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

STRANGER DANGER – but sadly they are not always strangers.

Last week we mentioned those horrible statistics of 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 8 boys being sexually abused before they turn 18. And these are only the reported stats – they’re probably much higher than this.

SCARY FACT: Pedophiles are mostly people who come across as very likable souls. They are friendly and engaging.

The sad truth is usually predators are most often hidden in plain sight.  This means that ninety per cent of the time they are people you know and trust.

But really they are sneaky weasels who target their victims very carefully. They select their victim and then make a plan to get the child (and their family) comfortable with them before they strike.

They go to the same church, schools, sports and other activities and spend time chatting to you and your kids.

They specifically look for those individuals that have issues. Like kids looking for extra attention or love. They pick on shy children or those who might lack confidence. They look for loners who could be longing for friendship.

Yes – it sounds much too calculated to be true – but this is often how it happens.

They ingratiate their way into your family, bring the child little gifts and shower them with attention. They look for any opportunity to be alone with the youngster. Often this might seem like a very generous gesture and you can’t believe how nice somebody is being in your time of need. Beware! They could have ulterior motives.

Predators often hug and kiss your kid a lot and “accidentally” walk into the bathroom when they are in the bath or on the toilet. They also test your child to see if they can keep a secret.

Do not let this happen!

  • Encourage open communication in your household. Your children should be able to speak up when they don’t feel comfortable about something. Kids know long before adults do.
  • Have a “no secrets” policy. They don’t keep secrets for anyone or from anybody, ever.
  • Allow your children to choose who they kiss and hug. Don’t force them to kiss smelly old Uncle Fred hello just because he is family. Paedophiles are often family too.
  • Set boundaries. Make sure your kids know what those boundaries are.
  • Be a visible parent. It’s hard to abuse your kid if you are always around and involved.
  • Trust your gut – if something does not feel right, it probably isn’t.

Protect your kids please people – don’t let them become statistics.

Sibo
Xx

Listen to hear what is NOT being said.

I read something incredibly interesting the other day… research has shown that people who are in happy relationships or who have lots of friends live longer than those folk who are alone.

Duh! One tends to think that is obvious because they are probably happier and more fulfilled than those poor lonely souls who have nobody to talk to.

Originally they thought that individuals were responding to interesting topics or that it was the more stimulating conversations that possibly sparked off something in a person that made them live longer.

But ultimately it seems that WHAT is said does not really matter. It is more about HOW the other person responds to what is being said.

It all boils down to that human touch of caring, really listening and responding appropriately.

There are 3 different ways of responding to a statement that somebody has made.

If Jack says “It’s so nice outside tonight!” What he really means is something like – I enjoy being here with you.

If Judy replies “Yes, it’s lovely isn’t it!” She actually means she enjoys being with Jack too! This subconsciously makes Jack (and Judy) feel all warm and fuzzy and loved.

But if Judy says “Rubbish! The mozzies are biting me – I’m going inside!” this sends the message that she does not enjoy sitting outside with Jack and would rather be inside. This does not make Jack feel all that great.

Or worse, Judy could just ignore Jack totally and walk inside – leaving Jack feeling subconsciously sad and unloved.

Obviously the first response is going to nurture and deepen your relationship.

All too often we see somebody we know and, as we pass by, we say “Hey! How are you?” but then keep walking and don’t stop to hear their answer. This inadvertently sends the message that we don’t actually care how that person is.

Try something out – next time you ask somebody how they are – stop and actually listen to their answer.

It boils back down into that kindness pot again. In this busy world, it’s so easy to be self-centred and self-involved, but all it takes is a little bit of concentrated time to make another person feel loved.

Try it out – you’ll find it makes you feel good too!

Sibo

xx

Procrastination really is the thief of time

The other day I got into trouble and it was entirely my fault.

Mum had asked me to wash the dishes. She was going out to have her hair cut and she wanted them done before she came back. She told me she’d be home around five o’clock and needed the kitchen all nice and tidy because people were coming.

When Mum went out it was just after three o’clock so I reckoned that there was plenty of time.

I had stuff of my own to do. Had been promising myself to get stuck into weeding my veggie garden plus I had a new book I was dying to read.

You can guess what happened… right? It was hot so I decided to read first and got so immersed in my book the next thing I knew it was nearly time for mum to come home.

I flew into the kitchen and started frantically cleaning up – but the place was a mess and I knew I’d never be finished in time. Had a brainwave (okay – maybe it was a brain storm) and decided to get creative. Packed all those dirty dishes into a big plastic basin and hid them under my bed. I’d just finished wiping down the counters when I heard Mum’s car roar up the driveway.

Sjoe! With dardly a minute to spare.

