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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Friends for Life

Many people suffer from anxiety problems these days. Anxiety is having an irrational fear of something or somebody (not to be confused with nervousness). If you don’t have this disorder, then it’s easy to brush it off and think that the person is being full of nonsense, but in actual fact it’s a very real thing. It can affect every aspect of life—from school, to work, to relationships.

What happens is that something upsets or affects the person and, in a very short period of time, they have an anxiety or panic attack.

These are symptoms of these attacks (normally the person won’t have all of them, but could have at least four):

  • Anxiety and panic
  • Sudden overwhelming fear
  • Trembling
  • Palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Sense of choking

It is quite scary watching a friend or relation have one of these attacks if you don’t know what to do.

There are ways that you can help. Obviously not to stop them having the panic attack in the first place—that is something that only the person themselves can do—but if you know how to behave around them when it happens, it makes it easier for both of you.

Let them know that it is okay if they leave the place that is causing anxiety. Sometimes being in a crowd can bring on an attack. Just quietly lead them away from all the people, but don’t pressure them in any way.

Let them know that they are safe. Even if it’s perfectly obvious to you that there’s nothing to worry about, it’s a very real fear for the person who is having the attack. Reassure them that there is no real reason to be panicking. Remind them that you are there to help them.

Reassure the person that the attack won’t last long. Panic attacks and anxiety attacks are only temporary, but sometimes the person forgets that and so it is good to remind them.

Gently remind them to breathe. People having attacks often gasp alarmingly and forget to breathe! Here’s a good way to do it… tell them to take a deep breath and count to four, exhale again to the count of four. Do this over and over. Breathe with them.

Please do stay with them. Do not leave them alone.

Things you SHOULD NOT DO…

  • Get irritated and yell at them.
  • Ask them why they are panicking.
  • Tell them to calm down.
  • Brush it off and say they are imagining things.
  • Talk rubbish and say “Oh look! There’s a flying tiger!” to try and distract them.

Be a good friend.

Sibo
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Sleep Tight

Last week’s blog was about being prepared for exams. One of the things mentioned was that you need to get enough sleep.

Often sleep is underrated and people tend to think that they can get by with fewer hours. Actually, this isn’t such a smart thing to do.

Between the ages of seven and twelve years old, it is recommended that one gets ten or eleven hours sleep a night. This is not just to stop kids from becoming cranky either—this is why you need enough sleep

  • Muscles repair themselves during the night. Not only arm and leg muscles, this includes the heart muscle too.
  • Sleep controls the signals that indicate when one is hungry or full – and this allows a person to maintain a good weight.
  • Whilst slumbering at night, brains store up all the stuff learnt during the day – so that it can be recalled later, when needed.
  • If one doesn’t sleep properly at night, it’s harder to pay attention at school during the day. Mistakes are made more easily if you’re tired.

If you don’t get enough sleep at night scientists recommend having a little nap during the day to make up the sleep time. Don’t take that nap during school time though—you’d been looking for trouble!

Apparently—it should take about fifteen to twenty minutes to fall asleep from when your head hits the pillow.

Most kids don’t have a problem falling asleep, but if you do there are a couple of things that can help – like having a warm glass of milk before bedtime, or having a bath. Reading a book before you go to sleep is also better than watching television. It’s important not to be too hot or too cold in bed—that can also disturb your sleep patterns.

Of course teenagers can get away with a little less sleep – like eight to nine hours a night. Although often they don’t get anywhere near this amount of sleep and so they really do need to sleep in over the weekends.

Seems like the older you get the less sleep you need. Most people need around eight hours a night to function properly though scientists recently found out that there are some people who have a rare mutated gene condition that allow them to sleep only six hours without any negative effects.

Sleep tight and sweet dreams.

Sibo
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The need to read

The 8th of September is International Literacy Day.

So what? I hear many people say. I don’t have time to read. I can’t be bothered to read. Reading is boring… but actually we read all the time!

We read social media updates, road signs, food labels, and information on goods that we buy. We need to know whether we should wash that new item of clothing in hot water or cold water – right? And for that you need to read the label. Or the instruction manual that comes with your latest gadget.

Or what about recipes?

That’s reading, isn’t it?

Many people stick to magazines, newspapers or read on-line, and that’s all good but…

What about reading for pleasure? To escape reality without going anywhere—you can travel the world, learn about new places, time-travel with science fiction and fantasy, or read sloppy romantic novels where the girl always gets the boy in the end (unlike real life!!). What about mysteries or those scary ‘Who dunnits’?

Okay! So books are not exactly cheap, but you don’t even need to buy them—join the library. Or share with friends, as long as you look after the books and return them in the same condition that you received them in.

If you don’t like reading… at least consider reading to your children!

It has been proven that kids who are read to from a young age have a distinct advantage over those who are not.

Children are naturally inquisitive and love to ask questions – when a parent reads a picture book to their offspring, they are exposing them to different things. They can point at pictures and say “What is that?” or “Who is that”. It encourages youngsters to start thinking and asking questions.

It enhances a child’s vocabulary.

In addition to a better grasp of language, reading assists with spelling too.

We all love a good story, and bed-time reading (in any language) instils a love of books at an early age—something that stays with a person for the rest of their life.

Plus… a bed-time story is a great way to bond with your child. You get to sit on the bed, snuggle with your nice clean kid and read. It’s a fabulous way of having one-on-one time in this overly busy world of ours where there is not always quality time for everybody.

Please read more people!

Sibo

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Adopt an Attitude of Gratitude!

