end up getting loads of cool stuff, but we also get to see how everybody else appreciates what we’ve taken time to make or find. It works a treat.

Get creative people – the gift is in the giving.

Sibo.

 

Things to Do in December

It’s that silly season time of year when people are busting to go on holiday but it’s not quite time yet.  Some people don’t have the opportunity or finances to go anywhere, and others have no choice but to work. Imagine how hard it must be for cashiers and sales clerks to see everybody stocking up on goodies and they have to work throughout the festive season. Spare a thought for those people please.

The situation currently is being made worse by load-shedding. Yes! It’s frustrating as all hell – but we don’t have to let it get us down.

Now is the time that we can all do a couple of things to make life easier.

  • Smile often and randomly. Never underestimate the power of a smile.
  • Hold the door open for strangers.
  • Say ‘Good Morning” or “Hullo” to people that you pass by.
  • Tip generously.
  • Pay compliments.
  • Call shop assistants by the name on their tag, i.e. “Thank you Sindiwe” and toss in a smile too.
  • Wave at the police.
  • Share food at school or work.
  • Make funny faces at babies in grocery queues to keep them entertained.
  • Be patient with sales clerks—and be nice!

Of course, if you are feeling generous, you can also do cool things like buying a stranger a cup of coffee, or paying for somebody’s groceries/parking ticket etc.

Other ideas… offer to walk dogs, run errands for elderly people and do garden chores like weeding and de-heading flowers.

Once we start thinking about ways to be nice and to do stuff for people, more ideas come flooding in. The strange thing is good things come flooding back too. What goes around comes around.

The other day I was visiting a friend in hospital. We had to walk up nine flights of stairs and just before getting to the ninth floor—my legs were seriously aching—I passed a tired, sad looking lady. Without thinking, I smiled at her and said “Hi”. She carried on walking. Then I heard her stop. I turned around and she was staring at me, also smiling. She bobbed her head, said “Hullo” back, then carried on trudging down the stairs.

Be the light people. It’s not hard and it costs nothing.

It all starts with our own attitude.

Kindness makes the world a better place.

Sibo.

 

Books are Friends

My friend Ginny gives talks in schools sometimes. The topic is “Books are Friends!” It’s interactive and the kids also get to add their two cents worth. This is how it goes:

F is for Friends! Books are better than friends because you don’t have to ask somebody’s permission to go and visit a book (unless you want to go to the library) and books don’t get cross and fight with you. You never feel lonely when you have a book for company and you can have fun escaping into fiction or fantasy. Plus you can use them to find out facts. Reading sets you free!

R is for Reading! You can read a range of books at any rate you want to – fast or slow. You rest when you want to, and if you enjoyed a bit, you can return to it and read it again. You can read about your rights too.

I is for Interesting! Books are incredibly interesting and inspiring. Reading makes you intelligent. You can read important stuff. It’s impossible to get bored if you have a book to read. Of course, don’t forget – books are printed with Ink.

E is for Everybody! Books are for everybody and can be found everywhere. Excellent books explain things and equip you with knowledge. They are exciting and entertaining. Best of all – you don’t need electricity to read a book with your eyes.

N is for Nice! New books are nice too.  Books are necessary, we need them. You can turn to the next page to see what happens in the story every night. Books have names – just like you and I. But you should never ever mistreat your friends.

D is for Dependable! Just like a really good friend, books are always there for you. You can read the daily and when you have finished your book, you can donate it to somebody else to read. They are delightful but you do have to look after them. Dictionaries are great books too. Diaries are books that you can write about your own life. Don’t forget about digital books either!

S is for Story! And for Sibo of course! Some of our story books talk about saving water, electricity and strays. Taking shorter showers and planting seeds.  Separating rubbish and recycling.

On Saturday there is a pop-up book fair at the Alkantrant Library, Lynburn Rd, Lynnwood Manor, Pretoria from 09h00 – 12h00. Come and meet some new friends. Get your Christmas shopping done nice and early.

Lots of love,

Sibo.

Bloody Business

South Africa is currently running out of blood. That sounds crazy–especially when people are walking around full of blood that they could share. Well… maybe not everybody can share their blood because there are conditions prescribed as far as sharing blood goes.  However, it’s seriously scary, because one never knows when you might be in a situation where you need safe blood.

What is “safe blood”?

It’s blood that is free from HIV, Hepatitis B and C and syphilis – these can easily be transmitted through transfusion.

If you are fit and healthy please consider donating – you never know when you yourself might need a blood transfusion.

In South Africa, every unit of blood that is collected goes through stringent testing to ensure that it is safe.

So how much of your precious life blood do they take? Only 480ml. It’s less than 10% of the total blood volume of an adult. Most adults have between 4.5 and 5 litres of blood in their bodies. The lost fluid is replaced in the body within 36 hours. (However, if you weigh less than 50kg you’re not allowed to donate because you don’t actually have enough blood to spare.)

You are, by law, not allowed to give blood more than every 56 days. This means that a person would only give three or four times a year. Not too much to ask really – is it?

In South Africa people between the age of 16 and 65 are allowed to give blood —if they are fit and healthy. There’s a questionnaire that has to be completed, regarding your health and life style. A finger prick test is done to check iron levels before donating. Blood pressure is also checked to make sure that people are actually healthy enough to donate.

Remember – you need to eat and drink enough fluid (not alcohol) before donating.