Heaved a huge sigh of relief… I’d worry about how I was going to sneakily wash those dishes later.

Mom bustled into the kitchen with bags of chips and started opening the packets. She reached into the cupboard where we keep the bowls… but her favourite snack bowl was nowhere to be seen.

She scanned the kitchen with a perplexed look on her face. I backed out slowly, hoping she’d use some other container instead.

But no…. “Sibooooo” Mum yelled – “WHERE is my pretty chip bowl?”

Briefly wondered whether to fib or not but then decided I was already in trouble and lying would only make it worse. Had to confess.

I was certainly not the flavour of the day! Worse, Mum impounded my new book and said I could only have it back on the weekend. Plus I had to wash dishes all week.

That was a hard lesson. In future I’ll do chores or tasks first and then do the fun stuff later.

See you next week.

Sibo

xx

Reaching for the Stars


My friend Ginny was invited to a think-tank on how to popularize multi-wave astronomy (no – don’t run away, this blog is not about that – although it is really interesting stuff) a few days ago, and had lunch with one of the other participants who happened to have a disability.

Not wanting to offend the lady in the slightest she asked a bit hesitantly… ‘Um, what is the politically correct way to describe somebody who cannot see?”

The lady promptly responded “Blind!”

Thereafter a lovely conversation followed, with the lady, Wanda, giving some insights (excuse the pun) into one of the challenges of being blind.
But let’s clarify something first. The lady is Dr Wanda, and she’s an astrophysicist, who, amongst other things, really enjoys developing interesting lesson plans to teach kids about astrophysics. She has not allowed being blind to restrict her in the slightest and continues to reach for the stars – literally. Except Wanda listens to them instead of looking at them!

She reckons the most irritating thing is when somebody sends her a .pdf file to read. PDF stands for “portable document format” and it’s a way of saving a document from any application into a format that most systems can read – unless you are blind.

Wanda explained that her special software that “reads” the document cannot comprehend a .pdf file. It just picks up random words and strings them together. Obviously this could lead to major confusion. She gave us a hysterical example that went something like the “The moon was in the bathroom exploding.”

The numbers at the table swelled with Alfred from Sci-Bono Discovery Centre in Newtown (Jozi) joining the ranks. Wanda asked Alfred what his favourite exhibit was. His answer was the one that explained sound waves. Of course she did not leave it there – she had him explain to her just how he got the concept across to the people visiting Sci-Bono.

Initially Alfred waved his hands around a lot, which Wanda could not see, but he quickly got the hang of it and used his words – very simply and effectively to explain how sound waves work.

We all take many things for granted and our sight is one of them.

By the way – how often do people check the toys that their young children play with for sharp bits they could potentially stick into their eye (or somebody else’s) by mistake? Double check that toy box please, just to make sure.

Reach for the stars people – don’t let anything hold you back.

Sibo

Water challenged

Read this title free on the website

Right now those of us living in Gauteng might be feeling a bit complacent because we are not facing a severe water crisis like they are in Cape Town (and other parts of the country)  – but that does not mean that we have water to waste.

We should all get used to using water as sparingly as possible.

Make it a habit to save all those drops that are so easy to waste. Turn the taps off when brushing teeth, do the mellow yellow thing, make sure the washing machine is full before switching it on and ensure that there are no leaky pipes or taps in the house.

That’s the least we can do.

If you are planning a trip to Cape Town, be considerate. Don’t think you can rock up and waste their water because you will have left after a few days and the dire situation won’t affect you in the slightest.

If you are visiting family – buy-in water for your needs and be ultra-considerate with every drop you use out of the tap. In fact – don’t use those taps if you can possibly help it.

Think about taking your own sheets, or sleeping bag, with you and bring them back again to wash. Sounds crazy right? Not really – the guesthouse or your friends or relations would really appreciate such a gesture. You might even get a discount. Organise it with your hosts before you go.

Wash your hair before you leave and make sure you stick to the showering time rules. Even better – skip that shower if you can!

Take enough clothes to last the duration of your trip without needing to have them washed.

Don’t ask for a glass of water at a restaurant – they are also severely water challenged.

So are the shopping centres – don’t assume you can use their bathrooms – many of them are now closed.

Lastly – don’t share fake news or make cruel jokes about the water situation – especially around children.

The other day Ginny’s 5 year old granddaughter, Isabella, asked her mom if they were going to die when their water ran out. It was obviously a real fear uppermost in her mind. She was very relieved to hear that if things got too bad they could always move in with GG in Gauteng.

Be positive and considerate.

Every drop counts!

Sibo

xxx

One of a kind

13th of November was World Kindness Day. Yes! There really is such a day. Although honestly I think that every day should be kindness day – just like every day should be earth day.

The world revolves around kindness.