The last in our series of Women’s Month blogs is one about attitude. (Circle of Life, Power posing, Health Tips for Women, With Compliments)

Often we simply look at things the wrong way. It’s so easy to be fed up and miffed with somebody or something and let it spoil our day. It’s also easy to brood and let things fester and before we know it, something relatively little has turned into a great huge monster that discolours life in general.

Not only our lives, but those around us!

Here are a couple of easy methods that will help kick those gloomy habits.

  • Start a gratitude journal.
    It does not have to be a fancy one; get an exercise book and decorate the cover. Write down five things that you’re grateful for every day. This way one starts thinking (and acting) positively, looking for the good in life. It’s a well-known fact that having a positive attitude increases one’s happiness. Let’s face it – it’s hard to be depressed or stressed if you’re a happy-chappy, right?
  • Replace the word ‘have’ with ‘get.
    Sounds crazy but it makes a person see things in a different light. Instead of having to go to school or work, we get to go to school or work. This means we are fortunate to do so – many people don’t have jobs or would love to be able to go to work. Saying “I get to go to school’ means I’m able to learn and get somewhere in life. Even saying I get to go grocery shopping, implies that you have the money to do it, which is great.
  • Walk away from whingy whiny people.
    Folk who complain all the time drag us down too. If you can’t walk away, then don’t agree with them and validate their feelings.
  • Breathe!
    This is an easy one, but requires us to focus on how we do it. Often we find that we tend to stop breathing when concentrating, or we breathe in a shallow manner. Take deep breathes people. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Start with breathing in to the count of five, and breathing out again to the count of five and gradually increase the count. Oxygenating our bodies properly relieves stress, helps with pain and just generally makes one feel better. Try it.

YOU have total control over YOUR thoughts and actions!

It’s a change of mind-set people. Have a happy day!

Sibo

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Circle of Life

Hah! You didn’t really think you were going to get away without a blog on exercise during women’s month… did you? (No! Power posing does not count as exercise.)

Whilst smiling and complimenting might exercise your soul (as well as those of other people) and laughing might be great for your belly and face, it is important to stay fit.

Exercising releases those endorphins that make you feel happy and lessen the perception of pain. Apparently it does not matter how long you exercise for to release those hormones – the effect is the same, whether you go for an hour long jog or jog on the spot for ten minutes.

If cycling, jogging or gym is your thing – then great – you don’t have to read any further. However, if you are one of those ladies who groan at the thought of doing some physical activity – then this is for you.

Hula hoop people!

It’s the most awesome activity that the whole family can do.

It strengthens core muscles and improves posture no end, in addition to shaving centimetres off the squidgy bits of body and defining leg muscles.

Kids can happily use the normal hula hoops that you find easily in shops.

But ladies… here’s the good part – you can make your own, extra-large hula hoop, very cheaply!

Toddle off to the local hardware store (or nursery) and buy five metres of 25mm black piping. Yup – the stuff that gets used in the garden or irrigation. At the same time, get a 25mm connector and some insulation tape.

Lay the piping down in the sun for an hour or so to soften it slightly. Then chop off approximately 50cm from either end.

Boil the kettle, pour some boiling water into a mug and quickly dip each end of the piping into the water, then plug them together with the connector whilst the plastic is still soft.

Voila! You have a huge hoop.

You are probably going to look at it and gasp… NO WAYS CAN I USE THAT THING!!

But try it. Go on. Try. You’ll see that hula hooping with an enormous hoop is much easier than one of those small ones.

Taping it up to look pretty is optional. It does make it a little heavier, which is even better for losing weight.

Whilst you are hooping, you can do arm exercises to further tone up.

Or mediate and plan your day.

Let’s all BE who we ARE ladies.

Sibo

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Health tips for women

 

Celebrating Women’s month I thought it would be nice to post some easy health-stroke-beauty tips that we can all make use of because we’ve all got mouths!

Yes—mouths!

What’s the easiest thing you can go with your mouth – smile – right?

I’m always going on at people to smile at random strangers, but every time you smile, the action of your face muscles smiling causes your brain to trip a little trigger and release chemicals called endorphins.

In a nutshell, endorphins are the things that make a person happy… this leads to less stress… and ooh, let’s think, when you are less stressed you stop scrunching up your face and pow! There go those lines on your forehead. (Of course, they’ll come back again when you stop smiling and start being stressed again, so just keep smiling.)

So… smiling at random strangers does not only make them feel better, but you are giving yourself a boost too. How cool is that?

It gets better…

Endorphins are sneaky little critters, because they are also the body’s natural pain killers. Next time you bash a bit of your body, instead of swearing, yelling and being miserable—LAUGH.

Laugh long and loud and all those endorphins will be released and that sore bit will feel a lot better, much sooner.

This works for chronic pain too, believe it or not… either way – try it – you’ve got nothing to lose.

We all know, from previous experience of having a good belly laugh that you end up gasping and breathing great lung-fulls of air. Well… that is the same as having exercise! Your lungs expand and the cells in your body get replenished with oxygen – it’s not rocket science people – makes perfect sense.

A smiley face is also sooooo much more attractive than a miserable looking one, right?

Start looking at the funny side of life – it’s not hard.

  • Read cartoons
  • Watch funny movies and You-tube clips
  • Spend time laughing with friends and family.

Here’s the really funny bit… our brains, whilst being very clever, don’t actually know the difference between whether a smile is a real one… or a fake one. So there’s no excuse – just smile anyway. You’ll still feel all the fabulous benefits.

We women don’t mind sharing this great tip with you men either… start smiling and stop snarling!

You’ll find once you start smiling—it becomes a habit.

Sibo

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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

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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

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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

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