Or course, if you’ve had flu or have been sick in the last few days you are not allowed to donate because it would be bad for you. Also, if you have been to the dentist or had surgery recently, you could also be excluded. Recent body piercings and tattoos would kick you out of the system too.

Don’t even think about trying to share your blood if you have had malaria—then you have to wait for three whole years before you can donate again.

For more information on giving blood – go to http://www.sanbs.org.za/ .

Give people! It might save lives!

Blood is life.

Sibo.

Dogs are Family Too

Christmas is just around the corner. I know that sounds a bit ridiculous, but it will be here before we know it. One of the things that often happens around Christmas time is that animals are dropped off at the SPCA. That is bad enough, but you know some awful people dump their dogs on the side of the road.

I can’t even bear to think about what that poor animal must go through—having their family just open the door, chuck them out and drive off. It’s such despicable behaviour.

Dogs are incredibly loyal, loving creatures. They would literally give their lives to protect their humans, and yet people continue to treat them in horrible ways. You would not lock your child outside, or tie them up in the back yard all day—would you? Why do it to your furry family?

Actually – it’s illegal to have a dog tied up in a yard. If you know of anybody who does this – please call your local SPCA so they can come and investigate.

If you know you are going away this holiday season, make a plan with your animals please.

A nice plan!

If you can’t take them on holiday with you, then book them into the kennels. This does not mean just rocking up at your local place and expecting them to have space for your furry family either. It means you need to book well in advance. If you are like my friend Ginny, then she goes and does a site inspection to make darn sure that her critters are going to be looked after properly.

Of course, kennels cost money, so if you are spending all yours on your holiday, then please make sure that you organise a trustworthy friend of yours to either babysit your house and your animals, or that they pop-in daily, or preferably twice daily, to feed your creatures and check that they have plenty of water. Remember it’s hot around Christmas time. Ideally you’d also like them to spend time talking to and walking your dog.

Trustworthy is the key word here. No point in asking somebody who does not bother to do it. Nor do you want them trashing your house while you are away either.

Your furry kids are not half as demanding as your real ones – all they really want is food and love. Give it to them please.

Sibo

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Weeds and Seeds

You’ve most likely all heard people say “Oh my goodness, you’ve grown like a weed!” meaning that you have grown taller since that person last saw you. Of course, this is really irritating when the last time was about ten years ago, obviously you would have grown up—duh! Adults are always doing this.

I was working in my veggie garden last weekend, trying to get it all neat and tidy for World Food Day on Tuesday  16th October, when I realised that there were lovely little patches of bright green, dark green and in-between green that did not belong there. I was amazed to see that weeds had sprouted, literally overnight, into real plants that required some serious attention.

Most probably the few drops of rain helped them to grow faster too! Not sure what it is about Mother Nature, but rain always makes plants sprout much faster than municipality water does.

We have a composter into which we throw all our veggie scraps, egg shells, coffee grounds and stuff from the garden, and so we have been making our own lovely compost. This is great stuff when it comes to growing things, but you do get some surprises too! I’d planted spinach and celery, together with some herbs. Of course I also planted flowers – to make the veggie bed look pretty. Dad said I was crazy and should plant the whole thing with vegetables, but I thought that was a tad boring.

Back to my surprise… up came all these little tomato plants. They had survived the heat in the composter and quickly germinated once they saw sunlight. So we now have some unplanned, fabulous looking, tomatoes too.

I realised that weeds are, in fact, a bit like problems too. You get those skinny little ones that are easy to get rid of with your fingers. Then you get those plants that have roots that look like a carrot on steroids and need the right tools to get rid of them. It certainly does not help to just pull the top leaves off and leave that nasty root behind because it will simply grow again—very quickly too.

To celebrate World Food Day I’m going to share ‘Sibo and the Veggie Bed’ on my website  for anybody to read freely for the next couple of days.

Try growing your own food people!

Sibo

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Don’t make your problems my problems.

Life is complex. There are the good things and then there are the bad things, or as we commonly call them, problems.

Some problems feel like they are huge, insurmountable ones and then again, others feel like they are little blips on the radar that are easily fixable. It is all relative.

For example, if the problem is that your car is running out of petrol, it’s really easy to go to the petrol station and fill it up with gas—if you have money. But if you don’t have money, it’s a real problem.

Sometimes the problem is not really a problem. For instance… Joe Bloggs has a fabulous sports car and you wish you had a car like that. But actually you have a perfectly fine car that gets you from A to B and you don’t need a sports car at all! That is more like envy and is not a real problem.

But often, the problem with real problems is that we tend to make them worse by ignoring them. There’s this thing hovering in the back of your mind that you know you have to deal with, but you squish it down and hope that it will just go away magically, all by itself.

Of course, this does not often happen.

The best thing when you have a problem is to try and tackle it immediately.

Look at it from all angles; sometimes it’s not as bad as you originally thought. Often you can narrow it down into smaller issues and deal with them one by one, slowly and thoroughly.

Sometimes it also helps to write down the problem, and the possible solution(s). Then look at it for a while and decide which works best for you. It’s amazing how, when you confront something head on, it is usually never is as bad as it first seems.

Often a problem is as simple as asking for help or brainstorming for a solution. The old saying of “a problem shared is a problem halved” is so true.

But sometimes, we only look at the problems in life, and we forget to be thankful for all the good things. When you’re grateful for all that is good and positive in your life, it’s easier to deal with the things that are not.

Look on the up side people!

Sibo

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