Just think a bit… if somebody smiles at you, or compliments you on something – you feel good. Right? It makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside and your whole body feels a little lighter and happier. Just because you are feeling good about yourself – you might then smile at somebody else involuntarily because you’re in a good mood. And that might make them smile too.

It’s a chain effect – a good one!

Just the same if someone yells at you and makes you feel bad, you curl up into a little ball, and smart at the injustice of it all. You are far more likely to yell at the dog, shove the cat and be mean to the next person you come across.

That’s also a chain effect – a bad one.

Being kind is a mind-set. It costs nothing and means the world. If you are a boss it can be as simple as thanking somebody (publically preferably – remember – thank in public and scold in private) for a job done. It does not have to be a hard or complicated job either. Being nice to people makes them feel valued and then they want to do more. Being nasty makes people think… why should I bother?

It is crazy when people in charge belittle their staff and then still expect them to perform well. There’s a guy who owns a restaurant near us and he always yells at his waitrons and treats them like dirt. Obviously his staff turn-over is very high yet he still does not get that he, him-self is the problem.

It’s easy to say to say something nasty or demeaning – but it is even easier to say something nice.

And you don’t have to lie – if you don’t think a dress looks good on somebody – you could say you like the colour, or the style or something.

There are numerous ways you can be kind. Lend a helping hand. Give a word of encouragement. Give somebody a letter or a card. Compliment a stranger.  Or just smile at random people – that also does the trick.

Have a nice day.

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

Draining Away

The other day mum and I were visiting a friend of hers and mum was moaning that she was going to have to call out a plumber to unblock our shower drain.  The shower kept filling up with water and you could almost have a bath in the shower well. She was whinging that plumbers were so expensive and she’d much rather buy a pair of new shoes with that money.

Her friend smiled and told her to relax – there was no need to call a plumber.

She gave us a recipe to unclog the shower. Mum was a bit sceptical – she’s not big on doing innovative stuff – but I wrote it all down and said I’d try it when we got home.

It was a bit like a science experiment – and I am very fond of those.

Mum assured me had all the ingredients needed – nothing fancy at all – just hot water, baking soda and vinegar.

Mum supervised and I got to do the fun work.

First we boiled the kettle and poured the whole lot of boiling water down the drain.

Then we poured in half a cup of baking soda – and let that sit in the drain for about 5 minutes.

Next we added a cup of vinegar followed by a cup of boiling water to the baking soda in the drain. This was the fun part – it all fizzled and foamed. Mum made me wear safety goggles in case it whooshed up too much and got in my eyes. (I felt even more like a scientist!)

If you have one of those drain plungers – put it over the plug hole at this stage – so that all the fizzy stuff stays in the drain.

Finally, after about 5 to 10 minutes – we poured another kettle of boiling water into the drain.

The next day we all had a shower and the water flowed perfectly out of the drain – no more bathing in the shower.

So maybe – if you have a blocked drain – you should try this first before you call a plumber!

Have a fabulous week further.

Sibo

World Humanitarian Day

19 August was World Humanitarian Day. This day was initially declared by the United Nations back in 2008 after a terrible terrorist attack on the UN headquarters in Bagdad in 2003, where 22 people were killed.

Nearly every day some disaster happens – whether it is war, terrorist attacks, floods, earthquakes, tidal waves, hurricanes, disease, poverty or hunger. These things cause huge suffering for all the people who are caught up in these events and, sadly, it is usually the poorest people who suffer the most.

Humanitarian assistance workers go all-out to provide help in these situations both in the short and long term. Often these workers put themselves at risk too and sometimes even die in their efforts to help other people.

 

We can all be humanitarians.  There is no special training needed to do the right thing every now and then. Sometimes it is as simple as delivering blankets or warm clothes to the needy when there is a very cold spell. Or helping out in your local community if something untoward – like a flood -happens.

Basically it all boils down to being kind and thinking of others. The definition of kindness is the quality of being friendly, considerate and generous.

It’s not very hard to be any of those things, but sometimes it does require conscious thought. Often we get so caught up in everyday life that we forget there are many people who have considerably less than we do and could use a bit of a helping hand. It could be as simple as knowing somebody at school who needs to share your lunch occasionally.

Remember a while ago we talked about having “Friendship benches” at school.  Where kids who don’t have any friends, or just maybe need somebody to talk to, can go and sit and know for sure that somebody will come and talk to them. That also boils down to being kind – and generous. You don’t have to be generous with money always. You can be generous of spirit or with your time.

There might even be an elderly person in your neighbourhood who is lonely and could use somebody to chat to or maybe needs help with shopping or garden work.

The main thing is for us all to keep an open mind and not miss out on opportunities to do the odd good deed. Or many good deeds!

Sibo